Leviticus 13:45
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.
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(45) His clothes shall be rent.—As leprosy was regarded as a visitation from God for sin committed by the person thus afflicted, the patient is to rend his garments like one mourning for the dead. (See Leviticus 21:10.) During the second Temple the administrators of the law exempted leprous women from rending their clothes, which was evidently owing to a feeling of decorum.

And his head bare.—Better, and his hair be dishevelled. This was another sign of mourning. (See Leviticus 10:6.) The legislators during the second Temple also exempted leprous women from letting their hair fall in the disorderly and wild manner over their heads and faces which was the custom for mourners to do.

And he shall put a covering upon his upper lip.—To veil the beard, which was the pride of the Oriental, was also a sign of mourning. (Comp. Ezekiel 24:17; Ezekiel 24:22; Micah 3:7.) This was generally done by throwing the skirt of the garment over the lower part of the chin.

And shall cry, Unclean.—As leprosy was most defiling, and as the very entrance of a leper into a house rendered everything in it unclean, the person thus afflicted had to warn off the passers by, lest they should approach him, and by contact with him become defiled. In some instances this was done by a herald, who preceded the leper. Hence the rendering of the ancient Chaldee paraphrase of Jonathan by “a herald shall proclaim, and say, Depart, depart from the 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.

13:45,46 When the priest had pronounced the leper unclean, it put a stop to his business in the world, cut him off from his friends and relations, and ruined all the comfort he could have in the world. He must humble himself under the mighty hand of God, not insisting upon his cleanness, when the priest had pronounced him unclean, but accepting the punishment. Thus must we take to ourselves the shame that belongs to us, and with broken hearts call ourselves Unclean, unclean; heart unclean, life unclean; unclean by original corruption, unclean by actual transgression; unclean, therefore deserving to be for ever shut out from communion with God, and all hope of happiness in him; unclean, therefore undone, if infinite mercy do not interpose. The leper must warn others to take heed of coming near him. He must then be shut out of the camp, and afterward, when they came to Canaan, be shut out of the city, town, or village where he lived, and dwell with none but those that were lepers like himself. This typified the purity which ought to be in the gospel church.The leper was to carry about with him the usual signs of mourning for the dead. Compare Leviticus 10:6 and margin reference.

The leper was a living parable in the world of the sin of which death was the wages; not the less so because his suffering might have been in no degree due to his own personal deserts: he bore about with him at once the deadly fruit and the symbol of the sin of his race. Exodus 20:5. As his body slowly perished, first the skin, then the flesh, then the bone, fell to pieces while yet the animal life survived; he was a terrible picture of the gradual corruption of the spirit worked by sin.

His head bare - Rather, "his head neglected." See Leviticus 10:6 note.

Unclean, unclean - Compare the margin reference.

45. the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, &c.—The person who was declared affected with the leprosy forthwith exhibited all the tokens of suffering from a heavy calamity. Rending garments and uncovering the head were common signs of mourning. As to "the putting a covering upon the upper lip," that means either wearing a moustache, as the Hebrews used to shave the upper lip [Calmet], or simply keeping a hand over it. All these external marks of grief were intended to proclaim, in addition to his own exclamation "Unclean!" that the person was a leper, whose company every one must shun. His clothes shall be rent, to wit, in the upper and former parts, which were most visible. This was done, partly, as a token of sorrow, Ezra 9:3,5 Job 2:12, because though this 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; partly, as a warning to others to keep at a due distance from him wheresoever he came; and partly, as some add, that it might conduce to his cure, by giving the freer vent to the ill humours. But the exposing of the affected part to the cold would rather hinder than further evaporation.

His head bare; another sign of mourning, as appears from Leviticus 10:6. God would have men, though not overwhelmed with, yet deeply sensible of, his judgments.

A covering upon his upper lip; partly as another badge of his sorrow and shame, as Ezekiel 24:17,22 Mic 3:7; and partly for the preservation of others from his infectious breath or touch. Unclean, unclean; as begging the pity and prayers of others, and confessing his own infirmity, and cautioning those who came near him to keep at a distance from him.

And the leper in whom the plague is,.... Meaning not he only that has the plague of leprosy in his head, but every sort of leper before mentioned in this chapter:

his clothes shall be rent; not that he might the more easily put on his clothes without hurting him, as some have thought; or that the corrupt humours might evaporate more freely, for evaporation would rather be hindered than promoted by being exposed to cold; nor that he might be known and better avoided, for his cry after mentioned was sufficient for that; but as a token of mourning: and so Aben Ezra having mentioned the former reason, that he might be known by going in a different habit, adds, or the sense is, as a token of mourning; for he was to mourn for the wickedness of his actions; for, for his works came this plague of leprosy upon him; and so the Jews in common understand it, not as a disease arising from natural causes, but as a punishment inflicted by God for sin; wherefore this rite of rending the garments was an emblem of contrition of heart, and of sorrow and humiliation for sin, see Joel 1:13,

and his head bare; or "free" from cutting or shaving, but shall let his hair grow; and so the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi interpret it; or free from any covering upon it, hat, or cap, or turban: Ben Gersom observes, that the making bare the head, or freeing it, is taken different ways; sometimes it is used of not shaving the head for thirty days, and sometimes for the removal of the vail, or covering of the head it has been used to; but in this place it cannot signify the nourishing of the hair, but that his head ought to be covered: and so Maimonides (a) observes, that a leper should cover his head all the days he is excluded, and this was a token of mourning also; see 2 Samuel 15:30,

and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip; as a mourner, see Ezekiel 24:17. Jarchi interprets it of both lips, upper and under, which were covered with a linen cloth or vail thrown over the shoulder, and with which the mouth was covered; and this was done, as Aben Ezra says, that the leper might not hurt any with the breath of his mouth:

and shall cry, Unclean, unclean; as he passed along in any public place, that everyone might avoid him, and not be polluted by him: the Targum of Jonathan is,"a herald shall proclaim and say, Depart, depart from the unclean.''So every sinner sensible of the leprosy of sin in his nature, and which appears in his actions, should freely confess and acknowledge his uncleanness, original and actual, the impurity of his heart and life, and even of his own righteousness in the sight of God, and have recourse to Christ, and to his blood, for the cleansing him from it.

(a) Hilchot Tumaat Tzarat, c. 10. sect. 6.

And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be {m} rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper {n} lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.

(m) In sign of sorrow and lamentation.

(n) Either in token of mourning, or for fear of infecting others.

45. his clothes shall be rent] not the usual Heb. word, but one used only here and in Leviticus 10:6, Leviticus 21:10; Jewish tradition exempted women from rending their clothes. The actions of the leper here prescribed are those of a mourner; rending the garments, and letting the hair go loose (cp. Leviticus 10:6, Leviticus 21:10; Ezekiel 24:17), covering the upper lip (cp. Ezekiel 24:17; Ezekiel 24:22; Micah 3:7), crying, Unclean (Lamentations 4:15). The leper was regarded as one dead; Miriam is so described (Numbers 12:12) and Josephus refers to lepers as ‘in no way differing from the dead’ (Ant. iii. 11. 3). Cp. mediaeval rites relating to lepers in HDB. iii. 98 b.

The office from the Sarum Manual used at the seclusion of a leper may be found in R. M. Clay’s Mediaeval Hospitals, pp. 273 ff.

Rules for treatment of leprous persons (45, 46)

Verses 45, 46. - The cases for examination having been discussed, the law for the treatment of the man in whom leprosy has been proved to exist is pronounced. The leper in whom the plague is to be ex-eluded from the camp, lest others should contract defilement from him. He is for the same reason to cry, Unclean, unclean, lest any wayfarer should unwittingly come in contact with him; and his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, these being the signs of mourning for the dead. The bared or disheveled head (see chapter Leviticus 10:6) and the covered lip are incidentally mentioned as signs of mourning in Ezekiel 24:17, and the covered upper lip as a mark of shame in Micah 3:7. By the expression, He shall dwell alone, is meant he shall dwell apart from those who were clean. Of course, lepers would naturally associate with each other, and so we find that they actually did (Luke 17:12). As their presence was supposed to defile any place that they entered, they were punished in later times with forty stripes if they did not observe the restraints laid down for them. "They were, however, admitted to the synagogue, where a place was railed off for them, ten handbreadths high and four cubits wide, on condition of their entering the house of worship before the rest of the congregation and leaving it after them" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). The exclusion of the leper was not for the purpose of avoiding contagion, nor to serve as a penalty for having contracted so loathsome a disease, but primarily to prevent the spread of ceremonial uncleanness communicated by his touch, and typically and mystically to teach that the fate brought upon a man by unremoved sin is separation from the people of God here and hereafter.

Leviticus 13:45With regard to the treatment of lepers, the lawgiver prescribed that they should wear mourning costume, rend their clothes, leave the hair of their head in disorder (see at Leviticus 10:6), keep the beard covered (Ezekiel 24:17, Ezekiel 24:22), and cry "Unclean, unclean," that every one might avoid them for fear of being defiled (Lamentations 4:15); and as long as the disease lasted they were to dwell apart outside the camp (Numbers 5:2., Numbers 12:10., cf. 2 Kings 15:5; 2 Kings 7:3),

(Note: At the present day there are pest-houses specially set apart for lepers outside the towns. In Jerusalem they are situated against the Zion-gate (see Robinson, Pal. i.p. 364).)

a rule which implies that the leper rendered others unclean by contact. From this the Rabbins taught, that by merely entering a house, a leper polluted everything within it (Mishnah, Kelim i. 4; Negaim xiii. 11).

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