The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woolen garment, or a linen garment;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The garment also that.—Better, And if a garment hath. The fact that the same phrase, “plague of leprosy,” is used both in the case of garments and of human beings, and that the symptoms and working of leprous garments and those of leprous men are identical, shows beyond doubt that the same distemper is meant. The theory, therefore, that “plague of leprosy” is here used figuratively of garments fretted by a species of animalculæ or vermin, which feed upon and corrode the finer parts of the texture in the manner of moths, is contrary to the uniform import of this phrase in the discussion of the disorder, and is against the testimony of the administrators of the law during the second Temple, who came in personal contact with the complaint. They assure us that leprosy of garments and houses was not to be found in the world generally, but was a sign and miracle in Israel to guard them against an evil tongue. Equally untenable is the theory that it denotes an infectious condition of clothes caused by contact with the leprous matter of wounds and boils, which is so strong that it corrodes and injures all kinds of texture. Neither the regulations here laid down, nor the further development of them exhibited in the canons which obtained during the second Temple, regard leprosy as contagious. This is evident from the fact that the priest was in constant and close contact with the leper; that the leper who was entirely covered was pronounced clean, and could mix with the community (see Leviticus 13:12-13); that the priest himself ordered all the things in a leprous house to be taken out before he entered it, in order that they might be used again (see Leviticus 14:36); that according to the ancient canons a leprous minor, a leprous heathen or proselyte, as well as leprous garments in houses of non-Israelites, do not render any one unclean, nor does a bridegroom who is seized with this malady during the nuptial week defile any one. All this most unquestionably implies that there was no fear of contagion on the part of the authorities who had personally to deal with this distemper.
Whether it be a woollen garment.—As among the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, woollen and linen garments were the only apparel worn by the Israelites. (Comp. Deuteronomy 22:11; Hosea 2:7; Hosea 2:11; Proverbs 31:13.) The administrators of the law during the second Temple, however, took this enactment literally as referring strictly to wool of sheep and flax, but not to hemp and other materials. Hence they declared that a material made of camels’ hair and sheep’s wool is not rendered unclean by leprosy if the camels’ hair preponderates, but is unclean when the sheep’s hair preponderates, or when both are equal. The same rule also applies to mixtures of flax and hemp. Dyed skins and garments are not rendered unclean by leprosy. We have here another proof that these authorities did not regard leprosy as contagious.Leviticus 13:47. Leprosy in garments and houses is unknown in these times and places, which is not strange, there being some diseases peculiar to some ages and countries. And that such a thing was among the Jews, cannot reasonably be doubted; for, if Moses had been a deceiver, a man of his wisdom would not have exposed himself to the contempt of his people, by giving laws about that which their experience showed to be but a fiction.Numbers 15:38 and a woolen cloak or blanket thrown on in colder weather.
A woollen garment, or a linen garment, are put by a synecdoche for any other garments.
whether it be a woollen garment or a linen garment: and, according to the Misnic doctors (k), only wool and linen were defiled by leprosy; Aben Ezra indeed says, that the reason why no mention is made of silk and cotton is because the Scripture speaks of what was found (then in use), as in Exodus 23:5; wherefore, according to him, woollen and linen are put for all other garments; though, he adds, or it may be the leprosy does not happen to anything but wool and linen; however, it is allowed, as Ben Gersom observes, that when the greatest part of the cloth is made of wool or linen, it was defiled by it: the Jewish canon is, if the greatest part is of camels hair, it is not defiled; but if the greatest part is of sheep, it is; and if half to half (or equal) it is defiled; and so flax, and hemp mixed together (l); the same rule is to be observed concerning them.
(e) Hilchot Tumaat Tzarat, c. 16. sect. 10. (f) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 99. 3.((g) Ramban, Bechai, Isaac Arama, & alii, apud Muisium in loc. (h) Scheuchzer. Physica Sacra, vol. 2. p. 326. (i) Calmet's Dictionary, in the word "Leper". (k) Misn. Celaim, c. 9. sect, 1.((l) Ib. Negaim, c. 11. sect. 2.The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woolen garment, or a linen garment;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Leprosy in garments (47–59)
The nature of these spots in clothing is not clear. It is generally supposed that they are caused by mildew or moth (see Art. Leprosy, HDB.); another suggestion is that the clothing had been worn by a leprous person, but this is not stated in the text. The materials of the garments are either wool, linen, or skin.Verse 47. - Whether it be a woolen garment, or a linen garment. Wool and flax are the two materials for clothes mentioned in Deuteronomy 22:11; Proverbs 31:13; Hosea 2:7.
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