Why do you suppose the god of the Bible shows disdain for people with physical defects?

In Leviticus, at Chapter 21, the god of the Bible says to Aaron:

21:17…Whosoever *he be *of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.

21:18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or hath a limb too long,

21:19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,

21:20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

21:21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

21:22 He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.

21:23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
Why do you suppose the god of the Bible suggests that the mere presence of a person with physical defects would “profane” its Holy places?

Guilt. He’s the one who made 'em that way.

It has to do with the idea of not offering God second best.

The passage you quote does not say that no one with a physical defect can go into the temple, just that no one of the hereditary priest clan with such a defect can do the offerings. It is the same sort of idea that you cannot offer a lamb with physical defects as an offering - God deserves the best there is. This is a way of preventing both the priesthood and sacrifice from becoming a dumping ground to get rid of that which you cannot otherwise use.

Ritual requirements on priests are pretty common. Note that the priest cannot marry a woman who has been married before. Same sort of thing - the priest should get first dibs on everything he uses. IYSWIM.


Erm…I think I know this one. Is it because The Lord works in Mysterious Ways[SUP]TM[/SUP]?

An anthropological answer is that the ancient sacrificial cult described (mostly) in Leviticus were concerned above all with ritual purity, a concept still important in Judaism today (though it lacks the sacrificial cult), but one that is difficult for those from backgrounds lacking in such rituals to understand the point of.

Ritual purity has nothing whatsoever to do with morality, necessarily. The notion is that anything approaching the sacred or “taboo” area of sacrifice must be perfect in form; it is not an ethical or moral commentary on those who are not perfectly formed.

Because God is more concerned with outward appearances than inner beauty?

The answer to this and all the other threads you have started is exactly the same: You cannot expect a book written thousands of years ago to conform with modern western post-enlightenment ideas of morality. See also Illiad, Odyssey, Epic of Gilgamesh, etc. etc.

For the people who mentioned the “morality” or “non-morality” of the issue…

…please keep in mind that the god said that the mere presence of people with these defects would “profane” Holy places.

That is a fairly serious charge for a god to make.

Humans without physical defects will not “profane” its altars…but humans with physical defects will!

This is not something trivial.

I don’t see bald guys excluded in Leveticus. Does God approve bald guys, or not?

I suspect the problem is that generations of folks have attempted to read an ethical component into what is, after all, more or less an operating manual for an Iron Age priestly caste.

If you want ethics, it is better to read the Talmud. Some of the folks attempting to read an ethical message in this were admittedly very clever men who had useful points to make.

This is probably the best anwer this tread will get.

Seems to me you are doing what all those clever Medieval Rabbis who drafted the Talmud were doing: assuming that the text has some sort of eternal moral message to it, or at least was intended to.

The reality, seems to me, is that the text was intended as the commandments appropriate to an Iron Age priesthood, and got preserved (along with much else) by historical chance.

A twist of history, and we’d be studying the moral messages hidden in the operating instructions for the caste charged with the upkeep of the statue of Marduk in Babylon instead.

The importance lies in the fact that the text was preserved, and had enormous influence over Western history.

All that would make great sense, Larry…if that is what the book is supposed to be.

But the book is supposed to reflect the sensibilities of A GOD…not of post-enlightened humans. It supposed to reflect the morality of A GOD…not of post-enlightened humans.

You do realize that, do you not?

Not looking for “ethics” or “morality” from people who lived so long ago. I expect each generation of humanity to have ethics and morality appropriate to its time and age.

The book we are talking about…the Bible…purports to tell us truths about A GOD.

I am asking questions about what the god of the Bible has to say.

Aren’t you an agnostic? The Bible was written by men. Except for a few rabid fundies, even believing Jews and Christians realize that. Most believers on this board do. I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish here. In any event Malthus has answered your question.

That is correct.

Actually, that is better said: “Unfortunately, that is correct.”

And the reason for the “unfortunately” is the reason why I am asking the question.

I understand the desire (perhaps “need”) of theists to posit a GOD…

…I am trying to determine why those theists would choose the god of the Bible to be that GOD.

The notion of supposing there is a GOD…or are GODS…seems reasonable to me. It makes as much sense to me as supposing there are no gods.

But for someone to suppose there is a GOD…a personal, loving, kind, just GOD…and who then go on to choose the god of the Bible to be that GOD…to accept that the description of the god of the Bible fits their GOD…

…simply makes no sense to me at all.

So I am exploring that issue with theists (and others) in a series of questions.

What you are reading in Leviticus is a very ancient notion of what “God” is about.

The Bible is best thought of as a grab-bag of texts preserved from antiquity by chance and subject to redaction. Bits of it were written at different times and not all of it is even religious (the Song of Solomon for example appears more in the nature of love poetry).

The God of Leviticus is a God appropriate for Iron Age priests - fussy, insistant on the minutae of ritual, vengeful. He bears little resemblence to the God referenced in Ecclesiastes, who is a God more appropriate to a world-weary philosopher of (presumably) a much later date.

The mistake you are making is to assume that theists (I’m not one BTW) are inflexible in their interpretation of these texts, and characterize their notion of "God’ based on the harshest and most ancient characterizations of that deity as described in the OT.

And the God of the New Testament is even more different.

The Bible esposes this kind of backwards prejudice because it reflects archaic, primitive, almost prehistoric tribal superstitions about physical imperfection being displeasing to the gods.

Hell, the notion of animal sacrifice, in and of itself, is bacwards, primitive nonsense. Rules about only allowing unblemished priests to slaughter unblemished animals are only monor adjuncts to that central absurdity.

The OP does have a point about the unconscious assumptions it makes about people with physical disabilities, though.