INTRODUCTION TO LEVITICUS 13
In this chapter an account is given of the various sorts of leprosy, and the rules by which they were to be judged of, Leviticus 13:1 of the bright spot and scab, Leviticus 13:4 of the rising or swelling, Leviticus 13:9 of the bile or hot ulcer, Leviticus 13:18 of the hot burning or inflammation, Leviticus 13:24 of the plague of the scall, Leviticus 13:29 of bright spots or blisters, Leviticus 13:38 and of shedding the hair, and baldness, Leviticus 13:40 of what the leper was to do, and to be done unto, Leviticus 13:45 of the leprosy in garments made of linen, woollen, or of skin, Leviticus 13:47.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron,.... Aaron is addressed again, though left out in the preceding law, because the laws concerning leprosy chiefly concerned the priests, whose business it was to judge of it, and cleanse from it; and so Ben Gersom observes, mention is made of Aaron here, because to him and his sons belonged the affair of leprosies, to pronounce unclean or clean, to shut up or set free, and, as Aben Ezra says, according to his determination were all the plagues or strokes of a man, who should be declared clean or unclean:
saying; as follows.
When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh,.... Rules are here given, by which a leprosy might be judged of; which, as a disease, was frequent in Egypt, where the Israelites had dwelt a long time, and from whence they were just come; and is doubtless the reason, as learned men have observed, that several Heathen writers make the cause of their expulsion from Egypt, as they choose to call it, though wrongly, their being infected with this distemper; whereas it was the reverse, not they, but the Egyptians, were incident to it
a rising, scab, or bright spot; the scab that is placed between the rising or swelling, and the bright spot, belongs to them both, and is a kind of an accessory, or second to each of them: hence the Jews distinguish the scab of the swelling, and the scab of the bright spot; so that these make four in all, as they observe
and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; either of the above appearances in the skin, having somewhat in them similar to the leprosy, or which may justly raise a suspicion of it, though it is not clear and manifest:
then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests; for, as Jarchi notes, there was no pollution nor purification of the leprosy, but by the mouth or determination of a priest. And a good man that was desirous, and made conscience of observing the laws of God, when he observed anything of the above in him, and had any suspicion of his case, would of himself go, and show himself to the priest; but if a man did not do this, and any of his neighbours observed the appearances on him, brought him to the priest whether he would or not, according to the text:
he shall be brought: that is, as Aben Ezra explains it, whether with or without his will; for he that sees in him one of the signs, shall oblige him to come to the priest; and who observes, that by Aaron the priest is meant, the priest anointed in his room; and by his sons the priests, the common priests, who are found without the sanctuary; such as the priests of Anathoth, but who were not of those that were rejected.
And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh,.... Whether it be a swelling, scab, or a bright spot that appears, and judge of it by the following rules, and none but a priest might do this:
and when the hair in the plague is turned white; it arising in a place where hair grows, and which hair is not naturally white, but of another colour, but changed through the force of the plague; and there were to be two hairs at least, which were at first black, but turned white; so Jarchi and Ben Gersom: and these hairs, according to the Misnah
and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh; appears plainly to view to be more than skin deep, to have corroded and eat into the flesh below the skin:
it is a plague of leprosy; when these two signs were observed, hair turned white, and the plague was more than skin deep, then it was a plain case that it was the leprosy of which See Gill on Matthew 8:2, Matthew 8:3, Luke 5:12. This was an emblem of sin, and the corruption of nature, which is an uncleanness, and with which every man is defiled, and which renders him infectious, nauseous, and abominable; and of which he is only to be cured and cleansed by Christ, the great High Priest, through his blood, which cleanses from all sin. The above signs and marks of leprosy may be observed in this; the white hair denoting a decay of strength, see Hosea 7:9 may be seen in sinners, as in the leper, who are without moral and spiritual strength to keep the law of God, to do anything that is spiritually good, to regenerate, renew, convert, and sanctify themselves, or to bring themselves out of the state of pollution, bondage, and misery, in which they are; and, like the leprosy, sin lies deep in man; it is in his flesh, in which dwells no good thing, and in which there is no soundness; it does not lie merely in outward actions, but it is in the heart, which is desperately wicked; for the inward part of man is very wicked:
and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean; and so should be obliged to rend his clothes, make bare his head, put a covering on his upper lip, and cry, unclean, unclean; dwell alone without the camp, and at a proper time bring the offering for his cleansing, and submit to the several rites and ceremonies prescribed, Leviticus 13:45.
If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh,.... The Targum of Jonathan is, white as chalk in the skin of his flesh; but other Jewish writers make the whiteness of the bright spot to be the greatest of all, like that of snow; See Gill on Leviticus 13:2,
and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; though it be a bright spot, and be very white, yet these two marks not appearing, it cannot be judged a leprosy, at most it is only suspicious: wherefore
then the priest, shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days; in whom the bright spot is, and of whom there is a suspicion of the plague of leprosy, but it is not certain; and therefore, in order to take time, and get further knowledge, the person was to be shut up from all company and conversation for the space of seven days; by which time it might be supposed, as Ben Gersom observes, that the case and state of the leprosy (if it was one) would be altered; and Aben Ezra remarks, that most diseases change or alter on the seventh day.
And the priest shall look on him the seventh day,.... In the day, and not in the night, as Maimonides, but not on the seventh day, if it happened to be on the sabbath
and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay; it appears to the priest, according to the strictest view he can take of it, that it is in the same state and condition it was, neither better nor worse:
and the plague spread not in the skin: is not greater or larger than it was, though not less:
then the priest shall shut him up seven days more; such abundant care was taken, lest after all it should prove a leprosy.
And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day,.... On the second seventh day, at the end of a fortnight from his being first presented to him, and shut up:
and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark; the spot be not so bright, or so white as it was at first; though Aben Ezra observes, that indeed many wise men say, that כהה is as חשך, signifying dark, and the testimony or proof they bring is Genesis 27:1 but according to my opinion, adds he, the word is the reverse of פשה, to spread; and the sense is, if the plague does not spread itself in another place; and so some translators render it "contracted", or "contracts itself"
and the plague spread not in the skin; but is as it was when first viewed, after waiting fourteen days, and making observations on it:
the priest shall pronounce him clean; that is, from leprosy, otherwise there was an impure disorder on him, a scabious one:
it is but a scab; which is the name, Jarchi says, of a clean plague or stroke, that is, in comparison of the leprosy, otherwise such cannot be said with any propriety to be clean. Ben Gersom better explains it, it is a white scab, but not of the kind of leprosy, although it is found as the whiteness of the bright spot; but there are not seen in it the signs of leprosy, the hair is not turned white, nor has the plague increased:
and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean; for seeing he was obliged to be shut up, as Jarchi observes, he is called unclean, and stood in need of dipping, that is, his body and his clothes into water; so the people of God, though they are justified by the righteousness of Christ, and are pronounced clean through it, yet since they have their spots and scabs, they have need to have their conversation garments continually washed in the blood of the Lamb.
But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin,.... Or "in spreading spread"
after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing: even after he had been viewed upon the first presentation of him to him, and after he had been twice seen by him by the end of two weeks, in which he was shut up, and after he had been pronounced clean, and had washed his clothes for his purification:
he shall be seen of the priest again; either he shall go to him of himself, or be brought to him, to be reviewed and pass under afresh examination.
And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin,.... Is not at a stay, as when he looked at it a second and third time:
then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; a leprous person; to be absolutely so, as Jarchi expresses it; and so obliged to the birds (to bring birds for his cleansing), and to shaving, and to the offering spoken of in this section, as the same writer observes:
it is a leprosy: it is a clear and plain case that it was one, and no doubt is to be made of it, it is a spreading leprosy: as sin is; it spreads itself over all the powers and faculties of the soul, and over all the members of the body; and it spreads more and more in every stage of life, unless and until grace puts a stop to it.
When the plague of leprosy is in a man,.... He has all the signs of it, and it is pretty manifest both to himself and others that it is upon him:
then he shall be brought unto the priest; by his friends and neighbours, if he is not willing to come of himself: a sinner insensible of the leprosy of sin, and of his unclean and miserable state through it, has no will to come to Christ the great High Priest for cleansing; but one that is sensible of it, and of Christ's ability to help and cleanse him, will come freely and gladly, and importunately seek to him for it; though indeed such an one is brought by powerful and efficacious grace to him, yet not against, but with his full will; see John 5:40; compare with this Matthew 8:1.
And the priest shall see him,.... Look at him, and closely and narrowly inspect and examine his case:
and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin; this is another appearance of the leprosy; the preceding were a bright spot, and the scab of it; but this a rising or white swelling in the skin, as white as pure wool, as the Targum of Jonathan:
and it have turned the hair white; to the whiteness of an egg shell, or the film of it, as the same Targum; that is, hath turned the hair of another colour, into white which was before black:
and there be quick raw flesh in the rising, or swelling; or "the quickening" or "quickness of live flesh"
It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh,.... An inveterate one, of long standing and continuance, an obstinate one, not to be cured by medicine; as this sort of leprosy was, and therefore the person was sent not to a physician, but to the priest: the leprosy of sin is an old disease, brought by man into the world with him, and continues with him from his youth upwards, and nothing but the grace of God and blood of Christ can remove it:
and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up; there being no doubt at all of it being a leprosy, and of his uncleanness, and therefore no need to shut him up for further examination, but to turn him out of the camp till his purification was over:
for he is unclean; in a ceremonial sense, and was obliged to the law for cleansing, such as after given.
And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin,.... Or, if flowering it flowers
and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague, from his head even to his foot; such an one as the leper was that came to Christ for healing, said to be full of leprosy, Luke 5:12; and such in a mystical sense is every sinner, whether sensible of it or not, even from the Crown of the head to the sole of the foot, full of the wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores of sin, Isaiah 1:6,
wheresoever the priest looketh; that is, he cannot look any where upon any part of him but he sees the signs of the leprosy on him; and from whence the Jewish writers gather, that a priest that inspects leprous persons ought to have a clear sight, and to have both his eyes, and that the inspection should not be made in a dark house.
Then the priest shall consider,.... Look wistly upon it, and well weigh the matter in his own mind, that he may make a true judgment and pronounce a right sentence:
and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh; from head to foot, so that no quick, raw, or sound flesh appear in him:
he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague; not clean from a leprosy he is covered with; but that he is free from pollution by it, and under no obligation to bring his offering, or to perform, or have performed on him any of the rites and ceremonies used in cleansing of the leper:
it is all turned white; his skin and flesh with white bright spots, scabs and swellings, and no raw and red flesh appears:
he is clean; in a ceremonial sense: this may seem strange, that one that had a bright spot, or a white swelling, or a scab that spreads, a single one of these, or here and there one, should be unclean, and yet, if covered over with them, should be clean; the reason in nature is, because this shows a good healthful inward constitution, which throws out all its ill humours externally, whereby health is preserved; as we see in persons that have the measles or smallpox, or such like distempers, if they stick in the skin, and only here and there one rises up in a tumour, and to an head, it is a bad sign; but if they come out kindly and well, though they cover the whole body, things are very promising: the mystical or spiritual meaning of this is, that when a man sees himself to be a sinful creature, all over covered with sin, and no part free, and disclaims all righteousness of his own to justify him before God, but wholly trusts to, and depends upon the grace of God for salvation, and the righteousness of Christ for his acceptance with God; he becomes clean through the grace of God and the blood and righteousness of Christ.
But when raw flesh appeareth in him,.... Between the white spots, scabs, or swellings, or in the midst of them:
he shall be unclean; be pronounced unclean, and be subject to all the prescriptions of the law concerning lepers.
And the priest shall see the raw flesh,.... Or when he sees it, the person being brought to him to be viewed:
and pronounce him to be unclean; or shall pronounce him to be unclean:
for the raw flesh is unclean; made a man so in a ceremonial sense; See Gill on Leviticus 13:10,
it is a leprosy; wherever any quick raw flesh appears in a swelling.
Or if the raw flesh turn again,.... Changes its colour, from redness, which is in raw flesh:
and be changed unto white: and does not look ruddy as flesh in common does, nor red and fiery, as raw and proud flesh, but is white, of the same colour with the swelling or scab:
he shall come unto the priest; again, and show himself, even though he was before by him pronounced clean.
And the priest shall see him,.... Review him, and examine him thoroughly:
and, behold, if the plague be turned into white; the raw flesh in the swelling, which looked red, is become white:
then the priest shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague; that was supposed to have the plague of leprosy; but upon a review, and on this change of things, has not, he shall declare him free from it:
he is clean; and under no obligation to the laws and rites concerning it.
The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil,.... Or hot ulcer, by which, says Maimonides
and is healed; by the use of medicine, and the part, in all appearance, as well and as sound as ever.
And in the place of the boil there be a white rising,.... In the place where the boil was, a white swelling appears:
or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish; white and red mixed, as the Targum of Jonathan; and so Aben Ezra interprets the word "reddish", of the bright spot being mixed of two colours, or part of it so; and such a mixed colour of white and red, Gersom observes, is usual in a swelling, and adds, we are taught how to judge of these appearances, according to a tradition from Moses, which is this: take a cup full of milk, and put in it two drops of blood, and the colour of it will be as the colour of the bright spot, white and reddish; and if you put into it four drops, its colour will be as the colour of the rising (or swelling) reddish; and if you put into it eight drops, its colour will be as the colour of the scab of the bright spot, more reddish; and if you put into it sixteen drops, its colour will be as the colour of the scab of the swelling, very red: hence it appears, says he, that the bright spot is whitest with its redness, and after that the swelling, and next the scab of the bright spot, and then the scab of the swelling; but Bochart
and it be shewed to the priest; to look upon and pass his judgment on it.
And if, when the priest seeth it,.... And has thoroughly viewed it and considered it:
behold, it be in sight lower than the skin; having eaten into and taken root in the flesh under the skin:
and the hair thereof be turned white; which are the signs of leprosy before given, Leviticus 13:3,
the priest shall pronounce him unclean; not fit for company and conversation, but obliged to conform to the laws concerning leprosy:
it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil; which was there before: this is an emblem of apostates and apostasy, who having been seemingly healed and cleansed, return to their former course of life, and to all the impurity of it, like the dog to its vomit, and the swine to its wallowing in the mire, Proverbs 26:11; and so their last state is worse than the first, Matthew 12:45, as in this case; at first it was a boil, and then thought to be cured, and afterwards arises out of it a plague of leprosy.
But if the priest look on it,.... Upon a person in a like case as first described, having had a boil, and that healed, and afterwards a white swelling, or a bright spot in the place of it:
and, behold, there be no white hairs therein; not two hairs turned white, as Gersom interprets it:
and if it be not lower than the skin; the bright spot not lower than the skin; not having got into the flesh, only skin deep: the Targum of Jonathan is, not lower in whiteness than the skin; for the bright spot is described as white, and so the rising or swelling, Leviticus 13:19,
but be somewhat dark; or rather "contracted"; to which spreading is opposed in the next verse; See Gill on Leviticus 13:6,
then the priest shall shut him up seven days; to wait and see whether it will spread or not: a boil and burning, the Jews say, make a man unclean in one week, and by two signs, the white hair, and the spreading; by the white hair, both at the beginning and at the end of the week after dismission, and by spreading at the end of the week after it
And if it spread much abroad in the skin,.... Upon viewing it on the seventh day, though it is not expressed, the swelling or bright spot; or "in spreading spread"; See Gill on Leviticus 13:7; which Ben Gersom interprets, not of the skin of the flesh, but of the ulcer:
then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; even though there are no white hairs in it, nor is it lower than the skin, yet is not at a stand or contracted, but spreading:
it is a plague; or stroke; it is one sort of a leprosy, and such an one as makes a man unclean in a ceremonial sense.
But if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not,.... Continues as it was when first viewed:
it is a burning boil; but not a plague of leprosy:
and the priest shall pronounce him clean; as clear of a leprosy, and so not bound by the law of it, though attended with an inflammation or burning ulcer.
Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning,.... Or "a burning of fire"
and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white; the Targum of Jonathan is, a white spot mixed with red, or only white; and so Aben Ezra interprets the last clause: this seems to set aside Bochart's interpretation of the word "adamdemeth", which we render "somewhat reddish", and be, very white, bright, and glittering since white is here opposed unto it; though it may be, the sense is, that the flesh burnt has a bright white spot in it, exceeding glittering; or however, at least, a white one: by the "quick flesh" that burneth, Gersom says, is meant the weak, the tender flesh which is renewed there, after it is healed from the purulent matter in it.
Then the priest shall look upon it,.... And examine it, whether it has the marks and signs of a leprosy or not, such as follow:
behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white; which before was black, or of another colour from white, and is now, turned into the whiteness of chalk, as the Targum of Jonathan:
and it be in sight deeper than the skin; the same Targum is,"and its sight or colour is deeper in being white like snow, more than the skin;'but this respects not the colour of it, as appearing to the sight, but the depth of the spot, going below the skin into the flesh, which, with the change of hair, are the two signs of leprosy, Leviticus 13:3,
it is a leprosy broken out of the burning; which sprung from thence, and what that had issued in:
wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean; a leper, and to be treated as such:
it is the plague of leprosy; being a plain case, according to the rules by which it was to be judged of.
But if the priest look on it,.... On the hot burning and bright spot in it, in another person:
and, behold, there be no white hair on the white spot, and it be no lower than the other skin; why the word "other" should be supplied I know not, any more than in Leviticus 13:21,
but be somewhat dark; or "contracted"; see Gill on Leviticus 13:21,
then the priest shall shut him up seven days; as in the case of the burning boil or hot ulcer, as in Leviticus 13:21.
And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day,.... When that is come, any time on that day; not needing to wait until the end of it, or till, the seven days are precisely up; the same is to be understood in all places in this chapter where the like is used:
and if it be spread much abroad in the skin; in the space of seven days:
then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is the plague of leprosy: according to the law; so that it was necessary, in such a case for him to conform to it in order to his cleansing.
And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in the skin,.... If, after being shut up, seven days, it appears that the spot is no larger than, when it was first viewed, but is as it was, and not at all increased:
but it be somewhat dark; either not so bright as it was, or more contracted:
it is a rising of the burning; or a swelling of it, a swelling which sprung from it, and nothing else:
the priest shall pronounce him clean; from the leprosy, and so set him at liberty to go where he will, and dwell and converse with men as usual:
for it is an inflammation of the burning; or an inflammation or blister occasioned by the burning, and no leprosy.
If a man or a woman hath a plague upon the head or the beard. Any breaking out in those parts a swelling, scab, or spot, on a man's beard or on a woman's head; or on the head of either man or woman; or on a woman's beard, if she had any, as some have had though not common.
Then the priest shall see the plague,.... The person on whom it is shall come or be brought unto him; and he shall look upon it and examine it:
and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; which is always one sign of leprosy:
and there be in it a yellow thin hair; like the appearance of thin gold, as the Targum of Jonathan; for, as Ben Gersom says, its colour is the colour of gold; and it is called thin in this place, because short and soft, and not when it is long and small; and so it is said, scabs make unclean in two weeks, and by two signs, by thin yellow hair, and by spreading, by yellow hair, small, soft, and short
then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; declare him a leper, and unfit for company, and order him to do and have done for him the things after expressed, as required in such a case:
it is a dry scall; or "wound", as the Septuagint version; "nethek", which is the word here used, Jarchi says, is the name of a plague that is in the place of hair, or where that grows; it has its name from plucking up; for there the hair is plucked away, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom note:
even a leprosy upon the head or beard; as the head is the seat of knowledge, and the beard a sign of manhood, and of a man's being arrived to years of discretion; when wisdom and prudence are expected in him; this sort of leprosy may be an emblem of errors in judgment, of false doctrines and heresies imbibed by persons, which eat as doth a canker, and are in themselves damnable, and bring ruin and destruction on teachers and hearers, unless recovered from them by the grace of God.
And if the priest look on the plague of the scall,.... As it may appear in another person, brought to him for inspection and examination:
and, behold, it be not in the sight deeper than the skin; it do not seem to be got into the flesh, or lower than the skin:
and that there is no black hair in it; or, "but no black hair in it"; for, as Jarchi says, if there was a black hair in it, he would be clean, and there would be no need of shutting up; for black hair in scalls is a sign of cleanness, as it is said, Leviticus 13:37; it would be a clear case that such a man had no leprosy on him; for black hair is a token of a strong and healthful constitution; and there could remain no doubt about it, and it would require no further trial and examination: Ben Gersom says it means two black hairs; and further observes, that black hair in the midst of a scall is a sign of cleanness; but this being wanting:
then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days; from the time of his viewing the scall; and so Ben Gersom, this is the seventh day from the time of looking upon the scall.
And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague,.... To see whether it has got any deeper, or spread any further, and has any hair growing in it, and of what colour, that he might be also able to judge whether it was a leprosy or not:
and, behold, if the scall spread not; was neither got into the flesh, nor larger in the skin:
and there be in it no yellow hair; that is, a thin yellow hair, for such only, as Ben Gersom observes, was a sign of leprosy in scalls, as in Leviticus 13:30; and the same writer observes, that "and" is here instead of "or", and to be read, "or there be in it no yellow hair"; since a scall was pronounced unclean, either on account of thin yellow hair, or on account of spreading:
and the scall be not in sight deeper than the skin; but be just as it was when first looked upon.
He shall be shaven,.... His head or beard, where the scall was, as Aben Ezra; and so Ben Gersom, who adds, the law is not solicitous whether this shaving is by a priest or not; so it seems any one might shave him:
but the scall shall he not shave; that is, the hair that is in it, but that was to continue and grow, that the colour of it might be easily discerned at the end of seven other days; according to the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, he was to shave round about it, but not that itself; Jarchi says, he was to leave two hairs near it
and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more; by which time it would be seen whether there was any increase or decrease, or whether at a stand, and of what colour the hair was, by which judgment might be made of the case.
And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall,.... That is, according to Ben Gersom, on the thirteenth day from the first inspection of him by the priest:
and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin; neither appears spread on the surface of the skin, nor to have eaten into the flesh under it; also no thin yellow hair, though it is not expressed, for that made a person unclean, though there was no spreading:
then the priest shall pronounce him clean; free from a leprosy:
and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean; there was no need to say he shall wash them in water, as Aben Ezra observes, that is supposed; and then he was looked upon as a clean person, and might go into the sanctuary, and have conversation with men, both in a civil and religious way, and not defile anything he sat upon.
But if the scall spread much in his skin after cleansing. After he has been declared clean by the priest; for it was possible that it might spread after this, though so much precaution had been used, and so much time taken to observe it: with this compare 2 Peter 1:9.
Then the priest shall look on him,.... Again, and which is no less than the fourth time; for notwithstanding his being pronounced clean, he was still subject to the inspection of the priest, if any alteration appeared:
and, behold, if the scall be spread in the skin; which was a certain sign of a leprosy:
the priest shall not seek for yellow hair; or be solicitous about that, whether there is any or not, for either one or the other of these signs were sufficient to determine the case:
he is unclean; and so to be pronounced.
But if the scall be in his sight at a stay,.... If in a few days, or in a short space of time after this, it should appear that the scall is at a full stop, and does not spread any further at all:
and that there is black hair grown up therein; which is a sign of health and soundness, and so of purity; yea, if it was green or red, so be it, it was not yellow, according to Jarchi, it was sufficient:
the scall is healed; from whence it appears that it had been a leprous scall, but was now healed, an entire stop being put to the spread of it; and though yellow hairs might have appeared in it, yet, as Gersom observes, two black hairs having grown up in it, it was a clear case that the corruption of the blood had departed, and it had returned to its former state:
he is clean, and the priest shall pronounce him clean; he was clean before, and is the reason why he pronounces him so; wherefore it is not the sentence of the priest, but the truth of his case that makes him clean; teaching, as Ainsworth observes, that the truth of a man's estate, discerned by the word and law of God, made the man clean or unclean, and not the sentence of the priest, if it swerved from the law.
If a man also, or a woman,.... One or the other, for the law concerning leprosy respecteth both:
have in the skin of their flesh bright spots; and them only; not any rising or swelling, nor scab, nor scall, nor boil, nor burning, only bright spots, a sort of freckles or morphew:
even white bright spots; these, Ben Gersom observes, are white spots, but not plagues; and which were in whiteness inferior to the four species of the plague of leprosy, the white spot, the white swelling, and the scab of each.
Then the priest shall look,.... Upon the man or woman that has these spots, and upon the spots themselves, and examine them of what kind they are:
and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; their whiteness is not strong, as Jarchi observes; but dusky and obscure, or "contracted"
it is a freckled spot that grows in the skin; a kind of morphew, which the above writer describes as a sort of whiteness which appears in the flesh of a ruddy man:
he is clean; from leprosy; this is observed, lest a person that is freckled and has a morphew should be mistaken for a leprous person; as every man that has some spots, failings, and infirmities, is not to be reckoned a wicked man.
And the man whose hair is fallen off his head,.... That is, from the back part of his head, from the crown of his head toward his neck behind:
he is bald; in that spot of the head where the hair is fallen off; and it denotes such a baldness as is occasioned by that, for it signifies one that had hair, but it is fallen off; whereas the baldness after spoken of is thought by some to be of such who never had any hair; though others will have it, that this intends a person bald all over; but it seems plain from what follows, that it designs one whose hair was fallen off behind, and was bald on that part only; and it may be observed, that this is only said of a man, not of a woman, because, as Aben Ezra remarks, she has much moisture in her, and therefore her head does not become bald; hair being like to grass, which flourishes in moist places:
yet is he clean; from the leprosy, or from the scalls, as Jarchi observes, because he is not judged by the signs of the head and beard, which are the place of hair, but by the signs of leprosy in the skin of the flesh, i.e. by the raw flesh and spreading.
And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head towards his face,.... That is, from the crown of his head towards his forehead and temples, the fore part of his head; and so the Misnic doctors distinguish baldness, which is from the crown of the head descending behind to the channel of the neck; and that here mentioned, which is from the crown of the head descending to his face and forehead, over against the hair above
he is forehead bald; to distinguish him from him that is bald behind:
yet is he clean; as the other: these cases are observed, that it might not be concluded that every man that shed his hair or was bald either before or behind was a leper, because the hair of a leper used to fall off from him; if he had not the other signs of leprosy, and which were the sure and true signs of it before mentioned.
And if there be,.... Or, "but if there be", or, "when there shall be"
in the bald head, or in the bald forehead, a white reddish sore; white and red mixed, as the Targum of Jonathan, having something of both colours, neither a clear white nor thorough red; though, according to Bochart, it should be rendered "a white sore exceeding bright"; See Gill on Leviticus 13:19,
it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or in his bald forehead; the signs of which were raw flesh and spreading; so it is said in the Misnah
Then the priest shall look upon it,.... The white reddish sore:
and, behold, if the rising of the sore; or the swelling of it:
be white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead; See Gill on Leviticus 13:42,
as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh; as in Leviticus 13:2; having the signs of the leprosy there given; anyone of them, excepting the white hair, which in this case could be no sign, there being none: Jarchi's note is, according to the appearance of the leprosy, said in Leviticus 13:2; and what is said in it is, it defiles by four appearances, and is judged in two weeks; but not according to the appearance of the leprosy said of the boil, and burning, which were judged in one week; nor according to the appearance of the scalls, of the place of hair, which do not defile by the four appearances, the rising or swelling, and the scab of it, the bright spot, and the scab of that.
He is a leprous man, he is unclean,.... And so to be pronounced and accounted; only a leprous man is mentioned, there being no leprous women, having this sort of leprosy, their hair not falling off, or they becoming bald, usually; unless, as Ben Gersom observes, in a manner strange and wonderful:
the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; as in any other case of leprosy:
his plague is in his head; an emblem of such who have imbibed bad notions and erroneous principles, and are therefore, like the leper, to be avoided and rejected from the communion of the saints, Titus 3:10; and shows that men are accountable for their principles as well as practices, and liable to be punished for them.
And the leper in whom the plague is,.... Meaning not he only that has the plague of leprosy in his head, but every sort of leper before mentioned in this chapter:
his clothes shall be rent; not that he might the more easily put on his clothes without hurting him, as some have thought; or that the corrupt humours might evaporate more freely, for evaporation would rather be hindered than promoted by being exposed to cold; nor that he might be known and better avoided, for his cry after mentioned was sufficient for that; but as a token of mourning: and so Aben Ezra having mentioned the former reason, that he might be known by going in a different habit, adds, or the sense is, as a token of mourning; for he was to mourn for the wickedness of his actions; for, for his works came this plague of leprosy upon him; and so the Jews in common understand it, not as a disease arising from natural causes, but as a punishment inflicted by God for sin; wherefore this rite of rending the garments was an emblem of contrition of heart, and of sorrow and humiliation for sin, see Joel 1:13,
and his head bare; or "free" from cutting or shaving, but shall let his hair grow; and so the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi interpret it; or free from any covering upon it, hat, or cap, or turban: Ben Gersom observes, that the making bare the head, or freeing it, is taken different ways; sometimes it is used of not shaving the head for thirty days, and sometimes for the removal of the vail, or covering of the head it has been used to; but in this place it cannot signify the nourishing of the hair, but that his head ought to be covered: and so Maimonides
and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip; as a mourner, see Ezekiel 24:17. Jarchi interprets it of both lips, upper and under, which were covered with a linen cloth or vail thrown over the shoulder, and with which the mouth was covered; and this was done, as Aben Ezra says, that the leper might not hurt any with the breath of his mouth:
and shall cry, Unclean, unclean; as he passed along in any public place, that everyone might avoid him, and not be polluted by him: the Targum of Jonathan is,"a herald shall proclaim and say, Depart, depart from the unclean.'So every sinner sensible of the leprosy of sin in his nature, and which appears in his actions, should freely confess and acknowledge his uncleanness, original and actual, the impurity of his heart and life, and even of his own righteousness in the sight of God, and have recourse to Christ, and to his blood, for the cleansing him from it.
All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled,.... Reckoned an unclean person, and avoided as such:
he is unclean; in a ceremonial sense, and pronounced as such by the priest, and was to be looked upon as such by others during the time of his exclusion and separation, until he was shown to the priest and cleansed, and his offering offered:
he shall dwell alone; in a separate house or apartment, as Uzziah did, 2 Chronicles 26:21; none were allowed to come near him, nor he to come near to any; yea, according to Jarchi, other unclean persons might not dwell with him:
without the camp shall his habitation be; without the three camps, as the same Jewish writer interprets it, the camp of God, the camp of the Levites, and the camp of Israel: so Miriam, when she was stricken with leprosy, was shut out of the camp seven days, Numbers 12:14. This was observed while in the wilderness, but when the Israelites came to inhabit towns and cities, then lepers were excluded from thence; for they defiled, in a ceremonial sense, every person and thing in a house they came into, whether touched by them or not. So Bartenora
The garments also, that the plague of leprosy is in,.... Whether this sort of leprosy proceeded from natural causes, or was extraordinary and miraculous, and came immediately from the hand of God, and was peculiar to the Jews, and unknown to other nations, is a matter of question; the latter is generally asserted by the Hebrew writers, as Maimonides
whether it be a woollen garment or a linen garment: and, according to the Misnic doctors
Whether it be in the warp, or woof, of linen, or of woollen,.... When these are woven and mixed together, it seems difficult, if not impossible, to judge whether the plague of leprosy was in the one or in the other; one would think it should be unavoidably in both; wherefore Castalio renders the words, whether "in the outer part of it, or in the inner"; in the outside or inside, or what we call the right side or the wrong side of the cloth: but to me it seems that the warp and woof, whether of linen or woollen, are here distinguished not only from garments made of them, but from the cloth itself, of which they are made, and even to be considered before they are wrought together in the loom; and, according to the Jews, when upon the spindle
whether in a skin, or anything made of skin; that is, whether in unwrought skin, which is not made up in anything, or in anything that is made of skins, as tents, bottles, &c. but skins of fishes, according to the Jewish traditions, are excepted; for so they say
And if the plague be greenish or reddish the garment, or in the skin,.... Either of these two colours were signs of leprosy in garments; but it is not agreed whether stronger or weaker colours are designed; the radicals of both these words being doubled, according to some, and particularly Aben Ezra, lessen the sense of them; and so our translators understand it; but, according to Ben Gersom, the signification is increased thereby, and the meaning is, if it be exceeding green or exceeding red; and this is evidently the sense of the Misnah
either in the warp or in the woof, or in anything of the skin; the same held good of these as of a garment, or anything else made of them:
it is a plague of leprosy; it has the signs of one, and gives great suspicion that it is one:
and shall be shewed unto the priest; by the person in whose possession it is, that it may be examined and judged of whether it is a leprosy or no.
And the priest shall look upon the plague,.... The green or red spot in the garment, &c.
and shut up it that hath the plague seven days; the woollen or linen garment, the warp or the woof, or skins, and those things that were made of them.
And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day,.... To see whether there is any alteration in it in that space of time:
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 green and red spot be spread more and more in either of them, whether the colour remains the same or not, be changed, the green into red, or the red into green, yet if there was a spreading, it was a sign of leprosy. According to the Jewish canon
the plague is a fretting leprosy; according to Jarchi, a sharp and pricking one, like a thorn; which signification the word has in Ezekiel 28:24. Ben Gersom explains it, which brings a curse, corruption, and oldness into the thing in which it is; an old "irritated, exasperated" leprosy, as Bochart
it is unclean; and the garment or thing in which it is.
He shall therefore burn that garment,.... That there may be no more use of it, nor profit from it; and this was done without the city, as Ben Gersom asserts:
whether in warp or woof, in woollen or in linen, or anything of skin,
wherein the plague is; all and either of them were to be burnt:
for it is a fretting leprosy; See Gill on Leviticus 13:51,
it shall be burnt in the fire; which may teach both to hate the garment spotted with the flesh, and to put no trust in and have no dependence on a man's own righteousness, which is as filthy rags, and both are such as shall be burnt, and the loss of them suffered, even when a man himself is saved, yet so as by fire, 1 Corinthians 3:15.
And if the priest shall look,.... On the seventh day as before, after shutting up:
and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in anything of skin; but is at an entire stay, that it may be hoped it is not a fretting leprosy: so when men do not proceed to more ungodliness, as wicked men commonly do, but there is a stop put to their vicious life and conversation, it is an hopeful sign of future good.
Then the priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is,.... The priest did not wash it himself, but ordered others to do it; and this was either the part in which the plague was, or the whole garment or skin in which it was; which may be typical of the washing of the garments of men in the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, Revelation 7:14,
and he shall shut it up seven days more: the garment or skin in which the leprosy was, or suspected to be, to see what alteration would be made by that time through the washing, whether the colour would be altered, or whether it would spread any more or not.
And the priest shall look on the plague after it is washed,.... That is, on the second seventh day, or thirteenth day from his first inspection of it:
and, behold, if the plague has not changed its colour; and the plague be not spread, it is unclean, thou shalt burn it in the fire; if it remains just as it was at first, very green or very red, and has not diminished of its colour at all, nor changed from one colour to another, although it should not have spread itself, yet it is defiled, and to be burnt without the camp, as before; that which spreads itself here and there, it is to be burnt:
it is after inward, whether it be bare within or without; that is, whether it be threadbare on the wrong or right side of the garment, the nap being eaten off by the leprosy; which shows it to be a fretting, eating, and corroding one: in the Hebrew text it is, "in the boldness of the hinder", or "in the baldness of the fore part"; they are the same words which are used of the boldness of the back part and fore part of the head, Leviticus 13:42; the nap being off either of the outer and right side of the cloth, or of the inner and wrong side, made it look like a bald head, whether before or behind.
And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it,.... Is become of a weaker colour, either not quite so green, or not quite so red as it was, or is "contracted", and does not spread itself; see Gill on Leviticus 13:6; but is rather become less:
then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof; that is, that piece which has the plague in it, and burn it, as Jarchi says; that so the whole may not be lost, which is otherwise pure, and clean, and free from any infection. The manner of expression confirms what I have observed on Leviticus 13:48; that the warp and woof are considered as separate things, and as before they are wove together, or wrought into one garment. This rending out may denote the denying of ungodliness and worldly lusts, the parting with right eye and right hand sins, and having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in anything of skin,.... After the piece has been rent out, in another part of the garment, &c. where before it was not seen:
it is a spreading plague; or leprosy; a flourishing one, as the word signifies, a growing and increasing one:
thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire; according to Aben Ezra, only that part in which the plague was; but Jarchi says the whole garment; with whom Ben Gersom seems to agree, who reads the words, thou shall burn it, with that in which the plague is; the whole garment, skin, warp, or woof, along with the part in which the leprosy is.
And the garment, either warp or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash,.... After it had been shut up seven days, and viewed by the priest again: if the plague be departed from them: upon a review of them:
then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean; and so reckoned even thoroughly clean, and used; this denotes the thorough washing and cleansing of sinners by the blood of Jesus, see Psalm 51:2; this washing was by dipping; and so the Targum renders it; and Jarchi observes, that all washings of garments, which are for dipping, they interpret by the same word.
This is the law of the plague of leprosy,.... The rules by which it was to be judged of; whether or no it was
in a garment of woollen, or linen, either the warp or woof, or any thing of skins; which include everything in which this sort of leprosy was:
to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean; either to declare it free from the plague of the leprosy, or as infected with it, and so accordingly dispose of it.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34