Leviticus 14: How to clean a leper


If you have leprosy but have been cured, then you need to make a sacrifice and shave your entire body. Then a priest will put blood on your ear, thumb and big toe as well as oil poured all over you. They will kill one bird under running water, the other will be set free and you are now officially clean. If you can’t afford the offering, there is a cheaper way to do this, but it still involves shaving your body and having blood put on your ear, your thumb and your big toe and oil poured all over you.  If a house has leprosy, the priest will be called. The house evacuated. The house will be shut for 7 days. If the plagues spreads, the house will be scraped and any stones with leprosy on them will be taken away and disposed in an unclean place.  The house will be re-plastered and declared clean. Two birds will be offered. One killed under running water, the other set free.

In other words:

Priests are told how to treat leprosy and cleanses someone and how to clean houses through ritual.

Favorite bit:

The symbolism of the bird set free. Most of the ritual involves killing, blood sprinkling and oil pouring. But one of the birds is to be set free. I like that (Leviticus 14:6)

What’s Interesting:

That this entire chapter is about how to re-integrate someone into society after a bout of leprosy – which probably included a wide variety of skin ailments, the scariest of which was leprosy. But the concern that you might have leprosy was great enough to have these rules so it wouldn’t spread. And if it turned out to be something lesser, well then, you were free to resume normal activities after a cleansing. Again it’s an interesting way for a society without science to deal with a common problem.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Make sure to wash your hands and take regular baths (Leviticus 14)