Leviticus 13 The Voice (VOICE)
Humans suffer from many different kinds of skin disorders. Although one of the most dreaded diseases known to antiquity was leprosy, it is most likely that few Israelites in Moses’ day suffered from the disease we know as leprosy. The Hebrew word that appears in this chapter covers many disfiguring and debilitating skin diseases that certainly can be infectious. The priests are given the challenge of making critical observations as to what is indeed infectious and what is not. The term applied not only to a variety of skin diseases, but it was also used to describe articles of clothing or buildings marred from leprouslike outbreaks.
By the time of the New Testament, leprosy is present in Israel. It is caused by a bacterium that can begin as a blemish on the skin; but when it runs its course, the skin is left discolored. There are unsightly lumps and scaling, and eventually the nerves are paralyzed so that there is no feeling of pain. Without the pain sensation people eventually wear down their fingers and toes into mere nubs. It is a terrible, contagious disease that socially marginalized people from their families’ loving touch and intimate relationships.
13 The Eternal One spoke to Moses and Aaron.
Eternal One: 2 Any time a person has an area of swelling or a rash or a white patch of skin, it may be the sign of a serious skin disease; so he must be taken to one of the priests—Aaron or one of Aaron’s sons. 3 The priest must examine the spot on the skin. If the hair on it has turned white, and the affected area appears to go deep beneath the skin, then it is a serious skin disease. After the examination, he will then pronounce the diseased person unclean. 4 But if the patch on the skin is white and does not appear to go deep beneath the skin, and the hair on it has not turned white, then the priest will quarantine the person for seven days. 5 When the seventh day arrives, the priest will examine the affected area again; and if the priest thinks it has not grown worse and has not spread to other parts of the skin, then the priest will continue the quarantine for another seven days. 6 At the end of the second seven days, the priest will examine the person again; and if the affected area has faded and has not spread to any other part of the body, then the priest will pronounce that he is clean and suffers only some minor skin problem. The person is to wash his garments and must be considered clean again.
Only if the individual is declared clean by the priest can he or she come back fully into the life of the community.
7 But if the rash spreads to other parts of the skin after the priest examines the person and pronounces him clean, then he must go back to the priest to be examined again. 8 The priest will check the person again; and if the rash has grown worse and spread, then the priest must pronounce the person unclean. He does, in fact, have a serious skin disease.
9 When a person contracts any serious skin disease, he must be taken to the priest. 10 The priest will check the skin; and if the priest finds an area of white swelling on the skin where the hair has turned white, and if there is a raw, open sore, 11 then the person has a chronic skin disease and the priest must pronounce him unclean. The priest does not have to quarantine the person because it is evident that he is already unclean. 12 If the disease gets worse, spreads across his body, and involves all of his skin from head to toe—as far as the priest can tell— 13 then the priest will check; and if the disease has covered the person’s entire body, then the priest will pronounce the infected man clean because the disease has turned his entire body white. 14 But if a raw, open sore shows up, then he must be declared unclean. 15 The priest will examine the raw skin and pronounce the man unclean because the raw skin is unclean. It is definitely a serious skin disease. 16 If the raw skin changes again and becomes white, then the infected person must go see the priest 17 to be examined. If the affected area has turned white, then the priest will pronounce the diseased person clean; for he is in fact clean.
18 If a boil shows up on someone’s skin, and the boil goes away 19 and is replaced by a swollen white or a reddish-white spot, then he must point this out to the priest. 20 The priest will check; and if the affected area appears to go deep beneath the skin and the hairs on it have turned white, then the priest will pronounce the person unclean. It is a case of serious skin disease that started out as a boil. 21 But if the priest examines the person and finds there are no white hairs on it and the condition does not appear to go deep beneath the skin, and is, in fact, improving, then the priest will quarantine the infected person for seven days. 22 If the condition spreads to new places on the skin, the priest will pronounce him unclean; it is a serious infection. 23 However, if the affected area does not get worse or spread to new parts of the skin, it is simply a scar from the boil, and the priest will pronounce him clean.
24 If a person suffers a burn in a fire, and the raw skin from the burn turns shiny white, reddish-white, or white, 25 the priest will examine the affected area. If the hair on it is white and the sore appears to go deep beneath the skin, then the person has a serious skin disease that started out from the burn; the priest will declare him unclean. 26 If the priest examines the affected area and finds no white hair on it, and the condition does not go deep beneath the skin but instead seems to be improving, then the priest will quarantine him for seven days. 27 When the seventh day arrives, the priest will examine him once again. If the condition appears to be spreading, the priest will declare him unclean; the person has a serious skin disease. 28 If the affected area does not get worse and spread to new parts of the skin, but seems to be improving, then it is simply swollen from the burn. The priest will pronounce him clean because it is simply a scar from the burn.
29 If a man or a woman has a spot on the head or chin, 30 the priest must examine it, and if it appears to go deep beneath the skin and has thin, yellowish hairs in it, then the priest must pronounce the infected person to be unclean; it is a scaly skin disease on the head or chin. 31 If the priest examines the scaly area and it does not appear to go deep beneath the surface of the skin and there are no dark hairs in it, then the priest will quarantine the infected person for seven days. 32 When the seventh day arrives, the priest will examine the area again. If the scaly area has not gotten worse and there are no yellowish hairs in it, and the scale does not appear to go deep beneath the surface of the skin, 33 then the infected person should shave the head or beard except where hair is growing in the affected area. The priest will then quarantine the infected person for another seven days. 34 When the seventh days arrives, the priest will examine the scale again; and if it has not gotten worse and does not appear to go deep beneath the skin, the priest will pronounce the person clean. He will wash his clothes and be considered clean again. 35 But if the scale gets worse and shows up on new parts of the skin anytime after the priest declares him clean, 36 the priest must examine the person again. If the condition has spread to new parts of the skin, the priest is not required to look for yellowish hair because it is evident the person is unclean. 37 However, if he inspects the person and the scaly skin has not gotten worse and dark hairs are growing on it, then the condition is healed and the person is once again clean. The priest will declare the person clean.
38 If a man or a woman discovers bright shiny spots on the skin, including bright white ones, 39 the priest must check them out. And if he determines that the bright spots on the skin are pale, this is only a minor skin rash; the person is clean.
40 If a man loses his hair and goes bald, he is clean. 41 If he loses it on his forehead but not on the sides, he is only partially bald on the forehead; he is still clean. 42 However, if a reddish-white spot shows up on his bald head or forehead, then a serious skin infection is developing. 43 The priest must examine him; and if the affected area is reddish-white on his bald head or forehead and looks similar to a reddish-white outbreak on the body, 44 then that means the man has a serious skin disease and is unclean. The priest has to pronounce him unclean because of the skin disease on his head.
45 Anyone with a serious skin disease must wear torn clothing, not comb his hair, and cover his face beneath the nose. He must call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” 46 As long as the disease persists, he will be unclean. He must live alone, outside the camp, away from the rest of the community.
47-48 Now if it ever looks as if an article of clothing has some outbreak like leprosy—whether it is made of wool, linen, or leather— 49 and if the affected area in any leather or woven material has turned a greenish or reddish color, it is a sign of a serious problem and should be taken to the priest. 50 The priest must examine the article and quarantine it for seven days. 51 When the seventh day arrives, the priest must check it again; and if the affected area has spread to other parts of the article—whether in the wool, linen, or leather, regardless of what the leather was used for—the article has a serious outbreak which makes it unclean. 52 So the priest has to burn the garment—whether it is made of wool, linen or leather—because it has some serious outbreak like leprosy and must be destroyed by fire.
53 But if the priest examines the article, and the affected area has not spread in either the woven or knitted material, or the leather, 54 the priest must direct the article be washed, and then quarantined for another seven days. 55 After it has been washed, the priest must check it again; and if the affected area looks the same, then the article is still unclean even though the outbreak has not spread. Therefore, you must burn it in the fire; it doesn’t matter whether the affected area is on the front or the back.
56 But if the priest examines it, and the affected area has faded after it has been washed, the priest must rip the affected material out of the garment, leather, or woven or knitted material. 57 If another spot shows up in the article again—either in the woven or knitted material, or the leather—then the outbreak is spreading, and the article must be burned in the fire. 58 But if the spot is gone once the article has been washed—whether it is woven or knitted or leather—you must wash it; then it will be considered clean.
59 So this is God’s instruction for how to deal with linen, woolen, or leather garments that have suspicious-looking spots on them. With these instructions, priests are able to determine whether they are clean or unclean.
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