by Christopher Harbin

For Love of the Fallen
Christopher B. Harbin
2 Sam 1:17-27; Ps 92:1-4, 12-15; Mk 5:21-43; 2 Cor 8:7-15

She was unclean. Years had passed since she had been able to participate in public worship, as she was barred from synagogue and temple for ritual impurity. There was no moral association with this condition. Her impurity simply defined that it was not appropriate for her to participate in public worship or intimate relations. She had been plagued with bleeding for twelve long years. For twelve years, anyone she touched was also unclean. They would have to spend the day in ritual cleansing to be allowed once again back into the fold of Israel.

Blood was an important symbol of life and not to be treated lightly. Rules were established to impede abusing blood in fertility cult practices. There were restrictions on eating blood in recognition that life belonged to God and God alone. Life was a gift. Life was on loan. Taking the life in the blood of another to add to one's own vitality was one of the abuses found in the world of witchcraft, sorcery, and fertility cults. It may have been the practice of some, but it was completely taboo for Israel. Life was to be respected as a gift on loan, not as something to abuse and hoard. Her bleeding separated her from worship more than anything to help Israel avoid abusing her condition in fertility rites or to gain special access to God through the voice of her lifeblood in constant flow.

From the spilt blood of Abel on, we see descriptions in Genesis of blood having a voice to gain God's ear. The priests of Ba'al on Mount Carmel cut themselves with knives so the voice of their own blood might mingle with that of the sacrificial animal to gain them divine audience. Life was understood to reside in one's blood. It was abused to gain power over victims or add to one's vitality. Menstruation was a ripe time for the abuse of women whose fertility was in evidence. Torah regulations protected them from ...

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