Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

Moldy Oldies

  • House arrest. Exile. Public humiliation. The only thing missing is Nelson Muntz pointing his finger at someone with a skin disease and saying, "Ha ha!" 
  • Things don't get much easier if your blotchy flaky skin clears up. When a priest decides that things are all clear, that means—surprise!—sacrifices galore.
  • Sin offering. Burnt offering. Grain offering. Reparation offing. In short, a lot of offerings because getting a skin condition is a Big Deal, especially right before the ancient sacred ritual known as Prom.

Burn, Baldy, Burn!

  • Part of the purification process involved shaving off all body hair. On the one hand, it symbolizes total cleansing and renewal. It also gives purified skin condition swim team a real competitive advantage.
  • Another part of the purification process involved getting two birds. One bird was sacrificed. The priest then dipped the living bird in its blood and sprinkled the blood seven times on the person being purified. At the most basic level, this taught that becoming ritually clean could be just as gross as having a skin condition.
  • Remember how the last chapter said that clothes could have a skin condition? Now it's a house. Today we would call this a mold problem and sue someone for a million shekels. Back then, they removed the moldy stones. If the problem continued, say goodbye to your house.
  • The purification ritual for a moldy house also involves the dead-bird/live-bird dip-and-sprinkle. The living bird is then let free to fly to the nearest animal psychiatrist for post-traumatic stress disorder therapy.

That's Not Funny—That's Sick!

  • Once again, puns galore. For ancient Israelites, this chapter is the symbolic equivalent of buying a tube of Dead Sea Salt Psoriasis Cream.
  • The Hebrew word for a skin condition is a pun on the term for someone who talks smack about another person. In the book of Numbers, God turns the skin of Moses's sister Miriam white after she disses her brother for marrying a black woman.
  • One big reason for all the fooferah in chapters 13 and 14 is that skin conditions and household mold remind Israelites of rotting flesh. The purification ritual is like shooting a zombie in the head—a triumph of life over death.
  • The kill-and-dip pigeon twins are a way of telling sick people that, well, stuff happens. Israelites read this ritual as a reminder that only God knows why bad stuff happens to one bird while the other gets to live.
  • It's like the punchline of the book of Job, which, by the way, has even more sores and rashes than you get here.

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