And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
THE FORM OF PURIFICATION OF THE LEPER (Leviticus 14:1-32). This is the most minute of all the forms of purification, those for purification from contact with a dead body (Numbers 19) and for the cleansing of a defiled Nazarite (Numbers 6) being alone to be compared with it in this respect. Some purifications were accomplished, as we have seen, in a very summary manner: one who touched the carcass of a beast that had died a natural death had only to wash his clothes (Leviticus 11:40). The greater and more significative the defilement, the more careful and the more significative must be the cleansing. Leprous uncleanness excluded the leper both from the camp and from the sanctuary, from the rights both of citizen. ship and of Church-membership, with which the rights of the family were also associated; consequently there had to be a double form of restoration, each with its special ceremonies. The manner of the first reconciliation is detailed in verses 1-8, of the second in verses 9-32.
This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:
Verse 2. - This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. The ceremonies in the first stage of cleansing, which restored the outcast to the common life of his fellows, were the following:
1. The priest formally examined the leper outside the camp, and made up his mind that he was clean.
2. An earthen vessel was brought with fresh water, and one of two birds was killed, and its blood was allowed to run into this water.
3. The other bird was taken and dipped in the vessel, with a piece of cedar wood and hyssop, which had first been tied together by a band of scarlet wool; and the leper was sprinkled seven times with the blood and water dripping from the feathers of the living bird.
4. The priest pronounced the man clean.
5. The bird was let fly into the open field.
6. The man washed his clothes, shaved his whole body, and bathed.
7. He returned within the camp, but not yet to his tent.
And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;
Verse 3. - The priest. The agent is stilt the priest, not the physician. The priest shall go forth out of the camp. "May we not (as Hesychius suggests) see a figure here of the compassion of our Great High Priest, who has gone forth out of heaven itself, the camp of angel hosts, and has come down to earth, not only to examine but to heal the moral leprosy of sin, 'to seek and to save the lost' (Luke 19:10), and who carefully examines and scrutinizes all the secrets of all hearts (Hebrews 4:12)? And he was exempt from all contagion of sin while he lived and moved among sinners (Matthew 9:11; Luke 15:1), and was 'holy, harmless, and undefiled' (Hebrews 7:26)" (Wordsworth). And the priest shall look. In later times it was ordered that the examination was not to take place on the sabbath, nor in the early morning, nor in the late afternoon, nor inside a house, nor on a cloudy day, nor in the glare of midday, and that the priest must have good eyesight, and only determine one case at a time; nor was he allowed to pronounce judgment on his own kindred. And, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper. The plague of leprosy is healed before the ceremony of purification begins, but the leper is not pronounced clean until he has been sprinkled with the blood and water (verse 7).
Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:
Verse 4. - Cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. "Cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet ' are also to be burnt with the red heifer for the ashes for the water of separation (Numbers 19:6), and they appear to have been commonly employed in purifications (Hebrews 9:19). The antiseptic properties of cedar made it peculiarly suitable for such occasions. The hyssop "was probably not the plant which we call hyssop, the Hyssopus officinalis. for it is uncertain whether this is to be found in Syria and Arabia, but a species of origanum resembling hyssop, the Arabian zater, either wild marjoram, or a kind of thyme" (Keil on REFERENCE_WORK:Keil & DelitzschExodus 12:21). The Psalmist's cry, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be chart" (Psalm 51:7), shows the common use to which it was put. In the present case, the sweet smell both of the wood (one cubit's length of which was used) and of the herb would have still further adapted them for symbolizing the redemption of the leper's flesh from corruption and putrefaction. The scarlet was probably a band of scarlet wool with which the cedar and the hyssop were tied - not to the bird (for we have no account of their being after, wards removed), but (as in the burning of the red heifer) one to the other. The colour of the wool was appropriate, not only because it was about to be dipped in the blood and water, but also because it symbolized the purified and now healthy blood.
And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water:
Verse 5. - One of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. A small quantity of water was placed in an earthenware dish, and one of the birds was killed over the dish in such a way that the blood dripped into the water. The water was needed, as there would not have been sufficient blood in the bird for the seven sprinklings which were to be made. It was to be running, literally, living, water; that is, fresh water taken from a fountain or a running stream, in order that it might be as pure as possible. Symbolically, the cleansing power of water as well as of blood is indicated.
As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:
Verse 6. - As for the living bird, he shall take it. The wings and tail of the bird were extended, and in this position it was dipped into the blood and water in the earthenware dish, and with it, the bunch made up of cedar, hyssop, and scarlet wool.
And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.
Verse 7. - And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times. It is not certain whether the seven sprinklings were made upon the forehead of the person to be cleansed, or on the back of his hand. The feathers of the bird and the bunch of hyssop would be specially instrumental in the seven sprinklings. And shall pronounce him clean. Having assured himself that he was healed (verse 3), the priest now pronounces him to be clean, he looses as well as binds. It had been his office to declare the man a leper, and thereby to shut him out from the people of the Lord (Leviticus 13:8, 15, 22, 25, 36, 44, 46). Now he pronounces him to be no leper, and therefore, after some further ceremonies, readmits him (verses 8, 20, 31). And shall let the living bird loose into the open field. The symbolism of the two birds, which has been much misinterpreted, is essentially the same as that of the two goats on the day of atonement, though each ceremony has its distinctive features. The killing of the living bird was not a true sacrifice, as was the offering of the goat to Jehovah, but by its death it represented the state in which the leper had legally been, and to which he would have been physically reduced had not a remedy been found. The deathly and unclean state of the leper having been symbolically transferred from the dead bird to the living bird by the latter's being sprinkled in the former's blood, the living bird stands in the position of the scapegoat, on whom the sins of the people were laid. The bird is then let loose into the open field; literally, upon the face of the field; and it flies off, carrying with it the leper's uncleanness, and assuring him by every forward movement that it makes that the living death has passed from him, just as each step or' the scapegoat appeared to the Israelites to remove their sins from them. A large number of commentators, on the other hand, consider the released bird to symbolize the health and freedom now given back to the leper, and they dwell on the rapid and uncontrolled movement of birds as being peculiarly suitable for representing this recovered liberty. But this interpretation, to which there are many objections, appears to be altogether incompatible with the fact that the same ceremony is used in the cleansing of the leprous house, whereas the house could certainly not be represented as "recovered to unrestrained liberty" (Lunge). The common patristic view, that the two birds represent the two natures of the one Great Sacrifice offered to redeem man from sin, seems to be out of place here.
And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days.
Verse 8. - After the healed leper has washed his clothes, and shaved off all his hair, and washed himself with water, so as to leave no remnant of his former defilement that can be removed, the first stage of his purification is over. He is restored to the camp, but not yet to the sanctuary, nor to his position as head or member of his family. He has still to undergo another week's purgation, and until that time has elapsed he may not live in his tent.
But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean.
Verses 9-32. - The ceremonies in the second stage of cleansing, which restored the late outcast to his home and to his covenant-right, were the following;
1. At the end of seven days he repeated the process of washing, shaving, and bathing.
2. On the eighth day he brought a lamb for a trespass offering, a leg of oil, a meat offering, a sin offering, and a burnt offering.
3. The priest that officiated at the cleansing presented him and his offerings at the door of the tabernacle.
4. He offered the trespass offering and the log of oil for him.
5. He slew the trespass offering and put some of the blood of it on different parts of the man's body.
6. He poured some of the oil into his left hand, and having sprinkled some of it seven times before the Lord, he placed some of it on those parts of the man's body on which the blood had been placed, and poured the rest upon his head.
7. He offered the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the meat offering. Verse 9. - But it shall be on the seventh day. The pause for seven days, followed by placing the blood on the tip of the right ear, and on the thumb of the right hand, and on the great toe of the right foot, and the subsequent anointing with off, irresistibly call to mind the ceremonies of the consecration of priests (Leviticus 8:35, 23, 24, 12, 30), and no doubt they are intended to do so. The whole nation was in a sense a priestly nation, and the restoration of the lapsed member to his rights was therefore a quasi-consecration.
And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil.
Verse 10. - On the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour. Every sacrifice is to be provided and offered by the restored leper, except the peace offering. It is certainly singular that the peace offering should be omitted, and that the trespass offering should be required. The former fact may be accounted for by the supposition that though the peace offering was not required, the late leper was, after his other sacrifices, put in a position where he might offer it when he would of his own free will. But the requirement of the trespass offering is more difficult to explain. What wrong had the leper done? and what satisfaction had he to make? The usual answer to this question is that he had wronged Jehovah in that, however involuntarily, he had failed to bring him the offerings and service which he would have brought had he not been excluded from the camp. But this is a very forced explanation, and it is incompatible with other parts of the Law. For the leper was not the only unclean person who, owing to his uncleanness, was prevented from offering his gifts and worship at the tabernacle or temple. The woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years (Luke 8:43) during that time would have been excluded from the sanctuary. But no trespass offering is required of those that have been unclean through issues. We must therefore, look for some other explanation of the requirement in the case of the cleansed leper. And a simpler one is at hand. Leprosy was the type of sin - or all sin whatsoever. When, therefore, the expiatory sacrifices were demanded, both kinds - the trespass offering and the sin offering - had to be offered, because expiation had to be made for the uncleanness which represented all unrighteousness - trespasses as well as sins. It might be that the man had not committed a trespass; he might also not hive committed sin; but he had been stricken with the foul disease which symbolized both one and the other, and therefore he had to offer on his cleansing the sacrifice appropriate to each. There is a difference in the ritual of the trespass offering in the present ease, intended perhaps to distinguish it from those trespass offerings which were made when a man had in his mind a certain wrong or injury which he had committed, and for which he wished to make compensation. On this occasion
(1) the animal presented was not required to be of a particular value, as in the ordinary trespass offerings;
(2) it was waved, whereas the ordinary trespass offerings were not waved;
(3) it was waved by the priest, whereas other wave offerings were waved not by the priest, but by the offerer, whose bands were guided by the priests. Nor
(4) did the offering of oil accompany the presentation of other trespass offerings. For whatever reason it be, the most characteristic feature of the sacrificial cleansing of the leper is the trespass offering, and the way that it was dealt with.
And the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:
And the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD:
Verse 12. - The log of oil, amounting to something more than half a pint, is waved by the priest, together with the lamb for the trespass offering, as a wave offering before the Lord, in order that a special consecration may be given them. They thus become qualified for the purposes for which they are presently used.
And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy:
And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:
Verse 14. - And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed. The Mishna describes the ceremony as follows: - "The leper stands before the trespass offering, lays his hand upon it and kills it. Two priests catch up the blood one in a vessel, the other in his band. He who catches it up in the vessel goes and throws it on the side of the altar, and he who catches it in his hand goes and stands before the leper. And the leper who had previously bathed in the court of the lepers, goes and stands in the gate of Nicanor. Rabbi Jehudah says he needs not bathe. He thrusts in his head (viz. into the great court, which he may not yet enter), and the priest puts of the blood upon the tip of his ear; he thrusts in his hand, and he puts it upon the thumb of his hand; he thrusts in his foot, and he puts it upon the great toe of his foot" ('Negaim,' 14:7, quoted by Edersheim, 'Temple Service,' chapter 18.). No doubt, the ear, the thumb, and the great toe are selected for the purpose of showing, as in the case of the consecration of the priest, that the senses and the active powers of the restored Israelite must be dedicated hence, forth to God.
And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand:
Verses 15-18. - And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. This ceremony is altogether peculiar to this purification. The joint use of blood and oil is not singular (see Leviticus 8:30), but elsewhere there is no sprinkling of the oil... seven times before the Lord, and in the consecration of priests there was no anointing of the different members with oil as well as with blood. The Mishua (as before cited) continues the description of the ceremony as follows: - "The priest now takes from the log of oil and pours it into the palm of his colleague, though if he poured it into his own it were valid. He dips his finger and sprinkles seven times towards the holy of holies, dipping each time he sprinkles. He goes before the leper, and on the spot where he had put the blood he puts the oil, as it is written, 'Upon the blood of the trespass offering.' And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest's hand, he pours on the head of him that is cleansed, for an atonement; if he so puts it, he is atoned for, but if not, he is not atoned for. So Rabbi Akiba. Rabbi Jochanan, the son of Nuri, saith, This is only the remnant of the ordinance, whether it be done or not, the atonement is made; but they impute it to him (the priest), as if he had not made atonement." The double sprinkling with blood and oil betokened dedication as in the case of the priests, the blood specially denoting reconciliation, and the oil the strengthening power of God by which the new life was to be led.
And the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the LORD:
And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering:
And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD.
And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering:
Verses 19, 20. - The priest shall offer the sin offering. The sin offering is due, according to the regulation given in chapter Leviticus 5:3, in consequence of the man having been in a state of uncleanness. It is followed by the burnt offering and the meat offering, and then the man is restored to his state of legal cleanness, and of communion with God as well as with his fellows
And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.
And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil;
Verses 21-32. - And if he be poor, and cannot get so much. The concession to poverty consists in the substitution of two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, for the two lambs required for the sin offering and the burnt offering, and one tenth-deal of flour for three tenth-deals of flour in the meat offering. But no difference is made as to the lamb required for the trespass offering, or the log of oil. These must be provided by the poor as well as by the rich, and the ceremonies used at their offering must be the same for poor and rich, as they are essential to the rite,
And two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.
And he shall bring them on the eighth day for his cleansing unto the priest, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the LORD.
And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD:
And he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:
And the priest shall pour of the oil into the palm of his own left hand:
And the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the LORD:
And the priest shall put of the oil that is in his hand upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering:
And the rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the LORD.
And he shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get;
Even such as he is able to get, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, with the meat offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed before the LORD.
This is the law of him in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
OF A HOUSE, AND ITS CLEANSING (verses 33-53). The subject of leprosy in houses must be regarded from the same point of view as that of leprosy in clothes. The regulations respecting it are not sanitary laws, as Lange represents them, but rest, as Keil argues, upon an ideal or symbolical basis. The same thought is attached to all species of uncleanness. Something - it matters not what - produces a foul and repulsive appearance in the walls of a house. That is in itself sufficient to make that house unclean; for whatever is foul and repulsive is representative of moral and spiritual defilement, and therefore is itself symbolically defiling and defiled. It has been suggested that the special cause of the affection of the houses in Canaan was saltpetre exuding from the materials employed in their building, or iron pyrites in the stone used. This may have been so, or more probably it was the growth of some fungus. Whatever it was, the appearance created by it was so similar to that of leprosy in the human body, as to derive its name from the latter by analogy.
When ye 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;
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.
And he that owneth the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house:
Verses 35-44. - The examination of the suspected house by the priest. First, the house is to be emptied of its furniture, lest the latter should contract a ceremonial uncleanness in case the house were found to be leprous, but not, it will be noted, lest it should convey contagion or infection. Then the priest is to examine the discolouration, and if it bear a suspicious appearance, the house is to be shut up for seven days. It at the end of that time the spot has spread, he is to have the part of the wall in which it shows itself taken down and carried away, and built up again with new stones and mortar and plaster, the parts adjoining to the infected place having been first well scraped. If this treatment does not succeed in getting rid of the mischief, the priest is to determine that it is a fretting leprosy in the house: it is unclean.
Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house:
And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall;
Then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days:
And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house;
Then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into an unclean place without the city:
And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place:
And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister the house.
And if the plague come again, and break out in the house, after that he hath taken away the stones, and after he hath scraped the house, and after it is plaistered;
Then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the plague be spread in the house, it is a fretting leprosy in the house: it is unclean.
And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place.
Verse 45. - As the leper was removed from the camp, so the leprous house is to be utterly pulled down; the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of the house; and all its materials carried forth eat of the city into an unclean place.
Moreover he that goeth into the house all the while that it is shut up shall be unclean until the even.
Verses 46, 47. - The leprous house conveys uncleanness to those that enter it, but of so slight a nature that it ceases with the evening, and requires only that the clothes of the wearer be washed. Such a regulation would have been ineffectual for preventing the spread of infection, if that had been its purpose.
And he that lieth in the house shall wash his clothes; and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes.
And if the priest shall come in, and look upon it, and, behold, the plague hath not spread in the house, after the house was plaistered: then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed.
Verses 48-53. - The ceremony of cleansing the house is as similar to that of cleansing the leper as circumstances will permit. In case there is no reappearance of the mischief after the new stones and plastering have been put in, the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed. First, the priest assures himself that the plague is healed, then he pronounces the house clean, and still after that the cleansing is to take place (cf. verses 3, 7, 8). The cleansing is effected by the same ceremony as that of the leper himself, by the two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. The use of this ceremony in the cleansing of a house shows that, in the case of the leper, the symbolical meaning of letting go the living bird out of the city into the open fields cannot be, as has been maintained, the restoration of the cleansed man to his natural movements of liberty in the camp. If a bird's flight represents the freedom of a man going hither and thither as he will, it certainly does not represent any action that a house could take.
And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:
And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water:
And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times:
And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:
But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.
This is the law for all manner of plague of leprosy, and scall,
Verses 54-57. - These verses contain the concluding formula for chapters 13, 14. The various names of leprosy and its kindred diseases are resumed from chapter Leviticus 13:2.
And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house,
And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot:
To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy.