BIBLE STUDY SERIES #257, 258 and 259

20 October, 1996

PURIFICATION AFTER CHILDBIRTH

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies has brought us, in sequential order of Scriptural passages, from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12 down the generations of his progeny, through Isaac, the child of promise and Jacob (re-named Israel), to the tribal gathering at Mount Sinai, following Israel's emergence from their Egyptian bondage experience. Moses is acting as the intermediary between the nation which has agreed to become the national wife of Yahweh (Jehovah), The Almighty God, and God Himself.

There is a set of chapters in the Book of Leviticus which deals with laws regarding uncleanness for that is the opposite of holiness, and God's selected servant nation must be holy. This set is comprised of chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14. The choice of certain animals which are permitted because they are classed as "clean" for use as food, and avoidance of the eating of other animals which are listed as forbidden for food, comes within this topic, along with other aspects of the subject. We have, on our last few programmes, been examining the "Food Laws" found in Leviticus 11, and specifically the regulations given by The Almighty regarding the specified selection of certain beasts, aquatic life, birds and locusts for food and the avoidance of others.

Because we, of the British-Israel-World Federation, assert that the vast majority of today's descendants of those ancient Israelites are now found among the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred nations and peoples of the earth, we believe that these health laws still apply to such people, even though they are taught by misinformed religious leaders that they are not required to obey such laws. As I have previously explained, Christ ordered the keeping of the (Old Testament) Laws, in Matthew 5:17-19 among other references.

We come now to Leviticus 12, a much shorter chapter which moves us along to another aspect of ceremonial uncleanness, namely that encountered in child-bearing. Let us read this chapter 12 now, following which we will examine some commentaries which explain noteworthy aspects of the passage.

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.

In considering this chapter, I have found The New Bible Commentary to hold a most satisfying summary explanation. That Commentary has a note regarding this chapter which it will be profitable for us to hear and to consider. It states: "The command to be fruitful is given in Gn. i. 28 and renewed to Noah after the flood (Gn. ix. 1). We are expressly told that it was obeyed by the post-diluvian ancestors of Abram (ix. 11, 13, etc.). The consistent attitude of the Old Testament may be summarized in the words of Pss. cxxvii. 3, cxxviii. 3f. Fruitfulness was a sign of divine favour; barrenness was regarded as a reproach (Gn. xxx. 24). Consequently, the laws given here and elsewhere regarding the marital relationship and parenthood are both impressive and significant. The only adequate explanation of the seeming anomaly presented by the command to be fruitful, the joy attending the realization of parenthood, and the uncleanness which is associated with it and which finds its most pronounced expression in the prolonged purification required of the mother after she has performed the high function of womanhood, must be found in the fact of the fall and the curse pronounced on woman immediately after it. Pain and suffering were to be the accompaniment of motherhood (Gn. iii. 16). Regarding Adam we read; 'And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image' (Gn. v. 3). When this took place Adam was a fallen and sinful being. He was under the curse pronounced by God 'in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die' (Gn. ii. 17). So of Adam, and of all but one (Enoch) of his descendants mentioned in Gn. v, the last word spoken is 'and he died'.

From this it follows that, although the birth of a child is a joyous event, it is also a solemn one. For the birth of the child will inevitably be followed ultimately by its death, and by eternal death unless the child is made an heir of life through the redemption which is in Christ. It is in this sense that we must understand David's words, 'Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me' (Ps. li. 5). David is not here reflecting upon the virtue of his own mother; she may have been a paragon among women. He is thinking of that inherited taint, that original sin, which she had transmitted to him and which was the root cause of the grievous sin against womanhood of which he is so painfully conscious at the time of composing the Psalm. Consequently, according to the law, everything connected with parenthood is treated as unclean, and especially as rendering the person unfit for the performance of religious duties. In fact the strictness with which anything which suggests the sexual and sensual is banned from the worship of God (Ex. xix. 15, xx. 26; Lv. xv. 16-18) is one of the most noteworthy characteristics of the religion of Israel and distinguishes it most sharply from the religions of the neighbouring peoples who worshipped gods who were male and female and even made orgiastic (fertility) rites a prominent feature in the worship of these gods.

In the case of the birth of a male child, the uncleanness of the mother as far as the home is concerned lasts until the eighth day, when the rite of circumcision is to be performed on her son (cf. Gn. xxi. 4). Then for thirty-three days she is still to be unclean as far as public religious duties are concerned. In the case of the birth of a female both periods are doubled. No reason is assigned. Since this is described as a period of uncleanness, the explanation is probably to be sought in connection with the considerations mentioned above. It does not seem probable that the reason is purely physical or biological. At the termination of this period of forty or eighty days she is to bring a yearling lamb for a burnt offering and a fowl for a sin offering, or two fowls, if she cannot afford a lamb. Cf. Lk. ii. 23. The specifying of the age of the lamb is exceptional (Ex. xii. 5, xxix. 38; Lv. ix. 3, xiv. 10, etc.) and is usually stated in the case of sacrifices for the feast days. The concluding words are impressive: 'and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean (8).'"

I think that the succeeding paragraphs of this note give advice which has generally passed from the scene in many a family in our generation, but which might well be viewed with agreement by Christian parents. The Commentary indicates that the current view held by many is that children are born good, and ought to be allowed to grow up "naturally", with a minimum of parental guidance. However, it explains that Christian parents, realising the truth, will pray earnestly that their children, who have been born in sin, may be 'born again'. Such parents will pray that they may be enabled to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The Commentary concludes this section with the words "Guidance, restraint, discipline and religious instruction are quite as essential as self-expression, in most cases far more essential."

We might close today's study with the prayerful meditation which is embodied in that advice, for the family and the nation are not existing independently from The God Who created them. As well as being responsible for our own conduct, we, as Christians, are prayerfully responsible to seek opportunities to influence, in a Godly way, the conduct of those around us.

27 October, 1996

LEPROSY

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12 has brought us, in sequential order of Scriptural passages down through the record of the generations of his progeny. We have followed the Biblical accounts through the lives of Isaac, the child of promise and Jacob (re-named Israel). The tribes of Israel have been gathered at Mount Sinai, following Israel's emergence from their Egyptian bondage experience. Now, having traced the account through the Book of Exodus, and the first chapters of the Book of Leviticus, we are continuing to study the situation wherein Moses is acting as the intermediary between The Almighty God, Yahweh (Jehovah) and the nation which has agreed to become His national wife. Part of that arrangement is the acceptance by the nation of Israel, as a holy people, of God's Laws, among which are those which pertain to ceremonial cleanliness. We are presently examining those laws found in Leviticus chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14 which form a series dealing with that subject as it applies in matters of foods, child-bearing, and leprosy. Today, we have arrived at Leviticus 13:1 which deals with the third of these divisions, that of the disease of Leprosy. The Companion Bible note on the word indicates that it comes from the Hebrew "zar'ath", from "zar'a", to strike down, a leper being one stricken of God. From this information concerning the original Hebrew word, by the way, I would be willing to consider the possibility that more than one disease was in those days given this label, for there exists the alternative possibility that the meaning of the word could in those days have been extended to cover some other medical conditions as well as what we now distinguish by that label. That Companion Bible reference adds, incidentally, that this is "One of the four points which Christ endorses Leviticus as being written by Moses."

Leprosy is no longer the incurable disease that it was in the centuries and millennia of past history, but in order to understand the Biblical account, we have to transport ourselves in mind back to the days when there was no known cure for one who encountered this disease, outside of the miraculous cures such as the sign granted to Moses in the incident found in Exodus 4:6, and that occasion described in II Kings 5 in which Na'aman, captain of the host of the king of Syria sought a cure at the door of the house of Elisha the prophet, or those cures wrought by Our Lord at the time of His First Advent to signal a witness concerning His divinity. Because it was thought to be incurable, leprosy became, in Biblical times, an easily understood symbol for the condition of Sin which had likewise fastened its grip upon fallen mankind. We shall have a rather long passage of some 59 verses in this 13th chapter of Leviticus, but fortunately many of these are short statements. Perhaps if I read some of our Scripture passage through we will have a clearer understanding of both the remarkably modern medical practicality of the measures listed at that ancient time, and also the consequent strictures given for the Camp of Israel as it journeyed through the Wilderness towards The Promised Land.

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.

Our time has expired for today's study. May I leave with you for this week's meditation the reminder that Jesus Christ stated in John 14:12 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." Surely, compliance with His laws of nature in the medical field does not contradict those mighty words of compassion.

3 November, 1996

LEPROUS GARMENTS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies which began with God's Call to Abram, back in Genesis 12, has brought us down the generations of his progeny Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Jacob's twelve sons, the Patriarchs of the Tribes of Israel. We watched, in our minds' eye as God led them down into Egypt, there to become acquainted with the civilization of that famed land, its arts and science, its social structure, government and military, and, along with all these, the idolatry of the people. Israel, having just passed through the miraculous experience of The Exodus, must now detach their minds from those religious errors which had of late surrounded them, as, encamped about the foot of Mount Sinai, they now receive instructions from Yahweh (Jehovah), The Almighty God.

We had read from the first portion of Leviticus 13 on our last study, as far as verse 39; a passage which describes the diagnostic medical aspects of leprosy which would be of concern to Israelites because in those days it was considered incurable, and was taken as a symbol for the contamination of sin. The Companion Bible note explains at Leviticus 13:45: "'Unclean, unclean.' to emphasize the condition. Leprosy is the great type of sin: and teaches that the sinner is not only lost and ruined on account of what he has done, but on account of what he is. The former needed atonement to procure judicial righteousness, but the latter requires a Divine act and cleansing to give him an imputed righteousness. The former we have through Christ's atonement, the latter we have from God in Christ. It is not enough to confess what we 'have done' or 'left undone'; there must be also the confession 'there is no health in us'".

The Israelites, having undertaken their position as a holy people, the people separated to the service of The Almighty God, were placed in the position wherein they must be enabled to diagnose this disease.

The Egyptians of those days had medical knowledge which might be considered advanced for their times. A quotation from "The Story Of Medicine", by Roberto Margotta illustrates the point: "Besides inscriptions in hieroglyphics and Greek and Roman sources, information derives in the main from what are called the medical papyri, writings exclusively medical in content. The papyri found by George Ebers and Edwin Smith are of most interest. That of Ebers, discovered at Luxor in 1873, which can be dated to the period 1553-1550 BC, is a collection of texts which probably originated in the old empire (3300-2360 BC), from the time of the first eight dynasties whose proud rulers built the pyramids of Cheops, Chefren and Mycerinus as testimonies to their power." The reference states that "The first doctors in the Nile valley were priests" and it also mentions Imhotep, who was the chief minister of King Djoser, describing him in the words "famous as an architect and as a builder of pyramids, but who was also a great doctor; he was deified by the Egyptians and the Greeks identified him with Asklepion, now more commonly known by his Latin name Aesculapius, their god of medicine. It may well be that some of the prescriptions in this papyrus were originated by Imhotep." A beautifully printed copy of a page of hieratic writing recording early medical treatment in the Surgical Papyrus forms a sample which shows the state of Egyptian medical treatment about 1700 B.C.. For those who may be interested, it is found on page 150 of "Ancient Egypt", printed by The National Geographic Society.

Thus any instructions in the field of medicine which the Israelites were presently receiving from God at Mount Sinai would have been in addition to all that had been previously accumulated, and added thereto. We ought not, therefore, to judge the brevity of the contents of those Levitical chapters which presently form the focus of our studies in isolation from those other background sources. Had not Moses the national leader of these Israelites been instructed in all such matters? We read in Acts 7:22 that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds." Thus, when we read the medical references of Leviticus 13 we must see these verses as revelation which may be, for God's holy people, the necessary ceremonial aspect of a much wider body of knowledge of those times concerning such diseases. As with the Egyptians, the Israelitish priesthood was entrusted with the tasks associated with the medical profession.

Let us pick up our study where we left off last week, at Leviticus 13:40, and as we continue to read we may be impressed by the medical exactness of the instructions.

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.
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.

By such medical instructions given by The LORD to Israel at Mount Sinai, Israel is being publicly informed concerning the procedures required to halt the spread of plague. Far from incantations and dependence upon superstitions, these instruct God's people in a sequence of very practical and useful steps to be undertaken where the danger of contamination existed. For that time and place, they are exceedingly enlightened. Moreover, they contain within them certain aspects which will have prophetic significance as well, for they indicate the requirement to avoid contamination which teaches a spiritual lesson for this and subsequent generations within the nation.

As our time has about run its course for today, may I leave with you the thought that, just as, today, leprosy is curable, so it is with our sin. In Christ's gracious rescue of ourselves at the cost of His own life we are assured of the benefits thereof. As a sinless offering, death could not hold Him. Neither, in Him, can it ultimately retain its grip over any who form a part of His body. We shall continue these studies on a forthcoming programme.

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