Leviticus 14

CHAPTER XIV

Introduction to the sacrifices and ceremonies to be used in

cleansing the leper, 1-3.

Two living birds, cedar-wood, scarlet, and hyssop, to be

brought for him who was to be cleansed, 4.

One of the birds to be killed, 5;

and the living bird, with the cedar-wood, scarlet, and hyssop,

to be dipped in the blood, and to be sprinkled on him who had

been infected with the leprosy, 6, 7;

after which he must wash his clothes, shave his head, eye

brows, beard, &c., bathe himself, tarry abroad seven days, 8, 9;

on the eighth day he must bring two he-lambs, one ewe lamb,

a tenth deal of flour, and a log of oil, 10;

which the priest was to present as a trespass-offering,

wave-offering, and sin-offering before the Lord, 11-13.

Afterwards he was to sprinkle both the blood and oil on the

person to be cleansed, 14-18.

The atonement made by these offerings, 19, 20.

If the person were poor, one lamb, with the flour and oil, two

turtledoves, or two young pigeons, were only required, 21, 22.

These to be presented, and the blood and oil applied as before,

23-32.

Laws and ordinances relative to houses infected by the

leprosy, 33-48.

An atonement to be made in order to cleanse the house, similar

to that made for the healed leper, 49-53.

A summary of this and the preceding chapter, relative to

leprous persons, garments, and houses, 54-56.

The end for which these different laws were given, 57.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIV

Verse 3. The priest shall go forth out of the camp] As the

leper was separated from the people, and obliged, because of his

uncleanness, to dwell without the camp, and could not be

admitted till the priest had declared that he was clean; hence

it was necessary that the priest should go out and inspect him,

and, if healed, offer for him the sacrifices required, in order

to his re-admission to the camp. As the priest alone had

authority to declare a person clean or unclean, it was necessary

that the healed person should show himself to the priest, that

he might make a declaration that he was clean and fit for civil

and religious society, without which, in no case, could he be

admitted; hence, when Christ cleansed the lepers, Mt 8:2-4, he

commanded them to go and show themselves to the priest, &c.

Verse 4. Two birds alive and clean, &c.] Whether these birds

were sparrows, or turtledoves, or pigeons, we know not; probably

any kind of clean bird, or bird proper to be eaten, might be

used on this occasion, though it is more likely that

turtle-doves or pigeons were employed, because these appear to

have been the only birds offered in sacrifice. Of the

cedarwood, hyssop, clean bird, and scarlet wool or fillet, were

made an aspergillum, or instrument to sprinkle with. The

cedar-wood served for the handle, the hyssop and living bird

were attached to it by means of the scarlet wool or crimson

fillet. The bird was so bound to this handle as that its tail

should be downwards, in order to be dipped into the blood of the

bird that had been killed. The whole of this made an instrument

for the sprinkling of this blood, and when this business was

done, the living bird was let loose, and permitted to go

whithersoever it would. In this ceremony, according to some

rabbins, "the living bird signified that the dead flesh of the

leper was restored to soundness; the cedar-wood, which is not

easily corrupted, that he was healed of his putrefaction; the

scarlet thread, wool, or fillet, that he was restored to his

good complexion; and the hyssop, which was purgative and

odoriferous, that the disease was completely removed, and the

bad scent that accompanied it entirely gone." Ainsworth, Dodd,

and others, have given many of these rabbinical conceits. Of

all these purifications, and their accompanying circumstances,

we may safely say, because authorized by the New Testament so to

do, that they pointed out the purification of the soul through

the atonement and Spirit of Christ; but to run analogies between

the type and the thing typified is difficult, and precarious.

The general meaning and design we sufficiently understand; the

particulars are not readily ascertainable, and consequently of

little importance; had they been otherwise, they would have been

pointed out.

Verse 5. Over running water.] Literally, living, that is,

spring water. The meaning appears to be this: Some water (about

a quarter of a log, an eggshell and a half full, according to

the rabbins) was taken from a spring, and put into a clean

earthen vessel, and they killed the bird over this water, that

the blood might drop into it; and in this blood and water mixed,

they dipped the instrument before described, and sprinkled it

seven times upon the person who was to be cleansed. The living

or spring water was chosen because it was purer than what was

taken from pits or wells, the latter being often in a putrid or

corrupt state; for in a ceremony of purifying or cleansing,

every thing must be as pure and perfect as possible.

Verse 7. Shall let the living bird loose] The Jews teach

that wild birds were employed on this occasion, no tame or

domestic animal was used. Mr. Ainsworth piously conjectures

that the living and dead birds were intended to represent the

death and resurrection of Christ, by which an atonement was made

to purify the soul from its spiritual leprosy. The bird let

loose bears a near analogy to the scapegoat. See Le 16:5-10.

Verse 8. And shave off all his hair] That the water by which

he was to be washed should reach every part of his body, that he

might be cleansed from whatever defilement might remain on any

part of the surface of his body. The Egyptian priests shaved

the whole body every third day, to prevent all manner of

defilement.

Verse 10. Two he-lambs] One for a trespass-offering,

Le 14:12,

the other for a burnt-offering, Le 14:19, 20.

One ewe-lamb] This was for a sin-offering, Le 14:19.

Three tenth deals] Three parts of an ephah, or three omers;

See all these measures explained, Clarke "Ex 16:16". The three tenth

deals of flour were for a minchah, meat or gratitude-offering,

Le 14:20.

The sin-offering was for his impurity; the trespass-offering for

his transgression; and the gratitude-offering for his gracious

cleansing. These constituted the offering which each was ordered

to bring to the priest; see Mt 8:4.

Verse 12. Wave-offering] See Ex 29:27, and Le 7:38,

where the reader will find an ample account of all the various

offerings and sacrifices used among the Jews.

Verse 14. Upon the tip of the right ear, &c.]

See Clarke on Ex 29:20.

Verse 21. And if he be poor-he shall take one lamb] There

could be no cleansing without a sacrifice. On this ground the

apostle has properly observed that all things under the law are

purged with blood; and that without shedding of blood there is

no remission. Even if the person be poor, he must provide one

lamb; this could not be dispensed with:-so every soul to whom

the word of Divine revelation comes, must bring that Lamb of God

which takes away the sin of the world. There is no redemption

but in his blood.

Verse 34. When ye be come into the land-and I put the plague

of leprosy] It was probably from this text that the leprosy has

been generally considered to be a disease inflicted immediately

by God himself; but it is well known that in Scripture God is

frequently represented as doing what, in the course of his

providence, he only permits or suffers to be done. It is

supposed that the infection of the house, as well as of the

person and the garments, proceeded from animalcula.

See Clarke on Le 13:47, and "Le 13:52".

Verse 45. He shall break down the house] "On the suspicion

of a house being infected, the priest examined it, and ordered

it to be shut up seven days; if he found the plague, or signs of

the plague, (hollow streaks, greenish or reddish,) were not

spread, he commanded it to be shut up seven days more. On the

thirteenth day he revisited it; and if he found the infected

place dim, or gone away, he took out that part of the wall,

carried it out to an unclean place, mended the wall, and caused

the whole house to be new plastered. It was then shut up a

third seven days, and he came on the nineteenth, and if he found

that the plague was broken out anew, he ordered the house to be

pulled down." See Ainsworth. From all this may we not learn a

lesson of instruction? If the means made use of by God and his

ministers for the conversion of a sinner be, through his wilful

obstinacy, rendered of no avail; if by his evil practices he

trample under foot the blood of the covenant wherewith he might

have been sanctified, and do despite to the Spirit of God; then

God will pull down his house-dislodge his soul from its earthly

tabernacle, consign the house, the body, to corruption, and the

spirit to the perdition of ungodly men. Reader, see well how it

stands with thy soul. God is not mocked: what a man soweth,

that shall he reap.

Verse 53. He shall let go the living bird] This might as

well be called the scape-bird; as the goat, in Le 16:5-10, is

called the scape-goat. The rites are similar in both cases, and

probably had nearly the same meaning.

We have already taken occasion to observe (see the end of the

preceding chapter) that the leprosy was strongly emblematical of

sin; to which we may add here:-

1. That the leprosy was a disease generally acknowledged to be

incurable by any human means; and therefore the Jews did not

attempt to cure it. What is directed to be done here was not in

order to cure the leper, but to declare him cured and fit for

society. In like manner the contagion of sin, its guilt and its

power, can only be removed by the hand of God; all means,

without his especial influence, can be of no avail.

2. The body must be sprinkled and washed, and a sacrifice

offered for the sin of the soul, before the leper could be

declared to be clean. To cleanse the spiritual leper, the Lamb

of God must be slain, and the sprinkling of his blood be

applied. Without the shedding of this blood there is no

remission.

3. When the leper was cleansed, he was obliged to show himself

to the priest, whose province it was to pronounce him clean, and

declare him fit for intercourse with civil and religious

society. When a sinner is converted from the error of his ways,

it is the business, as it is the prerogative, of the ministers

of Christ, after having duly acquainted themselves with every

circumstance, to declare the person converted from sin to

holiness, to unite him with the people of God, and admit him to

all the ordinances which belong to the faithful.

4. When the leper was cleansed, he was obliged by the law to

offer a gift unto the Lord for his healing, as a proof of his

gratitude, and an evidence of his obedience. When a sinner is

restored to the Divine favour, he should offer continually the

sacrifice of a grateful heart, and, in willing obedience, show

forth the virtues of Him who has called him from darkness and

wretchedness to marvellous light and happiness.

Reader, such was the leprosy, its destructive nature and

consequences, and the means of removing it; such is the

spiritual evil represented by it, such its consequences, and

such the means by which alone it can be removed. The disease of

sin, inflicted by the devil, can only be cured by the power of

God. 1. Art thou a leper? Do the spots of this spiritual

infection begin to appear on thee? 2. Art thou young, and only

entering into the ways of the world and sin? Stop! bad habits

are more easily conquered to-day than they will be tomorrow. 3.

Art thou stricken in years, and rooted in transgression? How

kind is thy Maker to have preserved thee alive so long! Turn

from thy transgressions, humble thy soul before him, confess

thine iniquity and implore forgiveness. Seek, and thou shalt

find. Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the

world! 4. Hast thou been cleansed, and hast not returned to

give glory to God? hast not continued in the truth, serving thy

Maker and Saviour with a loving and obedient heart? How cutting

is that word, Were there not TEN cleansed? but where are the

NINE? Thou art probably one of them. Be confounded at thy

ingratitude, and distressed for thy backsliding; and apply a

second time for the healing efficacy of the great Atonement.

Turn, thou backslider; for he is married unto thee, and will

heal thy backslidings, and will love thee freely. Amen. So be

it, Lord Jesus!

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