Bible Follies: God Is Confused About Leprosy and Mold

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Dave Matson's picture
Bible Follies: God Is Confused About Leprosy and Mold

In Leviticus 13, 14:1-32 (dealing with a dreaded skin disease), Leviticus 13: 47-59 (mildew or mold on clothing and leather goods), and Leviticus 14: 33-57 (mold or mildew in houses) God's book teaches us a thing or two about science, giving us a rare, infallible, heavenly insight into the nature of reality. Here we find a discussion of various forms of physical corruption (read leprosy) and God's prescription for dealing with them.

Many Bibles use words like "mildew" or "mold" in translating Leviticus 13: 47-49 and Leviticus 14: 33-57 because that's presumably what the ancient author was actually talking about. However, such translations hide an ancient ignorance. The VERY SAME Hebrew word used in those cases of "mold" or "mildew" is used for the dreaded skin disease (leprosy) in Leviticus 13 and 14:1-32! Without modern science, which identifies leprosy as a very specific disease quite apart from other skin diseases or growths, all forms of corruption were suspect. Might not that growth eating into the wall of your house or working its way into a garment or a leather item infect you? And, any growth that started on you might turn into full-blown leprosy! Heaven forbid! Leprosy was a dreaded corruption that, in the ancient Hebrew mind, manifested itself in various forms. This was serious! Hence, the extreme remedies, especially for certain types of skin growths.

I would think that if God had created mold and leprosy he should know the difference between them! If there ever was an account of a people terrorized by a lack of modern knowledge, it is to be found here in Leviticus. The ancient Hebrews are terrified by mold on their clothing or houses which is seen as forms of corruption that might infect them and turn into that dreaded skin disease, leprosy.

In the case of clothing or leather goods, a greenish or reddish growth is promptly shown to the priest who puts the item away for 7 days. After 7 days, if the item still shows growth, it must be burned. (You don't mess around with leprosy!) If the growth seems to have stopped, then the item is put away for another 7 days. Then, the item is inspected again. If the original growth even retains its color the item is burned. I guess clothing and leather goods were not so easy to replace in those days, justifying a "second chance."

If a greenish or reddish grown appeared on the wall of your house (mold or algae) you immediately reported it to the priest who ordered everything to be moved out of the house before inspecting the growth. If the greenish or reddish spots appeared to be eating into the wall, then the priest locked the house up for 7 days. At that time the priest examined the spot again. If the growth had spread, he ordered that part of the wall (including affected stones) to be dug out and dumped outside the village in a spot reserved for unclean things. Then the plaster on the interior walls was scrapped. New stones and fresh plaster were applied. If those pesky spots reappeared then the house must be torn down and the stones, earth, and plaster hauled to that place for unclean things.

If the house appeared to recover from this dreaded corruption, then the priest performed this purification ceremony:

"To purify the house, he shall take two birds, some cedar wood, a red cord, and a sprig of hyssop. He shall kill one of the birds over a clay bowl containing fresh spring water. Then he shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the red cord, and the live bird and shall dip them in the blood of the bird that was killed and in the fresh water. And he shall sprinkle the house seven times." (Leviticus 14: 49-51, Today's English Version)

The live bird gets dipped in the blood of its cousin! The holy ceremony presumably gave the house some supernatural protection against further corruption. You could get a good night's sleep. In case you are wondering what happened to the other, lucky bird, it was released to fly away outside the city or camp.

The same silly ritual (and more) was performed for someone who appeared to be healed of a dreaded skin disease (which could have been the beginning of a full-blown leprosy). Two birds are again involved, but a lamb is also sacrificed and its blood is dabbed behind the right ear lobe, on the right thumb, and on the big toe of the right foot! Moreover, you had to shave off ALL your hair! If these divine procedures didn't work, then you were pronounced "unclean" and had to live in a leper's colony.

If anyone can read this and not see the ignorance and fears of primitive man at work, then that person should pull his or her head out of the sand and get some fresh air! Obviously, no divine author wrote these passages.

Attempts to say that this is obsolete, Old Testament stuff overlooks two things: 1) Nowhere in the Old Testament does any author suggest that his material will be superseded by a later book. 2) At no time do these laws concerning leprosy in its various manifestations make any sense. As God's laws, they were as stupid then as they are stupid today.

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Nyarlathotep's picture
Sounds like the superstitions

Sounds like the superstitions of iron age goat herders. Oh wait, that is exactly what it is!

the_believer's picture
I wonder that you wouldn't

I wonder that you wouldn't have more fun on a forum for linguisticians.

chimp3's picture
What a gory book the bible is

What a gory book the bible is. Every one knows washing in blood is not a way to get clean. Christians?

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