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Leviticus 13:18-23

Context
A Boil on the Skin

13:18 “When someone’s body has a boil on its skin 1  and it heals, 13:19 and in the place of the boil there is a white swelling or a reddish white bright spot, he must show himself to the priest. 2  13:20 The priest will then examine it, 3  and if 4  it appears to be deeper than the skin 5  and its hair has turned white, then the priest is to pronounce the person unclean. 6  It is a diseased infection that has broken out in the boil. 7  13:21 If, however, 8  the priest examines it, and 9  there is no white hair in it, it is not deeper than the skin, and it has faded, then the priest is to quarantine him for seven days. 10  13:22 If 11  it is spreading further 12  on the skin, then the priest is to pronounce him unclean. 13  It is an infection. 13:23 But if the bright spot stays in its place and has not spread, 14  it is the scar of the boil, so the priest is to pronounce him clean. 15 

1 tc Heb (MT) reads, “And flesh if/when there is in it, in its skin, a boil.” Smr has only “in it,” not “in its skin,” and a few medieval Hebrew mss as well as the LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate have only “in its skin” (cf. v. 24 below), not “in it.” It does not effect the meaning of the verse, but one is tempted to suggest that “in it” (בוֹ, vo) was added in error as a partial dittography from the beginning of “in its skin” (בְעֹרוֹ, vÿoro).

2 tn Some English versions translate “it shall be shown to [or “be seen by”] the priest,” taking the infection to be the subject of the verb (e.g., KJV, NASB, RSV, NRSV). Based on the Hebrew grammar there is no way to be sure which is intended.

3 tn Heb “and the priest shall see.” The pronoun “it” is unexpressed, but it should be assumed and it refers to the infection (cf. the note on v. 8 above).

4 tn Heb “and behold.”

5 tn Heb “and behold its appearance is low (שָׁפָל, shafal) ‘from’ (comparative מִן, min, “lower than”) the skin.” Compare “deeper” in v. 3 above where, however, a different word is used (עָמֹק, ’amoq), and see the note on “swelling” in v. 1 above (cf. J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 192; note that, contrary to the MT, Tg. Onq. has עָמֹק in this verse as well as v. 4). The alternation of these two terms (i.e., “deeper” and “lower”) in vv. 25-26 below shows that they both refer to the same phenomenon. Some have argued that “this sore was lower than the surrounding skin” (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:773, 788), in which case “swelling” would be an inappropriate translation of שְׂאֵת (sÿet) in v. 19. It seems unlikely, however, that the surface of a “boil” would sink below the surface of the surrounding skin. The infectious pus etc. that makes up a boil normally causes swelling.

6 tn The declarative Piel of the verb טָמֵא (tame’, cf. the note on v. 3 above).

7 tn Heb “It is an infection of disease. In the boil it has broken out.” For the rendering “diseased infection” see the note on v. 2 above.

8 tn Heb “and if.”

9 tn Heb “and behold” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).

10 tn Heb “and the priest will shut him up seven days.”

11 tn Heb “and if.”

12 tn Heb “is indeed spreading.”

13 tn This is the declarative Piel of the verb טָמֵא (tame’, cf. the note on v. 3 above).

14 tn Heb “and if under it the bright spot stands, it has not spread.”

15 tn This is the declarative Piel of the verb טָהֵר (taher, cf. the note on v. 6 above).



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