Darby's Bible Synopsis
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,
The following commentary covers Chapters 13 and 14.
Leprosy requires a little more detail. It was found in persons, in garments, in houses. Leprosy was sin acting in the flesh. The spiritual man-the priest-discerns as to it. If the raw flesh appears, he is unclean; the strength of the flesh is at work. If the man was white all over, it was only the effect, as sin entirely confessed but no longer active; he was clean. The thing spreads in man, if it be evil in the flesh. The first step is for him to confess; and to confess under full spiritual discernment, and the judgment of God who has brought to light what was acting in his nature. He makes up his mind as one judged and detected. He has no part in the assembly of God, though making part of it in one sense. He is put out, without the camp.
Leprosy (sin) manifested itself in circumstances, in that which surrounds us, as well as in personal conduct. If it was only a spot, the garment was washed, and it was clean; if the plague spot, on the contrary, spread, the whole was burned; if the plague, though it did not spread, remained, after washing, unchanged, the whole was burned. If changed and it spread no more, the spot was torn out. If we get thus defiled by our circumstances, and it is not in the things themselves, we need only wash and remain where we are; if a part of them be essentially bad, that it spread defilingly in our whole condition, all that part of our outward life must be given up; if, in spite of washing, sin be still found the same there, if we cannot walk therein with God, such a position must be wholly given up at any cost; if it be affected by the washing and cease to spread, the general state being unaffected, the particular thing which has defiled is to be given up.
As to purification, the leper was first considered as being outside the camp, not belonging to it; but if the activity of the disease was stopped in him, he was healed, but not yet purified. Thus this type supposes that the flesh, instead of being active and characteristic of the state of man, is judged and arrested in its activity. It is the enjoyment of a recognised relationship with God which is to be established [See Note #1]. The first part of the purification relates to this position. Christ being dead and risen, man sprinkled with His blood is fit, as regards the controversy with God, and His requirements, to enter the camp of God's people; and then he can share in the efficacy of the means which they can use there, of that which is found within, in order to present himself as acceptable before the tabernacle of God. Two birds were to be taken, and one killed by some one, at the command of the priest; for the priest's office never properly began till there was blood to offer or sprinkle, though the high priest represented Israel on the great day of atonement [See Note #2]. The two birds, however, are identified, so that we hear no more of that which was killed, though the efficacy of the blood be everything in the work of cleansing; the second is dipped in the blood of the first.
Thus Christ dead is no more found; but, being raised, He sprinkles His blood, as priest, on the unclean sinner. The earthen vessel, over running water, presents to us the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, according to the all-powerful efficacy of which, in Christ as man, this work of the death of Jesus has been accomplished: through the eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God-God having brought again from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. He, the sinner, was under the efficacy of Christ's work.
But now there is, before he can offer, the work done on himself, the actual cleansing applied to him. He who cleansed himself washed himself-a purification of water as well as of blood, which is always found; the moral judgment of sin viewed as that which excludes from God's presence, so that the sinner is, in principle and faith, morally as well as judicially cleansed. Of the last blood is the emblem; but the water is the estimation of sin as shewn in Christ's death, and the forsaking of God. It is in virtue of the death of Christ, seen as His work for us, for the water comes out of His pierced side. He came by water and blood. The leper rids himself of anything to which impurity might have attached, or had a share in, and now he enters the camp; and the work of bringing him into communion with God in his conscience begins [See Note #3].
This is through realising all the efficacy of the work of Christ, with reference to conscience itself-not only as to the acceptance of the person, according to God's knowledge of that acceptance, but as to the purification of the conscience, and as to a knowledge of God, based on a moral appreciation of the work of Christ in every aspect, and the excellent work of the power of the Spirit of God. This is the second part of the cleansing of the leper, that which took place after he had re-entered the camp. It is important to recognise the work of Christ under these two aspects; its intrinsic efficacy for the acceptance of the person on the one hand; and, on the other, the purification of the conscience itself, in order that there may be communion with God, according to the price and the perfection of that work, known in the conscience as a means of drawing near to God, and as the moral condition of that nearness.
Let us now examine what took place. The first thing was the trespass-offering. The conscience must be purified, by the blood of Christ, of all that with which, as a matter of fact, it is charged, or would be chargeable in the day of judgment; and man must be consecrated to God with an intelligence which applies the value of that blood to his whole walk, his whole conduct, his whole thoughts, and upon the principle of perfect obedience. It is the judicial purification of the whole man, upon the principle of intelligent obedience-a purification acting upon his conscience, not merely an outward rule for a man freed from the present power of sin, but a purification of his conscience felt in the knowledge of good and evil, of which the blood of Christ is the measure before God. Man being a sinner, having failed, the work must take place in the conscience, which takes an humbling knowledge of it; and in becoming cleansed through the precious efficacy of the blood of Christ, does so through the sorrow for all that is contrary to the perfection of that blood, and which has required the shedding of it.
It is thus man is consecrated. The heart is first purified in the conscience. The things to which he had given way are, as it were, brought to the conscience, which takes a painful knowledge of them, according to the value of the blood of the precious Lamb of God, who, without spot, and perfect in obedience, had to suffer the agony caused by the sin from which we have to be cleansed-wretched creatures that we are. Afterwards the heart makes progress in the power of its communion, through the knowledge of the most precious objects of its faith. As to communion-though never as to the conscience of imputation (see Hebrews 10), and as to communion it is by water (see John 13 and 1 John 2). This work must go on again from time to time in the conscience, whenever there is something in our nature which is not in subjection to Christ, which is not brought captive to the obedience of Christ.
The blood, then, was put upon the tip of his right ear, his right hand, his right foot-his thoughts, his conduct, and his walk purified on the principle of obedience according to the measure of Christ's death, and the claim of the love displayed in it. Over that they sprinkled oil-the presence and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit as given to us, by which we are anointed and sealed-not washing (that was typified by water, the application of the word by the Spirit), but given to consecrate in knowledge and power of purpose and affection to God (with whatever gifts might be added thereto); the whole man being thus consecrated, according to the intelligence and the devotedness wrought by the Holy Spirit, to God. After that the oil was put upon his head, his whole person being thus consecrated to Him. The work was complete upon him who was to be cleansed [See Note #4]. After that the sin-offering was offered; that is, Christ (not only for the purification of the conscience in a practical sense, for its actual faults, but that sin might be judged in its full extent before God; for Christ was made sin for us, as well as bore our sins) thus acts on our consciences with regard to those sins-makes us estimate sin, such as it is in itself, seen in the sacrifice of Christ.
Then the burnt-offering with the meat-offering was offered; the former, the appreciation of the perfection of the death of Christ, seen as the devoting of Himself to God unto death, to vindicate all the rights of His majesty, and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself-in view of the existence of sin; the latter, the absolute sinlessness of Christ, His perfection, and the acting power of the Spirit in Him even to death, and full testing by it. This death was of infinite perfection in itself, as a work, for it can be said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again." It was not as bearing our sins, but absolute devotedness to God and His glory, in the circumstances that sin had brought us into, and into which Christ also came by grace, that God might be fully glorified in Him. In the meat-offering was found, besides, all the perfectness of the grace of Christ in His life-humanity, pure without doubt, but kneaded with oil; humanity having in it all the strength, the taste, and savour of the Holy Spirit in its nature; for it is in that aspect that it is presented here, not as anointed with oil [See Note #5] -as power-but kneaded with oil in its substance. Now the man is clean.
And how great is the importance and the reality of the reconciliation of a soul to God, if it values all that is thus unfolded of the work of Christ, and of its application to the soul; and certainly its reconciliation does not take place without. Alas! our trifling hearts pass, perhaps lightly, over this, and the dealings of that hand of God which does marvellous things with the quiet ease which perfect grace and power give. However, we do see,. sometimes, in some souls (according to the wisdom of God), the anguish and the suffering which accompany this work, when the conscience, in view of the reality of things before God, and through Christ, takes knowledge of the state of the heart, sinful and distant from God in its nature. This is the restoration of the soul on the part of God. It is all the working of divine power, not merely as to the work and resurrection of Christ, but even as to the soul itself; for the case here under supposition is that of a man already vitally cleansed. The priest judged him already clean, but the leper was not himself restored to God in his conscience [See Note #6]; and the Spirit of God, for this purpose, goes over the work of Christ, and its application to the soul itself, and its relationship with the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in its work, whether in purifying the sinner, or in consecrating the man. May our gracious God render us attentive to this! happy that the work should be His, though it takes place in us as well as for us.
There remains to be considered leprosy in a house. In the case of the leprous person, the whole referred to the tabernacle. They were still in the wilderness: the walk in the world was what was in question. But here the being in the land of promise is supposed. It does not refer to the cleansing of the person; it is more typical of an assembly. When defilement appears there, they take out the stones and the plaster: the external walk is quite changed, and the individuals who have corrupted this walk are taken out, and thrown amongst the unclean. If the whole be thereupon healed, the house remains; if not, it is wholly destroyed; the evil is in the assembly itself, and it was manifest, as in the case of the leper. If its source was in the stones taken away, if it was only there, the end was accomplished by taking out the stones and removing the plaster, reforming the whole external walk. Purification consisted in taking away the wicked who corrupted the public testimony-that which was manifested outside. It was not a question of restoring the conscience; the whole rests anew on the primitive efficacy of the work of Christ, which renders the assembly acceptable with God. We shall find that the apostle Paul, in his epistles addressed to assemblies, says, "grace and peace"; and, when writing to individuals, adds "mercy." Philemon seems an exception; but the church is addressed with him. In the case of garments it is no question about cleansing one's person, but of getting rid of defiled circumstances. We see that the case of the house is presented separate, being in the land of promise, and not in the walk of the wilderness. The same truth is found in the application, I doubt not. The assembly is in the land of promise; the individual walks in the wilderness. However, stones which corrupt the house may be found there.
This difference is important; it is that between the work in us which makes a sin a judged thing in us, judged by us, and the work of Christ which supposing that, puts us in a condition for relationship with God.
It was the high priest who did it, but it was not a properly priestly act. That is, it was not one going between individuals or even the people and God, but representing them as such in his own person: as Christ, His people on the cross.
When it was a question of consecrating those who were recognised as to their persons (the priests), they were first washed, and the sacrifice of Christ, viewed under every aspect, was the measure of their relation with God in every way, and the basis of their communion in its inward efficacy upon the soul. But here, the sinner being viewed in his sin outside the camp, it was necessary first to lay the basis for the possibility of intercourse with God. This was done in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then, being washed (the efficacious operation of the Spirit by the word), he can be in relationship.
Note here how very distinctly the ground of introduction into the new christian place is stated in its completeness. Culpability is fully met, guilt removed, cleansing by blood as to all committed sins perfect, and the Holy Ghost given, giving competency for all that was to follow. The man stood, to apply the figure, personally on christian ground. The sin-offering and the burnt-offering go further, hence only the trespass-offering is used to introduce the leper and have him anointed.
The fact of anointing the person comes after the trespass-offering. But this circumstance is of moment as shewing that it is Christ, in what He was in Person intrinsically-not the display of power, so as to say, "If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come amongst you," but what He was in all His blessed life in perfectness to God and in love. This is what we feed on. Note here that what is said in Verse 18 (Leviticus 14:18) does not mean, I apprehend, that the oil in itself made an atonement, but the trespass-offering, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. But it is not the less true that the man was not there until he had been anointed with the oil; nor is a man in heart and conscience before God till he have received the Holy Ghost, though the ground and measure of all be the blood with which he is sprinkled. It is the same in Verse 29 (Leviticus 14:29). See what follows.
This difference is important, and shews how the working of sin may be stopped, and the desires and will set right, and in a certain sense the affections, but the conscience not yet be restored; communion consequently not yet re-established, nor the blessed confidence and affections founded on it.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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;
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.
But when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be 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.
Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto the priest;
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:
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.
If a man or woman have a plague upon the head or the beard;
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment;
Whether it be in the warp, or woof; of linen, or of woollen; whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin;
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.
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.