Leviticus 13

Listen to Leviticus 13
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
2 “If anyone has a swelling or a rash or discolored skin that might develop into a serious skin disease, that person must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons.
3 The priest will examine the affected area of the skin. If the hair in the affected area has turned white and the problem appears to be more than skin-deep, it is a serious skin disease, and the priest who examines it must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean.
4 “But if the affected area of the skin is only a white discoloration and does not appear to be more than skin-deep, and if the hair on the spot has not turned white, the priest will quarantine the person for seven days.
5 On the seventh day the priest will make another examination. If he finds the affected area has not changed and the problem has not spread on the skin, the priest will quarantine the person for seven more days.
6 On the seventh day the priest will make another examination. If he finds the affected area has faded and has not spread, the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. It was only a rash. The person’s clothing must be washed, and the person will be ceremonially clean.
7 But if the rash continues to spread after the person has been examined by the priest and has been pronounced clean, the infected person must return to be examined again.
8 If the priest finds that the rash has spread, he must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean, for it is indeed a skin disease.
9 “Anyone who develops a serious skin disease must go to the priest for an examination.
10 If the priest finds a white swelling on the skin, and some hair on the spot has turned white, and there is an open sore in the affected area,
11 it is a chronic skin disease, and the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. In such cases the person need not be quarantined, for it is obvious that the skin is defiled by the disease.
12 “Now suppose the disease has spread all over the person’s skin, covering the body from head to foot.
13 When the priest examines the infected person and finds that the disease covers the entire body, he will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. Since the skin has turned completely white, the person is clean.
14 But if any open sores appear, the infected person will be pronounced ceremonially unclean.
15 The priest must make this pronouncement as soon as he sees an open sore, since open sores indicate the presence of a skin disease.
16 However, if the open sores heal and turn white like the rest of the skin, the person must return to the priest
17 for another examination. If the affected areas have indeed turned white, the priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean by declaring, ‘You are clean!’
18 “If anyone has a boil on the skin that has started to heal,
19 but a white swelling or a reddish white spot develops in its place, that person must go to the priest to be examined.
20 If the priest examines it and finds it to be more than skin-deep, and if the hair in the affected area has turned white, the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. The boil has become a serious skin disease.
21 But if the priest finds no white hair on the affected area and the problem appears to be no more than skin-deep and has faded, the priest must quarantine the person for seven days.
22 If during that time the affected area spreads on the skin, the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean, because it is a serious disease.
23 But if the area grows no larger and does not spread, it is merely the scar from the boil, and the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean.
24 “If anyone has suffered a burn on the skin and the burned area changes color, becoming either reddish white or shiny white,
25 the priest must examine it. If he finds that the hair in the affected area has turned white and the problem appears to be more than skin-deep, a skin disease has broken out in the burn. The priest must then pronounce the person ceremonially unclean, for it is clearly a serious skin disease.
26 But if the priest finds no white hair on the affected area and the problem appears to be no more than skin-deep and has faded, the priest must quarantine the infected person for seven days.
27 On the seventh day the priest must examine the person again. If the affected area has spread on the skin, the priest must pronounce that person ceremonially unclean, for it is clearly a serious skin disease.
28 But if the affected area has not changed or spread on the skin and has faded, it is simply a swelling from the burn. The priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean, for it is only the scar from the burn.
29 “If anyone, either a man or woman, has a sore on the head or chin,
30 the priest must examine it. If he finds it is more than skin-deep and has fine yellow hair on it, the priest must pronounce the person ceremonially unclean. It is a scabby sore of the head or chin.
31 If the priest examines the scabby sore and finds that it is only skin-deep but there is no black hair on it, he must quarantine the person for seven days.
32 On the seventh day the priest must examine the sore again. If he finds that the scabby sore has not spread, and there is no yellow hair on it, and it appears to be only skin-deep,
33 the person must shave off all hair except the hair on the affected area. Then the priest must quarantine the person for another seven days.
34 On the seventh day he will examine the sore again. If it has not spread and appears to be no more than skin-deep, the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean. The person’s clothing must be washed, and the person will be ceremonially clean.
35 But if the scabby sore begins to spread after the person is pronounced clean,
36 the priest must do another examination. If he finds that the sore has spread, the priest does not need to look for yellow hair. The infected person is ceremonially unclean.
37 But if the color of the scabby sore does not change and black hair has grown on it, it has healed. The priest will then pronounce the person ceremonially clean.
38 “If anyone, either a man or woman, has shiny white patches on the skin,
39 the priest must examine the affected area. If he finds that the shiny patches are only pale white, this is a harmless skin rash, and the person is ceremonially clean.
40 “If a man loses his hair and his head becomes bald, he is still ceremonially clean.
41 And if he loses hair on his forehead, he simply has a bald forehead; he is still clean.
42 However, if a reddish white sore appears on the bald area on top of his head or on his forehead, this is a skin disease.
43 The priest must examine him, and if he finds swelling around the reddish white sore anywhere on the man’s head and it looks like a skin disease,
44 the man is indeed infected with a skin disease and is unclean. The priest must pronounce him ceremonially unclean because of the sore on his head.
45 “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
46 As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.
47 “Now suppose mildew contaminates some woolen or linen clothing,
48 woolen or linen fabric, the hide of an animal, or anything made of leather.
49 If the contaminated area in the clothing, the animal hide, the fabric, or the leather article has turned greenish or reddish, it is contaminated with mildew and must be shown to the priest.
50 After examining the affected spot, the priest will put the article in quarantine for seven days.
51 On the seventh day the priest must inspect it again. If the contaminated area has spread, the clothing or fabric or leather is clearly contaminated by a serious mildew and is ceremonially unclean.
52 The priest must burn the item—the clothing, the woolen or linen fabric, or piece of leather—for it has been contaminated by a serious mildew. It must be completely destroyed by fire.
53 “But if the priest examines it and finds that the contaminated area has not spread in the clothing, the fabric, or the leather,
54 the priest will order the object to be washed and then quarantined for seven more days.
55 Then the priest must examine the object again. If he finds that the contaminated area has not changed color after being washed, even if it did not spread, the object is defiled. It must be completely burned up, whether the contaminated spot is on the inside or outside.
56 But if the priest examines it and finds that the contaminated area has faded after being washed, he must cut the spot from the clothing, the fabric, or the leather.
57 If the spot later reappears on the clothing, the fabric, or the leather article, the mildew is clearly spreading, and the contaminated object must be burned up.
58 But if the spot disappears from the clothing, the fabric, or the leather article after it has been washed, it must be washed again; then it will be ceremonially clean.
59 “These are the instructions for dealing with mildew that contaminates woolen or linen clothing or fabric or anything made of leather. This is how the priest will determine whether these items are ceremonially 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.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Traditionally rendered leprosy. The Hebrew word used throughout this passage is used to describe various skin diseases.
  • [b]. Or one of his descendants.
  • [c]. Or and uncover their heads.
  • [d]. Traditionally rendered leprosy. The Hebrew term used throughout this passage is the same term used for the various skin diseases described in 13:1-46 .
  • [e]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

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