Priesthood: 22. Occasions of Leprosy

Leviticus 13:18‑28  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Occasions of Leprosy
Lev. 13:18-2818The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, and is healed, 19And in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish, and it be showed to the priest; 20And if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil. 21But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days: 22And if it spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague. 23But if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not, it is a burning boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean. 24Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning, and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white; 25Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin; it is a leprosy broken out of the burning: wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy. 26But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days: 27And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy. 28And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in the skin, but it be somewhat dark; it is a rising of the burning, and the priest shall pronounce him clean: for it is an inflammation of the burning. (Leviticus 13:18‑28)
BUT we have next to consider how leprosy might disclose itself, and the care which should be taken not to confound other symptoms with that loathsome sore. Zeal for God is not to extinguish tenderness toward man: Jehovah Himself maintains and requires both.
“And when the flesh hath in the skin thereof a boil and it is healed, and in the place of the boil is a white rising, or a white reddish bright spot, it shall be shown to the priest; wand the priest shall look on it, and behold, it looketh deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof is turned white; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it [is] the sore of leprosy broken out in the boil. But if the priest look on it, and, behold, no white hairs [are] therein, and it [is] not deeper than the skin, and [is] pale, the priest shall shut him up seven days; and if it spread much in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] the sore. But if the bright spot have staid in its place and have not spread, it [is] the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
“Or when the flesh hath in the skin thereof a burning inflammation and the place of the inflammation becometh a bright spot white-reddish or white, then the priest shall look on it, and, behold, the hair is turned white in the bright spot, and it looketh deeper than the skin, it [is] a leprosy that is broken out in the inflammation; and the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] the sore of leprosy. But if the priest look on it, and, behold, no white hair [is] in the bright spot, and it [is] no deeper than the skin, but [is] pale, the priest shall shut him up seven days. And the priest shall look on him the seventh day, and if it have spread much in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] the sore of leprosy. But if the bright spot stay in its place, not spread in the skin, and [is] pale, it is the rising of the inflammation; and the priest shall pronounce him clean; for it [is] the scar of the inflammation” (vers. 18-28).
An ebullition of temper or other extreme excitement, when passed, may leave effects in evil ways and words, and not a few might be disposed to judge severely. But here the standard is the sanctuary of Jehovah, and the judge is he who is familiar with His presence. In the case first named the boil is healed; but in its place there may be a white rising, or a bright spot white-reddish. This is too serious to pass over. It must be submitted to the priest. The boil was not to prove, but it may give occasion for, leprosy, hitherto latent, to betray itself. And there is enough ground to call for the inspection of the priest: for indifference is according to God as intolerable as the meddling of what has no divine sanction.
Merely human considerations are out of the question; even to be an Israelite cannot bar the due intervention, but rather the contrary. The word and will of Jehovah must rule in His appointed way. And the priest must submit to the divine directions as carefully as the Israelite. Does the mischief look deeper seated than the skin? Is the hair turned white? If so, the energy of evil lies therein and works; and the priest shall pronounce the man unclean. It is the sore of leprosy broken out in the boil. On the other hand, if the inspection of the priest finds no white hairs, and nothing but a superficial appearance, there is no off-hand clearance, but a remand for seven days, when the suspected person is again examined. Then if there be much of a spread in the skin, the sore is plain, and the priest must not hesitate to say so; but if there be no spread and the bright spot remain simply as before, it is only the scar of the boil, and the priest shall declare him clean.
The next case is not that of an ulcer, said to be healed. There is a burning inflammation, and the raw flesh that burns has a bright spot, white-reddish or white, for symptoms may differ a little. Here again the inflammation is no more leprosy than the boil or ulcer; the suspicion of worse is in the bright spot. Here too the priest must look on according to the command of Jehovah. Is there an active energy at work turning the hair white? Does it seem deeper than the skin? These indications tell the fatal tale. If so, it is a leprosy that is broken out in the inflammation. The priest cannot rightly shirk from his painful but bounden duty. Magnanimity in such a case is wholly misplaced, and a yielding to the devil. It is the sore of leprosy, and the man must be pronounced unclean. But if when the priest looks, and there is no sign of activity or of an evil seat underneath the surface, but rather of a fading away, the priest is entitled to wait and hope that it is but a passing evil and not a persistent habit. After the seventh day that the suspect is shut up, he looks again, and if it has spread much in the skin, it is too clearly the sore, and the man is unclean. Whereas, if there was no such spread, but the bright spot remains in its place, the priest is called to pronounce him clean.
Compare with these cases the brother sinning “against thee” in Matt. 18:15-1715Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:15‑17). It may be a fault unknown to any other soul; and grace goes and seeks the erring man's good. But he refuses, not only the one, but one or two more, and even to hear the assembly. Slight as the occasion may have been, the issue is to prove self reigning, sin unjudged and increasing, and the man disqualified for all fellowship of saints. “Let him be to thee as the Gentile and the tax-gatherer.” It is quite a different occasion from that of which we read in 1 Cor. 5 where the wickedness was plain and known, and not a sin against another, unsuspected by others