Leviticus 12–13 Explained
These chapters are perhaps some of the most difficult of the Torah for modern people to understand much less to ascertain the relevance of, so often we pass over them without much thought. However, when we view them from a more drash or allegorical level of biblical interpretation, suddenly they take on a whole new meaning and are packed full of deep revelations pertaining to our perennial internal struggle against sin as well as with sin in the world around us we explain in the discussion below. Sin is not a popular subject to discuss, but if we are to rise to the spiritual level for which Elohim created us—to be in some sense like him (1 John 3:1-3).
The Hebrew Terms Relating to This Passage Defined
- Tzaraas: a skin disease (improperly translated as “leprosy” in some Bibles). This Hebrew word means “to be struck with leprosy” (BDB) or “to smite heavily, to strike, or scourged of Elohim” since the leprosy was viewed as a special divine infliction (Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, pp. 248–249) against such sins as jealousy (cf. Miriam, anger, lack of full compliance with Elohim’s commands (cf. King Uzziah), and covetousness (cf. TWOT, p. 777).
- Niddah: this refers to someone who is separated or menstruous.
- Tumah: this refers to spiritual impurity.
- Metzora: one with a skin disease; Metzora is a contraction of the Hebrew word motzi and ra meaning “one who speaks slander.”
The Issues Explained
Leviticus chapters 12 and 13 deal with the subject of human contamination and delineates what could seem to be a lot of irrelevant and archaic, if not arcane, regulations relating to childbirth and skin diseases. Why is YHVH so concerned about “human contamination”? What is the larger picture here to help us gain understanding into the Father’s intent and heart behind these Torah-laws? The Jewish sages teach that man must not forget that even the gnats and earthworms preceded him in the creation. This is to teach man humility. But conversely, each stage of Elohim’s creation added something to that which had been created previously and that man was the final, crowning touch that would pull all the creation together to fulfill its purpose of spirituality in the performance of Elohim’s will. Man is therefore the last of the creatures to be created, but the first in significance because he is the purpose of it all and that if man is not worthy of his calling, then he has added nothing of substance to YHVH’s handiwork (The ArtScroll Tanach Series Vayikra, p. 184).
All this is to say that YHVH has a plan to redeem man from his sinful or depraved (animalistic) state. Man can choose to be elevated to this higher spiritual plane or to remain in a state no better than that of a gnat or a worm having added nothing to the creation’s spiritual betterment.Continue reading