The Uniform Series text for Sunday, May 13 is Leviticus 23:9-14 & 22; the text prescribes the ritual elevation of the first sheaves of the barley harvest, which comes right after Passover and which begins the count-down to the Feast of Weeks – called Pentecost after people started to speak Greek. Here are a few questions we might want to consider in class:
The text reminds the people that the land they are harvesting is land YHWH is giving them. Why? What does this have to do with the offering, do we think?
The text also makes clear that the first grain harvested is to be offered to YHWH; the people are not supposed to eat anything from the harvest before this offering has been made (v14). What does this imply about the ownership of the harvest? What does it imply about the relationship of God and the people? Why do we say this? How does this compare to the way we think about the ownership of things in our world – similar, different, how? What would change in our world if people regarded God as the ultimate owner of all the property?
Verse 22 reiterates a command that has already been given about not reaping the entire field, and not gathering up every last grain of harvest. Something is to be left “for the poor and for the alien.” What is the relationship between this use of grain and the offering in verse 10? (e.g., v. 10 is first, v. 22 is last; v. 10 is given to priests, v. 22 is left for poor and alien; other …?) Do these relationships tell us anything about what God is trying to do in the life of Israel? What is that, do we think? Are there implications in this for contemporary life? What are they?
Why is “the alien” included as a category of people in verse 22, do we think? Why might God care about “the alien” in particular? (For example, can we think of any ways the category of “alien” applies to God? Or to human beings in relation to God? What are those?)
The last words of verse 22 are “I am YHWH, your God.” What is the significance of this statement? Why does it follow this command, do we think? What is the purpose of reminding people of that right at this point? (Does this tell us anything about God? About ourselves? What is that?)
Here are a couple of possibly interesting links:
Rev. Jennifer Butler on immigrant moms on Mother’s Day
James K. Hoffmeier on strangers and foreigners in the Bible and today