On the seventh day the priest is to reexamine him, and if he sees that the infection is unchanged and has not spread on the skin, the priest must isolate him for another seven days.
I. ITS LOATHSOMENESS. It is quite possible that the leprosy from which the Israelites suffered was a contagious disorder. It is also possible that the dread of contagion, though there was no actual danger (as in cholera), may have had its influence in the matter. But there is no convincing evidence that it was contagious. There are indications that it was not (action of the priests, etc.); and the exclusion of the leper from the camp is fully accounted for in another way. The loathsomeness of the disease is a sufficient explanation. Whoever has seen any one suffering acutely from a kindred malady will perfectly understand and appreciate this legislation on that ground alone. It is difficult, if not impossible, to recover altogether from the mental effect of so shocking and so repulsive a spectacle. The vision haunts the memory for years. In this aspect leprosy is a striking picture of sin; for that is a thing odious and abominable in the last degree - loathsome to the Holy One of Israel, hateful to all holy souls. In its viler forms it is a thing which we - even with our imperfect purity - cannot "look upon" (Hebrews 1:13); holy much more horrible and hateful must it be in his sight whose thoughts of holiness as well as of mercy are as much higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth (Isaiah 55:9)!
II. ITS DIFFUSIVENESS. Though not, probably, contagious, leprosy was diffusive and communicable from parent to child. It was one of the crucial tests in the case that it spread over the skin (verses 7, 8), that it "spread much abroad" (verses 22, 27). As this typical disease spread from one part of the body to another, from one limb and organ to another, until it sometimes covered the entire frame, so sin, of which it was the divinely chosen type, is a thing that spreads. It is an emphatically diffusive, a communicable thing. It spreads:
1. From faculty to faculty of the same human spirit; one sin leads on to another, as theft to violence, or drunkenness to falsehood, or impurity to deception.
2. From parent to child.
3. From man to man, through the whole "body politic." It spreads much abroad through any and every body, civil or ecclesiastical, into which it enters.
III. ITS SEPARATING EFFECT. "He shall dwell alone: without the camp shall his habitation be" (verse 46). Leprosy separated between husband and wife, parent and children, friend and friend; it sundered one human life from that of the commonwealth, and was a source of sad and, so far as the preciousness of life was concerned, a fatal loneliness. Sin is the separating power.
1. It comes between man and God (Isaiah 59:2). It places him outside the gates of the spiritual kingdom; it deprives a man of all fellowship with the heavenly Father; it leads him out into a "far country" of alienation, of dread, of dissimilarity.
2. It comes between man and man. It is the endless and bitter source of estrangement, animosity, war; it makes lonely the life that should be full of sweet and elevating fellowship.
IV. ITS PITIFULNESS. Who could see the poor leper, with rent clothes, with bare head, with covered lip, passing through the camp, crying, "Unclean, unclean!" on his way to a dreary and, it might be, life-long solitude and not be affected with a tender pity? He might be "unclean," but he was miserable, he was lost; the light of his life had gone out. Sin is not more condemnable than it is pitiable. Blame the erring, reproach the faulty, remonstrate with the foolish and the mischievous (1 Timothy 5:20), but pity those whom sin is shutting out from all that is best below, and will exclude from all that is bright and blessed above. Remember the "great love (of pity) wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:4, 5), and pity with a profound compassion and help with an uplifting hand those who are still down in the mire of sin, still far from the kingdom of God. - C.
Leprosy in a garment.
1. The first thing I notice here is that God set every Israelite on the lookout for it. This must necessarily have been the direct effect of the announcement of these laws. Every article of clothing was at once thrown under suspicion. Now there is a kind of suspiciousness which I would not encourage. There is an affection arising from a bad conscience or a bad heart — a feeling closely akin to ugly jealousy, which mistrusts everything and everybody. It is just the contrary of that charity which "believeth all things, hopeth all things." And the farther any one can keep himself from it the better for his own comfort, and for the good of those around him. But there is a suspiciousness which is good. It mingles with the deepest piety and goes along with the greatest usefulness. But it is a suspicion of self rather than a suspicion of others. It is a jealousy for one's own purity — a holy fear of doing wrong or of being led into evil. It is a diligent watchfulness over self — a careful guarding against the contaminations of evil. It is a suspiciousness based upon the clear evidence that everything is liable to corruption, and that there is continual danger of falling into condemnation. It is a sacred dread of sin — the desire of a pure heart to "keep unspotted from the world." It sets a man upon the lookout for dangers in all his earthly surroundings.
2. A second particular in this law, to which I will call your attention, is, that whenever any symptoms appeared which might perhaps be leprous, the case was always to be immediately submitted to the judgment of the priest. The priest typified Christ; and his office, the office of Christ. And a great Christian lesson here comes to our view. Human judgment is weak. The wisest of men has said, "He that trusteth to his own heart is a fool." We need light from heaven. Jesus is the only reliable arbiter. There are many instances in which nothing can guide us safely but His own decisive Word. And this law pointed forward to the fact that Christ is our Teacher and Judge — that He is to be our authoritative Instructor — and that by His decision we are to know what is not pure.
3. A third particular in these laws relates to the treatment which a garment declared to be leprous was to receive. This varied somewhat with the nature of the symptoms. If the affection was active and rapid in its progress, the article was at once to be burned, "whether warp or woof, in woollen or in linen, or anything of skin." It mattered not how valuable the article was, or how great the inconvenience of its loss, it was to be destroyed by fire. We are bound, as Christians, at once to cut loose for ever from everything infected. If the affection, however, was not active and fretting, remedial measures were to be adopted, if possible, to cleanse and save the garment. The natural remedy for defilement was to be applied. And here comes in the whole subject of reform. This is the natural remedy for all manageable social disorders. I say all manageable ones; for as some garments were so badly affected as to be doomed at once to burning, so there are some infections in the surroundings of man in this world which never can be healed. Take, for instance, some of our popular amusements. That they are leprous none will deny. What hope is there of reforming them? Theirs is "a fret inward," and there is no help for them. No washing can get them clean. And the only alternative for Christians is to separate themselves from them entirely. These, and such like infected articles, are past cleansing. But there are others in which the taint is less malignant and less defiling. These are the legitimate subjects of Christian reform. There are many abuses in society which may be corrected. To this end, therefore, are our energies to be directed. But there is one very important peculiarity to be observed in all Christian reforms. The washing of the infected garment was to be done by direction of the priest. "The priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is." Christ's Word is to be our guide for getting rid of social disorders, as well as for the detection of them. He is our Priest, and we must conduct our cleansing efforts upon the basis of His gospel. Finally, along with the washing of a leprous garment, it was to be shut up seven days, after which the priest was to example it again; and if the bad symptoms had disappeared it was to be washed again, and it was clean; but if the symptoms had not disappeared, it was then to be finally torn or burned. A vivid picture, this, of God's plans with the social fabrics of this world. Some, in which the disorder was great, have already been quite destroyed. Others, in which the affection is less malignant, are undergoing the efforts of purification. They are shut up now until time shall complete its period. The great High Priest and Judge shall then come forth to give them the last inspection. And as things then are, so shall their eternal portion be.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
(J. P. Chown.).
TopicsAppearance, Arrested, Behold, Changed, Checked, Disease, Examine, Hasn't, Increased, Infection, Isolate, Isolation, Opinion, Plague, Priest, Sees, Seven, Seventh, Shut, Sight, Size, Skin, Sore, Spread, Spreadeth, Stay, Stood, Unchanged, Worse
Outline1. The laws whereby the priest is to be guided in discerning the leprosy.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLeviticus 13:1-11
LibraryJourney to Jerusalem. Ten Lepers. Concerning the Kingdom.
(Borders of Samaria and Galilee.) ^C Luke XVII. 11-37. ^c 11 And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. [If our chronology is correct, Jesus passed northward from Ephraim about forty miles, crossing Samaria (here mentioned first), and coming to the border of Galilee. He then turned eastward along that border down the wady Bethshean which separates the two provinces, and crossed the Jordan into Peræa, where we soon …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Jesus Heals a Leper and Creates Much Excitement.
Of the Character of the Unregenerate.
The Third Commandment
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