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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Leviticus 13

 

 

Verses 1-59

Ordinances Concerning Leprosy.

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,

v. 2. When a man, a person of either sex, shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a raised spot on the epidermis, or cuticle, of his skin, a scab, or bright spot, one of a whitish tinge, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy, the characteristic spot or sore which indicated the presence of the dread disease, then he shall be brought unto Aaron, the priest, or unto one of his sons, the priests;

v. 3. and the priest shall look on the plague, on the spot or sore, in the skin of the flesh; and when the hair in the plague, on the suspicious spot, is turned white, this sign was all the more striking since the hair of the Jews was normally black, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, when the spot appeared to have sunken into the skin, it is a plague of leprosy; and the priest shall look on him and pronounce him unclean. The name leprosy is derived from a word meaning "to strike, to strike to the ground," the leper being a person who has been stricken or smitten by God. The sickness is contagious only, but was and is commonly treated as being infectious as well. Three forms of the disease were distinguished in olden times: the white leprosy, which was very prevalent among the Hebrews, the tubercular leprosy, or the Egyptian boil, and the black leprosy.

v. 4. If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white, then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days, keep him from intercourse with other people in order to see whether there would be decisive indications pointing to true leprosy.

v. 5. And the priest shall look on him the seventh day; and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin, if the spot has not grown larger nor affected the surrounding parts, then the priest shall shut him up seven days more.

v. 6. And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day; and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, if the skin on the spot has regained its normal color, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is but a scab, a harmless eruption of the skin; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean, for the mere suspicion has brought a taint upon that person, which would be removed by observing the precepts of cleanliness.

v. 7. But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again; this may refer either to the second examination or to a new process made necessary by a subsequent spread of the eruption;

v. 8. and if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprosy.

v. 9. When the plague of leprosy is in a man, when the preliminary stages have been ignored and the disease has reached the ulceration stage without an examination by a priest, then he shall be brought unto the priest;

v. 10. and the priest shall see him; and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising, the sores having opened with the power of the disease,

v. 11. it is an old leprosy, an incurable form at this stage, in the skin of his flesh, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean and shall not shut him up, the case being so clear; for he is unclean.

v. 12. And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever the priest looketh, and as deeply as his eyes can penetrate,

v. 13. then the priest shall consider; and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he s hall pronounce him clean that hath the plague, the eruption; it is all turned white; he is clean. It seems that the suspected person, in this instance, either had only a harmless skin disease, or the eruption of all the poisonous matter in the body at one time was the crisis and cleansed the blood and tissues from all impurities.

v. 14. But when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be unclean.

v. 15. And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and pronounce him to be unclean; for the raw flesh is unclean, the open sore indicated that the germs of the sickness were still present in the person; it is a leprosy.

v. 16. Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto the priest;

v. 17. and the priest shall see him; and, behold, if the plague be turned into white, the ulceration being due to some other cause and having healed with a white covering, or scab, then the priest shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague, the spot or sore: he is clean.

v. 18. The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, ulcer, or abscess,and is healed,

v. 19. and in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish, a whitish-red blotch,and it be showed to the priest;

v. 20. and if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white, the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil. These indications, if clear, settled the matter.

v. 21. But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark, then the priest shall shut him up seven days;

v. 22. and if it spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a plague.

v. 23. But if the bright spot stay in his place and spread not, it is a burning boil, the scar of a burn or a wound; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

v. 24. Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning, a scar left from a burn, and the quick flesh that burneth have a white, bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white, becoming a swollen, shining spot,

v. 25. then the priest shall look upon it; and, behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin, it is a leprosy broken out of the burning; wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is the plague of leprosy. Such spots favored the development of leprosy, the infection could easily take hold in them.

v. 26. But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin, but be somewhat dark, then the priest shall shut him up seven days;

v. 27. and the priest shall look upon him the seventh day; and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is the plague of leprosy.

v. 28. And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in the skin, but it be somewhat dark, it is a rising of the burning, a slight elevation due to the scar, and the priest shall pronounce him clean; for it is an inflammation of the burning.

v. 29. If a man or woman have a plague, a spot or sore, upon the head or the beard,

v. 30. then the priest shall see the plague; and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin, and there be in it a yellow thin hair, the natural hair being replaced with thin hair of a golden sheen, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a dry scall, a malicious scurf, even a leprosy upon the head or beard.

v. 31. And if the priest look on the plague of the scall, and, behold, it be not in sight deeper than the skin, and that there is no black hair in it, this being an indication that it was a harmless skin eruption, then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days;

v. 32. and in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague; and, behold, if the scall spread not, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the scall be not in sight deeper than the skin,

v. 33. he shall be shaven, but the scall shall he not shave, this being reserved for further observation; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more;

v. 34. and in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall; and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin, the sore being neither deep-seated nor virulent, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean.

v. 35. But if the scall spread much in the skin after his cleansing, if after the priest's examination the sore causes trouble,

v. 36. then the priest shall look on him; and, behold, if the scall be spread in the skin, the priest shall not seek for yellow hair, there being enough symptoms for a definite diagnosis; he is unclean.

v. 37. But if the scall be in his sight, so far as he can judge upon a careful examination, at a stay, and that there is black hair grown up therein, the scall is healed, he is clean; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

v. 38. If a man also or a woman have in the skin of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots,

v. 39. then the priest shall look; and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white, without the luster peculiar to an inner swelling and inflammation, it is a freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean. "It is an eruption on the skin, appearing in somewhat elevated spots or rings of unequal sizes and a pale-white color, which do not change the hair; it causes no inconvenience, and lasts from two months to two years. " (Keil. )

v. 40. And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean. This is spoken of cases in which the hair begins to fall out at the crown.

v. 41. And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, in the front, beginning above the temples, he is forehead-bald; yet is he clean.

v. 42. And if there be in the bald head or bald forehead a white, reddish sore, it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head or his bald forehead. Baldness did not render unclean, but leprosy might develop on the bare skin of the head as well as on the body.

v. 43. Then the priest shall look upon it; and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh,

v. 44. he is a leprous man, he is unclean; the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head, the ulcer of leprosy is developing on his head.

v. 45. And the leper in whom the plague is, every person that has been pronounced a leper by the priest, his clothes shall be rent, as a mark of great mourning and affliction, and his head bare, uncovered and unkempt, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip to hide his usually hideous aspect, Eze_24:17-22, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean! as a warning to passers-by.

v. 46. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled, the Law thus, with all its strictness, taking into consideration a possible recovery of the leper; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone, in order to avoid contact with healthy people; without the camp shall his habitation be. Cf Num_5:2-4; Num_12:14-15; 2Ki_15:5; Luk_17:12. In Palestine the lepers lived outside the city walls, but they were permitted to attend the synagogs in a place set apart for them, the Law demanding, however, that they come after the opening of services and leave in such a way as not to come in contact with healthy persons.

v. 47. The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, probably such as were contaminated by contact with a leprous person, whether it be a woolen garment or a linen garment, these two being the common materials used for woven clothes;

v. 48. whether it be in the warp or woof, no matter which part of the cloth would first show the infection; of linen or of woolen; whether in a skin or in anything made of skin, in cloaks, mantles, or receptacles for liquids;

v. 49. and if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, whether the mold indicating the presence of the disease have the one color or the other, or in the skin, either in the warp or in the woof, even in unfinished garments and cloth, or in anything of skin, in any vessel made of leather,—it is a plague of leprosy and shall be showed unto the priest;

v. 50. and the priest shall look upon the plague, and shut up it that hath the plague seven days.

v. 51. And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day. If the plague, the infected spot,be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin, the plague is a fretting leprosy, a corroding infection; it is unclean.

v. 52. He shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woolen or in linen, or anything of skin, wherein the plague is; for it is a fretting leprosy; it shall be burned in the fire, that being the most effective way of removing all danger of infection.

v. 53. And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in anything of skin,

v. 54. then the priest shall command that they, the owners, wash the thing wherein the plague is, and he shall shut it up seven days more;

v. 55. and the priest shall look on the plague after that it is washed; and, behold, if the plague have not changed his color, and the plague be not spread, it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is fret inward, whether it be bare within or without. The terms in the Hebrew are here used in the same way as those concerning baldness in human beings. Whether the right or the wrong side of the cloth still showed the mark or spot distinctly, the garment was to be condemned.

v. 56. And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it, the spot less distinct than before the cloth was washed, then he shall rend it out of the garment or out of the skin or out of the warp or out of the woof. It was a matter of wise precaution to remove the suspected spot.

v. 57. And if it appear still in the garment, if the same kind of mold reappeared, either in the warp or in the woof or in anything of skin, it is a spreading plague; thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.

v. 58. And the garment, either warp or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time and shall be clean.

v. 59. This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of woolen or linen, either in the warp or woof or anything of skins, to pronounce it clean or to pronounce it unclean. These were wise sanitary precautions which were here embodied in the Ceremonial Law. The Lord, in His theocratic government, did not ignore the needs of the body.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 13:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/leviticus-13.html. 1921-23.

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