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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 13

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-59


Here we have what appears like a treatise on leprosy, but it is not introduced simply for medical purposes. There were other diseases more serious, but this is singled out and made the subject of special regulations because of its typical character. It is a parable of sin, drawn by the divine hand of the workings, developments and effects of inborn depravity.

The disease is diagnosed under four heads: (1) leprosy rising spontaneously (Leviticus 1:17 ); (2) rising out of a boil (Leviticus 18:24 ); (3) out of a burn (Leviticus 18:24-28 ); and (4) on the head or beard.

To take the first class: What symptoms are named in Leviticus 13:27 Who is to deal with the case? How is the diagnosis to be confirmed (Leviticus 13:3 )? In cases of doubt what must be done with the suspect (v. 4-8)? What are the symptoms of an advanced case (Leviticus 13:9-11 )? What further condition showed that it was not a genuine case of leprosy (Leviticus 13:12-13 )? What was necessary to prove its genuineness (Leviticus 13:14-17 )?

What requirements were made of the leper (Leviticus 13:45-46 )? According to this, he is to assume all the ordinary signs of mourning for the dead; he is to regard himself, and all others are to regard him, as dead. He is to be a continual mourner at his own funeral.

The reason for this might be hygienic, and because of the contagious nature of the disease. There is also a deeper reason. A principle of divine teaching is that death is always connected with legal uncleanness, because it is the extreme manifestation of the presence of sin in the race and of God’s wrath against it. But all disease is a forerunner of death, an incipient dying, and thus manifests the presence of sin working in the body through death.

It would be impractical to have a law that all disease should render the sick person ceremonially unclean, but in order to keep the connection between sin and disease continually before Israel, this one ailment was selected from all the others for the purpose. It is the supreme type of sin, as seen by God.

Features of Leprosy as a Type for Sin

1. Its extreme loathsomeness.

2. Its insignificant, often even imperceptible, beginning.

3. Its progressiveness in the body.

4. Its all-consuming nature (eventually it affects the whole person).

5. Its numbing work (over time the victim cannot feel his condition).

6. Its hereditary nature.

7. Its incurability by human means.

8. Its divisiveness (it excludes one from the fellowship of God’s people, and hence the fellowship of God).


Although leprosy was incurable by human remedies, it did not always continue for life. Sometimes, being sent as a special judgment from God, as in the case of Miriam, it ceased with the repentance and forgiveness of the offender. Indeed, the Jews generally looked upon it as a judgment, and its very name means “a stroke of the Lord.” We know also of lepers healed by divine power in the Savior’s time and before. Note that the regulations here were not for the cure of the leper but for his ceremonial cleansing after the cure (see Matthew 8:1-4 ). For this reason Seiss thinks these rites illustrate the nature of sanctification rather than justification, although both are implied.


It seems strange to read of disease in garments and houses; yet Moses, inspired by God, was ahead of the science of today which speaks so familiarly of germs and bacilli, and other things of which the fathers never dreamed!

We now know that minute parasitic forms of vegetable life may exist and propagate themselves in places besides the tissues of the human body. We are acquainted with mould and mildew, and know it to imply unhealthy conditions. The leprosy in the present case may border thereon.

The provision in these verses therefore was in the first place sanitary, and teaches how God cares not only for the souls but for the bodies of men and all their material surroundings. But in the second place it was spiritual as in the other instances, teaching that the curse of sin and death was not only upon man but his environment; that sacrificial cleansing was as needful for the one as the other; that the atonement of Christ covered in some mysterious way animate and inanimate creation as well. Read Romans 8:18-23 and 1 Peter 3:10-13 .


1. of what is leprosy a type?

2. Name its typical features.

3. What is absolutely incurable?

4. What scientific fact in this lesson goes to prove the inspiration of the book?

5. Have you read the New Testament Scriptures referred to above?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Leviticus 13". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/leviticus-13.html. 1897-1910.
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