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Leviticus 13:47 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

(47) The garment also that.—Better, And if a garment hath. The fact that the same phrase, “plague of leprosy,” is used both in the case of garments and of human beings, and that the symptoms and working of leprous garments and those of leprous men are identical, shows beyond doubt that the same distemper is meant. The theory, therefore, that “plague of leprosy” is here used figuratively of garments fretted by a species of animalculæ or vermin, which feed upon and corrode the finer parts of the texture in the manner of moths, is contrary to the uniform import of this phrase in the discussion of the disorder, and is against the testimony of the administrators of the law during the second Temple, who came in personal contact with the complaint. They assure us that leprosy of garments and houses was not to be found in the world generally, but was a sign and miracle in Israel to guard them against an evil tongue. Equally untenable is the theory that it denotes an infectious condition of clothes caused by contact with the leprous matter of wounds and boils, which is so strong that it corrodes and injures all kinds of texture. Neither the regulations here laid down, nor the further development of them exhibited in the canons which obtained during the second Temple, regard leprosy as contagious. This is evident from the fact that the priest was in constant and close contact with the leper; that the leper who was entirely covered was pronounced clean, and could mix with the community (see Lev. 13:12-13); that the priest himself ordered all the things in a leprous house to be taken out before he entered it, in order that they might be used again (see Lev. 14:36); that according to the ancient canons a leprous minor, a leprous heathen or proselyte, as well as leprous garments in houses of non-Israelites, do not render any one unclean, nor does a bridegroom who is seized with this malady during the nuptial week defile any one. All this most unquestionably implies that there was no fear of contagion on the part of the authorities who had personally to deal with this distemper.

Whether it be a woollen garment.—As among the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, woollen and linen garments were the only apparel worn by the Israelites. (Comp. Deu. 22:11; Hos. 2:7; Hos. 2:11; Pro. 31:13.) The administrators of the law during the second Temple, however, took this enactment literally as referring strictly to wool of sheep and flax, but not to hemp and other materials. Hence they declared that a material made of camels’ hair and sheep’s wool is not rendered unclean by leprosy if the camels’ hair preponderates, but is unclean when the sheep’s hair preponderates, or when both are equal. The same rule also applies to mixtures of flax and hemp. Dyed skins and garments are not rendered unclean by leprosy. We have here another proof that these authorities did not regard leprosy as contagious.

Consult other comments:

Leviticus 13:47 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 13:47 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Leviticus 13:47 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Leviticus 13:47 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 13:47 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Leviticus 13:47 - College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

Leviticus 13:47 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Leviticus 13:47 - Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 13:47 - Expositors Bible Commentary

Leviticus 13:47 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 13:47 - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Leviticus 13:47 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Leviticus 13:47 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 13:47 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Leviticus 13:47 - Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell

Leviticus 13:47 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Leviticus 13:47 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Leviticus 13:47 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Leviticus 13:47 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Leviticus 13:47 - The Complete Pulpit Commentary

Leviticus 13:47 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 13:47 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)