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Lev.14:33-57 describes procedures for identifying and cleansing a leprous house.

It seems that declaring a house unclean does not makes it unclean, but rather it's the presence of leprosy in the 'stones' that makes it unclean. At the point of discovering the infection, the house is already unclean.

46 “Moreover, whoever goes into the house during the time that he has quarantined it*, becomes unclean until evening.

The verse indicates that after the infection has become known, all who have been inside the house are unclean, and instructions are given for their cleansing.

But the priest who entered the house and identified the leprosy seems to have been left out from the 'cleansing' ritual. Why? Was the priest not made unclean?

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    Keep in mind that the identification of ṣārāʿat with "leprosy" (= Hansen's Disease) is unlikely. This also contributes to the conflation of the transmission of bacterial pathogens and the conference of ritual impurity, which makes a lot of things not make sense. – Susan Sep 2 '16 at 5:28
  • @Susan, Thanks alot, I couldn't have put it better! All I know is that half the story about the mysterious ''leprosy'' hasn't been told. – Witness Sep 2 '16 at 19:45
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  • "[Verse 46] indicates that after the infection has become known, all who have been inside the house are unclean, and instructions are given for their cleansing."

Actually verse 36 explicitly states that everything in the house is still clean before the priest declares the house unclean, which is why everything in the house is to be removed before the priest enters:

33 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 34 “When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague[a] in a house in the land of your possession, 35 and he who owns the house comes and tells the priest, saying, ‘It seems to me that there is some plague in the house,’ 36 then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes into it to examine the plague, that all that is in the house may not be made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to examine the house. -Leviticus 14:33-36 (NKJV)

  • "It seems that declaring a house unclean does not makes it unclean, but rather it's the presence of leprosy in the 'stones' that makes it unclean. At the point of discovering the infection, the house is already unclean."

The house is only unclean after the priest declares it unclean, which is why anyone who enters the house after it is quarantined by the priest becomes unclean:

37 And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, 38 then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. [...] 46 Moreover he who goes into the house at all while it is shut up shall be unclean until evening. 47 And he who lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes. -Leviticus 14:37-38, 46-47

  • "But the priest who entered the house and identified the leprosy seems to have been left out from the 'cleansing' ritual. Why? Was the priest not made unclean?"

It doesn't matter if the priest was made unclean or not because he would wash at the Bronze Laver as soon as he got back to the Tabernacle:

17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 18 “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, 19 for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. 20 When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die. 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” -Exodus 30:17-21 (NKJV)

But to answer your question, the priest is not made unclean because he does not enter the house again until the seventh day:

39 And the priest shall come again on the seventh day and look; and indeed if the plague has spread on the walls of the house, 40 then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. -Leviticus 14:39-40 (NKJV)

Only those who enter the house while it is shut up during the seven day quarantine period become unclean.

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  • Thanks for the reply, it answers a good part of the question indeed, however you haven't quite addressed the issue of a priest's cleansing because the nature of these rituals were never left to assumption, and more so for Priests who were concencrated for sacred duties. Another point is that a few rituals would change on entering the promised land since that typified another symbolic time in the progression of kingdom issues as Paul explains in Heb 9. On the reality of uncleanness regardless of declaration, consider Lev 5:2-3, which leprosy is in itself. – Witness Sep 2 '16 at 4:47
  • Also at this point in time in the land therefore it would have been 'water of seperation', and not the 'washing in the laver' as the latter was not for 'normal' cleansing of every Israelite, but for 'washing' by the priests when entering the sanctuary. – Witness Sep 2 '16 at 4:54
  • @Witness - I did address the priest's cleansing. I noted it didn't matter if he was unclean or not because he would wash at the laver the next time he was at the Tabernacle or he would die. No rituals changed once the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Hebrews 9 speaks of the differences between the earthly and heavenly sanctuary. – user6503 Sep 2 '16 at 5:27
  • @Witness - I don't quite understand your 2nd comment. I specifically said that the priest would wash at the laver. Never did I say a normal Israelite would wash there. – user6503 Sep 2 '16 at 5:29
  • ''I noted it didn't matter if he(the priest) was unclean or not''?? If a commoner was required to rid themselves of uncleanness asap that they may not 'defile' themselves because God dwelt among them, much more those upon whom the 'oil of consecration' was poured to 'approach' the sacred things of Israel. Note that in all cases where uncleanness was an issue, cleansing was always reiterated. The laver wasn't for 'cleansing' but for 'washing when entering the sanctuary. That's why I said you haven't addressed the priest's need for cleansing, or the absence of it. – Witness Sep 2 '16 at 19:20
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The chapter does not indicate that the priest was made unclean by entering the house, so why assume he was? If he was made unclean, would it not have been important enough to know such as to mention it?(as in Numbers 19:5-10).

Your mention also of Leviticus 5 really does not support your claim that the priest was made unclean before he pronounced it so, because that chapter dealt with situations where risk was presumed on the part of various persons(i.e. a trespass); the priest was not acting on presumption, he was acting on orders from God to judge a matter that hadn't yet been proven one way or the other, like as in the law of jealousies(Num. 5), the judging of false witnesses(Deut. 19:16-19), the valuation of certain properties(Lev. 27:14), all of which things had to be verified first before concluding anything about anything(Deut. 17:8-12,19:15,21:5). Yet for the sake of contrast, there is Numbers 19:5-7, a situation where God commanded the priest to do something that was in part, albeit unavoidably, knowingly unclean beforehand(i.e. touching the remains of the red heifer), which in this case was not, and therefore disputation seems moot. Either way you are going to have to decide how you are going to define the terms, according to the Bible or not.

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