The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), February 20
Germs spread quickly, especially in crowds. In order to protect the community from communicable disease the LORD enacted laws to identify and prevent their spread. Priests were given the responsibility of inspecting and distinguishing between what was communicable and what was not. Failure to correctly diagnose an individual’s infirmity would endanger the entire congregation.
Fourteen days of quarantine may seem like forever for those under observation, but that waiting period would ensure that a sore wasn’t a danger to others. Men are naturally selfish, and without accountability and isolation those with open sores would bring harm to the the community. Individual rights were to be sacrificed on the altar of public and communal safety.
Laws were also enacted to ensure that those who had been healed could return to communal living. After being examined by the priest they were to bring him “two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop” (Lev. 14:4). He would kill the one bird, sprinkle its blood on the healed person and the living bird, and then release the living bird. After that, the person would thoroughly wash, shave off all of his hair, change his clothes, and return to the camp, but he must remain outside of his tent for seven days. On the seventh day he would shave off all of his hair, wash his clothes and body, and “he shall be clean” (14:9). Then he would be presented before the LORD along with two lambs, some flour, and oil for atonement, unless he was poor; then the offering would be reduced.
Being newly shaved, washed, and clothed would identify the man as a healed man, and therefore welcomed back into the community.
Reading the various laws in Leviticus may seem trivial to the modern mind, but the laws reveal God’s intimate care for man’s personal and communal well-being.
Questions from today’s reading (Leviticus 12:1-14:32):
How do the childbirth purification laws reveal God’s care for women?
What do the laws regarding contaminated clothing reveal about life in the wilderness and God’s care?