Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

Get the Skinny

  • Next up on the Leviticus parade of horribles is everyone's favorite topic of casual conversation: skin disease.
  • Old translations use the word leprosy, but modern leprosy doesn't hit Israel until long after Leviticus becomes a bestseller.
  • Scaly flakes. Itchy blotches. Bald spots. Open sores. That's what these rules are talking about—basically every symptom that has ever appeared in ads for medicated creams and ointments since 1953.
  • At this point, the Israelites are probably hoping that the reason for all these mucky details is to show how God can heal them.
  • Nope, not happening.
  • The whole point of this chapter is to help Israel (a) identify troublesome skin conditions and (b) make fun of the people who have them.
  • Most of the chapter describes how a priest should go about determining whether a person has the sort of skin disease that makes folks unclean.
  • If a person does have such a disease, the priest does not do anything to try to make go away. No prayers. No spells. No soothing anti-itch relief.
  • Instead, ways of dealing with skin disease include making the person stay at home for seven days or forcing him to tear his clothes and get out of town while shouting "Unclean! Unclean!"
  • Yeah.

Those Pants are Sick

  • Chapter 13 ends with a discussion of a problem that frankly sounds kind of weird in English—what to do if your clothing develops a skin condition.
  • The basic rule here is that you should burn your clothes if they get moldy and it doesn't wash out. Not bad advice for a society that doesn't have bleach.

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