Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 15

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-33

Chapter 15

Now as we get into the fifteenth chapter God deals with sort of a boil kind of a thing or any breaking out on your body, any kind of a running sore that a person might have. That he is unclean and the whole thing has now to do with hygienic principles. How that anything that he wears that touches it is unclean. And the various washing processes that they need to go through until this running sore, sort of a staff infection, is healed completely. It is interesting that these laws of cleanliness, these laws of washing were so important for good hygiene.

Up until the last one hundred years or so, the hospitals did not always follow good practices of hygiene. The doctors didn't really wash that much. In fact, there used to be sort of a feeling that the bloodier that the doctor's clothes were, really, it was sort of a symbol of the efficiency and the effectiveness of the man. And so they would go from one patient to another without washing, from one childbirth delivery to another without washing, and from one operation to another without washing. Coming in all bloodied and everything and just moving from one to another and not really following a good routine of washing.

Now one of the first doctors to recommend that they really start a thorough washing procedure almost lost his license because he dared to suggest such a thing. And he was really looked down on in the medical field for quite some time until he was able to prove statistically that the death rate among his patients, especially those mothers bearing children, was much less than all of the rest by a dramatic amount because of the careful practices of washing. So now this is up until just about a hundred years ago. There wasn't nearly the care in washing; and yet, had they read the law that God gave, they would have known the necessity and the value of the washing and of the cleaning.

Now the Bible doesn't say that cleanliness is next to Godliness in those words. Those words are found in the Koran, but not in the Bible. But yet surely it is implied that cleanliness is important. Physical cleanliness is important. That is certainly something that is taught in the law. Though it is not necessarily related to Godliness, because they are whole different areas. But yet just to your own physical well being, cleanliness is very important to stop the spread of disease and for just good health. Cleanliness is important indeed.

And so as you get into the fifteenth chapter, and you're dealing with these issues and so forth that are coming forth sort of a staff infection. He goes through the various cleansing processes and the way that they are to be cleansed. The number of days and so forth and then also just dealing with basically with cleanliness.

And then coming to the woman and dealing with her in her menstrual periods and the fact that during this period she was ceremonially unclean. That anyone that touched the bed where she slept was also unclean, would have to wash and so forth. And then after the menstrual period would have to wait for seven days in separation and then she would bring on the eighth day two young pigeons or turtle doves to the priest for sacrifices of a sin offering and a burnt offering and then she was then clean and could then resume physical relations with her husband once more. It is interesting, this is no doubt there was such great fertility among these people. Because that is when they were able to come again with physical relationships was about the time of ovulation, and so it made for a rapid increase in population.

And thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, and when they defile my tabernacle that is among them ( Leviticus 15:31 ).

Now the uncleanness, it is important that we realize that this was a ceremonial uncleanness and during the period of this uncleanness, they were not allowed to come to the tabernacle of God. If you had this running sore, you were not allowed to come to the tabernacle of God until you had gone through the seven days of washing. Washing your clothes, washing your body and everything else, and after the running sores had healed, had scabbed over and healed, and then you could come. But it was ceremonially unclean. You weren't allowed in the tabernacle of God during this period of uncleanness. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Leviticus 15". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/leviticus-15.html. 2014.
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