Today is the 30th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle. Today, the fifth sabbath of the counting of the seven sabbaths toward the Feast of Weeks, the Torah reading is Lev 21:1-24:23.
The paragraph divisions are as follows:
Lev 21:1-24 p The law of separation for the priests who offer the bread of God
— Lev 21:1-15 s The priests shall not defile themselves for the dead or with a defiled woman;
— Lev 21:16-24 p No man of the house of Aaron with a defect shall offer the bread of God;
Lev 22:1-16 p The law of the separation of the holy things + offerings given to the LORD
Lev 22:17-33 p The law of acceptable sacrifices + it is the LORD who sanctifies Israel
— Lev 22:17-25 s No sacrifice with a defect shall be offered as the bread of God;
— Lev 22:26-33 p Sacrifices become acceptable on the eighth day + the LORD sanctifies Israel
Lev 23:1-3 p The law of the Sabbath
Lev 23:4-8 p The law of Passover and Unleavened Bread
Lev 23:9-22 p The law of the Firstfruits of the Harvest
— Lev 23:9-14 s The law of the Firstfruits of the Barley Harvest
— Lev 23:15-22 p The law of the Firstfruits of the Wheat Harvest
Lev 23:23-32 p The law of Trumpets + Atonement (Trumpets announces Atonement)
— Lev 23:23-25 s The law of Trumpets
— Lev 23:26-32 p The law of Atonement
Lev 23:33-44 p The law of Tabernacles
Lev 24:1-4 p The law of the tending the menorah
Lev 24:5-12 p The showbread is a memorial of the children of Israel
— Lev 24:5-9 s The law of tending the showbread
— Lev 24:10-12 p The Egyptian’s son who blasphemed YHVH
Lev 24:13-23 p The law of the death penalty
The parashah forms a chiastic structure. I have included the s and p paragraph divisions so that it can be seen that the paragraph divisions help reveal the chiastic structure.
1a) Lev 21:1-5, The sons of Aaron shall not defile themselves for the dead among their people;
1b) Lev 21:6-22:33 s+p+p+s+p, The bread of God and those who offer it shall be without defilement or defect;
1c) Lev 23:1-8 p+p, The law of the Sabbath + Passover and Unleavened Bread;
1d) Lev 23:9-22 s+p, The law of the Firstfruits of the Harvest;
central axis) Lev 23:23-32 p, The law of Trumpets + Atonement (Trumpets announces Atonement);
2d) Lev 23:33-44 p, The law of Tabernacles;
2c) Lev 24:1-4 p, The law of the tending of the menorah;
2b) Lev 24:5-9 s, The law of tending the showbread (the bread of God);
2a) Lev 24:10-23 p, Those who are to be put to death among the people of Israel.
Now it may not seem at first as if the D pair goes together. But the 1d pair is an s+p, a weak plus a strong paragraph, thus the law of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest (weeks, or pentecost) is a continuation of the theme begun in the law of the firstfruits of the barley harvest (firstfruits, which was fulfilled by the resurrection of Jesus). They are the spring harvest feasts, in which a firstfruit of the harvest is given to the Lord. Tabernacles, likewise, is the fall harvest feast, in which the firstfruit of the fruit harvest is given to the Lord. They align, because out of the seven annual feast days of the Lord, they are the harvest feasts.
Also, it may not seem at first as if the law of the Sabbath + Passover and Unleavened Bread ought to be paired with the law of the tending of the menorah (the C pair). But look at it this way. The menorah is the light which shines in the darkness. The word of God is a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my path, and Jesus is the light of the world. He is the word of God made flesh. When we keep the Sabbath holy — when we rest from our labor as God rested from His, and receive His gift of grace, that He has given us by the Passover Lamb, whose blood caused the angel of death to pass over us, and allow Him to remove the leaven from our hearts, for we have now been made truly unleavened — then we are also letting our light so shine before men. We are witnessing of the truth about God by the way we live our lives.
Now it might be more than possible that I do not have the sense of this right. But it was actually the 1b pair which put me on to working out the structure this way. No where else in Torah (that I am aware of) are the offerings called “the bread of God.” And yet in the 1b pair, the offerings and sacrifices are referred to as the bread of God, over and over and over. Repetition is a teaching tool of Scripture. This was not a mistake, but I think, intentional, so that we can see that Scripture is making a thematic connection between the bread of God in the 1b pair, and the showbread — the bread of God — in the 2b pair.
What does it mean, that the offerings are thematically connected to the showbread here in Leviticus? I don’t know, I am not wise enough to know that yet. But let this word sink into my heart, and perhaps one day I will know.
But once again we see the theme of Leviticus as it has been from the beginning: Atonement. The Atonement, and the announcement of the Atonement (Trumpets), is the central axis of the parashah.