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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7


Verses 1-7:

The law of purification of the leper was precise and detailed. Only the law of purification from contact with a dead body, and the law of the purification of a defiled Nazarite were comparable to it in respect to the minute details involved.

Some purifications were simple: one who touched the carcass of a beast who had died of natural causes had only to wash his clothes, see Le 11:40. It appears that the more important the defilement, the more significant the cleansing.

Leprosy excluded its victim from both the sanctuary, and the congregation of Israel. This involved the relationship both to Israel, and to God. Thus there must be a two-fold restoration, each with its own ceremonies. The method of the first purification is described in verses 1-8, the second in verses 9-32.

Preliminary stages in the first cleansing, to allow the cleansed leper to return to society, were:

1. The priest examined the leper outside the camp, to determine if he were indeed clean.

2. An earthen vessel was filled with fresh water, and was brought along with two birds, to the priest. One of these birds was killed, and his blood was allowed to run in the water.

3. The second bird was dipped in the water, along with hyssop and a piece of cedar wood, bound together with a thread of scarlet wool. The priest then sprinkled the leper with the bloody water which dripped from the living bird’s feathers.

4. The priest formally declared the leper to be clean.

5. The living bird was set free in the open field.

This cleansing process is symbolic:

1. Of Jesus our Priest who went forth outside the camp, both to examine for and to cleanse of sin, Heb 13:12, 13.

2. The fragrance and antiseptic properties of the cedar wood may represent the beauty of the therapy of cleansing. 1Jo 1:7.

3. The hyssop may symbolize the bitterness through which the . Savior went, to effect the sinner’s purification, 2Co 5:21.

4. The scarlet wool may represent the blood of Christ which "cleanseth from all sin," 1Jo 1:7.

5. The bird which was slain pictures the sacrifice of Christ on behalf of sinners.

6. The running water may symbolize the Holy Spirit, see Joh 7: 39.

7. The bird set free represents the Lord bearing man’s sins from him "as far as the east is from the west," Ps 103:12.

Verses 8-11

Verses 8-11:

The healed leper washed his clothes, shaved his head, and bathed, He was then allowed to return to the camp, but he was not allowed to return to his own tent for seven days.

A second series of ceremonies followed the week-long quarantine period:

1. The cleansed leper repeated the bathing and washing process, this time shaving off all his body hair.

2. On the eighth day, he brought the following sacrifices to the priest: a lamb for a Trespass Offering, a log (about 2/3 of a pint), of oil, a Meat (grain) Offering, a Sin Offering, and a Burnt Offering.

The priest who officiated at his cleansing presented him and his offerings at the door of the tabernacle.

Verses 12-20

Verses 12-20:

This is the continuation of the purification ceremony:

4. The priest offered the Trespass Offering and the oil for him.

5. The priest placed some of the blood of this offering on various parts of the man’s body.

6. He put some of the oil into his left hand, sprinkled some of it seven times before the Lord, then placed some of the oil on the man’s body where the blood was, and poured the rest upon the man’s head.

7. The priest then offered the Sin, Burnt, and Meat Offerings.

Verses 21-32

Verses 21-32:

Provision was made for poverty, if the cleansed leper were unable to afford the two lambs required for the Sin and Burnt Offerings. Two turtledoves or two pigeons could be substituted. Also, one-tenth deal of flour could be substituted for the three/tenth deals required for the Meat offering. However, no substitute could be made for the lamb required for the Trespass Offering, or the log of oil. The poor as well as the rich must bring these.

Verses 33-42

Verses 33-42:

This text provides the manner of determining "leprosy" of a house, and its cleansing.

At the time this law was given, Israel lived in tents, not in houses. This law provided for the time when they would possess the Land, and live in permanent houses in it.

The "leprosy" of the house was likely a fungus, in appearance like leprosy in a human being. The exact nature of this plague is unknown.

The owner of the house first reported to the priest his suspicion of a plague in it. The priest then ordered all contents of the house to be removed before he entered for his investigation. He then examined the plague, and ordered the house shut and quarantined for seven days. If at the end of this time the plague had spread, the affected stones were removed from the walls, and deposited in an "unclean" area outside the city. The plaster was scraped from the walls and the scrapings were disposed of in the same manner as were the stones. Other stones were put in the place of those removed, and the walls were re-plastered. The house then was ready for occupancy once more.

Verses 43-47

Verses 43-47:

If the plague reappeared in the house after its cleansing, the owner of the house was to demolish it completely, and carry the debris outside the camp where it was deposited in an "unclean place."

All who entered the "leprous" house became ceremonially unclean. However, this uncleanness lasted only until the evening, and the victim had only to wash his clothes. This implies that the procedure was primarily ceremonial, and not merely for hygienic purposes. It symbolizes the defilement which comes by contact with sin in the world, and its cleansing by the "washing of the word," Eph 5:26.

Verses 48-53

Verses 48-53:

If the plague did not spread within the house after it was repaired and replastered, the priest then pronounced it clean. He then performed a ritual similar to that of the cleansing of the leper, see verse 1-7. This ritual consisted of three steps:

1. The priest first assured himself that the house was clean, and free of the plague.

2. He pronounced the house clean.

3. He performed the rite of cleansing.

Verses 54-57

Verses 54-57:

The law of leprosy was primarily for Israel’s moral and spiritual instruction. Leprosy in any form was repulsive and often fatal. This pictures the repulsiveness of sin in God’s sight. The elaborate ritual required by this law showed the importance of total cleansing from it. This symbolizes the importance of cleansing from all defilement of sin.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-14.html. 1985.
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