Enter subtitle here
1 And Yahweh spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying,
The Law of Moses effected personal as well as communal and national issues. It was a teaching medium, a pedagogue, according to the apostle Paul (Gal. 3:24), providing valuable lessons for the believer looking for a Redeemer. It made sin "exceedingly sinful," and endeavoured to show the wickedness inherent in the flesh. This was accomplished by a number of commandments, dealing with the daily affairs of life, including the issues of blood that are suffered. GEM
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean.
NOT only a leper, but any man having a running issue out of his flesh, was to be regarded as unclean till he was cured -- unclean in himself and defiling to others.
All contact with him in any way was forbidden. Everything he used or touched was to be considered as defiling...
That leprosy and issue, as distinct from ordinary infirmity, should be treated with a spiritual meaning seems appropriate in view of the infectious and destructive nature of these diseases as compared with ordinary human ailments. Man, as the propagation of Adam's condemned earthy nature, is by nature, a mortal and afflicted being: but there are degrees in the afflictedness. There is such a thing as a healthy mortal, and there is such a thing as a diseased mortal. The law of Moses deals with both--both literally and typically. For the healthy mortal, it prescribes circumcision and sacrifice; for the unhealthy, separation and special treatment. It is the spiritual or typical meaning we are concerned with at present.
We have discerned this in its treatment of the healthy: the healthy, though mortally healthy, are recognized as "all under sin", to use Paul's expression (Rom. 3:9), because the decendants of the sinners of Eden, and the individual transgressors of the divine law, and are therefore held at arm's length, as we might say, unless they humble themselves and confess and approach in the way appointed, and then they are received for blessing and ultimate healing. Their mere mortality is no bar when the divine conditions of reconciliation are complied with. But here are diseased mortals whose cases not only receive special treatment physically, but whose connection with special sacrifice appointed shows they have a special significance typically.
The distinction is a natural one physically, and it seems a natural one spiritually, for there is a great difference between human frailty by natural constitution, against which a man may be struggling in the way of righteousness, and human wickedness which a man may be following from taste and preference and wilful bent. The one, we may take it, is represented by healthy human nature under the ordinances of the law, and the other by diseased human nature in the same relation. The divine view of the two cases, as expressed in type, is not unuseful to us, who, though "not under the law but under grace", must be desirous "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).
Law of Moses Ch 27
Defilement was contracted by contact with the cause of uncleanness; the emphasis throughout was on touching, so much so that a person defiled by contact with the original cause of uncleanness could in turn transmit his defilement to other things which came into contact with him (e.g., Lev. 15 : 19-21 ; cf. Haggai 2 : 13).
If then, in the ultimate sense, the cause of defilement stood for Adam's sin, what was each Israelite to do but see in himself an extension of Adam, and in each sin he committed a re-enactment of the first transgression? And having come to that point, what could he conclude but that he, too, like Adam, was under (and righteously under) sentence of death?
This notion of the solidarity of the human race is the unifying factor in all the uncleanness laws and is the secret of the form which the more serious of them took.
Law and Grace Ch 7
16 And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.
To begin with, apart from leprosy, all the diseases of which they took account were diseases of the reproductive organs. Even the normal menstrual flow in healthy women bore close enough an affinity to the idea of the defilement caused by ancestral sin to be classed as a cause of seven days uncleanness.
This in itself was pointed enough an indication of the hereditary effects of Eve's and Adam's sin (Lev. 15: 19-24; cf. Gen. 3 : 16). How much more pointed was it when the prolongation of this flow beyond the normal spell was pronounced to be a cause of the gravest kind of uncleanness!
The emphasis now (an emphasis essential to the allegory) was on the fact that the female reproductive organs were diseased. So too with man; disease in the male reproductive system was equally defiling. Hidden away out of sight though the source of defilement might have been, yet its existence could not be denied.
In man and in woman alike the same fatal symptom bore witness to it.
"When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean ... and if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation ... she shall be unclean" (Lev. 15 : 2, 25)·
In each case the operative factor was the same: it was an issue that was the cause of defilement -- an issue, moreover, out of the flesh - flesh tainted by sin.
More transparent symbolism we could not hope to find. The fact was that some source of corruption within the flesh, some deep seated physical disease of the very springs of life, was exuding noisome matter. How could its allegorical meaning possibly be missed? Human nature had clearly been marred at the source. For man and for woman alike, the counterpart of the inward malady was inbred sin.
This moral malady, like the physical, secreted a defiling issue - in this case sinful thoughts and words and deeds. The Law was here saying, as plainly as ever it could, that
"That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7 : 20-23).
Once again, we note, the nexus between the ceremonial and the moral aspects of uncleanness was the fact that ultimately all forms of disease are attributable to sin. It was on that same account that the Lord (healer of physical and moral ills alike) on the one hand said to a paralysed man, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee"; and, on the other, spoke of sinners as those who needed "a physician" (Matt. 9 : 1-12). The medical metaphor sprang naturally to his mind from the Prophets (e.g. Hosea 6 : 1,6).
Law and Grace Ch 7
19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
... the... situation arose over the case of the "woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years". She came behind him, and "touched the hem of his garment".
Now the Law decreed expressly,
"Whomsoever he that hath the issue toucheth, without having rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even" (Lev. 15 : I I, R.v.).
This would hold good automatically for any woman also who had an issue, for with her too the rule was,
"Whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even" (Lev. 15: 19)·
There is no mention in any of the three records of the incident that the woman washed her hands. The reason is obvious: she felt no compulsion to do so because she had no fear of communicating uncleanness to Jesus: all she was concerned to do was to touch him, however slightly. She had no doubt of the outcome:
"for she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole"
(Matt. 9 : 20-2 I).
She was not mistaken. Once again the effect of the touch of Jesus made the idea of his contracting uncleanness seem too fantastic for words.
"Straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague" (Mark 5 : 29).
Virtue in Jesus put an immediate end to defilement in her: it was defilement which recoiled before him, not he who recoiled before defilement as embodied in the woman. This was clearly a case for which the Law did not cater. Its prescription of uncleanness was simply inapplicable to such a man as this.
Law and Grace Ch 13
20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.
24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.
Even the normal menstrual flow in healthy women was classed as a cause of seven days ceremonial uncleanness -- an indication of the hereditary effects of the original Edenic sin (Lev. 15:19-24; cp. Gen. 3:16). Though the source of defilement was hidden away out of sight, its existence could not be denied. The source of corruption was within the flesh, "some deep-seated physical disease of the very springs of life was exuding noisome matter" (Law and Grace).
25 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean.
26 Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation.
27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
It is a singular circumstance that the natural infirmity of woman should have the same ceremonial contamination attached to it (Lev. 15:19-27). We naturally wonder why this natural infirmity should be classed with diseases calling for sacrificial purification. As a mere process of nature--the mere humiliation of innnocence--it might be supposed exempt from the typical reprobations associated with loathsome disease. But a higher view reveals itself when we remember that the reproductive function on the part of woman was embraced in the sentence of woe which her part in the transgression brought upon her (Gen. 3:16).
Woman was primarily intended as a social and intellectual companion of man, and not as a breeder of species. It is part of the curse that this temporary function should have become so prominent--so afflictive to her, and so potent a cause of evil among men. From a subordinate faculty hidden away out of sight in modesty and purity, and destined to disappear altogether in the purposed perfection of the race upon earth, it has become the most powerful and degrading force among men, leading to "the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4), even in decent society establishing" marrying and giving in marriage" as the one serious and characteristic business of life.
It is, therefore, not so unnatural as at first sight it may appear, that this periodical weakness of woman, should be marked off by the law as one of the fruits of sin, calling for the tender treatment of holiness, and requiring the atonement of sacrifice for the re-instatement of the helpless sufferer.
It is noteworthy that this ordinance does for woman what circumcision does for man, as regards the repudiation of the flesh in the basis of acceptance. Both are the helpless subjects of vanity in the matter. Both are humbled and both are restored under the provisions of the law. If the woman after seven days of separation was invited to bring a sin offering and a burnt offering, so the man, after the first seven days of his life, was circumcised, and at his presentation to the Lord, had to have similar offerings made on his behalf.
As "there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus", so there is neither male nor female as any ground of boasting before the Lord. Both have sinned: both are mortal, unclean and erring: and both are eligible for reconciliation under the institutions of the Lord, if both, like Zacharias and Elisabeth, "walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6).
Law of Moses Ch 27
31 Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.
Thus the Law proclaimed what Christ taught concerning the flesh (Mark 7:20-23). For this reason, the Law demanded that those suffering such a defilement be put out of the camp, as Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden -- to teach that we need to be redeemed from the common situations of life. Thus, we must look beyond the present, to the joy of the kingdom, when the bodies of our humiliation (Phil. 3:21) will be changed into the glorious substance of the "divine nature" (2Pet. 1:4). GEM
Their unfitness was alleged to consist in their "uncleanness" (Lev. 15:31)--a term expressive both of their physical and moral defilement--the character of the entire human race--the one growing out of the other. Man is an unclean and corruptible organization, physically considered, living or dead: and his thoughts and actions are of the same complexion. We see him in his true nature when we compare him as he is, even at his best, with what he is promised to be--the pure, incorruptible, spiritual, ever-living, and glorious nature of the Lord Jesus and the angels.
Law of Moses Ch 17
[Uncleanness] A term expressive both of their physical and moral defilement--the character of the entire human race--the one growing out of the other. Man is an unclean and corruptible organization, physically considered, living or dead: and his thoughts and actions are of the same complexion.
Law of Moses Ch 26.
Separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness.
The object of the various ordinances for cleansing in the cases of defilement is... doubtless intended to convey (as one of the schoolmaster lessons of the law of Moses), an extreme sense of the holiness of God, and of His condescension in stooping to have any dealings with unclean man, and His kindness in providing conditions under which He would consent to accept human approaches.
It is a solemn and imperative truth forced home upon us in many ways in the course of the divine revelation -- from the fixing of the engraved plate "HOLINESS to the Lord" on Aaron's forehead, to the Apocalyptic declaration that there shall not enter into the holy city anything that defileth. How constant the declaration in the law, "I, the Lord your God, am holy" (Lev. 20:26): how impressive the covering of the faces and feet of the seraphim in the presence of His glory. How emphatic the teaching of the appointments before us, that there would be death to those who defile the divine holiness.
How much needed is this lesson in a day like ours, when men are drifting further and further away from all reverence in divine directions. How much needed even among many who have been called to holiness, but of whom few seem adequately to realize the holiness of the calling to which they have been called.
Paul gives the matter a pointed and practical application in 1 Cor. 3:17: "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy". He had said "Ye are the temple of God", and again: "which temple ye are", It is this that gives point to the statement. And again: "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit... therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20). And again: "Ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them" (2 Cor. 6:16).
The lesson of the Mosaic shadow is plain in this bearing. Unholiness of body or spirit will evoke death: but the antitypical sacrifice brought in the hands in daily prayer, will ensure forgiveness if holiness is followed: "without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).
Law of Moses Ch 28.
32 This is the law of him that hath an issue, and of him whose seed goeth from him, and is defiled therewith;
33 And of her that is sick of her flowers, and of him that hath an issue, of the man, and of the woman, and of him that lieth with her that is unclean.
The law touched them at almost every point in their daily life --not only at what we might call the epochal incidents already noticed, but in the hourly bearings of things. If a man touched a dead creature--even though one that was clean and that might be eaten--he was to be considered unclean for the whole day (Lev. 11:39). If he had a swelling or breaking in any part of his body, he was to hurry off to the priest for consultation and treatment (13:2). If he ate or slept in a house that was legally unclean, he had to wash his clothes (14: 47); so also, if he touched an unclean man or a bed on which the man had lain or clothes on which he had sat, or if the unclean man should spit on him, he was to be unclean for the day and wash his clothes (15:4-8). The same result followed from all natural defilements in man or woman (16-27).
The inevitable tendency of enactments affecting so many phases of common life was to bring God continually home to the consciences of faithful men. They were not allowed to forget Him for a single day. And what would be the effect of all these exercises but the one contemplated in the statement with which their enumeration concludes: "Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them" (Lev. 15:31). And the fact declared by Moses: "Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself. above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Deut. 14:2).
It is customary to think of these appointments as mere ceremonials that have no life in them; but it is evident that they were intended to have, and calculated to have, and did in fact in many cases have, a powerful and spiritual effect on the mind...
...The uncleanness involved in the various laws referred to in the foregoing was what is called "ceremonial": that is, such as is not uncleannness itself, in the physical sense, but such as was merely constituted by the law of the case. Such an uncleanness has otherwise been expressed as fictitious uncleanness as distinguished from physical defilement.
We can all understand the reality of a physical defilement requiring to be cleansed away, but this was a defilement recognized merely, that is, not subsisting physically in itself, e.g., where a man touched the dead body of a prohibited animal, there was nothing in this physically to defile the man; we have all touched dead hares and been none the worse. There has been some attempt to claim a scientific basis for the uncleanness of the Mosaic law, that is, to connect it with some physical influence of an inherently defiling or corrupting character, such as polluted gas, or microbe infected air, etc. But this is evidently a mistake. All the uncleannesses of the law were what might be called imputative or artificial.
But they were none the less powerful on this account as an actually felt or recognized uncleannness.
Law of Moses Ch 9