And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and sought him…
A certificate of the recovery of a leper could only be given at Jerusalem, by a priest, after a lengthened examination, and tedious rites. It will illustrate the bondage of the ceremonial law, as then in force, to describe them. With his heart full of the first joy of a cure so amazing, the leper had to set off to the Temple for the requisite papers to authorize his return, once more, to the roll of Israel. A tent had to be pitched outside the city, and in this the priest examined the leper, cutting off all his hair with the utmost care; for, if only two hairs were left, the ceremony was invalid. Two sparrows had to be brought at this first stage of the cleansing — the one, Go be killed over a small earthen pan of water, into which its blood must drop; the other, after being sprinkled with the blood of its mate — a cedar twig, to which scarlet wool and a piece of hyssop (Psalm 51:1) were bound, being used to do so — was let free in such a direction that it should fly to the open country. After the scrutiny by the priest, the leper put on clean clothes, and carried away those he had worn to a running stream to wash them thoroughly, and to cleanse himself by a bath. He could now enter the city, but for seven days more could not enter his own house. On the eighth day he once more submitted to the scissors of the priest, who cut off whatever hair might have grown in the interval. Then followed a second bath; and now he had only carefully to avoid any defilement, so as to be fit to attend in the Temple next morning, and complete his cleansing. The first step in this final purification was to offer three lambs, two males and a female, none of which must be under a year old. Standing at the outer edge of the court of the men, which he was not yet worthy to enter, the leper awaited the longed-for rites. These began by the priest taking one of the male lambs destined to be slain as an atonement for the leper, and handing it to each point of the compass in turn, and by his swinging a vessel of oil on all sides in the same way, as if to present both to the universally-present God. He then led the lamb to the leper, who laid his hands on its head, and gave it over as a sacrifice for his guilt, which he now confessed. It was forthwith killed at the north side of the altar, two priests catching its blood, the one in a vessel, the other in his hand. The first now sprinkled the altar with the blood, while the other went to the leper and anointed his ears, his right thumb, and his right toe with it. The one priest then poured some oil of the leper's offering into the left hand of the other, who, in his turn, dipped his finger seven times into the oil thus held, and sprinkled it as often towards the Holy of Holies. Each part of the leper which before had been touched with the blood was then further anointed with the oil, what remained being stroked on his head. The leper could now enter the men's court, and did so, passing through it to that of the priests'. The female lamb was next killed, as a sin-offering, after he had put his hands on its head, part of its blood being smeared on the horns of the altar, while the rest was poured out at the altar-base. The other male lamb was then slain for a burnt-sacrifice; the leper once more laying him hands on its head, and the priests sprinkling its blood on the altar. The fat, and all that was fit for an offering, was now laid on the altar, and burned as a "sweet-smelling savour" to God. A meal-offering of fine wheat meal and oil ended the whole; a portion being laid on the altar, while the rest, with the two lambs, of which only a small part had been burned, formed the dues of the priest. It was not till all this had been done that the full ceremony of cleansing, or showing himself to the priests, had been carried out, and that the cheering words, " Thou art pure," restored the sufferer once more to the rights of citizenship and of intercourse with men. No wonder that even a man like St. Peter, so tenderly minded to his ancestral religion, should speak (Acts 15:10) of its requirements as a yoke which "neither our fathers nor we are able to bear."
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
WEB: It happened, while he was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and begged him, saying, "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean."