in a garment of woollen, or linen, either the warp or woof, or any thing of skins; which include everything in which this sort of leprosy was:
to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean; either to declare it free from the plague of the leprosy, or as infected with it, and so accordingly dispose of it.
INTRODUCTION TO Leviticus 14
This chapter treats of the purification of lepers, and the rules to be observed therein; and first what the priest was to do for his cleansing when brought to him, by making use of two birds, with cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop, as directed, Leviticus 14:1; what he was to do for himself, shaving off all his hair, and washing his flesh and clothes in water, Leviticus 14:8; the offerings to be offered up for him, two he lambs and one ewe lamb, and a meat offering, with a particular account of the use of the blood of the trespass offering, and of oil put upon the tip of his right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the great toe of his right foot, Leviticus 14:10; but if poor, only one lamb was required, a meat offering of one tenth deal, and two turtle doves or two young pigeons, and blood and oil used as before, Leviticus 14:21; next follow an account of leprosy in an house, and the signs of it, and the rules to judge of it, Leviticus 14:33; and the manner of cleansing from it, Leviticus 14:49; and the chapter is closed with a recapitulation of the several laws concerning the various sorts of leprosy in this and the preceding chapter, Leviticus 14:54.
he shall be brought unto the priest: not into the camp, or city, or house, where the priest was, for till he was cleansed he could not be admitted into either; besides, the priest is afterwards said to go forth out of the camp to him; but he was to be brought pretty near the camp or city, where the priest went to meet him. As the leper was an emblem of a polluted sinner, the priest was a type of Christ, to whom leprous sinners must be brought for cleansing; they cannot come of themselves to him, that is, believe in him, except it be given unto them; or they are drawn with the powerful and efficacious grace of God, by which souls are brought to Christ, and enabled to believe in him; not that they are brought against their wills, but being drawn with the cords of love, and through the power of divine grace, sweetly operating upon their hearts, they move towards him with all readiness and willingness, and cast themselves at his feet, saying, as the leper that came to Christ, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean", Matthew 8:2 Mark 1:40; and it is grace to allow them to come near him, and amazing goodness in him to receive and cleanse them.
and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; that all the signs of uncleanness are removed, the swelling, the scab, or bright spot, and the white hair in them, and, instead of that, black hair is grown up. The typical priest did not heal, nor could he, the healing was of God; he only looked to see by signs if the plague was healed; but our antitypical priest looks with an eye of pity and compassion on leprous sinners, and they are enabled to look to him by faith, and virtue goes out of him to the healing of their diseases; as he looks upon them in their blood, and says to them, Live, so he looks upon them in their leprosy, and touches them, and says, "I will, be thou clean", Matthew 8:3, and they are immediately healed; he is the sun of righteousness, which arises upon them with healing in his wings.
two birds alive, and clean; any sort of birds, to whom this description agrees; for not any particular sort are pointed out, as "sparrows" (w), as some render the word, or any other; because either they must be clean or unclean; if unclean, then not to be used; if clean, then this descriptive character is used in vain. These were to be alive, taken alive with the hand, and not shot dead; and this also excepts such as were torn, as Jarchi, or any ways maimed and unsound, and not likely to live; and they were to be "clean", such as were so according to a law given in a preceding chapter; they were to be none of those unclean birds there mentioned; and, according to the Misnah (x), they were to be alike in sight and height, and in price and value, and to be taken together; and, by the same tradition, they were to be two birds of liberty, that is, not such as were kept tame in cages, but such as fly abroad in the fields, These birds may be considered as a type of Christ, who compares himself to a hen, Matthew 23:37; and "birds" may denote his swiftness and readiness to help his people, his tenderness and compassion towards them in distress, and his weakness and frailty in human nature, and his meanness and despicableness in the eyes of men; and these being "alive", the character well agrees with him, who is the living God, the living. Redeemer, the Mediator that has life in himself, and for his people; and as man, now lives, and will live for evermore, and is the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal. And the birds being clean, may denote the purity and holiness of Christ, and so his fitness to be a sacrifice, and his suitableness as food for his people: and the number two may signify either his two natures, divine and human, in both which he lives, and is pure and holy; or his two estates of humiliation and exaltation; or his death by the slain bird, and his resurrection by the living bard, of which more hereafter:
and the cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop; a stick of cedar, as Jarchi; it was proper it should be of such a size, as to be known to be cedar wood, but was not to be too heavy for the priest to sprinkle with it, as Ben Gersom; and the same writer observes, it ought to have a leaf on the top of it, that it might appear to be cedar: according to the Misnah (y), it was to be a cubit long, and the fourth part of a bed's foot thick: "scarlet" was either wool dyed of that colour, or crimson, so Jarchi; or a scarlet thread or line with which the hyssop was bound and fastened to the cedar wood; and, according to the above tradition (z), the "hyssop" was to be neither counterfeit nor wild, nor Greek, nor Roman, nor any that had any epithet to it, but common simple hyssop; and, as Gersom says, there was not to be less than an handful of it. The signification of these is variously conjectured; according to Abarbinel, they have respect to the nature of the leprosy, and as opposite to it; that as the two live birds signified restoration to his former state, when he had been like one dead, so the cedar wood, being incorruptible and durable, showed that the putrefaction of humours was cured; the scarlet, that the blood was purged, and hence the true colour of the face returned again, and a ruddy and florid countenance as before; and the hyssop being of a savoury smell, that the disagreeable scent and stench were gone: but others think there is a moral meaning in them, that the cedar being the highest of trees, and the scarlet colour coming from a worm, and the hyssop the lowest of plants, see 1 Kings 4:33; the "cedar wood" may denote the pride and haughtiness of spirit the leprosy is the punishment of, as in Miriam, Gehazi, Uzziah, and the family of Joab: and the worm that gives the scarlet colour, and the hyssop, may signify that humility that becomes a leper that is cleansed, so Jarchi: but they will bear a more evangelical sense, and may have respect either to Christ; the cedar wood may be an emblem of the incorruption of Christ, and of the durable efficacy of his death; the scarlet, of his bloody sufferings, his flaming love to his people, expressed thereby, and the nature of those sins and sinners being of a scarlet die, for whom he suffered; and the hyssop, of the purgative nature of his blood, which cleanses from all sin: or else to the graces of his Spirit; faith may be signified by the cedar wood, which is in some strong, and in all precious and durable; love by scarlet, of a flaming colour, as strong love is like coals of fire, that give a most vehement flame; and hope by hyssop, which is but a lowly, yet lively grace; or faith may be set forth by them all, by the cedar wood for its continuance, by scarlet for its working by love, and by hyssop for its purifying use, as it deals with the blood of Christ.
(w) "duos passeres", V. L. (x) Negaim, c. 14. sect. 5. (y) Negaim, c. 14. sect. 6. (z) Ibid.
in an earthen vessel over running water: this vessel, according to the Jewish traditions (a), was to be a new one, and a fourth part of a log of running water was to be put into it, and then the bird was to be killed over it, and its blood squeezed into it, and then a hole was dug, and it was buried before the leprous person; and so it should be rendered, "over an earthen vessel", as it is in the Tigurine version, and by Noldius (b); for how could it be killed in it, especially when water was in it? the killing of this bird may have respect to the sufferings, death, and bloodshed of Christ, which were necessary for the purging and cleansing of leprous sinners, and which were endured in his human nature, comparable to an earthen vessel, as an human body sometimes is; see 2 Corinthians 4:7; for he was crucified through weakness, and was put to death in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 13:4; and the running or living water mixed with blood may denote both the sanctification and justification of Christ's people by the water and blood which sprung from his pierced side, and the continual virtue thereof to take away sin, and free from it; or the active and passive obedience of Christ, which both together are the matter of a sinner's justification before God.
(a) Negaim, c. 14. sect. 1.((b) Ebr. Concord. part. p. 64. No. 318.
and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop; which were all bound up in one bundle, but whether the living bird was joined to them is a question; according to Jarchi they were separate, the bird by itself, and the cedar wood, &c. by themselves; they were neither bound together nor dipped together; and Ben Gersom is very distinct and expressive; we learn from hence, says he, that three were bound up in one bundle, but the living bird was not comprehended in that bundle; but according to the Misnah (c) they were all joined together, for there it is said, he (the priest) takes the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, and rolls them up with the rest of the scarlet thread, and joins to them the extreme parts of the wings and of the tail of the second bird and dips them; and this seems best to agree with the text, as follows:
and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water; that is, into the blood of it as mixed with the running water in the earthen vessel, which together made a sufficient quantity for all these to be dipped into it; whether separately, first the living bird, and then the cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop, or all together: the bird that was kept alive was a type of Christ, who as a divine Person always alive, and ever will; he is the living God, and impassable: the dipping of this living bird in the blood of the slain one denotes the union of the two natures in Christ, divine and human, and which union remained at the death of Christ; and also shows that the virtue of Christ's blood arises from his being the living God: the dipping of the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, into the same blood, signifies the exercise of the several graces of the Spirit upon Christ, as crucified and slain, and their dealing with his blood for pardon and cleansing, as faith and hope do, and from whence love receives fresh ardour and rigour.
(c) Ebr. Concord. part. 64. No. 318. & Bartenora in ib.
and shall pronounce him clean; from his leprosy, and so fit for civil and religious conversation, to come into the camp or city, and into the tabernacle:
and shall let the living bird loose into the open field; as a token of the freedom of the leper, and that he was at liberty to go where he pleased: the Misnic doctors say (f), when he came to let go the living bird, he did not turn its face neither to the sea, nor to the city, nor to the wilderness, as it is said, "but he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open field", as in Leviticus 14:53; the Targum of Jonathan here adds, if the man should be prepared to be smitten with the leprosy again, the live bird may return to his house the same day, and be fit to be eaten, but the slain bird he shall bury in the sight of the leper: some say, if the bird returned ever so many times, it was to be let go again: this may be a figure of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and of his justification upon it, as the head and representative of his people, and of their free and full discharge from guilt, condemnation, and death, through him, and of his and their being received up into heaven, and whither their hearts should be directed, in affection and thankfulness for their great deliverance and salvation; see 1 Timothy 3:16.
(d) Chaeremon apud Porphyr. de Abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 6. (e) Ut supra. (Misn. Negaim, c. 11. sect. 4.) (f) Ib. sect. 2.
and shave off all his hair; what is here expressed in general is more particularly declared in Leviticus 14:9; the hair of his head, beard, and eyebrows; according to Gersom, this was done by the priest, and so Maimonides says (g), that none but a priest might shave him; and yet the text seems plainly to ascribe this, as well as the washing of his clothes and himself, to the leper that was to be cleansed; and the same writers say, that if two hairs were left it was no shaving; and so says the Misnah (h): the shaving of the leper's hairs signified the weakening of the strength of sin; the mortification of the deeds of the body, through the Spirit, and the laying aside all superfluity of naughtiness, and the excrescences of the flesh; a parting with every thing that grows out of a man's self, sin or self-righteousness; a laying a man bare and open, that nothing may lie hid and covered, and escape cleansing:
and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: which was to be done by dipping in a collection of water, and not in running water, as Gersom observes, in a quantity of water sufficient to cover the whole body; which, according to the Talmud (i), was forty seahs, and was a cubit square in breadth, and three cubits deep: this may denote the washing of sinful men with the washing of regeneration, but more especially with the blood of Christ, the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, Zechariah 13:1,
and after that he shall come into the camp; into the camp of Israel, while in the wilderness, and in after times into the city, where he used to dwell; and may sign try the admittance of such into the church of God again, who appear to be cleansed from sin, to have true repentance towards God for it, and faith in the blood of Christ:
and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days; that is, out of his own tent or house, where his wife and family dwelt: this precaution was taken, lest there should be any remains of his disorder lurking, in him that might endanger his wife and family, especially his wife, with whom he was to have no conjugal conversation as yet; so it is said in the Misnah (k), that he was to be separated from his house seven days, and forbid the use of the marriage bed; and this prohibition. Jarchi thinks is intended in this clause, and so Maimonides (l), to which agrees the Targum of Jonathan,"he shall sit without the tent of the house of his habitation, and shall not come near to the side of his wife seven days.''
(g) Hilchot Tumaat Tzarat, c. 11. sect. 3.((h) Negaim, c. 14. sect. 4. (i) T. Bab. Eruvin, fol. 14. 1, 2.((k) Ut supra, (Misn. Negaim, c. 11) sect. 2.((l) Ut supra, (Hilchot Tumaat Tzarat, c. 11.) sect. 1.
that he shall shave all his hair; a second time, whatsoever was grown in those seven days:
all off his head, and his beard, and his eyebrows; even all his hair he shall shave off; not only the hair of the parts mentioned, but all other, the hair of his feet also, as Aben Ezra notes, who observes, that some say, the hair of his arms, and thighs, and breast; and so according to the Misnah (m), this was a second shaving, for it is said,"in the seventh day he shaves a second time, according to the first shaving:"
he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean; this was also repeated on the seventh, both the washing of his clothes, and the dipping of him in water; after which he was accounted clean, and was neither defiled nor defiling, and might go into his own tent or house, and into the tabernacle, and offer his offerings, and partake of the privileges of it, at least some of them, even the same day; according to the tradition he may eat of the tithes, and after sunset he may eat of the heave offerings, and when he has brought his atonement he may eat of the holy things (n).
(m) Ut supra, (Misn. Negaim, c. 11.) sect. 3.((n) Ibid.
he shall take two he lambs without blemish; the one for a trespass offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and both typical of Christ the Lamb of God, without spot and blemish:
and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish; for a sin offering, a type of Christ also:
and three tenth deals of fine flour, for a meat offering, mingled with oil; that is, three tenth parts of an ephah, or three omers; one of which was as much, or more than a man could eat in a day, see Exodus 16:36; there were three of these to answer to and accompany the three lambs for sacrifice, just such a quantity was allotted to the lambs of the daily sacrifice, Exodus 29:40; typical, likewise of Christ, who is the true bread, and whose flesh is meat indeed:
and one log of oil; to be used as after directed: this measure was about half a pint, and is an emblem of the grace and Spirit of God, received by the saints in measure, and is the same with the oil of gladness, poured on Christ without measure, Psalm 45:7.
shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things before the Lord; the two he lambs, and the ewe lamb; and it seems also the meat offerings, and the log of oil; but these Ben Gersom excepts, and when the leper, with these, is said to be set or presented before the Lord, this must not be understood of his being introduced, into the tabernacle, had of his being placed in the court itself; for as yet, as Jarchi says, he was "Mechoser Cippurim", one that needed expiation, and therefore, till that was done, could not be admitted; but he was set
at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; at the eastern gate, which afterwards, when the temple was built, was called the gate of Nicanor, and lay between the court of the women and the court of the Israelites: thus everyone that has received favours from the Lord, by restoration of health, or by deliverance from dangers, or be it in whatsoever way it will, should present himself and his sacrifice of praise unto him; and his case should be presented in a public manner before the congregation of the saints by the minister of it, in token of gratitude and thankfulness for mercies received.
and offer him for a trespass offering; for though the leprosy itself was a disorder or disease, and not sinful, yet the cause of it was sin, a trespass against God, and therefore a trespass offering must be offered: which was typical of Christ, whose soul was made a trespass offering, Isaiah 53:10; where the same word is used as here:
and the log of oil; See Gill on Leviticus 14:10,
and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord; heaving of them up and down, moving of them to and fro towards the several parts of the world, east, west, north, and south, even both the log of oil, and the he lamb for the trespass offering, and that alive, as Jarchi observes, and so says Maimonides (o).
(o) Hilchot Mechosre Capharah, c. 4. sect. 2.
in the place where he shall kill the sin offering in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle, on the north side of the altar, as Jarchi observes, see Leviticus 1:11,
for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering; and to be eaten by him and his sons in the holy place, and by none but them, see Leviticus 6:26,
it is most holy; which is the reason why none else might eat of it, typical of Christ the most Holy, whose flesh is only eaten by true believers in him, made priests unto God by him.
(p) Negaim, c. 14. sect. 8. (q) Ut supra. (Hilchot Mechosre Capharah, c. 4. sect. 2.)
and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot; as was done at the consecration of the high priest; see Gill on Exodus 29:20, Leviticus 8:24, now as the leper stood at the door of the tabernacle without the court, he was obliged to put in his head, his right hand, and his right foot, in order to have the blood put on them by the priest, who was in the court; and these were put in either separately one after another, or together: the tradition runs thus (t), he (the leper) thrust in his head, and (the priest) put (the blood) upon the tip of his ear; his hand, and he put it upon the thumb of his hand; his foot, and he put it upon the great toe of his foot: and the application of the blood to these parts showed that the leper had now a right to hear the word of God, to partake of all privileges, to touch anything without defiling it, and to go into any house or company where he thought fit, he was now at full liberty; more evangelically these things may signify the sanctification and cleansing of those parts, and of the whole man by the blood of Christ; and particularly may signify, that as the ear is unclean, uncircumcised, and unsanctified in a leprous sinner and even there are hearing sins in the best of men, the ear is sanctified, and hearing sins removed by the blood of Christ; and as the right hand, being the instrument of action, may denote the evil works of men, and even since the most righteous performances of the best of men are attended with sin, the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, had need to be put upon them; and whereas the conversation of then, which the foot may be an emblem of, is sinful and vain, it is by the blood of Christ that they are redeemed from it; and the influence of that blood sprinkled on the conscience will oblige and constrain men to live and walk soberly, righteously, and godly.
(r) Ut supra. (Misn. Negaim, c. 14. sect. 8) (s) Ut supra. (Hilchot Mechosre Capharah, c. 4. sect. 2.) (t) Ut supra, (r)) sect. 9.
and pour it into the palm of his own left hand: but in the original text it is, "pour it into the palm of the priest's left hand": and it is a question, whether he or another priest is meant; according to Aben Ezra, the oil was to be poured into the hand of the priest that was cleansing the leper, and which, he thinks, is plain from what follows; but Gersom thinks it is better to understand it of another priest, since it is not said into his own hand, but into the hand of the priest; and the Misnah (u) is clear for it, he (the priest) takes of the log of oil and pours it into the palm of his fellow (priest), but if he pours it into his own palm it is sufficient.
(u) Ib. sect. 10. so Maimon. Mechosre Capharah, ut supra, (c. 4. sect. 2.) & Bartenora, in Misn. Negaim, ib.
in the oil that is in his left hand; either that is in his own left hand, or in the left hand of a fellow priest:
and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord; that is, over against the house of the holy of holies, as Jarchi, where Jehovah dwelt; but standing at the same time at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, which was eastward, and so he looked westward to the holy of holies; so says the Misnah (w), on which one of the commentators (x) observes, that he did not bring the oil into the temple to sprinkle it before the vail: but he stood in the court, and turned his face to the holy of holies, and so sprinkled upon the floor of the court: and the Jewish doctors are very express for it, according to the Misnah (y), that for every sprinkling there was a dipping; that as often as he sprinkled, so often he must dip his finger in the oil, and not that he might dip his finger once, and of that sprinkle two or three times; for the finger must be dipped seven times: this may denote the thanksgiving of the leper for his cleansing, proceeding from the grace of God, and the Lord's gracious acceptance of it.
(w) lbid. (x) Bartenora in ib. (y) Ibid.
shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot; signifying that these parts in the leprous sinner need to be sanctified by the grace of the Spirit of God, comparable to oil, with which all the Lord's people are anointed, and is that unction they receive from the Holy One, their great High Priest; by this the ear is sanctified so as to hear the word, so as to understand it and mix it with faith; and the thumb of the right hand having oil put on that, may signify that the actions of good men are influenced by the Spirit of God, who works in them both to will and to do, and without whose grace they can do nothing in a spiritual manner; and the great toe of the right foot, the instrument of walking, being anointed with the same, may denote that it is through the grace of God saints have their conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, and as becomes the Gospel of Christ: the oil was to be put:
upon the blood of the trespass offering; that is, upon the place of the blood of it, as in Leviticus 14:28; which is, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it, the place in which he put at first the blood of the trespass offering: for the Jewish writers observe (z), that the log of oil depended on the trespass offering; for if the flood of the trespass offering was not first sprinkled, the sprinkling of the oil was of no avail: this shows that the blood of Christ, is the foundation of men's receiving the grace of the Spirit, and that it is owing to that it is bestowed upon them; the application of his grace follows redemption by the blood of Christ, who gave himself to redeem them from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; and for whomsoever expiation is made by the blood of Christ, they are sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.
(z) Bartenora in Misn. Zebachim, c. 4. sect. 3.
he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed; for the plague of leprosy was sometimes in the head, Leviticus 13:44; and this may denote either the blessings of grace on the head of the righteous, or that a man's head should be sanctified; he should have pure principles as well as pure practices; and that his head knowledge should be sanctified knowledge; some have only the form of godliness, but deny the power of it:
and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord; by putting the oil on the several parts, particularly on the head, which was done, as is said in the Misnah (a), to make atonement; if he puts it, atonement is made, but if he does not put it, there is no atonement made; but one would think rather the atonement refers to all the priest did, both in offering the trespass offering, and in putting both the blood of that and the oil on the several parts that are mentioned: this atonement was made for the sin or sins which were the cause or the man's leprosy: what was done with the rest of the log of oil is not said; it was the portion of the priests, and was for their use: Maimonides says (b), the rest of the log of oil is not eaten but in the court by the males of the priests, as other the most holy things; and that it is unlawful to eat thereof until the priest had sprinkled of it seven times, and put it on the above parts; and if one eats he is to be beaten.
(a) Ut supra. (Misn. negaim, c. 14. sect. 8.) (b) Ut supra, (Mechosre Capharah, c. 4.) sect. 3.
and make an atonement for him that was to be cleansed from his uncleanness; for it seems the atonement was not perfected by the trespass offering and all the preceding rites; but a sin offering was necessary both on account of moral uncleanness, the cause of the leprosy, and of ceremonial uncleanness by it:
and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering; the other he lamb; the burnt offering for the most part following the sin or trespass offering as a gift by way of thankfulness, atonement being made for sin by the other offerings; which also was typical of Christ, as all burnt offerings were.
and the priest shall make an atonement for him; these offerings still furthering of it, and sending to perfect it, and did complete it:
and he shall be clean; in a typical and ceremonial sense.
then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him; one he lamb, and was excused the other he lamb for a burnt offering, and the ewe lamb for a sin offering; but a lamb he must bring, a type of Christ the Lamb of God, for without his blood and sacrifice there is no atonement for rich poor, but for both thereby:
and one tenth deal of flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: instead three tenth deals; this abatement in the several kinds of offerings was a great indulgence to the poor, and an instance of God's goodness to them, that they might not be pressed above measure, and yet share the same benefits and advantages as the rich:
and a log of oil; here was no abatement in this, nor was there need of any; half a pint of oil, in a country which abounded with it, might be bought for a small price: however, the grace of the Spirit, signified by oil, is to be had freely of Christ, and in as large a quantity by a poor man as by a rich man, and is equally necessary to the one as to the other, who are all one in Christ Jesus; see Galatians 3:28.
and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering: one of the turtledoves or one of the young pigeons should be for the one, and the other for the other; so that the poor man had as many offerings for his atonement and cleansing as the rich, and his expiation and purgation were as complete as theirs.
unto the priest, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord; where the rich man also and his offerings were presented; See Gill on Leviticus 14:11; and the same rites are enjoined for the cleansing of the poor leper as the rich one, in Leviticus 14:23, of which see the notes on Leviticus 14:12, signifying that they are not exempt from duty, or abridged of any privilege on account of poverty; the persons and services of the people of God being equally acceptable to him, whether rich or poor.
and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, &c. See Gill on Leviticus 14:14.
whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing; as the three lambs and three tenth deals of fine flour, and therefore one lamb, and one tenth deal of fine flour, and two turtles or two young pigeons, were admitted of in the room of them, in consideration of his poverty. The Jewish canons respecting the cases of a poor and rich leper are these (c): if a poor leper offers the sacrifice of a rich man, it is very well; but if a rich leper offers the sacrifice of a poor one, it is not sufficient; if a poor leper offers his sacrifice and he becomes rich, or if when rich, and he afterwards becomes poor, all goes after the sin offering; that is, as they (d) explain it, if a man when he offers his sin offering is poor, and so his offering is of a turtle or pigeon, though he should become rich he must finish the offering of the poor, by bringing for a burnt offering one of the fowls; and so if he was rich, and offered the sin offering out of the lambs, though he should become poor, he must offer the burnt offering of the same; but the trespass offering is generally pitched upon as the rule in which the poor and the rich were equal: and Maimonides (e) says, all goes after the trespass offering; as if at the time of slaying the trespass offering he is rich, he must finish the offering of a rich man, but if poor he must finish the offering of a poor man: it may be observed that a great deal of notice is taken of a leper, and strict inquiry made into the nature of leprosy, and the various signs of it given; and a great deal to do about the cleansing and expiation of him; all which shows what notice God takes of leprous sinners, and what a diligent scrutiny should be made into the evil nature of sin, and what a provision God has made for the cleansing and atonement of sinners by the blood and sacrifice of his Son; which is here typified by all sorts of offerings, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the burnt offering, and the meat offering.
(c) Misn. Negaim, c. 14. sect. 11, 12. (d) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (e) Hilchot Mechosre Capharah, c. 5. sect. 9.
saying; as follows.
which I give to you for a possession; the Lord had given it to Abraham, and his seed, long ago, to be their inheritance, and now he was about to put them into the possession of it, which they were to hold as their own under God, their sovereign Lord and King:
and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; by which it appears that this kind of leprosy was from the immediate hand of God, and was supernatural and miraculous, as the Jewish writers affirm (f); nor is there anything in common, or at least in our parts of the world, that is answerable unto it; and from hence the same writers (g) conclude, that houses of Gentiles are exempt from it, only the houses of the Israelites in the land of Canaan had it; and they likewise except Jerusalem, and say (h), that was not defiled with the plague of leprosy, as it is written, "and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession"; for Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes; and they suppose, whenever it was put into any house, it was on account of some sin or sins committed by the owner; and so the Targum of Jonathan, and there be found a man that builds his house with rapine and violence, then I will put the plague, &c. thought they commonly ascribe it to evil speaking, which they gather from the case of Miriam.
(f) Maimonides, Abarbinel, Abraham Seba, and others. (g) Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (h) T. Bab. Eruvin, fol. 82. 2. Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 4. Gersom in loc.
saying, it seemeth unto me there is as it were a plague in the house; he must not say expressly there is one, how certain soever he may be of it, because the matter must be determined by a priest: so runs the Jewish canon (i), he whose the house is comes and declares to the priest, saying, there appears to me as a plague in the house; and though he is a wise man, and knows that there is a plague certainly, he may not determine, and say, there appears to me a plague in the house, but there appears to me as it were a plague in the house; it looks like one, there is some reason to suspect it.
(i) Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 5. Jarchi in loc.
before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made clean; as would be the case should the priest view it, and pronounce it unclean before the removal of them; agreeably to which is the Jewish tradition (k), before a priest comes to see the plague, not anything in the house is defiled; but after he is come to see it, even bundles of sticks, and of reeds, are defiled, which are not reckoned under the uncleanness to be removed: so that this was a kindness to the owner of the house, that his loss might not be so great as it otherwise would be, if he did not take care to get his goods out previous to the inspection of the priest:
and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house; to examine it, whether the signs of leprosy are in it.
(k) Misn. Nagaim, c. 12. sect. 5.
and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house; for there it chiefly was, if not solely; and from hence Gersom infers that it must be a walled house, and that it must have four walls, neither more nor fewer; and with this agrees the Misnah (l), according to which it must be four square; the signs of which were, when it appeared:
with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall: these signs agree with the other signs before given of leprosy in men and garments; the first, the hollow strakes, which are explained by being lower in appearance than the wall, a sort of corrosion or eating into it, which made cavities in it, answer to the plague being deeper than the skin of the flesh in men; and the colours greenish or reddish, or exceeding green or red, as Gersom, are the same with those of the leprosy in clothes; and some such like appearances are in saltpetre walls, or in walls eaten by saline and nitrous particles; and also by sulphureous, oily, and arsenical ones, as Scheuchzer observes (m), and are not only tending to ruin, but unhealthful, as if they had rather been eaten by a canker or spreading ulcer; who also speaks of a fossil, called in the German language "steingalla", that is, the gall of stones, by which they are easily eaten into, because of the vitriolic salt of the fire stone, which for the most part goes along with that mineral, which is dissolved by the moist air. Though this leprosy, in the walls of a house, seems not to have risen from any natural causes, but was from the immediate hand of God; and there have been strange diseases, which have produced uncommon effects on houses, and other things: in the times of Narses is said to be a great plague, especially in the province of Liguria, and on a sudden appeared certain marks and prints on houses, doors, vessels, and clothes, which, if they attempted to wash off, appeared more and more (n).
(l) Misn. Nagaim, c. 12. sect. 1, 2.((m) Physica Sacra, vol. 3. p. 330, 331. (n) Warnefrid de Gest. Longobard. l. 2. apud Scheuchzer. ib.
and shut up the house seven days: to observe what alteration would be made in that time, and which would sooner be discovered in a house uninhabited.
and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house: the hollow strakes are become deeper, or the coloured spots are become larger: spreading was always a sign of leprosy, both in the bodies of men, and in garments.
and they shall cast them into an unclean place without the city; where dead carcasses were laid, and dung, and filth of every sort; and being laid in such a place, it would be known that they were unclean, as Aben Ezra observes, and so would not be made use of for any purpose.
and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city, into an unclean place; the scrapings they were to put into some vessel, and carry them thither and pour them out, or into a cart, and there throw them, that they might lie with other rubbish, and not be made use of any more.
and put them in the place of these stones; such as will exactly answer them, as to number and size, and so fill up the space vacant by the removal of the other, and support the building:
and he shall take other mortar, and plaster the house; the master of the house was to do this, or take care that it was done; but others by the order of the priest, as they took away the tainted stones, put others in their place.
after that he hath taken away the stones; which were infected, or ordered them to be taken away:
and after he hath scraped the house; so that there seemed to be no remains of the plague:
and after it is plastered; to prevent if possible any return of it, but in vain.
and, behold, if the plague be spread in the house; after all the above precaution is taken:
it is a fretting leprosy in the house; like that in the garment; see Gill on Leviticus 13:51,
it is unclean; and so not to be inhabited.
(o) Hilchot Tumaat Tzarat, c. 15. sect. 1, 2.
the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the mortar of the house; and, according to the Jewish canons, a house was not defiled with the plague of leprosy, unless it had in it stones, and timber, and dust, or earth; a house which had not stones, timber, and dust in it, and the plague appeared in it, even if anyone after that brought in stones; timber, and dust, it was clean (p):
and he shall carry them forth out of the city unto an unclean place: such materials were not to be made use of to rebuild that house, or to be employed in the building of any other. This house may be an emblem of a visible church of God on earth, which is often in Scripture compared to an house, as that signifies both an edifice and a family, and is sometimes called the house of the living God; and into which sometimes the leprosy of immorality and profaneness gets and spreads, or of errors and heresies, which creep in unawares, spread themselves gradually, and sometimes very fast, and eat as do a canker, and are very troublesome and defiling; and which God permits to enter in, that they which are approved might be made manifest: now when this is the case, or there is any appearance of it, the priests, the ministers of the Lord, are to be told of it, who are to examine into it, and rebuke sharply, as the case requires; and care is to be taken that the infection spread not; the tainted stones, immoral or heretical persons, are to be removed from the communion of the church, and others to be put in their room, as may present; such as are dug out of the common quarry of nature, and separated from the rest of the world, and are hewn and squared by the Spirit and grace of God, and are become lively stones; such are to be added to the church for the support and increase of it. Sharp reproofs are to be given to those who are incorrigible, which may be signified by the scraping of the house; and forgiveness, tenderness, and love, that covers a multitude of sins, are to be shown to those who truly repent, of which plastering may be an emblem; but if, after all, the above disorders in principle and practice spread, and they appear to be incurable, then the house is pulled down, the church-state or candlestick is removed out of its place. And this may be illustrated in two instances, first in the Jewish church, which is sometimes called the house of Israel, and in which great corruptions prevailed, especially in the times of Christ and his apostles; and all means of reformation then being ineffectual, it was utterly destroyed, their ecclesiastical state, and all the ordinances of it; the temple, the house of God, was demolished, and not one stone left upon another, Matthew 24:2; and next in the church of Rome, once a church of God, a temple of his, where antichrist rose up and sat, and has by him been overspread with the leprosy of immorality, false doctrine, superstitious and idolatrous worship; and at times God has been emptying it, or removing his own people out of it, and will do so again before the utter destruction of it, which is hastening on; when it will be utterly demolished, as Babylon its emblem was, so that a stone of it shall not be taken, either for foundations or for a corner, Jeremiah 51:26. This also may be applied to the earthly houses of our tabernacles, in which the leprosy of sin is so deeply rooted, that, until they are dissolved, it will never be removed, notwithstanding all the means made use of for the mortification of the deeds of the body.
(p) Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 2.
shall be unclean until the evening; might not have any conversation with men until the evening was come, and he had washed himself; nay, according to the Misnah (q), if a clean person thrust in his head, or the greatest part of his body, into an unclean house, he was defiled; and whoever entered into a leprous house, and his clothes are on his shoulder, and his sandals (on his feet), and his rings on his hands, he and they are unclean immediately; and if he has his clothes on, and his sandals on his feet, and his rings on his hands, he is immediately defiled, and they are clean.
(q) Misn. Negaim, c. 12. sect. 8, 9.
and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes; if he stayed no longer than while he ate half a piece of wheaten bread he was clean, but not if he stayed so long as to eat a like quantity of barley bread, and sat down and ate it with food (r).
(r) Misn. Negaim, c. 13. sect. 8, 9.
and, behold, the plague hath not spread in the house, after the house was plastered; See Gill on Leviticus 14:42,
then the priest shall pronounce the house clean; fit to be inhabited, and so no more to be shut up, but free for use as before:
because the plague is healed; the infection being wholly removed by taking out the stones, scraping, and plastering the house, and so an entire stop put to the spread of it.
Two birds. The birds here indeed are not described as "alive and clean", Leviticus 14:4; but both are plainly implied and the house is said to be cleansed with the blood of the slain bird, as well as with the living bird; and it was the upper door post of the house which was sprinkled seven times with it, but there were no sacrifices offered; in this case, as in the cleansing of the leper, the atonement for it was made by the other rites, which were sufficient to render it habitable again, and free for use, either of the owner or any other person:
and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. See Gill on Leviticus 14:4.
and sprinkle the house seven times. See Gill on Leviticus 14:7.
and of an house; largely treated of in this chapter, Leviticus 14:34.