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Author Topic:   Intent of Mosaic Law on "Leprosy"
On it
Junior Member (Idle past 4187 days)
Posts: 5
Joined: 07-05-2007


Message 1 of 10 (408862)
07-05-2007 11:35 AM


Hello all.

I'm looking into various aspects of the bible and its claimed divine inspiration, and am in the process of studying the passage in Leviticus which deals with what has been translated as "leprosy" as it often cited as an example of hygiene guidance before knowledge of germs was widely available.

Whilst I haven't finished yet, I'm leaning towards the conclusion that the ostracism of "lepers" wasn't particularly effective in preventing a spreading of the disease, but was mainly intended to keep what was viewed as ritually "unclean" (and perhaps what was brought about by God as punishment) separate from what was "clean".

One of the reasons for this is Leviticus 13:12-17 (English Standard Version):

12 And if the leprous disease breaks out in the skin, so that the leprous disease covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see, 13 then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean. 14 But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. 15 And the priest shall examine the raw flesh and pronounce him unclean. Raw flesh is unclean, for it is a leprous disease. 16 But if the raw flesh recovers and turns white again, then he shall come to the priest, 17 and the priest shall examine him, and if the disease has turned white, then the priest shall pronounce the diseased person clean; he is clean.

Here's what The Oxford Companion to the Bible has to say on this point (part of the entry by George Wesley Buchanan, "Leprosy"):

Those who had been diagnosed as lepers by the priest were required to separate themselves from the community. This was not for medical but religious reasons. Biblical lepers were treated not as ill but as ritually unclean. The priest had no technique for healing lepers; he only determined whether or not they had been healed ("cleansed"). When he considered the affliction healed, he then offered the correct sin and guilt offerings so that the former leper might be atoned for this impurity.

Lepers had two colours of skin, which was taboo, as was plowing with two kinds of beasts, raising two kinds of grain in one field, weaving two kinds of thread into one piece of cloth, or cross-breeding two kinds of cattle (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:10,11). Those covered completely with the disease, so that they had only one colour of skin, were allowed to return to the community, because they were no longer lepers. Once they began to heal, however, they were classified as lepers and were isolated again.

I'm particulary interested in whether we know of any diseases which would have come under these laws and ceases to become infectious when spread all over a person's body or not? Is such a thing possible? (I haven't found anything yet.)

Thanks.

Edited by On it, : No reason given.

Edited by On it, : Clarification.

Edited by On it, : Yet another mistake.


Replies to this message:
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AdminCoragyps
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 10 (408876)
07-05-2007 2:42 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by On it
07-05-2007 11:35 AM


Hello, On_it, and welcome aboard! I presume you want this in "The Bible: Accuracy and Inerrancy" in the Science forums?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by On it, posted 07-05-2007 11:35 AM On it has responded

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On it
Junior Member (Idle past 4187 days)
Posts: 5
Joined: 07-05-2007


Message 3 of 10 (408877)
07-05-2007 2:57 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminCoragyps
07-05-2007 2:42 PM


Thanks for the welcome. Yes, I thought that board would be the most suitable.
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AdminCoragyps
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 10 (408881)
07-05-2007 3:13 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

Interesting topic, if a bit outside my expertise. I had never noticed the "all one color" rule - I guess I spent too much time being mindboggled by houses and fabrics catching leprosy.

Edited by AdminCoragyps, : No reason given.


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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4029 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 5 of 10 (408884)
07-05-2007 3:51 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by On it
07-05-2007 11:35 AM


Cutaneous lesions break out on the skin of young adults consisting in discoloured or bronzed spots on dark skins or slightly reddish ones on light coloured skins. The edge of the lesions is more or less marked and distinct. According the patient's defence reactions specific clinical aspects develop later from this first lesion which is called "the undetermined one". This was made accurately clear by J. Languillon* in the early nineteen sixties and then by Ridley and Jopling.

Whenever the patient's resistance is strong and stable, he develops the so-called Tuberculoid Leprosy with characteristic cutaneous and nerve lesions. This leprous neuritis strikes preferentially some nerves such as those of the cervical plexus, and also the ulvar and median nerves, and the external popliteal nerve. This neuritis results in paralyses and in an impaired trophicity. Bacilli are scarce and found clasped into dense inflammatory tissues and the patient is not contagious.

With an individual who has no resistance, a special variety occurs which is called Lepromatous Leper. The patient displays infiltrated cutaneous lesions called "lepromas". Neurological disorders are unobtrusive and there are frequent visceral lesions. Bacilli are easily found and the patient is contagious.

Between these two well characterized varieties ,there is a wide range of others which are named "intermediate varieties" because of unstable and fluctuating defence reactions.

Apparently, there are two forms of leprosy, one 'clean' and one 'unclean.

You may be putting the horse before the cart in deciding that a religious connotation came before the observation of the two types of symptoms. It is more so that observations which were not understood took on a religious symbolism. There was no distinction between relgious 'unclean' and hygenic 'unclean'. No seperation between 'just a disease' and ' a punishment from God'.

On it writes:

I'm particulary interested in whether we know of any diseases which would have come under these laws and ceases to become infectious when spread all over a person's body or not? Is such a thing possible? (I haven't found anything yet.)

Perhaps by the time Leviticus was written, real life observation had become part of superstition and religion. Segregation of lepers continued well into the 1800's, and I am not sure that it did nothing to help the spread of leprosy, but I would also not put this down as 'proof' of any secret knowledge coming from God. We could ask how the Israelites knew to segregate lepers, and fear would be an obvious reason that requires no thought or revelation.

I don't see anything in the passage which talks about two colors of skin. It talks about raw skin as opposed to healed skin.

The part in Leviticus where a person shows his disease to the priest, and comes back later for a review, sort of ties in with the above mention of the 'undetermined' lesion. Again, I would ask you to think about whether this notion of color was the cause or the result of the fear of leprosy.

Hope that helps, at least to get the topic going.


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On it
Junior Member (Idle past 4187 days)
Posts: 5
Joined: 07-05-2007


Message 6 of 10 (408886)
07-05-2007 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by AdminCoragyps
07-05-2007 3:13 PM


Houses and garments
AdminCoragyps writes:

Interesting topic, if a bit outside my expertise. I had never noticed the "all one color" rule - I guess I spent too much time being mindboggled by houses and fabrics catching leprosy.


Yeah; I didn't notice it at first either, and it only entered my thinking when I read the quoted piece by Mr. Buchanan above.

Isaac Asimov (Asimov's Guide to the Bible) wrote that a leprous house or garment was probably covered with mildew or mold. Both a skin disease and mildew involve a change of colour, and the priest offered sacrifices following a similar liturgy for both (Leviticus 13:2,3).

Edited by On it, : Missing slash in closing tag.


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IamJoseph
Member (Idle past 1745 days)
Posts: 2822
Joined: 06-30-2007


Message 7 of 10 (408915)
07-05-2007 11:04 PM


SCIENCE CAME FROM THE OT.
Yes, its an interesting topic. But I think it can fit in as science: we may have here the first introduction of 'science'. Science was ushered in via 'Medicine', and the lepor depictions in Leviticus is the first separation of 'contagious and infectious' deseases from the occult in all recorded history.

The translation of 'leper' is subjective and approximated. But that there is here the first indications of malignancy, non-antidotal/incurable desease, its identification and treatment, that it is contagious and infectious - says a lot. This is not contradicted by ancient biblespeak of terms such as 'cleansing and purifying': in today's language and understandings, these refer to hygiene, protection, germs and bacteria. Note, the first mandated law for the washing of hands, which kills off 90% of germs, comes from the same source, and medically approved for doctors and hospitals some 300 years ago. The first sanitary laws also come from here.


    
IamJoseph
Member (Idle past 1745 days)
Posts: 2822
Joined: 06-30-2007


Message 8 of 10 (408916)
07-05-2007 11:14 PM


quote:

I'm particulary interested in whether we know of any diseases which would have come under these laws and ceases to become infectious when spread all over a person's body or not? Is such a thing possible? (I haven't found anything yet.)

Deseases which could be cured were pervasive thoughout the nations in ancient times - upto the time of the Romans, who had city sized refugee cities, but mostly the infected were killed off. And because the desease spread, it was seen as a spell, and dealt with via occult means. Leviticus marks the first change in paradigms here.

The id of a malignancy and spreadable desease was denoted by white hairs which stemmed from under the skin and flesh, and examining any variances for two periods of examination. Only certain, specific indicators concluded a spreadable, incurable diagnosis, and thus refuge cities we're mandated and all possessions were burnt. Thus was occultism ended and science ushered in via medicine: an empirical cause replaced the premise of spells, and sorcery and magic forbidden as an advocation and pointer to medicine.

Edited by IamJoseph, : No reason given.


    
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 54 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 9 of 10 (408925)
07-06-2007 12:25 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by On it
07-05-2007 11:35 AM


it's not leprosy
hansen's disease is relatively modern, and apparently didn't event exist in biblical times. the best candidate i can think of (that also affects houses and clothes) is mold.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzaraath


אָרַח

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IamJoseph
Member (Idle past 1745 days)
Posts: 2822
Joined: 06-30-2007


Message 10 of 10 (408936)
07-06-2007 1:50 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by arachnophilia
07-06-2007 12:25 AM


Re: it's not leprosy
quote:

hansen's disease is relatively modern, and apparently didn't event exist in biblical times. the best candidate i can think of (that also affects houses and clothes) is mold.

Mold is not contagious or incapacitating. The biblical affliction related to white hairs initiating from below the skin and flesh surface. Perhaps mold and uncleanliness would cause it.


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