I’d heard that Leviticus would seriously try my commitment to this project, and I can see why. With the exception of a mini-story about Nadab and Abihu, the entire book has just been a long list of rules – most of them cultic.

The rules are overwhelmingly about the delineation between clean and unclean, sacred and profane. Most of the rules make no sense in a “worldly” context, but they serve to separate/reserve adherents (and, when the rules are applied to non-Jews living in Israel, the country as a whole). The goal of the most of the rules is, therefore, to set apart – despite the many efforts throughout the ages to explain away the rules in rationalist terms.

The result is that the rules in Leviticus are designed to make it very difficult for the Jewish people to assimilate in their surrounding cultures, or to be on friendly terms with non-Jewish neighbours. This makes sense given the authorship – the Levites hold no lands, so not only does their power depend on the cultic purity of the population, so does their subsistence.