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Leviticus 15:2-3

Context
15:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When any man 1  has a discharge 2  from his body, 3  his discharge is unclean. 15:3 Now this is his uncleanness in regard to his discharge 4  – whether his body secretes his discharge or blocks his discharge, he is unclean. All the days that his body has a discharge or his body blocks his discharge, 5  this is his uncleanness. 6 

1 tn Heb “Man man.” The reduplication is a way of saying “any man” (cf. Lev 17:3; 22:18, etc.; see the distributive repetition of the noun in GKC 395-96 §123.c).

2 tn The term “discharge” actually means “to flow,” whether referring to a full flow as at a spring of water (Ps 78:20 and parallels) or in reference to the promised land as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:8 and parallels).

3 tn Heb “man, man when there is a discharge from his flesh.” The repetition of the word “man” is distributive, meaning “any [or “every”] man” (GKC 395-96 §123.c). It is well-recognized that the term “flesh” (i.e., “body”) in this chapter refers regularly and euphemistically to the male and female genital members or areas of the body (HALOT 164 s.v. בָּשָׂר 5.b; see also, e.g., B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 93). The euphemism has been retained in this translation since it is, in fact, intended in the Hebrew text. Some English versions partially remove the euphemism (e.g., NAB “from his private parts”; NRSV “from his member”) while some remove it completely (e.g., NLT “a genital discharge”; TEV “from his penis”; CEV “with an infected penis”).

4 tn The LXX has “this the law of his uncleanness…” (cf. v. 32 and compare, e.g., 13:59; 14:2, 56).

5 tc Smr, LXX, and the Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll from Qumran (11QpaleoLev; Fragment G contains Lev 14:52-15:5 and 16:2-4, and agrees with the LXX of Lev 15:3b) are in essential (although not complete) agreement against the MT in Lev 15:3b and are to be preferred in this case. The shorter MT text has probably arisen due to a lengthy haplography. See K. A. Mathews, “The Leviticus Scroll (11QpaleoLev) and the Text of the Hebrew Bible,” CBQ 48 (1986): 177-78, 198; D. N. Freedman, “Variant Readings in the Leviticus Scroll from Qumran Cave 11,” CBQ 36 (1974): 528-29; D. N. Freedman and K. A. Mathews, The Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll, 32. The MT of Lev 15:3 reads: “Now this is his uncleanness in [regard to] his discharge – whether his body secretes his discharge or blocks his discharge, this is his uncleanness.” Smr adds after MT’s “blocks his discharge” the following: “he is unclean; all the days that his body has a discharge or his body blocks his discharge, this is his uncleanness.” Thus, the MT appears to skip from Smr טמא הוא “he is unclean” in the middle of the verse to יא/טמאתו הו “this is his uncleanness” at the end of the verse, leaving out “he is unclean; all the days that his body has a discharge or his body blocks his discharge” (cf. the BHS footnote). 11Q1 (paleoLeva frag. G) is indeed fragmentary, but it does have ימי ז בו כל “…in him, all the days of the fl[ow],” supporting Smr and LXX tradition. The LXX adds after MT “blocks his discharge” the following: “all the days of the flow of his body, by which his body is affected by the flow,” followed by “it is his uncleanness” (i.e., the last two words of the MT).

sn The contrast between the dripping or flowing from the male sexual member as opposed to there being a blockage is important. One might not understand that even though a blockage actually causes a lack of discharge, it is still unclean.

6 tn Heb “it is his uncleanness,” but the last clause recapitulates the effect of the first clause in this verse, both of which introduce the regulations for such uncleanness in the following verses. In other words, whether his discharge flows from his penis or is blocked in it, he is still unclean and must proceed according to the following regulations (vv. 4ff).



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