Make Leviticus Great Again – Part III (Leviticus 13)

The ritual impurity laws continues in Leviticus 13, and just as Part I and II, it is linked to the Fall in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). I know it is difficult for the 21st Century Western culture to pick up these clues, because we have not been taught this way. This has not been an attempt by today’s preachers and teachers to deceive anyone. The idea is we must get into the mindset of ancient Jews.

How in the world are laws about skin diseases relevant to the Garden scene? This text speaks of the examination by the priests, being declared unclean and requirements of the impure.

  • They are to be separated from the community (13:4-5, 11, 26, 31,-33, 46, 50)
  • They must wear torn clothes (13:45), burn infected garments (13:52, 55-58), and in some cases washed and quarantine clothing (13:53-54)
  • They must not fix their hair (13:45)
  • They must cover their mouth and cry out “Unclean, unclean” (13:45)

It’s pretty radical imagery if you consider it. Imagine if you had to do just one of these multiple requirements. You would be humiliated at the least. It’s an absolutely shameful lifestyle. Bring that sense of shame into the gospels of Jesus and why it was such a big deal for a leper to be healed. Sit on that for a moment.

These last purity laws are about man (אדם – a-dam – v. 2) and his skin. It isn’t that women couldn’t be infected, but this is supposed to bring to mind the effects of Adam’s sin, which had to do with the skin. Let’s begin with what is said about Adam and Eve before the Fall.

Genesis 2:25, Both the man and his wife were naked (ערזם), yet felt no shame(emphasis mine)

So what happened after the Fall? The first thing stated…

Genesis 3:7, Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked (עיזם); so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (emphasis mine)

Note: Naked in 2:25 (ערזם) is a different Hebrew word for naked than 3:7 (עיזם) and it used in a different way. The later is found in Deuteronomy 28:48, which speaks of those who have been punished for their lack of trust and obedience to Yahweh. The naked (Gen. 3:7; Deut. 28:48) are those under God’s judgment. It is used of shame.

  • Ezekiel 16:39, I will hand you over to them, and they will level your mounds and tear down your elevated places. They will strip off your clothes… (emphasis mine)
  • Ezekiel 23:29, They will treat you with hatred, take all you have worked for, and leave you stark naked(emphasis mine)

Soon after, Yahweh comes to the garden calling out to man (אדם – a-dam – 3:9), “Where are you?” Note the response of Adam.

  • Genesis 3:10, And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked (עיזם), so I hid.” (emphasis mine)

What have we said about repeated words? They are intended to make us take notice. The word naked is used three times in this scene (3:7, 10, 11). In Exodus 28:42, the people were commanded to make tunics (shorts) for the priests to cover their nakedness when they climbed to make sacrifice (Ex. 20:26). By doing this they would keep the priests from guilt and death! And this also links to the sin of Noah, when he exposed himself after getting drunk (Gen. 9:20-24). The Noahic narrative brings to mind Genesis 1-3, and will play a major part of my next blog. For now, take notice of the guilt and shame of Noah’s nakedness. As the Creator covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness with skins, it was two of the sons of Noah who covered their father’s nakedness.

Are you seeing the connections?

  • The horror of man (a-dam) learning he was naked and the horror of man (a-dam) learning he had a skin disease. Both are unclean before a holy God!
  • Once man (a-dam) and woman sinned they were banished from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:23-24) and the presence of the Creator. So also, when man (a-dam) learned of their skin disease, they too were to live outside the camp (Lev. 13:46).
  • Leviticus also speaks about the contamination of the unclean person’s clothing (Lev. 13:52-54). So too, Adam and Eve tried to make clothing to cover their nakedness (Gen. 3:7), what appears to be unaccepted, as the Creator made them clothing out of the skin (עזר) of animals (Gen. 3:21). The same Hebrew for skin (עזר) diseases (Lev. 13).

The human skin demonstrates shame since the Fall of mankind and their need for cleansing and purification. We can make our feeble attempts to make right our sin and guilt, as Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together, but only God can cover our wrongs through sacrifice. Animals were only a temporary fix, but the promise in the Garden was one of the seed of woman (Gen. 3:15) who would come and crush the head of the snake. This is none other than Jesus Messiah (Heb. 10:3-10). The Savior has come! Only He will cleanse us of our sins and remove our guilt and shame. We can try to do it of our own works, but they will fail and be unacceptable (Eph. 2:1-10).

If you have not received this cleansing, your Creator is pursuing you. God does not want to leave us in our sin. The Father gave His one and unique Son (Jn. 3:16) to cloth us with His glory! It is interesting that baptism is used as a metaphor of clothing (Gal. 3:27).

Every week, our church partakes of the Lord’s Supper. It is a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus and the blessings we now share. We still fail and uncover our sinful desires, yet we continue to run to God in our shame. Our loving Savior is waiting with holy garments to cover our guilt and shame.

What a magnificent God!

*All Scripture quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

*Blog resources: The Pentateuch as Narrative by John H. Sailhamer; Adam and Israel by Seth D. Postell

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