Leviticus 13

Listen to Leviticus 13

Laws About Leprosy

1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 "When a person has on the skin of his body a 1swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous[a] disease on the skin of his body, 2then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests,
3 and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean.
4 But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, 3the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days.
5 And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the 4priest shall shut him up for another seven days.
6 And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And 5he shall wash his clothes and be clean.
7 But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest.
8 And the priest shall look, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease.
9 "When a man is afflicted with a leprous disease, he shall be brought to the priest,
10 and the priest shall look. And if there is a 6white swelling in the skin that has turned the hair white, and there is raw flesh in the swelling,
11 it is a chronic leprous disease in the skin of his body, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean. 7He shall not shut him up, for he is unclean.
12 And if the leprous disease breaks out in the skin, so that the leprous disease covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see,
13 then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean.
14 But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean.
15 And the priest shall examine the raw flesh and pronounce him unclean. Raw flesh is unclean, for it is a leprous disease.
16 But if the raw flesh recovers and turns white again, then he shall come to the priest,
17 and the priest shall examine him, and if the disease has turned white, then the priest shall pronounce the diseased person clean; he is clean.
18 "If there is in the skin of one's body a 8boil and it heals,
19 and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a 9reddish-white spot, then it shall be shown to the priest.
20 And the priest shall look, and if it appears deeper than the skin and its hair has turned white, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a case of leprous disease that has broken out in the boil.
21 But if the priest examines it and there is no white hair in it and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall shut him up seven days.
22 And if it spreads in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a disease.
23 But 10if the spot remains in one place and does not spread, it is the scar of the boil, and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
24 "Or, when the body has a burn on its skin and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a spot, 11reddish-white or white,
25 the priest shall examine it, and if the hair in the spot has turned white and it appears deeper than the skin, then it is a leprous disease. It has broken out in the burn, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a case of leprous disease.
26 But if the priest examines it and there is no white hair in the spot and it is no deeper than the skin, but has faded, the priest shall shut him up seven days,
27 and the priest shall examine him the seventh day. If it is spreading in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a case of leprous disease.
28 But if the spot remains 12in one place and does not spread in the skin, but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn, and the priest shall pronounce him clean, for it is the scar of the burn.
29 "When a man or woman has a disease on the head or the beard,
30 the priest shall examine the disease. And if it appears deeper than the skin, and the hair in it is yellow and thin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is an itch, a leprous disease of the head or the beard.
31 And if the priest examines the itching disease and it appears no deeper than the skin and there is no black hair in it, then the priest shall shut up the person with the itching disease for seven days,
32 and on the seventh day the priest shall examine the disease. If the itch has not spread, and there is in it no yellow hair, and the itch appears to be no deeper than the skin,
33 then he shall shave himself, but the itch he shall not shave; and the priest shall shut up the person with the itching disease for another seven days.
34 And on the seventh day the priest shall examine the itch, and if the itch has not spread in the skin and it appears to be no deeper than the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean. And 13he shall wash his clothes and be clean.
35 But if the itch spreads in the skin after his cleansing,
36 then the priest shall examine him, and if the itch has spread in the skin, the priest need not seek for the yellow hair; he is unclean.
37 But if in his eyes the itch is unchanged and black hair has grown in it, the itch is healed and he is clean, and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
38 "When a man or a woman has spots on the skin of the body, white spots,
39 the priest shall look, and if the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out in the skin; he is clean.
40 "If a man's hair falls out from his head, he is bald; he is clean.
41 And if a man's hair falls out from his forehead, he has baldness of the forehead; he is clean.
42 But if there is on the bald head or the bald forehead a reddish-white diseased area, it is a leprous disease breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead.
43 Then the priest shall examine him, and if the diseased swelling is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, like the appearance of leprous disease in the skin of the body,
44 he is a leprous man, he is unclean. The priest must pronounce him unclean; his disease is on his head.
45 "The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and 14let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall 15cover his upper lip[b] and cry out, 16'Unclean, unclean.'
46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be 17outside the camp.
47 "When there is a case of leprous disease in a 18garment, whether a woolen or a linen garment,
48 in warp or woof of linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin,
49 if the disease is greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin or in the warp or the woof or in any article made of skin, it is a case of leprous disease, and it shall be shown to the priest.
50 And the priest shall examine the disease and shut up that which has the disease for seven days.
51 Then he shall examine the disease on the seventh day. If the disease has spread in the garment, in the warp or the woof, or in the skin, whatever be the use of the skin, the disease is a 19persistent leprous disease; it is unclean.
52 And he shall burn the garment, or the warp or the woof, the wool or the linen, or any article made of skin that is diseased, for it is a persistent leprous disease. It shall be burned in the fire.
53 "And if the priest examines, and if the disease has not spread in the garment, in the warp or the woof or in any article made of skin,
54 then the priest shall command that they wash the thing in which is the disease, and he shall shut it up for another seven days.
55 And the priest shall examine the diseased thing after it has been washed. And if the appearance of the diseased area has not changed, though the disease has not spread, it is unclean. You shall burn it in the fire, whether the rot is on the back or on the front.
56 "But if the priest examines, and if the diseased area has faded after it has been washed, he shall tear it out of the garment or the skin or the warp or the woof.
57 Then if it appears again in the garment, in the warp or the woof, or in any article made of skin, it is spreading. You shall burn with fire whatever has the disease.
58 But the garment, or the warp or the woof, or any article made of skin from which the disease departs when you have washed it, shall then be washed a second time, and be clean."
59 This is the law for a case of leprous disease in a garment of wool or linen, either in the warp or the woof, or in any article made of skin, to determine whether it is clean or unclean.

Leviticus 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

Directions to the priest to judge concerning leprosy. (1-17) Further directions. (18-44) How the leper must be disposed of. (45,46) The leprosy in garments. (47-59)

Verses 1-17 The plague of leprosy was an uncleanness, rather than a disease. Christ is said to cleanse lepers, not to cure them. Common as the leprosy was among the Hebrews, during and after their residence in Egypt, we have no reason to believe that it was known among them before. Their distressed state and employment in that land must have rendered them liable to disease. But it was a plague often inflicted immediately by the hand of God. Miriam's leprosy, and Gehazi's, and king Uzziah's, were punishments of particular sins; no marvel there was care taken to distinguish it from a common distemper. The judgment of it was referred to the priests. And it was a figure of the moral pollutions of men's minds by sin, which is the leprosy of the soul, defiling to the conscience, and from which Christ alone can cleanse. The priest could only convict the leper, (by the law is the knowledge of sin,) but Christ can cure the sinner, he can take away sin. It is a work of great importance, but of great difficulty, to judge of our spiritual state. We all have cause to suspect ourselves, being conscious of sores and spots; but whether clean or unclean is the question. As there were certain marks by which to know it was leprosy, so there are marks of such as are in the gall of bitterness. The priest must take time in making his judgment. This teaches all, both ministers and people, not to be hasty in censures, nor to judge anything before the time. If some men's sins go before unto judgment, the sins of others follow after, and so do men's good works. If the person suspected were found to be clean, yet he must wash his clothes, because there had been ground for the suspicion. We have need to be washed in the blood of Christ from our spots, though not leprosy spots; for who can say, I am pure from sin?

Verses 18-44 The priest is told what judgment to make, if there were any appearance of a leprosy in old sores; and such is the danger of those who having escaped the pollutions of the world are again entangled therein. Or, in a burn by accident, ver. ( 24 ) . The burning of strife and contention often occasions the rising and breaking out of that corruption, which proves that men are unclean. Human life lies exposed to many grievances. With what troops of diseases are we beset on every side; and thy all entered by sin! If the constitution be healthy, and the body lively and easy, we are bound to glorify God with our bodies. Particular note was taken of the leprosy, if in the head. If the leprosy of sin has seized the head; if the judgment be corrupted, and wicked principles, which support wicked practices, are embraced, it is utter uncleanness, from which few are cleansed. Soundness in the faith keeps leprosy from the head.

Verses 45-46 When the priest had pronounced the leper unclean, it put a stop to his business in the world, cut him off from his friends and relations, and ruined all the comfort he could have in the world. He must humble himself under the mighty hand of God, not insisting upon his cleanness, when the priest had pronounced him unclean, but accepting the punishment. Thus must we take to ourselves the shame that belongs to us, and with broken hearts call ourselves "Unclean, unclean;" heart unclean, life unclean; unclean by original corruption, unclean by actual transgression; unclean, therefore deserving to be for ever shut out from communion with God, and all hope of happiness in him; unclean, therefore undone, if infinite mercy do not interpose. The leper must warn others to take heed of coming near him. He must then be shut out of the camp, and afterward, when they came to Canaan, be shut out of the city, town, or village where he lived, and dwell with none but those that were lepers like himself. This typified the purity which ought to be in the gospel church.

Verses 47-59 The garment suspected to be tainted with leprosy was not to be burned immediately. If, upon search, it was found that there was a leprous spot, it must be burned, or at least that part of it. If it proved to be free, it must be washed, and then might be used. This also sets forth the great evil there is in sin. It not only defiles the sinner's conscience, but it brings a stain upon all he has and all that he does. And those who make their clothes servants to their pride and lust, may see them thereby tainted with leprosy. But the robes of righteousness never fret, nor are moth-eaten.

Cross References 19

  • 1. Leviticus 14:56
  • 2. Deuteronomy 24:8
  • 3. [ver. 11]
  • 4. [See ver. 4 above]
  • 5. See Leviticus 11:25
  • 6. [Numbers 12:10, 12; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 26:20, 21]
  • 7. [ver. 4, 5]
  • 8. See Exodus 9:9
  • 9. ver. 24
  • 10. ver. 28
  • 11. ver. 19
  • 12. ver. 23
  • 13. ver. 6
  • 14. Leviticus 10:6
  • 15. Ezekiel 24:17, 22; Micah 3:7
  • 16. [Lamentations 4:15]
  • 17. Numbers 5:2; Numbers 12:14, 15; [2 Kings 7:3; 2 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 26:21; Luke 17:12]
  • 18. [Jude 23; Revelation 3:4]
  • 19. Leviticus 14:44

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases
  • [b]. Or mustache

Chapter Summary

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, Le 13:1-3 of the bright spot and scab, Le 13:4-8 of the rising or swelling, Le 13:9-17 of the bile or hot ulcer, Le 13:18-23 of the hot burning or inflammation, Le 13:24-28 of the plague of the scall, Le 13:29-37 of bright spots or blisters, Le 13:38,39 and of shedding the hair, and baldness, Le 13:40-44 of what the leper was to do, and to be done unto, Le 13:45,46 of the leprosy in garments made of linen, woollen, or of skin, Le 13:47-59.

Leviticus 13 Commentaries