Skip to main content

You get under my skin: Leviticus 13

When you are starting a society from scratch, everything has to be dealt with. Not only must property laws and morality laws be presented, but personal protection must be addressed. Additionally, laws and practices for public health have to be put in place. After all, you are taking a diverse lot of people that have lived semi-isolated lives and now they have to live together.

This is an important part of the context of Leviticus 13 (link). The people of Israel have been living in Egypt, and the truth is we do not know for certain the conditions they have lived with. We know that the conditions of their slavery were less than pleasant, but that does not clue us in for their life situation. It is also likely that the Egyptians handled enforcement of public health in their kingdom: sometimes by exile, sometimes by execution.

Coming back to the text, what is present here are the instructions of how to deal with infectious skin disease in the community. While some people will find a great many spiritual applications and parallels in this passage, I think this is a point where we need to remember one of the fundamental keys of Biblical interpretation:

The text does not have a meaning that it has never had.

When you consider what a text might possibly mean in the Scriptures, you must consider how the original recipients of it would have taken it. Would the original Israelite audience have thought of spiritual parallels or allegories for sin?

Not likely. They would have read it as directions for how to deal with literal people with literal illnesses, facing literal separation from their families and communities unless they got better from their illness. Which, given the situation, was not that likely.

Since we are looking at the health code of an ancient society, what do we do with it? Do we establish our religious leaders as health inspectors? (Speaking as a religious leader, I’ll pass on that.)

Instead, I would propose these ideas:

1. We should take infectious diseases seriously. In all honesty, there are times that we do not. We, instead, take habit, tradition, or custom more seriously. Take your responsibility not to share your diseases with others seriously.

2. Wash your dishes. And your clothes. That’s the ending segment of the chapter: keep clean stuff, so that you don’t get sick.

3. Get a professional opinion. This is the recurring theme of the chapter: the person who has the disease does not decide if it’s bad. A third-party person makes that call. Don’t assume you are lethal or safe. Get someone who knows.

These are just basic health tips. And those are worth knowing. Keep in mind that the Christian life is lived in the midst of the practical, physical world. It is not just about spiritual elements and heavenly considerations, but about the whole of existence.


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.

First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…