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Deeper Commentary

Lev 14:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

Lev 14:2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest,
Lev 14:3 and the priest shall go forth out of the camp. The priest shall examine him, and behold, if the plague of leprosy is healed in the leper,
Lev 14:4 then the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two living clean birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop-
 
Hyssop- The Lord was intensely intellectually conscious throughout His sufferings. His mind was evidently full of the word, He would have seen the symbolism of everything far more than we can, from the thorns in His mock crown, to the hyssop being associated with Him at the very end (the hyssop was the fulfilment of types in Ex. 12:8,22; Lev. 14:4,6,49-52; Num. 19:6,18).


Lev 14:5 The priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water-
 
The enigmatic Jn. 7:38 alludes here: " He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (" innermost being" , NIV) shall flow rivers of living (Gk. spring) water" . What "scripture" did the Lord have in mind? Perhaps the references to spring water being used to cleanse men from leprosy and death (Lev. 14:5; 15:13; Num. 19:16). Out of the innermost being of the true believer, the spring(ing) water of the Gospel will naturally spring up and go out to heal men, both now and more fully in the Kingdom, aided then by the Spirit gifts. The believer, every  believer, whoever  believes, will preach the word to others from his innermost being, both now and in the Kingdom - without the need for preaching committees or special efforts (not that in themselves I'm decrying them). The tendency is to delegate our responsibilities to these committees. There is no essential difference between faith and works. If we believe, we will do the works of witness, quite spontaneously. And note how the water that sprung out of the Lord’s smitten side is to be compared with the bride that came out of the smitten side of Adam. We, the bride, are the water; thanks to the inspiration of the cross, we go forth in witness, the water of life to this hard land in which we walk.


Lev 14:6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water.
Lev 14:7 He shall sprinkle on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird go into the open field-

The phrase "let go" is often used of how God let Israel go from Egypt, overruling how the wicked Pharaoh refused to let the people go. The term is used later in the Mosaic legislation; the way Israel had been "let go" from Egypt was to determine how they "let go" others from slavery (Dt. 15:12,13,18); their own experience of redemption was to influence how they released others. Just as ours should. The letting go of the bird and scapegoat into the wilderness was likewise to remind them of how they had been let go from Egypt into the wilderness without being slain for their sins- all by grace (Lev. 14:7,53; 16:10,21,22,26).

The two birds may foreshadow the death and resurrection of Jesus. The bird which flew away  in joyful, thankful freedom symbolized Christ’s resurrection and the freedom from sin which is enabled for us who were spiritual lepers; thanks to the death of Christ, represented by the death of the first bird.


Lev 14:8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and bathe himself in water; and he shall be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, but shall dwell outside his tent seven days-
 
"Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean" (2 Kings 5:10).  Although this was not Christian baptism, it is perhaps analogous. Because humility was elicited by this request to dip in Jordan, as it is by the ritual of baptism. Elisha was aiming to convert Naaman, not simply heal him, so that he could continue as general of the forces who were marrauding Israel. The fact there were plenty of lepers in Israel (Lk. 4:27) was evidence enough that the waters of Jordan contained no healing powers of themselves; Naaman was being taught faith in God's word, rather than supposed healing waters. The seven dippings recall the way Jericho was to be circled for six days before victory on the seventh (Josh. 6:3-5), the child sneezed seven times before resurrection (2 Kings 4:35) and the way Elijah was only answered at his seventh prayer (1 Kings 18:43). The intention was that through the six times performing something which had no immediate answer, faith, hope and humility were elicited. Lev. 14:8; 15:13 speak of the healed leper washing after the cure, in order to be then also ritually clean. And there were various sprinkling / cleansing rituals which had to be performed seven times upon the leper (Lev. 14:7,16,27). So Naaman was potentially cured of his leprosy, but what was necessary was that he become ritually clean, and therefore he had to take the step of faith in washing. Had he not done that, the potential cure would have remained an unrealized potential. He was bidden grasp that he had been cured by Elisha; but now he had to wash in order to become spiritually clean and acceptable within Israelite, and not Syrian, society (see on 2 Kings 5:1).  

The cleansed leper was to become as a baby, and be washed in water. This looked ahead to baptism by full immersion into Christ as the new birth (Jn. 3:3-5).

 


Lev 14:9 It shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his body in water, then he shall be clean.
Lev 14:10 On the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and three tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil-

No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).

This looked ahead to the unblemished character of the Lord Jesus. The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.


Lev 14:11 The priest who cleanses him shall set these things and the man who is to be cleansed before Yahweh, at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 14:12 The priest shall take one of the male lambs, and offer him for a trespass offering, with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh-

The portion to be waved was placed on the priests hands (Ex. 29:25), and then 'waved' or 'swung' towards the altar and then back- not from right to left. The idea was that the offerings were first given to God, recognizing they should be consumed on the altar to God; but then given back to the priest by God. So they ate them having first recognized that their food was really God's, all was of Him, and He had given it back to them to eat. This should be our spirit in partaking of any food, as we are the new priesthood. Our prayers of thanks for daily food should include this feature. All things are God's and anything we 'offer' to Him is only giving Him what He has given to us (1 Chron. 29:14,16).


Lev 14:13 He shall kill the male lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary; for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering. It is most holy.
Lev 14:14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot-

The leper was to continually live under the impression of the fact he or she had been healed and cleansed, just as we should. The fact the blood of Christ was shed for us personally should affect how we hear (hence the blood was put on the ear), what we do with our hands (the right thumb) and where we go with our feet (the right big toe). The process was repeated with oil (:16), perhaps foreshadowing the sanctifying work of the Spirit in the lives of those in Christ.


Lev 14:15 The priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand.
Lev 14:16 The priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before Yahweh.
Lev 14:17 The priest shall put some of the rest of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering.
Lev 14:18 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, and the priest shall make atonement for him before Yahweh-
 
Atonement- Were people really morally unclean before God because of bodily situations over which they had no control? Or was this not a legislation which had the intent of convicting all people of their guilty state before God, and in the end, their need for salvation by grace alone? For the leper had to offer a guilt offering for being cleansed (Lev. 14). Was it not that the legislation was to convict of guilt regarding the human condition, rather than stating that some individual was more guilty than the one next to him simply because of a condition over which he had totally no control? Likewise, how could offering a sacrifice or paying a penalty in cash or goods really take away sin? Was the whole exercise not to convict us of guilt in order to prepare us for the way of escape through grace? A price must be paid for sin and for our guilt; we have to come to personally realize that. But that great price has been paid by the Lord, it’s not for us to pay the price, but to respond in faith to the fact it has been paid. In passing, this approach to the Law would explain why at times forgiveness and reconciliation was possible during the Mosaic period by means other than the Mosaic legislation, or when it was imperfectly applied.


Lev 14:19 The priest shall offer the sin offering, and make atonement for him who is to be cleansed because of his uncleanness: and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering;
Lev 14:20 and the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. The priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.
Lev 14:21 If he is poor, and can’t afford so much, then he shall take one male lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, and one tenth of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil;
Lev 14:22 and two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to afford; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering-

We get the impression that God was very strict about the offerings. He was. But He made concession to the man who couldn't bring what he ought to: "If he be poor, and cannot get much... two young pigeons, such as he is able to get" (Lev. 14:22). If they were blemished in some way, and even though they were not the animal God desired, God would accept such as the man was able to get. Likewise the offerings had to involve the shedding of blood; but God was prepared to accept a food offering if a man really couldn't get an animal. The eagerness of God to accept what a man can do rather than the insistence on legal principles really comes over. He recognized the Israelites would be living on different levels. Such an eagerness involved accepting a lower standard of adherence to God's ideal principles. In harmony with this, the Passover ‘lamb’ could be either a sheep, or if necessary, a goat (Ex. 12:5), even though the use of a goat would somewhat spoil the foreshadowing of Christ.


Lev 14:23 On the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, to the door of the Tent of Meeting, before Yahweh.
Lev 14:24 The priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh.
Lev 14:25 He shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering. The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering and put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.
Lev 14:26 The priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand;
Lev 14:27 and the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before Yahweh.
Lev 14:28 Then the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the trespass offering.
Lev 14:29 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before Yahweh.
Lev 14:30 He shall offer one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can lay his hand on-

Lepers had to live outside the camp of Israel and couldn’t work, so they would’ve typically been very poor. But the concept of sacrifice was important; they weren’t to assume ‘I’m a leper, of course I have nothing, I don’t have to sacrifice anything’. They had to lay their hand on at least some kind of animal- and the Hebrew could possibly carry the sense of ‘whatever he can lay his hand on’. It was important that they gave at least something in recognition of their need for cleansing, and their receipt of it by God’s grace. We shouldn’t consider our poverty, in whatever area, to mean that we don’t have to sacrifice anything to God.


Lev 14:31 even such as he is able to afford, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, with the grain offering. The priest shall make atonement for him who is to be cleansed before Yahweh.
Lev 14:32 This is the law for him in whom is the plague of leprosy, who is not able to afford the sacrifice for his cleansing.

Lev 14:33 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
Lev 14:34 When you have come into the land of Canaan which I give to you for a possession, and I put a spreading leprosy in a house in the land of your possession-

Constantly Israel were reminded that God would indeed give them the promised Kingdom, even though at that time as they wandered in the wilderness it must’ve seemed merely a nice idea. He encourages us likewise.


Lev 14:35 then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘There seems to me to be some sort of plague in the house’-

It would’ve been tempting for the owner to just cover up the signs of disease within his house, rather than ask the priest to inspect it. We are to be open before God, freely confessing our sins and possible sins or liabilities to sin, in open dialogue before Him in prayer. When David invites God to search his heart and see if there be any wicked way in him (Ps. 139:23), he was alluding to the language of the house owner inviting the priest to inspect his house for leprosy.


Lev 14:36 The priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes in to examine the plague, that all that is in the house not be made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to inspect the house.
Lev 14:37 He shall examine the plague; and behold, if the plague is in the walls of the house with hollow streaks, greenish or reddish, and it appears to be deeper than the wall;
Lev 14:38 then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days.
Lev 14:39 The priest shall come again on the seventh day, and look. If the plague has spread in the walls of the house-

This looks forward to Christ as the ultimate priest coming again on the final [seventh] day and inspecting the degree to which sin has spread within us, or remained merely on the level of appearance. 1 Pet. 2:12 alludes here, by calling the day of Christ’s return “the day of inspection” (Gk.).


Lev 14:40 then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which is the plague, and cast them into an unclean place outside of the city:
Lev 14:41 and he shall cause the inside of the house to be scraped all over, and they shall pour out the mortar that they scraped off outside of the city into an unclean place-

The removing and scraping of diseased stones is a figure alluded to later in the Bible. The stones of Tyre were to be removed and scraped (Ez. 26:4)- for it was a sinful city. Jesus makes the same allusion when He said that the stones of the temple were to be removed one by one, because the Jews refused to accept the day of Christ’s inspection (Lk. 19:44 Gk.). When He entered the temple, looked around it and then walked out, He was acting as a priest inspecting a leprous house (Mk. 11:11). But the Jews refused to accept Him as priest and insisted that their hypocrisy was in fact holiness. The new stones which were to be brought in (:42) refer to the Christian believers, who were to be built up into a new temple (1 Pet. 2:5). It was a radical thing indeed for Jesus to liken the temple, the very symbol of human piety and the very quintessence of the Jewish religion, to a leprous house which needed to be pulled down. Established religion today likely has the same judgment from Him.


Lev 14:42 They shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other mortar, and shall plaster the house.
Lev 14:43 If the plague comes again, and breaks out in the house, after he has taken out the stones, and after he has scraped the house, and after it was plastered;
Lev 14:44 then the priest shall come in and look; and behold, if the plague has spread in the house, it is a destructive mildew in the house. It is unclean.
Lev 14:45 He shall break down the house, its stones, and its timber, and all the mortar of the house. He shall carry them out of the city into an unclean place.
Lev 14:46 Moreover he who goes into the house while it is shut up shall be unclean until the evening.
Lev 14:47 He who lies down in the house shall wash his clothes; and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes-

There was greater culpability the more consciously a person did things which he or she knew were unclean. Thus to lie down in the unclean house required a washing of clothes, whereas just going into it merited a lesser requirement for cleansing.


Lev 14:48 If the priest shall come in, and examine it, and behold, the plague hasn’t spread in the house, after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed.
Lev 14:49 To cleanse the house he shall take two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop-

We note the association of hyssop with the Lord's death on the cross (Jn. 19:29), before which He had been clothed in scarlet. That hyssop had been dipped in red wine, representing blood, and the Lord surely saw the relevance to Himself. "I am that hyssop", He would have thought. On the cross, He was the door (Jn. 10:9), and He experiened hyssop with red wine (representing blood) brushed against Him. Just as the doors at Passover had blood brushed onto them using a hyssop plant, and this was the basis of Israel's salvation.    


Lev 14:50 He shall kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water.
Lev 14:51 He shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times-

Wood, hyssop and scarlet clothing all featured in the final suffering and crucifixion of Christ. This is the basis for our cleansing from the leprosy of sin.


Lev 14:52 He shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, with the living bird, with the cedar wood, with the hyssop, and with the scarlet;
Lev 14:53 but he shall let the living bird go out of the city into the open field. So shall he make atonement for the house; and it shall be clean.
Lev 14:54 This is the law for any plague of leprosy, and for an itch,
Lev 14:55 and for the destructive leprosy of a garment, and for a house,
Lev 14:56 and for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot;
Lev 14:57 to teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean. This is the law of leprosy.