King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Leviticus 14

Of declaring the leper to be clean. (1-9) The sacrifices to be offered by him. (10-32) The leprosy in a house. (33-53) Summary of the law concerning leprosy. (54-57)

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Of declaring the leper to be clean

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:

3 And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;

4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water:

6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:

7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.

8 And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days.

9 But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean.

The sacrifices to be offered by him

10 And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil.

11 And the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

12 And the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD:

13 And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy:

14 And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:

15 And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand:

16 And the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the LORD:

17 And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering:

18 And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD.

19 And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering:

20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

21 And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil;

22 And two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.

23 And he shall bring them on the eighth day for his cleansing unto the priest, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the LORD.

24 And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD:

25 And he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:

26 And the priest shall pour of the oil into the palm of his own left hand:

27 And the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the LORD:

28 And the priest shall put of the oil that is in his hand upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering:

29 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the LORD.

30 And he shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get;

31 Even such as he is able to get, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, with the meat offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed before the LORD.

32 This is the law of him in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing.

The leprosy in a house

33 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

34 When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession;

35 And he that owneth the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house:

36 Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house:

37 And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall;

38 Then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days:

39 And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house;

40 Then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into an unclean place without the city:

41 And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place:

42 And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister the house.

43 And if the plague come again, and break out in the house, after that he hath taken away the stones, and after he hath scraped the house, and after it is plaistered;

44 Then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the plague be spread in the house, it is a fretting leprosy in the house; it is unclean.

45 And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place.

46 Moreover he that goeth into the house all the while that it is shut up shall be unclean until the even.

47 And he that lieth in the house shall wash his clothes; and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes.

48 And if the priest shall come in, and look upon it, and, behold, the plague hath not spread in the house, after the house was plaistered: then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed.

49 And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:

50 And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water:

51 And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times:

52 And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:

53 But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.

Summary of the law concerning leprosy

54 This is the law for all manner of plague of leprosy, and scall,

55 And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house,

56 And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot:

57 To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. Camp. The leper was not left to his own judgment to mix with society, as soon as he perceived himself cleansed. He had to send for a priest; and one of the most discerning among those who made it their employment to study in the court of the tabernacle, was commissioned to examine him. Grotius. — The sacrifice was offered without the camp, (C.) if it may be called a sacrifice. M. — That of Christ’s body was not yet instituted, which supplies all the rest. S. Aug. c. adv. i. 19. W.

Ver. 4. Sparrows. Heb. tsipporim. Sept. “little birds,” which the law only determines must be clean; such probably as might be procured most easily. The leper was to present them, and kill one. But the priest sprinkled with its blood the other bird, which was tied with a scarlet ribband to the cedar-wood and hyssop, in such a manner that its head and wings were not much wet, as it as to fly away. C. — The cedar prevents putrefaction, the hyssop is very odoriferous, the scarlet and the bird denote beauty and life, which qualities the leper must acquire. So the penitent regains the virtues he had lost, with interest. T.

Ver. 5. Living waters. That is, waters taken from a spring, brook, or river: (Ch.) not stagnant or rain water.

Ver. 7. Rightly. According to law. H. — The number seven is used to denote perfection, v. 15, &c. M. — Field. An emblem of the liberty which the leper would soon enjoy. H. — The pagans cast over their head the things which had been used for their purification. Virg. Ec. viii. 102. Fer cineres, Amarilli, foras, rivoque fluenti—Transque caput jace, ne respexeris. — There were afraid to trample upon them. Gell. x. 15. Metam. xiii. 954. There were also accustomed to set birds at liberty in honour of their gods. Demosthenes accuses Conon of having eaten those which had been used in his purification. Bonfrere believes that Moses does not here prescribe any sacrifice. Why then is a priest employed to make these aspersions? C.

Ver. 8. Body, even to the feet. Isai. vii. 20. H. — Probably with a pair of scissors. C. — The Egyptians priests did so every third day, that nothing impure might be concealed. Herod. ii. 37. The greatest caution was requisite to prevent the return of the leprosy; and therefore, after the first purification, (v. 4,) the leper is not allowed to go home, till a sufficient time has elapsed to ascertain whether he be radically healed, and then he must offer a sacrifice, v. 10. H. — But why so many prescriptions for a disease so involuntary, (C.) which must have caused the unhappy sufferer so much pain? H. — The Rabbins assert, that the leprosy was sent to punish some secret transgression, particularly some pride or detraction; as they maintain, that every illness is in punishment of some offence. Abarbanel. Grotius. — If was often the effect of intemperance or negligence; and the sacrifices were exacted, to make some reparation to God for remaining in the camp and near the tabernacle, at the commencement of the disorder. C. — This foul cutaneous disease was also very infectious, and the law was designed to impress people with a horror of it, and to teach them to prevent its ravages as much as possible. H. — A sparrow is slain, and the hair shaved, to indicate that all sinful affections must be cut off by the true penitent, while the sparrow, which is sent away into the desert, reminds him that he must live a stranger to pleasure, and perfectly mortified. D. — Days; without having any communication with his wife. Lyran.

Ver. 10. A sextary; Heb. log: a measure of liquids, which was the twelfth part of a hin; and held about as much as six eggs. Ch. — For each of the victims a sacrifice of flour and oil was required. H.

Ver. 12. Offered. Heb. “elevated, or waved,” as Ex. xxix. 24.

Ver. 13. Place; on the left hand of the altar of holocausts. C. i. 11. This sacrifice is different from that for sin, v. 19. C.

Ver. 14. Taking of the blood, &c. These ceremonies, used in the cleansing of a leper, were mysterious and very significative. The sprinkling seven times with the blood of the little bird, the washing himself and his clothes, the shaving his hair and his beard, signify the means which are to be used in the reconciliation of a sinner, and the steps by which he is to return to God, viz. by the repeated application of the blood of Christ; the washing his conscience with the waters of compunction; and retrenching all vanities and superfluities, by employing all that is over and above what is necessary in alms deeds. The sin-offering, and the holocaust or burnt-offering, which he was to offer at his cleansing, signify the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, and that of adoration in spirit and truth, with gratitude and thankfulness, for the forgiveness of sins, with which we are ever to appear before the Almighty. The touching the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, first with the blood of the victim, and then with the remainder of the oil, which had been sprinkled seven times before the Lord, signify the application of the blood of Christ, and the unction of the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost to the sinner’s right ear, that he may duly hearken to and obey the law of God; and to his right hand and foot, that the works of his hands, and all the steps or affections of his soul, signified by the feet, may be rightly directed to God. Ch. See C. viii. 23. — These ceremonies might serve to call to the leper’s recollection the benefit which he had received, and to distinguish him from others. C.

Ver. 17. Blood. Sept. and Syr. “upon the place of the blood,” on the person’s ear, thumb, and toe.

Ver. 21. Offering. Heb. “a trespass-offering to be waved,” v. 12. 24. — Oil. The same quantity of oil is required as v. 10. The rest is diminished two-thirds; only instead of the ewe and one lamb, two turtles or pigeons are substituted. H.

Ver. 31. Trespass. Heb. “sin,” v. 19. The Chal. and Sept. agree with the original text. M.

Ver. 34. If there. Heb. “and I send the plague;” whence some infer, that this leprosy was an effect of God’s special indignation against the owners of the house. Muis, &c.

Ver. 36. Become. If any thing was left in the house, it was deemed unclean, as soon as the priest had declared that the house was infected; and therefore, all was to be removed before he came, (C.) and might be used without scruple, unless some marks of leprosy appeared afterwards on the garments. C. xiii. 47.

Ver. 37. Paleness. Heb. “greenish.” H. — Such spots are often observable in damp churches and cloisters, and cause the plaster to fall off. It is probable that little worms produce this effect. To prevent these vermin from spreading, Moses orders the whole house to be demolished and carried away, if it cannot be otherwise purified. C. — Thus the plague is communicated not only by persons, but also by all the things which they have touched. The same signs of leprosy are found both in men and in houses. M.

Ver. 41. Scraped. Heb. “he shall scrape.” But the Sam. copy has, more properly, “they shall scrape.” Houbig.

Ver. 53. For the house, that it may be no more infected; and for the people, to whom it belongs, that they may carefully avoid offending God, the avenger of all sin. Heb. “you shall make an atonement for the house,” or for the sins of its inhabitants. H.

Ver. 54. Stroke. Heb. “scurf,” ulcers, wounds, &c. C. — “The leprosy of the head or beard.” Chal. Montan. T.

Ver. 57. Be known when. Heb. “to teach in what day, &c…. This is the law of leprosy.” H.