Statutes about lepers (Lev 13:45-13:46)

“The person who has the leprous’ disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled.   He shall cover his upper lip and cry out ‘Unclean, unclean.’  He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease.  He is unclean.  He shall live alone.  His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

Here is the main problem.  As a person with a leprous disease, you are a leper.   Certainly all kinds of skin diseases are included in this, particularly what we would call skin cancer.  Therefore, there are consequences to being unclean.  First, you have to wear torn clothes and let your hair be disheveled.   I can understand not taking care of your hair, but why the torn clothes?  Next, you had to cover your upper lip and cry out ‘Unclean, unclean.’  You had to self disclose that you were unclean.  Finally, you had to live alone.  You had to live outside the camp in a mini leper camp.  To get sick was to be an outcast, much of what we do with mentally ill people today.  You were not ritually pure.  However, it was not permanent if the disease went away, you could be purified.  Thus, even until the twentieth century, there were leper colonies, particularly in Hawaii on the island of Molokai. The idea of quarantine for people with polio and other infectious diseases is still common today.

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