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Leprosy

Leviticus 13 and 14 give God’s commands concerning leprosy.  Leviticus 13:1-44 tells how it was diagnosed.  A priest examined the skin of the person suspected of having leprosy and declared him clean or unclean on the basis of that examination.  The next two verses describe how a person declared unclean was to live.

The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45,46)

He was isolated and forbidden to have contact with those without leprosy.

Today the term “leprosy” is given to a disease called Hansen’s disease.  A comparison of Hansen’s disease and biblical leprosy shows that they are not the same.  Here is how the National Institute of Health describes Hansen’s disease.

Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is a rare bacterial infection that affects the skin, nerves and mucous membranes. After exposure, it may take anywhere from 2 to 10 years to develop features of the condition. Once present, common signs and symptoms include skin lesions; muscle weakness or paralysis; eye problems that may lead to blindness; nosebleeds; severe pain; and/or numbness in the hands, feet, arms and legs.

Hansen’s disease

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Touching a leper

Early in his preaching ministry Jesus cleansed a leper.

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”

And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
Mark 1:40-44

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A curse in disguise

When someone bad happens to someone but  good results from it the experience is sometimes called a blessing in disguise.  But often people experience something that at first seems good but has harmful results.  One example of this is people who have won a large amount of money in a lottery and then found their lives ruined as a result.  I have never heard anyone call such an event a curse in disguise but it would be an accurate description.

One time Jesus encountered a curse in disguise but wasn’t hurt by it because he recognized it for what it really was.

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Ear, hand, and foot

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
Luke 5:12-14

Jesus told him to go to the priest because the Mosaic law required that an offering be made by anyone who had been cleansed from leprosy.

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