Chapter 14


Cleansing Skin Diseases

    • The Lord told Moses, “These are the instructions for ceremonial cleansing for those who have skin diseases.”

      • The priest will examine the person outside of the camp. If the person has been healed, the priest will perform a purification ceremony using two clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and a branch of hyssop. One of the birds should be slaughtered over a clay pot filled with fresh water. The priest will sprinkle the blood of the bird on the person 7 times. Once the person has been purified, the other bird will be released and it will fly away. Then, the person must wash their clothes, shave off all of their hair, and take a bath. After this, the person is considered clean and can come back into the camp. However, they can’t enter into their tents for another 7 days. On the 7th day, they must again shave off all of the hair on their heads (including eyebrows), wash their clothes, and take a bath.

        • Guzik notes the parallels between this purification ceremony and Jesus’ crucifixion, “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…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…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…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…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…Again, this seems to be an illustration of being “born again” – a completely new start.”

      • “On the eighth day, the person being purified must bring two unblemished male lambs, a year old unblemished female lamb, and three quarts of fine flour mixed with olive oil and one third of a quart of olive oil as a grain offering. The priest will place the person along with these things before the Lord at the entrance to the Tabernacle. The priest will offer one of the male lambs and the olive oil and present them as a guilt offering. The priest will then slaughter the lamb and this offering belongs to him. The priest will take some of the blood from the offering a put it on the person’s right ear lobe, right thumb, and right big toe. Then, the priest will pour some of the olive oil into his own left hand, dip his right finger into the oil on his left hand, and sprinkle it before the Lord 7 times. The priest will then put some of the oil from his left hand over the blood on the person’s right ear lobe, right thumb, and right big toe. The priest will put the rest of the oil in his hand on the person’s head. This process will make atonement for the person before the Lord.”

        • Guzik writes, “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.”

      • “After this the priest must present a sin offering for the person who was cured. He’ll slaughter the burnt offering and offer it with the grain offering. The person will then be considered clean.”

      • “ If someone is too poor to afford the offerings required above, they can bring one male lamb instead for the guilt offering along with two quarts of fine flour with olive oil for the grain offering and 1 cup of olive oil. They must also bring whichever they can afford- either two turtledoves or two young pigeons- one pair for the sin offering and the other for the burnt offering. They will bring these to the priest on the 8th day and the priest will perform the purification ceremony exactly as stated above.”

Cleansing Contaminated Objects

    • Then the Lord told Moses and Aaron, “When you get to Canaan, the land that I am giving you, I’ll contaminate some of the houses with mildew (some translations read “leprosy”). The owner of the house must come to the priest and let them know that it looks like their house many be contaminated with mildew. The priest will have the house emptied before he goes in to inspect so that nothing inside the house will get declared unclean. Upon examination, if the priest finds that the house has red or green mildew streaks and the contamination appears to extend beyond the wall’s surface, the priest will leave and quarantine the house for 7 days. On the 7th day, the priest will re-inspect. If he finds that the mildew has spread, then the stones from those areas will have to be removed and the contaminated material will be taken and discarded outside the camp in an area that is designated for unclean things. All the interior walls of the house must be scraped down and the scrapings dumped outside the camp in the area for unclean things. New stones will be brought in to replace the old ones and the wall will be replastered. Now, if the mildew comes back after all of this process, the priest will come back to inspect the house again. If he sees that the mildew has spread and is a serious contamination, then the entire house must be torn down and everything taken outside the camp to the area for unclean things. Anyone who goes into the house during the time that it is quarantined, will be considered unclean until evening and everyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash their clothes. However, when the priest comes back to inspect the house after it has been replastered and finds that the mildew contamination is gone, he will pronounce the house clean.”

      • Guzik notes, “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.”

    • “The priest will purify the house using two birds, cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and a hyssop branch. He’ll slaughter one of the birds over a clay pot filled with fresh water; he will dip the cedar wood, hyssop branch, scarlet yarn, and live bird into the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water. He’ll sprinkle the house 7 times. He will then release the bird and the house will be purified and clean.”

    • “These are all the instructions for how you are to deal with skin diseases (sores, swelling, rashes, or discolored skin) and mildew (whether on clothing or in a house).”