“If a person has tzara‘at, he is to be brought to the cohen. The cohen is to examine him, and if he sees that there is a white swelling in the skin which has turned the hair white and inflamed flesh in the swelling, then it is chronic tzara‘aton his skin, and the cohen is to declare him unclean; he is not to isolate him, because it is already clear that he is unclean.”-Leviticus 13:9-11
In order to avoid being overwhelmed by the many details contained in the first half of chapter 13 of Leviticus, remember this simple and quick 2-part division.
Verses 1-8 deal with newly discovered instances of TZARA-AT or skin disease.
And verses 9-17 deal with chronic cases of TZARA-AT.
Instead of the word “chronic”, some Bible translations might use the word “old”.
But that’s just confusing.
The Complete Jewish Bible’s usage of the word “chronic” is most accurate I would say.
The idea is that one is suffering from an ongoing skin condition but it has not yet reached the point where the afflicted individual has been pronounced UNCLEAN.
Or it could be the case of someone declared UNCLEAN by the priest and he or she was sent outside of the camp, but later the symptoms cleared up and the victim was allowed to return to normal life.
However, yet again, the person’s TZARA-AT unfortunately returned resulting in having to be re-examined by the priest all over again.
For the chronic-type of skin conditions, a different set of criteria was called for.
If a person had to be re-examined after once being cured of TZARA-AT and if the result of that re-examination is that the person has again contracted TZARA-AT or as the Scripture says “if raw flesh is exposed”, then the person is on the spot pronounced UNCLEAN and has to IMMEDIATELY be sent OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
In other words, there is no 7-day waiting period granted to see if the condition might possible improve.
A reoccurrence of TZARA-AT led to an instant pronouncement of UNCLEAN and banishment from the community.
Now take a look at these two verses from the first part of Leviticus chapter 13:
“The cohen is to examine the sore on his skin; if the hair in the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to go deep into the skin, it is tzara‘at, and after examining him the cohen is to declare him unclean. If the bright spot on his skin is white, but it does not appear to go deep into the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the cohen is to isolate him for seven days.”-Leviticus 13:3-5
Now compare it with this verse:
“Then the cohen is to examine him, and if he sees that the tzara‘at has covered his entire body, he is to pronounce the person with the sores clean — it has all turned white, and he is clean.”-Leviticus 13:13
In the first set of verses (Leviticus 13:3-5), the skin (and hair) turning white is a bad sign.
Yet, in Leviticus 13:13, the skin turning white is considered to be a good thing.
In the first case where white skin and hair is considered to be bad, we’re talking about a condition known as LEUCODERMA which involves a loss of skin pigment.
This is obviously a skin disease.
However, in Leviticus 13:13, the “white skin” is referring to newly grown, fresh, healthy skin.
This is a sure-fire sign of healing and thus the person is declared CLEAN and can return home.
Although the prevailing belief system at the time dictated that TZARA-AT was an outward manifestation of one’s inner sin, Yeshua made it clear that we must not judge or assume that one’s illness or misfortune was a result of sin.
He even went so far as to say that in some cases one’s unfortunate physical condition was the plan of God for the good.
This is exactly what Yeshua said when asked about the blind man he had healed.
His disciples asked him was he blind because he sinned or his parents sinned?
Yeshua said neither, His condition was so the glory of God could be revealed at the appointed time.
Let’s also not forget that we are living in fallen world.
When sin came into the world, it brought along with it death and disease.
So in that sense, yes, there is a correlation between sin and death and disease, but that applies to everybody in a general sense.
However, it is wrong to assume there is a DIRECT CORRELATION between one’s affliction and a specific sin he or she may or may not have committed.
Remember, these Israelites who had just left Egypt were quite superstitious.
And they carried these superstitions with them into the Promised Land.
In those days, there was a horrible social stigma attached to contracting TZARA-AT and being put OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
It was devastating enough to be declared ritually UNCLEAN.
But to be forcibly separated from friends, family and even God must have been too much for one to bear.
What made matters even worse is that as far as the healthy Israelites were concerned, you deserved your TZARA-AT.
Things must have been equally devastating for the afflicted person’s family as well.
If the father of the family came down with TZARA-AT, it could result in utter poverty for the family, because he was the chief breadwinner.
If the mother was declared UNCLEAN due to TZARA-AT, that meant separation from her children, maybe for life.
To conclude, there are two important takeaways I think you should get from today’s post.
First, I think you should have a renewed respect and appreciation for just how awesome and important God’s HOLINESS is.
It is so important that not one iota of UNCLEANNESS can be allowed in His Presence.
Not only should we be honored that He has chosen to make us HOLY so we can be in fellowship with Him, but we should also have a renewed desire to live CLEAN and HOLY lives that are a reflection of our Father in Heaven.
This includes what we eat, the speech that comes out of our mouths, our sexual habits-every aspect of our lives should be a reflection of the Lord’s perfect HOLINESS.
Second, we should not be so quick to judge and assume that one’s illness or misfortune is directly connected to some sin he or she may committed.
The Lord may have His own good reasons for allowing the afflicted person to suffer.
It may be a test or the Lord may be preparing that person for some great work later on.
It is not for you to judge.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“As Yeshua passed along,
he saw a man blind from birth.
His talmidim asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned
— this man or his parents —
to cause him to be born blind?”
“His blindness is due neither to his sin
nor to that of his parents;
it happened so that God’s power
might be seen at work in him.
As long as it is day,
we must keep doing the work
of the One who sent me;
the night is coming,
when no one can work.
While I am in the world,
I am the light of the world.”