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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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