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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He shall dwell alone.—In consequence of his extreme defilement, the leper had to live in seclusion outside the camp or city (Numbers 5:1-4; Numbers 13:10-15; 2Kings 7:3, &c.). According to the legislation during the second Temple, if he stood under a tree and a clean person happened to pass by, he defiled the passer by. In the synagogue which he wished to attend they were obliged to make him a separate compartment, ten handbreadths high and four cubits long and broad. He had to be the first to go in and the last to leave the synagogue. Hence, leprosy was regarded as a living death, and as an awful punishment from the Lord (2Kings 5:7; 2Chronicles 26:20), which they invoked upon all their mortal enemies (2Samuel 3:29; 2Kings 5:27). The leper was debarred from conjugal intercourse. These ancient Rabbinic laws were imported into the Christian Church during the Middle Ages. When any one was afflicted with this distemper, the priest, wearing his stole and holding the crucifix, conducted him into the church, where the leper had to exchange his clothes for a peculiar black garment, and the mass was read over him and the service for the dead. He was then taken to a sequestered house, where earth was thrown upon his feet as a sign of burial, and was admonished never to appear otherwise than in his black garment and barefooted. He was not allowed to enter a church, or any place where there was a mill or bread was baked, or come near a well or fountain. He forfeited both the right of inheritance and of disposing of his property, for he was considered a dead man.Leviticus 13:46. He shall dwell alone — For his humiliation, to prevent the infection of others, and to show the danger of converse with spiritual lepers, or notorious sinners. Without the camp shall his habitation be — See Numbers 5:2. In after times they were shut out of the cities, as now out of the camp, (2 Kings 7:3,) and there they dwelt by themselves, 2 Kings 15:5; and so it was among other nations.
Though thus excluded from general contact with society, it is not likely that lepers ceased to be objects of sympathy and kindness, such as they now are in those Christian and Moslem countries in which the leprosy prevails. That they associated together in the holy land, as they do at present, is evident from 2 Kings 7:3; Luke 17:12. It has been conjectured that a habitation was provided for them outside Jerusalem, on the hill Gareb (Bezetha), which is mentioned only in Jeremiah 31:39.2 Kings 15:5 2 Chronicles 26:21.
Without the camp; so Numbers 12:14; and afterward without cities and places of great concourse, whereof we have examples, 2 Kings 7:3 Luke 17:12.
he is unclean; in a ceremonial sense, and pronounced as such by the priest, and was to be looked upon as such by others during the time of his exclusion and separation, until he was shown to the priest and cleansed, and his offering offered:
he shall dwell alone; in a separate house or apartment, as Uzziah did, 2 Chronicles 26:21; none were allowed to come near him, nor he to come near to any; yea, according to Jarchi, other unclean persons might not dwell with him:
without the camp shall his habitation be; without the three camps, as the same Jewish writer interprets it, the camp of God, the camp of the Levites, and the camp of Israel: so Miriam, when she was stricken with leprosy, was shut out of the camp seven days, Numbers 12:14. This was observed while in the wilderness, but when the Israelites came to inhabit towns and cities, then lepers were excluded from thence; for they defiled, in a ceremonial sense, every person and thing in a house they came into, whether touched by them or not. So Bartenora (b) observes, that if a leprous person goes into any house, all that is in the house is defiled, even what he does not touch; and that if he sits under a tree, and a clean person passes by, the clean person is defiled; and if he comes into a synagogue, they make a separate place for him ten hands high, and four cubits broad, and the leper goes in first, and comes out last. The Persians, according to Herodotus (c), had a custom much like this; he says, that if any of the citizens had a leprosy or a morphew, he might not come into the city, nor be mixed with other Persians (or have any conversation with them), for they say he has them because he has sinned against the sun: and there was with us an ancient writ, called "leproso amovendo" (d), that lay to remove a leper who thrust himself into the company of his neighbours in any parish, either in the church, or at other public meetings, to their annoyance. This law concerning lepers shows that impure and profane sinners are not to be admitted into the church of God; and that such who are in it, who appear to be so, are to be excluded from it, communion is not to be had with them; and that such, unless they are cleansed by the grace of God, and the blood of Christ, shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven; for into that shall nothing enter that defiles, or makes an abomination, or a lie; see 1 Corinthians 5:7 Revelation 21:27.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.
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