Shattered Loins

Shattered Loins September 29, 2015

Moses’ blessing of Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8-11) includes a curse against Levi’s enemies: “Yahweh, bless his substance, and accept the work of his hands; shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, and those who hate him, so that they may not rise” (v. 11).

Levi’s substance consists of sacrifices and gifts brought to the Lord’s house. The work of Levi’s hands is the work of the sanctuary. The blessing is a blessing on the specific priestly vocation of Levi.

The curse against his enemies is an anti-Levitical curse. “Loins” can refer to the lower torso, but it also refers to the genitals. Priests had to wear linen underclothes over their loins to keep their flesh from showing through (Exodus 28:42). Rehoboam’s crudely taunts the elders of Israel with “my little finger is thicker than my father’s loins” (1 Kings 12:10).

Shattered loins means broken stones, and broken testicles exclude someone from the priesthood (cf. Leviticus 21:20). The curse against Levi’s enemies is that they become permanent non-priests.

With their shattered loins, Levi’s enemies are also left sterile. Children are a “resurrection,” new life after parents die. But those who have shattered loins cannot rise after they have fallen. When they rise (qum) against Levi, God will ensure that they cannot rise (qum).


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