When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:
or, swelling. a scab.
the plague of leprosy
Tzar‰‚th, the Leprosy, from the Greek [lepra] from [lepis] a scale; so called, because in this disease the body is covered with thin white scales, so as to give it the appearance of snow. The leprosy is a dreadful, contagious disorder, common in Egypt and Syria, and generally manifests itself at first in the manner described in the text. Its commencement is imperceptible; there appearing only a few reddish spots on the skin, which are not attended with pain or any other symptom, but cannot be removed. It increases imperceptibly, and continues for some years to be more and more manifest. The spots become larger, spread over the whole skin, and are sometimes rather raised, though generally flat. When it increases the upper part of the nose swells, the nostrils distend, the nose becomes soft, swellings appear on the under jaws, the eyebrows are elevated, the ears grow thick, the ends of the fingers, feet, and toes, swell, the nails grow scaly, the joints of the hands and feet separate, the palms of hands and soles of the feet are ulcerated, and in its last stage the patient becomes horrible, and falls to pieces.
And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days:
And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again:
And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy.
And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising;
shall see him
quick raw flesh
Heb. the quickening of living flesh.
And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever the priest looketh;
Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean.
if the leprosy
It may seem strange that the partial leper should be pronounced unclean, and the person totally covered with the disease clean. This was probably owing to a different species or stage of the disease; the partial being contagious, the total not. That there are two different species, or degrees, of the disease described here, is sufficiently evident: in one, the person was all covered with a white enamelled scurf; in the other, there was a quick raw flesh in the risings. On this account, the one was deemed unclean, or contagious, the other not; for contact with the quick raw flesh would be more likely to communicate the disease, than the touch of the hard dry scurf. The ichor proceeding from the former, when brought into contact with the flesh of another, would soon be taken into constitution by means of the absorbent vessels; but where the surface was perfectly dry; the absorbent vessels of another, coming in contact with the diseased man, could imbibe nothing, and there was consequently but little or no danger of infection. This is the learned Dr. Mead's view of the subject; who thus accounts for the circumstances mentioned in the text.
he is clean
Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto the priest;
The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, and is healed,
And if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil.
But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
And if it spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague.
i,e., "The plague of leprosy."
But if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not, it is a burning boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning, and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white;
a hot burning
Heb. a burning of fire.
Isaiah 3:24 This is supposed to state the case of such as had been hurt by fire; which would leave a scar, in which the leprosy might appear, and which was to be distinguished by the rules here given.
Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin; it is a leprosy broken out of the burning: wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
then the priest
And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
it is the plague of leprosy
See on ver.
If a man or woman have a plague upon the head or the beard;
Then the priest shall see the plague: and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; and there be in it a yellow thin hair; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a dry scall, even a leprosy upon the head or beard.
And if the priest look on the plague of the scall, and, behold, it be not in sight deeper than the skin, and that there is no black hair in it; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days:
And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague: and, behold, if the scall spread not, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the scall be not in sight deeper than the skin;
And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall: and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin; then the priest shall pronounce him clean: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
and he shall
Verse 35But if the scall spread much in the skin after his cleansing;
Then the priest shall look: and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; it is a freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean.
if the bright
a freckled spot
The word bohak, from the Syriac behak, to be white, or shining, here rendered "a freckled spot," is used by the Arabs to denote a kind of leprosy, of which Niebuhr says, "Bohak is neither contagious nor dangerous. A black boy at Mocha, who was affected with this eruption, had here and there upon his body white spots. We were told that the use of sulphur had relieved this boy for a time, but had not entirely removed the disease." He adds subsequently from Forskal's papers, "The Arabs call a sort of leprosy, in which some little spots shew themselves here and there on the body, behaq; and it is without doubt the same as is named bohak, (Le ch. 13). They believe it to be so far from contagious, that one may sleep with a person affected without danger." "On the 15th day of May, 1765, I myself first saw the Bohak leprosy in a Jew at Mocha. The spots in this disease are of an unequal size. They do not shine; are not perceptibly higher than the skin; and do not change the colour of the hair. Their colour is an obscure white, inclining to red. The rest of the skin of the patient was darker than that of the people of the country in general; but the spots were not so white as the skin of an European, when not sun-burnt. The spots in this leprosy do not appear on the hands, or near the navel, but on the neck and face, yet not on that part where the hair grows thick. They gradually spread, and continue sometimes only about two months, but in some cases one or two years, and then disappear by degrees, of themselves. This disorder is neither contagious nor hereditary, nor does it occasion any inconvenience." Hence a person infected with the bohak is declared clean.
And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.
hair is fallen off his head
Heb. head is pilled.
He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head.
And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.
and his head
All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.
The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment;
This leprosy in garments appears so strange to us, that it has induced some, with Bp. Patrick, to consider it as an extraordinary punishment inflicted by God upon the Israelites, as a sign of his high displeasure; while others consider the leprosy in clothes (and also houses) as having no relation to the leprosy in man. When Michaelis was considering the subject, he was told by a dealer in wool, that the wool of sheep which die of a disease, if it has not been shorn from the animal while living, is unfit to manufacture cloth, and liable to something like what Moses here describes, and which he imagines to be the plague of leprosy in garments. The whole account, however, as Dr. A. Clarke observes, seems to intimate that the garment was fretted by the contagion of the real leprosy; which it is probable was occasioned by a species of animacula, or vermin, burrowing in the skin, which we know to be the cause of the itch; these, by breeding in the garments, must necessarily multiply their kind, and fret the garments, i.e., corrode a portion of the finer parts, after the manner of moths, for their nourishment. The infection of garments has frequently been known to cause the worst species of scarlet fever, and even the plague; and those infected with psora, or itch animal, have communicated the disease even in six or seven years after the infection.
Whether it be in the warp, or woof; of linen, or of woollen; whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin;
thing made of
Heb. work of.
And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:
thing of skin
Heb. vessel, or instrument. it is.
And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.
He shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woollen or in linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is: for it is a fretting leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.
And the priest shall look on the plague, after that it is washed: and, behold, if the plague have not changed his colour, and the plague be not spread; it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is fret inward, whether it be bare within or without.
it be bare within or without
Heb. it be bald in the head thereof, or in the forehead thereof.
And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.
And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.
2 Kings 5:10,14 Psalms 51:2 2 Corinthians 7:1 12:8 Hebrews 9:10 Revelation 1:5 The plague of leprosy was inflicted immediately from the hand of God, and came not from natural causes, as other diseases; and therefore must be managed according to a divine law. Miriam's leprosy, and Gehazi's and King Uzziah's were all the punishments of particular sins; and if generally it was so, no marvel there was so much care taken to distinguish it from a common distemper, that none might be looked upon as lying under this extraordinary token of Divine displeasure, but those that really were so.
This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of woollen or linen, either in the warp, or woof, or any thing of skins, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean.