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scripture

 

CHAPTER 13

Scaly Infection.* 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2a When someone has on the skin a mark, lesion, or blotch which appears to develop into a scaly infection, the person shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his sons. 3If the priest, upon examination of the skin’s infection, finds that the hair on the infection has turned white and the infection itself appears to be deeper than the skin,* it is indeed a scaly infection; the priest, on seeing this, shall declare the person unclean. 4* If, however, the blotch on the skin is white, but does not seem to be deeper than the skin, nor has the hair turned white, the priest shall quarantine the afflicted person for seven days.* 5Should the priest, upon examination on the seventh day, find that the infection has remained unchanged in color and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall quarantine the person for another seven days. 6Should the priest, upon examination again on the seventh day, find that the infection is now faded and has not spread on the skin, the priest shall declare the person clean; it was merely a scab. The person shall wash his garments* and so become clean. 7But if, after the person was examined by the priest and declared clean, the scab spreads at all on the skin, the person shall once more be examined by the priest. 8Should the priest, upon examination, find that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection.

9When someone is afflicted with a scaly infection, that person shall be brought to the priest. 10Should the priest, upon examination, find that there is a white mark on the skin which has turned the hair white and that there is raw flesh in it, 11it is a chronic scaly infection on the skin. The priest shall declare the person unclean without quarantine, since the individual is certainly unclean. 12* If the scaly infection breaks out on the skin and, as far as the priest can see, covers all the skin of the afflicted person from head to foot, 13should the priest then, upon examination, find that the scaly infection does cover the whole body, he shall declare the afflicted person clean; since the person has turned completely white; that individual is clean. 14But as soon as raw flesh appears, the individual is unclean; 15on observing the raw flesh, the priest shall declare the person unclean, because raw flesh is unclean; it is a scaly infection. 16If, however, the raw flesh again turns white, the person shall return to the priest; 17should the latter, upon examination, find that the infection has indeed turned white, he shall declare the afflicted person clean; the individual is clean.

18If a boil appeared on a person’s skin which later healed, 19should now in the place of the boil a white mark or a reddish white blotch develop, the person shall be examined by the priest. 20If the latter, upon examination, finds that it is deeper than the skin and that the hair has turned white, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection that has broken out in the boil. 21But if the priest, upon examination, finds that there is no white hair in it and that it is not deeper than the skin and is faded, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days. 22If it has then spread on the skin, the priest shall declare the person unclean; it is an infection. 23But if the blotch remains the same without spreading, it is merely the scar of the boil; the priest shall therefore declare the person clean.

24If there was a burn on a person’s skin, and the burned area now becomes a reddish white or a white blotch, 25when the priest, upon examination, finds that the hair has turned white in the blotch and this seems to be deeper than the skin, it is a scaly infection that has broken out in the burn; the priest shall therefore declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection. 26But if the priest, upon examination, finds that there is no white hair in the blotch and that this is not deeper than the skin and is faded, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days. 27Should the priest, upon examination on the seventh day, find that it has spread at all on the skin, he shall declare the person unclean; it is a scaly infection. 28But if the blotch remains the same without spreading on the skin and is faded, it is merely the spot of the burn; the priest shall therefore declare the person clean, since it is only the scar of the burn.

29* When a man or a woman has an infection on the head or in the beard, 30should the priest, upon examination, find that the infection appears to be deeper than the skin and that there is fine yellow hair in it, the priest shall declare the person unclean; it is a scall. It is a scaly infection of the head or beard. 31But if the priest, upon examining the scall infection, finds that it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, though the hair in it may not be black, the priest shall quarantine the scall-stricken person for seven days. 32Should the priest, upon examining the infection on the seventh day find that the scall has not spread and has no yellow hair in it and does not seem to be deeper than the skin, 33the person shall shave, but not the scall spot. Then the priest shall quarantine the scall-diseased person for another seven days. 34If the priest, upon examining the scall on the seventh day, finds that it has not spread on the skin and that it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, he shall declare the person clean; the latter shall wash his garments, and will thus be clean. 35But if the scall spreads at all on the skin after the person has been declared clean— 36should the priest, upon examination, find that the scall has indeed spread on the skin, he need not look for yellow hair; the individual is unclean. 37If, however, the scall has remained unchanged in color and black hair has grown in it, the disease has been healed; the person is clean, and the priest shall declare the individual clean.

38* When the skin of a man or a woman is spotted with several white blotches, 39if the priest, upon examination, finds that the blotches on the skin are pale white, it is only tetter that has broken out on the skin, and the person therefore is clean.

40When a man loses the hair of his head, he is simply bald on the crown and not unclean.b 41So too, if he loses the hair on the front of his head, he is simply bald on the forehead and not unclean. 42But when there is a reddish white infection on his bald crown or bald forehead, it is a scaly infection that is breaking out there. 43If the priest, upon examination, finds that the infection spot on the bald area on the crown or forehead has the same reddish white appearance as that of a scaly infection of the skin, 44the man has a scaly infection and is unclean. The priest shall declare him unclean; his infection is on his head.

45* The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled,c and the mustache covered.d The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” 46As long as the infection is present, the person shall be unclean. Being unclean, that individual shall dwell apart, taking up residence outside the camp.e

Fungal Infection of Fabrics and Leather. 47When a fungal infection is on a garment of wool or of linen, 48or on the warp and woof* of linen or wool, or on a hide or anything made of leather, 49if the infection on the garment or hide, or on the warp or woof, or on any leather article is greenish or reddish, the thing is indeed a fungal infection and must be examined by the priest. 50Having examined the infection, the priest shall quarantine the infected article for seven days. 51If the priest, upon inspecting the infection on the seventh day, finds that it has spread on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather, whatever be its use, the infection is a harmful fungus; the article is unclean. 52He shall therefore burn up the garment, or the warp or woof, be it of wool or linen, or any leather article which is infected; since it is a harmful fungus, it must be destroyed by fire. 53But if the priest, upon examination, finds that it has not spread on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather article, 54he shall give orders to have the infected article washed and then quarantined for another seven days. 55If the priest, upon examination after the infection was washed, finds that it has not changed its color, even though it may not have spread, the article is unclean. You shall burn it with fire. It is a fray, be it on its inner or outer side. 56But if the priest, upon examination, finds that the infection has faded after the washing, he shall cut it out of the garment, or the leather, or the warp or woof. 57If, however, the infection again appears on the garment, or on the warp or woof, or on the leather article, it is still virulent and you shall burn the thing infected with fire. 58But if, after the washing, the infection has disappeared from the garment, or the warp or woof, or the leather article, the thing shall be washed a second time, and thus it will be clean. 59This is the instruction for a fungalf infection on a garment of wool or linen, or on a warp or woof, or on any leather article, to determine whether it is clean or unclean.

* [13:114:57] These chapters deal with scaly or fungal infections (Hebrew ṣāra‘at). The older translation “leprosy” is misleading because ṣāra‘at refers to not just one but several chronic and enduring skin diseases in human beings. The disease known as “leprosy” (Hansen’s disease) is probably not included among the conditions described in the chapter. Also the term ṣāra‘at refers to fungal growths in fabrics and on the walls of houses. The reason why these conditions, and not other diseases, were considered unclean may be that they were quite visible, associated with death (cf. Nm 12:912), and traditionally connected with punishment by the deity (Lv 14:34; Dt 28:27, 35; 2 Sm 3:29; 2 Kgs 5:2627; 2 Chr 26:1621).

* [13:3] The symptoms of white hair and depth (perhaps a subcutaneous lesion) do not clearly correlate with known skin diseases or lesions. It may be that the symptoms are a hybrid ideal that do not reflect reality and are the result of priestly systematization. The same judgment applies to the conditions in vv. 1011, 20, 25; cf. note on vv. 1217.

* [13:48] The symptoms here involve a flaky patch of skin that spreads after one week or stays the same after two. This correlates with many skin diseases, such as psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, certain mycotic infections, patchy eczema, and pityriasis rosea.

* [13:4] Quarantine…seven days: unless lesions have unmistakable symptoms of scaly infection, time is needed to distinguish disease from a condition which is following the natural course of healing and remission. Cf. vv. 5, 21, 26, 27, 31, 33, 50, 54; 14:38.

* [13:6] Wash his garments: even suspected scaly infections create some impurity, not just diagnosed infections (vv. 4546).

* [13:1217] This is not a paradox, namely where a limited lesion is impure but one that covers the whole body is pure. Rather, a white lesion that lacks ulcerated skin (“raw flesh”) is pure, even if it covers the whole body. This formulation reflects priestly interest in systematization.

* [13:2937] The symptoms in this unit may include either favus (a mycotic infection) or a protein deficiency syndrome (Kwashiorkor) where the hair may be fine and copper-red to yellow.

* [13:3839] This may refer to vitiligo, where patches of the skin and hair lose pigmentation.

* [13:4546] The symbolic association with death is found in the mourning activities in which those diagnosed with these afflictions engage: rending clothes, disheveling the hair, and covering the mouth. They are also excluded from the camp. Cf. examples of exclusion in Nm 5:14; 12:1415; 2 Kgs 7:310; 15:5; 2 Chr 26:21. Persons with scaly infections must have been able to pollute others in the priestly system, though this is not stated. Hence, they must cry out “Unclean, unclean!” to warn others of their presence.

* [13:48] Warp and woof: it is possible that the nature of the weave allowed fungus to grow separately along warp or woof. Otherwise, this may refer to the yarns before they are woven together.

a. [13:2] Lv 22:4; Ex 4:6; Nm 5:23; Dt 24:8; 2 Sm 3:29; 2 Kgs 5:1, 37, 11, 27; Mk 1:4045.

b. [13:40] 2 Kgs 2:23.

c. [13:45] Lv 10:6.

d. [13:45] Mi 3:7.

e. [13:46] Lv 14:3; Nm 5:2; 12:1415; 2 Kgs 7:310; 15:5; 2 Chr 26:21; Mt 26:6; Mk 14:3; Lk 17:1119.

f. [13:59] Lv 14:5457.




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