And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,Leviticus 13:1. This law is directed to Aaron as well as Moses, because he and his sons were to be judges, to determine, according to certain rules, what was clean and what unclean.
When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:Leviticus 13:2. A rising, a scab, or bright spot — The leprosy appeared in one of these three forms. Now, as these marks might sometimes be upon the skin when there was no leprosy, rules are here given whereby the priests might discern between a plague of leprosy and the resemblance of it; that accordingly they might pronounce a person clean or unclean. Some of the symptoms of the leprosy here described are of a very extraordinary nature, particularly its infecting houses and garments. This has led several of the learned, Le Clerc in particular, to imagine that Moses’s leprosy was one of those diseases which Providence occasionally inflicts upon mankind in certain ages and countries, as a chastisement for peculiar sins, and to bring them to repentance and reformation. Thus much is certain, that what we now call the leprosy is very different from what went by that name in former times.
And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.Leviticus 13:3. The priest shall look on the plague — In some dubious cases, the priest might find it convenient to take the judgment of physicians, or of persons who understood the theory of diseases better than himself; but, as he was to admit to or exclude from the sanctuary, he alone was to give judgment, and pronounce who were clean or unclean, and, as such, to be admitted or excluded. When the hair is turned white — He begins with the last of the three marks of a leprosy, namely, the bright spot. The reason of the hair’s turning white is thus assigned by Calmet, in his Dissertation on the Leprosy: “The flesh,” says he, “ceasing to receive its proper nourishment from the blood, which gave it its former vivid colour, the hair, which has its root in the corrupted, empoverished glands, becomes likewise ill-nourished, and so grows whitish and slender, like a plant in stony, parched ground.” His flesh — For the leprosy consumed both the skin and the flesh.
If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days:Leviticus 13:4. Seven days — For greater assurance; to teach ministers not to be hasty in their judgments, but diligently to search and examine all things beforehand. The plague is here put in the original for the man that hath the plague.
And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more:
And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.Leviticus 13:6. Dark — Contrary to the white colour of the leprosy. But the word may be rendered, have contracted itself, and thus the opposition seems to be most clear to the spreading of itself. He shall wash his clothes — Though it was no leprosy, to teach us, that no sin is so small as not to need to be washed by the blood of Christ, which was the thing designed by all these washings.
But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again:
And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy.
When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought unto the priest;Leviticus 13:9-10. When the plague of leprosy (symptoms thereof) is in a man — If the priest plainly see that it has reached not only the skin, and changed the hair, but eaten into the very flesh, so that he can see the whiteness there, as well as in the skin, he shall look upon it as an evident case, and without shutting him up for further trial, shall judge it a leprosy that has long been breeding, and of the worst kind, and accordingly shall remove the person out of the camp, that he may dwell by himself, Leviticus 13:46.
And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising;
It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is unclean.
And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever the priest looketh;
Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean.Leviticus 13:13. If the leprosy have covered all the flesh — It may seem strange that a man who is all over leprous should be pronounced clean, and yet one who is but partially leprous should be unclean. To explain this it has been said, that when the disorder appeared only in some one part, or in a few parts, it discovered the ill humour that lurked within, and withal the inability of nature to expel it; but when it overspread all, it manifested the strength of nature, conquering the distemper, and purging out the ill humours into the outward parts. So that this sort of breaking out was rather a relief to the body than a disease; and there was no danger in the eruption. The most solid account, however, of this matter is, that this kind of leprosy was not infectious, and for that reason, he who was affected with it, is here pronounced clean. In confirmation of this we are told, that this white, or universal leprosy, is not attended with an itching, as in the other kinds.
But when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be unclean.Leviticus 13:14. When raw — (Hebrew, when living) flesh appeareth in him — That is, when some of the flesh appears in its sound and natural state, the rest of the skin being white. This was a token of nature’s being unable to throw out all the leprous humour into the skin, and of its working inwardly. Consequently the person in that state was to be pronounced unclean.
And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and pronounce him to be unclean: for the raw flesh is unclean: it is a leprosy.Leviticus 13:15. The raw flesh — This is repeated again and again, because raw or living flesh might rather seem a sign of soundness, and the priest might easily be deceived by it, and therefore he was more narrowly to look into it.
Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto the priest;Leviticus 13:16. Unto white — As it is usual with sores, when they begin to be healed, the skin, which is white, coming upon the flesh.
And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the plague be turned into white; then the priest shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: he is clean.
The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, and is healed,
And in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish, and it be shewed to the priest;
And if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil.
But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:Leviticus 13:21-24. Dark — Or, and be contracted. A plague — Or, the plague of leprosy, of which he is speaking. A hot burning — A burning of fire, by the touch of any hot iron, or burning coals, which naturally makes an ulcer or sore in which the following spot is.
And if it spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague.
But if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not, it is a burning boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning, and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white;
Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin; it is a leprosy broken out of the burning: wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in the skin, but it be somewhat dark; it is a rising of the burning, and the priest shall pronounce him clean: for it is an inflammation of the burning.Leviticus 13:28. Of the burning — Arising from the burning, mentioned Leviticus 13:24.
If a man or woman have a plague upon the head or the beard;Leviticus 13:29. Upon the head or beard — Pliny tells us, that a kind of disease came into Italy in the middle of the reign of Tiberius Cesar, which commonly began in the chin, and was therefore called mentagra, and was so filthy, that any death was preferable to it. It was a foul tetter, scab, or scurf, not unlike a ring-worm, which, from the chin, often ran over the face, the neck, the breast, and the hands. Was not this similar to this plague of leprosy in the beard and head here spoken of? Bishop Patrick thinks it was. And Maimonides tells us that, in this sort of leprosy, the hair on the head or beard fell off by the roots, and the place of the hair remained bare.
Then the priest shall see the plague: and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; and there be in it a yellow thin hair; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a dry scall, even a leprosy upon the head or beard.Leviticus 13:30. A yellow thin hair — The leprosy in the body turned the hair white, in the head or beard it turned it yellow. And if a man’s hair was yellow before, this might easily be distinguished from the rest, either by the thinness or smallness of it, or by its peculiar kind of yellow, for there are divers kinds of the same colour, manifestly differing from one another.
And if the priest look on the plague of the scall, and, behold, it be not in sight deeper than the skin, and that there is no black hair in it; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days:Leviticus 13:31; Leviticus 13:33. No black hair — For had that appeared, it had ended the doubt, the black hair being a sign of soundness and strength of nature, as this yellow hair was a sign of unsoundness. He shall be shaven — For the more certain discovery of the growth or stay of the plague.
And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague: and, behold, if the scall spread not, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the scall be not in sight deeper than the skin;
He shall be shaven, but the scall shall he not shave; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more:
And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall: and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin; then the priest shall pronounce him clean: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
But if the scall spread much in the skin after his cleansing;
Then the priest shall look on him: and, behold, if the scall be spread in the skin, the priest shall not seek for yellow hair; he is unclean.Leviticus 13:36. He shall not seek — He need not search for the hair, or any other sign, the spreading of it being a sure sign of leprosy.
But if the scall be in his sight at a stay, and that there is black hair grown up therein; the scall is healed, he is clean: and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
If a man also or a woman have in the skin of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots;
Then the priest shall look: and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; it is a freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean.Leviticus 13:39; Leviticus 13:42. If the spots be darkish white — When there was no other symptom but that of whiteness in the skin, the priest was to be cautious not to pronounce it a leprosy, unless the spots were perfectly bright; for if there was any cloudiness in them, it was not a leprosy. And he is informed that a man’s losing his hair by sickness or age, which made him bald, must not be taken for a sign of leprosy. But, (Leviticus 13:42,) If there were a white reddish sore — It was a sign that such baldness came not from age, nor any accident, but from the leprosy.
And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.
And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald: yet is he clean.
And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead.
Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh;
He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head.
And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.Leviticus 13:45. His clothes shall be rent — Whatever Israelite was found and declared by the priest to be a leper, was to be in the condition of a mourner, and in all respects to behave as such, that he might sensibly declare his afflicted state. 1st, His clothes were to be rent in the upper and fore parts, which were most visible, and this partly as a token of his sorrow, because, though his disorder was not a sin, yet it was an effect of sin, and a sore punishment whereby he was cut off, both from converse with men, and from the enjoyment of God in his ordinances; and partly as a warning to others to keep at a due distance from him wheresoever he came. 2d, His head was to be bare, which was another sign of mourning. God would have men, although not overwhelmed with, yet deeply sensible of his judgments. 3d, He was to cover his upper lip, either, perhaps, with his hand, or with the skirt of his garment, partly as a badge of his sorrow, and shame, (see Ezekiel 24:17-22; Micah 3:7,) and partly for the preservation of others from his breath or touch. According to the Hebrew doctors, by covering the lip was implied, that the leper was not to salute any man all the days of his uncleanness. 4th, He was to cry, unclean, unclean. As begging the pity and prayers of others, and confessing his own infirmity, and cautioning those that came near him to keep at a distance from him. To this Jeremiah alludes, (Lamentations 4:15,) They cried unto them, Depart ye: it is unclean: depart, depart, touch not.
All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.Leviticus 13:46. He shall dwell alone — For his humiliation, to prevent the infection of others, and to show the danger of converse with spiritual lepers, or notorious sinners. Without the camp shall his habitation be — See Numbers 5:2. In after times they were shut out of the cities, as now out of the camp, (2 Kings 7:3,) and there they dwelt by themselves, 2 Kings 15:5; and so it was among other nations.
The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment;Leviticus 13:47. Leprosy in garments and houses is unknown in these times and places, which is not strange, there being some diseases peculiar to some ages and countries. And that such a thing was among the Jews, cannot reasonably be doubted; for, if Moses had been a deceiver, a man of his wisdom would not have exposed himself to the contempt of his people, by giving laws about that which their experience showed to be but a fiction.
Whether it be in the warp, or woof; of linen, or of woollen; whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin;Leviticus 13:48. In the warp or woof — A learned man renders it, in the outside, or in the inside of it. If the signification of these words be doubtful now, as some of those concerning the living creatures and precious stones are confessed to be, it is not material to us, this law being abolished; it sufficeth that the Jews understood these things by frequent experience.
And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:
And the priest shall look upon the plague, and shut up it that hath the plague seven days:
And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.
He shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woollen or in linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is: for it is a fretting leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.
And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin;
Then the priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is, and he shall shut it up seven days more:
And the priest shall look on the plague, after that it is washed: and, behold, if the plague have not changed his colour, and the plague be not spread; it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is fret inward, whether it be bare within or without.Leviticus 13:55. If it have not changed its colour — If washing doth not take away that vicious colour, and restore it to its own native colour.
And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof:
And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.
And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.
This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of woollen or linen, either in the warp, or woof, or any thing of skins, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean.Leviticus 13:59. This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment — The learned confess that this leprosy in a garment was a sign and a miracle in Israel; an extraordinary punishment inflicted by the divine power, as a token of great displeasure against a person or family. The garment suspected to be tainted was not to be burned immediately; for in no case must sentence be given merely upon a surmise; but it must be shown to the priest. If, upon search, it was found that there was a leprous spot, (the Jews say, no bigger than a bean,) it was to be burned, or at least that part of it in which the spot was. If the cause of the suspicion were gone, yet it must be washed, and then it might be used, Leviticus 13:58. This was intended to intimate the great malignity which there is in sin. It not only defiles the sinner’s conscience, but it brings a stain on all his employments and enjoyments, all he has, and all he doeth. To them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, Titus 1:14. And we are hereby taught to hate even the garments spotted with the flesh, Jdg 1:23. Those that make their clothes servants to their pride and lust, may see them thereby tainted with a leprosy, and doomed to the fire, Isaiah 3:18; Isaiah 3:24; but the ornament of the hidden man of the heart is incorruptible, 1 Peter 3:4. The robes of righteousness never fret nor are moth eaten.