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sprinkling. They had to prepare the holy ointment, the shew-bread, and the other unleavened cakes and cereal oblations. When the Temple was built, their functions were naturally enlarged: they were the keepers of the entrances, courts, and chambers, and in later times, together with the priests, the guardians of the treasury of the Temple ; they had the charge of the stores of flour and oil, wine, frankincense, and spices; they attended the morning and evening services, at which they performed vocal and instrumental music. They were probably chosen for judges of the inferior courts, and for teachers of the people.
When the Levites had thus risen in authority, they were deemed too holy for many of the menial duties, and they received, on their part, servants called Nethinim, who were charged to assist them in the same way as they had been appointed to assist the priests; the Nethinim were probably captives of war, and were held in great contempt.
The Levites were, in the Pentateuch, liberally provided for. They had, indeed, no landed property, but they received, in return for their services at the Sanctuary, the tenth part of all the produce of the soil and of the annual increase of the cattle ; of the former, however, they had to give the tenth part to the priests. Though exempt from military service and all taxes, they yet probably received a share of the booty of war. They had abodes assigned to them in thirty-five cities on both sides of the Jordan, within the territories of all tribes, except those of Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon, in which the priests had their dwellings; and to each town, fields were attached sufficient for pasturage.
48. VARIOUS LEVITICAL LAWS.
1. Dietary Laws (Levit. xi. &c.). Purity and holiness were to be the chief characteristics of the Hebrew people; they were to be manifested in their faith and worship, in their moral conduct and daily life. Bearing this in mind, we shall be able duly to estimate the value of the dietary laws, which, though, perhaps, partly sanitary in their origin, were invested with a religious sanctity, and connected with the great principle, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.' Man was allowed to feed on the flesh of animals, but he was restricted in his choice. Among quadrupeds, the legislator considered as clean and wholesome the cloven-footed ruminants; among birds, those which do not prey on dead bodies; and among fishes, those which have fins and scales: these alone he permitted, whereas he rigidly interdicted all other creatures, as the camel, the pig, and the hare, the eagle, the vulture, and the hawk, and especially creeping things,' which were declared to be an abomination, and to cause uncleanness if touched when dead. Moreover, he prohibited the people from eating all animals that had not been properly killed, because they might be unwholesome; and all that were torn by wild beasts, because they were stifled in their own blood; and blood was interdicted by the most awful penalties, because the blood is the soul' of the animal, which it was regarded iniquitous not to respect; therefore, even the blood of animals that had been killed in the chase was to be poured on the ground and covered with earth. The fat also was forbidden, because it was, like the blood, considered as the seat of the life and strength of the animal; and it is likely that for a similar reason the custom arose among the Hebrews of abstaining from the
principal (or sciatic) nerve, representing the power of motion, though that custom was derived from a remarkable incident in the life of the patriarch Jacob (see p. 74). The command, “Thou shalt not seethe the kid in its mother's milk' was probably prompted by motives of humanity, and had, besides, the object of preventing certain superstitious rites practised by heathens.
2. The Laws of Purification (Levit. xiii. xv. &c.) were enforced with great severity and precision. Foremost among them are the rules to be observed with respect to that terrible Eastern scourge, leprosy. As soon as the first symptoms of illness were noticed, the sufferer was removed from the community, and placed under the supervision of the priest. If the symptoms developed themselves into the dread disease, he was kept in seclusion, and whenever he went forth into the abodes of men, he had to appear with his clothes rent, his head bared, and his chin covered, and to utter the doleful warning, Unclean, unclean!' If the plague left him, he was cleansed by various and significant purifications meant to symbolise his renewed holiness in thought and in deed, and restoring him again to all his rights as a member of the chosen community. A terrible plague akin to leprosy is, in the East, not unusual in houses, when the stones of the walls are covered with green or red streaks. As soon as the priest received information of such symptoms, he went to examine the house, and at once ordered everything to be cleared out of it; after seven days he returned, and if the marks had made progress during that time, the stones so affected were, by his direction, taken away and cast into an unclean place without the city, the interior of the house was thoroughly scraped, and the dust likewise removed beyond the precincts of the city, after which the stones and the dust were replaced by new stones and mortar. But the signs
of pestilence might still linger in the walls, and appear again and spread. In such cases the whole house was pronounced thoroughly unclean, and was pulled down ; all the stones were cast out of the city, and everyone who had been in the house during the time of its unwholesome condition was unclean, and was bound to undergo the usual purifications.
3. The Nazarites (Numb. vi.). Among the Hebrews there were found, at all times, men and women who, impressed with a feeling of religious fervour, wished to devote themselves for a certain period to the special service of God. These Nazarites, as they were called, led a life of abstinence and isolation. They shunned wine and any other strong drink. They allowed their hair to grow freely. Bound by ordinances resembling the severest rules enjoined upon the priesthood, they were forbidden to touch or approach any dead body, were it even that of father or mother, of brother or sister, because the consecration of his God is upon the Nazarite's head; all the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord.' An accidental and unavoidable defilement was expiated by impressive ceremonies. When the time of the selfimposed seclusion had passed, the Nazarite had to present, with peculiar rites, a burnt-, a sin-, and a thank-offering, together with various bloodless oblations and drinkofferings; and cutting his hair at the door of the Sanctuary, he burnt it by the fire of his thank-offering, after which he was released from his vow and his restrictions.
4. Miscellaneous laws. The ordinances of purity, so minutely and so strongly enforced, are clearly illustrated by the details given concerning the laws of marriage.
The human form was considered sacred; no mutilation was permitted, and in the wild outpouring of grief, the mourner was forbidden to lacerate his flesh-a custom
widely prevailing among Eastern nations (Levit. xix. 27, 28).
The religious precepts of the Mosaic code are of endless variety-indeed, as varied as life itself, with its many duties and temptations ; but they seem all to be summed up in two commandments, which have become as it were the very keystone and mainspring of the Jewish faith : • Hear 0 Israel, the Lord thy God, is One God;' and • Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might' (Deut. vi. 5). These words were to be the constant guide and monitor of the Hebrew; he was steadfastly to believe in the unity of God, and he was to devote all his thoughts, his feelings, and his works to Him, his merciful Father. Not merely was he to serve Him in reverence and fear, but with that true and fervent love on which alone faith can be firmly built.
To remind the Israelite of the allegiance he owes to his God, he was commanded to wear a symbol of it on his arm and forehead (phylacteries), to indicate that he should be pious in deed and thought; he was to make blue fringes on the borders of his outer garment (tsitsith), to impress upon him heavenly purity and elevation of mind; and he was to inscribe a memorial of it upon the doorpost of his house (mezuzah), to remind him that his life should be zealously devoted to God (Exod. xiii. 9; Numb. xv. 38 ; Deut. xi. 20).
Above all, it was prescribed that children should be diligently instructed by their parents in the precious truths that had been revealed for the guidance of mankind in all ages.
The precepts of the Law are followed by a grand and sublime picture, enforcing the oft-repeated lesson that obedience and faith shall be truly blessed, that sin and disobedience sball receive terrible punishment. To