This chapter is about the “cleansing from infectious skin diseases.” Also the “cleansing from mildew.” So this is gonna be another rule chapter. But this also looks into the medicinal, & in essence scientific, practices of the ancient Jews. I hope y’all enjoy the read.
God told Moses the rules for cleansing infectious skin infections. Here are the details:
The priest goes/went outside of the camp, where the people who have the infections are located, & examine them. If the person has been healed of their infection, the priest will/would order that 2 live clean birds, some cedar wood, scarlet yarn, & hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed. The priest then orders that 1 of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot.
The priest then took the 2nd live bird & dipped it, together with the cedar wood, scarlet yarn, & hyssop, in the blood of the 1st bird (that was killed over fresh water). 7 times the priest will/would sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infection. They would be pronounced clean. The live bird would be released in the open fields.
The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair, & bathe with water. (Like they’re gonna wash themselves in wine!) They will then be ceremonially clean. After this they may come back into the camp. But they have to stay on the outside of their house (“tent,” this is what their houses back then.) for 7 days. On the 7th day, they must shave off all their hair; shave their head, beards (if you’re a male), eyebrows, & rest of their hair.
On the 8th day, they must bring 2 male lambs & 1 ewe lamb a year old (both of them). The lambs & ewe must be without defect. The lambs & ewe must also be accompanied by with 3/10 of an ephah (about 6 quarts) of fine flour mixed with oil for the grain offering plus 1 log (about 2/3 pint or about 0.3 liters) of oil.
The priest who pronounced them clean will present both the one to be cleansed & his offerings before God at the entrances to the Tent of Meeting. Then the priest takes 1 of the male rams & offers it as the guilt offering with the log of oil. It’ll be waved before God as the wave offering. The priest slaughters the lamb in “the holy place” where the sin & burnt offerings are slaughtered. The sin & guilt offerings belongs to the priest. It’s the most holy!
The priest then takes some of the blood from the guilt offering & puts it on the right earlobe, the right hand thumb, & big toe of the right foot of the person whose being cleansed. Then the priest takes some of the oil, put it in the palm of his own left hand. The priest dips his right pointer finger into the oil & sprinkles some of it before God 7 times. The priest then takes the rest of the oil in his palm on the same body parts that has the blood on it. (So yes, first blood of an animal on your body then oil. Gross, right?!) The rest of the oil that’s in the priest’s palm is/was put on the head of the one being cleansed. This was to make atonement for them before God.
The priest is to sacrifice the sin offering. Making atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. After all this, the priest will slaughter the burnt offering & offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering. They will be clean.
If the person is poor & can’t afford the 2 male rams & 1 ewe lamb, they have to take 1 male lamb as the guilt offering, together with 1/10 of an ephah (about 2 quarts/2 liters) of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a “log” of oil, & 2 doves or 2 young pigeons, which a poor person could afford. One for a sin offering & the other for a burnt offering to make atonement for them.
On the 8th day, the person must bring them (their offerings) for their cleansing to the priest at the entrance to the Tent (of Meeting), before God. The blood/body parts things happens again. This is for the poor.
Now getting into cleansing from mildew. God tells Moses & Aaron, this time, that when they enter into the land of Canaan & God puts a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house MUST go & tell the priest about it. (Also in verse 34, God sounds a little bit conceited. He says, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I’VE given you…” C’mon God. Really. We know that you’ve got the power to do whatever He wants to do, whenever He damn well feels like it!!!) The priest make EVERYONE in the household to get out (residents, slaves, servants, etc.) of the house before he (the priest) goes into the house. This is/was that nothing in the house would be deemed unclean.
After the occupants of the house are out, the priest goes in & inspects the house. The priest is to examine the mildew on the walls, if it has a greenish/reddish depressions that appear to be deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest will go out the doorway of the house & quarantine the house for 7 days. (Again, I feel like this is some ‘The Ring’ stuff.)
On the 7th day, the priest will return to the house to inspect it again. If the mildew has spread of the walls, the priest orders that the contaminated stones be torn out & thrown into an unclean place outside of the town. (I wonder if this is the same unclean place that the people who have skin infections or women who’ve given birth have to hang out.) the priest must have all the inside walls of the house scraped & the material that’s scraped off dumped into an unclean place outside of town. (Now it doesn’t say that if there are more than 1 unclean place outside of the town.) Then they’re to take other stones to replace the ones taken out of the house. And they’re to re-plaster the house. (Now this sounds like some ancient Judaic hazmat removal to me. Because this is what modern hazmat protocol sounds like.)
If the mildew reappears in the house after the stones have been removed, the house scraped, & re-plastered, the priest goes back into the house to reexamine it. If the mildew has spread in the house, it’s a “destructive” mildew; the house is unclean. The WHOLE house HAS to be torn down; everything, stones, timbers, plaster. All of the rubble HAS to be taken to an unclean place outside of town.
Anyone who goes into the house while it’s quarantined will be unclean until evening. Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house, while under quarantine, MUST wash their clothes.
However, if the priest comes to examine the house & the mildew hasn’t spread after the house has been cleaned, the house will be pronounced clean. Because the mildew is gone.
To purify the house, they’re to take 2 birds, some cedar wood, scarlet yarn, & hyssop. (Hyssop is a herbaceous plant native to southern Europe, Middle East, & region surrounding the Caspian Sea. It has antiseptic properties. It also used as a cough reliever & expectorant. Commonly used as a medicinal plant.) The priest will kill 1 of the birds over fresh water in a clay pot. Then the cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet yarn, & live bird are dipped into the blood of the dead bird & fresh water. It’s sprinkled in the house 7 times. The house would be purified with these items (birds, yarn, etc.). Then the live birds would be released in an open fields outside the town. In this way, atonement would be made for the house (I didn’t think that an inanimate object would need atonement. Cleansed of evil, sure. But atonement, to me anyway, means that a person had sinned/done wrong.) & it’ll be clean.
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