Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 14

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The leper was excluded not only from the sanctuary but from the camp. The ceremony of restoration which he had to undergo was therefore twofold. The first part, performed outside the camp, entitled him to come within and to mix with his brethren, Leviticus 14:3-9. The second part, performed in the court of the tabernacle and separated from the first by an interval of seven days, restored him to all the privileges of the covenant with Yahweh, Leviticus 14:10-32.

Verse 4

These birds were provided by the priest for the man. They were not, like the offerings for the altar, brought by the man himself (compare Leviticus 14:4 with Leviticus 14:10), they were not presented nor brought near the sanctuary, nor was any portion of them offered on the altar.

Cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop - These three substances were used as the common materials in rites of purification (compare Exodus 12:22; Numbers 19:8; Psalms 51:7; Hebrews 9:19): the “cedar”, or juniper, the resin or turpentine of which was a preservative against decay, and employed in medicines for elephantiasis and other skin diseases: the “scarlet”, a “tongue,” or band, of twice-dyed scarlet wool, with which the living bird, the hyssop, and the cedar wood were tied together when they were dipped into the blood and water: the color expressing the rosiness associated with health and vital energy: and the “hyssop” (see Exodus 12:22), probably the Caper plant, whose cleansing virtues as a medicine, and use in the treatment of ulcers and diseases of the skin allied to leprosy, were known to the ancients. It has been conjectured that the scarlet band was used to tie the hyssop upon the cedar, so as to make a sort of brush, such as would be convenient for sprinkling.

Verse 5

Running water - literally, living water, i. e. water fresh from the spring Genesis 26:19; Numbers 19:17.

Verse 7

Seven times - The seal of the covenant, expressed in the number seven (compare Leviticus 14:9), was renewed in sprinkling him who, during his leprosy, had lived as an outcast. The details of a restoration to health and freedom appear to be well expressed in the whole ceremony. Each of the birds represented the leper. They were to be of a clean kind, because they stood for one of the chosen race. The death-like state of the leper during his exclusion from the camp was expressed by killing one of the birds. The living bird was identified with the slain one by being dipped in his blood mixed with the spring water that figured the process of purification, while the cured leper was identified with the rite by having the same water and blood sprinkled over him. The bird then liberated was a sign that the leper left behind him all the symbols of the death disease and of the remedies associated with it, and was free to enjoy health and social freedom with his kind. Compare Colossians 2:12.

Verse 9

The best of all types of the healing of the Spirit, was the healing of the leper. In his formal cleansing, consecration, and atonement by sacrifice (see the notes at Leviticus 14:9-20), the ministers of the sanctuary bore public witness that he was restored to the blessing of communion with his brethren and with Yahweh. Hence, when the Son of God proved His divine mission by healing the lepers Matthew 11:5, He did not excuse them from going to the priest to “offer for the cleansing those things which Moses commanded” Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14 “for a testimony to the people” Matthew 8:4.

Verses 10-11

Two young rams from one to three years old (not lambs), a ewe lamb in her first year (see Leviticus 12:6), three-tenth parts of an ephah (something over ten pints and a half) of fine flour mingled with oil, and a log (about half a pint; see Leviticus 19:35) of oil. The priest presented both the man and his offerings to Yahweh at the entrance of the tent of meeting. See Leviticus 1:3.

Verse 12

This trespass-offering, with its blood and the oil, must be regarded as the main feature in the ceremony: no alteration being permitted even in the case of the poor Leviticus 14:21-23. There appears to be no other case in which an entire victim was waved (see Leviticus 7:30) before Yahweh. The Levites are spoken of as “a wave offering,” Numbers 8:11-15 (see the margin). The man in this case, represented by his trespass-offering, was dedicated as a Wave-offering in like manner.

Verse 13

It is most holy - See Leviticus 6:25 note.

Verse 14

In the same way, and with the same significance as in Leviticus 8:23. It is said that a portion of the blood was caught by the priest in the palm of his hand as it ran from the victim.

Verse 16

The sevenfold sprinkling of the oil before the sanctuary, in addition to the waving of it, seems to have been intended to consecrate it to represent the spiritual gift consequent upon the covenant, the sealing of which had been figured by the sacramental blood of the offering.

Verses 17-18

Him that is to be cleansed - Of him that has been cleansed. The significance of the act is similar to that in Leviticus 8:11, Leviticus 8:15.

Verses 19-20

The cleansed leper was now in a position to avail himself of the accustomed law of sacrifice as one completely restored. The ewe lamb was now offered in his behalf as a sin-offering, one of the young rams as a burnt-offering, and the fine flour mingled with oil as a meat-offering.

Verses 33-53

This section is separated from that on leprosy in clothing Leviticus 13:47-59 with which it would seem to be naturally connected, and is placed last of all the laws concerning leprosy, probably on account of its being wholly prospective. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, the materials of their dwellings were of nearly the same nature as those of their clothing, and would be liable to the same sort of decay. They were therefore included under the same law.

I put the plague - Yahweh here speaks as the Lord of all created things, determining their decay and destruction as well as their production. Compare Isaiah 45:6-7; Jonah 4:7; Matthew 21:20.

Leviticus 14:37

Hollow strakes ... - Rather, depressed spots of dark green or dark red, appearing beneath (the surface of) the wall.

Leviticus 14:49

Cleanse the house - Strictly, “purge the house from sin.” The same word is used in Leviticus 14:52; and in Leviticus 14:53 it is said, “and make an atonement for it.” Such language is used figuratively when it is applied to things, not to persons. The leprosy in houses, the leprosy in clothing, and the terrible disease in the human body, were representative forms of decay which taught the lesson that all created things, in their own nature, are passing away, and are only maintained for their destined uses during an appointed period, by the power of Yahweh.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Leviticus 14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/leviticus-14.html. 1870.
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