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presented in the manner of a Trespass Offering, another as a Sin Offering, and a ewe-lamb as a Burnt Offering, each being accompanied with a Meat Offering of flour mixed with oil. In case, however, of the poverty of the leper, a single lamb for the Trespass Offering, with the corresponding Meat Offering, and two turtledoves or young pigeons for the Sin and Burnt Offerings, sufficed. In either case a small quantity of oil was to be added,* of which the priest was to pour a portion into his left palm, and, with one finger dipped in it, to sprinkle some drops in the direction of the Tabernacle, and touch the right ear, hand, and foot of the leper, after having, in like manner, touched them with the blood of the animal slain for a Trespass Offering. Then pouring what remained of the oil on the leper's head, he declared him to be wholly reinstated.t
If there are parts of this ceremonial, the significance of which we are now unable to explain, it is natural to suppose that some had their origin in practices anterior to the Law. But, in general, we see that its extent and complexity tended to impress on the mind of the priest a sense of responsibility for the careful exercise of a discretion on his part, so important to the public safety; and that the deliberation, with which it caused him to pronounce his decisions, tended to relieve the individual, when examined and discharged, from further suspicion, and the people from further uneasiness respecting meeting with him in society. The reasons for the extremely solicitous attention to this disease, are made apparent by a little attention to its malignant nature.
* The “log” was the smallest liquid measure; about half a pint.
† Lev. xiv. 9-32. The ceremony of touching the right ear, hand, and foot, we have already seen used on a different occasion, See page 213. “ Upon the blood of the Trespass Offering,” (verse 17,) means, in addition to, over and above, that blood, which had been already sprinkled. Compare verse 28.
Of this, I will but mention a few particulars, among those which have been collected by writers on the subject, from the testimony of different travellers in the East.
The leprosy, a disease common in Asia and Africa, and not unknown in Europe, from which, however, it has mostly disappeared since the fifteenth century, is one of the most distressing maladies to which the human frame is subject. The body becomes covered with hard, rough tubercles, which finally terminate in ulcers, that penetrate till they produce a caries of the bones. The voice becomes hoarse, resembling the sound well-known among us, as produced by the croup. The eyes project, and are with difficulty turned to the right or left. The tongue swells, and becomes dry and discolored; and the blood is black, with a putrid odor. The joints of the extremities become affected, swell, and mortify, till they successively separate and drop off, without pain, and the wound granulates and heals. Throughout, there is no acute suffering; but the patient feels a numbness in his hands and feet. The misery of the disease is aggravated by its slow progress, which often occupies twenty years and more, till, in its last stage, the sufferer “becomes a hideous spectacle, and falls in pieces.” It is extremely difficult of cure; predisposition to it is hereditary; and it is actively contagious.*
In connexion with this subject, we find directions given respecting what is called the leprosy of houses, and of garments. Various considerations show that the term “leprosy” is not here intended to be used of the
* Further particulars may be seen in Jahn's “ Archæologia Biblica,” cap. 12, § 188, 189; and in Michaelis' “Commentaries” &c., book 4, chap. 4, part 2, § 2-4. The latter writer gives full extracts from the Report of M. Peyssonel, a physician sent by the King of France, in 1757, to Guadaloupe, to observe the leprosy imported, some years before, from Africa, into that island.
disease which affects the human system, but has a sense originating in a figurative application, as agriculturists speak of the “cancer;" for example, in trees;* and that, accordingly, the introduction of the subject here is to be accounted for on the grounds of the association suggested by the name, and of the similarity, in some respects, of the ritual prescribed in relation to the leprosies of the different kinds. For instance; the leprosy in a garment is capable of being seen, and of affecting either the warp or woof in woven cloth, while it leaves the other part unharmed; † neither of which circumstances could occur with a garment, which was merely the medium for communicating a human malady. And, in the case of houses, it is equally clear, that no leprous infection was dreaded; for then the last course which a wise legislator could have taken, would be to order, that men should expose themselves to it by entering a suspected house to remove all the furniture previous to its examination. I
Accordingly modern commentators are for the most part agreed in receiving the term “leprosy,” in these passages, in the figurative acceptation which I have suggested. In the directions respecting the leprosy of garments, they find rules of the economical class, having in view the suppression of the fraudulent practice of employing unsound materials in linen or woollen fabrics, or in preparations of leather. Whoever found himself in possession of a damaged article of either of these kinds, was not only punished, for his carelessness in making the purchase, by its inferior serviceableness and more speedy decay, but, when the defect was ascer
* So, inversely, the word “rot,” is used with us, for a disease of animal life, by a transfer from its primitive sense of decomposition of dead matter. † Lev. xiii. 49-51.
| xiv. 36.
tained, and was still found to be extending after the removal of a portion, he was compelled to forfeit the whole; otherwise, when it had been carefully cleansed, he might resume its use.* When the loss to the owner was in such cases so unavoidable and so serious, great caution would necessarily come to be exercised in manufacturing for one's own use, and in purchasing from others; and those, on the other hand, who manufactured for sale, would be placed under a strong motive to honest dealings, and to a careful selection of their materials and supervision of their workmen, in view of the discredit and loss of business, which, when their customers were made such sufferers by their neglect, would immediately
If it should be said, that the prevention of the sale of goods of inferior quality is a matter with which law does not commonly interfere, being content to leave it to the care of him who would be the loser by their purchase, it might be replied, that, among an ignorant and inexperienced people, law may advantageously do not a few things, which, under different circumstances, are better trusted to individual discretion. But the truth is, that these simple arrangements of the Mosaic code have a striking analogy with those Inspection Laws of modern times, by which communities provide for the honest conduct of some branch of commerce, and for keeping up its credit, when it is an important source of the public wealth. The institutions of Moses, in this particular, chiefly differed from those laws in virtually constituting every citizen, who either manufactured or purchased, a public inspector; and in compelling him to execute the office carefully, under a penalty which would presently be sure to reach him, and which would convey to him an effectual lesson for the future. I add, that the rule in question would connect itself with neatness and propriety of attire, and so with health, decency of manners, and ultimately a higher civilization, in ways, which, at this distance of time, it is not to be supposed that we should be able to enumerate. A stained, squalid garment, exposed the wearer presently to remark and suspicion. It might be merely foul, and not such as was forbidden by the law. But, the suspicion once excited, the only way to remove it was, to have the article inspected by the priest, who, if any doubt existed on his mind, was to keep it a week for further examination, and then, if he returned it, to see that it was first thoroughly cleansed. Rather than subject himself to all this trouble, every one would see that the better way was, to go abroad attired in such a manner, as to attract no unfavorable observation from his neighbours. *
* Lev. xiii. 47–59. Neither in this case, nor in that of houses, does Moses drop any hint, that the leprosy by which they were affected could be communicated to man. Says Michaelis, (" Commentaries" &c., book 4, chap. 4, part 2, § 5,) “In regard to wool and woollen stuffs, I have consulted the greatest manufacturer in the electorate of Hanover, and he informs me, that what he has read in my German Bible, at this passage, will be found to hold good, at any rate with regard to woollen articles ; and that it proceeds from what is called dead wool, that is, the wool of sheep that have died by disease; ..... and that, according to the established use of honest manufacturers, it is unfair to manufacture dead wool into any article worn by man, because dermin are so apt lo establish themselves in it, particularly when it is worn close to the body, and warmed thereby.” This shows how the case presented by Moses, of leprosy being found in the warp and not in the woof, and vice versá, would be likely to occur, good wool being used for the one, and bad wool for the other. The circumstance of a tendency to harbour vermin also acquires a special importance, in the case of a people, who, like the Jews, wore woollen next the skin, and who lived in such a compact society.
The passage, which gives directions respecting the
* I think it highly probable, that the metaphorical word “ leprosy” was the rather used in this passage on account of the disgusting ideas, which, by association with the human disease, the view of a blemish in clothing, called by the same name, would excite in the mind. And this hint will also help us to account for the connexion in which these directions occur. VOL. I.