THE PASSOVER is the Old Testament feast that celebrates and remembers God’s liberation of Israel from Egypt. After Joseph saved Egypt from starvation (Genesis 41), the Israelites lived in Egypt as guests. Eventually, the Egyptians forgot about Joseph and enslaved the Israelites for hundreds of years (Exodus 1:6-14).
The issue of purity was very important for the Israelites. The Tabernacle was at the center of all of Israel’s life. God’s presence in the midst of the camp determined the life of the people. An important function of the Mosaic Law was to instruct people on how to live in the presence of a holy God. The holy and the impure cannot coexist. Thus, God provided a means to cleanse what had become impure. God chose purification rites and sacrifices to prevent the destruction of the people when they became impure. The following table shows the main causes for ritual and moral impurity and the prescription for achieving purity anew.
With a tent peg and a hammer, a nomadic woman named Jael killed one of Israel’s most feared enemies, Sisera. He commanded the powerful army and chariot corps of Hazor, a city in northern Galilee. His army ruthlessly oppressed northern Israel for twenty years until an Israelite leader named Deborah organized a militia to fight back.
Given that reality, the LORD addressed the plight of orphans in the laws given to the Israelites. God’s people were to set aside a tent of their field produce and animals born in their herds as a gift given at the sanctuary. Every third year, however, this tithe was to remain in storage at the local level so the disadvantaged of society, including orphans, would have access to it (Deut 14:22-29; 26:12-13). In addition, Israelites were to refrain from gathering a portion of their grain, olive, and grape harvest so that orphans and other disadvantaged people could gather food from land they did not own (Deut 24:19-21).
Jerusalem was not Israel’s first capital. Shiloh was-for at least a century.
A high plains village nearly half a mile above sea level and thirty miles north of Jerusalem, in Israel’s hill country, Shiloh was where Joshua and the Israelites pitched the tent of God, or the worship center called the tabernacle. This is where the Israelites came to offer sacrifices to God and to celebrate religious holidays.
One of the things I have been blessed with (or coursed with, depending on your viewpoint) is good memory. Many times a week my wife will call on me to recall some name, some location or some date that has escaped her. That is a good thing, most of the time. Other times it is annoying, as I can recall mundane unimportant facts from decades ago that have absolutely no value today. A good memory is a powerful tool, when it is used right.