Leviticus 13:2
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 to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests:
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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.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?The skin of his flesh - An expression found nowhere but in this chapter. It probably denotes the cuticle or scarf skin, as distinguished from the curls or true skin.

Rising ... scab ... bright spot - The Hebrew words are the technical names applied to the common external signs of incipient elephantiasis.

Like the plague of leprosy - Like a stroke of leprosy.

2. When a man shall have in the skin, &c.—The fact of the following rules for distinguishing the plague of leprosy being incorporated with the Hebrew code of laws, proves the existence of the odious disease among that people. But a short time, little more than a year (if so long a period had elapsed since the exodus) when symptoms of leprosy seem extensively to have appeared among them; and as they could not be very liable to such a cutaneous disorder amid their active journeyings and in the dry open air of Arabia, the seeds of the disorder must have been laid in Egypt, where it has always been endemic. There is every reason to believe that this was the case: that the leprosy was not a family complaint, hereditary among the Hebrews, but that they got it from intercourse with the Egyptians and from the unfavorable circumstances of their condition in the house of bondage. The great excitement and irritability of the skin in the hot and sandy regions of the East produce a far greater predisposition to leprosy of all kinds than in cooler temperatures; and cracks or blotches, inflammations or even contusions of the skin, very often lead to these in Arabia and Palestine, to some extent, but particularly in Egypt. Besides, the subjugated and distressed state of the Hebrews in the latter country, and the nature of their employment, must have rendered them very liable to this as well as to various other blemishes and misaffections of the skin; in the production of which there are no causes more active or powerful than a depressed state of body and mind, hard labor under a burning sun, the body constantly covered with the excoriating dust of brick fields, and an impoverished diet—to all of which the Israelites were exposed while under the Egyptian bondage. It appears that, in consequence of these hardships, there was, even after they had left Egypt, a general predisposition among the Hebrews to the contagious forms of leprosy—so that it often occurred as a consequence of various other affections of the skin. And hence all cutaneous blemishes or blains—especially such as had a tendency to terminate in leprosy—were watched with a jealous eye from the first [Good, Study of Medicine]. A swelling, a pimple, or bright spot on the skin, created a strong ground of suspicion of a man's being attacked by the dreaded disease.

then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, &c.—Like the Egyptian priests, the Levites united the character of physician with that of the sacred office; and on the appearance of any suspicious eruptions on the skin, the person having these was brought before the priest—not, however, to receive medical treatment, though it is not improbable that some purifying remedies might be prescribed, but to be examined with a view to those sanitary precautions which it belonged to legislation to adopt.

In the skin, for there was the seat of the leprosy.

Bright spot, shining like the scale of a fish, as it is in the beginning of a leprosy.

Leprosy was a distemper most frequent in Egypt and Syria, &c., known also among the Greeks, who note that it was not so properly a disease as a defilement or distemper in the skin, whence Christ is not said to heal, but to cleanse the lepers that came to him. And this distemper is here provided against, not because it was worse than others, but because it was externally and visibly filthy, and because of its infectious nature, that hereby we might be instructed to avoid converse with such vicious persons who were likely to infect us.

He shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, not to the physician, because, as was now said, it needed not so much healing as cleansing, and was rather a ceremonial pollution than a disease; and because it belonged to the priest to cleanse him, and therefore to search and discover whether he was defiled and needed cleansing. The priest also was to admit to, or exclude from, the sanctuary, and therefore to examine who were to be excluded. And the discovery of this distemper was not so difficult that it required the physician’s art, but the priest, by experience, and the observation of those rules, might easily make it. When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh,.... Rules are here given, by which a leprosy might be judged of; which, as a disease, was frequent in Egypt, where the Israelites had dwelt a long time, and from whence they were just come; and is doubtless the reason, as learned men have observed, that several Heathen writers make the cause of their expulsion from Egypt, as they choose to call it, though wrongly, their being infected with this distemper; whereas it was the reverse, not they, but the Egyptians, were incident to it (z). Moreover, the leprosy here spoken of seems not to be the same with that disease, or what we now call so, though some have thought otherwise; it being rather an uncleanness than a disease, and the business of a priest, and not a physician to attend unto; and did not arise from natural causes, but was from the immediate hand of God, and was inflicted on men for their sins, as the cases of Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah show; and who by complying with the rites and ceremonies hereafter enjoined, their sins were pardoned, and they were cleansed; so that as their case was extraordinary and supernatural, their cure and cleansing were as remarkable: besides, this impurity being in garments and houses, shows it to be something out of the ordinary way. And this law concerning it did not extend to all men, only to the Israelites, and such as were in connection with them, such as proselytes. It is said (a), all are defiled with the plague (of leprosy) except an idolater and a proselyte of the gate; and the commentators say (b), even servants, and little ones though but a day old; that is, they are polluted with it, and so come under this law. Now the place where this disorder appears is "in the skin of the flesh"; that is, where there is a skin, and that is seen; for there are some places, the Jewish writers (c) say, are not reckoned the skin of the flesh, or where that is not seen, and such places are excepted, and they are these; the inside of the eye, of the ear, and of the nose: wrinkles in the neck, under the pap, and under the arm hole; the sole of the foot, the nail, the head and beard: and this phrase, "in the skin of his flesh", is always particularly mentioned; and when there appeared in it

a rising, scab, or bright spot; the scab that is placed between the rising or swelling, and the bright spot, belongs to them both, and is a kind of an accessory, or second to each of them: hence the Jews distinguish the scab of the swelling, and the scab of the bright spot; so that these make four in all, as they observe (d). And to this agrees what Ben Gersom on this text remarks; the bright spot is, whose whiteness is as the snow; the rising or swelling is what is white, as the pure wool of a lamb of a day old; the scab is what is inferior in whiteness to the rising, and is as in the degree of the whiteness of the shell or film of an egg; and this is the order of these appearances, the most white is the bright spot, after that the rising, and after that the scab of the bright spot, and after that the scab of the rising or swelling; and, lo, what is in whiteness below the whiteness of this (the last) is not the plague of leprosy:

and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; either of the above appearances in the skin, having somewhat in them similar to the leprosy, or which may justly raise a suspicion of it, though it is not clear and manifest:

then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests; for, as Jarchi notes, there was no pollution nor purification of the leprosy, but by the mouth or determination of a priest. And a good man that was desirous, and made conscience of observing the laws of God, when he observed anything of the above in him, and had any suspicion of his case, would of himself go, and show himself to the priest; but if a man did not do this, and any of his neighbours observed the appearances on him, brought him to the priest whether he would or not, according to the text:

he shall be brought: that is, as Aben Ezra explains it, whether with or without his will; for he that sees in him one of the signs, shall oblige him to come to the priest; and who observes, that by Aaron the priest is meant, the priest anointed in his room; and by his sons the priests, the common priests, who are found without the sanctuary; such as the priests of Anathoth, but who were not of those that were rejected.

(z) Est elephas morbus-----gignitur Aegypto. Lucret. l. 6. ver. 1112. (a) Misn. Negaim, c. 3. sect. 1.((b) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (c) Misn. Negaim. c. 6. sect. 8. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (d) Misn. ib. c. 1. sect. 1.

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 {a} like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:

(a) That it may be suspected to be leprosy.

Leprosy in man (Leviticus 13:2-46)

Appearances in the skin which should be shewn to the priest (2–8)

2. a rising, or a scab, or a bright spot] Of the three words thus translated, the first is a common Heb. word for ‘lifting up,’ but employed in these chs. only in the sense of a swelling in or under the skin; the second (ṣappaḥath) occurs only here and Leviticus 14:56, the form miṣpaḥath from the same root only in Leviticus 13:6-8; the third is from a root signifying ‘to be bright or clear,’ and is used only in these chs. They all seem to denote an appearance like that of an angry-looking boil.

the plague of leprosy] rather a plague.

plague] lit. ‘a stroke’ (plaga; cp. a ‘stroke’ of paralysis), which also represents the sense of the Heb. word nega‘, which gives its name to the treatise Negâim. The leper was rejected as ‘smitten of God.’ See introd. note on ch. 14.Verse 2. - The word translated plague of leprosy literally means stroke. It seems to be used in the sense of spot. Then shall he be brought unto Aaron the priest. That the regulations respecting leprosy were not sanitary arrangements, as has been sometimes represented, is indicated by the authority over the leper being vested in the priest rather than in the physician, and the question of whether a man was a leper or no being decided by the former rather than the latter. It is to be noted also that the priest is not made unclean by his contact with the leper, because he is in the performance of his duty. The supposed leper may be brought either to Aaron or unto one of his sons the priests; that is, to the high priest or to the ordinary priest, and those descendants of Aaron who were disqualified by physical infirmities from officiating at the altar were permitted to act as examiners in leprosy. After the expiration of this period, on the eighth day, the boy was to be circumcised (see at Genesis 17). She was then to sit, i.e., remain at home, thirty-three days in the blood of purification, without touching anything holy or coming to the sanctuary (she was not to take any part, therefore, in the sacrificial meals, the Passover, etc.), until the days of her purification were full, i.e., had expired.
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