The Torah portions over the last two weeks have seemed very strange, to say the least! This week again our short parashah reading at first glance seemed to be a "turn-off" because it discussed undesirable subjects such as Leprosy, bodily discharges and disease. We must remember that YHWH's people were living in tents in the desert, subjected to all kinds of dirt, germs and disease. There were no doctors or medicines, and the people had no choice but to rely on HIM for their every need. And so, again, the underlying message in this Torah portion was obedience to YHWH's commands and the need to return to holiness once a crisis was over.
Beginning with Leviticus 14 we see the purification process involved with leprosy - a condition we discussed in detail in our last parashah. Again, while the descriptions of the sores and discharges seem disgusting, we must remember that they HAD to be addressed, or else the entire population might have been wiped out. YHWH's simple instructions in those times helped to keep disease at bay.
What's interesting is that the instructions about ridding ourselves of germs of any kind (including mold and mildew in houses), always involved the killing of an innocent animal or bird as atonement. Please take a couple of minutes to read the following:
Leviticus 14: 33 ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 34 "When you have entered the land of Kena'an which I am giving you as a possession, and I put an infection of tzara'at in a house in the land that you possess, 35 then the owner of the house is to come and tell the cohen, 'It seems to me that there may be an infection in the house.' 36 The cohen is to order the house emptied before he goes in to inspect the infection, so that everything in the house won't be made unclean; afterwards, the cohen is to enter and inspect the house. 37 He will examine the infection; and if he sees that the infection is in the walls of the house, with greenish or reddish depressions that seem to go in deeper than the surface of the wall, 38 he is to go out of the house to its door and seal up the house for seven days. 39 The cohen will come again on the seventh day and examine the house; if he sees that the infection has spread over its walls, 40 he is to order them to remove the infected stones and throw them into some unclean place outside the city.
41 Next, he is to have the inside of the house thoroughly scraped, and the scraped-off plaster is to be discarded outside the city in an unclean place. 42 Finally, other stones must be set in the place of the first stones and other plaster used to replaster the house. 43 If the infection returns and breaks out in the house after the stones have been removed and the house scraped and plastered; 44 then the cohen is to enter and examine it. If he sees that the infection has spread in the house, it is a contagious tzara'at in the house; it is unclean. 45 He must break down the house and take its stones, timber and plaster out of the city to an unclean place. 46 Moreover, whoever enters the house at any time while it is sealed up will be unclean until evening. 47 Whoever lies down or eats in the house must wash his clothes. 48 If the cohen enters, examines and sees that the infection has not spread in the house since it was plastered; then he is to declare the house clean; because the infection is cured.
49 "To purify the house, he is to take two birds, cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop leaves. 50 He is to slaughter one of the birds in a clay pot over running water. 51 He is to take the cedar-wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird and dip them in the blood of the slaughtered bird and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He will purify the house with the blood of the bird, the running water, the live bird, the cedar-wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. 53 But he is to set the live bird free outside the city in an open field; thus will he make atonement for the house; and it will be clean. 54 "Such is the law for all kinds of tzara'at sores, for a crusted area, 55 for tzara'at in a garment, for a house, 56 for a swelling, for a scab and for a bright spot, 57 to determine when it is clean and when it is unclean. This is the law concerning tzara'at."
When you think about it, the splattering of the blood of dead birds didn't "clean" the house or rid one's body of disease; the act of washing/cleaning and removing the infected parts did that. However, killing the bird and splattering the blood was an act of obedience to YHWH; an act that caused the people involved to begin concentrating their efforts on YHWH and His will once more. Getting over the sickness/disease and returning to Him as a "clean" person was the central point. "Be holy because I am holy!" (Leviticus 11:44-45)
YHWH kept adding to His rules out of necessity as the world's population grew. There came a point when He was forced to set rules for cleanliness in a population consisting of several million people who had no running water or electricity. (You have to remember, people in those days had NO conveniences of any kind. They were lucky to be camped near a creek or river where they could dip out buckets of water to drink and to bathe with. Bathing was an occasional luxury!)
Take a look at how detailed YHWH was about personal hygiene:
Leviticus 15: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 2 "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'When any man has a discharge from his body, the discharge is unclean. 3 The discharge is unclean no matter whether it continues flowing or has stopped; it is still his uncleanness. 4 Every bed which the person with the discharge lies on is unclean, and everything he sits on is unclean. 5 Whoever touches his bed is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 6 Whoever sits on anything the person with the discharge sat on is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening.
7 Anyone who touches the body of the person with the discharge is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 8 If the person with the discharge spits on someone who is clean, the latter is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 9 Any saddle that the person with the discharge rides on will be unclean. 10 Whoever touches anything that was under him will be unclean until evening; he who carries those things is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 11 If the person with the discharge fails to rinse his hands in water before touching someone, that person is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening.
Leviticus 15: 16 "'If a man has a seminal emission, he is to bathe his entire body in water; he will be unclean until evening. 17 Any clothing or leather on which there is any semen is to be washed with water; it will be unclean until evening. 18 If a man goes to bed with a woman and has sexual relations, both are to bathe themselves in water; they will be unclean until evening.
Leviticus 15: 19 "'If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she will be in her state of niddah for seven days. Whoever touches her will be unclean until evening. 20 Everything she lies on or sits on in her state of niddah will be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 22 Whoever touches anything she sits on is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 23 Whether he is on the bed or on something she sits on, when he touches it, he will be unclean until evening.
24 If a man goes to bed with her, and her menstrual flow touches him, he will be unclean seven days; and every bed he lies on will be unclean. 25 "'If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days not during her period, or if her discharge lasts beyond the normal end of her period, then throughout the time she is having an unclean discharge she will be as when she is in niddah -she is unclean. 26 Every bed she lies on at any time while she is having her discharge will be for her like the bed she uses during her time of niddah; and everything she sits on will be unclean with uncleanness like that of her time of niddah.
27 Whoever touches those things will be unclean; he is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. 28 "'If she has become free of her discharge, she is to count seven days; after that, she will be clean. 29 On the eighth day, she is to take for herself two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the cohen at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
30 The cohen is to offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering; thus the cohen will make atonement for her before ADONAI on account of her unclean discharge. 31 "'In this way you will separate the people of Isra'el from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in a state of uncleanness for defiling my tabernacle which is there with them. 32 "'Such is the law for the person who has a discharge; for the man who has a seminal emission that makes him unclean; 33 for the woman in niddah during her menstrual period; for the person, man or woman, with a discharge; and for the man who has sexual relations with a woman who is unclean.
The role of the cohens was absolutely mind-boggling! It was a filthy job on many levels....Adam and Eve never had to worry about leprosy or any other diseases, or having to stand in blood up to their knees while sacrificing animals. In the Garden, life was perfect, clean and disease-free because sin had not yet entered the world. But after man was kicked out of the Garden, life became unbearably hard on every level, and YHWH was forced to keep adding more and more rules in order to keep His people from dying prematurely in this fallen world....
Brit Chadashah reading:
Yeshua sustained the idea of obedience to YHWH. After He healed a leper in Mark 1, He did not want the focus on Himself; rather, He specifically told the leper to go to the priests and make an offering for his purification. Take a look:
Mark 1: 40. And a leper came to him and fell upon his feet and was beseeching him and said to him, "If you desire, you are able to make me clean." 41. And he said to him, I desire. Be clean. 42. And at that moment, his leprosy departed from him and he was made clean. 43. And he rebuked him and he went out. 44. And he said to him, See to it that you tell no man, rather go show yourself to the priests and offer an offering for your purification as Moshe commanded for their testimony. 45. But when he departed he began much preaching and made known the event so that Y'shua was not able to openly enter the city, but was outside in a deserted place. And they were coming to him from every place.
After this incident, rather than to focus on YHWH's commands, people instead began to view Yeshua as a "quick fix" to their problems....Yes, Yeshua died for our SINS, but we must still get past that and engage in certain certain behaviors to "return to God" - i.e., repent and begin to focus on HIS will when emerging from illness or turmoil in our lives....
What Yeshua did for us was awesome, and we close today's lesson with a very powerful passage to show just how awesome He was. Thank You YHWH for sending us Your Son!
Luke 8: 43. And a certain woman whose blood was flowing for twelve years who among the doctors, had spent all her money, but was not able to be healed by man. 44. She approached from behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. And immediately the flow of her blood stopped. 45. And Y'shua said, Who touched me? And while all were denying it, Shimon Keefa and those with him said to him, "Our Master, the crowds are pressing and thronging you, and you say, 'Who touched me?' 46. And he said, Someone touched me. For I know that power went out of me. 47. And when that woman saw that she had not escaped his notice, came while trembling and fell and worshipped him and said before all the people for what purpose she touched him and how immediately she was healed. 48. And Y'shua said to her, Have courage my daughter. Your faith has given you life. Go in peace.
Wow! What power Messiah's words had (and still have)! Not only did He heal the woman for her faith, but the statement "Your faith has given you life" spoke volumes!