This is a response to the meta call for contradictions. I got plenty of these that nobody else notices.

And a man or woman that will have an affliction in him, in the head or in the beard. And the priest saw the affliction, and here it appears deeper than the skin, and within it is fine yellow hair, and the priest made him defiled. It is a scall, it is the leprosy of the head or beard.

And if the priest will see the scall affliction, and here its appears to be not deeper tham the skin, and there is no black hair within it, and the priest enclosed the scall afflicted seven days.

And the priest saw the affliction on the seventh day, and here the scall has not spread, and there will not be yellow hair in it, and the scall does not appear deeper than the skin, and he will shave, and the affliction he will not shave. And the priest will enclose the scall seven days, a second time. And the priest saw the scall on the seventh day. And here, the scall has not spread in the skin, and its appears to be not deeper than the skin, and the priest purificed him, and he washed his clothes, and was purified—Leviticus 13:29-34 (Wikisource)

This passage is distinguishing a less-severe scall from a more severe scall. The distinction is that the more severe scall has yellow hair, so presumably, the less severe scall has no yellow hair. But here the law regarding who should not be defiled defines the less severe scall as that which does not have black hair within it.

This is an obvious contradiction with the rest of the text.

Why does it say black hair where the context demands yellow hair?

2 Answers 2


It's obviously just a typo, or an editing error. Black replaces yellow in this one spot, it is inconsistent with the rest of the procedure, and it reads completely fine if you substitute "yellow" for black.

The text here is very repetitive (as is typical of P's writing), and for a long time, Hebrew was copied by people who had very little understanding of what they were copying. In this way, it is easy to copy "black hair" for "yellow hair" in one spot. It is also easy to slip up and describe "black hair" when you mean "yellow hair".

The "black hair" doesn't make sense, and yellow hair does. That means its a mistake by somebody.

What does LXX say?

The Septuagint does not include this misprint. Here is the English translation of the relevant verse Lev 13-31:

And if the priest should see the plague of the scurf, and, behold, the appearance of it be not beneath the skin, and there is no yellowish hair in it, then the priest shall set apart him that has the plague of the scurf seven days

The phrase "black hair" here appears correctly as "yellowish hair".

Unlike, LXX, the Samaritan Pentateuch has "black hair" in the same spot, with the same words.

  • 4
    how is this "obviously just a typo.."? Without backing-up this statement, the answer is, at best, a comment.
    – warren
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 16:26
  • Did you read the context of the black hair? There is no explanation for saying "black hair"--- presumably all but a tiny fraction of red-headed Jews had black hair everywhere. The Priest is looking for yellow hair as a sign of sickness. The black hair is clearly a blooper for yellow hair, as is clarified by the extremely repetitive context.
    – Ron Maimon
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 23:59

Having seen a scall, there are 4 cases:

yellow - no black

yellow and black

black - no yellow


The four possibilities fall into:

yellow hair - with or without black

no black - bald.

Apparently black with no yellow would apparently say that it was not leprosy. If this were not the case, there would be no reason to mention hair color at all since the scall alone would be sufficient to define it. In the case of the bald, the scall itself is watched for more time.

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