Leviticus 13:47-49 (NRSVCE) says:

Concerning clothing: when a leprous disease appears in it, in woolen or linen cloth, in warp or woof of linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin , if the disease shows greenish or reddish in the garment, whether in warp or woof or in skin or in anything made of skin, it is a leprous disease and shall be shown to the priest.

My question is: how do we understand the symptoms of defects appearing in clothing as mentioned in Leviticus, in the backdrop of modern scientific research and understanding ?

  • 1
    are you asking if this is a true description of leprosy? Do you know about leprosy bandages, which are used to wrap sores and so could be reddish(blood) or greenish(rot)?
    – depperm
    Sep 15 '17 at 12:11
  • @Abstractioniseverything. this is actually a great question, and there is lots of scholarly research on this. So be careful when you criticize others.
    – Bach
    Sep 20 '17 at 0:41

Of course clothing cannot become leprous. Rather were dealing here with various common fungi and molds that may infect houses and cloths. In the ANE they were believed to be associated with the demonic and evil forces, and it required an exorcist to ward off this evil threat through incantations and special rituals.

There is evidence for this from an ancient Neo-Assyrian letter that was sent to Esarhaddon (681 – 669 BC) by a priest of Nabu. In the letter it is described that a certain fungus was found on the walls of a house and that assistance is needed to ward off the threat. For more on this, see here. The OT however does not require any exorcism or incantations to be said, it doesn't even imply that there is anything dangerous with such diseases. It does however require the priest to come down and examine the infection and if deemed impure to remove it by hand, or if its on clothing to burn them.

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