M’tzora – “Leper”

The name of this week’s parasha is M’tzora, which means ‘leper” and covers Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33.  Adonai gave Moses instructions on cleansing a person from leprosy. The priest would go outside the camp and examine the person.  If the person was healed from leprosy, the priest ordered that two live clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop be brought for the healed person. One bird was sacrificed in a clay pot over running water, while the other bird was dipped with the cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop in the dead bird’s blood. The person was then sprinkled seven times by the priest, who pronounced the person clean and released the living bird.

The person then washed their clothes, shaved off all their hair, and bathed with water.  They could return to the camp but must stay outside their tent for seven days.  On the seventh day, they would again shave off all their hair, wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and then they would be clean.

On the eighth day, the person brought two unblemished male lambs, a year-old unblemished female lamb, roughly six quarts of flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and approximately one pint of oil.  The priest presented the person and these items before God at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, offered one of the male lambs for a guilt offering, with the oil, and presented both items as a wave offering.

The priest then sacrificed the lamb inside the sanctuary and placed some of its blood on the right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the right big toe of the healed person, symbolically covering the whole person. This ritual demonstrated the role that God must have in a person’s life.  Submission to Adonai is required in everything a person thinks and does. It’s with the ear that a person listens, and what they listen to affects how they think. The thumb is what a person uses to grasp things, which symbolizes their actions.  A person’s feet are what moves them, and this reflects where they go and what their priorities are. This shows us of our need to yield every aspect of who we are to God’s will.

After the priest took some of the oil and sprinkled it before Adonai seven times, he placed some of the remaining oil that he took on top of the blood before putting the rest of it on the person’s head. The priest then sacrificed the sin offering to make atonement for the healed person and offered up the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar.  The priest had made atonement for the healed person, who was clean.

If the person couldn’t afford these animals, they could bring one male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved, roughly two quarts of flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, approximately one pint of oil, and two doves or pigeons. The procedures for sacrificing the lamb and using the oil are repeated here, but one of the pigeons or doves was sacrificed as a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, together with the grain offering.

Adonai then gave Moses and Aaron instructions on removing leprosy from houses. When the priest was notified of these conditions, he ordered everything removed from inside the house before inspecting it. If there were greenish or reddish spots that were more than surface deep, he left the house and closed it for seven days. The priest returned on the seventh day to inspect the house – if the leprosy had spread, he ordered the leprous stones removed and replaced, and the leprosy scraped away, with new plaster used to replaster the house.

If the leprosy returned, the priest would order the house demolished, and the remains of the house removed to an unclean place outside the city.  Anyone who entered the house was unclean until evening. If the leprosy disappeared after the house was repaired, the priest pronounced the house clean, and took two birds with cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop to repeat the cleansing procedure performed on the person to cleanse the house.

The parasha ends in chapter 15 with Adonai’s instructions for the Israelis to be cleansed after bodily discharges.  Anyone or anything touched by an unclean person became unclean.  The person with the discharge must wait seven days after they are cleansed before washing themselves to be clean. On the eighth day, the person brought two doves or pigeons to the priest, who sacrificed one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering and made atonement for the person with the discharge.

Parasha M’tzora shows the importance God places on cleanliness and holiness. The standards in this parasha were put into place for the Israelis to keep themselves clean, and to provide restoration for those healed from these conditions.  Yeshua emphasized the importance of following these God-given standards to the man He healed from leprosy in Luke 5.

Parasha M’tzora is also relevant to us in that sin is like spiritual leprosy. We are born into the world as spiritual lepers – spiritually unhealthy and spiritually unclean.  Thankfully, we have a perfect High Priest who provided the once-for-all-time sacrifice for our sins – Messiah Yeshua!  Like those with leprosy who were isolated outside the camp, Yeshua suffered outside the camp when He died for our sins, so that we can be healed of our spiritual leprosy.  His death is like the sacrifices used to cleanse lepers and cleanse those who were unclean, so let’s avail ourselves of the atonement and cleansing God has proved through Messiah Yeshua!

And let’s resolve with God’s help to remain holy and tell the other spiritual lepers the Good News that Yeshua can heal, cleanse, and restore them, and give them a new, healthy life!