In Lev 13.1-59 we have what is called “The Law of Tzara’at” and improperly translated as leprosy. This affliction is not the leprosy we see today, that is called Hansen’s Disease. This is something different because the symptoms are different, they change quickly and a total outbreak means you are “clean” (Lev 13.12-13). This makes no medical sense but it is a hint to the spiritual nature of the problem, but this is not how it is portrayed in movies or how we have pictured it. The one with tzara’at is called a “metzora” and this word is related to the word “motzevra” which means “one who speaks evil.” Tzara’at in the skin of people is discussed in Lev 13.2-17, a boil or a burn is discussed in 13.18-28, baldness on the scalp and forehead in Lev 13.40-44 and various other skin afflictions are discussed in Lev 13.38-39.
Tzara’at in clothes made of wool or flax (linen) and white in color in the warp (threads that run lengthwise) and the woof (threads that run across), and in tanned hides are discussed in Lev 13.47-59. Tzara’at in houses is discussed in Lev 14.34-52. Periods of seclusion, isolation and quarantine is prescribed for these are fourteen days for those with the skin and garments, and in certain cases three weeks for those in garments. For the periods of seclusion for houses, see the tractate in the Mishnah called “Oholot.” All of the above comments are only a brief summary of a very wide subject. All of the laws concerning Tzara’at can be tied into eschatology.
Lev 14.1-32 deals with the cleansing of a metzora (one with tzara’at), and Lev 14.34-52 deals with tzara’at on a house. The laws are very practical and we can see the role of a priest was not limited to the Temple, but he was very active in the cities. They had duties related to a doctor in disease control, an “Orkin” man, a building inspector or a dry cleaner inspecting clothes today. The priest better know his stuff before he displaces families or tears down a house.
Lev 15.1-33 deals with bodily discharges. There is an openness among the Jewish people about this and it is studied, but not so much so among “the church.” This chapter deals with chronic discharges (v 1-15), nocturnal emissions (v 16-17), marital relations (v 18), niddah (menstrual issues-v 19-24), a zavah (bloody issues not at the time of menstruation-25-30) and a conclusion (v 31-37).
Lev 16.1-34 deals with Yom Kippur. This may not be considered part of the various laws of purification, but they are referred to over and over again in this chapter. Let’s briefly touch on a few things in this chapter. In verse 1, it picks up where Lev 10 left off with the deaths of Aaron’s sons. The term “mercy seat” in v 2 is not a good translation. The Hebrew word is “kipporet” and it means “a covering” (Exo 25.21). In v 8 we learn that one of the two goats is called Azazel, and this is a picture of the false messiah in Jewish thought (See the article in “The Gates” magazine on “The Second Coming of the Messiah on Yom Kippur” on pages 6.10-11 from Hatikva Ministries). In the Hertz Pentateuch, p 481 this name means “removal or dismissal” and we know that the kingdom of violence must be “removed” or Azazel (Rev 20.1; Ezek 21.25; Dan 7.25; Isa 22.15-18; Ezek 29.1-5; Ezek 32.1-8). The Azazel goat is “removed” to the wilderness and let go. But, as Israel became more populated there was a fear that this goat would wander into a city or farm, so in later times it was led to the Rock Chudo on Mount Tzok (aka “Mount Azazel) and pushed off the cliff there and killed. The wilderness is seen as the domain of Satan and demons, as was the “sea” (Micah 7.19).
Lev 17.1-16 discusses the sanctity of the blood. The essence of life is in the blood. It contains “oxygen” and we need that to live. God “breathed” on Adam and became a living soul (Gen 2.7; Acts 17.26-28). Num 19.1-10 discusses the law of purification called the “Parah Adumah” or the Red Heifer. You will notice that the word “Adumah” is related to “Adam”, which means “blood of God” and “first blood.” It was Adam who brought death into the world with his sin, and so this is why the Parah Adumah is used for “corpse” uncleanness. This law of purification is alluded to John 2.1-6 and the wedding at Cana. Galilee was considered unclean because you didn’t know where the graves were exacly. This also applied to any land outside of Israel, too. As a result, there were six waterpots for the laws of purification (John 2.6), and ashes of the Parah Adumah were kept in Galilee as well as Jerusalem (Mishnah tractate “Parah”). Knowing the laws of purification concerning the Parah Adumah, Yeshua’s miracle had tremendous implications communicated to those at the wedding. The “good wine” is symbolic of teaching, covenant, joy and marriage.
In the Encyclopedia Judaica on “Purity, Impurity and Ritual” it says that being in a stae of uncleanness can prevent you from any contact with the Temple. Some can be transferable, even under one roof with it, and by touching. It can be corrected by immersion in a mikvah and the shes of the Red Heifer. Tahor and Tamai (clean and unclean) can also refer to foods fit or unfit for consumption (Lev 11; Deut 14). What becomes evident is that you can’t help becoming unclean. In the Garden of Eden (Gan Eden), nothing was impure. Now, as we go through life, we become impure. If the Temple was standing, we would not be allowed to enter until we went through the laws of cleansing.
So, we have briefly discussed some of the main causes of impurity. These include tzara’at, an issue from the sexual organs (human) and contact with a corpse, including some animals and other creatures. There are time factors involved in the cleansing process, or a “change in status.” You are unclean till evening for lesser degrees (2nd degree or less), and seven days for major degree’s (1st degree). Immersion of a person is required, and sometimes clothes. Sacrifices are required in some major degree’s. That is why when you were converting to become a Jew, you had to be immersed and offer a sacrifice. In the case of a metzora (one with tzara’at), you were sprinkled with blood and water. If you are unclean through a corpse, with the ashes of the Parah Adumah.
In Part 5, we will continue discussing the purification laws and how to understand them.