Parashah 28: M’tzora (Person afflicted with Tzara’at)

Parashah 28: Leviticus 14:1-15:33

(In a regular year, read with Parashah 27;  in a leap year read separately.)

Person afflicted with Tzara’at

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘This is to be the law concerning the person afflicted with tzara‘at on the day of his purification’” (Leviticus 14:1-2).

This parashah begins with purification guidelines for someone who was afflicted with tzara’at and has been healed.  After being examined by the cohen outside the camp and being declared ‘clean,’  two living clean birds along with cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop leaves were to be gathered.

One of the birds was to be slaughtered in a clay pot over running water.   The living bird along with the scarlet yard, the wood and the hyssop was dipped in the blood of the slaughtered bird over running water.   The healed individual was to be sprinkled seven times on the areas that had the skin disease. The live bird was then set free in an open field.  To complete the process, the individual washed their clothes, shaved their hair and bathed in water in order so they could reenter the camp, but remained outside their tent for seven days.  After seven days, the individual was to shave his hair, beard and eyebrows, wash his clothes and bathe in water a second time. 

On the eighth day,  two male lambs and one female lamb along with 6 ½ quarts of fine flour mixed with olive oil and ⅔ pint of olive oil were presented to the priest at the entrance to the Mishkan.  One male lamb was a guilt offering along with the ⅔ pint of olive oil and waved before Elohim.  The blood of the guilt offering was put on the tip of the individual’s ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.  Some of the olive oil was poured into the priest’s left hand.  He dipped his right finger into the oil and sprinkled it seven times before Elohim.   Some of the remaining oil was put on the tip of the right ear of the individual, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot and on the blood of the guilt offering.   The rest of the oil in the priest’s hand was put on the individual’s head; thus the cohen would make atonement for him before Yahweh.   The priest was to offer a sin offering and make atonement for the individual and slaughter the burnt offering.

“The plague, or leprosy came as a punishment for arrogance. What is the remedy? Let him relinquish his arrogance and consider himself as lowly as a worm (which was used to dye the scarlet wool) and the hyssop (a low scruffy shrub).”

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:17).

As a healing herb, hyssop is known as an astringent, helping to contract or shrink blood vessels and stopping hemorrhaging.   For wounds, it is an antiseptic and prevents infection.  As a diuretic, hyssop helps to detoxify the body and is effective against eczema and dermatitis.

“If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing” (1 John 1:9).

The scarlet thread, made from red worms, represents the blood of Yeshua that not only removed our sins, but also purified us from that sin.

“Pride goes before destruction, and arrogance before failure” (Proverbs 16:18).

The cedar is one of the tallest trees in the world, wide and imposing.  My mother-in-law lived near the redwood forests and some of the decaying tree trunks, not as large as the cedar,  had a diameter large enough for my entire family of six to stand inside.

From the stature of the cedar came the symbolism of pride and self-importance.  Whenever there is lashon hara, there is arrogance along with the personal justification that the one speaking the evil tongue is better than the one being spoken about.  Cedar wood is a reminder to the individual not to walk around in pride, but to remain humble in spirit.

The essential oil from cedarwood is used for healing seborrhoea caused by a malfunction of the sebaceous glands.  This skin disorder is commonly known as eczema and looks ugly as the skin starts peeling off the scalp, eyebrows and anywhere else there are hair follicles.  Cedarwood oil helps treat the inflammation causing the infection, reducing the peeling and regulating the production of sebum.

After putting a dead bird and water in a clay pot, (according to ‘unclean’ regulations), it would need to be destroyed.  After being healed from tzara’at, it was important not to repeat the same sin and be reinfected.  Destroying the clay pot after the ritual would be a reminder that complete atonement for the sin has been made.

Blood from the dead bird was put on the right ear, thumb of the right hand and on the big toe of the right foot.  This is the exact same ritual done for anointing the Levitical priests.  In essence, once the purification was completed, the individual could rejoin the community, the kingdom of Yahweh’s priest.

Tzara’at in the Home

If a person suspected an infectious disease in his home, the house was emptied and inspected.  If the tzara’at was mold or mildew, there would be green or reddish depressions that went deep into the surface of the walls.  If the mold spread over the walls, the infected stones were removed and thrown outside the city in an ‘unclean’ place.   The house was scraped and re-plastered.   If the mold returned, the house was completely torn down with all of its stones, wood and plaster and taken to the ‘unclean’ place.   If the mold didn’t return, the house would be considered ‘clean.’

Hebrew Word Pictures

Mildew or yiraqon ירקון – yod, resh, koof, vav, noon

finished work of the authority behind the binding of life

 

“I put an infection of tzara’at in a house in the land that you possess” (Leviticus 14:34).

Why would Elohim inflict a house, a family’s place of refuge, with mold or mildew?  One commentary suggested it was a moral warning that the family had become selfish and blind to the needs of others.

Rashi suggests something different. The Hebrew states, “I will give” an affliction to the house suggesting there is a blessing for the house.   The Canaanites who lived in the land hid their treasures in the walls of their homes as they prepared for war with the Israelites who intended to take over their land.  HaShem, wanting to give the Israelites a gift, taught them the laws of house-afflictions and the need to tear down the walls. When the Israelite owner tore down the walls of his house, he would discover the hidden treasures.

Tzara’at is related to sin.  When the sin of tzara’at is in the ‘house,’  it could refer to family lineage like the House of Ezra or the House of Levi. When lashon hara is committed within a family, slander and gossip can be passed from one generation to another destroying the integrity of the ‘House’ from the foundation up.   Think McCoy’s and Hatfields!  This is not the behavior or attitude ‘I AM’ wants in His ‘House’ from His children.

Believers are built together as ‘living stones into a spiritual house offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Adonai’ (1 Peter 2:5).  When we lashon hara, we become a stone that contains mold and mildew in that house.  According to the regulations for tzara’at, the infected stone must be removed and put out of the city. 

Male and Female Regulations

“I can do all things through Messiah whose power strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

 

When believers claim, “We can’t keep the whole Torah,” they are usually justifying that keeping any of Torah is impossible, so why try.  The truth is no one can keep the whole Torah; no one is supposed to. There are different regulations for men, women, priests, for those living in the Land and those living outside the Land in the diaspora, foreigners and natural-born citizens of Isra’el, for when there is a Temple and when there is not.

We should strive, however, to obey the instructions are meant for us.   Men should keep men’s regulations; women should keep women’s.  Foreigners should not try to live as though they are citizens living in the Land.  No one, Jew or non-Jew, should follow the regulations for Temple services as there is no Temple.

This parashah discusses bodily discharges coming from men or women, including seminal emissions and blood.  It describes regulations for whether the discharge is flowing or whether it has stopped.  Elohim goes into detail regarding objects that become ‘unclean’ when they comes in contact with a person with a discharge. 

Whoever sits on a chair or a saddle that  an ‘unclean’ person used must wash his clothes and bathe.  If someone touches the body of an ‘unclean’ person with a morning hug, or launders their clothes, they have to follow the washing protocol.  If the ‘unclean’ person spits on someone, that someone is to wash their clothes and bathe.  If the ‘unclean’ person touches a clay pot, it must be broken; a wooden spoon or other utensil needs to be rinsed in water.

A man with a seminal emission is to bathe his entire body in water and be ‘unclean’ until evening, the beginning of the next day.  Any clothing, leather or fabric, on which there is semen must be washed.  After a man and woman have sexual relations, they are both to bathe themselves in water and be ‘unclean’ until evening, the beginning of the next day.   

When a woman has an issue of bleeding, she is considered ‘unclean’ as in her time of niddah.  Everything she lies or sits on is ‘unclean’ until evening, the beginning of the next day.  Whoever touches her bed or anything she sits on is to wash their clothes and bathe and be ‘unclean’ until evening, the beginning of the next day. If the woman’s issue of bleeding is different from her monthly cycle, she is to consider herself in niddah for the entire time.  Every bed she lies on, everything she sits on is ‘unclean’ and, whoever touches those objects will become ‘unclean.’

“In this way you will separate the people of Isra’el from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in a state of uncleanness for defiling my Tabernacle which is there with them” (Leviticus 15:31).

The common denominator regarding every discharge, whether from a man or woman, is washing.   This type of cleanliness is normative in most western cultures.  Generally, showers or baths are taken on a daily basis and bed clothes are washed regularly.  Such action suggests that in practice, Torah is obeyed, whether it is actually professed or not. 

Yeshua and Purification

Clay Jar

“Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are” (Philippians 2:6-7).

Living Water

Now on the last day of the festival [of Tabernacles], Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking!  Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!’” (John 7:37-38)

The Cedar

“And when he appeared as a human being, he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death — death on a stake as a criminal!” (Philippians 2:8).

The Dead Bird

“God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Hyssop

“A jar full of cheap sour wine was there; so they soaked a sponge in the wine, coated it with hyssop and held it up to his mouth” (John 19:29).

The Scarlet Thread

“However, one of the soldiers stabbed his side with a spear, and at once blood and water flowed out” (John 19:34).

The Living Bird

“However, now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you do get the benefit — it consists in being made holy, set apart for God, and its end result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22).

Haftarah (Old Testament Readings)

2 Kings 7:3-20

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Hebrews 13:4

Midrash M’tzora: Purification of Sha’ul

Discuss what Sha’ul and the four men who had taken a purification vow may had done according to the purification regulations (Acts 21:20-28).

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