Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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strawman
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Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by strawman » Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:03 am

I am reading Leviticus, and I'm having trouble with chapters 13 and 14. In these chapters we see regulations about skin diseases, mildew, and the diagnoses of such as clean or unclean.

A quick google today brought up mainly the text itself, some commentaries, and a few atheist blogs displaying a high degree of ignorance and sarcasm but little info.

Matthew Henry's thoughts are insightful but essentially typological.

Perhaps most helpful to me was a wikipedia page on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzaraath. While this article makes the passage clearer from a rabbinical perspective, I still have trouble with the science of the passage.

Specifically, 13:51 states that if mildew has spread through the cloth, it is harmful. Does science back this up? Is there any fungus/mold/etc that would be spread in clothes and be harmful to a human? Do the symptoms listed in Leviticus match? What about the diagnoses of skin diseases? Do they match modern medical diagnoses?

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Re: Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by bizzt » Fri May 16, 2008 11:01 am

Barnes Talks about it a bit. I am not exactly sure what you are looking for here.
Leviticus 13 -
Lev. 13—14: The Laws Relating to Leprosy
The leprosy is the most terrible of all the disorders to which the body of man is subject. There is no disease in which hope of recovery is so nearly extinguished. From a commencement slight in appearance, with but little pain or inconvenience, often in its earlier stage insidiously disappearing and reappearing, it goes on in its strong but sluggish course, generally in defiance of the efforts of medical skill, until it reduces the patient to a mutilated cripple with dulled or obliterated senses, the voice turned to a croak, and with features of ghastly deformity. When it reaches some vital part it generally occasions what seem like the symptoms of a distinct disease (most often dysentery), and so puts an end to the life of the sufferer.
It was an all but universal impression that the leprosy, above all other diseases, came upon man as an irresistible stroke of superhuman power, either in the way of punishment for personal sin or of an affliction with some definite purpose. This natural suggestion was confirmed and realized upon several occasions in the history of the Israelites. A stroke of leprosy was the mark of the divine displeasure at the slow faith of Moses Exo_4:6, at the contumacy of Miriam Num_12:10, at the dishonesty of Gehazi 2Ki_5:27, and at the impious presumption of Uzziah 2Ch_26:19-20. One of the denunciations against Joab, on account of the death of Abner, was that his children should be lepers 2Sa_3:29.
It is now considered by all the best authorities that the Hebrew word for the disease does not denote the disease which is more properly called the leprosy (see Lev_13:12), but that which is known to physicians as the elephantiasis: the origin of which is ascribed to an animal poison generated in or received into the blood, and accumulated therein probably by a process analogous to fermentation. This poison primarily affects either the skin, or the nerves and nervous centers. In this way, two forms of elephantiasis are distinguished, the “Tuberculated,” and the “anaesthetic” or “non-tuberculated,” of which the former is the more common.
Medical skill appears to have been more completely foiled by elephantiasis than by any other malady. The anaesthetic form alone seems to be in some degree amenable to remedies and regimen.
The question as to whether elephantiasis is contagious or not, is one of most unique interests in connection with the Levitical law. Many facts tend to prove that, as a rule, it was not; but that under certain circumstances (e. g. when the ulcers are running) contagion might be developed.
Some more Info about Mold can be found here. (all quick searches on Google)
http://moldblogger.com/how-to-remove-mo ... -clothing/

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madscientist
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Re: Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by madscientist » Sun May 18, 2008 11:27 am

Wasn't it just a normal kind of leprosy? Like after - from bad hygiene, or something like that - the thing just came. And also easily transmitted it was - so people had to be kept apart. Isn't that what Lazarus recovered from?

Also related to this is the stuff with clean/unclean. I read Leviticus some months ago and also did not understand all the rules. Now i cannot imagine how it would be like if we lived by them today! As some examples - if someone touched a dead animal or something he was unclean and stuff. OK the question is - why to have such rules?? What IS the point? And that he remained unclean until the evening etc. And how would they be? Would they be saying "I am unclean don't touch me" to everyone who was nearby?

Another one is with nocturnal emissions of men... was it something open to public? If i remember well they were not to be touched and were unclean. And their clothes and bedsheets were also unclean... Now would they have to tell everyone that? Or how would they go about that? I cant imagine it today!

Another one is with the cities where they murder someone and have to be there until the death of the priest. WHY??! What if the other is not angry at them? What if the person did not wish to live apart? What has the priest to do with it? Ones are then sort of "lucky" or "unlucky" depending on when he died - could have been days, or tenths of years... does that mean he was not free?

The set of rules also made me question them and what was the point. I get some, like don't murder & stuff, but not these ones. The "unclean" concept is rather something spiritual than psychological or physical. And why was it bad to be unclean? Why did God demand all such laws which are not really straight forward? It is kind of nice we do not have to abide by them nowadays... is that because it is after Christ's death? And also - did these laws only apply to Israelites or were the other nations also taught about them? How long they lasted for? Until Christ came? Bible does not say so - but did the others know any laws of morality and so? And also what was the purpose of Israelites going from ET to where they did? Apart from obeying God?
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Re: Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by strawman » Sat May 16, 2009 7:35 pm

Thanks for the replies. Perhaps the most interesting explanation I've found so far (regarding so-called 'leprosy' in people in these passages) comes from a link that came up in a completely unrelated google search. It is by a messianic rabbi:

http://www.beitsimcha.com/s_ser/s_ser_0003.asp

In a nutshell, he makes the case that the Hebrew word used in these chapters of Leviticus is not "leprosy," nor is it "contagious skin disease." He states that the NIV study Bible points out that "contagious skin disease" is an anachronism--ironic since this is the phrase the NIV uses. Instead, the word, he claims, refers to an outward manifestation of a specific inward spiritual condition.

What is especially intriguing about this Rabbi Bank's interpretation is the connection with sins of the tongue; equally intriguing is his interpretation on why the spreading of the skin condition over the entire body allowed one to be declared clean again...

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Re: Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by jlay » Mon May 18, 2009 7:26 am

What killed more native Americans? Small pox. How was it spread? Through blankets and other cloth traded by white settlers.

We have seen the dangers of mold and the health risk they pose. And we are just learning some of the dangers of fungus contamination.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by zoegirl » Mon May 18, 2009 8:38 am

Smallpox is a virus....just saying....

It doesn't invalidate your argument aboutthe regulations and disease....just clarifcation :D
"And we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ"

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Re: Leprosy, mildew--scientific? (Lev 13-14)

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Post by jlay » Mon May 18, 2009 9:24 am

The text of Lev 13 and 14 also talks of sores on the flesh, and the need to wash one's garments.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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