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Leviticus 14-16 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 14

Purification After Scaly Infection. [a]The Lord said to Moses: This is the ritual for someone that had a scaly infection at the time of that person’s purification. The individual shall be brought to the priest, who is to go outside the camp. If the priest, upon inspection, finds that the scaly infection has healed in the afflicted person, he shall order that two live, clean birds,[b] as well as some cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop be obtained for the one who is to be purified. [c]The priest shall then order that one of the birds be slaughtered over an earthen vessel with fresh water in it. Taking the living bird with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, the priest shall dip them, including the live bird, in the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the fresh water, and then sprinkle seven times on the person to be purified from the scaly infection. When he has thus purified that person, he shall let the living bird fly away over the countryside. The person being purified shall then wash his garments, shave off all hair, and bathe in water,[d] and so become clean. After this the person may come inside the camp, but shall still remain outside his or her tent for seven days. On the seventh day this individual shall again shave off all hair, of the head, beard, and eyebrows—all hair must be shaved—and also wash his garments and bathe the body in water, and so become clean.

10 On the eighth day the individual shall take two unblemished male lambs, one unblemished yearling ewe lamb, three tenths of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log[e] of oil. 11 The priest who performs the purification ceremony shall place the person who is being purified, as well as all these offerings, before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12 Taking one of the male lambs, the priest shall present it as a reparation offering, along with the log of oil, raising them as an elevated offering before the Lord. 13 This lamb shall be slaughtered in the sacred place where the purification offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered, because the reparation offering is like the purification offering; it belongs to the priest and is most holy. 14 [f]Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the reparation offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. 15 The priest shall also take the log of oil and pour some of it into the palm of his own left hand; 16 then, dipping his right finger in the oil on his left palm, he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17 Of the oil left in his hand the priest shall put some on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified, over the blood of the reparation offering. 18 The rest of the oil in his hand the priest shall put on the head of the one being purified. Thus shall the priest make atonement for the individual before the Lord. 19 The priest shall next offer the purification offering, thus making atonement on behalf of the one being purified from the uncleanness. After this the burnt offering shall be slaughtered. 20 The priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar before the Lord. Thus shall the priest make atonement for the person, and the individual will become clean.

Poor Person’s Sacrifices. 21 If a person is poor and cannot afford so much, that person shall take one male lamb for a reparation offering, to be used as an elevated offering in atonement, one tenth of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, 22 and two turtledoves or pigeons, which the individual can more easily afford, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. 23 On the eighth day of purification the person shall bring them to the priest, at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord. 24 Taking the lamb of the reparation offering, along with the log of oil, the priest shall raise them as an elevated offering before the Lord. 25 When the lamb of the reparation offering has been slaughtered, the priest shall take some of its blood, and put it on the lobe of the right ear, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. 26 The priest shall then pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand 27 and with his right finger sprinkle some of the oil in his left palm seven times before the Lord. 28 Some of the oil in his hand the priest shall also put on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified, where he had sprinkled the blood of the reparation offering. 29 The rest of the oil in his hand the priest shall put on the head of the one being purified. Thus shall he make atonement for the individual before the Lord. 30 Then, of the turtledoves or pigeons, such as the person can afford, 31 the priest shall offer one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering, along with the grain offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the Lord for the person who is being purified. 32 This is the ritual for one afflicted with a scaly infection who has insufficient means for purification.

Fungal Infection of Houses. 33 [g]The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 34 When you come into the land of Canaan, which I am giving you to possess, if I put a fungal infection in any house of the land you occupy, 35 the owner of the house shall come and report to the priest, “Something like an infection has appeared in my house.” 36 The priest shall then order the house to be cleared out before he goes in to examine the infection, lest everything in the house become unclean. Only after this is he to go in to examine the house. 37 If the priest, upon inspection, finds that the infection on the walls of the house consists of greenish or reddish spots which seem to go deeper than the surface of the wall, 38 he shall go out of the house to the doorway and quarantine the house for seven days. 39 On the seventh day the priest shall return. If, upon inspection, he finds that the infection has spread on the walls, 40 he shall order the infected stones to be pulled out and cast in an unclean place outside the city. 41 The whole inside of the house shall then be scraped, and the mortar that has been scraped off shall be dumped in an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then other stones shall be brought and put in the place of the old stones, and new mortar obtained and plastered on the house. 43 If the infection breaks out once more in the house after the stones have been pulled out and the house has been scraped and replastered, 44 the priest shall come; and if, upon inspection, he finds that the infection has spread in the house, it is a corrosive fungus in the house, and it is unclean. 45 It shall be pulled down, and all its stones, beams and mortar shall be hauled away to an unclean place outside the city. 46 Whoever enters a house while it is quarantined shall be unclean until evening. 47 Whoever sleeps or eats in such a house shall also wash his garments.

48 If the priest finds, when he comes to the house, that the infection has in fact not spread in the house after the plastering, he shall declare the house clean, since the infection has been healed. 49 To purify the house, he shall take two birds, as well as cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop. 50 One of the birds he shall slaughter over an earthen vessel with fresh water in it. 51 Then, taking the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn, together with the living bird, he shall dip them all in the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 Thus he shall purify the house with the bird’s blood and the fresh water, along with the living bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet yarn. 53 He shall then let the living bird fly away over the countryside outside the city. Thus he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.

54 This is the ritual for every kind of human scaly infection and scall, 55 and for fungus diseases in garments and houses— 56 for marks, lesions and blotches— 57 to give direction when there is a state of uncleanness and when a state of cleanness. This is the ritual for scaly infection.

Chapter 15

Sexual Uncleanness.[h] The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: [i]Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any man has a genital discharge, he is thereby unclean. Such is his uncleanness from this discharge, whether his body[j] drains freely with the discharge or is blocked up from the discharge. His uncleanness is on him all the days that his body discharges or is blocked up from his discharge; this is his uncleanness. Any bed on which the man with the discharge lies is unclean, and any article on which he sits is unclean. Anyone who touches his bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Whoever sits on an article on which the man with the discharge was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Whoever touches the body of the man with the discharge shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If the man with the discharge spits on a clean person, the latter shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Any saddle on which the man with the discharge rides is unclean. 10 Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening; whoever carries any such thing shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 11 Anyone whom the man with the discharge touches with his unrinsed hands shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 12 Earthenware touched by the man with the discharge shall be broken; and every wooden article shall be rinsed with water.

13 When a man with a discharge becomes clean[k] of his discharge, he shall count seven days for his purification. Then he shall wash his garments and bathe his body in fresh water, and so he will be clean. 14 On the eighth day he shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, and going before the Lord, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, he shall give them to the priest, 15 who shall offer them up, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the Lord for the man because of his discharge.

16 [l]When a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until evening. 17 Any piece of cloth or leather with semen on it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.

18 If a man has sexual relations with a woman, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

19 [m]When a woman has a flow of blood from her body, she shall be in a state of menstrual uncleanness for seven days. Anyone who touches her shall be unclean until evening. 20 Anything on which she lies or sits during her menstrual period shall be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 22 Whoever touches any article on which she was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 23 Whether an object[n] is on the bed or on something she sat upon, when the person touches it, that person shall be unclean until evening. 24 If a man lies with her, he contracts her menstrual uncleanness and shall be unclean for seven days; every bed on which he then lies also becomes unclean.

25 [o]When a woman has a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period. 26 Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstrual period, and any article on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstrual period. 27 Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; that person shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.

28 When she becomes clean from her flow, she shall count seven days; after this she becomes clean. 29 On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 30 The priest shall offer one of them as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the Lord for her because of her unclean flow.

31 You shall warn the Israelites of their uncleanness, lest they die through their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle, which is in their midst.

32 This is the ritual for the man with a discharge, or who has an emission of semen, and thereby becomes unclean; 33 as well as for the woman who has her menstrual period; or one who has a discharge, male or female; and also for the man who lies with an unclean woman.

Chapter 16

The Day of Atonement. [p]After the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died when they encroached on the Lord’s presence, the Lord spoke to Moses and said to him: Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he pleases[q] into the inner sanctuary, inside the veil, in front of the cover on the ark, lest he die, for I reveal myself in a cloud above the ark’s cover. Only in this way may Aaron enter the inner sanctuary. He shall bring a bull of the herd for a purification offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall wear the sacred linen tunic, with the linen pants underneath, gird himself with the linen sash and put on the linen turban. But since these vestments are sacred, he shall not put them on until he has first bathed his body in water. From the Israelite community he shall receive two male goats for a purification offering and one ram for a burnt offering.

Aaron shall offer the bull, his purification offering, to make atonement[r] for himself and for his household. Taking the two male goats and setting them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting, he shall cast lots to determine which one is for the Lord and which for Azazel.[s] The goat that is determined by lot for the Lord, Aaron shall present and offer up as a purification offering. 10 But the goat determined by lot for Azazel he shall place before the Lord alive, so that with it he may make atonement by sending it off to Azazel in the desert.

11 Thus shall Aaron offer his bull for the purification offering, to make atonement for himself and for his family. When he has slaughtered it, 12 he shall take a censer full of glowing embers from the altar before the Lord, as well as a double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, and bringing them inside the veil, 13 there before the Lord he shall put incense on the fire, so that a cloud of incense may shield the cover that is over the covenant, else he will die. 14 Taking some of the bull’s blood, he shall sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the ark’s cover and likewise sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times in front of the cover.

15 Then he shall slaughter the goat of the people’s purification offering, and bringing its blood inside the veil, he shall do with it as he did with the bull’s blood, sprinkling it on the ark’s cover and in front of it. 16 Thus he shall purge the inner sanctuary[t] of all the Israelites’ impurities and trespasses, including all their sins. He shall do the same for the tent of meeting, which is set up among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one else may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters the inner sanctuary to make atonement until he departs. When he has made atonement for himself and his household, as well as for the whole Israelite assembly, 18 [u]he shall come out to the altar before the Lord and purge it also. Taking some of the bull’s and the goat’s blood, he shall put it on the horns around the altar, 19 and with his finger sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times. Thus he shall purify it and sanctify it from the impurities of the Israelites.

The Scapegoat. 20 When he has finished purging the inner sanctuary, the tent of meeting and the altar, Aaron shall bring forward the live goat. 21 Laying both hands[v] on its head, he shall confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and their trespasses, including all their sins, and so put them on the goat’s head. He shall then have it led into the wilderness by an attendant. 22 The goat will carry off all their iniquities to an isolated region.

When the goat is dispatched into the wilderness, 23 Aaron shall go into the tent of meeting, strip off the linen vestments he had put on when he entered the inner sanctuary, and leave them in the tent of meeting. 24 After bathing his body with water in a sacred place, he shall put on his regular vestments, and then come out and offer his own and the people’s burnt offering, in atonement for himself and for the people, 25 and also burn the fat of the purification offering on the altar.

26 The man who led away the goat for Azazel shall wash his garments and bathe his body in water; only then may he enter the camp. 27 The bull and the goat of the purification offering whose blood was brought to make atonement in the inner sanctuary, shall be taken outside the camp, where their hides and flesh and dung shall be burned in the fire. 28 The one who burns them shall wash his garments and bathe his body in water; only then may he enter the camp.

The Fast. 29 This shall be an everlasting statute for you: on the tenth day of the seventh month every one of you, whether a native or a resident alien, shall humble yourselves[w] and shall do no work. 30 For on this day atonement is made for you to make you clean; of all your sins you will be cleansed before the Lord. 31 It shall be a sabbath of complete rest for you, on which you must humble yourselves—an everlasting statute.

32 This atonement is to be made by the priest who has been anointed and ordained to the priesthood in succession to his father. He shall wear the linen garments, the sacred vestments, 33 and purge the most sacred part of the sanctuary, as well as the tent of meeting, and the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and all the people of the assembly. 34 This, then, shall be an everlasting statute for you: once a year atonement shall be made on behalf of the Israelites for all their sins. And Moses did as the Lord had commanded him.

Footnotes:

  1. 14:1–32 The rites here are for purification from human scaly infections after recovery, not for healing (but cf. 2 Kgs 5:10–14).
  2. 14:4–7 The bird rite is also found for purifying a house from a fungus (vv. 49–53). The rite apparently removes impurity from the individual and, by means of the live bird, sends it away to unpopulated areas (v. 7). This is similar to the dispatch of a goat laden with sins on the Day of Atonement (16:21–22).
  3. 14:5–7 The blood from the bird serves as a ritual detergent, much like the blood from the purification offering (see notes on 4:3). It is not a sacrifice, however, since it is not performed at the sanctuary. Fresh water: lit., “living water,” taken from some source of running water, not from a cistern.
  4. 14:8 Bathe in water: This phrase occurs frequently in Lv 14–16 and is imprecise. It can refer to both ordinary and cultic washing. The context will determine the meaning. At this early period in Israel’s history it is probably not a reference to cultic immersion in a Mikveh—a Second Temple period ritual.
  5. 14:10 Log: a liquid measure of capacity attested in the Bible only here. It is apparently equal in capacity to one-half liter.
  6. 14:14–17 The application of blood and oil here facilitates the movement of the person from the severely impure to the pure profane sphere; it reintegrates him or her into the community. Cf. 8:23–24.
  7. 14:33–53 Discussion of fungi in houses is probably delayed until here because it deals with a case pertaining to living in the land (v. 34) as opposed to the foregoing cases which apply even in the wilderness. The rules on fabrics (13:47–58) apply to the tent dwellings in the wilderness.
  8. 15:1–33 Sexual discharges may be unclean partly because they involve the loss of life fluids or are otherwise involved with phenomena at the margins of life and death.
  9. 15:2–3 The uncleanness here is perhaps a discharge of pus because of urethritis (often but not solely associated with gonorrhea).
  10. 15:3 Body: here a euphemism in the Hebrew for “penis.”
  11. 15:13 Becomes clean: i.e., when his discharge ceases. The rite that follows is for purification, not a cure; see note on 14:1–32.
  12. 15:16–18 Menstrual blood, semen, and other impurities in Lv 11–15 are considered “impure” either because they are force of life whose “loss” represents death or because, as uniquely human conditions, they are symbolically incompatible with the deity and the divine abode, the sanctuary. Lv 15:16 refers to a spontaneous nocturnal emission, and either because this marks life and death boundaries or because of its uniquely human (versus divine) character, any contact with it renders the object or person ritually unclean. Thus, in 15:18 it is not the marital act itself that is polluting, but only semen.
  13. 15:19–24 This is normal menstruation.
  14. 15:23 An object: the Hebrew is unclear. This translation means that even an object on the woman’s unclean bed or chair can mediate uncleanness to another, but only if all the object touched is still on the bed or article sat upon, thus forming a chain of simultaneous contact.
  15. 15:25–30 This is menstruation outside the normal cycle or for periods longer than normal. A woman with a chronic blood flow was healed by touching the tassel of Jesus’ cloak (Mt 9:20–22; Mk 5:25–34; Lk 8:43–48).
  16. 16:1–34 This is the narrative sequel of the story in chap. 10. The ritual in chapter 16 originally may have been an emergency rite in response to unexpected pollution of the sanctuary.
  17. 16:2 Not to come whenever he pleases: access to the various parts of the sanctuary is strictly controlled. Only the high priest can enter the most holy place, and only once a year. The veil: the Letter to the Hebrews makes use of the imagery of the Day of Atonement (in Hebrew Yom Kippur) to explain Jesus’ sacrifice (Hb 9:1–14, 23–28). Ark’s cover: the meaning of kappōret is not certain. It may be connected with the verb kipper “to atone, purge” (see note on v. 6) and thus refer to this part of the ark as a focus of atonement or purification.
  18. 16:6 Make atonement: the Hebrew verb kipper refers specifically to the removal of sin and impurity (cf. Ex 30:10; Lv 6:23; 8:15; 16:16, 18, 20, 27, 33; Ez 43:20, 26; 45:20), thus “to purge” in vv. 16, 18, 20, and 33, and more generally to the consequence of the sacrificial procedure, which is atonement (cf. Lv 17:11). “Atonement” is preeminently a function of the purification sacrifice, but other sacrifices, except apparently for the communion sacrifice, achieve this as well.
  19. 16:8 Azazel: a name for a demon (meaning something like “angry/fierce god”). See note on 17:7.
  20. 16:16 Inner sanctuary: this refers to the most holy room (vv. 2, 11–15). Trespasses, including all their sins: the term for “trespasses” (Heb. pesha‘im), which has overtones of rebellion, and the phrase “all their sins” indicate that even sins committed intentionally are included (such as when the sinner “acts defiantly,” as in Nm 15:30–31). This complements the scheme found in Lv 4 (see note on 4:3): intentional sins pollute the sanctuary more and penetrate even further than inadvertent sins, namely to the most holy place. The same for the tent of meeting: this rite may be that found in 4:5–7, 16–18 where blood is sprinkled in the anterior room and blood is placed on the horns of the incense altar there. Cf. Ex 30:10.
  21. 16:18–19 Thus a third locale in the sanctuary complex, the open-air altar, is purified. See the summaries in 16:20, 33.
  22. 16:21 Both hands: this gesture is for transferring sins to the head of the goat and is apparently different in meaning from the one-handed gesture that precedes the slaughtering of sacrificial animals (1:4; 3:2; 4:4; see note on 1:4).
  23. 16:29 Humble yourselves: also v. 31. The idiom used here (Heb. ’innâ nephesh) involves mainly fasting (Ps 35:13), but probably prohibits other activities such as anointing (Dn 10:3) and sexual intercourse (2 Sm 12:15–24). Such acts of self-denial display the need for divine favor. Fasting is often undertaken in times of emergency and mourning (cf. 1 Sm 14:24; 2 Sm 1:12; 3:35; cf. Mk 2:18–22).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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