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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 14

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-57

The Purification of the Leper. The Leprosy of Houses

When a leper has been cured of his plague, and has satisfied the priest that his cure is complete, he is required to go through a ceremonial purification before being readmitted to his place in society. The ritual of purification consists of three parts. (1) Two living birds are brought, with a rod of cedar wood, a piece of scarlet wool, and a bunch of hyssop, to the priest, who kills one of the birds over water. The living bird and the cedar rod, to which the hyssop is tied with the scarlet thread, are dipped in the blood, which is then sprinkled upon the man seven times. The living bird is then let loose. (2) The man then washes his clothes, shaves off all his hair, and bathes. After seven days he repeats this and is ready for the last act of his purifying. (3) On the eighth day he presents himself with his sacrifices at the door of the tent of meeting. A guilt offering, a sin offering, and a burnt offering are made, the right ear, thumb, and great toe of the man are touched, first with blood and then with oil, and he is once more ceremonially clean.

4. Later usage required the birds to be sparrows. Cedar wood (probably not the cedar of Lebanon but a kind of juniper) may have been chosen on account of its antiseptic property, and hyssop (see on Exodus 12:22) for its aromatic qualities. In later times, at least, their use was regarded as symbolical, in the one case of the pride which was supposed to be the cause of visitation by the disease, in the other of the humility which was an essential condition of its removal. The scarlet wool may have betokened the healthy blood now coursing in the veins of the erewhile leper. The same materials were employed in the ritual for purification after contact with dead bodies: see Numbers 19:6 and cp. Psalms 51:7.

7. The release of the living bird signified the removal of the uncleanness, perhaps also the restored liberty of the leper. Cp. the release of the goat on the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:21, Leviticus 16:22.

10. A tenth deal (i.e. part) of an ephah, which was called an omer, was about four pints, the ephah being rather more than a bushel. A log is about a pint.

12. Wave them] see on Exodus 29:24; The offering of these sacrifices shows that leprosy was regarded as a punishment of sin.

14. The anointing of these members signified their reconsecration to the service of God, and the readmission of the leper to the privileges of the tabernacle.

33-53 The leprosy of houses. This, like the leprosy of garments (see Leviticus 13:47-59), bears only an external resemblance to the leprosy of human beings. It is a fungus or discoloration making its appearance on the walls of houses: see on Leviticus 13:47-59. The legislation here is prospective: cp. the mention of ’the camp’ in Leviticus 14:3 with that of ’the city’ in Leviticus 14:40. The section may be post-Mosaic. It stands by itself; its natural position would be after Leviticus 13:59.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 14". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/leviticus-14.html. 1909.
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