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Leviticus 14:52--15:5

14:52 So he is to decontaminate the house with the blood of the bird, the fresh water, the live bird, the piece of cedar wood, the twigs of hyssop, and the scrap of crimson fabric, 14:53 and he is to send the live bird away outside the city 1  into the open countryside. So he is to make atonement for the house and it will be clean.

Summary of Purification Regulations for Infections

14:54 “This is the law for all diseased infections, for scall, 2  14:55 for the diseased garment, 3  for the house, 4  14:56 for the swelling, 5  for the scab, 6  and for the bright spot, 7  14:57 to teach when something is unclean and when it is clean. 8  This is the law for dealing with infectious disease.” 9 

Male Bodily Discharges

15:1 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 15:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When any man 10  has a discharge 11  from his body, 12  his discharge is unclean. 15:3 Now this is his uncleanness in regard to his discharge 13  – 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, 14  this is his uncleanness. 15 

15:4 “‘Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, 16  and any furniture he sits on will be unclean. 17  15:5 Anyone who touches his bed 18  must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 19 

Leviticus 16:2-4

16:2 and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother that he must not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil-canopy 20  in front of the atonement plate 21  that is on the ark so that he may not die, for I will appear in the cloud over the atonement plate.

Day of Atonement Offerings

16:3 “In this way Aaron is to enter into the sanctuary – with a young bull 22  for a sin offering 23  and a ram for a burnt offering. 24  16:4 He must put on a holy linen tunic, 25  linen leggings are to cover his body, 26  and he is to wrap himself with a linen sash 27  and wrap his head with a linen turban. 28  They are holy garments, so he must bathe 29  his body in water and put them on.

1 tn Heb “to from outside to the city.”

2 tn Heb “and for the scall”; NASB “a scale”; NIV “any infectious skin disease.” Cf. Lev 13:29-37.

3 sn Cf. Lev 13:47-59.

4 sn Cf. Lev 14:33-53.

5 sn Cf. Lev 13:9-28, 43.

6 sn Cf. Lev 13:2.

7 sn Cf. Lev 13:4, 18-28, 38-39. For explanations of all these terms for disease in Lev 14:56 see 13:2.

8 tn Heb “to teach in the day of the unclean and in the day of the clean.”

9 tn Heb “This is the law of the disease.” Some English versions specify this as “skin disease” (e.g., NIV, NLT), but then have to add “and (+ infectious NLT) mildew” (so NIV) because a house would not be infected with a skin disease.

sn For an explanation of the term “disease” see Lev 13:2.

10 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).

11 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).

12 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”).

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

14 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.

15 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).

16 tn Heb “All the bed which the man with a discharge sits on it shall be unclean”; cf. NLT “Any bedding.”

17 tn Heb “and all the vessel which he sits on it shall be unclean”; NASB “everything on which he sits.”

18 tn Heb “And a man who touches in his bed”; NLT “touch the man’s bedding.”

19 tn Heb “he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until the evening” (cf. also vv. 6-8, 10-11, etc.).

20 tn Heb “into the holy place from house to the veil-canopy.” In this instance, the Hebrew term “the holy place” refers to “the most holy place” (lit. “holy of holies”), since it is the area “inside the veil-canopy” (cf. Exod 26:33-34). The Hebrew term פָּרֹכֶת (parokhet) is usually translated “veil” or “curtain,” but it seems to have stretched not only in front of but also over the top of the ark of the covenant which stood behind and under it inside the most holy place, and thus formed more of a canopy than simply a curtain (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 3:687-89).

21 tn Heb “to the faces of the atonement plate.” The exact meaning of the Hebrew term כַּפֹּרֶת (kapporet) here rendered “atonement plate” is much debated. The traditional “mercy seat” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) does not suit the cognate relationship between this term and the Piel verb כִּפֶּר (kipper, “to make atonement, to make expiation”). The translation of the word should also reflect the fact that the most important atonement procedures on the Day of Atonement were performed in relation to it. Since the Lord would “appear in the cloud over the atonement plate,” and since it was so closely associated with the ark of the covenant (the ark being his “footstool”; cf. 1 Chr 28:2 and Ps 132:7-8), one could take it to be the place of his throne at which he accepts atonement. See J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:1014; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 234-35; and R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:691, 699. Cf. NIV “the atonement cover”; NCV “the lid on the Ark”; NLT “the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement.”

22 tn Heb “with a bull, a son of the herd.”

23 sn See the note on Lev 4:3 regarding the term “sin offering.”

24 sn For the “burnt offering” see the note on Lev 1:3.

25 sn The term “tunic” refers to a shirt-like garment worn next to the skin and, therefore, put on first (cf. Exod 28:4, 39-40; 29:5, 8; 39:27). It covered the upper body only. For detailed remarks on the terminology for the priestly clothing in this verse (except the “linen leggings”) see the notes on Lev 8:7-9 and the literature cited there.

26 tn Heb “shall be on his flesh.” As in many instances in Lev 15, the term “flesh” or “body” here is euphemistic for the male genitals (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:1017, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 222; cf. the note on Lev 15:2), which the priest must be careful not to expose during such ritual procedures (see Exod 20:26 with 28:42-43).

27 sn The sash fastened the tunic around the waist (Exod 28:4, 39; 29:9; 39:29).

28 tn Heb “and in a turban of linen he shall wrap.”

sn The turban consisted of wound up linen (cf. Exod 28:4, 37, 39; 29:6; 39:31; Lev 16:4). It is usually thought to be a “turban,” but it might be only a “turban-like headband” wound around the forehead area (HALOT 624 s.v. מִצְנֶפֶת).

29 tn Heb “and he shall bathe….”

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