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The 28th Torah Portion Reading 5th reading in the Book of Leviticus

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1 The 28th Torah Portion Reading 5th reading in the Book of Leviticus
Metzora Metzora “Leper” The 28th Torah Portion Reading 5th reading in the Book of Leviticus Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33 2 Kings 7:3-20 Luke 9:51 – 10:42


3 The Shadows of the Messiah
Metzora The Shadows of the Messiah Titles of Messiah • Hope of Israel - Acts 28:20 • Mikvah of Israel- Acts 28:20 • The Leper - b.Sanhedrin 98 • Leper of the House of Rabbi - b.Sanhedrin 98

4 Healing Lepers Leviticus 14:2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: The detailed laws of diagnosing and cleansing lepers occupy long chapters of Torah. I’m not a leper and I don’t know any lepers. It seems odd that the holy, eternal, universal Scriptures should obsess over scabs and rashes and skin discolorations. Instructions about how to examine a man's scab to see if the hair in the flesh has turned white or if the flesh under the hair has faded seems far removed from any practical matters which might concern the average reader. The Torah's attention to the laws of leprosy seems obscure, strange, and even irrelevant until we consider them in the light of the New Testament.

5 Healing Lepers Matthew 10:7-8 And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is-at hand." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. While the Master ministered among us, He often healed lepers from their affliction. On some occasions, He reached out and touched them, and the leprosy fled from their bodies. At other times, He healed them from a distance, as was the case when He healed an entire minyan (ten men) of lepers all at once. l When Yeshua sent out His twelve disciples to the villages of the Galilee, He told them to go outproclaiming the kingdom of heaven: He considered the cleansing of lepers as tangible proof that the Messianic Era was near. When John the Immerser sent his disciples to inquire, ''Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" the Master replied, "Go and report to John what you hear and see ... the lepers are cleansed" (Matthew 11:4-5). According to Yeshua, the cleansing of lepers testified to His messiahship and the advent of the kingdom. While staying in Bethany, Yeshua and the disciples attended a banquet in the home of a man called Simon the Leper. 2 Simon could not have been a leper at the time that Yeshua and the disciples ate with him in his home. If he was still leprous, Torah law would not allow him into the city limits of Bethany or even into his own home. One may safely assume that Simon the Leper had leprosy at one time in the past but subsequently had recovered and undergone the purification ceremonies necessary to restore him to society. He may have been one of the many lepers Yeshua healed. In gratitude to the Master, he hosted Him and His disciples while they stayed in Bethany.

6 Lepers, Sin, and Mortality
Leviticus 14:2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: In the comments on Parashat Tazria, we saw how leprosy engenders ritual impurity. Leprosy makes the leper ceremonially unclean, and the leper becomes a contagious source of ritual impurity. The laws of the Torah treat the leper as if he is already dead. He defiles others as if he was a corpse. He mourns his own death, rending his garments, covering his face, uncovering his hair and letting it be unkempt. The Torah singles out leprosy as the only disease that renders a person unclean. The Levitical worship system shuns corruption, decay, and decomposition. In this regard, biblical leprosy symbolizes the human condition. Our mortal bodies are destined to decay. They are physically breaking down. Moreover, a spiritual leprosy called sin afflicts us. Just as leprosy corrupts and spreads through the leper's skin, sin corrupts our mortal bodies, leading to death. Even though we are alive, so long as we are in our sins, we are like the walking dead, and sin is at work bringing death to our bodies. Just as the leper was banned from the Tabernacle, so too, the sinner is banned from God's presence. Before we can enter into God's presence, we must be cleansed.

7 Leprosy and Exile The sages drew a connection between the Torah's laws of leprosy and the exile of the Jewish people. In the Bible, God smote people with leprosy as a punishment for their sins. The laws about leprosy and purification after leprosy allude to the exile and the redemption. Based on creative word associations in the Hebrew, the midrash compares the different leprous symptoms described in Leviticus 13:2 to the different empires that have subjugated the Jewish people. The priest gives the afflicted man seven days and then checks to see if the condition has advanced or reversed itself. This period of time corresponds to the warnings of the prophets and their call to repentance prior to the exile. At the appointed time the priest examines the man again and makes his diagnosis. The diagnosis corresponds to the hour of judgment. If the condition has not reversed, the man must leave the city and can no longer participate in the sacrifices or the Levitical worship. This corresponds to the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem. The leper must go out from his home and from his city. This corresponds to the deportation.

8 Show Yourself to the Priest
Leviticus 14:3 And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; A leper once approached Yeshua, asking Him for cleansing. Yeshua said, "I am willing; be cleansed“ (Mark 1:40). He stretched out His hand, touched the leper and healed him of his leprosy. Even though the Master had cleansed the man's body from leprosy, the man still needed to undergo the purification procedures outlined in the Torah before he could be regarded as ritually clean and return to society and the Temple. The Master told Him, "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded as a testimony to them“ (Mark 1:44). He referred to Leviticus 14 where the Torah gives instructions for ritually purifying a leper after he has recovered from leprosy. The man needed to submit to examination by the priesthood, just as he did when the symptoms of leprosy first appeared in his body. If the priest was satisfied that the man was no longer leprous, he initiated the purification rituals described in Leviticus 14. As explained befor, the affliction of leprosy alludes to the national chastisements, strokes, and punishments that the nation of Israel incurred for covenantal infidelity. This helps explain why the Master emphasized the healing of lepers as a sign of the kingdom. If leprosy alludes to Israel's exile, then the cleansing of lepers alludes to the redemption.

9 The Two Birds Leviticus 14:4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: A priest went out to meet the leper and examined him for any remaining signs of the affliction. Once he felt satisfied that the leprosy was gone, he initiated a purification ritual for the recovered man. The leprosy was gone, but the ritual impurity remained. The priest took two live birds and killed one of them over a vessel of living water as a sort of sin offering. He let the blood run into the vessel of water, creating a blood-and-water mixture. He tied the other bird to a piece of cedar wood and hyssop with scarlet yarn and then dipped the sorry living bird into the clay pot of blood and water. He then used the wet bird to sprinkle the man seven times with the blood-and-water mixture. After sprinkling the man, he released the live bird to flyaway. The live bird symbolically carried away the uncleanness incurred by the leprosy. In light of our Master's suffering, death, and resurrection‘ each ritual component lends itself to a messianic interpretation.

10 The Surviving Bird Leviticus 14:6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: The Torah goes on to describe how the priest must dip the live bird, along with the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, into the mixture of blood and living water and use them to sprinkle the leper seven times. According to Chayim ben Attar's messianic interpretation of the ceremony, the live bird represents Messiah son of David:

11 Bathed with Water Leviticus 14:8 And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days. On the same day that the priest sprinkled the leper, the priest shaved all the hair from the leper's body to prepare him for a ritual immersion. After the shaving, the man immersed in the water of a mikvah (:11j?7:l), that is, an immersion pool. Seven days later he repeated the shaving and immersion. Then the priest declared him clean and allowed him to enter the camp and return to society. According to Rabbi Chayim ben Attar's messianic interpretation, the washing part of the ceremony alludes to redemption when the Messiah will wash away the spiritual stains of exile from Israel. Moreover, the cleansed man's return to the camp alludes to Israel entering New Jerusalem:

12 Baptism and Mikvah Leviticus 14:9 But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. Most purification ceremonies require immersion into a mikvah. The Greek New Testament expresses immersion into the mikvah with the term baptizo the word from which we derive the English term baptism. Leviticus 15 prescribes baptism as the mode of purification for a variety of ritual contaminations. Baptism means different things to different formsof Christianity. Disagreements about the mode and meaning of baptism can be blamed, in part, on the New Testament's scanty descriptions of the ritual. The apostles say very little about the mode, never explaining exactly how a person is to be baptized. They say a bit more about the symbolism, but they leave most of that as if it is already taken for granted. The apostolic writers thought that the method and procedure of baptism was so well known that they felt no compulsion to record any of the details of the ritual. Because the apostles were all Jews, they considered baptism to be a basic part of daily life which required no description. Baptism was not a Christian invention or even an apostolic innovation. From the days of Moses, Jews regularly practiced ritual immersion. The Apostle Paul speaks figuratively of being "baptized into Messiah." lo just as the mikvah provides ritual purification, Messiah provides spiritual purification.

13 Immersion and Resurrection
Leviticus 14:9 But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. The immersion ritual symbolizes death and resurrection. When a proselyte converts to Judaism to become legally Jewish, he passes through an immersion in the mikvah. His legal identity as a Gentile dies in the water of the mikvah, and the proselyte emerges from the mikvah reborn as a Jew. Likewise, John the Immerser employed immersion as the physical token of repentance. The penitent entering the water of the Jordan died to sin and emerged from the water reborn to a life of repentance and righteousness.

14 Immersion and Resurrection
Romans 6:3-7 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yeshua have been baptized into His death? ... Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Paul attached similar symbolism to the immersion in Messiah: Paul divided human beings into spirit and flesh. The flesh is the mortal body. The spirit is that eternal component, the intangible soul (neshamah) that transcends the mortal body and goes on living even after death. The flesh is not inherently evil, but it is corrupted under the influence of sin.

15 Touching the Leper When Mark tells us about Yeshua healing a leper, he says, "Yeshua stretched out His hand and touched him" (Mark 1:41). By touching the leper, Yeshua rendered Himself ritually unclean. Although His touch healed the leper, it also contracted the leper's ritual impurity. Why did Yeshua heal the leper that way? He could have accomplished the healing with a simple word, as He did in Luke 17:14. Why did He touch the leper? Becoming ritually unclean is not a sin. By touching the leper, our Master did not commit any transgression, but He did place Himself into a state of ritual impurity. The defilement could be quickly and easily remedied by an immersion in a mikvah. Nevertheless, in those days of heightened concern over ritual purity, His deliberate contact with a leper would have seemed shocking. By touching the leper, Yeshua intentionally took upon Himself the uncleanness caused by the man's infirmities. Just as the suffering servant Messiah of Isaiah 53 takes on Israel's infirmities, sorrows, and punishments, Yeshua intentionally identified with the leprous man's low estate by touching him. In so doing, He illustrated, on a small scale, the greater purpose of the mission of Messiah son of Joseph.

16 The Anointed Leper Leviticus 14:29 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the LORD. The Torah employs an Ointing imagery when it describes the priesthood smearing oil onto the head of the leper on the day of his final purification ceremony. Messiah means "anointed one." In the Bible, three offices receive anointing: prophet, priest, and king. Leviticus 14:29 depicts the ceremonial application of oil to the head of leper, not in a proper anointing ritual-lepers are not actually anointed- but it does seem that the oil placed on the leper's head parallels the anointing of the high priest, just as the markings on leper's ear, thumb, and toe described in Leviticus 14:25 parallel the blood markings of the priestly inauguration.

17 The Leper Messiah Leviticus 13:2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: The Messiah will be called "the Leper," a strange name indeed for the promised Savior King: The sages referred to the suffering Messiah son of Joseph as "The Leper." The Messiah son of Joseph carries the suffering of the exile and the punishment of the Jewish people like a leper carries his affliction.

18 Chasidic Explanation Leper Messiah
It indicates that the redeemer suffers the agonies and afflictions of Israel's exile. He impatiently waits for the final redemption when He can purify the nation, but until then, He personally suffers the pain of Israel's leprous-like affliction, the agony of the ongoing exile. For as long as the exile persists, the Messiah is called The Leper.

19 Rejected by the Sages And the rabbis say: "His name is The Leper of the House of Rabbi, as it is said [in Isaiah 53:4], 'Surely our sicknesses he himself bore and our sorrows he carried, yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.'" (b. Sanhedrin 98b) Based upon the rabbis' interpretation of Isaiah 53:4-5, the Talmud called the Messiah "The Leper." Not only that, but the full quotation refers to the Messiah as "The Leper of the House of Rabbi," which could also mean, "The Leper of the House of Study" or "The Leper Scholar.“ The text hints toward Yeshua. The phrase "house of rabbi" implies an academy of Torah learning or a study hall. Why is the Messiah called The Leper of the study hall? Isaiah 53 indicates that the Messiah will be despised and rejected, like a leper ostracized from society. The term "Leper of the House of Rabbi" can be understood to allude to the sages‘ rejection of Yeshua. Our Master experienced plenty of rejection from the scribes and Pharisees of His generation. In the Apostolic Era, the sages galvanized their rejection of Yeshua's claims and ostracized His Jewish followers- treating them more-or-less like lepers and banning them from the synagogues and study halls. Yeshua is the Messiah "despised and forsaken" by the sages, "like one from whom men hide their face He was despised." The scholars of Israel did not esteem Him." Surely their grief's He Himself bore, and their sorrows He carried, yet the men of learning "esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted“ (Isaiah 53:3-5).

20 Many Meanings In the above discussions, we have seen that leprosy illustrates physical mortality and the spiritual malady of sin. At the same time, it illustrates the strokes and punishments that befall the nation of Israel for covenantal infidelity. The leper represents Israel under international subjugation and driven into exile. The leprous house represents the corruption of the holy Temple and its ultimate destruction. In view of these symbolic associations, Yeshua's emphasis on healing and cleansing lepers takes on greater significance. Moreover, His contact with lepers dramatically illustrates the later, Talmudic ideas about the Leper Messiah who suffers on behalf of Israel.

21 The Signature Isaiah 53:5 One may speak of leprosy as the literal, biblical disease tzara'at, as an archetype for human disease and mortality, as a metaphor for the spiritual corruption of sin, as a symbol for God's punishments, or as an allusion to the sorrows and sufferings of Israel's exile. In all cases, Yeshua offers the solution: "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.“

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