Jewish Quarterly Review (1913-14) 357-418.
Public Domain. Digitally prepared by Ted Hildebrandt (2004)
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY’ LAWS
AN ANALYSIS OF LEVITICUS, CHAPTERS 13 and 14.
By MORRIS JASTROW,
THE composite character of the two chapters--Leviticus
13 and 14--comprising the laws and regulations for the
diagnosis and treatment of various skin diseases, and of
suspicious spots appearing in garments and houses, together
with the purification rites, has long been recognized.1 Indeed,
the mere enumeration of the variety of subjects treated
of in these two chapters, which form a little code by
themselves, furnishes a presumption in favour of the view
that the chapters represent a gradual growth. A closer
study of the two chapters not only confirms this pre-
sumption, but also shows that the growth betrays an
even more complicated process than is the case in other
little groups of laws and regulations, such as Lev. 1-5.
We not only find that the two chapters may be subdivided
into numerous smaller sections, each representing a supple-
ment added to the basic stock of the little code, but that
within these sections, glosses, comments, and illustrations
are introduced which point to a treatment of the older
Hebrew codes, not unlike that accorded to the later Code of
1 See especially Baentsch's remarks on p.364 of his Kommentar zu den
Buchern Exodus und Leviticus
358 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
Judaism, known as the Mishnah, and which by the addition
of a steadily-growing commentary and continuous elabora-
tion, known as the Gemara, grew into the Talmud. In
other words, we can distinguish in Leviticus 13 and 14
(as in other groups within the Priestly Code) elements
which correspond to the division between Mishnah and
Gemara in the great compilation of Rabbinical Judaism,
and we can also trace in the growth of the two chapters
the same process which produced the Gemara as a super-
structure to the Mishnah. The intrinsic importance of the
two chapters, and the frequency with which they have
been treated because of their medical interest,2 justify
the endeavour to carry the analysis by a renewed study
somewhat further than has yet been done, particularly
as this analysis is a conditio sine qua non for an under-
standing of the medical aspects of the chapters. While
it is not my purpose to discuss in detail these medical
aspects, I shall touch upon them at the close of this article,
chiefly with a view of showing the manner in which they
should be considered, and also to furnish the reasons for
the conviction that I have gained that physicians who
have occupied themselves with these two chapters have
approached them from a wrong starting-point, and hence
have reached conclusions which, are correspondingly
erroneous. To put it bluntly, before discussing the
fundamental question whether sara’at is ‘leprosy’ or not,
one must settle which verses of the two chapters deal
2 See the literature is Baentsch'a Kommentar, p. 364, and in Munch's
Die Zara'ath der Hebr. Bibel, to which further additions may be made, such
as Jay F. Schamberg's article on ‘The Nature of the Leprosy of the Bible’,
Phila. Polyclinic. VII (1898), Nov. 19-26, or Biblical World. March. 1899;
pp. 162-9. See further, note 144.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 359
In a formal--not a documentary--analysis of the two
chapters, we may distinguish--leaving aside headings and
(1) 13.2-46, diagnosis and treatment of various symptoms
of pathological phenomena on the skin: (a) txeW; (se’et),
(b) tHaPasa (sappahat), (c) tr,h,Ba (baheret), (d) tfaracA (sara’at),
(e) NyHiw; (sehin), (f) hvAk;mi (mikwah), g) qt,n, (netek), (k) qhaBo
(bohak), (i) Hareqe (kere'ah), (h) HaBeGi (gibbea’ah).
(2) 13.47-59, sara’at in garments.
(3) 14.1-31, purification ritual at the time when the
healing process of sara’at on persons was complete.
(4). 14.32-47, diagnosis and treatment of sara’at ap-
pearing in houses.
(5) 14. 48-53, purification ritual for the case of sara’at
It appears, then, that suspicious marks or spots--to use
the vaguest and most indefinite kind of terms--may appear
on persons, garments (in stuffs), and in houses, and that
in connexion with each of these categories the diagnosis,
treatment, and purification ritual are set forth. Throughout
the two chapters, the term (nega’ sara'at) is constantly
introduced, and by the side of this fuller term two abbre-
viated expressions sara’at and nega’.4
3 In order to make the results of the investigation accessible to others
than specialists in the Old Testament. I transliterate most of the Hebrew
4 nega’ sara’at, Lev. 13.2, 3, 9, 20, 25, 27, 47, 49, 59; 14.3, 34, 54;
Lev. 13.3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 17, 22, 29, 30, 31, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 50, 51, 52,
53, 54-58; 14. 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 43, 48; sara’at, Lev. 13.8, 11, 12, 13,
15, 25, 30, 42, 43, 51, 52; 14.7, 44, 55, 57. The synonymity of the three
expressions. is shown by the Greek text, which occasionally has sara’at,
e. g. 13-20, where the Hebrew has nega’ sara’at, or adds sara’at, e. g. 13.29,
where the Hebrew has merely nega’. The word nega’ (‘mark' or ‘spot’)
360 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
Taking up the first section, one is struck by the large
number of medical terms introduced, supplementary to
sara’at. In connexion with each term nega’ is used, which
is thus shown to be a general term for any kind of a disease
of he skin, indicated by a mark or marks. Clearly these
supplementary terms represent attempts to differentiate
been pathological phenomena which in an earlier, less
scientific age were either grouped under sara'at or under
the general designation of 'marks' (nega'im). A closer
inspection of the second verse of the thirteenth chapter
furnishes the safe starting-point for a correct analysis.
The verse reads as follows: ‘If a man has on the skin of
his flesh a swelling (se’et),5 growth (sappahat),6 or a bright
spot (baheret),7 and it becomes on the skin of his flesh
a nega’ sara’at, he is brought to Aaron the priest, or to
one of his sons, the priests.’ The name Aaron occurs in
this verse only. Throughout the two chapters merely 'the
priest' is used. We may, therefore, cut out ‘Aaron’ as
well as the phrase ‘or one of his sons the priests’ as, com-
ments--corresponding to our foot-notes to explain what
is meant by the term ‘the priests’. In the second place,
the repetition of ‘on the skin of his flesh’ is open to
has the general force of a ‘plague’ or a ‘disease’, from the stem naga'
‘to strike down’. The etymology of sara'at is somewhat obscure, though
indications point likewise to the meaning 'strike' for the underlying stem
whit would make sara'at a general term like nega', and not a specific
5 se’et from nasa', 'to raise', clearly indicates a rising on the skin, i. e. a
swelling of some kind.
6 sappahat, of which wispahat (vers. 6, 7, 8 is a. synonym, from sapah
'to add, supplement', refers to something added to the skin, i. e. a growth.
7 baheret, from bahar, ‘to shine’, is an inflamed bit of skin, i. e. a shining
spot (to use an indefinite term), intended to describe the prominent feature
of an inflammation.
THE SO-CALLED ' LEPROSY' LAWS-JASTROW 361
suspicion, which is reinforced by the awkward construction
lenega' sara’at, i. e. 'to a nega’ sara’at'. A glance at the
various commentators will show us the difficulties involved
in getting a satisfactory meaning.8 If now we remove
the three terms 'swelling', 'growth', and 'bright spot',
and assume that the verse in its original form spoke of
the sara'at only, the construction becomes perfectly simple,
to wit: 'If a man has on the skin of his flesh a sara'at
mark (i. e. nega' sara'at), and he is brought to the priest.
The proof of the correctness of this view is furnished by
the third verse, which reads: 'And the priest sees the mark
(nega') on the skin of his flesh, and the hair at the mark has
turned white, and the mark (nega') appears deeper than
the skin of his flesh, then it is a sara'at mark, and9 he shall
declare him unclean.' Here, then, we have the beginning
of the chapter in its original form a diagnosis of what
constitutes sara'at, and a simple means of determining
whether a man has sara'at or not. It is just the kind of
diagnosis that we may expect in an age in which medical
knowledge is based on observation merely.
With these two verses as a starting-point, we can proceed
without much difficulty to pick out other verses which
belong to the older stratum of the chapter. Verses 9-13
8 To translate as Strack, Baentsch, and others, 'and it develops in the
skin of his flesh to a nega' sara'at', meets with a fatal objection through
the circumsance that it is a nega' sara’at only after the priest has pronounced
it as such, as indicated in ver. 3.
9 The text adds, 'and the priest shall see it', which is superfluous, since
the words 'and the priest sees' stand at the beginning of the verse. Either
the repetition is the addition of some pedantic scribe who wanted to make
it perfectly clear that the words 'he shall declare him unclean' refer to
the priests declaration, or it is a gloss that has slipped into the wrong
362 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
furrnish further details regarding the sara'at. They read,
exclusive of glosses and comments, as follows:
'If there is a sara'at mark on a man, and he is brought
to the priest: and the priest sees that there is a white
swelling (seen on the skin that has turned the hair white,10
is a chronic11 sara’at in the skin of his flesh, and the
priest shall declare him unclean.12 But if the sara’at
steadily spreads in the skin until the sara’at covers the
entire skin,13 and the priest sees that the sara'at covers
the entire flesh,14 [then the priest] shall declare the mark
10 The text adds, anticipating the diagnosis in the next secaon (14-17),
‘and there is raw flesh (basar hay) in the swelling'. As a synonym to
basar hay, another version or a commentator used the term (hyaH;mi mihyah)
‘a raw spot'. A later scribe embodied the synonym in the text which thus
11 tn,w,On (nosenet, literally 'of old standing', which I believe conveys
the idea that we attach to 'chronic’. The ordinary rendering 'recurrent'
misses the nuance and is without warrant.
12 Additions . 1) 'without shutting him in', harking back to the ‘shutting
in’ as a test in the case of baheret (vers. 4-5; (a) 'for he is unclean',
xUh xmeFA yKi, a second comment to explain why he is not shut in. These
brief comments are just in the style of the Gemara. If amplified, vers. 10-11
cold easily be put in the form of a Mishnah and a Gemara as follows;
The law is that if the priest sees that a white swelling on the skin has
turned the hair white, it is a chronic sara'at. Now since in the case of
a ‘white shining spot’ it is said (Lev. 13. 4) that the victim is shut in for
seven days, you might suppose that in the case of a 'white swelling' this
should also be done. It is not required. Why not? Because a 'white
selling' of itself makes him unclean.
13 Two comments are added: (1) namely, 'the mark (extends) from his
head to his feet'; (2) 'according to the complete inspection of the priest',
i.e. it is only upon the inspection of the priest, not upon the report of the
victim or of any other person, that the diagnosis of the whole body being
covered with the we can be established.
14 Instead of, all his flesh' (OrWAB;-lKA) the Greek version has ‘all his skin’.
15 Two glosses: (1) ‘all turned white’ to the word ‘flesh’; (2) 'he is
clean';--the final decision. This decision, 'he is clean' or ‘he is unclean',
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY’ LAWS—JASTROW 363
It is clear that we have here (vers. 9-11) a second
diagnosis involving, just as the first, the determination of
the question whether the suspicious mark is a genuine
sara'at or not; and since in the original form of the
diagnosis the decisive indication is, as in the first diagnosis,
the change of colour in the hair to white, the two cases
would be identical but for the addition in the second case
of the symptom of a 'white swelling’. This 'white swelling',
it would seem, is the basis for the decision that it is a case
of chronic sara'at’, as against a simple form of sara'at in
the first diagnosis, where we have the contrast to the
'swelling' on the mark expressed as 'deeper than the skin',
i. e. high-relief in one case and bas-relief in the other.
Placing the two decisions side by side, we can follow the
process which gradually led to tie present complicated
form of the two chapters. The introduction of the 'swelling'
as a new factor16 suggested a consideration of further
symptoms appearing in the skin, and accordingly the first
diagnosis or decision was amplified (ver. 2) by the addition
of (a) a sappahat (tHaPasa), i. e. 'growth'; (b) baheret, i. e.
‘bright spot’; and this naturally leads in turn (vers. 4, 5)
to a diagnosis of baheret and (vers.. 6-8) of what consti-
tutes a mispahat, involving in both cases the determination
after a test or after a double test whether it may develop
into a genuine sara'at or is a harmless manifestation.
To the second decision, however, there is also added
(vers. 12, 13) a diagnosis of a case in which the mark
is frequently added in Lev. 13. and apparently as a quick means for reference
on the part of the priests, who would naturally consult the legal compila-
tions when cases were brought before them.
16 The 'swelling' se’it in ver. 2 thus appears only upon the second
364 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
suspected of being sara'at turns out to be harmless or, to
use the technical language of the decision, 'it is clean'.
The diagnosis rests manifestly again upon pure empiricism:
a mark spreading over the entire body is an innocent
rash, or at all events 'clean'.
We thus have as a part of the original form of the
sara'at Torah three decisions: (a) 'unclean', i. e. genuine
sara'at, in case the hair at the mark turns white and 'the
mark is deeper than the skin; (b) ‘unclean' and 'chronic',
in case the hair turns white and there is a white swelling,
i. e. the mark is higher than the skin ; (c) 'clean', if the
mark spreads over the whole body. Verses 14-17, detailing
the case in which 'raw flesh' appears on the skin, evidently
do of belong to the original part of the sara’at Torah17
but represent an addition of the same nature as vers. 24,
due to a further question raised in the course of the
discussion on the three original ordinances, to wit, how
about the case when the flesh becomes raw at the suspicious
spot? The 'Gemara' to the original decisions answers.
(vers. 14, 15) that the moment raw flesh appears the man
is unclean, but that as in the other cases the decision must
be rendered by a priest and after an inspection.18 Just as
in the Talmud one question leads to the other, so in the
implied discussion on the Biblical laws together with the
decisions by the priests or by the later redactors of early
codes, the situation is further complicated by the question:
How about the case in which the raw flesh disappears and
17 See above, note to, where it is suggested that the term ‘raw flesh’
and is synonym mihyah, at the end of ver. 10, are additions due to the com-
bination of the original decisions with the superimposed ones, i. e. of a
Mishnah with a Gemara.
18 The words (ver. 15) 'the raw flesh is unclean' represent a further
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY’ LAWS--JASTROW 365
the spot19 becomes white? The answer is ‘clean’ upon the
inspection and the declaration of the priest.
The balance of the chapter, with the exception of
vers. 45, 46, represents further additions to the original
Torah verses 18-39 taking up various skin troubles sug-
gested by the consideration of the sara’at. Within this
supplement, verses 18-23 take up boils, verses 24-28 burns,
raw flesh, bright marks, &c., verses 29-37 marks on the
head or beard (netek), verses 38-9 very white marks (bohak),
and 40-44 baldness of the head and the dropping off of the
hairs of the eyebrows accompanied by the appearance of
suspicious marks. With ver. 47 an entirely new subject--
marks on garments or stuffs--is introduced, which is dis-
cussed up to the end of the chapter. These references,
therefore, are entirely independent sections, so that the
Mishnah and Gemara for sara’at on the skin of a man
or of a woman ends with ver. 44. The last two verses
of this section (45-6) represent, I venture to think, a part
again of the original sara’at Torah. They read as follows
‘And the one afflicted with sara’at20 who has a mark,
his garment shall be torn and his hair shall grow wild,21
and he shall cover the moustache22 and cry "unclean,
unclean". As long as he has the spot he shall be unclean;23
outside of the camp shall be his dvelling.'24
19 The word ha-nega’ must be supplied after j`Pah;n, in ver. 16, just as it
is found in ver. 17.
20 sarua’ (faUrcA), i. e. the one who has sara'at of which mesora’ ( frAcom;),
the pu'al participle (Lev. 14. 3) is a synonym, and the more common term
occurring fifteen times as against five occurrences of sarua'.
21 The tearing of the garments (srePA) and he growth of the hair (fraPA) are
signs of mourning, hence forbidden to priest (Lev. 10. 6; 21. 10).
22 MPAWA (sapham) ‘the lip beard’, correctly rendered by the Greek version
as mi<stac in 2 Sam. 19. 25.
23 The text has a superfluous 'he is unclean’, perhaps a misplaced gloss.
24 The words 'he shall dwell apart' represent again an addition with
366 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
The last verse of the chapter contains the subscript,
and it is probable that the first part of the verse, ‘This is
the law of the sara’at mark', belonged to the original form
of the section, and was subsequently amplified into the
subscript for the section on marks on garments. Be this
as it may, we have at the beginning of the fourteenth
chapter the second part of the original Torah, dealing with
the purification or dismissal of the one whose mark has
healed. This part, covering 14. 2-8a, reads:
‘This the law of the one who has had sara'at, on
the day of his purification25 when the priest has none to
(the place) outside of the camp, and has seen that the
sara'at mark of the sarua’ is healed.26 Then the priest
shall order two living birds27 to be taken for the one to be
purified, [and cedar wood and scarlet thread and hyssop;]
and the priest shall order the one bird to be killed over
a view of adapting the decision to later social conditions when people dwelt
in cities and not in camps. The addition is an answer to the question put
in the style of the Gemara: 'How about the case of a sarua' who lives in
a city?’ The general principle is in reply enunciated that the stricken
individual must ‘dwell apart’, away from the habitations of his fellows.
In similar fashion the Greek text to Lev. 14. 8, by changing outside of
his tent to 'outside of his house', adapts the older law to later conditions.
See below, p. 375, note 45.
25 The addition ' and he shall be brought unto the priest' is again added
as a Gemara to adapt the law to the later conditions when the diseased
person is merely isolated, and naturally must be brought to the priest. In
the earlier social stage, however, when the diseased dwells outside of the
camp, the priest goes to the place outside of the camp where the sarua'
dwells, and where the purification ritual is carried out, be it noted not in
26 The more natural construction would be: -fgn,mi faUrcAha xPAr;ni hn.ehiv;
tfaracAha instead of faUrcAha-Nmi tfaracAha-fga,n, xPAr;ni hn.ehiv;.
27 Additions: (a) ‘clean’, and (b) then 'cedar wood, scarlet thread, and
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 367
an earthen pot28 at running water;29 and the living bird
he shall dip into the blood of the slaughtered bird,30 and
he shall sprinkle over the one to be purified seven times
and declare him clean, and send off the living bird into
the open.31 And the one purified shall wash his garments,
and shave all his hair, and wash in water, and after that
come to the camp.'
Simple and primitive in character as this ritual appears
to be, it is possible by a further analysis to detect several
component elements pointing to the combination in the
ritual itself of features that do not necessarily belong
together. In the first place, the introduction of 'the cedar
28 i. e. slaughtered so that the blood drops into an earthen pot.
29 MyyiHa Myima ‘living water', which I take here in the sense of ‘running
water'. i.e. at a stream, just as in the Babylonian-Assyrian purification
ritual water from streams was used; e.g. Maklu Series, ed. Knudtzon,
Tablet VII. 116, 'pure water of the deep which springs up in Eridu', or
Cun. Texts, XVII, Pl. 38, 30-34, 'take an earthen vessel which has come
from a large kiln, at the meeting of the streams draw water', &c. Cf. also
Haupt, Sumer.-Akkad. Keilsthrift, p. 9o, III, 3-4, 'pure water, clear water,
sparkling water', all in connexion with incantation and purification rituals.
Langdon Transactions of the Third International Congress for the Hist. of
Religious. I, 249) has called attention to the fact that what he calls ‘services
for private devotion’ were performed frequently by the banks of a river.
The expression 'living water' was also extended to waters flowing into
a well Gen. 26. 19; Jer. 2. 13; 17.13, but in the ritual I believe that
‘running water’ is always intended; so, e.g., Num. 19. 17. The use of
MyyiHa Myima in Lev. 15. 13 is inaccurate, and the Greek (Codd. BA fin, omits
Myy.iHa reading 'he shall wash his body in water', as throughout the chapter
verses 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 21, 27, and elsewhere.
30 The awkward construction of the first half of verse 6, 'the living bird
he shall take it', and its incongruity with the second half of the verse betray
attempts at combination and re-editing. I believe that the verse originally
read: hmAUHw;.ha rOPci.ha MdaB; hyAHaha rOPciha-tx, lbamAv;, to which an amplifying
gloss added Myy.iHaha Myim.aha lfa.
31 Literally. 'over the face of the field', in the sense of allowing it to fly
368 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
wood, scarlet thread, and hyssop' has no apparent con-
nexion with the ritual of the two birds. Outside of our
passage we encounter these three objects together, (a) in
the ritual for 'atoning' the house that has been affected
by marks (Lev. 14. 49-53), which ritual is bodily taken
over from our passage, and, therefore, has no independent
significance, and (b) in the ceremony of the red heifer
(Num. 19. 6) where ‘the cedar wood, scarlet thread, and
hyssop’ are thrown into the ‘burning heap of the heifer’--
not even used for sprinkling, as is implied in the sara’at
ritual. The objects do not in fact seem to serve any
particular purpose, and the ritual in all three cases is
complete without them. The use of the hyssop alone
(Num. 19. 14) in the case of the purification of the house
and contents or furnishings belonging to some one who has
become unclean through contact with a corpse or a grave,
in which case the hyssop is dipped into water by 'a clean
man', and sprinkled over the tent, the furniture and the
inmates, shows that the main idea connected with hyssop
is cleansing.32 The cedar wood in the sara'at and in the
‘red heifer’ ritual appears to be a subsequent addition,
both hyssop and cedar wood suggesting by their fragrance
purification, like the burning of frankincense which in
the case of minhah or cereal offering, is entirely burnt on
the altar.33 The scarlet thread, presumably for tying
the mass together, introduces a further symbolism by
nature of the red colour,34 into which, however, we need
32 Note also the use of hyssop in Exod. 12. 22, where the ‘purification’
idea passes over into that of ‘protection’.
33 e. g. Lev. 2. 2, whereas of the meal and oil, and subsequently of the
wine, only a handful is offered, while the rest is given to the priest.
34 Cf. Isa. 1. 18, 'if your sins be red as scarlet', &c., suggested by
a Jewish commentator in the Mikraot Gedolot.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 369
not enter here. The hyssop35 and cedar wood being thus
associated with a cleansing process of a distinctive character,
whereas the use to which the two birds are put is purely
symbolical, the thought naturally suggests itself that hyssop
and cedar wood were employed in the case of the person
afflicted to afford him bodily relief--in other words, they
formed part of the medical treatment in an early cultural
stage, and on this account were combined with a ceremony
intended to transfer the disease from the individual to an
animal--in this instance a 'scape-bird'. That manifestly
is the purpose to be served by the bird, to be sent off at
large carrying with it the sara’at. We thus have two
distinct ideas introduced into the purification ritual in its
present form: (a) a quasi-curative ceremony, and (b) a
transfer of the disease. This combination further suggests
that this part of the ritual itself was originally intended
actually to free the afflicted from the sara’at, and by the
conservative force of established custom was retained as an
ingredient of a later 'atoning'36 ritual through the blood
of a sacrificial animal. This double intent is confirmed
by the usage of rheFa.m.ila in Lev. 14. 4, and 7 for 'the one
to be cleansed',37 whereas in ver. 8 it is 'the one who has
been purified'. We thus obtain three distinct ceremonies
(a) a primitive well-known method of exorcising disease
by transferring it to an animal, for which we have so many
instructive parallels among Babylonians38 and other peoples,
35 Note also Ps. 51. 9. ‘purge me with hyssop’.
36 Note that the term xF.eHal;, i. e. 'to remove the sin', is used in
Lev. 14. 49, 52, as well as in the passage in Ps. 51. 9, the latter evidently
based on the ritual.
37 The expression OtrAhImi MOyB; is, therefore, to be rendered as 'the day
on which he is to be purified'.
38 See Cun.. Texts, XVII, Pl. 10, 73, 1-1; 11, 85, and the latest discussion.
370 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
(b) a primitive remedial device, which consisted perhaps in
rubbing the diseased person with hyssop, or in his inhaling
the fragrance of hyssop; to hyssop, cedar wood was sub-
sequently added, and the scarlet thread as a symbol of
the sin or uncleanness; (c) an atoning ceremony by means
of the 'blood' of a sacrificial animal with which the diseased
individual was sprinkled.39 By combining the three rites
we obtain: (a) two birds; (b) the dipping of the cedar
wood, hyssop; and scarlet thread, as well as the dipping of
the live bird into the blood of the one to be killed; (c) the
sprinkling of the one to be declared clean with the blood--
presumably through the cedar wood and hyssop tied
together with the scarlet thread, though this is not specifi-
cal stated; (d) the dismissal of the live bird. The
awkward construction of ver. 6, to which attention was
called above, as well as the meaningless ceremony of dipping
the live bird into the blood of the killed one, clearly shows
that the introduction of the second bird is an after-thought.
Once introduced, however, some means had to be found
of connecting it with the first bird, and accordingly it was
provided that the one bird should be dipped into the blood
of the slaughtered one, and similarly the hyssop &c., were
to the dipped in the blood so as to connect this rite also with
the killing of the second bird. It is obvious that the bird
to be slaughtered is introduced as a result of the extension
of and other passages in the incantation texts by Langdon in the
Expository Times. vol. 24 (1912), pp. 40 ff., though Langdon's translations,
it ought to be added, leave room for further study.
39 ‘Seven times' seems to have become the standing formula, though
it is notable that not infrequently no number is specified, so, e. g., Lev.5. 9;
16. 15; Num. 19. 18. Presumably in such cases seven was assumed as the
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 371
of the principle of killing a sacrificial animal of some
kind in connexion with every atonement, or, to use the
technical term, with every hattat (txFAHa)40--and the purifi-
cation offering of the one who has had sara’at falls within
this category--demanding the killing of an animal. The
old and primitive custom of using a bird as a scape-animal
to which the sara’at was transferred, would suggest by
analogy the choice of a bird as the sacrificial animal.
Lastly, the washing of the garment, the shaving of the hair
of the body and the washing in water, were added to the
ritual in accord with the general principle that after a period
of uncleanness rites symbolical of the cleanly state upon
which the individual now entered had to be performed.
It is, of course, an open question whether in the earliest
form of the purification ritual for the sara'at this elaborate
washing and shaving41 was included, but certainly at the
40 The hattat or 'sin-offering' rests on title same idea of the transfer
of the disease to an animal, but the regulations regarding the hattat represent
a more advanced stage when the killing of t e animal to which the disease
was transferred had taken the place of merely sending it away, as was done
with the wild goat of the Azazel rite. A bird or an untamed animal could be
sent at large, but the domesticated sheep or bullock or ox would, of course,
come back. This, together with the rise of an organized priesthood around
a sanctuary and the practical need of providing an income for the priests,
led to the change, involving the killing of the hattat, the burning of those
parts regarded as the vital organs, while the rest was given to the priests.
Naturally, in the case of the ' sin-offering' for the high-priest or for the
people, the entire animal was burned,
41 'The washing of the garments and the bathing in water' is ordained
throughout Lev, 15, for cases of bodily uncleanness; Lev. 17, 15 for one
who has eaten 'abomination' or a 'torn' object (hpAreF; terephah); Lev. 16.
26-8 for the one who sends off Azazel and who burns the carcase of the
sin-offering' bullock, and Num. 19.8 for the one who burns the 'red heifer',
and ver. 19 for the one who has come in contact with a corpse, as well
as Num. 17. 21-2 for the one who has touched anything contaminated by
a woman during her period. The shaving of the hair of the body is peculiar
372 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
stage when the three originally independent ceremonies
were combined, the washing and shaving were also made
a part of the ritual. Taking, therefore, the ritual as it
stands we may distinguish in it earlier and later elements.
The earlier elements are rites that originally were intended
to exorcise the disease either by driving out the demon,
as the cause of the disease, through the hyssop and cedar
wood,42 or by transferring the disease (or what amounts
to the same thing, transferring the demon) to some animal.
Purification from the 'unclean' demon leads to the use of
these rites as symbols of the ritualistic 'purification' at
a later stage, when a ritual was compiled to mark the return
of the victim to intercourse with his fellows. Instead of
the diagnosis and cure, we have as part of the religious
code the diagnosis and the official dismissal, both done
to the case of the one afflicted with sara'at. In the case of the Nazarite
(Num. 6. 18) only the hair of the head is to be shaved on the completion
of the vow, though the underlying idea is the same as in the case of the
42 No sharp distinction can be drawn in the medicine of primitive peoples
between an attempted cure by certain remedies and the exorcising of the
demon through these remedies. The primary purpose of medicaments was
to force the demon out through bad smells or to coax him out through
fragrant odours. The benefit to the patient followed as a natural corollary.
A cure was thus a release from the throes of the demon, but no doubt in
time the positive aspects of medicaments as the common-sense view must
have come to the front, though in the background there still stood the old
conception of disease due to some unclean spirit which of its own accord
or through the machinations of some sorcerer or witch had found its way
into the body and was causing the trouble. It is rather strange how in this
way the most primitive theory of disease touches modern pathology with
its germ theory as an external substance that has found a favourable
condition for growth in the body. Similarly, the crude belief of the savage,
that death is not a necessary part of the order of nature but was introduced
through special circumstances, anticipates to a certain extent the views of
some modern biologists. See Frazer. Belief in Immortality, I, p. 84.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 373
through the priest. The more distinctly religious element,
which is also the later one, is the bringing of a sacrifice,
and probably the ritual bath an shaving of the hair.
The sara’at code in its oldest compiled form thus consists
of Lev.13. 2-3, 9-13 and 14. 2-8 a, minus (a) the subsequent
additions, comments, and glosses in both the diagnosis and
the dismissal, and minus (b) the combination in the ritual of
dismissal of four originally distinct elements, two of them
of earlier and two of later origin.
In order to furnish a summary of the results thus far
reached, I add the original43 sara’at legislation, forming
a little Torah by itself:
-tx, NheKoha hxArAv; NheKoh-lx, xbAUhv; tfaracA fgan, OrWAB; rOfB; hy,h;yi-yKi MdAxA
fgan, OrWAB; rOfme qmofA fgan,.ha hxer;maU NkAlA j`pahA fgan.,Ba rfAWev; rWABAha-rOfB; fgan,.ha
Otxo xm.eFiv; xUh tfaracA
-txeW; hne.hiv; NheKoha hxArAv; NheKoha-lx, xbAUhv; MdAxAB; hy,h;ti yKi tfarcA fgan,
Oxm.;Fiv; OrWAB; rOfB; xyhi tn,w,On tfaracA NbAlA rfAWe hkAp;hA xyhiv; rOfB hnAbAl;
hxArAv; rOfhA-lKA txe tfaracA.ha htAs.;kiv; rOfBA tfaracA.ha Hrap;Ti HaOrPA-Mxiv;
fganA.he-tx, NheKoha rhaFiv; OrWAB;-lKA-tx, tfaracA.ha htAs;.ki hn.ehiv; NheKoha
MpAWA-lfav; faUrpA hy,h;yi Owxrov; MymiruP; Uyh;yi vyrAgAB; fban,h.a OB-rw,xE faUrcAhav;
ObwAOm hn,HEm.ila NyUhmi xmAF;yi
hnAhEm.ala CUHmi-lx, NheKoha xcAyAv; OtrAhAFA MOyB; frAcom.;hi traOT hy,h;Ti txzo
rhEma.m.ila HqalAv; NheKoha hUAciv; tfaracA.ha-fgan,mi faUrcAha xPAR;ni hne.hiv; NheKoha hxArAv;
Wr,H,-yliK;-lx, tHAx,HA rOPciha-tx, FHawAl; NheKoha hUAciv; tOy.Ha MyriP;ci yTew;
43 Original, in a qualified sense, for we are not in a position to restore
the original character of the 'purification' or 'dismissal' section beyond
the point above indicated, namely, that originally the rite was remedial and
purificatory through the transfer of the disease or of the demon of the disease
into the bird sent out at large. The ritual in this stage probably consisted
of incantation formulae pronounced over the afflicted person with rites of
sympathetic magic to induce the disease to pass over into the bird.
374 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
lfa hzAhiv; hFAHuw.;ha rOPci.ha MdaB; hy.AHaha rOPc;.ha-tx, lbaFAv; MyiHa Myima-lfa
yneP;-lfa hyAHaha rOPci.ha-tx, Hla.wiv; OrhEmiv; MymifAP; fbaw, tfaracA.ha-Nmi rhem.emiha
xObyA rhaxav; Myim.aBa CyHarAv; OrfAW;-lKA-tx, Hla.giv; vydAgAB;-tx, rhemami.ha sBekiv; hd,WA.ha
tfarAcA.ha traOT txzo
'If a man has on the skin of his flesh a sara’at--mark
and he is brought to the priest, and the priest sees the mark
on the skin of his flesh, and that the hair at the mark has
turned white, and that the mark appears deeper than, the
skin of his flesh, then it is a sara’at mark, and he shall
declare him unclean.
‘If there is a sara’at mark on a man, and he is brought
to the priest, and the priest sees that there is a white
swelling on the skin which has turned the hair white, it is
a chronic sara’at on the skin of his flesh, and the priest
shall declare him unclean.
But if the sara’at gradually spreads on the skin until
the sara’at covers the entire skin, and the priest sees that
the sara'at covers the entire flesh, then the priest shall
declare the mark clean.
‘And the one afflicted with sara'at who has a mark,
his garments shall be torn, and his hair shall grow wild,
a he shall cover his moustache, and cry 'unclean, unclean'.
As long as he has the spot he shall be unclean; outside
of the camp shall be his dwelling.
This is the law of the one who has sara’at, on the day
of his purification when the priest has gone to (the place)
outside of the camp, and has seen that the sara’at mark
of the one afflicted with sara’at is healed. Then the priest
shall order two living birds to be taken for the one to be
purified; and the priest shall order the one bird to be killed
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY ' LAWS--JASTROW 375
over an earthen pot at running water; and the living bird
he shall dip into the blood of the killed bird, and he shall
sprinkle over the one to be purified seven times, and declare
him clean, and send off the living bird into the open. And
the one purified shall wash his garments, and shave all his
hair, and wash in water, and after that come to the camp.
This is the law of the sara’at.44
A significant feature of this original form of the sara’at
code is its disassociation from any sanctuary. The victim,
to be sure, is brought to the priest, but no ceremonies are
enacted in any sanctuary, and the rite of purification or
dismissal is carried out outside of the camp where the
isolated victim dwells. Even the sacrificial bird is not
killed at any altar. The case is different in a second ritual
of purification beginning with Lev. 14 8b, and extending
to 16. The independent character of this second ritual
has, of course, been recognized by commentators.45
This second code reads, exclusive of comments and
additions, as follows:
‘And he shall dwell outside of his tent46 seven days,47
44 Subscript now at the end of Lev. 14. 7. See below, p. 399.
45 See, e. g., Baentsch, Leviticus, p. 371.
46 The Greek translation, evidently with a view of adapting the ritual
to later social conditions when people dwelt in cities, reads 'outside of his
house'. See above, note 24.
47 Verse 9, reading 'And on the seventh day he shall shave all his hair
[explanatory comment: his head and his beard and his eyebrows, and all his
hair he shall shave], and wash his garments, and bathe his body in water,
and be clean', is an addition taken from verse 8a in order to make the
second ritual conform with the first. The additions, 'his head', &c., are
again in the nature of a Gemara, and represent the answers of the priest
to the questions that would be asked as to what constitutes 'all his hair'.
Does it mean the hair of the head? Yes. The beard? Yes. How about
376 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
and on the eighth day he shall take one lamb48 and
three-twentieths of fine flour mixed with oil,49 and the
priest shall place the one to be declared clean50 before
Jahweh.51 And the priest shall take the lamb52 and offer
it as a guilt-offering,53 and he shall kill the lamb in a holy
place54 And the priest shall take of the blood of the
guilt-offering, and the priest shall put (it) on the right
ear-lap of the one to be declared clean, and on the right
the eyebrows? Yes. Some one not satisfied with this added, 'All his
hair he shall shave'--to include the hairs on the breast, abdomen, legs,
arms, and no doubt a strict construction in the spirit of Talmudical casuistry
would include the hair around the privates.
48 It is quite evident that originally only one lamb as a sin-offering
(txF.AHa) was sacrificed. The brief manner in which the second lamb is
troduced in ver. 19a, 'and the priest shall carry out (hWAfA) the sin-offering
(txF.AHa) and atone for the one to be cleaned' [addition: from his unclean-
ness], shows that the second lamb as a sin-offering is an after-thought, just
the 'ewe, one year old, perfect' (ver. l0b), and which (19b) he shall after-
ards slaughter as a burnt-offering (hlAfo), are further additions in regard
to which it is specified (ver. 20). ‘and the priest'shall offer up the burnt-
offering [addition: and the meal-offering (hHAn;mi) at the altar], and the priest
shall atone for him, and he shall be clean'. The repetition of the phrase,
‘he shall atone for the one to be cleansed', or 'he shall atone for him' in
the case of the second lamb, and in the case of the one-year-old ewe is
in itself sufficient to show that the ritual has been elaborated at a later
period. The additions, 'and the minhah' and 'at the altar', are again
answers to the questions, (1) Is there to be a cereal-offering also with
the burnt-offering? Yes: and (s) Shall it be offered at the altar just as
the burnt-offering? Yes.
49 Addition, 'one log of oil'.
50 Explanatory comments: (a) i. e. 'the man to be cleaned', and (b)
addition, 'and them'.
51 Explanatory comment: 'at the entrance of the tent of meeting', in
aswer to the question, 'What does "before Jahweh" mean?’
52 Addition, 'one.’
53 Additions, (1) 'and the log of oil', and (a) 'wave them as a waving
54 Explanatory comments: (a) 'in the place where one (usually)
daughters the sin-offering', to which some one added, (b) 'and the burnt-
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROS' LAWS--JASTROW 377
thumb and on the right (large) toe.55 And the priest shall
sprinkle56 of the oil seven times before Jahweh57 . . . . and
the priest shall atone for him before Jahweh.'
The addition of an official sacrifrice animal in cases in-
volving purification from uncleaness to an earlier ritual, in
which the leading idea was the exorcising of the unclean spirit,
is a characteristic feature of the Priestly Code. So in Lev. 15,
dealing with purification in the case of an unclean flow, the
sacrificial regulations for the eighth day, vers. 14-15 and
offering', i. e. the 'holy place' means the altar on which sin- and burnt-
offerings are usually brought. Other commentators added (c) 'for the guilt-
offering (MwAxA) is like a sin-offering (txFA.Ha)', i. e. the two are on a level
and to be treated alike. Cf. Lev. 7. 7. (d) ‘It a holy of holies', (e) 'it is
the priest's'. All five comments are, therefore, again in the nature of
a Gemara to the Mishnah, answering such questions as (a) where is the
'holy place'? (b) why does he say 'guilt-offering' and not ‘sin-offering'?
(c) to whom does the guilt-offering belong? &c. &c.
55 Ver. 15, 'And the priest shall take of the log of oil, and pour it on the
left palm of the priest', is clearly a later addition harking back to the ‘one
log of oil'. Note the awkward repetition of the word 'priest'.
56 Addition, 'with his finger'.
57 Ver. 16a, 'And the priest shall dip with his right finger of the oil which
is on his left palm', is an explanatory amplification superinduced by ver. 15,
and representing the attempt to combine the oil of the minhah with the ‘log
of oil'. Ver. 17 is a further specification of what is to be done with the
remaining oil; an answer, therefore, to a question, 'How about the oil that
is left in the palm of the priest?' Answer, 'The rest of the oil which is on
his palm, the priest shall put on the right ear-lap of the one to be purified,
and on his right thumb, and on his right (large) toe'; taken over, therefore,
from ver. 14. An explanatory comment further adds, ‘over the blood of the
guilt-offering' that has been placed on the parts named (ver. 14). Then
some one asks. Suppose there is still some oil 1eft in the palm of the priest,
what then? Answer; (ver, 18a). ‘And what is left of the oil which is in the
palm of the priest, he shall pour on the head of the one to be purified'. It
is to be noted that the Greek text occasionally omits the word 'priest'; so
e.g. at the beginning of vers. 15 and 16, and occasionally inserts it; so e. g. in
ver. 18, after 'he gives' (NTeyi), where the Hebrew omits it, pointing to con-
siderable manipulation of the formal language of the ordinances.
378 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
29-30, are clearly insertions, shown to be such by the pre-
ceding verse which in each case (ver. 13 and ver. 28) ends by
stating that the individual is 'clean'. Again in the 'atone-
ment’ ritual, Lev. 16, the second goat as a sin-offering (ver. 5)
is an addition to the far older goat for Azazel, i. e. the goat
to which the sin or uncleanness is to be transferred, just
as the ram for the burnt-offering and the bullock of the sin-
offering represent further layers. Similarly, in the Holiness
Code, we come across this latter 'sacrificial' layer over an
older one in which the sacrifice of an animal for the benefit
of the priestly sanctuary does not enter into consideration.
The twenty-third chapter of Leviticus, detailing festival
regulations, the ordinances for the Passover, of unleavened
cakes, abstaining from work on the first and seventh day,58
and the waving of the Omer, as set forth in vers. 5-11 and
ver. 14, constitutes the earlier stratum, whereas verses 12-13,
adding a lamb as a burnt-offering, and a minhah, are
insertions of a much later date. The same applies to
the sacrificial ritual, vers. 18-20, which clearly represents
an artificial attempt to connect an earlier ritual of
'waving' a cereal offering at the end of the grain harvest
with the 'waving' of sacrificial animals. In the case of
the ‘Atonement’ festival (vers. 23-32), it is noticeable that
no sacrifice is mentioned at all, again pointing to the late
addition of the goat introduced in Lev. 16. 5, &c., for
The fact that the sacrificial ritual is prescribed for the
eighth day59 after everything is over shows that the older
58 Ver.8a, 'Ye shall bring a fire-offering to Jahweh for seven days' is
an insertion to conform with the Priestly Code, Num. 28.19-24, where the
fire-offering is fully set forth and in great detail.
59 Just as in Lev. 15. 14-15 and 29-30.
THE SO-CALLED ' LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 379
and essential element in this second ritual is the washing
of the garments, the bathing and the shaving, as in the first
ritual. Furthermore, the many additions in the case of
the sacrificial ritual point to the tendency to emphasize
the sacrifice as the essential element. The one animal as
a sin-offering, which according to the present law (ver. 21)
is permitted as a substitute only in case the individual is
poor, was all that the sacrificial ritual in its earlier form
required; and we are probably right in assuming that this
earlier form followed the regulation of Lev. 4. 32, which
prescribes a ewe as the guilt-offering.60 To this a lamb
as a burnt-offering (hlAfo) was added and not. .satisfied with
this, an entirely unwarranted differentiation was introduced
between a guilt-offering (MwAxA) and a sin-offering (txF.AHa),61
60 The little section (Lev. 4. 3a-3) represents a different practice from
the sections (a) Lev, 4. 3-12, (b) 4.13-21, (c) 4. 22-26, (d) 4. 27-31, pre-
scribing, according as the transgression is one committed by an anointed
priest, by the whole people, by a chief, or by an ordinary Individual,
a bullock for the first two cases, a young goat for the third instance, and
a young female goat for the fourth case.
61 The three offerings, hlAfo, txFAA.Ha and MwAxA, are found in Ezekiel
(e. g. 40. 39, but in the Priestly Code (Lev . 5 and 7) no distinction is
recognizable between txF.AHa and MwAxA, and a commentator is, therefore,
free to admit (Lev. 7.7) that 'a sin-offering (txFA.Ha) is like a guilt-offering
(MwAxA)--one law. Evidently, the difference between the two was originally
merely one of local usage of the term; in on locality, now represented by
ch. 5. 1-16. txFA.Ha being used, in another place, now represented by the
little section 5.17-26, and ch. 7, MwAxA was employed. Of the two terms,
MwAxA (‘asam) seems to represent the older usage. The txF.AHa, therefore,
is the one added in Lev. 14. in accord with the tendency to increase
sacrifices though the result is a double sin-offering, since there is no
distinction between ‘asam and hattat. The regular addition of the olah
(burnt-offering) to hattat (sin-offering) is again an illustration of this
tendency, though here a factor involved is the consciousness that the sin-
offering rests upon the old notion of the transfer of the disease or sin to the
animal, whereas the 'burnt-offering' is the tribute to the angered deity who
is to be appeased by the 'pleasant fragrance,’ which is what the phrase
380 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
and thus another lamb was added; and lastly, a cereal
offering (hHAn;mi) was attached,62 making, therefore, no less
than four separate sacrifices. Even with this the process
of heaping up one layer after the other upon the sacrificial
ritual was not completed. The ordinary cereal offering
for a lamb consisted of one-tenth of an ephah of fine meal,
mixed with oil,63 but in our case the amount is raised to
three-twentieths,64 and besides the mixture of the flour with
oil, a special quantity (log) of oil is added (Lev. 14. 10c, 12b,
15a).65 The 'waving' of the sacrificial animal is prescribed
(ver. 12b), the elaborate ceremonial of touching the ear,
finger, and toe of the individual with the oil,66 the sprinkling
seven times 'before Jahweh',67 again a touching of the ear,
HaOHyni Hayre originally connoted. The ‘substitute’ offering (Lev 5. 11; of one-
tenth of an ephah of fine meal in the case of one too poor to offer two turtle-doves
or two young pigeons belongs, of course, in a different category. It is not
attached to another offering, nor is it ever technically designated as a hHAn;mi
but as txFAHa (ver. 12), though a misplaced note; 'it shall be for the priest
as a minhah’ (ver. 13b), shows that some pedant could not tolerate a
bloodless offering to be called a hattat. In Num. 6, a compilation of various
layers dealing with the one who has made a vow, the cereal-offering is
added to the burnt-offering, sin-offering, and peace-offering at the termina-
tion of the vow period (vers. 15-18), though the word hHAn;mi only intro-
duced in the gloss or comment at the end of ver. 15. This is heaping up
sacrifices with a vengeance, due to the endeavour to legitimize an old
custom of temporary consecration by giving to the one who makes a vow the
temporary status of a priest.
62 There is no minhah attached to the hattat or ‘asam in Lev. 4. 5, 7.
63 The mixture with oil is a constant factor of the minhah, expressed
(Lev. 2. 1, 15, by ‘oil poured upon it’. On the other hand, the 'frankin-
cense' (hnAbol;) also prescribed with the minhah was not carried out, at least
not in the practice, which is set forth in Lev. 2.
64 Also Num. 15. 9; 28. 12, 20, 28; 29. 14.
65 This measure of oil occurs in this chapter only.
66 part of the ceremony of initiation of priests, Exod. 29. 20; Lev. 8. 23, 24,
though here the blood is used to make the priest immune against demons.
67 The expression ' before Jahweh' is evidently looked upon as identical
with 'at the entrance of the tent of meeting' and; therefore, the latter
THE SO CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS—JASTROW 381
&c., of the individual with oil, and anointing the head with
what is left (ver. 18). Verse 19 specifies the addition of
a 'sin-offering' and a 'burnt-offering', and verse 20 is a
comment in the nature of a Gemara to indicate that the
burnt-offering is to have its cereal offering accompaniment,
just as the sin or guilt-offering. We thus find this section
overloaded with sacrificial regulations in accordance with
the tendency towards a steadily-increasing elaboration of
sanctuary ceremonials, so characteristic of the later layers
of the Priestly Code.68
This rather lengthy discussion was necessary to show
phrase is added as a gloss in ver. 11, and so also Lev. 15. 14, as well as
Lev. 4. 5, where the gloss has been placed before the words ‘before Jahweh’.
In Exod. 29 and Lev. 8, furnishing the rites for the initiation of priests in two
recensions, the expression used is 'at the entrance of the tent of meeting',
from which we may conclude that the section is prescribing the wafers and
the basket of unleavened bread, together with the ‘waving’ (Exod. 29. 23-4;
Lev. 8. 26-7) where 'before Jahweh' is used, represent elements from
some other source. In Lev. 1-7, therefore, as well as Lev. 13-16, the
characteristic expression is 'before Jahveh', and wherever the other
appears (e.g. also Lev 15. 29) it is to be regarded as an explanatory
addition. In the Holiness Code, likewise, dfeOm lh,xo HataP, appears to be
the later addition, though this Code uses by the side of hOAhy; ynep;li (19. 22;
23. 11; 20-28; 24. 4-6) the simple phrase hOAhyila (Lev. 17. 5b, 9; 19. 21.;
22. 22, 27; 23. 5, 6, 12, 16, 18, 20, 25, 27, 38, 41; 24. 7, &c.). Even Lev.17. 4, 9,
the words 'to the entrance of the tent of meeting', despite their position, are
explanatory glosses, in the former passage to hOAhy; NKaw;mi ynep;li in the latter to
hOAhyla. Sections in which the phrase 'at the entrance of the tent of meeting'
is the original reading (e.g. Exod. 29 and Lev. 8; represent an older stratum
of legislation, and may very well date back in substance to a very early
period; whereas the phrase ‘before Jahweh’ shows that the compiler has
mind the sanctuary of
the theory that the entire legislation reverts to the day of Moses.
68 A good illustration of this tendency towards overloading is furnished
by a comparison of the sacrifices for the new moon prescribed in Ezek. 46. 6
with the additions made in Num. 28. 11, one young bullock as against two,
six lambs as against seven. See Carpenter and Battersby, The Hexateuch,
I, p. 128.
382 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
the wide abyss between the first ritual (Lev. 14. 1-8), not
performed in a sanctuary and with but little added to the
exorcising rites though converted into a purification or
dismissal ceremony, and the second ritual, which attaches
to a simple cleansing ceremony a most elaborate series of
In the same spirit the substitute ritual, vers. 21-27, is
conceived, permitting the poor man to bring merely one
lamb, reducing, the amount of the meal to one-tenth, and
replacing the second lamb and the ewe by two turtle-doves
or two pigeons. I have suggested69 that what is here
permitted as a substitute may have been the offering pre-
scribed for an earlier period. Be that as it may, the
dependence of this section upon the preceding one is
instanced by the introduction of the log of oil (vers. 22, 24),
and the ceremony of sprinkling and touching the ear-lap
of the individual (vers. 25-29), identical with vers. 14-19, and
taken over bodily from the latter, just as the wording in
vers. 30-31 is taken from ver. 19.70 Then follows a separate
subscript for this section (vers. 21-31), but in which the
words OdyA gyWiha xlo rw,xE are probably an addition, so that
the subscript belonging originally after ver. 20, or perhaps
after 8a, once read 'This is the Torah for the cleansing
of the one who has a nega’ sara’at.
69 Above, p. 379. Cf. the substitute which is provided for the guilt-
(or sin-) offering, Lev. 5. 7-10 (two turtle-doves or two pigeons without
a minhah), and a further substitute for the one who cannot even afford this
(vers. 11-12) of one-tenth of an ephah of meal without oil or frankincense.
This, of course, is not a minhah in the ordinary sense. The word hHAn;mi.Ka
at the end of ver. 13 is clearly a late addition.
70 The correct construction is txF.AHa OdyA gyWiTa rw,xEme dHAx,hA-tx, hWAfAv;
hlAfo dHAxeha-tx,v;. To this a commentator adds as a note, 'the one', namely,
‘of the turtle-doves or of the pigeons which he can afford'.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 383
Having now discussed the original form of the diagnosis
and treatment of the sara’at and the purification or dismissal
rites of the one who has been healed of it, we may pro-
ceed to an analysis of the remaining sections of Lev. 13-14,
namely, (a) Lev. 13. 4-8; (b) 14-17; (c) 18-23; (d) 24-28;
(e) 29-37; (f) 38-39; (g) 40-44; (h) 47-58; (i)14. 33-53.
The first section deals with the 'shining spot' (baheret) on
the skin and the ‘growth’ (sappahat or mispahat).71 In
contrast to the case (ver. 3) where the hair at the mark has
turned white and the mark is deeper than the skin, in which
case it is pronounced a sara’at, or (ver. 9) where the swelling
on the skin (i. e. a mark higher than the skin) has turned
white, in which case it is likewise sara’at of a chronic type,
the case is put forward (ver. 4) of white mark not sunk
in the skin (i. e. even with the surface) and where the hair
has not turned white. Such a case is regarded as a 'suspect',
and the individual is put under guard for seven days. If
after seven days there is no change another seven days'
observation is ordained. After that two contingencies are
instanced, either (a) the mark has grown fainter and not
spread, in which case it is pronounced a harmless 'growth'
and the suspect is dismissed as clean,72 or (b) the growth
after the formal dismissal spreads, in which case the suspect
is unclean. According to the close of ver. 8 it is declared
71 See above, p. 360. In ver. 1 the terns tr,h,Ba Ox tHaPasa Ox txeW;
are an insertion to make the heading conform o the contents of vers. 1-13.
The txeW; is treated ver. 10 seq. The more natural order of the insertion
would have been, baheret, sappahat, and se’et. An interesting reference to
the various kinds of nega’im is found Deut. 17. 8.
72 Addition (ver. 6c), 'he shall wash his clothes'. The addition probably
read in full 'he shall wash his garments and bathe in water', but it is here
given in an abbreviated form.
384 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
to be sara'at, but I am inclined to regard this as a later
addition made at a time when sara’at was used in a very
general sense for any skin disease which was regarded as
unclean.73 At all events, the spreading growth is not of
the same order as the sara'at described in vers. 3 and 10.
The second section (vers. 14-18) takes up the case where
raw flesh appears in connexion with a mark which (vers.14-
15) is declared unclean. The double decision (a) xUh xmeFA 'it
is unclean', and (b) xyhi tfaracA 'it is sara'at' at the end of ver. 15
is suspicious, and I am inclined to regard the second decision
again as a later addition to be explained as the one at the
end of ver. 8. Correspondingly, the decision 'he is clean'
is rendered in case the raw flesh turns white, and after the
priest has satisfied himself that the spot has turned white.
The raw flesh turning white simply means, therefore, that
the skin assumes its natural appearance. These two sections,
therefore, are in the nature of a Gemara to the original form
of the sara’at Mishnah, as above set forth. Precisely as in
the talmudical discussions, various questions are asked, such
as how about a white shining mark which is not deeper
than the skin, and where the hair has not turned' white?
Answer: Such an one is to be observed for seven days.
Suppose the mark remains unchanged? Answer: Observe
him for another seven days. If it grows faint and does
not spread? Answer: rOhFA 'he is clean'. Suppose it comes
back and spreads? Answer: xmeFA 'unclean'. How about
raw flesh on the skin? Answer: xmeFAA 'unclean'. Suppose
the raw flesh turns white? Answer: rOhFA 'clean'. In a
practical hand-book the discussions are omitted and the
decisions alone are given.
The third section continues the 'Gemara', and like the
73 See below, pp. 389, 390, and 400f.
THE SO-CALLED ' LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 385
talmudical Gemara grows in complication as question
follows fast upon question. How about the case of a boil.
(sehin) that is healed, but after the healing process 'a white
shining spot'74 even with the surface appears?75 Verse 20
gives the answer: 'The priest shall examine (it), and if it
is deeper" than the skin and the hair has turned white,
the priest shall declare him unclean''.77 The commentator
quotes the established diagnosis. Nothing is added to the
law--merely an answer given to a question that appears
to be asked from a theoretical rather than from a practical
motive--an early variety of the 'hypothetical question'.
The question, however; having once been asked, the other
case as in ver. 4, must be considered: suppose the hair has
not turned white, and the spot does not appear lower78
than the skin. The answer is: The priest is to shut him
up as a suspect for seven days, just as in ver. 4. Verse 22,
corresponding to ver. 7, decides that if the spot spreads,79
it furnishes the decision 'unclean' with the usual subsequent
addition fgan, (nega’), i. e. abbreviated for 'it is a sara'at
mark'.50 Similarly, the question is also put here: Suppose
74 Some commentator who wanted to be very exact added (v. 19) 'reddish',
since as a matter of fact a shining spot, even when it appears to be white,
is tinged with red. The words 'white' and 'swelling' are also added.
75 An explanatory comment, misplaced at the end of ver. 20, says
‘spread where the boil (was)’.
76 The text uses hlApAw; for ' deep' instead of qmofA in vers. 3-4, indicative
of another writer, or of a different stratum.
77 Once more the later addition 'it is nega’ sara’at,’ as above (see
78 The words hhAke xyhiv; (ver. 21; 'and it is faint' are not in place.
I suspect an abbreviated note to indicate, as in ver. 6, that if after seven
days 'the spot has grown faint and has not spread' the suspect is dismissed.
79 Again given in abbreviated form. We must supply 'reappears and
spreads' after the dismissal, as in ver. 7.
80 The very fact that we encounter the abbreviated form in the decision
386 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
the 'shining spot' remains stationary, and does not spread?
The answer should be as in ver. 5--a further observation
of seven days. Here, however, a new diagnosis is given.
When such a spot appears on the skin where there had
been a boil the stationary character after seven days shows
that it is the scar of the boil (Nyhiw;.ha tb,r,cA), and the decision,
therefore, is rOhFA 'clean'. The same lengthy discussion
follows in the next 'Gemara'--the fourth section (vers. 24-
28)--where the case is put of a white spot appearing in
connexion with a burn. The hypothetical question originally
read as follows:81 'If there should be on his skin a burn,
and the healed burn82 should become a white shining
Once more the ordinary diagnosis is repeated: If the
hair has turned white at the shining spot, and the spot
is deeper84 than the skin, it is unclean.85 If neither of
these symptoms appears,86 the suspect is observed for seven
days; if, at the end of that time, the spot spreads, he
is unclean:87 if the shining spot remains stationary, with-
sara'at (vers. 8. 15), by the side of nega' sara’at (ver. 20) and nega' (ver. 22),
shows the very general and conventional usage acquired by sara'at as a
generic term, and not as a specific designation.
81 Hebrew text Ox "or", whereas the Greek version has 'and’.
82 Text hzAk;miha tyaH;mi. which appears to be a semi-technical term for
the burn that has been healed, corresponding to the healed boil in the fourth
83 Addition again (ver. 24) as above in ver. 19, 'reddish', i. e. ‘reddish
white', to which another commentator added 'or white', to indicate that a
‘white' sara'at includes a shining spot entirely white, or reddish, i. e. white
tinged with red.
84 Here (ver. 25) qmofA is used as in ver. 3-4, but immediately thereafter
ver. 26) hlApAw;.
85 Again the usual conventional addition, 'it is a nega' sara'at', i. e. a
86 "The words 'and it is faint' are again out of place here, as above note 78.
87 With the addition, 'it is a nega' sara’at’.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 387
out spreading in the skin,88 the priest pronounces him
clean, since it is a (mere) 'scar of a burn’.
The fifth section takes up and discusses in great detail
(vers. 29-37) the various symptoms connected with marks
or sores on the head or beard to which the generic
designation of netek89 is given, and which are evidently
open sores of some kind. The introductory statement
'If a man90 has a mark (nega’) on the head or beard,
and the priest sees it, and it appears deeper than the
skin, and there is thin shining hair91 in it, then the priest
shall declare him unclean--it is a open sore92 (qt,n,):
The two tests of the diagnosis: (I) that the spot is
deeper than the skin; (2) the appearance of a yellowish
hair indicating that the sore has changed the colour of the
88 Two comments, (a) 'it is (also) faint' to make the verse correspond
to ver. 6; (b) xyhi hvAk;mi.ha txeW; 'it is the swelling (se’et) of the burn'
(ha-mikwah), as a variant to xyhi hvAk;m.iha tb,r,cA 'it is a scar of a burn'.
89 The Greek renders it by trau?ma 'wound'. The underlying stem
means 'to pull off violently', showing that nelek must be an open sore
through the pulling away of the skin, a kind of ulcer. Just as we have fgan,
and tfaracA fgan,, so qt,n,.ha fgan, (ver. 31) is used by the side of qt,n,; and
is used to designate qt,n, (ver. 32) as well as tfaracA.
90 The text adds 'or woman', but the continuation shows that only man
was here referred to, though naturally the law, as all laws dealing with
disease or sin, applies to both sexes. In ver. 38, on 'the other hand, the
words 'man or woman' belong to the original form of the little section,
which is moreover misplaced; similarly, Lev. 20. 27 or Exod. 35. 29, but,
on the other hand, 'woman' is added by later hand in Num. 6. 2, as is
shown by a comparison with Lev, 27. 2, while Num. 5. 6 both 'man' and
'woman' are added, the text reading simply, 'speak to the Bene Israel',
as in ver. 2 'command the Bene Israel'.
91 sahob (bHocA) used only in this chapter and in Ezra 8. 27, in the latter
passage of a copper vessel.
92 Addition, 'it is a sara’at on the head or beard', clearly marked as such
by the repetition of the word xUh.
388 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
it at the spot, are precisely of the same character as given
is the preceding section, with the comparatively unimportant
difference as to the nature of the change in the colour of
the hair. The difference between white or reddish white
or shining might easily be a subjective differentiation, the
fact being that the change in the pigment of the hair
brings about a colour that is not pure white, and may,
therefore, be designated as reddish, or reddish and white,
or simply shining.
The following verses 31-37 again show traces of many
later additions and of re-editing. The original text must
have run as follows:
‘If the priest sees that the netek93 as mark is not deeper
than the skin, and there is no shining94 hair in it, then
the priest shall shut up the netek for seven days, and if
on the seventh day the priest sees the mark and behold
the netek has not spread,95 then he shaves himself,96 and
93 Test, qt,n,ha fgan,. See note 8g.
94 The Hebrew text has 'black hair' (perhaps a variant that has re-
placed sahab, for which the Greek version has the correct form 'shining hair'.
95 Addition, 'and there is no shining hair in it, and the netek is not
deeper than the skin'; the inversion pointing to the fact that it is a later
explanatory amplification or note.
96 The Greek version says 'he shaves his skin'; evidently a cleansing
ceremony like washing the garments and bathing in water if the mark is
on the body. A second procedure in the case of a suspected mark pro-
vided that the victim 'must not shave the netek’ (ver. 33), and must be
shut up for seven days. The two procedures were erroneously combined,
and so we have in ver. 33, for no reason whatsoever, a second period of seven
days' observation. It maybe, too, that the second test of seven days is
misplaced, and belongs in connexion with ver. 37, where the netek, after the
first seven days, remains unchanged, and which would then correspond with
ver. 5. At all events, vers. 33-4, beginning with Hal.egay; xlo qt,n,ha-txAz; and
extending to Nh,Koha Otxo rhamiv;, are originally a duplicate of ver. 32 with the
addition of the words rhemav; vydAgAB; sBekiv; Hl.Agt;hiv;, which belong to the first
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY’ LAWS--JASTROW 389
washes his garments and is clean,97 but if the priest sees
that the netek, has spread in the skn,98 he is unclean.'
To this a later and quite superfluous corollary--forming
an answer to the question, 'how about a netek that remains
unchanged and a black hair springs up in it, i. e. hair of
the natural colour?'--adds (ver. 37):
'If the netek remains the same and a black hair springs
up in it, the netek is healed99—he is clean.'100
Now it will have become evident that in none of the
five sections so far considered is there any reason to assume
that we have variants of a particular disease known as
sara'at. The term when introduced in these sections has
been shown to be a later addition, and is, moreover, taken
in a generic sense as an 'unclean' skin trouble, and not
as a designation of any specific disease. The same is the
case with the two remaining sections--(6) vers. 38-39 and
(7) vers. 40-44--before we reach the point where the thread
of the original and genuine sara’at legislation is again
taken up. In fact, in the case of the sixth section the term
sara’at is not even introduced, and it is evident that this
little section, consisting of only two verses without the
97 See the preceding note.
98 Ver. 35. 'If the netek has spread on the skin after his purification', is
entirely superfluous, added in view of the erroneous combination of the two
procedures. Ver. 36a is a doublet to ver. 35a.
99 Comment, ver.36,'The priest need not (even) hunt for the shining hair',
for it would make no difference in the decision that the victim is ‘unclean’.
The comment is an answer to the question, Why is nothing said of the shining
hair in case the netek has spread?
100 A superfluous comment or a misplaced gloss adds, ‘and the priest
declares him clean'. It is to be noted that in ver. 37, as in ver. 8, the phrase
‘stands in his eyes’ is used to express the idea that the mark is unchanged,
as against the phrase in ver. 28 'stands under it', pointing again to the
different editors or commentators from whom these additions and comments
and answers to implied questions emanate.
390 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
amplification, as in the preceding five, is a supplement to
verses 4-8 and 24-28 dealing with 'shining' marks in the
skin. The text originally read:
'If a man or woman has shining marks101 on the
skin102--it is clean.'103
The seventh section deals with baldness, and various
kinds of bald spots, and certainly has nothing to do with
the real sara’at. In its original form the section read:
‘If a man loses the hair of his head104--he is clean.
If there is a white mark105 at the bald place,106 and the
priest sees that there is a white swelling mark,107 the priest
shall surely declare him unclean."108
101 A gloss adds 'shining white marks'.
102 The first part of ver 39, 'And the priest sees the shining spots'
(gloss, ' faint white marks'), is a 'Gemara’ to point out that the priest is
the one who must determine the harmless character of the spots.
103 Explanatory comment, 'It is a tetter (bohak) that has broken out on
the skin'. On bohak corresponding to the modern Syriac bohak, see the
note on p. 76 of Drivers Book of Leviticus in the Polychrome Bible, ed. Haupt.
104 Comment, 'he is a bald person' (Hareqe). To thin ver. 41, in the nature
of a Gemara, adds, 'If the front part of his head is bald he is forehead
bald (HaBeni), he is unclean'.
105 Additions, (a) ' reddish', like ver. 19, &c. See notes 74 and 83.
106 Addition, in view of ver. 41, 'or at the forehead baldness’. There
follows the further comment, as in the above discussed five sections, 'it is
sara’at', to which some other commentator adds 'in his baldness' or 'his
forehead baldness' (i. e. 'a sara’at of his baldness or of his forehead baldness'),
again in view of ver, 41. The Hebrew text also has 'breaking out'
(xyhi tHaraPo); but the Greek properly omits this, which is clearly added in
view of the addition 'breaking out' in ver. 39. See notes 120 and 121.
107 hnAbAlA fgan,ha-txeW;, to which again are added (a) 'reddish' and (b) 'in
is baldness or forehead baldness'.
108 No less than four further comments are added: (1) 'like the appearance
of sara'at of the skin of the flesh' (rWABA rOf), harking back to vers. 2-3;
(2) xUh faUrcA wyxi 'he is a man afflicted with sara'at', where the com-
bination of 'man' with saru’a, as against saru’a alone in ver. 43 (forming
art of the original sara’at legislation, points to the artificial addition;
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 391
The result, therefore, of our investigations so far has
been to show that none of the symptoms detailed in the
seven sections superimposed upon the original sara'at
legislation have anything to do with the disease described
in the original portion of the two chapters, and that these
superimposed sections are to be regarded merely as an
index of that natural tendency to differentiate among a
large variety of skin troubles due in part to advanc-
ing medical knowledge--though medicine in a primitive
state--and in part to the interest, partly practical, partly
theoretical, in legal enactments, prompting questions to
which answers must be given, and suggesting legal niceties
that need to be discussed--a process in short, that, as has
been emphasized above, is of the same general character
as that to be noted in the great compilation of Rabbinical
Judaism, and which led to the growth of an enormous
Gemara about a comparatively simple series of enactments
grouped together as Mishnah.
This process is continued and, carried still further in the
two sections of Lev. 13 and 14 that still remain to be
discussed: (8) Lev. 13. 47-58, regarding suspicious spots
or marks on garments and stuffs; (9) Lev. 14. 33-47,
to which verses 48-53, a cleansing ritual corresponding to
14. 4-7 is attached.
(3) xUhi xmeFA 'he is unclean', quite superfluous, and added merely as
a conventional phrase; (4) His mark is on his head , again in the style
of a 'Gemara' in answer to the question, Can nega' be applied to the head
as to the rest of the body? The first comment is in the nature of an
explanation of the phrase 'a white swelling mark', to suggest a comparison
with the diagnosis of the ‘a white swelling' (ver. 10), and on the erroneous
assumption, prompted by the conventional addition of sara'at throughout
these sections, that all these skin troubles are forms of a specific sara'at
392 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
Taking up the former, the use of the term nega' sara'at
(vers. 47, 49, (or sara’at) 51, 52) for such spots on garments
and stuffs is a further proof, if one were still needed, that
sara'at had lost any specific meaning that it may once have
possessed, for such a thing as 'leprosy', or any disease
peculiar to man is a manifest absurdity in the case of garments
or stuffs. The reference must be to moulds of some kind
or other. Moreover, as in other sections, tfaracA fgn, alternates
with fgan, and tfaracA, the fuller or the abbreviated expression
being synonymously used for a mark that is suspicious
or unclean. The section shows distinct traces of dependence
upon the original sara'at legislation,109 and represents,
therefore, the further natural extension of the general
subject of marks or spots outside of the human body.
just as in the other sections, we are here also in a position
to separate the original portion from subsequent accretions,
again offering analogies to the 'Gemara' superimposed
upon the 'Mishnah'. The section begins:
‘If there is a mark110 on a garment, and the mark is
greenish or reddish,111 the priest shall see the mark and
109 e. g. in the shutting up of the suspected garment, &c., for seven days;
in the diagnosis, whether the mark has spread or remained steadfast; in the
washing of the garment, corresponding to the washing of the body and
the shaving of the head.
110 Text, tfaracA fgan,, where, however, tfaracA is an erroneous addition,
as shown by the consistent use of fgan, alone in the portion of the following
verses dealing with the merely suspected mark. It is only in case the mark
by the test is proved to be unclean that the word sara'at can properly be
added. There s added (a) the explanatory Gemara 'in a garment of wool
or in a garment of flax', and then (b) the further amplification in answer to
he questions. How if it appears in the warp or in the woof only? Does
this apply also to wool and flax? How if it appears on a prepared skin,
i.e. leather or on something made of a skin? The answer is, 'or in the
warp or in the woof of wool or flax [so the Greek text], or in a skin or in
anything made of skin'.
111 ‘Greenish’ maybe a later addition, since in the other sections ‘reddish
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS—JASTROW 393
shut up the mark for seven days. If the priest112 sees on
the seventh day that the mark has spread on the garment,113
the mark is unclean; and he shall burn the garment114 in
which is the mark;115 but if the priest sees that the mark
has not spread in the garment,116 the priest shall command
to wash117 the (part) where the mark is,118 and the priest
shall inspect the mark after it has been washed, and if
the mark has not altered its appearance119--it is unclean120
alone is introduced. Once more the addition 'or in a skin, or in the warp
or in the woof or in any object made of a kin'. Then follow the two
further additions, (1) 'it is a sara’at mark', in the preceding sections,
and (2) 'it shall be shown to the priest'.
112 So the Greek text.
113 Two comments, (a) the customary addition 'or in the warp, or in the
woof, or in a skin, including whatsoever is made of the skin', and (b)
tr,x,m;ma tfaracA, meaning probably 'persistent sara’at’, corresponding to
'chronic sara’at (ver.11).
114 Again, 'or in the warp, or in the woof, in the flax or the wool or any
object made of skin'. The variations in this conventional addition, such as
the omission of the 'skin', the change in the order of enumeration, the
variant usage to indicate anything made of leather, clearly point to the sup-
plementary character of the insertions.
115 Explanatory comment, ' because it is a "persistent" mark it shall be
burnt in the fire'.
116 Or in the warp, or in the woof, or in any object made of skin.'
117 Hebrew text plural (UsB;kiv;), whereas the Greek text has the singular.
118 At this point the original text has been more seriously interfered
with by the addition of a second period of seven days' observation, added
evidently to bring about a correspondence with Lev. 13. 5, where, however,
the point is that the mark has remained steady. The ordinance, in its
original form prescribed the washing of the pot as a further test.
119 Explanatory comment, 'though the mark has not spread'.
120 Two additions, (1) 'in the fire thou shalt burn it' (note the variant
usage), and (2) it is a pehetet (tt,h,P; ), which, according to the tenor of the
Greek rendering (e]sthri<zetai), designates 'deeply ingrained mark'. The
further addition, (3) 'in its baldness or its forehead baldness', is evidently
a misplaced addition belonging somewhere in the seventh section (vers.40-44).
It is strange that none of recent commentators, neither Driver, nor Carpenter,
nor Baentsch, nor Bertholet, has noticed this. The Greek version reads
394 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
But if the priest sees that the mark has grown faint after
the mark has been washed, he shall tear it out of the
garment121 and the garment122 which has been washed,
and from which the mark has disappeared,123 it is clean.'
The beginning of ver. 59, 'This is the torah of the sara’at
mark', belongs, as clearly indicated, to the original sara’at
legislation, to which a final redactor who had merely this
eighth section before him, and which must have once
occupied an independent position, added, 'a garment of
wool or flax, or the warp or the woof, or any object
of skin, with reference to its being clean or its being
Taking up, finally, the ninth section (Lev. 14. 33-53) we
have its originally independent character (as has been
recognized by commentators)124 indicated by the special
introductory clause: 'When you come to the land of
‘in the garment, or in the warp, or in the woof', which is at least intelligible.
‘Baldness' and 'Forehead baldness' become, of course, nonsensical when
applied to garments. The entire gloss, OTH;kanaB; Ox OTh;raqAB; xyhi tt,H,P;
is a variant of ver. 42b, and tt,H,P; may be simply a corruption for tHaraPo
in ver. 42.
121 Addition, 'or from the skin, or from the warp, or from the woof’.
The entire fifty-seventh verse represents a group of additional comments, as
follows: (a) 'If it should reappear in the garment, or in the warp, or in the
woof, or in any object of skin, it is a spreading mark' (tHaraPo); (b) ‘In
the fire thou shalt burn it'; (c) 'where the mark is', the latter again
a misplaced comment.
122 Addition, 'or the warp, or the woof, or any object of skin'.
123 Explanatory comment harking back to the addition in ver. 54 (see
note 118), 'and washed a second time'.
124 See, e.g., Carpenter and Battersby, Hexateuch, II, p. 162, note 33
Bentsch, P. 374; Driver, Leviticus, p. 77, note 22, &c.
125 A similar phrase in Lev. 18. 23; 25. 2 and Num. 15. 2 marks the
introduction of an independent little Torah and, as it would appear, either
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS—JASTROW 395
a mark126 in a house,127 and the one to whom the house
belongs comes and tells the priest, to wit: "something like
a mark has appeared in my house'." Then follows (ver. 36)
a curious provision, that before the priest comes the house
is to be cleared of the furniture so as to save that from
also being pronounced unclean. This practical device,
which shows that questions of sanitation could not have
a been uppermost in the minds at least of those who com-
mented upon the legislation, looks very much again like
an answer to the question whether one may remove one's
furniture before the mark is examined, and thus save it
from possible destruction in case the whole house is
condemned. At all events, verse 35 must be joined directly
to verse 37.
‘And when the priest sees that he mark128 on the walls
of the house forms greenish129 or reddish patches, and that
they are deeper than the wall, then the priest shall go out
of the house to the door of the house,130 and close up the
house for seven days; and the priest shall return on the
seventh day, and if he sees that the mark has spread on
the walls of the house, the priest shall order the stones
where the mark appears to be removed, and to be thrown
of a supplementary character, as in our case and in Lev. 19. 23 and as 25. 2,
or in the nature of a general summary, as Num. 15. 2. In all cases the
legislation thus introduced is late, representing, in fact, the latest stratum
in the Priestly Code.
126 Text, tfaracA fgan, here again, a Lev. 13.4 , sara’at is out of
place and anticipates the result of the diagnosis.
127 Addition, 'of the land of your possession'; Greek versions read
128 The Hebrew has a superfluous 'and behold the nega’’, which is omitted
in the Greek version.
129 ‘Greenish’ may be a later addition. See note 111.
130 Note the discursive style, characteristic of, this ninth section.
396 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
outside the city,131 and other stones to be taken and brought
in place of the stones.132 And if the mark reappears and
spreads on the house after he has removed the stones, as
then if the priest comes and sees that the mark has spread
in the house134--it is unclean. And one shall tear down
the house,135 and all the dust shall be carried outside of
the city.136 But if the priest comes and sees that the mark
has not spread in the house, the priest shall declare the
house clean, for the mark is healed.'137
Here the first part of the section ends, and there follow
(vers. 49-53) the ritualistic provisions which are manifestly
a transference of Lev. 14. 4-8a--the first procedure in the
131 Addition, 'to an unclean place', which suggests the unsanitary dust
and rubbish heaps characteristic of Palestinian towns even at the present
time. A 'Gemara' adds (ver. 41) 'And the house shall be scraped all
ground, and the scraped dust deposited outside of the city at an unclean
132 Addition, ‘And he shall take other dust, and plaster the house', in
answer to the question, What is to be done to the house?
133 Addition to conform to the earlier additions, 'And after the house has
been scraped and after the plastering'.
134 Addition as in the former section, 'It is "persistent" sara'at in the
house'. Cf: note 115.
135 Addition, 'Its stones and its wood', a detailed specification added in
answer to the question, Does 'house' mean perhaps only the stone, or does
include the wood-work? The Greek version omits 'its wood', pointing
clearly to the manipulation of the Hebrew text.
136 Addition again 'to an unclean places. Then follow two purely
ritualistic ordinances, which clearly represent the endeavour to connect
a ritualistic observance with the 'house' spot as with other kinds of marks.
Therefore, we are told (ver). 46-7), 'And whoever enters the house during
the days that it is closed shall be unclean till-evening; and he who sleeps
in the house shall wash his garments ['and be unclean till evening', so the
Greek text]; and be who eats in the house shall wash his garments ['and
be unclean till evening', so again the Greek text]. Verse 47 evidently
represents the superstructure upon ver. 46 to bring about a conformity with
Lev. 14. 8 and with passages like ver. 9 based thereon.
137 fgan,.ha xPAr;ni, corresponding to Lev. 14. 3 in the original sara’at Torah.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPR0SY' LAWS--JASTROW 397
original sara’at Torah--to the 'hour ' mark, and a most
awkward transfer at that, as will presently appear. Before
taking up this second part, let us not how in the first part
the diagnosis follows slavishly in the path of the original
sara’at legislation in the following points: (I) the emphasis
on the change of colour at the place where the mark is;
(2) that the mark or marks must be beneath the surface;
(3) the seven days' quarantine; (4) the decisions resting
upon the spread of the mark. The new point, though
corresponding in a measure to the tearing out of the mark
on the garment (Lev. 13.56), is the removal of the stones
containing the suspicious marks (to which later com-
mentators added still further directions). Here, evidently,
we have a piece of legislation specially devised for the case
in question, and not based upon an attempt to provide
in the case of the mark on the house something analogous
to an unclean mark on an individual. The same applies
to the provision to tear down the house and to remove the
dust to another place in case of a reappearance, or of a
spread of the marks after the first attempt to heal the
house had failed.
Taking up the second part of the section, the dependence
upon Lev. 14. 4-8a, as has already been suggested, is self-
evident. The adaptation of the latter ritual in its elaborated
and not in its original form to the house declared clean,
leads to the substitution of the interesting phrase xFaHal;,138
literally, 'to remove the sin' (Lev. 14. 49 and 52),"in the
sense of purifying--what we would call ' fumigating'--for
rHeFamila 'to declare or dismiss as clean' (14. 4, 7). The
138 The Piel of the verb in this sense is found in Exod. 29, 36; Lev. 8. 15;
9, 15; Ezek. 43. 22-23, applied to the altar; also Ps. 51. 9 in the direct sense
of cleansing; but quite differently Gen. 31. 39.
398 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
comparison between Lev. I4. 4-8 with 49-53, moreover,
justifies the analysis given of the former, since some of the
additions in Lev. 14. 4-8 are actually not found in 49-53.
So we have in the latter merely ‘the two birds’ without
the addition of living clean'. Similarly, verse 51 is nearer
to the original form than 14. 4, especially in the Greek text,
‘And he shall take [addition: "cedar wood and hyssop
and scarlet thread "] the living bird and dip it [so the
Greek text] in the blood of the killed one [addition:
the running water"—so the Greek text] and sprinkle133
the house seven times.'
Verse 50 corresponds to verse 5, but on the other hand,
verse 52 represents a redundancy over the original sara’at
Torah. It sums up:
‘And he shall purge140 the house through the blood of
the bird, and through the running water, and through the
living bird, and through the cedar wood, and the hyssop,
and the scarlet thread.' This is evidently added to
emphasize the elaborateness of the ritual. Verse 53
reading: 'And he shall send off the living bird outside of
the city141 and atone for the house,' 142 corresponds to the
second part of verse 7. The substitution of ‘city’ for
‘field’ indicates the change in social conditions intervening
between the period of the original sara’at Torah and the
late supplement modelled upon it. It is perhaps worth
while to note that the second ritual (vers. 8b-20) is not
139 Greek text adds 'with them'.
140 xFeHi, see note 138.
141 The dependence of this ritualistic ordinance upon Lev. 14, 4-8a is
shown by the meaningless addition of 'over the face of the field', merely
because this phrase is used in Lev. 14.7.
142 Addition. 'and it is clean'.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY'- LAWS---JASTROW 399
carried over to the 'cleansing' ritual for the house. The
older exorcising ceremony alone was adapted to the case
of a ‘mark’ in a house, and that after the test had been
made and the house declared clean. In view of this
adaptation it is no longer possible to say whether in the
case also of the house, the ritual originally represented
the means of exorcising the disease, and was subsequently
connected with a symbolical ceremony of formally declaring
the house clean. The lateness of this transferred ritual
suggests that in the mind of the one who so transferred it,
the ritual was regarded merely as ‘dismissal’ ceremony.
The subscript, verses 54-57, is particularly elaborate.
As already pointed out, we ma regard the second half
of verse 57, ‘This is the law of the sara'at'--as the closing
formula of the original sara'at legislation. If this be so,
it will be the simplest solution of the problem to divide
the remaining verses into a series of originally independent
subscripts that have been here repeated and united. In
this way verse 54, 'This is the law for every nega' sara’at,
and for the netek, would be the subscript for Lev. 13. 1-17
and 29-57; [This is the law for the sara’at] 'of the
garment' (ver. 55 a) for Lev. I3. 7-58; '[This is the law
for the sara’at] of the house' (ver. 55b) for Lev. 14. 33-
53, while verse 56, 'for the swelling, growth, and shining
spot' (taken from Lev. 13. 2), represents an amplification
to verse 54-and is, therefore, a comment or note which
has gotten a little out of place. Of special interest is.
verse 57a, 'to teach [i.e. to set forth the law] for the day of
(pronouncing) unclean and for the day of (pronouncing)
clean', which again is obviously a 'Gemara' to explain
that the Torah includes the diagnosis and the decision-
whether unclean or clean. The subscript through the
400 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
repetition and the union of five subscripts: (I) all kinds
of nega’ sara’at [i. e. the swelling, growth, and shining .
pot]; (a) netek; (3) garment; (4) house; and (5) that of
the original legislation143 thus aims to unite the two
chapters that we have analysed into one Torah--viewed
under the aspect of sara'at, but we have seen that this
term, representing everywhere outside of the original
sara'at legislation an addition, is used in the generic sense
of any unclean spot or mark on a human body, or on a
garment, or on a stuff, or on a house. We must therefore,
exclude the nine sections superimposed upon the original
legislation from consideration in any attempt to determine
what the sara’at really and originally meant.
It is needless for our purpose to enter into a detailed
discussion of the various views regarding sara'at that have
jeen brought forward from a medical point of view.144 All
of these investigations, valuable though they are as medical
discussions, suffer from the defect that they assume the
unity of Lev. 13 and 14,145 and particularly of Lev 13. 1-37,
143 It will be observed that there is no subscript for the section on boils
burns (Lev. 13. 18-28), or for the one on baldness (Lev. 13. 40-4), which
raises the question whether these sections may not have been inserted after
the first union of Lev. 13 and 14.
144 It is sufficient to refer to G. N. Blanch, Die Zamath (Lepra) der
Bennett, The Diseases of the Bible,
Medzin im Alku Testament, pp. 75-95; Preuss, Biblisch-Talmudische
Medzin, pp. 369-go; and Jay F. Schamberg, The Nature of the Leprosy of the
Bible (see note a). Some of these writers, especially Ebstein (l. c., p. 89),
recognize that sara'at includes a variety of skin diseases.
145 It was, of course, natural that ancient writers like Philo and the
rabbinical authorities in the Talmud, under the ban of the tradition which
scribed the entire Pentateuchal legislation to one period and one man,
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY' LAWS—JASTROW 401
which portion naturally occupies the most prominent place
in medical discussions of sara’at. The above analysis has,
however, shown that verses 18-37, deal with boils, burns,
and sores, and their symptoms, and that they are pro-
nounced clean or unclean according to tests that are
suggested by, and dependent upon those applied to sara’at
in the original sara’at legislation, but that otherwise
they have nothing to do with sara’at. The application
of the term sara’at to these dieases represents a late
addition made at a time when sara’at had acquired an
entirely general designation, so that it could be applied
even to 'bald spots' (Lev. 13. 42). The fact that the
diseases mentioned in Lev. 13. 17-37 have their specific
designation as ‘boils’, 'burns', and particularly netek, and
that even the symptoms described have technical designa-
tions ('scab of boil', 'scab of burn') strengthens the thesis
that the application of sara’at to them is of secondary
origin; and this is further borne out by the substitution
of nega’ for sara’at, to which attention has been directed.
In Lev. 13. 1-17 the 'growth' (tHaPasa sappahat) has its
specific name, namely mispahat (tHaPas;mi vers. 6-8), which
if it spreads does not become sara'at, but makes one
unclean. In the case of mispahat it is particularly clear
that the application of sara’at has no medical significance
or justification--the point involved being to determine
whether it is a 'clean' or an 'unclean' variety of disease.
The addition at the close of ver. 8 'it is sara'at’, can only
have the force of a convention--a non-medical identification,
should have started from this point of view, which led Philo (de Posteritate
Cain', I, §13) to define sara’at as a 'multiform and complicated disease',
and the Rabbis in the Talmudical Treatise Nega'im to go to even greater
lengths in the application of a term that must once have had a very specific
402 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
and at the very most can be taken to mean that the
'unclean' mispahat is to be put on the same plane as
sara’at. In a medical discussion, therefore it is erroneous to
start from an identification of the two, or to regard mispahat
as a variety of sara’at. This view of sappahat carries with it
baheret (shining mark),which is treated merely as a symptom,
and therefore introduced with sappahat (ver. 4), with boils
(ver. 19), and with burns (vers. 24, 28), and with bohak
(ver. 39). On the other hand, 'the white swelling' implied
in ver. 2, and treated in ver. 10--a part of the original
sara’at legislation--belongs to the symptoms of sara’at,
and apparently is the means, or one of the means, of dis-
tinguishing between ordinary sara’at, which may be healed,
and chronic sara’at, which is pronounced unclean even
without the test of an isolation for purposes of observation
In verses 38-9 the description of a specific disease bohak
(tetter) is given as a caution against regarding numerous
white spots on the skin as 'unclean'. The term sara’at
is not even introduced here--the verdict being 'clean'--
while in verses 40-43, dealing with two forms of baldness,
the occurrence of 'white swelling', alone suggests a com-
parison with the diagnosis of sara’at. While, no doubt,
this section is secondary to the original sara’at legislation,
the possibility that the symptom here described may
belong to sara’at in the original sense must be admitted.
The peculiar usage, 'like the appearance of a sara’at of
the skin of the flesh' (Lev. 13- 43), shows, at all events,
the intention of the author to add this symptom under
the head of the genuine sara'at. Even though not belonging
to the original sara’at legislation, verse 43 must be con-
sidered in a discussion of the original force of sara’at.
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 403
We may, of course, dismiss without a further word the
application of sara'at to garments, stuffs, and houses--
which if taken seriously would lead to medical conclusions
of an absurd character. Even those who wish to save the
original integrity of Lev.13 and 14 will hardly go so far
as to assume that the legislator had in mind the modern
'germ' theory, according to which a disease can be carried
to a person through clothes or through the walls of a
house. Such germs--difficult often for modern medical
science to determine--are not so considerate as to manifest
themselves in big patches. The non-scientific application
of the name of a disease to which man is subject to an
inanimate object shows conclusively that sara’at is not
used in its specific and original sense.
Excluding, therefore, mispahat, as well as 'boils', 'burns',
netek (open sore), bohak (tetter), and, of course, mere
baldness and marks on garments and stuffs and houses,
what then is sara'at?
Thrown back upon the original sara'at legislation, the
answer, from a symptomatic point of view, is quite simple.
It is a skin disease, which appears in a milder and curable
form and in a severer chronic form--or what was considered
at the time as chronic. In its milder form the symptoms
are a spot (or a mark) with a tendency to spread,146
appearing deeper than the skin, and changing the hair at
the spot to white; the other as the chronic form is marked
by the 'swelling' character of the spot, i. e. the inflammation
produces a spot in 'high-relief' against 'bas-relief'.
Besides, there is also the symptom of the hair at the spot
turning white, and the appearance of raw flesh in the
146 Note, however, the 'Gemara' (ver. 12) that if it spreads over the whole
body it is merely a 'rash', and, therefore, 'clean'.
404 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
swelling. From a modern medical point of view, these
symptoms must appear somewhat naive and decidedly
insufficient. It is not surprising that students of medicine
should disagree as to the precise disease indicated, and that
the perfectly relevant question should have been raised
whether sara'at ever indicated any specific disease.
That sara’at was never intended as a designation of
leprosy or elephantiasis Graecorum147 is now so generally
admitted as to require no further discussion. Indeed, there
no proof that the disease was known in
any more than in
Orient.148 The consistent Greek rendering of sara'at as
lepra--followed by the Vulgate--is a most valuable tradi-
tion, carrying us back to at least the second century B.C.,
for the current view of sara’at, just as a misunderstanding
of lepra is responsible for the opinion still popularly current
that the disease described as sara'at is leprosy. The
manner in which the confusion between lepra and ‘leprosy’
arose is fully set forth by Bennett and others.149 In Greek
medical usage lepra designates 'a cutaneous disease varying
in its features, but the essential characteristic of which is
a rough, scabrous or scaly eruption on the skin, with more
or less evidence of surrounding redness or superficial
inflammation’.150 Three varieties of lepra are distinguished
by Greek writers, and it is therefore reasonable to suppose
147 See, especially, Munch's exhaustive discussion of the point, chaps. I
and III-VI, and Bennett's Diseases of the Bible, pp., 40ff.
148 So, e. g., Munch's conclusion, p. 145. If it had been known, it would
certainly have been enumerated among the diseases threatened as ‘curses’
in Deut. 28, where it is noticeable that sara'at is not mentioned, whereas
149 See Bennett, pp. 16-19; Munch, pp. 88.
150 Bennett, p. 19.
THE SO-CALLED ‘LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTR0W 405
several varieties also existed in
enough--if the above analysis is correct--there would be
also three varieties in Lev.13, 1-17; (1) the 'bas-relief'
sara’at; (2) the 'high-relief' sara’at; and (3) the mispahat,
which latter certainly stands in a close relation to the first
and second. In any case sara'at, is definitely narrowed
down to this portion of the chapter--'boils', ‘burns’, netek,
bohak, &c., being entirely excluded. Too much stress must
not be laid upon this quite unexpected result that Lev. 13.
1-17 should contain three varieties of sara'at, for the agree-
ment with the three varieties recognized by Greek medical
writers may be a pure coincidence, and would have a value
only in case the diagnosis of the three varieties would be
identical among Greeks and Hebrews.151 This does not
appear to be the case. The essential characteristic of lepra
seems to be, according to the testimony of Greek and
Latin medical writers,152 scabrous or scaly eruptions on the
151 This suggestion that three varieties of lepra are described, corre-
sponding to the three varieties of vitiligo as set up by Celsus, was made long
ago (see Bennett, pp. 31-3) by Drs. Mason, Good, and Belcher, but their
identifications are very arbitrary, and rest upon the erroneous supposition
that all diseases enumerated in Lev. 13 come under sara'at. Moreover, the
fact that the same three designations (alphos, melas, and leuki) are described
as varieties of vililigo by Celsus (de Medicina, V, 27.19), whereas writers
apply the three terms to varieties of lepra (psoriasis), or to diseases allied
to lepra, points to a further confusion in early medical nomenclature, which
an additional warning against drawing definite conclusions from the vague
and unscientific diagnosis in Lev. 13.
152 See the passages from Hippocrates gathered by Munch, Die Zaraath
(Lepra) der Bibel, pp. 3-4. Since Hippocrates used the plural form, leprai
(cf. 'certain leprai', V, 98, § 17, ed. Littre) it is evident that he recognized
several varieties, but it is to be noted that he nowhere enumerates three
varieties, alphos, niclas, and leuke. In fact, melas is not mentioned by him
at all, whereas alphos (also used in the plural as well as in the singular)
occurs by the side of lepra, but distinct from it (lepra, leichenes, and alphoi,
V, 701, § 502; lepra and alphos, V, p. 179; IX, 105. § 20, &c.), and the same
406 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
skin as the name lepra, which means 'rough' or 'scaly',
indicates. The three varieties, alphos, melas, leuke are
distinguished from one another by the colour of the eruption,
which in the case of alphos is white, in the case of melas
black and shadowy, and in the case of leuke whiter than
the alphos variety. Moreover, only in the case of the leuki,
is there in Celsus a specific mention of white hairs in
connexion with the eruption. The leuke penetrates more
deeply into the skin than the alphos and melas, which
agree--except in the matter of the colour--'in being
roughish and not confluent, looking as though scattered
in drops with wide interspaces between the drops'.153 By
general consent, the lepra of the Greeks is identified with
psoriasis, or at all events, the different varieties of lepra are
classed under the head of psoriasis. The important stress
which is laid upon the hair turning white in Lev. 13,
suggests that the only form of lepra which the original
sara'at legislators had in mind was the leuke variety, and
the description given in verse 3 of the appearance of the
mark 'deeper than the skin' might accord also with
the express mention in the case of leuke that the eruption
penetrates more deeply into the skin. It is noticeable also
that the leuke variety is the only one of the three which
has a serious import, and was on the whole not regarded
as curable, whereas the alphos and melas are cured without
great difficulty. The objection, however, against the iden-
tification of sara’at in Lev. 13. 3 with leuke is that no
is the case with leuke (leichenes, leprai, and leukai (plural); IX, p. 75, § 43).
There is, in fact, no passage where even lepra, leuke, and alphos occur together,
showing that each was regarded as a distinct disease by Hippocrates, and
that in the case of each, as the, use of the plural form shows; several varieties
153 Bennett, as above note 149.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 407
reference is made to the rough or scaly symptom of the
eruption. Such a reference may, however, be recognized
in the second variety of sara’at (ver. 10) where the eruption
is in 'high relief'. The 'white swelling' would be a close
approach to leuke, and the 'raw flesh', added as another
symptom, might well be a further description of a 'rough'
eruption. The description of leuke that it ‘penetrates more
deeply’ would, therefore, not represent the equivalent to
being ‘deeper than the skin’, and this is perhaps natural,
since in the case of lepra the eruptions are rough and scaly
in all three varieties. The omission, therefore, of ‘deeper
than the skin’, in ver. 10, adds strength to the view, here
set forth, that se'et (txeW;) refers to a 'high relief' or a
‘rough’ eruption—‘raising’ the skin as it were. The
absence of any reference to a 'rough eruption,' in the case
of the first variety of sara’at, and the emphasis upon its
being on the contrary, 'deeper than the skin', suggests
an identification with the skin disease vitiligo, which--
common in tropical countries--is characterized by bright
white spots, the hairs of which lose their colour and become
white'.154 In the description of this first variety of sara’at
the stress is laid upon the hair at the spot turning 'white',
and the expression ‘deeper than the skin’ would be a
natural way of describing a spot that seems to be in the
skin, in contrast to an eruption that appears, over the skin.
The addition represented by verse 4, where the phrase
‘shining white’ spot is introduced; suggests, by implication,
that in verse 3, the nega' is white and shining, since the
point in verse 4 is that the spot is not clearly defined as
in the skin, i.e. too faint as yet to be recognized as such,
154 Schamberg, l. c., p. 4. of reprint: from Phil. Polyclinic, Vol. VII, Nov.
19-26, = Biblical World, l899, p. 163.
408 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
and that the hair has not turned white. The conclusion
thus reached, and which is here submitted to students of
medicine, is that the Biblical sara'at' in the original form
of the sara’at Torah consists of two varieties, and that
these two varieties represent a confusion of two distinct
skin diseases: the first variety, regarded as less serious,
while rendering the victim for the time being ‘unclean',
is vitiligo; the second variety, characterized as chronic
sara’at (Lev. 13. 11), is the leuke: or the most serious variety
of lepra or psoriasis. Verses 6-8, forming a later addition,
would represent a further attempt to differentiate the leuke
from other varieties, and the emphasis laid upon its ‘being
faint', in verse 6, naturally suggests a description of alphos,
which case, the white colour of the eruption is not as
pronounced.155 Lastly, verses 12-13 representing again
other addition for purposes of further differentiation, and
describing marks which spread over the whole body,
‘turning it all white', as the gloss in verse 13 ex-
plains, would represent a form of vitiligo in which the
disease spreads until large areas of the body are involved,
and even the entire body. Cases are on record of negroes
affected by this disease turning entirely white.156 The
affection is an entirely harmless one, and in accord with
this we find the verdict in Lev. 13. 14, 'he is clean'.
To sum up, then we have two forms of genuine sara’at
in the original sara’at legislation; one, the milder form,
being a form of vitiligo, the other, the chronic form; being
leuke. In the later additions to the original sara’at section,
155 Vera. 6-8 representing an addition to the original sara’at legislation;
naturally no special reference is made to the spot being a a rising eruption
or a mark that appears on the skin.
156 Schamberg, l. c.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 409
we have (a) a form of alphos apparently described, which
if it spreads is pronounced as 'unclean', and (b) a form of
vitiligo, in which the whole flesh turns white, and which
is pronounced ‘clean’. In the balance of the chapter,
Lev. 13, as well as in the additions to Lev. 14, represented
by verses 33-47, the use of sara'at is erroneous, or rather
represents the later use of the term as a generic one-
synonymous with nega’, ‘mark’--to designate any kind
of a spot, whether on any part of the human body, or
on a garment, on a stuff, or on the walls of a house, which
is regarded as ‘unclean’. So far as 'marks' on a human
being are concerned, Lev. 13. 18-43 includes boils and
burns, open sores on the head or beard, baldness in various
stages, and 'faint white spots' that form merely a tetter
(bohak). Boils and burns that leave ‘eruptions’ (se'et),
white or shining, or reddish, showing symptoms of the
second variety of sara'at, i. e. leuke, are unclean, whereas
the mere scabs from boils or burns are clean. The sore
(netek) which shows the symptoms of the first variety of
sara'at (lepra alphos)--marks appearing to be in the skin
and the hair turning yellowish--is unclean. Baldness
and a mere tetter (bokah) finally are clean, but the appear-
ance of an 'eruption' (se'et) on the bald spot raises the
suspicion, according to what is probably a very late addition
to the texts (ver. 42), of its being sara'at, presumably of
the second variety.
The oldest ritual, Lev. 14. 1-8a, which in its original
form, as has been shown, was a method of exorcising
sara'at, when it became a purification ritual performed
at the time of healing, could have been applied only to
the curable variety of sara'at--i. e. to vitiligo, and, if we
include the later addition to the legislation, also to alphos.
410 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
It was then naturally extended to all the other skin troubles
mentioned in Lev. 13, which made the victim unclean until
he was healed. On the other hand, the law of being
excluded from human society, warning the people of one's
approach by calling 'unclean', keeping one's mouth covered,
allowing one's hair to grow long, not changing one's clothes--
while applicable to all during the period of their being
‘unclean' must have been devised originally for those who
suffered from the 'chronic' and incurable variety of lepra,
i.e. leuke. For those suffering from vitiligo, isolation
outside of the camp until the demon had been exorcised.
i. e. until the healing had taken place, was presumably all
that was required.
We are now in a better position to consider the other
passages in the Old Testament where sara'at is mentioned.
In accord with the original sara'at legislation, the one so
afflicted (Num. 5. 2, sara’at) is to be removed from the
camp, but the fact that he is mentioned together with one
having a 'running' sore (bzA--also discussed in Lev. 15)
indicates, not only that Num. 5 assumes the existence of
Lev. 13-15, but also that the one who suffers from sara'at
is not necessarily a chronic or even a very serious sufferer.
Deut. 24.8 also assumes more or less detailed regulations
regarding the sara'at, and since verses 8 and 9 interrupt
the order of subjects in this chapter, it may be safely
assumed that we here have later insertions. Verse 9 is a
reference to the punishment of Miriam with sara'at, which
is described Num. 12. 10-13.157 If the phrase (ver. 10b)
'and Miriam was stricken with sara'at like snow' belongs
157 Num. 12. 14-16 is a reference to Lev. 13. 4, though another disease,
which seem; to be 'jaundice', is indicated in ver. 14 a that is not mentioned
in any of the codes.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY’ LAWS--JASTROW 411
to the original text, then we could say with reasonable
certainty that the sara’at in this case was of the first
and milder variety--a form of vitiligo; but the words
stricken with sara’at like snow" (gl,wAKa tfaracom;) seem to
be quoted from Exod. 4. 6, and are therefore in all
probability a gloss to the latter part of Num. 12. 10,
'And Aaron turned to Miriam and behold she was
stricken with sara’at'. To this a commentator added
as an explanation the case of Exod. 4. 6, where the
hand of Moses is described as becoming 'white as snow'
(gl,w,.Ka tfaracom;), and then is instantly restored to its normal
condition--as one of the signs to be used by him in case
he should meet with unbelief in his mission upon reaching
the attendant of Elisha (2 Kings 5. 27) would seem to
show that vitiligo was intended in this case which would,
therefore, apply also to Naaman' (2 Kings 6. 2), since it is
the latter's disease which is transferred as a punishment for
greed to Gehazi and his offspring (ver. 27). We may per-
haps assume this also to be the case in 2 Kings 7. 3, though
the text is vague in its tone. On the other hand, King
Azariah (or Uzziah, as he is called in 2 Chron. 26) appears
to have been smitten with the second and chronic variety
of sara'at, i. e. leuke, for he remains afflicted till his death,
and is obliged to dwell in a separate house (2 Kings 15. 5;
2 Chron. 26. 21).158
There is, of course, not the slightest reason for assuming
that Job's sickness, or the one with which Hezekiah is
smitten, represented any form of sara’at, and much less
leprosy. In both cases the disease is specified as 'boils'
158 So special importance needs to be attached to the statement in
Chron. 26. 19, 20 that the sara’at 'broke out on his forehead'.
412 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
(Isa. 38. 21 and Job 2. 7), just as in the case in one of
technical term aba'bu’ot (an Egyptian word?) is added.
Indeed, it is noticeable in the large list of diseases which
are threatened as a curse (Deut. 28) in case of a dis-
obedience to the laws, that sara'at is not mentioned,
whereas 'boils'--specified as 'Egyptian boils'--are included
(ver. 27) with others that are expressly declared to be
'incurable'159--a valuable indication that sara'at after all
was not counted among the most serious diseases, and that
the special legislation is rather a reflex of the common
occurrence of the disease in its two (or possibly more)
varieties, which made it necessary to make provisions for
those so stricken, and who were regarded as unclean merely
because every real disease--due to demoniac possession--
made the victim unclean. An affliction that was 'clean'
was not really a disease, according to medical science in
this primitive stage of empirical knowledge.
A question that should at least be touched upon at
the close of this analysis is the one raised by Eerdmans's
recent investigation of the entire book of Leviticus160 as
to the age of the legislation in Lev. 13-14. With Eerdmans's
general thesis that Leviticus, as in fact the whole of the
159 The case of Job and Hezekiah are, therefore, exceptional, and are
portrayed as miraculous through Divine intervention.
Studien, IV, 'Das Buch Leviticus' (
See especially pp. 68-73. The grounds on which Wiener, Origin of the
Pentateuch, p. 76, assumes an early origin for Lev. 13 and 14 do not seem
to me to be of any value. In many points, especially when he pleads for
the early character of many of the laws, Wiener is right, but he is not as
'original' as he thinks he is in his opposition to the critical school, and his
method of argumentation, even where his conclusions are correct, is most
defective, and sometimes unfair. I shall take up Wiener's contentions at
some future time.
THE SO-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 413
legislation in the Priestly Code, contains pre-exilic elements,
I am in full accord. The analysis of Lev. 13-14, as set
forth in this article, lends further support to Eerdmans's
thesis, which as a matter of fact, has been held even by
those who claimed post-exilic dates for the final form of
the Priestly Code. It is evident that a purification ritual
such as Lev. 14. 1-8a, which contains distinct traces of
having once been a method of exorcising a disease, must
revert to a very ancient period; and even as a purification
ritual it belongs to a time anterior to the period when
a sacrifice of some kind was regarded as essential to a
removal of ‘uncleanness’. Indeed, the whole conception
of disease as a state of ‘uncleanness’ belongs to the time
when disease was supposed to be due to some 'unclean'
demon that had found its way into one's body; and the
'uncleanness' at this stage of thought has nothing to do
with hygienic impurity, as little as the demon theory of
disease has anything to do with the modern germ theory
of disease, albeit the former seems to suggest the latter.
The references to the 'camp' and 'tent' in Lev. 14 also
point to early social stages, and there is no reason to
assume that these terms are introduced into a late legislation
with a view of giving the impression that they are old,
or in other words, as a deliberate invention to uphold a
tradition of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuchal legislation.
If such had been the deliberate intent of the compilers
they would not have committed the inconsistency of intro-
ducing the word 'city' in the same chapter (Lev. 14. 40,
41, 45). The naive and non-scientific manner of describing
the two varieties of sara’at and the almost total absence
of technical terms in the original sara'at legislation, with
merely feeble attempts to differentiate two totally different
414. THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
diseases, are further indications that point to an early,
certainly to a pre-exilic origin, for the beginnings of the
sara’at legislation. Even the additions in Lev. 13. 1-43
may in large part belong to the pre-exilic period. This
appears to be certainly the case with the additions to the
first part of the chapter, Lev. 13. 1-18, with the possible
exception of some glosses and of the general use of sara'at
for any unclean ‘spot’ on the skin, which I believe to be of
comparatively late origin, while the supplementary sections,
Lev. 13. 47-58, concerning spots on garments, &c., and
certainly the still later section on spots on walls of houses,
Lev, 14. 33-48, may, with great probability, be put down
as, post-exilic. This applies also to the ritualistic sections
prescribing the sacrifice of animals as an integral part of
the purification ceremonial, Lev. 14. 10-20, as well as
to Lev. 14- 21-31, which is of the same character though
possibly embodying, as above suggested,161 traces of an
earlier and simpler sacrificial ritual. Naturally, the purifica-
tion ritual attached to Lev. 14. 33-48 ('spots' on walls of
houses), though taken over from the old and certainly pre-
exilic ritual, Lev. 14. 1-8a, forming, part of the original
sara'at legislation, represents an addition that cannot be
earlier than the section, Lev. 14. 33-48, itself.
As for the chronological sequence of the numerous
sections superimposed upon the original sara'at legislation,
it seems safe to regard Lev. 14. 33-47, and the attached
ritual, verses 48-53, as the latest additions made after the
insertion of the sections in Lev. 13, i. e. verses 18-44,
between the diagnosis of the two forms of sara'at and the
purification ritual, Lev. 14. 1-8a; otherwise, the section of
sara'at marks on walls of houses would have found a place
161 See above, p. 379f.
THE S0-CALLED 'LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 415
before or after the section, Lev. 13. 47-58, treating of marks
on garments, &c. The absence of any ritual for the puri-
fication of marks on garments and stuffs would indicate
an earlier date than the elaborate ritual, Lev. 14. 10-20,
added to the second ritual, Lev. 14.8b-9, and superimposed
upon the first ritual, Lev. 14. 1-8a. This, of course,
carries with it the later date for the ‘substitute’ sacrifice,
Lev. 14. 21-31, though, as indicated, this may embody
a simpler and, therefore, earlier ‘sacrificial’ ritual than the
more complicated one. The order, therefore, would be
(i) Lev.13. 47-58; (2) Lev. 14. 21-31; (3) Lev. 14. 10-20;
(4) Lev. 14. 33-53. As for the remaining sections, the
insertions in Lev. 13. 1-17 represent the earliest attempts
at elaborating the original sara'at legislation, while the
five sections in Lev. 13. 18-44 may very well have been
added in chronological sequence in the order in which the
sections are now arranged. It is not, of course, possible to
go further and specify any definite period at which the
one or the other of these nine sections was added, beyond
the general impression one receives from the larger use
of technical terms (such as netek, bohak, &c.) and the more
detailed diagnosis in the case of ‘boils’ and ‘burns’, that the
sections belong to a considerably advanced period of medi-
cal observation and are, therefore, presumably post-exilic.
This would carry with it the four sections: (1) Lev. 13.
47-58; (2) Lev.14. 21-31; (3) Lev. 14.30-20; (4) Lev. 14.
33-53--all certainly later than the five sections--and the
post-exilic character of which is suggested by internal
evidence. I venture, therefore, to claim as pre-exilic not
only the original sara'at legislation and the original puri-
fication rituals, Lev. 14. 1-8c and 8b-9, but also the
elaborated section, Lev. 13. 1-17, in which the additions
are dovetailed into the original sara'at portions.
416 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
Eerdmans,162 to be sure, would go much further and
place the entire two chapters in the pre-exilic period, but
his argumentation is not convincing because he under-
estimates the complicated character of the composition of
Lev. 13-14. The fact, e. g., that the style and language of
the section on marks in garments, &c. (Lev. 13. 47-59),
agree with Lev. 13. 1-46 is due to direct imitation precludes
its use as an argument for the unity of Lev. 13; and in
the same way, Lev. 14.33-53 ('marks' on walls of houses)
imitates Lev. 13, and intentionally introduces so far as
possible the same terms. Even if my analysis of Lev. 13-14
should not prove to be correct in all details, I feel safe
in saying that the existence of an original sara'at legislation
consisting of Lev. 13, 2-3; 9-11 (with some additions),
45-6, and followed immediately by a ‘purification’ or
‘dismissal’ ritual, Lev. 14. 1-8 a, has been definitely
demonstrated. No less significant is the fact that has been
proved163 of the distinction between a ritual performed
outside of a sanctuary and one that is to be performed at
an altar. This points not only to a very early age for the
original sara’at legislation, but also to a considerable interval,
of time between the age of the two rituals. Moreover, the
'sacrificial' ritual is based on a totally different point of
view. The fact that provision is made for carrying out
later sacrificial ritual in
to occurrences of sara’at in other parts of the country, is
due, of course, to the theoretical basis of the Priestly Code
that there is only one legislative centre at which sacrifice
can be brought. Instead of concluding, as Eerdmans does,
that the legislation originated in pre-exilic days in sole
with the sanctuary at
162 l.c., pp. 38-73. 163 See above, p. 375.
THE SO-CALLED ' LEPROSY' LAWS--JASTROW 417
exilic legislation would necessarily have regard to Jewish
settlements outside of the capital, the more obvious deduc-
tion would be that the Priestly Code is to a large extent
an 'ideal' compilation made with the express purpose of
adapting the older and younger practices to a theoretical
centre. That animal sacrifices were brought in pre-exilic
days, and at a very early period must, of course, be admitted,
and the emphasis on the 'tent of meeting’ in the ritual of
Lev. 14. 10-31 may be taken as an indication that the
basis of the ritual is pre-exilic; but the frequent substitution
of ‘before Jahweh’ in the section would have no meaning
unless one assumed that it represents the endeavour again
to apply older practices--considerably elaborated and
transferred to Jahweh's one and only legitimate sanctuary
face with the distinctly post-exilic ideal that underlies the
legislation of the Priestly Code in its present form. It is
characteristic of the gradual growth of legislation to retain
in a conservative spirit the language and the form of earlier
legislation, even when inconsistent with later conditions.
Just as laws are never actually abrogated in ancient
codes, but carried along with modifications that at times
totally change the character of ancient statutes even 'to the
point of virtually abrogating them164 so formulas are carried
over and given a new interpretation through glosses or
explanatory comments. The substitution of ‘before Jahweh’
164 A good case in point is the legislation regarding slants, in the so-called
Book of the Covenant. Exod. 21. 1-6, which theoretically recognizes
slavery, but changes it practically to an indenture of six years. The old law
remains, but it is so modified as to receive an entirely different character.
In the same way it is theoretically assumed (vers. 8-11) that the old law
allowing a man to sell his daughter as a 'handmaid' remains in force, but
it is practically abrogated by conditions that chance its nature.
418 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
for ‘tent of meeting’, together with the frequent addition
of the one phrase to the other is, therefore, an illustration
of the way in which the old is carried over and combined
with the new. It is impossible at this point to enter into
further detached criticism of Eerdmans's position, but enough
has been brought forward, I think, to make it clear that, while
he has shown more satisfactorily than his predecessors how
much in the Pentateuchal legislation is old, his main con-
tention that the critical theory associated chiefly with the
names of Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausen165 must be set
aside because based on erroneous assumptions, is not accept-
able, partly because he has not carried the analysis of the
Pentateuchal laws far enough, and, therefore, under-estimates
their complicated character, and partly because he draws
untenable conclusions from the material itself even as he
has set it forth. The critical theory is of course subject to
modification through further researches, but its basis rests
on too firm foundations to be seriously menaced by the
recent attacks made upon it.
165 See Eerdmans's Introduction to Alttestamentliche Forschungen, I.
report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: