In our study of Leviticus chapter 13, we learned two very important Hebrew words.
The first word is TZARA-AT.
Although most English bibles will translate TZARA-AT into “leprosy”, that is a big mistake.
TZARA-AT was NOT leprosy, but rather any of the wide variety of skin infections one could contract that were generally NOT life-threatening.
The second Hebrew word we learned was METSORA.
METSORA was the term applied to a person who was stricken with TZARA-AT and as a result had to be sent OUTSIDE THE CAMP of Israel.
If I were to attempt an English translation of METSORA, I guess I would say something along the lines of “an outcast due to skin disease“.
What’s important to remember is that the Hebrews have ALWAYS considered TZARA-AT to be a spiritual disease even though there doesn’t seem to be any clear Scriptural indication that that’s the case.
TZARA-AT was viewed as a physical judgement by God.
It was believed to be a visible sign of one’s inner UNCLEANNESS.
Logically, this leads us to the question of exactly what type of sins would cause TZARA-AT?
Well, according to the GEMARA, which is a Jewish commentary on the MISHNA (also itself a Jewish Commentary), there are 7 sins or bad character traits that can result in one being stricken with TZARA-AT.
They are as follows:
-An evil tongue or malicious gossip
-A vain oath
Now, out of these seven sins or character defects, which one do you think was considered to be the absolute NUMBER ONE SIN that caused TZARA-AT?
The answer is an “evil tongue” or “malicious gossip”.
In Hebrew it is LASHON HARA.
Talking evil about someone, or saying wicked things to harm a person’s reputation was considered worse than murder.
Why was LASHON HARA considered so serious it was considered even deadlier than murder?
Well, first of all, the TORAH tells us the Lord employed the agent of WORDS to create the universe.
God literally “spoke” creation into existence.
Also consider that Orthodox Jews have refrained from speaking God’s Holy Name YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH since around 300 B.C.
And they won’t tolerate someone using God’s personal name in their presence.
The point is the words that come out of our mouth are very powerful and must be chosen with care.
Even as I write this right now, I’m reminded this is an area I need improvement on.
Yeshua also talked about LASHON HARA when He said it’s not what goes into our mouths that make us UNCLEAN but what comes out.
During Bible times, whenever TZARA-AT manifested itself, LASHON HARA was considered to be the prime reason why.
This is interesting because as earthbound as Jewish thought was and is even today, the Hebrews did NOT consider the causes of TZARA-AT to be biological.
It was a reflection of one’s spiritual UNCLEANNESS.
And since the consequences of TZARA-AT were so devastating, the sin that caused the TZARA-AT must also have been devastating.
And the Jewish Sages believed that LASHON HARA was one of the most devastating sins of them all.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body,
but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
The tongue also is a fire,
a world of evil among the parts of the body.
It corrupts the whole body,
sets the whole course of one’s life on fire,
and is itself set on fire by hell.”
“Are you still so dull?” Yeshua asked them.
“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth
goes into the stomach and then out of the body?
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth
come from the heart, and these defile them.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN LEVITICUS CHAPTER 14