This chapter is about the regulations about infectious skin diseases. This is gonna be a fun one. I’ve also thought of this chapter like a Jewish biology lesson. Like what the ancient Hebrews “science”/”medicine” was. Because this chapter gets into what to do if someone has a disease. It’s also a fairly long chapter, at least in print. It gets pretty detailed too. Like with colors, depth, etc. This chapter also tells Moses & Aaron what to do about each disease, what to look for with each one, etc. This chapter also gets into the regulations about mildew. Mildew in clothing, more specifically. I hope you enjoy the read.
God gives Moses & Aaron the rules for people who got some weird stuff going on with their skin. Let’s get into the details.
If someone had/has a swelling, rash, or bright spot on their skin that looks like it could become infectious (traditionally, instead of infectious, it would say leprosy. So the text would say, “…looks like it was leprosy,” but it wouldn’t necessarily leprosy.), the person would HAVE to go immediately to Aaron or one of his sons/descendants, who’s a priest. When anyone has an infectious skin disease, they HAD HAD HAD to go immediately to the priest. No questions, no maybe later. (You can think of the Judaic priests kind of like shamans/medicine men/people. Because, in this chapter anyway, they serve as both doctor & priest.)
The priest has/had to examine the spot on the skin. If the hair in the spot has turned white & it looks like it’s more than skin deep, it’s infectious. When the priest examines the person, the priest will pronounce them ceremonially unclean. If the spot on their skin is white but doesn’t appear to be more than skin deep & the hair hasn’t turned white, the priest is/was to put the person ‘infected’ in quarantine for 7 days. On the 7th day, the priest is/was to examine the person again. If the spot is unchanged & hasn’t spread, another 7 days of quarantine is ordered. On the now 14th day, the priest goes examining the spot a now 3rd time. If the spot has faded & hasn’t spread, the priest will pronounce the person clean. It’s only a rash. (Really! 14 days to determine if it’s just a rash or something more serious. Yes, I, on a personal level, just realize that!)
The person had to go wash their clothes & they’ll be clean. (So in my logic, by this statement, the person had to wear the same clothes for 14 days straight. Without washing them. At all. Think about that.)
However, if the rash DOES spread after they’ve shown themselves to the priest to be pronounced clean, they have got to go to the priest again. The priest examines them again. If indeed the rash HAS spread, the person is unclean. It’s infectious.
If there’s a white swelling in the skin that’s turned the hair white & there’s raw flesh in the swelling, it’s a chronic skin disease. The priest will pronounce them unclean. They’re to be put into quarantine, because they’re now considered unclean.
If the disease breaks out all over their skin, so far as the priest can see, it covers their whole body, the priest will/would pronounce that person clean. Since it has all turned white, they’re clean. Whenever raw flesh appears on them, they’ll be unclean. The raw flesh in unclean. They’ve got an infectious disease. Should the raw flesh change & turn white, go to the priest. Like yesterday! The priest should/would examine them. If the spots have turned white, the priest will declare the infected person clean. Then, & only then, they’ll be clean.
When someone has a boil on their skin & it heals, & in the place where the boil was, a white swelling or reddish-white spot appears, they must go to priest. The priest examines them. If it appears to be more than skin deep & the hair in it has turned white, the priest will tell them that they’re unclean. It’s an infectious skin disease that’s broken out where the boil was. However, if when the priest examines/examined it, there’s no white hair in it & it’s not more than skin deep & has faded, then the priest is to put into quarantine for 7 days. (Anyone else feel like this is getting into ‘The Ring’ territory. “In 7 days…”) If it’s spreading in the skin, the priest will declare more uncleanness. It’s infectious. If the spot remains unchanged & hasn’t spread, it’s only a scar from the boil. The priest will tell them that they’re clean. (Again, this seems to be a pretty long drawn out process just to be told that you’ve got an infectious skin disease or a scar from a boil. I’m personally glad that I live in the modern medicine/science age.)
When someone has a burn on their skin & a reddish-white or white spot appears in the raw flesh of the burn, the priest is/was to examine/examined the spot. If the hair in it has turned white, & it appears to be more than skin deep, it’s infectious disease that’s broken out in the burn. The priest will tell them they’re unclean. But if when the priest examines/examined them, & there’s no white hair in the spot & if it’s not more than skin deep & has faded, the priest is to put them in quarantine for 7 days.
On the 7th day, the priest is/was to examine them again. If it’s spreading, they’ll be declared unclean. They’ve got an infectious disease. However, if the spot is unchanged & hasn’t spread but has faded, it’s a swelling from the burn. The priest will say they’re clean, just a scar from the burn.
If a person has a sore on their head or chin, of course, the priest has/had to examine it. If it appeared to be more than skin deep & the hair in it is yellow & thin, sorry…unclean. It’s an “itch,” an infectious disease of the head or chin. But if, when the priest examines this kind of sore & it doesn’t seem to be more than skin deep & there’s no black hair in it. The priest is to put them into quarantine for, guess…I’ll wait…you guessed it, 7 days. On the 7th day, the priest re-examines the sore. If the “itch” hasn’t spread & there’s no yellow hair in it & doesn’t appear to be more than skin deep, they must be shaved. Except for the diseased area. (It’s unclear if it’s just their heads that shaved. Or if it’s all of their body hair.) The priest is keeping them in quarantine for another 7 days. (This right here is why the number 7 is considered important in the bible. It shows up A LOT in the bible. In this chapter alone the number 7 shows up a total of 8 times.) On the 7th day, the priest reexamines the “itch,” & if it hasn’t spread & appears to be no more than skin deep, the priest will pronounce him clean.
The person must wash their clothes & they’ll be clean.
If, however, the “itch” does spread after they’re declared clean, the priest had/has to reexamines/reexamined them. If the “itch” has spread, the priest doesn’t need to look for yellow hair. The person is unclean. If in the priest’s judgment it’s unchanged & black hair has grown in it, the “itch” is healed. They’re clean & the priest will let it be know.
When a person has white spots on the skin, the priest has/had to examine them. If the spots are a dull white, it’s a harmless rash. This person is clean.
When a man becomes bald, he’s clean. If he has lost his hair for the front of the scalp & has a bald forehead, he’s clean. But if he has a reddish-white sore on his bald head or forehead, it’s an infectious disease that’s breaking out. The priest examines/examined him. If the swollen sore on his head/forehead is reddish-white like an infectious skin disease, the man IS diseased & unclean. The priest has/had to declare the man unclean because of the sore.
The person with such infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair become unkempt, cover the lower part of their face. Plus they had to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” As long as they had the infection, they remained unclean. They had to live alone & outside of the camp. (Here’s my question: If there’s an outbreak, could all of the infected people hang out together? Or did they have to keep away from each other too?)
Now we’re going to be getting into the rules about mildew.
If any clothing is contaminated with mildew (any woolen, linen, woven, knitted, leather, or anything made of leather) & if the contamination in the clothing, leather, woven, knitted, any leather article, is greenish or reddish, it’s a spreading mildew. It’s got to be shown to the priest. The priest examines/examined the mildew & quarantine the item in question for, you guessed it, 7 days. On the 7th day, the priest reexamines the item. If the mildew has spread in the clothing, woven, knitted, or leather, whatever its use, it’s a destructive mildew. The article is unclean. It’s got to be burned.
However if, when the priest examines it, the mildew hasn’t spread, the priest will order the item to be washed. Then the priest has/had to quarantine the item for another 7 days. After the item has been washed & reexamined, if the mildew hasn’t changed its appearance, even though it hasn’t spread, it’s unclean. It’s to be burnt with fire.
If, when it’s reexamined, the mildew has faded after the item has been washed. The priest has/had to tear the contaminated part out of the clothing, leather, woven, or knitted material. If it reappears in the clothing, woven, knitted, or leather item, it’s spreading. Whatever has the mildew must be burned with fire. (Like, at this time in history, that it could be burned with something else.) The clothing, woven, knitted, or leather item that has been washed & is rid of mildew, MUST be re-washed. Then it’ll be clean.
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