A time when the priests were the physicians

Leviticus 13

Friends, these times we live in are not the best of times but I can tell you there are those who lived in worse times. There is a time in the history of men, not so long ago, when the priest was the physician, the teacher, the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner. These times are far behind us except if you are living in a Muslim majority country where every law is based on the Koran, hadith or pronouncements by Imams. In Leviticus 13 we have the priest as the physician, the disease in question is leprosy and the one person giving medical advice, the scientist per excellence, is one YHWH. Why I find the scenario in this whole chapter wrong is the priests, Moses and Aaron, instead of just telling YHWH or whoever is issuing instructions to just deal with the disease once and for all for the benefit of us all, they are just there listening.

This chapter is 59 verses long on just the diagnosis of leprosy which I don’t think I will want to bore you with but that notwithstanding we will look at a few verses, just so that you know some of these things. They say knowledge is power and it is my intention to empower you ūüėÄ and I hope you shall allow me to do so.

First, leprosy

¬†also known as¬†Hansen’s disease¬†(HD), is a¬†chronic¬†disease caused by the¬†bacteriaMycobacterium leprae¬†and¬†Mycobacterium lepromatosis.¬†Leprosy is primarily a¬†granulomatous¬†disease of the¬†peripheral nerves¬†and¬†mucosa¬†of the¬†upper respiratory tract; skin lesions are the primary external sign

Now that you know what leprosy is, let us see what god instructs his priests to do and you will be grateful that we have physicians in our times.

3 The priest shall look at the mark on the skin of the body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is an infection of leprosy; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean. 4 But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and the hair on it has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate him who has the infection for seven days. 5 The priest shall look at him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the infection has not changed and the infection has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him for seven more days. 6 The priest shall look at him again on the seventh day, and if the infection has faded and the mark has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean.

You had to pray for the gods to smile on you so that you are not put under observation. It seems to me, nothing was done to you once the priest decided you are to be under observation. How change was expected after 7/14 days I don’t see how the upside of it though was if you were pronounced clean all you needed to do was wash your clothes!

9 “When the infection of leprosy is on a man, then he shall be brought to the priest. 10 The priest shall then look, and if there is a white swelling in the skin, and it has turned the hair white, and there is quick raw flesh in the swelling, 11 it is a chronic leprosy on the skin of his body, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean; he shall not isolate him, for he is unclean. 12 If the leprosy breaks out farther on the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of him who has the infection from his head even to his feet, as far as the priest can see, 13 then the priest shall look, and behold, if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce clean him who has the infection; it has all turned white and he is clean.

This verse left me confused. Is it that if your body is covered in leprosy you are no longer unclean?

17 and the priest shall look at him, and behold, if the infection has turned to white, then the priest shall pronounce clean him who has the infection; he is clean.

Am still confused. If a person has the infection how is he clean? Maybe someone understands this for I honestly do not!

24 “Or if the body sustains in its skin a burn by fire, and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a bright spot, reddish-white, or white, 25 then the priest shall look at it. And if the hair in the bright spot has turned white and it appears to be deeper than the skin, it is leprosy; it has broken out in the burn. Therefore, the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is an infection of leprosy.

Now here is where it gets a little complex. You have suffered and the priest has ruled it out to be leprosy. You know when things are thick if all the physician does is to look and diagnose!

45¬†‚ÄúAs for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and¬†the hair of his head shall be¬†uncovered, and he shall¬†cover his mustache and cry, ‚ÄėUnclean! Unclean!‚Äô¬†46¬†He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

If you really want to know the meaning of stigmatization, here it is proceeding from the mouth of YHWH, the all-powerful. How a person who is sick i expected to take care of themselves alone is beyond me unless YHWH had ideas of reaching them while the village is asleep or else what I see here is a community turning a blind eye to its problem. It’s like having a brother you all know exists but no one likes him so you purposefully ignore his existence. Maybe we can forgive the priests, it is god who commands and god must be right!

47 “When a garment has a mark of leprosy in it, whether it is a wool garment or a linen garment,48 whether in warp or woof, of linen or of wool, whether in leather or in any article made of leather,49 if the mark is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather, or in the warp or in the woof, or in any article of leather, it is a leprous mark and shall be shown to the priest. 50 Then the priest shall look at the mark and shall quarantine the article with the mark for seven days. 51 He shall then look at the mark on the seventh day; if the mark has spread in the garment, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in the leather, whatever the purpose for which the leather is used, the mark is a leprous malignancy, it is unclean. 52 So he shall burn the garment, whether the warp or the woof, in wool or in linen, or any article of leather in which the mark occurs, for it is a leprous malignancy; it shall be burned in the fire.

What I like with the good book is there is always the ridiculous in almost every page. You don’t have to look hard for it, they are always looking at you waiting to be discovered. And here we have a taste of the ridiculous! Why for the life of me would you quarantine a piece of cloth for 7 days and then take it to a priest to look? If the garment was worn by a person with leprosy or any ailment of the skin, for that matter, that causes oozing, it will be definitely on the cloth. Depending on how bad the infection was, a decision ought to be made whether cleaning would be sufficient or complete destruction and for this I truly see no need to see a priest unless the intention of god was to make priests so powerful as to control even the thinking of men!