God is now living in the big tent Moses had the Israelites build in the last book. The first bit of this book is a collection of various, repetitive ways of burning and killing animals because God likes the smell. God does not appear to like yeast or honey for some unexplained reason.
This book is very dull on a first read as it’s just a lot of background about how the Israelites are supposed to live, endlessly repeated. The use of ‘ditto’ would shorten it a lot and you might be inclined to skip through it or skip the whole book, but don’t.
Out of the pages of monotonous lists, a bit of narrative will suddenly strike you. Moses and Aaron argue and Moses ruthlessly shows he is capo dei capi, the head man, by ordering Aaron not to mourn the death of his sons, which Moses had burned to death in front of him. The Sopranos has nothing on this story.
Then we are back into mind dulling and contradictory laws that seem designed to keep the Israelites unsure of what wrong act will get them killed when, just near the end of a list of things God wants for himself, it suddenly hits you, this is a list of sacrifices and there, slipped in without warning, are humans, this God character wants human sacrifice! It’s literally stunning. I had to go back and read the whole book again.
Originally I thought it was poorly written but it’s actually a masterpiece: it desensitises you into accepting mass slaughter at the beginning by repeating the detailed killing of animals over and over again and then, after lulling you with a hypnotic list of dull and confusing laws, Bam - Soprano style killing, or Bam - human sacrifice. This is as brilliantly disturbing as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the Wasp Factory.