“The cohen is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering with the two-thirds-pint of olive oil, then wave them as a wave offering before Adonai.”-Leviticus 14:12
Today we’re going to take a look at the steps the METSORA (Skin Disease Carrier) went through to go from a state of CLEAN to HOLY.
From a teaching perspective, what makes this part of Scripture really great is that all of the details presented to us, in verses 10-20, are a perfect opportunity to review some key Hebrew words and a couple of key concepts that anybody who is studying Torah should know.
So I’m going to take a unique approach to this part of the Scripture today and allow the relevant key Hebrew words and concepts to connect the dots for us as we step-by-step study the procedures the METSORA had to go through to become HOLY.
Let’s get started.
KORBANOS refers to the several sacrificial offerings brought by the METSORA to the entrance of the courtyard.
While the METSORA was facing towards the Sanctuary (the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies), the priest would go forward carrying the KORBANOS brought by the METSORA.
AZARAH refers to the entrance to the courtyard.
Since the METSORA was still not HOLY, he was required to stand at the AZARAH and wait until the priest finished performing several sacrificial rituals.
TENUFAH refers to the Wave Offering.
The first offering was done by the priest for the METSORA and was a Wave Offering.
The priest held the lamb and the two-thirds pint of oil together shoulder high and moved them overhead side to side and up and down.
ASHAM refers to the Reparation Offering (Most Bible translations will call it a “Guilt Offering”).
The ASHAM was the sacrifice offered up as a Wave Offering.
It was usually offered up for the following reasons:
-Trespassing against holy property
-Making a false oath
-Causing injury to a third party
-A suspected trespass
In the case of the METSORA purification rituals, it was for a suspected trespass that the ASHAM was offered up (as a Wave Offering) here.
It wouldn’t make any sense to offer up an ASHAM for any of the other reasons listed.
The METSORA knows he has sinned (because he has contracted a skin disease) but has no idea what sin he might have committed.
Thus, an ASHAM was offered up.
TZARA-AT is the Hebrew term for any of the variety of skin diseases.
It does NOT mean “leprosy”.
TZARA-AT was considered a spiritual disease, because the skin infection was considered a punishment from God.
Hence, we can easily see the connection between TZARA-AT and the ASHAM sacrifice, because if one hadn’t trespassed against God in some way, one wouldn’t get TZARA-AT in the first place.
Another point that needs to be made is that for the METSORA purification rites, the ASHAM was required!
In other situations, the ASHAM (along with the ZEVAH) could be offered up voluntarily depending on the situation, but NOT for the METSORA purification rites.
It was 100% required!
This may be strong Scriptural evidence that TZARA-AT was indeed the result of some kind of sin committed against God.
LASHON HARA means malicious gossip.
The ancient rabbis considered LASHON HARA to be akin to murder and this sin was considered to be the number one reason why somebody contracted TZARA-AT.
SEMICHAH refers to the action of laying hands on the sacrificial animal.
Although, we aren’t told so here in Leviticus 14, the MISHNAH tells us that after the priest performed his several sacrificial rituals (of which one of them was the wave offering), the ASHAM sacrificial lamb was brought back to the METSORA who laid his hands on the not-yet-killed lamb.
SEMICHAH signifies the following two things:
– A transfer of ownership of the animal from the worshipper to the Lord (the animal literally becomes the Lord’s HOLY property via this procedure).
-The sin guilt of the worshipper is transferred to the sacrificial animal who will now bear the sins of the worshipper.
THE NORTH SIDE OF THE ALTAR
The ASHAM sacrificial lamb is taken to the north side of the altar where it is slaughtered.
Why the north side?
Because of these Scriptures:
“He is to slaughter it on the north side of the altar before Adonai; and the sons of Aharon, the cohanim, are to splash its blood against all sides of the altar.”-Leviticus 1:11
“Tell Aharon and his sons, ‘This is the law for the purification offering: the purification offering is to be slaughtered before Adonai in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is especially holy.”-Leviticus 6:18
“They are to slaughter the guilt offering in the place where they slaughter the burnt offering, and its blood is to be splashed against all sides of the altar.”-Leviticus 7:2
PURIFICATION BY BLOOD & OIL
After the ASHAM lamb is slaughtered, some of its blood is splashed on the altar and then dabbed on the right ear lobe, the right thumb and the right big toe of the METSORA.
Next, some olive oil is taken from the flask of oil that was brought and sprinkled in the direction of the Holy of Holies.
Afterwards, as was done with the lamb’s blood, the oil is dabbed on the right ear lobe, the right-thumb, and the right-big toe of the METSORA.
The meaning of this ritual is that the METSORA was purified from head to toe…the whole person had now been purified.
Keep in mind that these were the exact same procedures used to consecrate the priests into the priesthood (see Leviticus chapter 8).
OIL APPLIED TO THE CROWN OF THE HEAD
Next, the METSORA, who is still standing at the AZARAH (entrance to the Tabernacle Courtyard), has oil poured over the crown of his head.
It was believed that by pouring the oil AFTER the blood of the lamb was dabbed on the right ear, thumb, and toe of the METSORA, in some way, the oil protected the blood so it could do its atoning work.
THE OLAH, MINCHAH, & HATTA-AT
The OLAH refers to the “Burnt Offering”.
The MINCHAH refers to the “Grain Offering” (almost always offered together with the OLAH).
The HATTA-AT refers to the “Purification Offering” (almost all Bible translations will call this the Sin Offering).
Finally, finally, finally, the METSORA is now allowed to enter the courtyard and assume his rightful role in participating in the OLAH (male lamb), MINCHAH, and HATTA-AT (female lamb) sacrifices.
Contrast these offerings with the first offering, the ASHAM, which was performed entirely by the priest because the METSORA was not yet clean enough to participate.
After, these three sacrifices are performed, the METSORA (I shouldn’t even be calling him a METSORA at this point) is now finally HOLY.
Verses 21-32 inform us that if the METSORA is poverty-stricken and cannot afford lambs for the OLAH and HATTA-AT sacrifices, he can substitute birds instead.
The METSORA was forced to do this more often than not.
Think about it, because he was forced to live outside the camp, he wasn’t able to work or tend to his flock.
However, under no circumstances could he substitute a bird for the first ASHAM offering.
The initial ASHAM offering had to be a lamb.
Alright, let’s close.
After the METSORA offered up the last of the required sacrifices for his UNCLEANNESS, he (or she) is finally eligible to be welcomed back into Israelite society.
And much more important, the former outcast now has his relationship with YHVH restored.
He is no longer a METSORA.
He has indeed been born again!
After such a terrible ordeal, the relief the former METSORA felt at this moment must have been quite exhilarating!