Leviticus 14:34
When you be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession;
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(34) When ye be come into the land of Canaan.—We have here the first of four instances in Leviticus of a law being given prospectively, having no immediate bearing on the condition of the people of Israel (see Leviticus 19:23; Leviticus 23:10; Leviticus 25:2). This may be the reason why it is separated from the law of leprous men and garments, which we should naturally expect it would follow, instead of being preceded by the law of cleansing, and why it occupies the position of an appendix. Because it is here said “the land of Canaan,” the authorities during the second Temple maintained that this supernatural plague of leprous houses was peculiar to Palestine, and was unknown in any other country. They moreover adduce the words “in a house of the land of your possession” to account for the fact that houses in Palestine not in the possession of the Israelites,—i.e., houses of Gentiles—were exempt from this distemper, that the synagogues throughout the country which had no official dwelling-houses attached to them were never visited by this loathsome disease, and that none of the houses in Jerusalem were ever afflicted with it, because the holy city was never divided among the tribes. Whatever we may think of their interpretation, the testimony of these eye-witnesses who had to administer the laws of leprosy, that out of Palestine, that in certain houses in Palestine, and that in the whole of Jerusalem, this kind of distemper was unknown, remains unshaken.

And I put the plague of leprosy.—The plague is here described as a supernatural one, proceeding from the immediate hand of God. Ordinary leprosy, as we are told by the authorities in the time of Christ, comes upon man for the following sins: “for idolatry, for profaning the name of the Lord, unchastity, theft, slander, false witness, false judgment, perjury, infringing the borders of a neighbour, devising malicious plans, or creating discord between brothers.” House leprosy is sent by God if the owner of a plot of land on the sacred soil builds his house with materials unlawfully acquired. Hence the ancient Chaldee Version of Jonathan renders the first part of this verse by, “And if there be a man who buildeth his house with stolen goods, then I will put the plague,” &c.

Leviticus 14:34. I put the plague of leprosy in a house — Now they were in the wilderness, dwelt in tents, and had no houses; and therefore this law is made only as an appendix to the former laws concerning the leprosy, because it related not to their present state, but to their future settlement in Canaan. The leprosy in a house is as unaccountable as the leprosy in a garment: but if we do not see what natural causes can be assigned for it, we may resolve it into the power of the God of nature, who here saith, I put the leprosy in a house, as (Zechariah 5:4) his curse is said to enter into a house and consume it, with the stones and timber thereof.14:33-53 The leprosy in a house is unaccountable to us, as well as the leprosy in a garment; but now sin, where that reigns in a house, is a plague there, as it is in a heart. Masters of families should be aware, and afraid of the first appearance of sin in their families, and put it away, whatever it is. If the leprosy is got into the house, the infected part must be taken out. If it remain in the house, the whole must be pulled down. The owner had better be without a dwelling, than live in one that was infected. The leprosy of sin ruins families and churches. Thus sin is so interwoven with the human body, that it must be taken down by death.This section is separated from that on leprosy in clothing Leviticus 13:47-59 with which it would seem to be naturally connected, and is placed last of all the laws concerning leprosy, probably on account of its being wholly prospective. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, the materials of their dwellings were of nearly the same nature as those of their clothing, and would be liable to the same sort of decay. They were therefore included under the same law.

I put the plague - Yahweh here speaks as the Lord of all created things, determining their decay and destruction as well as their production. Compare Isaiah 45:6-7; Jonah 4:7; Matthew 21:20.

34-48. leprosy in a house—This law was prospective, not to come into operation till the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan. The words, "I put the leprosy," has led many to think that this plague was a judicial infliction from heaven for the sins of the owner; while others do not regard it in this light, it being common in Scripture to represent God as doing that which He only permits in His providence to be done. Assuming it to have been a natural disease, a new difficulty arises as to whether we are to consider that the house had become infected by the contagion of leprous occupiers; or that the leprosy was in the house itself. It is evident that the latter was the true state of the case, from the furniture being removed out of it on the first suspicion of disease on the walls. Some have supposed that the name of leprosy was analogically applied to it by the Hebrews, as we speak of cancer in trees when they exhibit corrosive effects similar to what the disease so named produces on the human body; while others have pronounced it a mural efflorescence or species of mildew on the wall apt to be produced in very damp situations, and which was followed by effects so injurious to health as well as to the stability of a house, particularly in warm countries, as to demand the attention of a legislator. Moses enjoined the priests to follow the same course and during the same period of time for ascertaining the true character of this disease as in human leprosy. If found leprous, the infected parts were to be removed. If afterwards there appeared a risk of the contagion spreading, the house was to be destroyed altogether and the materials removed to a distance. The stones were probably rough, unhewn stones, built up without cement in the manner now frequently used in fences and plastered over, or else laid in mortar. The oldest examples of architecture are of this character. The very same thing has to be done still with houses infected with mural salt. The stones covered with the nitrous incrustation must be removed, and if the infected wall is suffered to remain, it must be plastered all over anew. No text from Poole on this verse. When ye be come into the land of Canaan,.... Which as yet they were not come to, being in the wilderness, and so the following law concerning the leprosy in houses could not yet take place, they now dwelling in tents, and not in houses:

which I give to you for a possession; the Lord had given it to Abraham, and his seed, long ago, to be their inheritance, and now he was about to put them into the possession of it, which they were to hold as their own under God, their sovereign Lord and King:

and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; by which it appears that this kind of leprosy was from the immediate hand of God, and was supernatural and miraculous, as the Jewish writers affirm (f); nor is there anything in common, or at least in our parts of the world, that is answerable unto it; and from hence the same writers (g) conclude, that houses of Gentiles are exempt from it, only the houses of the Israelites in the land of Canaan had it; and they likewise except Jerusalem, and say (h), that was not defiled with the plague of leprosy, as it is written, "and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession"; for Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes; and they suppose, whenever it was put into any house, it was on account of some sin or sins committed by the owner; and so the Targum of Jonathan, and there be found a man that builds his house with rapine and violence, then I will put the plague, &c. thought they commonly ascribe it to evil speaking, which they gather from the case of Miriam.

(f) Maimonides, Abarbinel, Abraham Seba, and others. (g) Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (h) T. Bab. Eruvin, fol. 82. 2. Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 4. Gersom in loc.

When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I {l} put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession;

(l) This declares that no plague nor punishment comes to man without God's providence and his sending.

Verse 34. - When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession. This is the first instance of a law being given which has no bearing on the present condition of the Israelites. but is to regulate their conduct when they had come into the promised land. From the time of Abraham downwards, the assurance of their entrance into that land had been possessed by the people of Israel (Genesis 17:8), and the expectation of the speedy fulfillment of that promise had been quickened by their exodus from Egypt, and the preparations made to march through the wilderness. There would, therefore, be nothing surprising to them in receiving instructions to guide their conduct when the entrance should have been effected. As the question is one of leprosy, it is natural that it should be treated of with the leprosy of the human subject and the leprosy of garments; but as it is not of immediate application, it is placed at the end, and dealt with after the rest of the subject has been discussed, being appended to the law of cleansing the leper, instead of preceding it. And I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession. This expression has led to the idea that the leprosy of houses was a special infliction at God's hand in a manner different flora other inflictions or diseases; but the words do not mean that. All that is done is in a sense done by God, inasmuch as his providence rules over all; and, therefore, by whatever secondary cause a thing may be brought about, it is he that does it. It is God that feeds the birds (Luke 12:24), God that clothes the grass (Luke 12:28), nor does one sparrow fall to the ground without him (Matthew 10:29). It is he, therefore, that puts the plague in a house, as the Lord of all things (cf. Isaiah 45:6, 7, "I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things"). The expression militates, though not strongly, against the notion that the house caught the leprosy from the leper that lived in it. In cases of poverty on the part of the person to be consecrated, the burnt-offering and sin-offering were reduced to a pair of turtle-doves or young pigeons, and the meat-offering to a tenth of an ephah of meal and oil; but no diminution was allowed in the trespass-offering as the consecration-offering, since this was the conditio sine qua non of reinstatement in full covenant rights. On account of the importance of all the details of this law, every point is repeated a second time in Leviticus 14:21-32.
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