(In a regular year, read with Parashah 27; in a leap year read separately.)
“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. 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, the same ritual done for anointing the Levitical priests.
The living bird along with the scarlet yard, the wood, and the hyssop was dipped in the blood of the slaughtered bird. 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. The individual washed their clothes, shaved their hair, and bathed so they could reenter the camp, but still 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 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. As a guilt offering, one male lamb along with the ⅔ pint of olive oil was waved before Adonai. 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. The rest of the oil in the priest’s hand was put on the individual’s head making atonement for him before Adonai.
“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 to hemorrhaging. For wounds, it is an antiseptic and prevents infection. As a diuretic, hyssop helps detoxify the body.
“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 removes our sins, but also purifies 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 arrogance. Whenever there is lashon hara, there is arrogance along with 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 cedar wood is used for healing seborrhea 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. Cedar wood oil treats inflammation caused by the infection, reducing the peeling and regulating the production of sebum.
After putting the 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 to not repeat the same sin and be reinfected. Destroying the clay pot after the purification ritual would be a reminder that complete atonement for the sin has been made, and the individual could rejoin the community.
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 an ‘unclean’ place. If the mold didn’t return, the house would be considered ‘clean.’
Hebrew Word Pictures
Mildew or yiraqon – ירקון – yod, resh, kof, vav, nun
– finished work highest authority, what is 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. Adonai, 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.
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 Adonai 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.
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 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, those living outside the Land in the diaspora, foreigners and natural-born citizens of Isra’el and for when there is a Temple and when there is not.
We should strive, however, to obey the instructions are meant for us individually. 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 gentile, 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 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.
“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 Torah is obeyed whether or not it is actually professed.
Yeshua and Purification
“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).
“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)
“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).
“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).
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