“Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron. ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest, saying `There seems to me to be some sort of disease in my house.’ The priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes to examine the disease, or all that is in the house will become unclean. Afterward the priest shall go in to inspect the house. He shall examine the disease. If the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it appears to be deeper than the surface, the priest shall go outside to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. The priest shall come again on the seventh day, and make an inspection. If the disease has spread in the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that the stones in which the disease appeared be taken out and throw into an unclean place outside the city. He shall have the inside of the house scraped thoroughly. The plaster that is scraped off shall be dumped in an unclean place outside the city. They shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones. They shall take other plaster and plaster the house.”
This time Yahweh spoke to both Moses and Aaron. This admonition is about leprous houses. Obviously this could not be done in the desert so this is something that they would do when they came into the land of Canaan. What are you to do when a house has some sort of disease, perhaps some kind of a mildew? You had to empty the house before the priest came to inspect the house in order to keep everything in the house from becoming unclean. The priest is also a house inspector, since he is looking for greenish or red spots. If he finds any, they have to close up the house for 7 days until he comes back on the 7th day for a re-inspection. If it has spread, then the stones where this leprosy was found have to be removed and placed outside the city. All the plaster has to be scraped off and dumped outside the city. So you need to get new stones and plaster.
“If the disease breaks out again in the house, after he has taken out the stones, scraped the house, and plastered it, then the priest shall go and make an inspection. If the disease has spread in the house, it is a malignant leprous disease in the house. It is unclean. He shall have the house torn down, its stones, its timber and all the plaster of the house, and taken outside the city to an unclean place. All who enter the house while it is shut up shall be unclean until the evening. All who sleep in the house shall wash their clothes. All who eat in the house shall wash their clothes.”
If the disease breaks out a second time, the priest shall declare that this house is unclean. This is a more serious case. The priest inspector can then have the house torn down with everything taken outside the city to an unclean place. Anyone who enters the house while it is unclean shall be unclean until the evening. If you eat or sleep in this house, you have to wash your clothes. Other than the major penalty of losing your house, the personal penalty is not that severe.
“If the priest comes and makes an inspection, and the disease has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean. The disease is healed. For the cleansing of the house he shall take two birds, with cedar wood, crimson yarn, and hyssop. He shall slaughter one of the birds over fresh water in an earthen vessel. He shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the crimson yarn, along with the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slaughtered bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. Thus he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, the fresh water, the living bird, cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn. He shall let the living bird go out of the city into the open field. Thus he shall make atonement for the house. It shall be clean.”
On the other hand, if there is no spread of disease, the priest will declare the house healed or clean. There has to be a sacrifice for this healing, two birds, cedar wood, crimson yarns and hyssop, a plant with a branch. Then he slaughters one of the birds over fresh running water in an earthen vessel. Then he dips the living bird, the cedar wood, the crimson yarns, and the hyssop in the blood of the slaughtered bird and sprinkles the house 7 times. Then he lets the living bird go out of the city into the open field as atonement for the house so that it can become clean. The house is almost like a living organic thing, where disease may spread. Today we use the word quarantine for a sick house.
“This is the ritual for any leprous disease: for an itch, for leprous diseases in clothing and houses, and for a swelling, an eruption, or a spot to determine when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the ritual law for leprous diseases.”
This ritual is the same as the cleansing for a leper. This cleansing ritual applies to any leprous disease, such as an itch, swellings, spots, or eruption on the body as well as diseases in clothing and houses. Clean and unclean applies to all these things and only one person can declare something clean or unclean, the priest. Thus the power of the priest increases.