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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Leviticus 14

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Rituals On the Cleansing of a Leper

A. The sacrifice for a cleansed leper.

1. (Lev 14:1-9) The first seven days of the ritual.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows; all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean."

a. Then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds: In this cleansing ceremony, one bird was killed in an earthen vessel over running water, and its blood was applied to a living bird, to some cedar wood, to some scarlet fabric, and to some hyssop. Then, using these things, the blood was sprinkled on the one who was cleansed from leprosy. Then, the living bird was let go.

i. This seems to be a picture of Jesus' death and its spiritual application; a "heavenly" being (as a bird is "of the heavens") dies in an earthen vessel, while remaining clean (because of the running water). The death of the bird is associated with blood and water; the blood is connected with life (applied to the living bird), and then applied to the one cleansed.

ii. Cedar wood: Cedar is extremely resistant to disease and rot, and these qualities may be the reason for including it here - as well as a symbolic reference to the wood of the cross. Some even think the cross Jesus was crucified on was made of cedar.

iii. The connection with hyssop is also important. Jesus was offered drink from a hyssop branch on the cross (Matthew 27:48), and when David said purge me with hyssop in Psalm 51:7, he was admitted that he was as bad as a leper.

b. He shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows: After the sacrificial ceremony with the birds, the cleansed leper had to wash their clothes and shave off all of their hair. They started all over again, as if they were a brand new baby.

i. Again, this seems to be an illustration of being "born again" - a completely new start.

2. (Lev 14:10-20) On the eighth day.

"And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and one log of oil. Then the priest who makes him clean shall present the man who is to be made clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And the priest shall take one male lamb and offer it as a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. Then he shall kill the lamb in the place where he kills the sin offering and the burnt offering, in a holy place; for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering. It is most holy. The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the LORD. And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the trespass offering. The rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD. Then the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean."

a. On the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish: In completing the sacrifices for the cleansed leper, offerings were made on the eighth day and sacrificial blood was applied to the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe, to sanctify and consecrate the cleansed leper. This was the same way that the priest was consecrated.

b. And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed: On the eighth day, oil was also applied to the cleansed leper. It was both sprinkled on his body in general and then applied to the ear, thumb, and toe just as the blood was. Each of these places on the body was meant to be anointed with oil.

i. Therefore, a cleansed leper had a special calling and a special anointing. One could not go through such a ritual as this and not be changed.

ii. Since leprosy is a picture of sin, we see how this ritual has spiritual application to ever sinner set free by Jesus.

iii. Since leprosy had no natural cure, it was certain that this ritual was rarely performed - and when it was performed at the command of Jesus (Luke 5:12-14), it must have been a great testimony to the priests at the temple.

3. (Lev 14:21-32) Provisions for the poor to fulfill the ritual for a cleansed leper.

"But if he is poor and cannot afford it, then he shall take one male lamb as a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, a log of oil, and two turtledoves or two young pigeons, such as he is able to afford: one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. He shall bring them to the priest on the eighth day for his cleansing, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, before the LORD. And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. Then he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering and put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. And the priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the LORD. And the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the trespass offering. The rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the LORD. And he shall offer one of the turtledoves or young pigeons, such as he can afford; such as he is able to afford, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, with the grain offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him who is to be cleansed before the LORD. This is the law for one who had a leprous sore, who cannot afford the usual cleansing."

B. Leprosy in a house.

1. (Lev 14:33-42) Diagnosis of leprosy in a house.

And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: "When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague in a house in the land of your possession, and he who owns the house comes and tells the priest, saying, 'It seems to me that there is some plague in the house,' then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes into it to examine the plague, that all that is in the house may not be made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to examine the house. And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. And the priest shall come again on the seventh day and look; and indeed if the plague has spread on the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, all around, and the dust that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other mortar and plaster the house."

a. It seems to me that there is some plague in the house: Just as with the instructions regarding leprosy in garments in Leviticus 13, this uses a broad defining of leprosy that can include fungus and mold infestations. These instructions helped promote hygienic dwellings in Israel.

2. (Lev 14:43-53) Cleansing the house infested with leprosy.

"Now if the plague comes back and breaks out in the house, after he has taken away the stones, after he has scraped the house, and after it is plastered, then the priest shall come and look; and indeed if the plague has spread in the house, it is an active leprosy in the house. It is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones, its timber, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them outside the city to an unclean place. Moreover he who goes into the house at all while it is shut up shall be unclean until evening. And he who lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes. But if the priest comes in and examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed. And he shall take, to cleanse the house, two birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. Then he shall kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water; and he shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and the running water and the living bird, with the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet. Then he shall let the living bird loose outside the city in the open field, and make atonement for the house, and it shall be clean."

3. (Lev 14:54-57) Summation of the laws of leprosy.

"This is the law for any leprous sore and scale, for the leprosy of a garment and of a house, for a swelling and a scab and a bright spot, to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the law of leprosy."

© 2004 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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