By David Phillips

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Behind the Ritual: Forgiveness in Leviticus

Chapter fourteen of Leviticus describes the purification process for a person afflicted with skin disease. When a person has been healed from skin disease, he or she would begin an elaborate purification process over a period of eight days. As the ritual progresses over those eight days, the person is moved closer and closer toward full purity so that he or she can be re-established into the community of the Lord’s people.

The process was long and elaborate. And it had several stages.

When a person believed that the skin condition had gone away, that person would call the priest to come to them outside the camp to make an inspection. Having been banished outside the community of God, they could not enter in and thus need others to come outside to them. If the priest determined that the person’s disease has been healed, the priest would preside over a “nonsacrificial elimination ritual” that employs two birds, found in Leviticus 14:4-7.

In this ritual, one bird is slaughtered over live water, or water flowing from a live source such as a spring. The priest takes the other bird, still alive, along with cedar wood, crimson yard, and hyssop, and dips them all in the blood of the bird that was slaughtered that has mixed with the water from the living source, or “living water.” The priest would then sprinkle that blood-water mixture seven times on the person who was seeking reinstatement and purification and then set the living bird free into the open country. Old Testament scholar Roy Gane says that in this, “the ritual impurity is transferred from the person to the living bird via …read more

Read more here: Faith in a Post-Everything Culture


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