Parashat Tazria (She Conceives) & Metzora (Leprosy)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-13:8 & 14:1-15:33
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24
This week's reading portions contain some very interesting precepts that God gave to the children of Israel regarding that which is holy and unholy. In the center of those precepts are guidelines regarding leprosy.
In Leviticus 14:1-3, we read of the beginning of the process that the person who had leprosy will be purified.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the person with leprosy on the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest; and the priest shall go out to a place outside of the camp. Then the priest shall look, and if the leprous infection has been healed in the person with leprosy.”
Before I continue, it is important to remember that when studying leprosy in biblical texts, what we consider a disease today was more of a sign from God to demonstrate His power in biblical times. For example, in Exodus 4:6–7 we read that leprosy was one of the signs that God gave to Moses:
The LORD furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand inside the fold of your robe.” So he put his hand inside the fold, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then He said, “Put your hand inside the fold of your robe again.” So he put his hand into the fold again, and when he took it out of the fold, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.”
We also find that God used leprosy as a form of judgment or affliction. For example, after Miriam used what we call the "evil tongue" against her brother, Moses, when he married the Cushite woman, we read of God’s judgment over her in the form of leprosy:
But when the cloud had withdrawn from above the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous.
It is also important to note that the impurity of the leprosy meant the afflicted person would be cast out from the community in order to not defile everyone else. In Leviticus 13:44–46, we read of the obvious signs that would mark someone whom the Priest would identify as a leprous man:
…he is a leprous man, he is unclean. The priest must pronounce him unclean; his infection is on his head. As for the person who has the leprous infection, his clothes shall be torn and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; he shall live outside the camp.
The last important fact concerning leprosy is that the leper was to be inspected only by the High Priest or one of his son’s priests, as we read in Leviticus 13:1-2. What is important to note is that, because the leper was outside the camp, the High Priest also had to go outside the camp in order to check if the leper was healed or not.
I believe that this is a prophetic picture of the fact that Yeshua the Messiah had to “go outside the camp” to heal those who were afflicted. He was the divine Word that became flesh, and lowered Himself (Hebrews 2:9), reaching out to the “least of these” during His earthly ministry.
Furthermore, during His ministry, Yeshua Himself was considered a sort of outcast, someone who was “outside the camp”, and as someone afflicted Himself as we read in Isaiah 53:4:
However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore, and our pains that He carried; yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted, struck down by God, and humiliated.
Yet, there were those who had great faith that He could heal them. We see this in the boldness of the leper who approached Yeshua, asking Him to heal his leprosy:
While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Yeshua, he fell on his face and begged Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”And He reached out with His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And He ordered him to tell no one, saying, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
In the above story, we see that Yeshua healed this man as a testimony of God’s power and strength. In fact, everything that Yeshua did was to testify of the greatness and the power of the Father.
I would like to close with final verses from our Haftarah portion in Isaiah 66:18-19:
For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all the nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. And I will put a sign among them and send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard of My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations.
May we all be living testimonies of His glory among the nations, and testify of His healing!
Check out previous blogs on this parashah!
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