All the priests of the LORD have now been consecrated, and God’s business (of burning up sacrificial animals on an industrial scale) can now begin. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu are pretty keen, and so they get right to work. Problem is, they’re new on the job, and maybe they dozed off a bit while Moses was relaying God’s interminable instructions, because they fuck up and put the wrong incense in the censer. Oops! (Lev. 10:1)
It’s the kind of mistake any new employees could make. And it’s not like there was any training program or anything, just a really long, boring lecture with a lot of persnickety detail (and the occasional death threat). God should know how fallible human memory is – he’s the one who supposedly designed it, after all. If the servants of a kinder, more sensible deity with good anger management skills had screwed up, there would’ve been a deep cosmic sigh, and then a gentle booming voice saying, “Nope. No. Guys. You put the second best incense in. No, I know, it smells really nice, and honestly, A+ for effort, but you were supposed to use only the best. You know, my exclusive blend? Let’s put that stuff out and try again. And, y’know, maybe you should store them in different parts of the tabernacle so this doesn’t happen again, okay? Great.” And the unholy smoke would have cleared, and the holy fire burned, and everything would have gone perfectly smoothly after that.
But we’re talking about the LORD here, so you know he completely loses his shit.
He doesn’t give Aaron’s sons a chance to realize their mistake. He doesn’t give them a chance to correct it. He smells that “strange fire,” and he flies into an instant rage, and he burns those two boys to death right then and there. (Lev. 10:2)
Moses, the snide little shit, tells Aaron, who just watched God burn two of his sons to a crisp, “Oh, hey, that’s what the LORD meant when he said ‘I’ll be sanctified by the folks who come near me, and I’ll be glorified by all the people.’” Yep. Cuz it sure is glorious to strike two poor noobs dead for bungling the incense one time. (Lev. 10:3)
And Aaron, the poor bereaved bastard, can’t say a word.
Moses has a couple of Aaron’s cousins carry the charred remains of his sons out of the camp. They haul them out by their miraculously unburnt tunics, like a couple of sacks of potatoes. Then he has the gall to tell Aaron and his two surviving sons that they’re not allowed to grieve. (Lev. 10:4-6)
Seriously. Imagine watching your children or your brothers die an agonizing, gruesome death, and then being told you are not to mourn them under any circumstances, because if you do, then your god’s going to kill you and then fuck up everybody else. Imagine being ordered to stay in the tabernacle – the exact place your loved ones were just brutally murdered, where you can still smell the smoke and see the char from God burning them alive – because if you step foot outside it, your loving God will strike you stone dead. I mean, there’s being a sadist, and then there’s being an unforgivable, appalling, torturing, sadistic asshole. I think we can all see which is the LORD. (Lev. 10:6-7)
The LORD has plenty of coarse, pure salt to rub in their wounds. He won’t even let them get drunk to help cope with the trauma. And if their grief gets to be too much, and having to bow down and worship and serve the murderer of their kinfolk becomes a weight too heavy to be borne, and they sneak a sip of the ol’ 100 proof before entering the tabernacle? Well, then, God will kill them dead, too. So they’re ordered to stay stone sober, and teach this homicidal tyrant’s rules to everybody, forever. (Lev. 10:8-11)
Moses takes over lecturing for the LORD, telling them how they can and can’t eat the various offerings and sacrifices they’re to make, and then he goes looking for the goat of the sin offering. Only, it’s already been burnt. He loses his shit, and yells at Aaron’s surviving sons: “I can’t believe you fucked this up! You were supposed to eat it in here! That was for you to atone for everybody with! You didn’t even bring the blood in here! I mean, seriously, you fools, you should have eaten it in the holy place like I told you to.” (Lev. 10:12-18)
And poor Aaron blames himself. “If I’d done it right, and eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have been happy with it?” And Moses, the snide little shit, is really pleased with himself for gaslighting Aaron into taking the blame for God’s murderous temper tantrum. (Lev. 10:19-20)
So you see, children, it’s very important to do everything exactly the way God wants you to, even if it’s the first time you’ve tried doing it. Because if you fuck up even the smallest detail, God is either gonna smite you personally, or he’ll burn your own flesh and blood to death right before your eyes – and then forbid you to mourn them.
That’s his idea of glory.
Are you really sure this abominable deity deserves our devotion?
Copyright © 2015 by Dana Hunter. All rights reserved.
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