New European Commentary

 

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Deeper Commentary

 

 Lev 15:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,

Lev 15:2 Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘When any man has a discharge from his body, because of his discharge he is unclean-

These laws were to teach that in essence, it is what comes from within a person which makes them unclean, rather than what enters us from outside (Mk. 7:15-23). The idea that demons, evil spirits or Satan can enter us and make us unclean must be rejected; Jesus emphasizes that sin comes from within, therefore it is totally our fault, and we must take responsibility rather than blaming it on cosmic forces outside of us.


Lev 15:3 This shall be his uncleanness in his discharge: whether his body runs with his discharge, or if his body has stopped excreting his discharge, it is his uncleanness-

Even if we are no longer sinning, we must remember that we still stand guilty for past sins unless we have received cleansing for them. The passage of time and the fading of human memory works only a pseudo-atonement for sin; it is the blood of Christ and our conscious identity with it which alone can eternally cleanse our conscience from sins both past and present.


Lev 15:4 Every bed whereon he who has the discharge lies shall be unclean; and everything he sits on shall be unclean.
Lev 15:5 Whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:6 He who sits on anything whereon the man who has the discharge sat shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:7 He who touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:8 If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean, then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:9 Whatever saddle he who has the discharge rides on shall be unclean.
Lev 15:10 Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until the evening. He who carries those things shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening-

There was greater culpability the more consciously a person did things which he or she knew were unclean. Thus to purposefully carry something unclean required a washing of clothes, whereas just touching them merited a lesser requirement for cleansing.


Lev 15:11 Whoever he who has the discharge touches, without having rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:12 The earthen vessel, which he who has the discharge touches, shall be broken; and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.
Lev 15:13 When he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes; and he shall bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean-

In the dry wilderness, this would have been from the river of spring water which followed them from the smitten rock, which represented Christ who was smitten so that we might have the means of being cleansed (1 Cor. 10:4).


 
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.

"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).

 


Lev 15:14 On the eighth day he shall take two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, and come before Yahweh to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and give them to the priest;
Lev 15:15 and the priest shall offer them, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. The priest shall make atonement for him before Yahweh for his discharge.
Lev 15:16 If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall bathe all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the evening-

Like many of the commandments, there was a large element of personal choice in whether to obey this or not; intimate matters such as personal discharges were unknown to others. Under the new covenant, this is even more the case; attitudes of mind which make us unclean before God are known only to ourselves. The Law of Moses was the only legal code which had so many clauses which concerned matters which could never be publically demonstrated. God’s intention even under the old covenant was to teach and inculcate personal relationship between God and His people. He did this by giving commandments whose keeping only He and the individual knew about.


Lev 15:17 Every garment, and every skin, whereon the semen is, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:18 If a man lies with a woman and there is an emission of semen, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening-

The whole family would have known that ‘mum and dad’ or just mum was unclean. Personal matters like sex and menstruation thereby became part of normal family awareness, rather than being hived off in quasi-secrecy and invested with an aura of mystery as they are in many modern cultures.



Lev 15:19 If a woman has a discharge, and her discharge in her flesh is blood, she shall be in her impurity seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:20 Everything that she lies on in her impurity shall be unclean. Everything also that she sits on shall be unclean.
Lev 15:21 Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:22 Whoever touches anything that she sits on shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:23 If it is on the bed, or on anything whereon she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:24 If any man lies with her, and her monthly flow is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed whereon he lies shall be unclean.
Lev 15:25 If a woman has a discharge of her blood many days not in the time of her period, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her period; all the days of the discharge of her uncleanness shall be as in the days of her period: she is unclean.
Lev 15:26 Every bed whereon she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her period: and everything whereon she sits shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her period.
Lev 15:27 Whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lev 15:28 But if she is cleansed of her discharge, then she shall count to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean-

This two stage cleansing process is common in the Mosaic rituals. She was clean, but in another sense not fully cleansed until the end of the seven days. We likewise are now cleansed in Christ, but in a full sense we will only be fully cleansed when He returns and our bodies are made like His, and the flesh no longer is a part of our condition of being.


Lev 15:29 On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, and bring them to the priest, to the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 15:30 The priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her before Yahweh for the uncleanness of her discharge.
Lev 15:31 Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, so they will not die in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is in their midst’.
Lev 15:32 This is the law of him who has a discharge, and of him who has an emission of semen, so that he is unclean thereby;
Lev 15:33 and of her who has her period, and of a man or woman who has a discharge, and of him who lies with her who is unclean.