The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Leviticus 13

Lev 13:1

Lev 13 is all about leprosy: the disease is very contagious, requires separation or quarantine, is never cured by natural means, originates from within, is not manifest until puberty, grows gradually, and makes one insensible to pain. It is a fitting "parable" of the "sin" that dwells in each one of us.

"The principle of contamination recognised in this law was not understood by societies for many hundreds of years after Israel were taught about it: 'Among the physicians of classical antiquity we find no consistent view of transmission of infection by contact. Indeed the whole idea of infection was effectively absent from them, so that preventive measures based upon them could not be developed. It was reserved for the Middle Ages to conceive serious official measures against spread of epidemics. These measures ere constantly derived from the leper ritual of the Bible with its fundamental concept of isolation' (C. Singer and E.A. Underwood, 'A Short History of Medicine', 1962)" (SP, Tes 71:205).

Lev 13:2


AND DO NOT SWEAR BY YOUR HEAD, FOR YOU CANNOT MAKE EVEN ONE HAIR WHITE OR BLACK: "Throughout the Bible leprosy is used as a parallel with sin because it is a disease that eats away at the flesh of a person until he is consumed by it. The Hebrew word that we read translated as 'an infectious skin disease' has traditionally been translated 'Leprosy' and is the Hebrew word used to describe various diseases of the skin.

"When someone discovered that he had a skin disease, whether it was leprosy or some other skin disease, he was to go to see a priest. The job of the priest was to examine the sore, rash or spot to decide whether it was infectious or not. God had instructed the priests and they knew what to look for.

"Today we do not have priests to go to, while leprosy and other skin diseases are largely treatable. But we are still afflicted with the leprosy-like condition of sin, and we do have a great High Priest in heaven, Jesus Christ. So let us regularly appear before the Lord Jesus Christ and let him examine our lives. Let us allow him to show us our sin and do for us what the priests could not do -- to forgive and cleanse us from our sin. Then may we go and sin no more" (RP).

Lev 13:3

IF THE HAIR IN THE SORE HAS TURNED WHITE... IT IS AN INFECTIOUS SKIN DISEASE: So the hair turning white was a sign of leprosy. Perhaps Jesus is alluding to this in Mat 5:36: "And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black." It is as impossible to heal oneself from leprosy as it is to change one's own nature.

Lev 13:5

Cp Gal 3:23: "held prisoners by the law, locked up..."

Lev 13:6

The judgment: we are examined by High Priest on 7th day. Then follows a change of clothes, or immortality.

Lev 13:45

Signs of mourning.

Lev 13:47

CONTAMINATED WITH MILDEW: AV has "the plague of leprosy" still.

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