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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the March 4 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: March 4
<< Lev 10

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Leviticus 11-13    Listen Podcast

 

Hey! You can't eat that! (Leviticus 11:1-23)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
15 Every raven after his kind;
16 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
17 And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
20 All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
21 Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

For those Believers today who still believe that we are supposed to keep the Law of Moses as Believers, try this chapter on for size. Leviticus 11 gives us a list of foods that the Hebrews were permitted to eat, and another list that they were not. If you have Jewish acquaintances, you may hear them refer to "kosher" foods. "Kosher" or "Kashrut" comes from the Hebrew word "kaw-share´," which means fit, proper or correct. The word "kosher" can also be used, and often is used, to describe ritual objects that are made in accordance with Jewish law and are fit for ritual use. Here's a breakdown on food as practiced by observant Jews today based upon a combination of Old Testament Law and Rabbinical tradition:

Rabbinical Kosher and Non-Kosher Foods
(as practiced by observant Jews today)
BIRDS: NOT KOSHER
(UNCLEAN)
BIRDS: KOSHER
(OK TO EAT)
FISH AND SEAFOOD:
NOT KOSHER
(UNCLEAN)
FISH AND SEAFOOD:
KOSHER
(OK TO EAT)
Bat
Cuckoo
Eagle
Hawk
Heron
Kite
Lapwing
Ostrich
Owl
Pelican
Stork
Swan
Vulture
Capon
Chicken
Dove
Duck
Goose
Pigeon
Turkey
Catfish
Eel
Porpoise
Shark
Whale
Clam
Crab
Frog
Lobster
Oyster
Scallop
Shrimp
Snail

These have no fins or scales.

Anchovy
Bluefish
Butterfish
Carp
Cod
Flounder
Fluke
Haddock
Halibut
Herring
Mackerel
Pike
Porgy
Red Snapper
Salmon
Sardine
Sea Bass
Shad
Smelt
Sole
Trout
Tuna
Weakfish
Whitefish

These have fins and scales.

You will notice in the list above that some of the foods mentioned are not found in Leviticus 11. For that reason, many Messianic Christians today support the observance of Kosher laws as specified in scripture, but not those foods which are not specified in scripture. This practice is referred to as "Torah Kosher," to be contrasted with "Rabbinical Kosher" as specified in the list above. This larger list of foods came about through rabbinical tradition rather than Old Testament scripture. You will also find the list of clean/unclean foods in Deuteronomy 14:3-21 (see notes).

By the way, the word "abomination" is used ten times in this passage with regard to the eating of certain foods. That's an interesting problem for those who insist that we (Gentiles) are responsible for keeping God's law given to the Hebrews and yet do not follow these guidelines on diet.

This designation of meat that is "unclean" is not new here. You will recall that Adam and Eve apparently started out as vegetarians (Genesis 1:29-30, see notes). Yet, when Noah was loading the ark with animals, God gave specific ark-loading instructions to Noah regarding "clean" and "unclean" animals in Genesis 7:2 (see notes). It's actually not until after the ark experience that we see the first occurrence of a meat diet per God's instructions in Genesis 9:2-3 (see notes) as part of the Noahic Covenant. So...the differentiation of which animals are okay to eat or not actually goes back to Noah.

And...don't even touch these things! (Leviticus 11:24-40)

24 And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even.
25 And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
26 The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.
27 And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.
28 And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.
29 These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,
30 And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
31 These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.
32 And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.
33 And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
34 Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean.
35 And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.
36 Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
37 And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
38 But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.
39 And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.
40 And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.

It's also interesting to note that the Hebrews are told that they are considered unclean until evening if they even touch the carcase of an unclean animal. That instruction first appears in this chapter in verse 8, but is repeated with great detail in verse 24-40. That means that for the remainder of the day after touching the carcase of an unclean animal, the Hebrew was not to make physical contact with another Hebrew - not until that day had passed.

You will also notice the discussion of unclean animals coming into contact with vessels. The considerations in view here revolve around whether or not the vessels have porousity and whether or not they are wet or dry. These very detailed regulations are provided as guidelines to prevent their cookware from absorbing the impurities of unclean animals.

The wrap up on unclean animals (Leviticus 11:41-47)

41 And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.
42 Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.
43 Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

These last seven verses of chapter 11 make a strong emphasis regarding the importance of these unclean-animal mandates. You can see how much emphasis is placed upon them for the Hebrews - an inseparable part of the Mosaic Law. Peter actually quotes from Leviticus 11:44-45 when he says in I Peter 1:15-16 (see notes) "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."

For the women: Childbearing with a slight twist (Leviticus 12)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

You'll notice that the period of ceremonial uncleanness (no contact with sacred things) for the Hebrew woman after bearing a male child was 40 days, but 80 days after bearing a female child; we don't know why the difference. You'll also notice that during the first 7 days for a male child and 14 days for a female, no contact was to be made by the mother with others whatsoever; she was considered altogether unclean.

It seems apparent that God gave the Jews a heads-up on a disease that claimed the lives of as many as 20% of all women who bore children prior to the 19th century; this disease was called "childbed fever" back then, and today is known as "puerperal fever." It was observed that women who were isolated from others (i.e. home deliveries) rarely were infected, but women who went to a hospital for delivery had the highest incident of death from this disease. After extended research in the 19th century by the Hungarian doctor, Ignaz Semmelweiz, on the disease, he was able to determine that it was the contact with others after childbirth that caused the women to contract an infection which was often fatal. He discovered that the use of soap and water was not sufficient to remove dangerous bacteria from the hands of hospital staff caring for these women after childbirth. The greater the contact of these new mothers with people, the greater likelihood they had of contracting this disease. The extended period of ceremonial uncleanness for the women after the 7 or 14 days of total isolation was probably as much for the benefit of the child as for the mother. During this extended period her contact with others in public places was significantly reduced, even though she was not totally isolated.

This disease, puerperal fever, still exists today, though uncommon due to the use of anti-bacterial soaps and gloves. However, millennia before the use of special soaps and gloves, God knew that the best way to protect moms and babies was to just keep them isolated for several days after childbirth. It is ironic that in order to do so, the women were declared to be "unclean" and not the actual unclean people. Whatever...the moms were protected.

This child-bearing sacrifice at the end of the 40 or 80 days substantially increased the work load of the priests. If you consider the sacrifices given here to be made by the mother after bearing a child based on the estimated number of women bearing children during that period (600,000 or so women), you can imagine how busy the priests were at the Tabernacle for just this sacrifice alone. Let's face it: priesting was an all-day, tedious job!

At the end of the purification days, she brought a sacrifice to the priest to complete her cleansing process. The offering was to be a lamb, or in the case of those who were poor, two "turtles" (aka turtledoves aka doves) or two pigeons. Incidentally, we see in Luke 2:24 (see notes) that Joseph and Mary brought birds to sacrifice after the birth of Jesus instead of a lamb. This speaks to the fact that Joseph and Mary were not people of wealth.

Laws regarding the containment of leprosy (Leviticus 13:1-46)

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,
2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:
3 And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
4 If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days:
5 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more:
6 And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
7 But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again:
8 And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy.
9 When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought unto the priest;
10 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising;
11 It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is unclean.
12 And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever the priest looketh;
13 Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean.
14 But when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be unclean.
15 And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and pronounce him to be unclean: for the raw flesh is unclean: it is a leprosy.
16 Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto the priest;
17 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the plague be turned into white; then the priest shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: he is clean.
18 The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, and is healed,
19 And in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot, white, and somewhat reddish, and it be shewed to the priest;
20 And if, when the priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy broken out of the boil.
21 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
22 And if it spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague.
23 But if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not, it is a burning boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
24 Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning, and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot, somewhat reddish, or white;
25 Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin; it is a leprosy broken out of the burning: wherefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
26 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin, but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:
27 And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.
28 And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in the skin, but it be somewhat dark; it is a rising of the burning, and the priest shall pronounce him clean: for it is an inflammation of the burning.
29 If a man or woman have a plague upon the head or the beard;
30 Then the priest shall see the plague: and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; and there be in it a yellow thin hair; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a dry scall, even a leprosy upon the head or beard.
31 And if the priest look on the plague of the scall, and, behold, it be not in sight deeper than the skin, and that there is no black hair in it; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall seven days:
32 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague: and, behold, if the scall spread not, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the scall be not in sight deeper than the skin;
33 He shall be shaven, but the scall shall he not shave; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more:
34 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall: and, behold, if the scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin; then the priest shall pronounce him clean: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
35 But if the scall spread much in the skin after his cleansing;
36 Then the priest shall look on him: and, behold, if the scall be spread in the skin, the priest shall not seek for yellow hair; he is unclean.
37 But if the scall be in his sight at a stay, and that there is black hair grown up therein; the scall is healed, he is clean: and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
38 If a man also or a woman have in the skin of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots;
39 Then the priest shall look: and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; it is a freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean.
40 And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.
41 And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald: yet is he clean.
42 And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead.
43 Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh;
44 He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head.
45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.
46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

On top of everything else the priests had to do, they also served as health inspectors. This chapter deals with the dreaded disease of leprosy. Yes, that's right; the priests were responsible for protecting the Israelites from the contagious spreading of leprosy. In this chapter, directions are given on how the priest is to do just that. These detailed descriptions of oozing skin disorders might just take away your appetite. By the way, our word "leprosy" comes from a Greek word "lepra" which means a scaliness. The descriptions in Leviticus 13 may include more contagious skin ailments than just our modern formal definition for leprosy, but "leprosy" is the most descriptive word we have in English for the assortment of skin maladies being described in this passage. Really, any skin abnormality was tested by the priest, and those with perceived contagious skin diseases were quarantined. We have the description of the disease, as well as the regulations connected with it, in Leviticus 13, continuing on into Leviticus 14 (see notes). We see the regulations even applied to Miriam (Moses' sister) in Numbers 12:10-15 (see notes).

There were reckoned six different circumstances under which it might develop itself:

  1. without any apparent cause (verses 2-8)
  2. its reappearance (verses 9-17)
  3. from an inflammation (verses 18-28)
  4. on the head or chin (verses 29-37)
  5. in white polished spots (verses 38-39)
  6. at the back or in the front of the head (verses 40-44)

Lepers were required to live outside the camp or city (Numbers 5:1-4, see notes; Numbers 12:10-15, see notes). This disease was regarded as an awful punishment from the Lord (Naaman in II Kings 5:7, see notes and King Uzziah II Chronicles 26:20, see notes). I'm certain that Miriam (Numbers 12:10-15, see notes) would agree with that assessment after she had expressed criticism of her brother, Moses. As banished from the congregation of Israel for the period of infection, there was a code of conduct to which the leper must adhere. According to verses 45-46, whenever the leper saw someone approaching, the leper must warn that person by crying, "Unclean, unclean!"

What's to be done about the leper's clothing? (Leviticus 13:47-59)

47 The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment;
48 Whether it be in the warp, or woof; of linen, or of woollen; whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin;
49 And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:
50 And the priest shall look upon the plague, and shut up it that hath the plague seven days:
51 And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.
52 He shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woollen or in linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is: for it is a fretting leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.
53 And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin;
54 Then the priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is, and he shall shut it up seven days more:
55 And the priest shall look on the plague, after that it is washed: and, behold, if the plague have not changed his colour, and the plague be not spread; it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is fret inward, whether it be bare within or without.
56 And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof:
57 And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.
58 And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.
59 This is the law of the plague of leprosy in a garment of woollen or linen, either in the warp, or woof, or any thing of skins, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean.

Verses 47-59 deal with infected garments. Of course they were unclean also, and had to be dealt with according to these specific instructions. Having read this chapter, let's reconsider the implications of Isaiah 64:6 (see notes), "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." These "filthy rags" are certainly the rags lepers used to wrap their skin. How's that for filthy!

You'll see from these 59 verses that God gave the Hebrews exhaustive, specific instructions on evaluating skin diseases. For the safety of others, isolation was the only remedy until it could be determined that they were disease free.

I find verse 40 amusing, "And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean." But what about the man who has a receding hairline? Verse 41 deals with that, "And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald: yet is he clean." It stops being amusing between verses 42 and 44; that man lost his hair because of leprosy.

By the way, here are some guys who were thankful to be bald. In other words, sometimes you don't have leprosy at all; YOU'RE JUST BALD!


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner