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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 13



Verses 1-59

Uncleanness connected with Leprosy

It is tolerably certain that the leprosy of the OT. is not the leprosy of the Middle Ages, which is still to be found in the East. The latter is a terrible and loathsome disease, called elephantiasis, in consequence of which the skin thickens, the features are distorted, and the very limbs mortify and drop off from the body. The leprosy of the Bible is a skin disease, known as psoriasis, in which the skin and hair grow white, and which is accompanied with scab and flaky scales which peel off. It is doubtful whether it was infectious or not. Some varieties may have been so; but it is to be observed that when the disease entirely covered the body the person was pronounced clean and could mix in society. Leprosy is regarded in the Bible as a type of sin in its loathsomeness and disfiguring and corrupting effects, and its treatment was in many points symbolical.

3. Plague] i.e. plagued spot.

4. Shut up him] i.e. place him in quarantine: separate the affected person from the society of others and the service of the tabernacle.

9-17. The case of the reappearance of leprosy after it has been cured.

11. Shall not shut him up] there is no need for quarantine as the case is undoubtedly one of leprosy.

13. When the eruption is complete, the disease is supposed to have reached its crisis, and to be discharging itself externally in dry scales.

18-23. The case of leprosy developing from a healed boil.

24-28. The case of leprosy arising from the inflammation following a burn.

29-37. Leprosy in the hair of the head or beard. In this case the hair turns yellow instead of white (Leviticus 13:30).

38. Another form of leprosy in the shape of white spots. This is harmless, and the affected person is not unclean.

40-44. Leprosy in the bald head.

45. These are the signs of mourning for the dead (cp. Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 21:10; Ezekiel 24:17; Micah 3:7), leprosy being regarded as a living death and the severest token of the divine displeasure: cp. Numbers 12:12.

47-59. The leprosy of garments. What is described here is not the leprosy that attacks the human being, but a mildew or fungus causing discoloration and corrosion and bearing a superficial resemblance to leprosy: cp. the leprosy of houses, Leviticus 14:33-53. The regulations regarding this so-called 'leprosy' were no doubt valuable for sanitary reasons; but they would also serve to 'teach the Hebrew to hate even the appearance of evil.' Cp. what St. Jude says (Leviticus 13:23) of the Christian 'hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.'

48. Warp, or woof] This translation is doubtful. The words probably mean as in RM, 'woven or knitted stuff,' referring to material not yet made into garments.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 13:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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