EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) It is an old leprosy.
—Either of these symptoms showed that it was the re-appearance of the old distemper, and rendered quarantine needless. The priest is, therefore, to pronounce him unclean at once.
13:1-17 The plague of leprosy was an uncleanness, rather than a disease. Christ is said to cleanse lepers, not to cure them. Common as the leprosy was among the Hebrews, during and after their residence in Egypt, we have no reason to believe that it was known among them before. Their distressed state and employment in that land must have rendered them liable to disease. But it was a plague often inflicted immediately by the hand of God. Miriam's leprosy, and Gehazi's, and king Uzziah's, were punishments of particular sins; no marvel there was care taken to distinguish it from a common distemper. The judgment of it was referred to the priests. And it was a figure of the moral pollutions of men's minds by sin, which is the leprosy of the soul, defiling to the conscience, and from which Christ alone can cleanse. The priest could only convict the leper, (by the law is the knowledge of sin,) but Christ can cure the sinner, he can take away sin. It is a work of great importance, but of great difficulty, to judge of our spiritual state. We all have cause to suspect ourselves, being conscious of sores and spots; but whether clean or unclean is the question. As there were certain marks by which to know it was leprosy, so there are marks of such as are in the gall of bitterness. The priest must take time in making his judgment. This teaches all, both ministers and people, not to be hasty in censures, nor to judge anything before the time. If some men's sins go before unto judgment, the sins of others follow after, and so do men's good works. If the person suspected were found to be clean, yet he must wash his clothes, because there had been ground for the suspicion. We have need to be washed in the blood of Christ from our spots, though not leprosy spots; for who can say, I am pure from sin?
If the rising be white - Or, If there be a white rising. The term very probably denotes the white Bulla or patch of Anaesthetic elephantiasis when it has re-appeared.
Quick raw flesh in the rising - The margin gives the literal rendering. The symptom here noted exhibits a more advanced stage of the disease. The expression might denote an ulcer or open sore with "proud flesh" appearing in it.
9-37. if the rising be white—This BRIGHT WHITE leprosy is the most malignant and inveterate of all the varieties the disease exhibits, and it was marked by the following distinctive signs: A glossy white and spreading scale, upon an elevated base, the elevation depressed in the middle, but without a change of color; the black hair on the patches participating in the whiteness, and the scaly patches themselves perpetually enlarging their boundary. Several of these characteristics, taken separately, belong to other blemishes of the skin as well; so that none of them was to be taken alone, and it was only when the whole of them concurred that the Jewish priest, in his capacity of physician, was to pronounce the disease a malignant leprosy. If it spread over the entire frame without producing any ulceration, it lost its contagious power by degrees; or, in other words, it ran through its course and exhausted itself. In that case, there being no longer any fear of further evil, either to the individual himself or to the community, the patient was declared clean by the priest, while the dry scales were yet upon him, and restored to society. If, on the contrary, the patches ulcerated and quick or fungous flesh sprang up in them, the purulent matter of which, if brought into contact with the skin of other persons, would be taken into the constitution by means of absorbent vessels, the priest was at once to pronounce it an inveterate leprosy. A temporary confinement was them declared to be totally unnecessary, and he was regarded as unclean for life [Dr. Good]. Other skin affections, which had a tendency to terminate in leprosy, though they were not decided symptoms when alone, were: "a boil" (Le 13:18-23); "a hot burning,"—that is, a fiery inflammation or carbuncle (Le 13:24-28); and "a dry scall" (Le 13:29-37), when the leprosy was distinguished by being deeper than the skin and the hair became thin and yellow.
No text from Poole on this verse.
It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh,.... An inveterate one, of long standing and continuance, an obstinate one, not to be cured by medicine; as this sort of leprosy was, and therefore the person was sent not to a physician, but to the priest: the leprosy of sin is an old disease, brought by man into the world with him, and continues with him from his youth upwards, and nothing but the grace of God and blood of Christ can remove it:
and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up; there being no doubt at all of it being a leprosy, and of his uncleanness, and therefore no need to shut him up for further examination, but to turn him out of the camp till his purification was over:
for he is unclean; in a ceremonial sense, and was obliged to the law for cleansing, such as after given. 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.