New American Bible (Revised Edition)
III. Laws Regarding Ritual Purity[a]
Clean and Unclean Meats.[b] 1 (A)The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 Speak to the Israelites and tell them: Of all land animals these are the ones you may eat: 3 Any animal that has hoofs you may eat, provided it is cloven-footed and chews the cud. 4 But you shall not eat(B) any of the following from among those that only chew the cud or only have hoofs: the camel, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 5 the rock hyrax,[c] which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 6 the hare, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 7 and the pig,(C) which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you. 8 You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
9 Of the various creatures that live in the water, you may eat the following: whatever in the seas or in river waters that has both fins and scales you may eat.(D) 10 But of the creatures that swarm in the water or of animals that otherwise live in the water, whether in the sea or in the rivers, all those that lack either fins or scales are loathsome for you, 11 and shall always be loathsome to you. Their meat you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall loathe. 12 Every water creature that lacks fins or scales is loathsome for you.
13 Of the birds,[d] these you shall loathe; they shall not be eaten, they are loathsome: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the various species of falcons, 15 the various species of crows, 16 the eagle owl, the kestrel, the long-eared owl, the various species of hawks, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the screech owl, 18 the barn owl, the horned owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, the various species of herons, the hoopoe, and the bat.
20 The various winged insects that walk on all fours are loathsome for you. 21 But of the various winged insects that walk on all fours you may eat those that have legs jointed above their feet for leaping on the ground; 22 hence of these you may eat the following: the various kinds of locusts, the various kinds of bald locusts, the various kinds of crickets, and the various kinds of grasshoppers.(E) 23 All other winged insects that have four legs are loathsome for you.
24 You become unclean by the following—anyone who touches their carcasses shall be unclean until evening,(F) 25 and anyone who carries any part of their carcasses shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening— 26 by all hoofed animals that are not cloven-footed or do not chew the cud; they are unclean for you; anyone who touches them becomes unclean. 27 Also by the various quadrupeds that walk on paws; they are unclean for you; anyone who touches their carcasses shall be unclean until evening, 28 and anyone who carries their carcasses shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening. They are unclean for you.
29 Of the creatures that swarm on the ground, the following are unclean for you: the rat, the mouse, the various kinds of lizards, 30 the gecko, the spotted lizard, the agama, the skink, and the chameleon. 31 Among the various swarming creatures, these are unclean for you. Everyone who touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. 32 Everything on which one of them falls when dead becomes unclean, including any article of wood, cloth, leather or goat hair—any article of which use can be made. It must be immersed in water and remain unclean until evening, when it again becomes clean. 33 Should any of these creatures fall into a clay vessel, everything in it becomes unclean, and the vessel itself you must break. 34 Any food that can be eaten which makes contact with water, and any liquid that may be drunk, in any such vessel become unclean. 35 Any object on which any part of their carcasses falls becomes unclean; if it is an oven or stove, this must be broken to pieces; they are unclean and shall always be unclean to you. 36 However, a spring or a cistern for collecting water remains clean; but whoever touches such an animal’s carcass becomes unclean. 37 If any part of their carcasses falls on any sort of grain that is to be sown, it remains clean; 38 but if the grain has become moistened, it becomes unclean to you when any part of their carcasses falls on it.
39 [e](G)When one of the animals that you could otherwise eat dies of itself, anyone who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening; 40 and anyone who eats any part of its carcass shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening;(H) so also, anyone who carries its carcass shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening.
41 All the creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten. 42 Whether it crawls on its belly, goes on all fours, or has many legs—any creature that swarms on the earth—you shall not eat them; they are loathsome. 43 Do not make yourselves loathsome by any swarming creature nor defile yourselves with them and so become unclean by them.(I) 44 For I, the Lord, am your God. You shall make and keep yourselves holy,[f] because I am holy.(J) You shall not make yourselves unclean, then, by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. 45 Since I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt that I might be your God, you shall be holy, because I am holy.
46 This is the instruction for land animals, birds, and all the creatures that move about in the water, as well as any animal that swarms on the ground, 47 that you may distinguish between the clean and the unclean, and between creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.(K)
Uncleanness of Childbirth. 1 The Lord said to Moses: 2 Tell the Israelites: When a woman has a child, giving birth to a boy, she shall be unclean[g] for seven days, with the same uncleanness as during her menstrual period.(L) 3 On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised,[h](M) 4 and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in a state of blood purity; she shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled. 5 If she gives birth to a girl, for fourteen days she shall be as unclean as during her menstrual period, after which she shall spend sixty-six days[i] in a state of blood purity.
6 [j]When the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter are fulfilled,(N) she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a yearling lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a purification offering. 7 The priest shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and thus she will be clean again after her flow of blood. Such is the ritual for the woman who gives birth to a child, male or female. 8 If, however, she cannot afford a lamb,(O) she may take two turtledoves or two pigeons,(P) the one for a burnt offering and the other for a purification offering. The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she will again be clean.
Scaly Infection.[k] 1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 (Q)When someone has on the skin a mark, lesion, or blotch which appears to develop into a scaly infection, the person shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his sons. 3 If the priest, upon examination of the skin’s infection, finds that the hair on the infection has turned white and the infection itself appears to be deeper than the skin,[l] it is indeed a scaly infection; the priest, on seeing this, shall declare the person unclean. 4 [m]If, however, the blotch on the skin is white, but does not seem to be deeper than the skin, nor has the hair turned white, the priest shall quarantine the afflicted person for seven days.[n] 5 Should the priest, upon examination on the seventh day, find that the infection has remained unchanged in color and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall quarantine the person for another seven days. 6 Should the priest, upon examination again on the seventh day, find that the infection is now faded and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall declare the person clean; it was merely a scab. The person shall wash his garments[o] and so become clean. 7 But if, after the person was examined by the priest and declared clean, the scab spreads at all on the skin, the person shall once more be examined by the priest. 8 Should the priest, upon examination, find that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection.
9 When someone is afflicted with a scaly infection, that person shall be brought to the priest. 10 Should the priest, upon examination, find that there is a white mark on the skin which has turned the hair white and that there is raw flesh in it, 11 it is a chronic scaly infection on the skin. The priest shall declare the person unclean without quarantine, since the individual is certainly unclean. 12 [p]If the scaly infection breaks out on the skin and, as far as the priest can see, covers all the skin of the afflicted person from head to foot, 13 should the priest then, upon examination, find that the scaly infection does cover the whole body, he shall declare the afflicted person clean; since the person has turned completely white; that individual is clean. 14 But as soon as raw flesh appears, the individual is unclean; 15 on observing the raw flesh, the priest shall declare the person unclean, because raw flesh is unclean; it is a scaly infection. 16 If, however, the raw flesh again turns white, the person shall return to the priest; 17 should the latter, upon examination, find that the infection has indeed turned white, he shall declare the afflicted person clean; the individual is clean.
18 If a boil appeared on a person’s skin which later healed, 19 should now in the place of the boil a white mark or a reddish white blotch develop, the person shall be examined by the priest. 20 If the latter, upon examination, finds that it is deeper than the skin and that the hair has turned white, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection that has broken out in the boil. 21 But if the priest, upon examination, finds that there is no white hair in it and that it is not deeper than the skin and is faded, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days. 22 If it has then spread on the skin, the priest shall declare the person unclean; it is an infection. 23 But if the blotch remains the same without spreading, it is merely the scar of the boil; the priest shall therefore declare the person clean.
24 If there was a burn on a person’s skin, and the burned area now becomes a reddish white or a white blotch, 25 when the priest, upon examination, finds that the hair has turned white in the blotch and this seems to be deeper than the skin, it is a scaly infection that has broken out in the burn; the priest shall therefore declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection. 26 But if the priest, upon examination, finds that there is no white hair in the blotch and that this is not deeper than the skin and is faded, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days. 27 Should the priest, upon examination on the seventh day, find that it has spread at all on the skin, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection. 28 But if the blotch remains the same without spreading on the skin and is faded, it is merely the spot of the burn; the priest shall therefore declare the person clean, since it is only the scar of the burn.
29 [q]When a man or a woman has an infection on the head or in the beard, 30 should the priest, upon examination, find that the infection appears to be deeper than the skin and that there is fine yellow hair in it, the priest shall declare the person unclean; it is a scall. It is a scaly infection of the head or beard. 31 But if the priest, upon examining the scall infection, finds that it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, though the hair in it may not be black, the priest shall quarantine the scall-stricken person for seven days. 32 Should the priest, upon examining the infection on the seventh day find that the scall has not spread and has no yellow hair in it and does not seem to be deeper than the skin, 33 the person shall shave, but not the scall spot. Then the priest shall quarantine the scall-diseased person for another seven days. 34 If the priest, upon examining the scall on the seventh day, finds that it has not spread on the skin and that it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, he shall declare the person clean; the latter shall wash his garments, and will thus be clean. 35 But if the scall spreads at all on the skin after the person has been declared clean— 36 should the priest, upon examination, find that the scall has indeed spread on the skin, he need not look for yellow hair; the individual is unclean. 37 If, however, the scall has remained unchanged in color and black hair has grown in it, the disease has been healed; the person is clean, and the priest shall declare the individual clean.
38 [r]When the skin of a man or a woman is spotted with several white blotches, 39 if the priest, upon examination, finds that the blotches on the skin are pale white, it is only tetter that has broken out on the skin, and the person therefore is clean.
40 When a man loses the hair of his head, he is simply bald on the crown and not unclean.(R) 41 So too, if he loses the hair on the front of his head, he is simply bald on the forehead and not unclean. 42 But when there is a reddish white infection on his bald crown or bald forehead, it is a scaly infection that is breaking out there. 43 If the priest, upon examination, finds that the infection spot on the bald area on the crown or forehead has the same reddish white appearance as that of a scaly infection of the skin, 44 the man has a scaly infection and is unclean. The priest shall declare him unclean; his infection is on his head.
45 [s]The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled,(S) and the mustache covered.(T) The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” 46 As long as the infection is present, the person shall be unclean. Being unclean, that individual shall dwell apart, taking up residence outside the camp.(U)
Fungal Infection of Fabrics and Leather. 47 When a fungal infection is on a garment of wool or of linen, 48 or on the warp and woof[t] of linen or wool, or on a hide or anything made of leather, 49 if the infection on the garment or hide, or on the warp or woof, or on any leather article is greenish or reddish, the thing is indeed a fungal infection and must be examined by the priest. 50 Having examined the infection, the priest shall quarantine the infected article for seven days. 51 If the priest, upon inspecting the infection on the seventh day, finds that it has spread on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather, whatever be its use, the infection is a harmful fungus; the article is unclean. 52 He shall therefore burn up the garment, or the warp or woof, be it of wool or linen, or any leather article which is infected; since it is a harmful fungus, it must be destroyed by fire. 53 But if the priest, upon examination, finds that it has not spread on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather article, 54 he shall give orders to have the infected article washed and then quarantined for another seven days. 55 If the priest, upon examination after the infection was washed, finds that it has not changed its color, even though it may not have spread, the article is unclean. You shall burn it with fire. It is a fray, be it on its inner or outer side. 56 But if the priest, upon examination, finds that the infection has faded after the washing, he shall cut it out of the garment, or the leather, or the warp or woof. 57 If, however, the infection again appears on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather article, it is still virulent and you shall burn the thing infected with fire. 58 But if, after the washing, the infection has disappeared from the garment, or the warp or woof, or the leather article, the thing shall be washed a second time, and thus it will be clean. 59 This is the instruction for a fungal(V) infection on a garment of wool or linen, or on a warp or woof, or on any leather article, to determine whether it is clean or unclean.
Purification After Scaly Infection. 1 [u]The Lord said to Moses: 2 (W)This is the ritual for someone that had a scaly infection at the time of that person’s purification.(X) The individual shall be brought to the priest, 3 who is to go outside the camp.(Y) If the priest, upon inspection, finds that the scaly infection has healed in the afflicted person, 4 he shall order that two live, clean birds,[v] as well as some cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop be obtained for the one who is to be purified.(Z) 5 [w]The priest shall then order that one of the birds be slaughtered over an earthen vessel with fresh water in it. 6 Taking the living bird with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, the priest shall dip them, including the live bird, in the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the fresh water, 7 and then sprinkle seven times on the person to be purified from the scaly infection. When he has thus purified that person, he shall let the living bird fly away over the countryside.(AA) 8 The person being purified shall then wash his garments, shave off all hair, and bathe in water,[x] and so become clean. After this the person may come inside the camp, but shall still remain outside his or her tent for seven days.(AB) 9 On the seventh day this individual shall again shave off all hair, of the head, beard, and eyebrows—all hair must be shaved—and also wash his garments and bathe the body in water, and so become clean.
10 On the eighth day the individual shall take two unblemished male lambs, one unblemished yearling ewe lamb, three tenths of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log[y] of oil. 11 The priest who performs the purification ceremony shall place the person who is being purified, as well as all these offerings, before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12 Taking one of the male lambs, the priest shall present it as a reparation offering,(AC) along with the log of oil, raising them as an elevated(AD) offering before the Lord. 13 This lamb shall be slaughtered in the sacred place where the purification offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered, because the reparation offering is like the purification offering; it belongs to the priest and is most holy. 14 [z](AE)Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the reparation offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. 15 The priest shall also take the log of oil and pour some of it into the palm of his own left hand; 16 then, dipping his right finger in the oil on his left palm, he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17 Of the oil left in his hand the priest shall put some on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified, over the blood of the reparation offering. 18 The rest of the oil in his hand the priest shall put on the head(AF) of the one being purified. Thus shall the priest make atonement for the individual before the Lord. 19 The priest shall next offer the purification offering,(AG) thus making atonement on behalf of the one being purified from the uncleanness. After this the burnt offering shall be slaughtered. 20 The priest shall offer the burnt offering(AH) and the grain offering on the altar before the Lord. Thus shall the priest make atonement for the person, and the individual will become clean.
Poor Person’s Sacrifices. 21 If a person is poor and cannot afford so much,(AI) that person shall take one male lamb for a reparation offering, to be used as an elevated offering in atonement, one tenth of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, 22 and two turtledoves or pigeons, which the individual can more easily afford, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. 23 On the eighth day of purification the person shall bring them to the priest, at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord. 24 Taking the lamb of the reparation offering, along with the log of oil, the priest shall raise them as an elevated offering before the Lord. 25 When the lamb of the reparation offering has been slaughtered, the priest shall take some of its blood, and put it on the lobe of the right ear, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. 26 The priest shall then pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand 27 and with his right finger sprinkle some of the oil in his left palm seven times before the Lord. 28 Some of the oil in his hand the priest shall also put on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified, where he had sprinkled the blood of the reparation offering. 29 The rest of the oil in his hand the priest shall put on the head of the one being purified. Thus shall he make atonement for the individual before the Lord. 30 Then, of the turtledoves or pigeons, such as the person can afford, 31 the priest shall offer one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering,(AJ) along with the grain offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the Lord for the person who is being purified. 32 This is the ritual for one afflicted with a scaly infection who has insufficient means for purification.
Fungal Infection of Houses. 33 [aa]The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 34 When you come into the land of Canaan, which I am giving you to possess, if I put(AK) a fungal infection in any house of the land you occupy, 35 the owner of the house shall come and report to the priest, “Something like an infection has appeared in my house.” 36 The priest shall then order the house to be cleared out before he goes in to examine the infection, lest everything in the house become unclean. Only after this is he to go in to examine the house. 37 If the priest, upon inspection, finds that the infection on the walls of the house consists of greenish or reddish spots(AL) which seem to go deeper than the surface of the wall, 38 he shall go out of the house to the doorway and quarantine the house for seven days. 39 On the seventh day the priest shall return. If, upon inspection, he finds that the infection has spread on the walls, 40 he shall order the infected stones to be pulled out and cast in an unclean place outside the city. 41 The whole inside of the house shall then be scraped, and the mortar that has been scraped off shall be dumped in an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then other stones shall be brought and put in the place of the old stones, and new mortar obtained and plastered on the house. 43 If the infection breaks out once more in the house after the stones have been pulled out and the house has been scraped and replastered, 44 the priest shall come; and if, upon inspection, he finds that the infection has spread in the house, it is a corrosive fungus in the house, and it is unclean. 45 It shall be pulled down, and all its stones, beams and mortar shall be hauled away to an unclean place outside the city. 46 (AM)Whoever enters a house while it is quarantined shall be unclean until evening. 47 Whoever sleeps or eats in such a house shall also wash his garments.
48 (AN)If the priest finds, when he comes to the house, that the infection has in fact not spread in the house after the plastering, he shall declare the house clean, since the infection has been healed. 49 To purify the house, he shall take two birds, as well as cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop. 50 One of the birds he shall slaughter over an earthen vessel with fresh water in it. 51 Then, taking the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn, together with the living bird, he shall dip them all in the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 Thus he shall purify the house with the bird’s blood and the fresh water, along with the living bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet yarn. 53 He shall then let the living bird fly away over the countryside outside the city. Thus he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.
54 This is the ritual for every kind of human scaly infection and scall, 55 and for fungus diseases in garments and houses— 56 for marks, lesions and blotches— 57 to give direction when there is a state of uncleanness and when a state of cleanness. This is the ritual for scaly infection.
Sexual Uncleanness.[ab] 1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 [ac]Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any man has a genital discharge, he is thereby unclean.(AO) 3 Such is his uncleanness from this discharge, whether his body[ad] drains freely with the discharge or is blocked up from the discharge. His uncleanness is on him all the days that his body discharges or is blocked up from his discharge; this is his uncleanness. 4 Any bed on which the man with the discharge lies is unclean, and any article on which he sits is unclean. 5 Anyone who touches his bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 6 Whoever sits on an article on which the man with the discharge was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 7 Whoever touches the body of the man with the discharge shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 8 If the man with the discharge spits on a clean person, the latter shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 9 Any saddle on which the man with the discharge rides is unclean. 10 Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening; whoever carries any such thing shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.(AP) 11 Anyone whom the man with the discharge touches with his unrinsed hands shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 12 Earthenware touched by the man with the discharge shall be broken; and every wooden article shall be rinsed with water.
13 When a man with a discharge becomes clean[ae] of his discharge, he shall count seven days(AQ) for his purification. Then he shall wash his garments and bathe his body in fresh water, and so he will be clean. 14 On the eighth day he shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,(AR) and going before the Lord, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, he shall give them to the priest, 15 who shall offer them up, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the Lord for the man because of his discharge.
16 [af]When a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until evening.(AS) 17 Any piece of cloth or leather with semen on it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.
18 If a man has sexual relations with a woman, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
19 [ag]When a woman has a flow of blood from her body, she shall be in a state of menstrual uncleanness for seven days. Anyone who touches her shall be unclean until evening.(AT) 20 Anything on which she lies or sits during her menstrual period shall be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 22 Whoever touches any article on which she was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 23 Whether an object[ah] is on the bed or on something she sat upon, when the person touches it, that person shall be unclean until evening. 24 If a man lies with her, he contracts her menstrual uncleanness and shall be unclean for seven days;(AU) every bed on which he then lies also becomes unclean.
25 [ai]When a woman has a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period.(AV) 26 Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstrual period, and any article on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstrual period. 27 Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; that person shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
28 (AW)When she becomes clean from her flow, she shall count seven days; after this she becomes clean. 29 On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 30 The priest shall offer one of them as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the Lord for her because of her unclean flow.
31 You shall warn the Israelites of their uncleanness, lest they die through their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle,(AX) which is in their midst.
32 This is the ritual for the man with a discharge, or who has an emission of semen, and thereby becomes unclean; 33 as well as for the woman who has her menstrual period; or one who has a discharge, male or female; and also for the man who lies with an unclean woman.
- 11:1–15:33 Priestly legislation manifests two types of impurity or uncleanness: tolerated and prohibited. Prohibited impurity arises from various sins (e.g., 4:1–5; 5:2–3; 18:6–23; 20:2–5; Nm 5:13–14; 6:6–7). Tolerated impurity has three main sources: certain dead bodies (animal and human; cf. Lv 11 and Nm 19), various regular and abnormal genital discharges (Lv 12; 15), and diseases (specifically “scaly infection,” chaps. 13–14). An additional tolerated impurity is that generated by the cult in order to rectify the effect of these impurities or sins (cf. chap. 4; 16:26, 28).
- 11:1–47 Apart from the introduction and conclusion (vv. 1–2a, 46–47), this chapter has three sections: (1) prohibitions against eating certain land, water, and air animals (vv. 2b–23); (2) consequences of contact with various animals (vv. 24–41); (3) a prohibition against eating small land animals, which is motivated by the requirement that Israel be holy as God is holy (vv. 41–45). These animals are impure only when dead. Cf. Dt 14:3–21.
- 11:5–6 According to modern zoology, the rock hyrax (Hyrax syriacus) is classified as an ungulate, and the hare as a rodent; neither is a ruminant. They appear to chew their food as the true ruminants do, and it is upon this appearance that the classification in the text is based.
- 11:13–23, 30 Birds: the term is broader, including all animals that fly (including bats, v. 19, and flying insects, vv. 20–23). The identification of the various Hebrew names for these birds and reptiles is in many cases uncertain.
- 11:39–40 These animals create uncleanness, but are not prohibited as food (cf. 17:15–16). Priests who have a higher degree of holiness than other Israelites may not eat these animals (22:8; cf. Ez 44:31). Cf. Ex 22:30; Dt 14:21.
- 11:44–45 Keep yourselves holy…you shall be holy: a similar idea is expressed in 20:25–26. There, distinguishing between the animals is compared to God’s distinguishing between the peoples and choosing Israel.
- 12:2–5 The mother has two stages of uncleanness or impurity: the first where her uncleanness is as severe as during her menstrual period and is contagious to profane persons and objects (cf. 15:19–24), and the second where she does not contaminate persons and objects but is still impure to what is holy, such as the sanctuary (12:4) or sacrifices. The implication is that in the second stage she may resume sexual relations with her husband (which would be prohibited in the first stage according to 18:19).
- 12:3 Circumcision is the sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Gn 17:1–27) and allows full participation in the religious community (Ex 12:43–49; Jos 5:2–10). This command was fulfilled after Jesus’ birth (Lk 2:21).
- 12:5 If she gives birth to a girl…sixty-six days: while the longer period of uncleanness following the birth of a girl, compared to that following the birth of a boy, might reflect the relative disparity in social status between men and women in ancient Israel (and attested in other cultures), this is by no means certain. There is no simple correlation in the Bible between the worth of something and the degree of impurity it can occasion.
- 12:6–8 Certain tolerated impurities (see note on 11:1–15:33) are strong enough to pollute the sanctuary and require purification offerings, including the parturient (see also 14:10–32; 15:13–15, 28–30). Cf. note on 4:3. Mary fulfilled the command of bringing sacrifices after the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:22–24).
- 13:1–14:57 These chapters deal with scaly or fungal infections (Hebrew ṣāra‘at). The older translation “leprosy” is misleading because ṣāra‘at refers to not just one but several chronic and enduring skin diseases in human beings. The disease known as “leprosy” (Hansen’s disease) is probably not included among the conditions described in the chapter. Also the term ṣāra‘at refers to fungal growths in fabrics and on the walls of houses. The reason why these conditions, and not other diseases, were considered unclean may be that they were quite visible, associated with death (cf. Nm 12:9–12), and traditionally connected with punishment by the deity (Lv 14:34; Dt 28:27, 35; 2 Sm 3:29; 2 Kgs 5:26–27; 2 Chr 26:16–21).
- 13:3 The symptoms of white hair and depth (perhaps a subcutaneous lesion) do not clearly correlate with known skin diseases or lesions. It may be that the symptoms are a hybrid ideal that do not reflect reality and are the result of priestly systematization. The same judgment applies to the conditions in vv. 10–11, 20, 25; cf. note on vv. 12–17.
- 13:4–8 The symptoms here involve a flaky patch of skin that spreads after one week or stays the same after two. This correlates with many skin diseases, such as psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, certain mycotic infections, patchy eczema, and pityriasis rosea.
- 13:4 Quarantine…seven days: unless lesions have unmistakable symptoms of scaly infection, time is needed to distinguish disease from a condition which is following the natural course of healing and remission. Cf. vv. 5, 21, 26, 27, 31, 33, 50, 54; 14:38.
- 13:6 Wash his garments: even suspected scaly infections create some impurity, not just diagnosed infections (vv. 45–46).
- 13:12–17 This is not a paradox, namely where a limited lesion is impure but one that covers the whole body is pure. Rather, a white lesion that lacks ulcerated skin (“raw flesh”) is pure, even if it covers the whole body. This formulation reflects priestly interest in systematization.
- 13:29–37 The symptoms in this unit may include either favus (a mycotic infection) or a protein deficiency syndrome (Kwashiorkor) where the hair may be fine and copper-red to yellow.
- 13:38–39 This may refer to vitiligo, where patches of the skin and hair lose pigmentation.
- 13:45–46 The symbolic association with death is found in the mourning activities in which those diagnosed with these afflictions engage: rending clothes, disheveling the hair, and covering the mouth. They are also excluded from the camp. Cf. examples of exclusion in Nm 5:1–4; 12:14–15; 2 Kgs 7:3–10; 15:5; 2 Chr 26:21. Persons with scaly infections must have been able to pollute others in the priestly system, though this is not stated. Hence, they must cry out “Unclean, unclean!” to warn others of their presence.
- 13:48 Warp and woof: it is possible that the nature of the weave allowed fungus to grow separately along warp or woof. Otherwise, this may refer to the yarns before they are woven together.
- 14:1–32 The rites here are for purification from human scaly infections after recovery, not for healing (but cf. 2 Kgs 5:10–14).
- 14:4–7 The bird rite is also found for purifying a house from a fungus (vv. 49–53). The rite apparently removes impurity from the individual and, by means of the live bird, sends it away to unpopulated areas (v. 7). This is similar to the dispatch of a goat laden with sins on the Day of Atonement (16:21–22).
- 14:5–7 The blood from the bird serves as a ritual detergent, much like the blood from the purification offering (see notes on 4:3). It is not a sacrifice, however, since it is not performed at the sanctuary. Fresh water: lit., “living water,” taken from some source of running water, not from a cistern.
- 14:8 Bathe in water: This phrase occurs frequently in Lv 14–16 and is imprecise. It can refer to both ordinary and cultic washing. The context will determine the meaning. At this early period in Israel’s history it is probably not a reference to cultic immersion in a Mikveh—a Second Temple period ritual.
- 14:10 Log: a liquid measure of capacity attested in the Bible only here. It is apparently equal in capacity to one-half liter.
- 14:14–17 The application of blood and oil here facilitates the movement of the person from the severely impure to the pure profane sphere; it reintegrates him or her into the community. Cf. 8:23–24.
- 14:33–53 Discussion of fungi in houses is probably delayed until here because it deals with a case pertaining to living in the land (v. 34) as opposed to the foregoing cases which apply even in the wilderness. The rules on fabrics (13:47–58) apply to the tent dwellings in the wilderness.
- 15:1–33 Sexual discharges may be unclean partly because they involve the loss of life fluids or are otherwise involved with phenomena at the margins of life and death.
- 15:2–3 The uncleanness here is perhaps a discharge of pus because of urethritis (often but not solely associated with gonorrhea).
- 15:3 Body: here a euphemism in the Hebrew for “penis.”
- 15:13 Becomes clean: i.e., when his discharge ceases. The rite that follows is for purification, not a cure; see note on 14:1–32.
- 15:16–18 Menstrual blood, semen, and other impurities in Lv 11–15 are considered “impure” either because they are force of life whose “loss” represents death or because, as uniquely human conditions, they are symbolically incompatible with the deity and the divine abode, the sanctuary. Lv 15:16 refers to a spontaneous nocturnal emission, and either because this marks life and death boundaries or because of its uniquely human (versus divine) character, any contact with it renders the object or person ritually unclean. Thus, in 15:18 it is not the marital act itself that is polluting, but only semen.
- 15:19–24 This is normal menstruation.
- 15:23 An object: the Hebrew is unclear. This translation means that even an object on the woman’s unclean bed or chair can mediate uncleanness to another, but only if all the object touched is still on the bed or article sat upon, thus forming a chain of simultaneous contact.
- 15:25–30 This is menstruation outside the normal cycle or for periods longer than normal. A woman with a chronic blood flow was healed by touching the tassel of Jesus’ cloak (Mt 9:20–22; Mk 5:25–34; Lk 8:43–48).