Leviticus 13:1-3,45-46 (ESV) The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean... "The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, 'Unclean, unclean.' He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.
The mysteries of God's mind continue with this extra long chapter dedicated to leprosy that affects people, clothes and even homes.
In the midst of all the trials the Israelites are going through, why would God put them through the extra hardship of this disease and condemn those who are infected?
Upon a bit of research, I found that although we refer to the translation as leprosy, there is another meaning taken from the Hebrew translation and is called Tzaraath.
Tzaraath affects both animate as well as inanimate objects but it has not been scientifically catalogued and we are safe to stick with the modern-day translation as it is closest in meaning to the condition/symptoms explained in this chapter.
In Mark 1:40-45 which describes Jesus' healing of the leper, the Greek word used is lepra which is not the same as Tzaraath but probably means the same.
Leprosy or Hansen's Disease is classified as a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities (Excerpt from Wikipedia).
Scientists suspect that transmission of this disease is through respiratory droplets and because it is a chronic disease, it takes longer to eradicate and has a tendency of recurring.
After reading all of this research, one wonders where this disease came from. In the Bible, the disease seems to have started in Egypt and was familiar to the Jews living there during the exile.
In today's times, the disease is more prevalent in India, Brazil and Burma but also has been identified in a few other countries mostly in the southern hemisphere.
There obviously was significance to this disease as inferred by the length of the chapter and its detail and the cure is described in the following chapter but why was the person with the affliction alienated from his own?
The alienation was important to control the spread of the condition among the Israelites. Also, we need to note that Jesus during His ministry, as recorded in the new testament, cleaned the lepers of their affliction rather than heal them.
Mark 1:40-42 (ESV) And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
This helps us understand that leprosy was a condition of uncleanness and the lepers needed to be cleaned, not healed. Does it not resonate with our sinfulness and how we need to be cleansed of it?
Before accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are described as unclean and upon genuine reflection of our lives, we can see clearly how unclean we are before a holy and righteous God.
Through Christ's shed blood and death on the cross, we receive the cleansing of our sins because He who never sinned became the perfect and final sacrifice needed to pay for our sins that we might be cleansed completely.
Are you cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ? If not, I urge you to go here.
If you are cleansed by Christ's blood, do you constantly visit His throne of grace to seek forgiveness for your repeated uncleanness that threatens to scar you?
In His Loving Service,
Exodus 15:26 (ESV) "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer."
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