Leviticus 13: The Problem of Leprosy


Leviticus chapter 13 seems a little extreme when you first look at it. Essentially, every person that ends up with leprosy is automatically unclean. That doesn’t necessarily seem fair; after all, that person did not choose to contract leprosy.

Lev 13:44  He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head.

Lev 13:45  And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.

Lev 13:46  All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

However, if you take more of a public health perspective, this makes some sense. From what I understand, leprosy is somewhat contagious, and the Israelites would have had no way to treat it. Today, we use antibiotics to treat leprosy, but they obviously did not have them back in the time that this was written.

Therefore, they treated people with leprosy kind of like we treat people who ended up with swine flu. You isolate the contagious disease so that it cannot be spread to more people.

I think that the more controversial part about this chapter is the fact that leprosy made an individual unclean, and unclean people were not allowed in the tabernacle. However, I tend to view this again from a public health perspective. With a lot of people gathered together, it’s probably not such a hot idea to have people spreading contagious diseases.

Again, I know that many people feel that this passage is unfair or almost mean. However, I really think that God had the interest of His people in mind when He laid out this law. In His world the way it was created, leprosy would not even be a problem because there was no sickness or disease. Sin introduced all of these things into the world, so it was important to try to contain disease just like it is today.

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Posted on November 2, 2012, in Leviticus and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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