Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rachel’s Riddle- Pt. 2

Having covered Rachel’s misrepresentation of menstruation in the previous post, let’s move on to the actual Mense discharge (Leviticus 15: 19-24).

Now this actual Mense period was a period of uncleanness which appears to have been accounted as seven days.  As seven days regardless of how long the discharge actually lasted… but as mentioned, this duration is also disputed.

In the Jewish Encyclopedia  we see that the original time period was only seven days- but that later on it was extended to seven days past the period:
     The Pentateuchal code (Lev. xv. 19 et seq.) ordains that a menstruous woman shall be unclean for seven days from the beginning of the period, whether it lasts only one day or all seven.
These laws, however, have been extended in many ways and made more onerous, both by rabbinical traditions and interpretations and by customs…

R.T. France also asserts this phenomena in his Commentary on Matthew (pg. 450)-
". . . this voluntary making of the yoke as heavy as
possible, the taking on themselves as many obligations as
possible, was the ideal of Rabbinic piety."

A piety that is seen to be developing following the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.  Developing during the reconstruction of The Temple (2nd Temple Judaism of the 5th century B.C.).  A temple deprived of The Tabernacle. 

A false piety that continued to be developed by the Pharisees in the time of Jesus.  A piety developed by a people deprived of The Tabernacle.  A people deprived of a solution to their sin.  A people deprived of Grace.

And we often see this evolution of piety in the manuscripts of that period of deprivation.  We see this evolution in the less ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the O.T. An evolution which is evident in places like Exodus 19:15 and 1 Samuel 21:5- where the period of sexual abstinence was extended from 1 day to 3 days (KJV).  An evolution which was to be rejected by the New King James and later versions based on earlier and better manuscripts.

But back to the earliest text on Menses, it appears that a man may in fact touch his wife during this period and  only be unclean until evening .  However, he may not touch her in a “lying” sense (v. 24).  In essence, He may not touch her in a way that her menstrual impurity is upon his manhood (a loophole that Jews naturally enjoy operating around).  Blood being the operative factor here, of course. 

And if he actually does touch her in a “lying” sense?  Well, no sin offering is demanded since it isn’t a sin- yet he shall be unclean for seven days.  

“So what”, you ask?  

Well, apart from the hazard of contracting (and spreading) hygienic uncleanness by entering ‘her bloody tabernacle’ there was a far greater hazard… the hazard of entering The Holy Tabernacle unclean. 

In that chapter we see that the "unclean man" was commanded NOT to enter The Holy Tabernacle for those seven days. Using stronger language, he is not permitted todefile The Tabernacle with his uncleanness” (v. 31)!  The Tabernacle that he was expected to enter for various feasts 3 times per year (Exodus 23:14).  An expectation that was largely regarded metaphorically by geographically ‘distant Jews’. 

Yet these physical offerings and The Tabernacle are now long gone and irrelevant (Jer. 3:16).  Gone since The Tabernacle disappeared soon after Jeremiah’s ministry.  Disappeared after the destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century  B.C. by the Babylonians.  And The Tabernacle became increasingly irrelevant after the fulfillment of numerous aspects of that prophecy cited by Jeremiah. 

The physical offerings of the Jews were then substantially diminished- since there was no place to offer them.   And these physical offerings were also quite irrelevant because the physical Mercy Seat (strangely called a Propitiation Seat in the Douay-Rheims version) was gone.

The offerings were quite irrelevant even with the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah in the following century.    Quite lacking mention when “both Judah and Israel” were cited to call Jerusalem “The Throne of the LORD”.   And quite lacking mention in the account of the 'Holy Vessels Restored' in Ezra 1 as well.

Indeed, The Ark of The Covenant was out of sight and “hardly came to mind” until a time of reformation (Heb. 9:10).  Until Christ appeared as The Mercy Seat.    Until Christ ushered in “the greater and more perfect tabernacle” (v. 11).  

A tabernacle that was ushered in with His blood (v. 14).  A tabernacle that we are now welcomed to enter into at all times.  Enter into both physically and metaphysically.

A tabernacle that was prophesied to be 'in the foreground. by Jeremiah.  And indeed- has very much moved to the foreground in the time of Christ.

So why would Rachel attempt to return to the background when the foreground is clearly here?  When numerous prophets in the background instruct us to clearly leave this background behind?  

An instruction also affirmed by Jesus. Affirmed when Jesus instructs us to leave those sacrifices behind.  When He refers back to Hosea 6:6 (see the NET study note) and says, “go and learn awhat this means, b'I desire 1compassion, 2and not sacrifice,'  (Mat 9:13 NASB)

Yet perhaps this is what Rachel was trying to learn in her retro mission. 

Was trying to empathize with the [misguided] sacrifices of the past.  Was trying to learn where the compassion is in not having sex for 12 [or 13 by some rabbi reckoning] days in a row.   Where the compassion is in not having sex for 'months' following childbirth (Lev. 12).   

So it appears to me that the operative reason that this abstinence is demanded is (as Jesus affirmed) for "compassion" reasons.   That the reason for at least 1 [or 3 if you prefer the less ancient manuscripts] day of abstinence prior to entering The Tabernacle is to enhance the passion.  An abstinence to be met with a far greater euphoria from The Mercy Seat.  A euphoria which would be dulled by a lack of abstinence.

So, getting back to Rachel’s now qualified riddle, What Hath Men to do with actual Menses?

Well, whatever learned Men wish to do with Menses.

As presented in the previous post,hygiene remains a factor (and is the only factor that present-day Jews seem to consider)- yet is far less of a factor than in the past. However, as covered in this post- “defiling the Tabernacle” is no longer a factor (since any sex might then be considered as defiling the 'indwelling' tabernacle).

And in fact, in a not-too-obscure metaphorical sense- entering into this ‘bloody tabernacle’ of women may now be seen as a celebration.  A celebration of the bloody tabernacle which we may now enter into at all times… the tabernacle of Christ.  
A celebration which may be just a distant memory for some of us older folks.  Yet a celebration which may be a present reality for many younger folks. 
A celebration which it appears a much younger Rachel may yet celebrate… if she wasn’t so “unlearned” in compassion and so obsessed with sacrifice.

I hope this post has ‘advanced the discussion’ for Rachel.  Has opened a tabernacle for Rachel.

Does this appear “more loving”, Rachel?  Or am I lacking in compassion?