Furthermore YHVH said to him, “Now put your hand inside your coat.” He put his hand in his coat; and when he took it out his hand was leprous, as white as snow. Then God said, “Now put your hand back in your coat.”-Exodus 4:6
In order to overcome Moses’ fears and doubts about the mission at hand, YHVH continues to demonstrate his miracle-working ability.
For the second sign, God commands Moses to insert his hand into his cloak and then pull it out.
When Moses does, the hand comes out grotesquely diseased.
Again, God commands him to insert and pull his hand out of his cloak.
This time, his hand comes out perfectly normal.
Most English translations will say his hand became “leprous”.
This is a mistake and here we have a perfect opportunity to address a common mistranslation.
The original Hebrew for what is generally translated as “leprosy” in the Bible is TZARA’AT.
TZARA’AT is NOT leprosy and does not refer to any one disease in particular.
Rather it is a general term for a whole range of skin diseases and abnormalities.
The truth is real leprosy, which is commonly called “Hansen’s disease” in medical circles was very rare.
After investigating ancient Egyptian public records and digging up thousands upon thousands of skeletons and mummies, there is practically zero evidence that leprosy reared its ugly head in Egypt until late into the 5th century.
There is some evidence that it existed in Canaan, but nothing to the extent that we are led to believe in movies and TV programs.
Overly dramatic scenes of large leper colonies who have been exiled from society are pure fiction.
So how did we come to translate TZARA’AT into leprosy anyway?
The error came about from a misunderstanding of the New Testament Greek word “LEPRA” which was used to translate the Hebrew word TZARA’AT.
In the Greek, LEPRA is a correct translation.
It is indeed a general term referring to a variety of contagious diseases.
However, what happened was the word LEPRA was English-ized into the word LEPROSY.
And as we all know, “leprosy” rather than referring to a variety of skin ailments, refers to a specific disease which is dramatically grotesque in appearance and fatal in outcome.
Think of the “elephant man” and you’ll get an idea of what real leprosy looks like.
Actually the proper Greek word for “leprosy” is “ELEPHANTIASIS”.
And this word is nowhere to be found in the New Testament because that’s not what it was.
Which means that those parts of the Bible that say Yeshua healed leprosy are flat-out wrong.
Now the spiritual takeaway of what God did with Moses’ hand is awesome.
It signifies that He is both the bringer of disease and a healer.
God can take the most unclean or defiled persons and purify them.