Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Colour, &c. Hebrew, "a tumour, abscess, or white spot," which are the three marks of leprosy. (Calmet) --- Leprosy. The leprosy was a figure of sin: and the observances prescribed in this and the following chapter, intimate what ought spiritually to be done, in order to be delivered from so great an evil, or preserved from it. (Challoner) --- The authority of the priests in the new law to bind or loose sins, was hereby prefigured. (St. Chrysostom, de Sacerd. 3.) (Worthington)
Flesh. These two signs indicated the species of leprosy called volatile, or impetigo, (Menochius) resembling a scab, which did not penetrate the flesh or bones, as our leprosy or elephantiasis does. (Vales.; Chap. xix.) --- Separated from society. Hebrew, "he shall contaminate him." See ver. 11. (Haydock) --- Some assert, that the physician was first to be consulted. But none but the priests could declare them unclean, or set them at liberty. After they had pronounced sentence, the lepers might apply for medicines to others.
Obscure. Some translate the Hebrew "retired," with the Syriac and Arabic versions. --- Scab, "an ebullition," or pustule. (Theodoret; St. Jerome in Nah. ii.) --- Clothes, and himself. See Chap. xi. 40.
Uncleanness, or permanent leprosy.
Living flesh. The leprosy is caused by immense numbers of worms, which crawl between the skin and the flesh, and sometimes infect the latter, and they very bones, garments, &c. Hence the flesh seems all in motion, and living. (Haydock) --- The different spots in the skin represent heretical opinions obscuring the true faith, of which priests are the judges. (Deuteronomy xvii.; St. Augustine, q. Evang. ii. 40.) (Worthington)
Inveterate. Celsus says, this sort of leprosy is hardly ever cured. --- Up. But, as the Roman Septuagint reads, "shall separate him," from the people.
Clean. The white leprosy causeth no itching. (Gorrheus.; Celsus, v. 28.) Theodoret (q. 16,) says, it is incurable; and therefore, the person infected is not shut up, out of pity. So St. Paul (1 Corinthians v. 11,) forbids us to eat with a dissolute Christian, while he allows us to have commerce with infidels, though they be wholly corrupt. But others assert, it is not so difficult to cure as that which is partial, ver. 14. The hand of Moses was stricken with this white leprosy, Exodus iv. 6. (Calmet) --- This species is not so contagious. (Menochius)
Live flesh, raw, the skin being consumed in various parts.
Whiteness, after the red flesh is covered with skin as usual.
Ulcer, as before, ver. 3.
Place, which is contrary to the nature of leprosy.
Scar. If it had proceeded from burning it would have been black. (Menochius)
Obscure. Hebrew may be, "stopped," as it is opposed to ver. 22, if it spread. See ver. 55-56.
Unclean. Hebrew adds, "it is the stroke of leprosy," and the Septuagint, "it has spread in the ulcer."
Leprosy, or scurf. (Calmet) --- This species causes the hair to be yellow, and not white. (Menochius)
Black. The Hebrew, Samaritan, &c., prefix "not," which ought probably to be away, as the natural colour of the hair, in that country, is black; while yellow, or white hair, give reason to suspect leprosy; and (ver. 32,) the Hebrew says, "if there be no yellow hair in it," which insinuates that it was black before. The Septuagint have explained both verses in the same sense, as they found the negation also. If we admit it, we may distinguish black hair from that which approaches to brown, or light-coloured hair. When therefore a person, who had before black hair, has experienced some change, he must be shut up seven days; after which, if his hair be not become yellow or reddish, he must be shaved, &c. (Calmet)
Blemish, or scab, of which Celsus speaks, B. 5.
Colour, indicating some bad humours, which had caused the hair to fall off.
Loose, both for the benefit of the leper, and that others may beware of him. (Menochius) --- Bare, letting the hair grow, (chap. xxi. 5, 10,) in testimony of mourning. The leper behaved like one in mourning, tearing his garments, neglecting his hair and beard, or cutting them, and, through shame, covering his face, Ezechiel xxiv. 22. The Persians would not allow any lepers to enter their cities. (Herod., ii. 138.) (Calmet)
Camp, or city, unless some great man, like king Ozias, might be permitted to dwell there in a house, secluded from all society, 4 Kings xv. 5. --- 2 Paralipomenon xxvi. 21.
Garment that shall have the leprosy. These prescriptions, with relation to garments and houses infected with the leprosy, are to teach us to fly all such company and places as are apt to be the occasion of sin.
White. Hebrew and Septuagint, "greenish."
Grown. Hebrew adds here, (and ver. 53, 56, 57, 59,) "in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of a skin."
Returned, which it had before it was infected, and, consequently, as the Hebrew reads, "behold the plague has not changed its colour." (Haydock)
Dark, or "at a stand." See ver. 6. Hebrew keha, means to sink, like the eyes of an old man, &c.
Flying, as that in man, ver. 12. Hebrew, "it is a leprosy, which returns and is rooted." Chaldean, "it spreads." (Calmet) See Calmet's Diss. on the Leprosy. --- This dreadful disorder is very common in Arabia and Palestine. During the holy wars many of the Europeans were infected with it. The Jews believe, that the leprosy of garments and of houses was restrained to Judea, and attacked them only when the people rebelled against God. (Oleaster) --- The providence of God often visited those, who would not obey his ministers, with this disorder. (Deuteronomy xxiv. 8; Numbers xii.; Theodoret q. 18.) (Tirinus)
Pronounced. This word should refer to both; mundari vel contaminari, how it ought to be pronounced clean or unclean; as the law regards the declaration of the priests, and not the medicines to be used for the leprosy. (Haydock)