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Leviticus Chapter 13
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The Leprous Curse
13:1 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:
13:2 If a person has a [white] blotch, discoloration or spot on the skin of his body, and it [is suspected] of being a mark of the leprous curse on his skin, he shall be brought to Aaron, or to one of his descendants, who are the priests.
13:3 The priest shall examine the mark on [the person's] skin, and if the hair on the mark has turned white, and the mark appears to have penetrated the skin, then it is the leprous curse. As soon as the priest sees it, he shall declare it unclean.
13:4 However, if there is a [white] spot on the skin, but it does not appear to have penetrated the skin and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall quarantine the affected person for seven days.
13:5 The priest shall examine [the person] on the seventh day and if the mark has not increased in size, the priest shall quarantine [the victim] for an additional seven days.
13:6 The priest shall examine [him again] on the seventh day, and if the mark has faded or if it has not spread, the priest shall declare [the person] clean, since it is merely a white discoloration. [The person] must immerse [his body and] clothing, and he is then clean.
13:7 However, if the white discoloration increases in size on the skin after it was shown to the priest, who purified it, [the person] must show it to the priest again.
13:8 If the priest sees that the rash has increased in size on the skin, [he] shall declare [the person] unclean, since it is the leprous curse.

Healthy Skin in a Spot
13:9 When a person [is suspected of] having the leprous curse, he shall be brought to the priest.
13:10 If the priest sees that there is a white blotch on the skin, and it has turned the hair white or that there is an area of healthy skin inside the blotch,
13:11 then it is a chronic leprosy in his skin, and the priest must declare it unclean. He shall not quarantine it, since it is obviously unclean.
13:12 [This is the law] if the leprous area spreads over the skin, so that it covers all the skin of the afflicted person from head to foot, wherever the priest can see it.
13:13 When the priest sees that the leprous discoloration has covered all [the person's] skin, he shall declare the afflicted person clean. As long as he has turned completely white, he is clean.
13:14 However, on the day that healthy skin appears on [the person] he is unclean.
13:15 When the priest sees the healthy skin, he shall declare [the person] unclean. The healthy skin is a sign of uncleanness, since it is the leprous curse.
13:16 If the healthy skin turns white again, [the person] shall come back to the priest.
13:17 When the priest sees that the afflicted person has turned [completely] white, the priest shall declare him clean, and he is then ritually pure.

Leprosy on an Infection
13:18 [This is the law] when there is an infection on the body and it heals.
13:19 If a white blotch or bright pink spot then develops where the infection was, it must be shown to the priest.
13:20 The priest shall examine it, and if it appears to have penetrated the skin and its hair has turned white, it is the leprous curse that has erupted over the infection.
13:21 However, if the priest examines it, and it does not have white hair, nor does it appear to have penetrated the skin since it is a dull white, the priest shall quarantine the person for seven days.
13:22 If this spot then increases in size on the skin, the priest shall declare it unclean, since it is the curse.
13:23 However, if the spot remains stable and does not expand, it is scar tissue from the infection, and the priest shall declare it clean.

Leprosy on a Burn
13:24 [This is the law] when there is a burn on the body, and a bright pink or white spot appears where the burn has healed.
13:25 The priest shall examine it, and if the hair on the spot has turned white, and [the spot] appears to have penetrated the skin, it is the leprous curse breaking out on the burn. Since it is the leprous curse, the priest shall declare it unclean.
13:26 However, if the priest examines it, and the spot does not have white hair, and it is a dull white which does not appear to have penetrated the skin, then the priest shall quarantine it for seven days.
13:27 On the seventh day, the priest shall examine it, and if it has increased in size on the skin, the priest shall declare it unclean, since it is the leprous curse.
13:28 However, if the spot remains stable and does not increase in size, or if it has faded, then it is a discoloration due to the burn. Since it is merely scar tissue from the burn, the priest shall declare it clean.

Bald Patches
13:29 [This is the law] if a man or woman has an affliction on the head or beard.
13:30 The priest shall examine the affliction, and if it appears to have penetrated the skin and has fine blond hairs in it, the priest shall declare it unclean. Such a bald mark is a sign of the leprous curse on the head or beard.
13:31 However, if, when the priest examines the bald patch, [the affliction] does not appear to have penetrated the skin, but it does not have black hair in it, the priest shall quarantine the person afflicted by the bald patch for seven days.
13:32 On the seventh day, the priest shall examine the mark. If the bald mark has not increased in size, and if there is no blond hair in it so that the mark does not appear to have penetrated the skin,
13:33 [the person] shall shave himself, without shaving off the bald patch. The priest shall then quarantine [the person having] the bald patch for a second seven day period.
13:34 The priest shall examine the bald patch on the seventh day, and if the area of fallen hair has not increased in size, or if [the affliction] does not appear to have penetrated the skin, the priest shall declare it clean. [The person] must then immerse his [body and] clothing, and he is clean.
13:35 However, if the bald patch increases in size after he has cleansed himself,
13:36 the priest must examine it [again]. If the bald patch has increased in size, the priest need not look for blond hairs, since it is [automatically] unclean.
13:37 But if the bald patch remains the same, or if the black hair grows on it, then the bald patch has healed and it is clean. The priest shall declare [the person] clean.

Dull White Spots
13:38 If the skin of a man's or woman's body becomes covered with white spots,
13:39 the priest shall examine it. If the skin is [merely] covered with dull white spots, it is a simple rash breaking out on the skin, and it is clean.

Baldness
13:40 If a man loses the hair on his head, it is simple baldness, and he is clean.
13:41 Similarly, if he loses hair near his face, it is merely a receding hairline and he is clean.
13:42 However, if he has a bright pink mark on his bald spot or where his hairline has receded, it may be a sign of the leprous curse on his bald spot or hairless forehead.
13:43 The priest shall examine it, and if the blotch on his bald spot or hairless forehead is bright pink, then [it is] like leprosy on the skin of his body.
13:44 The person is considered afflicted by the leprous curse, and he is unclean. Since he is unclean, and the mark is on his head, the priest must declare him unclean.
13:45 When a person has the mark of the leprous curse, his clothing must have a tear in it, he must go without a haircut, and he must cover his head down to his lips. 'Unclean! Unclean!' he must call out.
13:46 As long as he has the mark, he shall remain unclean. Since he is unclean, he must remain alone, and his place shall be outside the camp.

Discoloration of Garments
13:47 [This is the law] when a garment has the mark of the leprous curse. It can be woolen cloth, linen cloth,
13:48 linen or wool [threads meant for] the warp or woof, leather, or anything made of leather.
13:49 If a bright green or bright red area appears in the cloth, leather, warp or woof [thread], or in any leather article, [it may be] the mark of the leprous curse, and it must be shown to the priest.
13:50 The priest shall examine the mark, and quarantine the affected [article] for seven days.
13:51 On the seventh day, he shall examine the affected area, and if the mark has increased in size on the cloth, the warp or woof [thread], the leather, or the article crafted from leather, then it is a malignant leprous mark, and it is unclean.
13:52 The cloth, the warp or woof [thread], whether wool or linen, or the leather article containing the spot must be burned. Since it is a malignant leprosy, it must be burned in fire.
13:53 However, if, when the priest examines it, the mark has not expanded in the garment, the warp or woof [thread], or the leather article,
13:54 the priest shall order the article having the mark to be scrubbed and then quarantined for a second seven-day period.
13:55 After the mark has been scrubbed [and quarantined], the priest shall examine the article, and if the mark has not changed in appearance, then [even if] it has not expanded, it is unclean and must be burned. It is a mark of decay [that can be] on the smooth or fluffy side [of the cloth].
13:56 If the priest examines it after it has been scrubbed [and quarantined], and the mark has faded from the cloth, then he shall tear off [the mark] from the cloth, the leather, or from the warp or woof [threads].
13:57 If [the mark] then appears again in the [same] cloth, warp or woof [thread] or leather item, it is infected, and [the article] having the mark must be burned in fire.
13:58 If the mark is removed when the cloth, warp or woof [thread] or leather article is scrubbed, [the article] shall be immersed this second time, and it is clean.
13:59 This is the [entire] law concerning the mark of the leprous curse in wool or linen cloth, in warp or woof [thread], or in any leather item, through which it is rendered clean or unclean.



Commentary:

white blotch
  (cf. Saadia) Se'eth in Hebrew. This is a mark of leprosy (see Leviticus 14:56), which is specifically described as being white (13:10,19). According to Talmudic tradition, it is the color of clean white wool (Negaim 1:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:2). According to one opinion, it is the color of the membrane of an egg (Rabbi Meir, Negaim 1:1).

According to many sources, the word se'eth comes from the root nasa meaning 'raised' (cf. Genesis 4:7, 49:3). This is because it appears higher than the skin, even though it is not physically higher (Sifra; cf. Gra ad loc.; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:7; Rash, Negaim 1:1; Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni; Ralbag). Since the skin is somewhat translucent, an opaque white patch will appear to be raised (see note on bahereth).

According to others, however, a se'eth is an actual swelling or raised spot (Shevuoth 6b; Raavad on Tumath Tzaraath 1:7). It may thus be a sort of white wart or mole (Ibn Janach). The Septuagint translates it as oulie which can denote a 'barleycorn,' hence, possibly, a subcutaneous nodule.

Later, we see that a bahereth can turn out to be a 'se'eth due to a burn' (Leviticus 13:28). It is recognized as a se'eth by the fact that it does not spread. Similarly, in other places where the se'eth is discussed, it is seen as a mark that does not normally spread (Leviticus 13:10, 10, 43), but is declared unclean for other reasons. Nevertheless, however, if a se'eth spreads, it is a sign of uncleanness.

Since se'eth is associated with a burn (Leviticus 13:28), some authorities associate it with a burn of inflammation (Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach; cf. Ramban). Some see the Septuagint's translation of oulie as denoting a scar or cicatrix.

discoloration
  (cf. Saadia). Sapachath in Hebrew. According to Talmudic tradition, this is a secondary type of mark, of a slightly duller white than a se'eth (Shevuoth 6b; Sifra; Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach). According to tradition, it is the color of egg membrane (Negaim 1:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:2). According to some, it is the color of white wool, brighter than se'eth but duller than bahereth (Rabbi Meir, Negaim 1:1; Tifereth Yisrael ad loc. 1:8).

According to some sources, sapachath denotes a scab (Ibn Ezra), a pustule (Radak, Sherashim), an eruption (Ibn Janach), a birthmark (Ibid.; Septuagint, siemasia in Greek) or a cuticular crust. Although it is seen as a leprous mark (Leviticus 14:56), it is not mentioned elsewhere in this section. The word sapachath, however, is related to mispachath, which is seen as a clean mark (Leviticus 13:6,7,8). Some interpret sapachath as a secondary or external symptom (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

spot
  (Saadia). Bahereth in Hebrew. Rashi also translates it as chabarburah, a spot (cf. Jeremiah 13:23), tiar in Old French (tache in Modern French). It is a highly visible spot (Ibn Ezra), that can be seen from a distance. The Septuagint thus translates it as telaugema which means a shiny or bright spot that can be seen from a distance.

The Torah explicitly describes a bahereth as a spot (Leviticus 13:38,39), that is white (Leviticus 13:4) or bright pink (Leviticus 13:19,24). According to Talmudic tradition, it is as white as snow, like Miriam's leprosy (Numbers 12:10; cf. Exodus 4:6; Negaim 1:1; See Sifra 2:2 on Leviticus 13:4; Radak, Sherashim).

The Talmud describes a bahereth as appearing lower than the skin (see Leviticus 13:4; Shevuoth 6b; Sifra, Rashi). This appears to indicate that it is a spot that is more transparent than the surrounding skin, and hence appears deeper (Yerioth Sh'lomo 2:46b; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

and it is suspected
  (Chizzkuni). Or, '[combining to] form a leprous mark on his skin' (Sifra, Hirsch). This teaches that the total area of the mark must be as great as a large bean (garis) (Negaim 6:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:7). Thus, it must be approximately inch or 2 centimeters in diameter (Darkey Teshuvah 190:40; cf. Yad, Issurey Biyah 9:6; Yoreh Deah 190:5).

leprous curse
  Tzara'ath in Hebrew; lepra in Greek (Septuagint). The 'leprosy' or 'leprous curse' mentioned in the Torah is not Hansen's disease caused by the germ mycobacterium leprae. Rather it was a physical symptom of a spiritual defect, occurring primarily in individuals on a high spiritual level, whose body functions were subject to their spiritual state (cf. Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 16:10). Thus, a gentile having a leprous mark is not unclean (Negaim 3:1), and a bridegroom may delay having it examined (Negaim 3:2). It is seen as resulting from slander (cf. Numbers 12:10).

hair
  At least two hairs (Sifra; Rashi; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 2:1; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

to have penetrated the skin
  Literally, 'deeper than the skin.' Or, 'in contrast to the skin' (Sifra; Rashi). Some say that this is true of all the above mentioned types of marks, se'eth, sapachath and bahereth (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:7), while others say that it does not apply to se'eth which is a swelling (Raavad, ibid.; Ramban on Leviticus 13:4).

does not appear...
  Or, 'is not in strong contrast to ...' (Chizzkuni; cf. Targum Yonathan; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

quarantine
  (Radak, Sherashim). See Numbers 12:14,15. In a separate house (Rashi). This is because the person is now unclean (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 10:10; Megillah 8b; cf. Tosafoth, Moed Katan 7b, Amar Rabbi). According to others, the word hisgir here means that the priest shall suspend judgment regarding the case (Saadia; cf. Chizzkuni). Others translate it, 'the priest shall encircle the mark' meaning that he should draw a line around the leprous mark to determine later whether or not it has expanded (Ibn Janach; Rosh, quoted in Tur on Leviticus 13:8; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). See Leviticus 14:38.

the affected person
  (Ibn Ezra; see Saadia on Leviticus 13:12). Or the mark (see previous comment).

faded
  (Rashi). Or, 'faded [but still a leprous mark] and ...' (Ramban; see next comment).

or
  If it is not white enough to be considered leprosy, then even if it spreads, it is not unclean (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:11; cf. Mizrachi).

discoloration
  Mispachath in Hebrew. Some say that this is a type of psoriasis.

or
  (Ramban).

healthy skin
  (Ibn Janach). Some say it must be the original color of the skin (Rash, Bertenoro on Negaim 4:2), while other sources indicate that it can be any color but white (Tosefta, Negaim 1:2; Bertenoro, on Negaim 6:6; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 3:2), even a dull white (Tosefoth Yom Tov on Negaim 6:6). The area of healthy skin must be as large as a lentil, approximately inch in diameter (Negaim 6:5; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 3:1).

inside
  (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 3:3).

chronic leprosy
  Or, 'old leprosy' (Rashi).

can see it
  But not in hidden places or crevices of the body (Sifra; cf. Negaim 2:4; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 9:12).

infection
  (cf. Exodus 9:9). A pustule, boil or blister (Ibn Janach: Tifereth Yisrael, Negaim 9:1). This can be caused by anything other than a burn (Negaim 9:1).

bright pink
  Like a cup of milk containing as much as 16 drops of blood (Shevuoth 6a; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:4; cf. Negaim 1:2). The average cup is a revi'ith, which is 75ml. while an average 'drop' is 0.147ml. (cf. Tifereth Yisrael Mareh Cohen 1:4). The color is therefore like a mixture of milk containing up to approximately 3% blood.

dull white
  Or 'faded.'

scar tissue
  (Targum; Rashi; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; Hirsch). Or, 'inflammation' (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim).

clean
  In such a case it need not be quarantined for a second week (Negaim 9:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 5:4).

or if it has faded
  Even if it expands in size.

discoloration
  Se'eth in Hebrew. See Leviticus 13:2.

fine
  Short, fine hairs (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 8:4).

blond
  Or 'gold' (Ibid).

bald mark
  Nethek in Hebrew. This is a spot from which the hair has fallen out, and according to many, no skin discoloration is required (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 8:1; Raavad on Sifra 7:7; Ramban; Rash, Negaim 3:5; Sforno; cf. Ibn Ezra). According to others, however, there must be some skin discoloration as well (Raavad on Tumath Tzaraath 8:1 from Tosefta, Negaim 1:2). Some require the discoloration to be white (Ralbag), while others say that a nethek is a reddish black mark (Saadia), or a blackish mole (Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach). The Septuagint translates nethek as thrausma, which may denote an area of broken-off hair. Other sources indicate that it is somewhat like a herpes infection (Pirkey Moshe 23). It must be obvious that the loss is due to a local cause, rather than simple male pattern baldness as below 13:40,41 (Rash on Negaim 10:9; Kesef Mishneh,Tumath Tzaraath 8:8).

The nethek is a special case, since ordinary white spots do not constitute leprous marks on the head or beard (Sifra; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 6:1; Rash, Ramban, on Negaim 6:8).

or
  (Chizzkuni; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 8:6).

spots
  Beharoth. See note on Leviticus 13:2.

rash
  (Rashi). Bohak in Hebrew. This teaches that no matter how many spots there are, if they are a dull white, and not bright like the marks mentioned in Leviticus 13:2, then this is not considered a leprous mark (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 1:1). There is, however, a question as to whether or not this is considered 'healthy skin' as in Leviticus 13:10 (Tosefoth Yom Tov on Negaim 6:6). Some identify bohak as vitiligo or leucodermy. The Septuagint translates it as agopokia, which seems to indicate a precursor of hair loss.

on his head
  That is, toward the back of the head (Negaim 10:10).

may be
  (Saadia).

blotch
  Se'eth; see note on Leviticus 13:2.

it is
  (Saadia).

must have a tear...
  Like a mourner (Moed Katan 15a). See Leviticus 10:6. This means that he must make a tear or cut at least one handbreadth long in his garment (Yad, Avel 8:2).

without a haircut
  Also like a mourner (Moed Katan 15a; Leviticus 10:6). He is forbidden to cut his hair until he is purified (Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 10:6).

must cover his head...
  (Moed Katan 15a; Rashi; Ibn Ezra).

woolen...
  Only on wool and linen (Kelayim 9:1; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 13:1). Moreover, the cloth must be white (Negaim 11:3; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 12:10).

threads meant for...
  (Negaim 11:8; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 13:8; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; Ralbag). It is also true if the warp is white and the woof colored, or vice versa, and the visible part of the weave is discolored (Negaim 11:4; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 12:10). However, if the warp is wool or linen, and the woof is another material, or vice versa, then the garment cannot become unclean; (Tosefta, Negaim 5:3 Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 13:3).

bright green or bright red
  (Negaim 11:4). According to some sources, 'green' also includes yellow here (Tosefta, Negaim 1:3, HaGra, Zer Zahav, Chasdey David 1:5 ad loc. Cf. Tosafoth Sukkah 31b, s.v. HaYarok).

malignant
  (Saadia; cf. Rashi; Ibn Ezra). Mam'ereth in Hebrew.

even if
  (Ralbag; cf. Negaim 11:5; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 12:1).

mark of decay
  (Saadia; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim; Rashbam; Ralbag). Pechetheth in Hebrew. Or, 'penetrating blight' (Targum Yonathan; Sifra; Rashi). Or, 'contrasting mark' (Tosefta, Negaim 1:3).

smooth or fluffy side
  (Tur; Raavad on Sifra). Karachath or Gabachath in Hebrew; see Leviticus 13:42. It thus indicates the inside or outside of the cloth (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Rashi; Ezrath Kohanim on Sifra). According to others, it can denote 'fluffy or worn' (Ramban on Negaim 11:11; Korban Aaron on Sifra; Tosefoth Yom Tov on Negaim 11:11), and hence, 'new or worn' (Targum; Rashi). This teaches a law that if a cloth is fluffy or hairy, the discoloration must be both on the fluff and on the cloth itself (Negaim 11:11; Sifra, Yad, Tumath 12:9).

faded
  (cf. Raavad on Tumath Tzaraath 12:1). or, 'changed color,' that is, from green to red or vice versa (Yad, ibid.).

infected
  Or 'spreading' (cf. Rashi).

immersed
  (Targum; Sifra; Rashi; Yad, Tumath Tzaraath 12:1; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

entire
  Whenever the expression, 'This is the law ...' occurs at the end of a section, the law is not discussed anyplace else in the Torah (Yehudah HaChasid on 14:33).





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