Parashot Tazria- Metzora Identifying The Affliction, Scraping Down the House
This week is a double-portion. The first, Tazria, means conceived. The text goes through the separation and rites of a woman who has given birth and a detailed instruction as to the identification and ‘consequences of the biblical affliction tzaraas commonly known as Leprosy (not to be confused with the modern Hansen’s disease, which originated at the time of Alexander). The second, Metzorah, means Leper. The text goes through the process of purification for the Metzorah as well as offerings brought upon being found pure as well as the rites for those having discharges which render one unclean.
When we read the Leviticus= Vayikra text, keep in mind that all these things are in the context of the ‘Temple Service’. Those who are unclean are unable to come to the Mishkan and bring offerings, they are unable to partake of the sacrificial meat and are capable of rendering others they come into contact with unclean. What is the point of studying in detail a biblical affliction which is not known to exist in the present day? How would the text we study be relevant in a time where there is no Holy Temple?
I am amazed at the depth of practical application we can find in the Eternal Living Word of HASHEM, in every vein and faucet of it! This text as with all others, points us to our High Priest Yeshua, the one who has identified and declared our sins as that which brings us to the path of death…the one who has interceded on our behalf and brought us by the atoning power of his precious blood, back into the Presence of God.
All lepers, all walking corpses- without Yeshua…we call can find hope in this: once outside the camp, utterly cut off from the community, the leper can be cleansed and anointed even likened to the kohen…the touch of the Savior is the cure!
Parasha Tazria – Conceived
Deuteronomy 24;8 Beware of the tzaraas affliction, to be very careful to act; according to everything that the Kohanim, the Levites, shall teach you- as I have commanded them- you shall be careful to perform. 9 Remember what HASHEM, your God, did to Miriam on the way, when you were leaving Egypt.
–There are so many lessons here to learn, the Word tells us explicitly to pay attention to this affliction and its implications. The Master healed many lepers and with these texts we can understand the extent of their transgression and pain, and thus the weight of his grace and mercy.
Vayikra 12; HASHEM spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to the Children of Israel, saying: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be contaminated for a seven-day period, as during the days of her separation infirmity shall she be contaminated. 3 On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 For thirty-three days she shall remain in blood of purity; she may not touch anything sacred and she may not enter the Sanctuary, until the completion of her days of purity. 5 If she gives birth to a female, she shall be contaminated for two weeks, as during her separation; and for sixty-six days she shall remain in blood of purity. 6 Upon the completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a sheep within its first year for a burnt-offering, and a young dove or a turtledove for a sin-offering, to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, to the Kohen. 7 He shall offer it before HASHEM and atone for her, and she becomes purified from the source of her blood; this is the law of one who gives birth to a male or to a female. 8 But if she cannot afford a sheep, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young doves, one for a burnt-offering and one for a sin-offering; and the Kohen shall provide atonement for her and she shall become purified.
–tamay- foul in the ceremonial or moral sense; contaminated; unclean.
How is it that a woman is considered tamay by accomplishing the mitvah (commandment) of giving birth, being fruitful and multiplying? The flow of blood is associated with death (life is in the blood-life is inevitable the beginning of a journey toward physical death). Death always renders unclean.
The woman, after giving birth, bleeds for extended periods of time. She can not approach the Sanctuary and must remain in this period of separation that she might not come into contact with another, who in effect would not be able to approach the Sanctuary.
The period (menstrual flow) and blood after birth is unique and special to the role of woman. Woman is more closely tied to the ebb, decline and in contrast the flow and current of life and of death.
The period of separation for the woman who gives birth to a female child is doubled, why? Obviously the conception of a child requires the seed of the man and the seed of the woman, without both there is not procreation. But, the potential to carry and nourish a baby, a life, is the particular assignment by God for woman. The female who is born has the same incredible potential to give life and therefore as with the mother, is tied closely to death.
This period of separation can be seen as unfair but is just one example of the idea of selflessness, putting others needs higher than your own. How? For example, the person desiring to approach the Sanctuary for atonement will not be able to bring his offering to draw near to the Lord had he come into contact with the woman in the blood of her purity. Not only is she being obedient but considerate.
Any woman out there who has given birth can realize the practical side of God’s marvelous instructions here. The time after giving birth is so very special, one gets to recover from the ‘race of a lifetime’, the marathon her body has been preparing for, for nine months. She gets to bond with the precious reflection of the Creator in His wondrous love!
This time is sacred for it is the commencement of a life that will never be the same and is spent in communion with God and the precious little life He has not put in your charge, to care for and mold according to His will…to teach of His awe inspiring devotion to us, His children!
At the end of the time of her separation, the woman brings a sin-offering to the Mishkan, this offering was for an inadvertent transgression, in this case the woman recognizes the fallen world in which she lives and calls upon God for cleansing and restoration.
Miriam, the mother of our Savior, was scrupulous in observing the commandments of HASHEM, she ascribed to the days of separation, circumcision for Yeshua and the sin-offering after her purification. As did she (as God commands) nourish and teach Yeshua in the Torah, how to walk in God’s commands. Imagine it! The earthly mother of the Word made Flesh, teaching her son, the Author of the Torah…the wonders contained therein!
Luke 2;21 On the eighth day, when it was time for his b’rit milah (circumcision), he was given the name Yeshua, which is what the angel had called him before his conception. 22 When the time came for their purification according to the Torah of Moshe, they took him up to Yerushalayim to present him to ADONAI. 23 (as it is written in the Torah of ADONAI, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to ADONAI”)24 and also to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or young pigeons, as required by the Torah of ADONAI.
Deuteronomy 11;19 You shall teach them to your children to discuss them, while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. 27 In order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the Land that HASHEM has sworn to your forefathers to give them, like the days of the heaven over the earth.
Colossians 1; 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. 14 It is through his Son that we have redemption- that is, our sins have been forgiven.
–Affliction-Nega: a blow (figuratively, infliction); plague.
tzaraas (tsara’ath)- leprosy
Vayikra 13;1 HASHEM spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: 2 If a person will have on the skin of his flesh a s’eis (elevation or scab) , or a sapachas (scab), or a baheres(whitish spot on the skin), and it will become a tzaraas affliction on the skin of his flesh he shall be brought to Aaron the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim. 3 The Kohen shall look at the affliction on the skin of his flesh: If hair in the affliction has changed to white, and the affliction’s appearance is deeper than the skin of the flesh- it is a tzaraas affliction; the Kohen shall look at it and declare him contaminated. 4 If it is a white baheres on the skin of his flesh, and its appearance is not deeper than the skin, and the hair had not changed to white, then the Kohen shall quarantine the affliction for a seven-day period. 6 The Kohen shall look at it again on the seventh day, and behold!- if the affliction had dimmed and the affliction has not spread on the skin, then the Kohen shall declare him pure, it is a mispachas; he shall immerse his garments and become pure. 7 But if the mispachas should spread on the skin after it had been shown to the Kohen for its purification, it should be shown to the Kohen again. 8 The Kohen shall look, and behold! – the mispachas has spread on the skin; the Kohen shall declare him contaminated; it is tzaraas.
–Tzaraas is the physical manifestation of a spiritual ailment. The primary ’cause’ of tzaraas is said to have been slander. Other sins such as bloodshed, false oaths, sexual immorality, pride, robbery and selfishness are also said to be ‘punished’ by the biblical affliction of tzaraas.
It is Divine ‘retribution’ for the offender’s failure to fee the needs and share in the hurt of others. God isolates him from society so that he can experience the pain he has imposed on others- he has the opportunity to begin the process of healing by repentance. Murmuring, grumbling, defaming. These are all examples of lashan harrah (The Evil Tongue.)
Among religious communities today we see many eyes focused on the more evident deficiencies in other believers and non believers. There is a high level of concern for those who ‘have not been saved’. The ability to scrutinize the prevalent and plain examples of gossip, slander, conformity and even emulation of the world and its dress, speech, and manner among believers seems to be left wanting. There is a heartfelt desire to help others learn how to ‘fix’ their eternity while forsaking the identification and repentance for the present afflictions amid our communities.
Consider the following verses. What is the goal of the destroyer in the beginning of the book of Job? ‘He’ insists that the affliction of Job’s flesh will cause him to blaspheme God with his lips. In James we are instructed to rid ourselves of vulgarity, to inspect ourselves and our observance and control our tongues. To look closely into the perfect Torah and to be a hearer and a doer of what the word says. Let us be concerned with others but mind our own loyalty to what God defines as being pure.
Job 2; 4 The Satan answered HASHEM, and said, “Skin for the sake of skin! Whatever a man has he would give up for his life! But send forth your hand and touch his bone and flesh, and surely he will blaspheme You and to Your face!” 6 HASHEM said to the Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but preserve his soul [from death]!” 7 The Satan departed from the presence of HASHEM and afflicted Job with severe boils, from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 He took a potsherd to scratch himself with, and he sat amid the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Do you still maintain your wholesomeness? Blaspheme God and die!” 10 Job said to her, “You talk as an impious woman might talk. Furthermore, shall we accept the good from God and not accept the bad?” Despite everything, Job did not sin with his lips.
James 1;21 So rid yourselves of all vulgarity and obvious evil, and receive meekly the Word implanted in you that can save your lives. 22 Don’t deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it! 23 For whoever hears the Word but doesn’t do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror, 24 who looks at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But if a person looks closely into the perfect Torah, which gives freedom, and continues, becoming not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires, then he will be blessed in what he does. 26 Anyone who thinks he is religiously observant but does not control his tongue is deceiving himself, and his observance is for nothing. 27 The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world.
Greek Text of James:
Undefiled- amiantos= unsoiled; (figuratively) pure.
Clean- katharos=clean; clear; pure (literally or figuratively).
Unspotted- aspilos= unblemished; without spot.
Matthew 12; 34 “You snakes! How can you who evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what overflows from the heart. 35 The good person brings forth good things from the store of his good, and the evil person brings forth evil from the store of his evil. 36 Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken; 37 by your words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned.”
Mark 7;20 “It is what comes out of a person,” he went on, “that makes him unclean.21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come forth wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, arrogance, foolishness….23 All these wicked things come from within, and they make a person unclean.”
Vayikra 13;12 If the tzaraas will erupt on the skin, and the tzaraas will cover the entire skin of the affliction from his head to his feet, wherever the eyes of the Kohen can see- 13 the Kohen shall look, and behold!- the affliction has covered the entire flesh, then he shall declare the affliction to be pure; having turned completely white, it is pure. 14 on the day healthy flesh appears in it, it shall be contaminated; the healthy flesh is contaminated, it is tzaraas. 16 But if the healthy flesh changes and again turns white, he shall come to the Kohen. 17 The Kohen shall look at it, and behold!- the affliction has changed to white, the Kohen shall declare the affliction pure; it is pure.
–Pure-Tahor=clean (in physical, chemical, ceremonial, or moral sense); pure.
The person who has a questionable outbreak on his or her skin, hair, clothing or home. Does not go to the dermatologist or community ‘doctor’, this is not an illness that was contracted, this is inflicted by God and thus this person goes to the spiritual head, to the Kohen. This Kohen (who is required to have good vision) has been cautiously, extremely specifically trained in the identification of tzaraas. Why is this training so important? This ‘skin disease’ (among others) is likened to death, death comes to parts of the body. the person who has this affliction is only considered to be a leper, and unclean…even if all the signs are apparent at the point that the Kohen makes the verbal declaration. Only then. The ‘good signs’ to look for:
dark hair, the affected area remaining the original size and shape, COMPLETELY white coverage without the presence of any healthy skin. (Where there is the complete absence of holiness, the Holy can not exist…this ‘place’ is ineffectual), ‘wounds’ being above the surface of the skin and dim coloration.
The ‘bad signs’ to look for: changes in color and size of affected area, white hair which had not previously been white, ‘wounds’ deep in the surface of the skin, and bright or rich coloration.
This affliction is NOT one that is contagious, the person affected has been identified by God to have a much deeper ‘problem’ than a skin irritation to deal with, the quarantine is to give this person the time to think and to repent.
I Corinthians 15; 33 Don’t be fooled. “Bad company ruins good character.” 34 Come to your senses! Live righteously and stop sinning!
–The company we keep will have an affect on drawing us toward God or if we keep ‘bad’ company, attract us away from God and toward sin. Sin, like a contagious disease spreads through contact. We need to learn to listen to the good counsel of others who serve the Lord, to humble ourselves under the Almighty hand of God, to scrutinize our lives, holding up His word as the model for ‘clean’ living and we will be enabled and ‘trained’ to be able to recognize the symptoms of any an all afflictions that come our way.
II Kings 7;3 There were four men who were lepers at the city gate. They said one to the other, “Why should we sit here until we die? 4 If we propose to enter the city, there is famine in the city and we will die there; and if we remain here we will die. So let us now go and throw ourselves upon the camp of Aram; if they let us live we will live, and if they put us to death we will die.
Isaiah 53;3 He was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness. As one from whom we would hide our faces; he was despised, and we had no regard for him. 4 But in truth, it was our ills that he bore, and our pains that he carried- but we regarded him diseased, stricken by God, and afflicted! 5 He was pained because of our rebellious sins and oppressed through our iniquities; the chastisement upon him was for our benefit, and through his wounds we are healed.
Vayikra 13;45 And the person with tzaraa’s in whom there is the affliction- his garments shall be rent, the hair of his head shall be unshorn, and he shall cloak himself up to his lips; he is to call out: “Contaminated! Contaminated!” 46 All the days that the affliction is upon him he shall remain contaminated; he is contaminated. He shall dwell in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
–Leprosy (tzaraas) is likened to death, the body begins to resemble a corpse. The Kohen will go through the two seven day periods of quarantine and other measures to in one word, “avoid” making the “contaminated” declaration. Why? It is as if this person dead. He has no home, no community, no longer can he live with, work for and support his family. His wife and children will have to rely on the generosity of others and she can not re-marry unless he grants her a divorce. He can not approach God’s Sanctuary or the Altar. He lives in isolation and has the time and space now to evaluate: What has brought me to this place, and What can I do now? This is not a declaration the Kohen is by any means eager to make and the remainder of this man’s life will be forever changed, as will that of his family. This person sounds a warning to people…not simply that they not come near him for he is afflicted…it is a cry to be attentive, to not allow oneself to become as he has…”Do not be unclean!! Do not be unclean!!”
Job 18;12 His offspring will go hungry; calamity awaits his wife. 13 The Prince of Death will devour the limbs of his skin, he will devour his branches. 14 He will be torn from his wife, who depended on him; she will march him off to the king of demons; 15 she will dwell in his tent without him. Sulfur will be strewn upon his home. 16 From below, his roots will dry up; and from above, his sproutings will be lopped off. 17 His memory will be lost from the land; he will remain without fame abroad. 18 They will drive him from light to darkness and banish him from the inhabited world. 19 He will have neither child nor grandchild among his people, no survivor in his habitations. 20 The later [generations] will be astounded at his fate, and the earlier [generations] will be seized by turmoil. 21 Such is [the fate] of evil-doer’s dwellings; such is a place that does not know God.
Ezekiel 24;15 The word of HASHEM came to me, saying, 16 “Son of Man, behold, I am taking from you the darling of your eyes in a plague: You shall not lament and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come forth. 17 Be silent from groaning; do not practice rites of mourning for the dead; don your headgear upon yourself and place your shoes on your feet; do not veil yourself to the lips, and do not eat the bread of [other] people.
–Supernatural afflictions on garments and houses appeared only when the Jewish nation was generally in perfect accord with God and was ‘fitting’ to host His Presence. When an individual broke ranks with this role and was no longer ‘worthy’ of this exalted rank, his possessions would be afflicted (Ramban)
Vayikra 13; 47 If there shall be a tzaraas affliction in a garment, a woolen garment or a linen garment, 48 or in the warp or woof of the linen or wool; or in leather or in anything fashioned of leather; 49 and the affliction shall be deep green or deep red, in the garment or the leather, or the warp or the woof or in any leather utensil: It is a tzaraa’s affliction, and it shall be shown to the Kohen. 50 The Kohen shall look at the affliction; and he shall quarantine the affliction for a seven-day period. 51 He shall look at the affliction on the seventh day: If the affliction has spread in the garment or in the warp or in the woof or in the leather- for whatever purpose the leather has been fashioned- the affliction is a malignant tzaraas; it is contaminated. 52 He shall burn the garment, or the warp or the woof, the wool or of the linen or of any leather utensil in which the affliction may be; for it is a malignant tzaraas, it shall be burned in the fire.
–This distress, the misery that comes with a life colored by submission to our sinful nature may originate on the surface and seem harmless enough…but without identifying the problem, proper care and treatment…without the Godly therapy that He lavishes on the repentant sinner, this pollution spreads and dives and discolors taints every single aspect of our lives… we become estranged from our King, excommunicated from wholesome society circles and begin to be offensive and aggressive toward those closest to us.
Acts 2; 36 “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know beyond doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah- this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!” 37 On hearing this, they were stung to their hearts; and they said to Kefa and the other emissaries, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Kefa answered them, “Turn from your sin, return to God, and each of you will be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKadesh! (Holy Spirit) 39 For the promise is for you, for your children , and for those far away- as many as ADONAI our God may call! ”
-As we move on to the next portion we are met with texts filled with hope filled rites and direction toward redemption for those whom had been counted as dead. These texts are the picture of a Spiritual disease and its Cure. Disease is not independent of God, disease and healing stem from God. As the items for the purification rites are gathered we recognize many similarities in other texts of scripture. The rabbis reckon the cedar as the strong, mighty, haughty pride that has been greatly diminished through this whole process, the hyssop is a low lying, short, humble grass representing the state this man comes now before the Altar. In the next Torah portions we will read about the azazel goats wherein one will take on the sins of the people and carry them off to the wilderness away from the camp and the other is the offering for HASHEM. So too this living and slaughtered bird. The one living at the end of the ritual takes the remembrance of the sin of the one being purified to the extent of its flight…recognizable unmemberable.
Psalm 103; 1…Bless HASHEM, O my soul; and all that is within me [bless] His Holy Name. 2 Bless HASHEM, O my soul, and forget not all his kindnesses; 3 Who forgives all your sins; Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with kindness and mercy; 5 Who satisfies your mouth with goodness, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 HASHEM is the doer of righteous deeds and judgments for all the oppressed. 7 He made known His way to Moses, His actions and deeds to the Children of Israel: 8 Compassionate and Gracious is HASHEM, Slow to Anger and Abundant of Kindness. 9 He will not quarrel for eternity, nor will he bear a grudge. 10 He has not treated us according to our sins, nor repaid us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as heaven is above the earth, has His kindness overwhelmed those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from west, has He distanced our transgressions from us.
Vayikra 14; 1 HASHEM spoke to Moses, saying: 2 This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification: He shall be brought to the Kohen. 3 The Kohen shall go forth to the outside of the camp; the Kohen shall look, and behold!- the tzaraas affliction had been healed from the metzora. 4 The Kohen shall command; and for the person being purified there shall be taken two live birds, clean birds, cedar wood, crimson thread, and hyssop. 5 The Kohen shall command; and the one bird shall be slaughtered into an earthenware vessel over spring water. 6 As for the live bird: He shall take it with the cedar wood and the crimson thread and the hyssop, and he shall dip them and the live bird into the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the spring water. 7 Then he shall sprinkle seven times upon the person being purified from the tzaraas; he shall purify him, and he shall set the live bird free upon the open field. 8 The person being purified shall immerse his clothing, shave off all his hair, and immerse himself in the water and become pure. Thereafter he may enter the camp; but he shall dwell outside of his tent for seven days. 9 On the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair- his head, his beard, his eyebrows, and all his hair shall he shave off; he shall immerse his clothing and immerse his flesh in water, and become pure.
–Just like the Kohen in the Torah text, we realize that our High Priest Yeshua too, came to the ‘outside of the camp’ to us…to free us from our death and declare us forgiven and cleanse us! Yeshua, the Mediator
between God and man came from a pure place to an impure place in order to conquer the death we were sentenced to for our willful sin.
Hebrews 2;14 Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, he became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by his death he might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is, the Adversary)15 and thus set free those who had been in bondage all their lives because of their fear of death. 16 Indeed, it is obvious that he does not take hold of angels to help them; on the contrary, “He takes hold of the seed of Avraham.” 17 This is why he had to become like his brothers in every respect- so that he might become a merciful and faithful cohen gadol (high priest) in the service of God, making kapparah (atonement) for the sins of the people. 18 For since he himself suffered death when he was put to the test, he is able to help those who are being tested now.
Philippians 2; 5 Let your attitude toward one another be governed by your being in union with the Messiah Yeshua: 6 Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. 7 On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being,8 he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death- death on the stake as a criminal! 9 Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; 10 that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow- in heaven, on earth and under the earth- 11 and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI- to the glory of God the Father.
–Yeshua heals the leprous man and asks that he go to the temple and bring the offering we will read about in the Leviticus text to the Kohen to be offered to the Lord. As a testimony (greek: Marturion: witness, something evidential) Yeshua is upholding the Torah here as he does all throughout his ‘ministry’.
Luke5; 12 Once, when Yeshua was in one of the towns, there came a man completely covered with tzara’at. On seeing Yeshua, he fell on his face and begged him, “Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Yeshua reached out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing! Be cleansed!” Immediately the tzara’at left him. 14 Then Yeshua warned him not to tell anyone. “Instead, as a testimony to the people, go straight
to the cohen and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moshe commanded.”
Vayikra 14;10 On the eighth day, he shall take two unblemished male lambs and one unblemished ewe in its first year, three tenth- ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. 11 The Kohen who purifies shall place the person being purified along with them before HASHEM at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 12 The Kohen shall take the one lamb and bring it near for a guilt-offering, with the log of oil; and he shall wave them as a wave-service before HASHEM. 13 He shall slaughter the lamb in the place where he would slaughter the sin-offering, it is the Kohen’s it is most holy.
–The day of the inauguration of the Kohanim in the Mishkan (a few portion’s back in Tzav- Leviticus 8;22-30) we read a parallel account of blood and oil. This time it is the anointed priest placing the blood on the right ear ( meaning: I will hear Your will and learn Your Ways), the right thumb (meaning: I will use my hands and all my might, all my resources to serve You), and the right big toe (meaning: I will Walk in Your paths and use my life to draw near to You.) of the person being purified. This man who had experienced a type of death and isolation is now brought back into the Kohen, before the Lord for atonement…a type of resurrection is this return. He not only resembles the Nazarite (his hair having been cut off) but he is marked with the blood in the same way a kohen is anointed, then he is anointed with oil. I can not express what this could mean…what I feel in my core is that this is the expression of the heights of God’s compassionate mercy for those who return to Him in repentance! I can testify that once a person asks God to take him from the shame and squalor of an existence removed from light and righteous goals the altitude to which God will lift you is beyond our comprehension! There is a constant struggle against the evil inclination, NOT to see ourselves through the eyes of man…critically demeaning, abasing and humiliating ourselves when we fail…but to see ourselves the way our Father see’s us. With the potential unlimited, to come from a death…to a place of anointment into new life and opportunities that He will create for you…if we will just repent and come before Him, offering ourselves completely, absolutely…marked by the blood declaring “I will hear, I will work, I will walk for only You!”
Vayikra 14;14 Then the Kohen shall take from the blood of the guilt-offering, and the Kohen shall place it on the middle part of the right ear of the person being purified and on the thumb of his right hand and the big toe of his right foot. 15 The Kohen shall take from the log of oil and he shall pour it upon another Kohen’s left palm.16 The Kohen shall dip his right forefinger into the oil that is in his left palm; and he shall sprinkle from the oil with his finger seven times before HASHEM. 17 Some of the oil remaining on his palm, the Kohen shall put on the middle part of the right ear of the man being purified, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot; on the blood of the guilt-offering. 18 And the rest of the oil that is on the Kohen’s palm, he shall place upon the head of the person being purified; and the Kohen shall provide him atonement before HASHEM. 19 The Kohen shall perform the sin-offering service after that he shall slaughter the burnt-offering. 20 The Kohen shall bring the burnt-offering and the meal-offering up to the Altar; and the Kohen shall provide him atonement, and he becomes pure.
–God intended a world of heightened awareness and connection. An intense sensitivity to others, and ourselves in each changing moment. The Temple service is the picture of constant repentance and renewal. The book of Leviticus (Vayikra= He Called) is God’s program for restoration of the Divine Image that was lost in the garden, the gift given to Adam that was slighted. God had in mind for us to constantly redefine his life, all these laws are not for sanitation, they are an incredible plan to raise up a nation sensitive to all the nuances of life in this world. The Torah, entirely converse to many preconceived notions, is neither bondage nor a burden…neither a hindrance nor encumbrance for living a full and holy life, it is the Makers divine manual bestowed upon human beings. The Torah strives for a beautiful world, connected to God, responsible for each other and for every interaction here.
–So let us explore several texts wherein there is a change in physical appearance, or tzaraas revealed. At what point in the context of the texts do these ‘afflictions’ become manifest? Adam and Chavah in the garden, disobey the Divine Order and their physical appearance is changed, then like the leper they are cast out. The root of the Hebrew word for skin is the same root as in the word AWAKEN. Our skin is very ‘personal’ to us, it communicates to each individual. Can we see this as a main point to study tzaraas, God is trying to get our attention and to awaken us to what must be improved in our lives…and it is manifest in a very personal, highly evident way. When Moshe is in the midst of the back and forth with the Master at the burning bush, it is when he questions “How?” that the leprous hand is manifest. When Miriam and Aaron question the authority of Moshe in the wilderness, she is afflicted immediately with tzaraas. Naaman, a man haughty with glory becomes afflicted with tzaraas, he argues the Divine Course by which he would find healing and redemption inserting his own ideas of what would ‘be better’, but only when he humbles himself and submits to God does he find what he seeks.
Genesis 3;6 And the woman perceived that the tree was good for eating and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a means of wisdom, and she took of is fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked…22 And HASHEM God said, “Behold Man has become like the Unique One among us, knowing good and bad; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat and live forever!” 23 So HASHEM God banished him from the Garden of Eden, to work the soil from which he was taken.
Exodus 4;1 Moses responded and said, “But they will not believe me and they will not heed my voice, for they will say, ‘HASHEM did not appear to you.'”
6 HASHEM said further to him, “Bring your hand into your bosom,” and he brought his hand to his bosom; then he withdrew it and behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. 7 He said, “Return your hand to your bosom,” and he returned his hand to his bosom; then he removed it from his bosom and behold, it had reverted to be like his flesh.
Numbers 12;1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses regarding the Cushite woman he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 They said, “Was it only to Moses that HASHEM spoke? Did He not speak to us, as well?” And HASHEM heard. 3 Now the man Moses was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth! 4 HASHEM said suddenly to Moses, to Aaron and to Miriam, “You three go out to the Tent of Meeting.” And the three of them went out. 5 HASHEM descended in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of to the Tent, and He summoned Aaron and Miriam; the two of them went out. 6 He said, “Hear now My words. If there be prophets among you, in a vision shall I, HASHEM make Myself known to him; in a dream shall I speak with him. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; in My entire house he is the trusted one. 8 Mouth to mouth do I speak to him, in a clear vision and not in riddles, at the image of HASHEM does he gaze. What did you not fear to speak against My servant Moses? 9 The wrath of HASHEM flared up against them, and He left. 10 The cloud had departed from atop the Tent, and behold! Miriam was afflicted with tzaraas, like snow! Aaron turned to Miriam and behold! she was afflicted with tzaraas. 11 Aaron said to Moses, “I beg you, my lord, do not cast a sin upon us, for we have been foolish and we have sinned. 12 Let her not be like a corpse, like one who leaves his mother’s womb with half flesh having been consumed!” 13 Moses cried out to HASHEM, saying, “Please, God, heal her now.” 14 HASHEM said to Moses, “Were her father to spit in her face, would she not be humiliated for seven days? Let her be quarantined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not journey until Miriam was brought in.
–The text of Miriams tzaraas affliction is perhaps the most vivid picture of how very devastating this truly was to a person and their loved ones and sheds light to the deep displeasure of God with a person who uses his or her own body as the spreader of slander. Slander is like a spiritual death in that is causes lack of love between people…which God most certainly does not approve of. Immediately Aaron begs for forgiveness, asking that is sister not be likened to one dead. The high priest intercedes. It is the Kohen’s declaration that identifies the tzaraas, and even though God removes it from her she still has the taste of being shut off, shut out and experiences the state of being temporarily unworthy of inclusion in society, and from the heart of society (the Sanctuary.) This seclusion will induce contemplation, introspection and reflection, this separation should lead to serious change.
II Kings 5;1 Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, was an eminent man before his master and well honored, for through him HASHEM had granted victory to Aram. The man was a great warrior- a leper. 2 Aram had gone out on raiding parties, and had captured a young girl from the Land of Israel, and she was [serving] before Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “My master’s prayers [should be brought] before the prophet who is in Samaria; for then he will heal him from his leprosy.” 4 So [Naaman] went and told his master, saying, “Such and such spoke the girl who is from the Land of Israel.” 5 The king of Aram said, “Go and approach [him], and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He went and took in his hand ten talents of silver, six thousand [pieces of] gold and ten changes of clothes. 6 He brought to the king of Israel the letter which said, “…and now, when this letter reaches you, behold I have sent my servant Naaman to you, that you should heal him from his leprosy.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his garments and said, “Am I God that I can take and give life, that this person sends me [instructions] to heal a man of his leprosy? Understand and realize that he seeks a pretext against me!” 8When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had rent his garments, he sent word to the king, saying, “Why did you rend your garments?” Let him come to me now, and he will realize that there is a prophet in Israel!” 9 Naaman came with his horses and chariot and stood at the entrance of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent him a messenger, saying, “Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan; your flesh will become normal again and you will be cleansed.” 11 Naaman was enraged and left. He said, “Behold, I said [to myself] that he would surely come out to me, and stand and call in the Name of HASHEM, his God, and wave his hand over the [diseased] area- and the leper would be healed! 12 Are not Amanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Do not I always bathe in them? Have I become cleansed?” Then he turned and went in a fury. 13 But his servants approached and spoke to him, and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do a difficult thing, would you not have done it? How much more so [now] that he has told you to ‘bathe and become cleansed.'” 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, in accordance with the word of the man of God, and his flesh became like the flesh of a young boy, and he became cleansed. 15 He returned to the man of God and his entire retinue. He arrived and stood before him and said, ” Behold, now I know that there is no God in the whole world except in Israel! …”
-The Mikveh, immersion, is the symbol of the removal of the disease, elimination of a sickness of the soul, a sickness unto death. We can not cure it by ourselves. Our cures are not effective. The only remedy is the atoning work of Yeshua ha Mashiac. We are healed so that we might do, and be what God intended for us. Chosen to do His will as shining lights of His glory, sanctifying His Name here on earth.
Ephesians 5;25 As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, 26 in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, 27 in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect.
Vayikra14;33 HASHEM spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 34 “When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession; 35 the one to whom the house belongs shall come and declare to the Kohen, saying: Something like an affliction appeared to me in the house. 36 The Kohen shall command; and they shall clear the house before the Kohen comes to look at the affliction, so that everything in the house should not become contaminated; and afterward the Kohen shall look at the house.
–We should be diligently building and establishing our lives, our households/families, and our communities to be holy-set apart, dwelling places for the Lord to reside and be sovereign in, dominant over. We should in these days be observant and particular in examining the inner workings, activities, deeds and production…the fruit of these “houses” for God. If there is something that God places here that is meant to grab our attention we should not ignore or neglect to investigate these things and if possible, we should be bringing questions and concerns to Godly people, teachers, leadership for evaluation and counsel. Before the entire house is declared contaminated, remove all the ‘items’ of value, that have been collected and fashioned and treasured…that they not become ‘infected’ or declared impure…by this questionable discoloration (nega-blow, contagion, infliction, spot, wound.)
Vayikra 14;40 The Kohen shall command, and they shall remove the stone that contain the affliction, and they shall cast them outside the city into a contaminated place. 41 And the house shall be scraped on the inside, all around; the mortar that they have scraped they are to pour outside the city onto a contaminated place. 42 They shall take other stones and bring them in place of the stones; and they shall take other mortar and plaster the house. 43 If the affliction returns and erupts in the house after he has removed the stones, after he has scraped the house and after plastering; 44 then the Kohen shall come and look and behold!- the affliction has spread in the house: It is a malignant tzaraas in the house, it is contaminated. 45 He shall demolish the house- its stones, its timber, and all the mortar of the house; they shall take it to the outside of the city, to a contaminated place.
–These seven complete weeks, the period of counting the Omer, between Pesach and Shavuoth (Pentecost) is the very special and crucial time in which we are to examine ourselves thoroughly. Entreating God to reveal and remove for us all that which He finds no favor in, so that when we come to the “foot of the mountain” to be ‘married’ to our King and receive the eternal Word Made Flesh, we can be prepared and honor this special occasion…and truly strive to present ourselves as living sacrifices, as vessels…ready to be fashioned and established as ‘homes’ where the Holy Spirit can rest and lodge and remain with us. If the house we are building seems infected let is scrape inside…all around, let us examine the material that binds the stones of this house, let us evaluate the stones we have built with- down to the foundation these stones and mortar rest upon. For example: Where have our doctrines and ideals stemmed from? What notions and declarations have been presented by the fathers of our faith? If there is something found to be contaminated may we with God’s blessing, remove all this material to the outside of the city…far from the place we wish to invite God into.
–However long and hard we have worked and established our ‘houses’, let us never be too stubborn in our own dying flesh to consider….perhaps there is some renovation and perhaps even demolition required. Read the text of King Uzziah, a man who had built a great and powerful home and name for himself. So honored he became infected with pride which destroyed his life. When he deigns to enter the sacred space of God’s presence, when he appoints himself as consecrated to the Most High and attempts to profane the House of God, it is only the strong anointed of God who assemble and stand up for the renown, the character, the authority and sanctity of the King. They stand for the House of God and for His Throne on earth and cast out the infection from the holy. May we too be willing, ready and strong enough to do the right thing when it comes the honor of the House of God.
II Chronicles 26;16 But as he (Uzziah) became strong, his heart became haughty to the point of destructiveness, and he betrayed HASHAEM his God- he entered the Sanctuary of HASHEM to burn incense upon the Incense Altar. 17 Azariah the Kohen went after him, along with eighty strong Kohanim of HASHEM. 18 They stood next to king Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to HASHEM, but it is for the Kohanim, the descendants of Aaron, who are consecrated, to burn incense. Leave the Temple, for you have been treacherous, and this will not bring you honor from HASHEM, God!” 19 Uzziah became enraged, and he already had a censer in his hand for burning incense. As he was becoming enraged with the Kohanim, a leprous growth appeared on his forehead in the presence of the Kohanim in the Temple of HASHEM, near the Incense Altar. 20 Azariah, the chief Kohen, and all the other Kohanim turned to him, and behold he was leprous on his forehead! So they rushed him away from there; he, too, hastened to leave, for HASHEM had afflicted him. 21 King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in his leprosy in a place of asylum for he was banished from the Temple of HASHEM.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Creator and King of the universe.
You have blessed us with Your Torah of Truth , You have planted among us life eternal…
Blessed are You Lord our God, Gracious Giver of the Torah.
“We beg you with the strength of Your right hand’s great greatness, untie the bundled sins. Accept the prayer of Your people; strengthen us, purify us, O Awesome One. Please, O strong One- those who foster Your Oneness, guard them like the apple of an eye.
Master of the universe, You commanded us through Moshe, your servant, to count the Omer in order to cleanse us from our encrustations of evil and from our contaminations, as You have written in Your Torah: ‘You are to count from the morrow of the rest day, from the day you brought the Omer offering that is waved- they are to be seven complete weeks. Until the morrow of the seventh week you are to count, fifty days.’ so that the souls of Your people be cleansed of their contamination.
May we be cleansed and sanctified with the holiness of Above, and through Yeshua may abundant bounty flow. May he correct our lives, our spirits, and our souls from all sediment and blemish; may he cleanse us and sanctify us with Your exalted holiness. In Yeshua’s name, amein, selah! ”
–ADONAI, El Elyon, Most High God, scrape the inner chambers of my heart…make the house I build acceptable in Thy sight. As I prayed and looked at your maidservant through my own blemished eyes…I felt I could never approach You…the offering I bring before You now is all of me, I know that You see so much more than I can ever identify on my own…I ask that You make use of this vessel bearing Your Name. I ask that you heal all the afflictions of all Your people and open all our hearts to You in these days, deeply…and convict us all to use the time we have left to honor Your eternal promises and magnify how You O Trustworthy Healer….have kept THEM ALL thus far…as evident in the light Your people Israel shine to the darkened world in which we live, evident in the walk of all Your servants….strengthen them, purify us all to serve You with our every breath, with sincerity.
Thank You My King for all You have done for me, and for all You will do for us…
Establish all our handiwork for us, our handiwork may You establish.
In Yeshua’s holy and precious name ask these things, Amein.
Resources/ tools :
-The Complete Jewish Bible-David H. Stern
-The Stone Edition Tanach- artscroll
-Interlinear Scripture Analyzer
-For amazing commentary made much use of this portion please visit:
(I used commentary from 18 & 19)
-excellent resource: Online Tanach, easily searchable.