July 13, 2015.
Daily Reading: Leviticus 13-15.
Background: Leviticus 10-12.
Concepts and Connections.
Leprosy laws: Chapter 13 and 14 of Leviticus deal with the disease of leprosy, which unlike what we know as leprosy today, referred to various diseases of the skin, hair of the beard and head, clothing made of linen or wool, or stones of homes. What we call leprosy today doesn’t fit the description found in these chapters very well and thus it can be reasonably concluded that the leprosy of the bible is not what we know as leprosy today. Chapter 13 mainly lays out the rules and ways for the priests to determine/diagnose leprosy. Note the protection that God set up for His people, with a concern of their welfare in quarantining contagious diseases by the means that the people in this time period had, but not those who did not have the disease, rather something similar but was not dangerous to others. There is a rather rigorous process that is set up in this chapter to determine what maladies should make someone unclean (which means that no one would touch them, effectively quarantining the disease), and which did not make a person unclean. There was even a way to see if the disease was spreading (and thereby a more severe illness), and precautions for even inanimate objects that might harbor diseases. If the garment was unclean, it would be burned with fire, just as an earthen vessel would be broken, ensuring that the people wouldn’t use it and be exposed to the disease. If someone was diagnosed with leprosy, they were to wear torn clothing and live outside the camp so that they would not infect the camp. The priests would have had to know these regulations well in order to diagnose the people.
Laws concerning the cleansing of lepers: After the diagnoses of leprosy found in the previous chapter, there was need of laws and regulations concerning the cleansing of leprosy. This chapter is broken into two sections, the first deals with what the priest were to do with the people who had leprosy, and the second with houses in which disease was found. The leper was to live outside the camp for as long as he or she had the disease, and when he or she felt that the disease was gone, they were to show themselves to the priest to be declared clean, if indeed they were. If the person was indeed cleansed of his or her disease, there was a ritual cleansing process involving bathing and sacrifice, and the former leper was to shave their hair and bathe in water and so be clean. The law also took into account for those who could not afford the full sacrifice, lighting their burden of cost to be clean (note the responsibility for the person to be honest about whether or not they could offer the first sacrifice). Then there are regulations for the cleansing of houses, complete with removing infected stones and scraping the whole house in order to get rid of the disease. The cleansing of the house also involved a sacrifice by the priest when he determined it was clean. Whenever there was a case of leprosy, this section of the Law was the go to place to determine what should be done.
Laws concerning bodily discharge: This chapter deals with the defining of uncleanness in bodily discharges, for both men and women. It is truly amazing to see the omniscience of God, effectively protecting His people from the transmission of diseases, just as we know them today. In the health field, it is a fundamental teaching to avoid direct contact with bodily fluid due to blood borne pathogens. The people of Israel, however, would have had no way to know what blood borne pathogens were, and yet the law protects them in some way from them. The laws concerning bodily discharge are rather encompassing, dealing with anything from oozing liquid to emissions of semen to a woman’s menstruation cycle. Note the emphasis on washing after coming into contact with a bodily discharge. This concept of washing is hundreds to even thousands of years ahead of its time. It may seem second nature to us today that we would wash our hands, or even our bodies, after coming into contact with bodily fluids (especially those of other people), but that wasn’t always the case. These laws were yet another way that God protected and provided for His people.
Tomorrow’s Reading: II Kings 6-10.