As I was praying the other night I kept hearing the word “leprosy.” This disease brought humbleness, fear, and isolation with it. Let’s look at a verse.
“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, unclean! Unclean!’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” Leviticus 13:45-46.
How terribly sad for the person with this plague for they were outside the camp.
The condition mentioned in the text in Leviticus is not the same as the leprosy we see today. The Hebrew word for leprosy is tzara’at. This word is related to a word that means affliction. This type of Leprosy not only affected people’s skin, but it got in their walls and in their clothing. It wasn’t healed but had to be CLEANSED.
According to Levi Ben Shmuel, “The Midrash teaches that the root cause of this spiritual disease is lashon harah; literally, THE EVIL TONGUE. Lashon harah is evil speech, characterized by gossip and slander against another.”
The person with spiritual leprosy was isolated because the person had also caused others to be isolated. This double isolation was due to their tongue by slandering others or gossiping about them. If you take a person with an evil tongue and they are talking about someone to others, they are spreading the illness and must be stopped.
Let me explain more clearly. Let’s say I gossip about you and spread all over town that you are a liar, two-faced, a Jezebel. Now all of a sudden, you notice people who talked to you and called you, are no longer answering the phone. They are suddenly out of your life. They have isolated themselves from you, why? Because of our tongues. So what happens? The person with the Lashon Hara (evil tongue) would be isolated because they, in turn, had caused others to be isolated from the ones they loved, due to slandering them.
This is heartbreaking!
“ When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like a defiling mold in my house.” Leviticus. 14:34-35.
Not only did this leprosy get in houses, it got in people’s clothing like mold. Oh, what a miserable wretched place to be when you have been so naughty that you must be separated from Yahweh’s people. You’ve been so slanderous, you must shout I am UNCLEAN! I am grieved as I write this because it is easy to point fingers at others for their evil tongue, but when we look in the mirror we must account for what we have said. Miriam is a prime example. Numbers 12:1 explains why she became leprous. “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.” ESV.
Yes, the Lord Adonai had spoken through both of them and used them in a mighty way, but let’s look at this closer:
“When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous —it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, and he said to Moses, “Please my Lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.” Numbers 12:10-12.
So Moses cried out to the Lord, “PLEASE, GOD HEAL HER!” 12:13.
Oh, that we would cry out for God to heal them that slander us, and be as meek as Moses.
The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.” Numbers 12:114. This caused not only shame and isolation, but it also caused people to become immobile. They were stuck!
Another story in the Bible that features leprosy is in 2nd Chronicles 26. It is about a king named Uzziah who had it all, and I mean he had it ALL. He had the best army– the best of the land– favor and riches–and honor. He was creatively inventive! 26:15 says, “In Jerusalem, he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.” (PRIDEFUL)
“But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.”
Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead”. 2nd Chronicles 26:16-19.
(RIGHT WHERE ALL HIS KNOWLEDGE CAME FROM) Puffed up with pride! “When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him” 26:20.
Now we have seen leprosy touch a prophetess and a priest. See, Judah had their order of worship set up in Holiness to the Lord Adonai and they were going to follow His rules, and He said, only the priest could burn the incense. In Israel, Jeroboam had set up idols in the Lord’s house–golden calves. This king had allowed anyone to be a priest that wanted to and yet, no leprosy spread to them for their disobedience. Why? I believe the Father chastens those He loves and corrects them that are His own. I’d rather have leprosy and be isolated from the camp for (7) days, than to not even be found worthy of a spanking.
I want you to picture coming home from work and you notice a slightly greenish tint along with red streaks to your walls in your kitchen. You look at it, but you think maybe it’s the lighting, the drapes, the sun setting and reflecting. Then a few days go by and you notice a white spot on your arm, and immediately you are gravely concerned because this could be leprosy. You had dismissed the spot on your arm, and even a red color you saw on your trousers, but now, yes now, it is in the house.
You start doing a rewind of your words, and you try and go back to everyone you have spoken to in the last week. Who had you talked about and who had hurt you of late. You begin to recall telling your sister about a woman you work with who is arrogant and then you recall you spoke to your cousin about a family member you both find to be selfish, trifling, ill-tempered, and slothful. Everything you said was true. Your co-worker is always bragging about her house, car, new clothes, and great figure, and your cousin quits every job he gets. He is always borrowing money and tools from you and never returning them– IT’S ALL TRUTH. But even if it is true, it is gossip. The more you replay in your mind the words you have spoken, you realize your house may be infested with streaks, and you may need to be quarantined. Outside the camp.
Now, after reading that analogy above, I think we all should repent. I think our words, even if they are the truth, do not need to be thrown around carelessly. If leprosy did not leave the house, the house was emptied of contents. A priest would have the owner remove the stones of the house and dismantle the walls. Can you imagine our neighbors looking over at our house and Priest are dismantling our walls?
Look at Moses, sister, a prophetess, and leader of the people, is shut out of the camp 7 days and why? Her tongue. Her tongue, her tongue–shame. Today, if we still had this type of chastisement, we would be a tad more careful with what we say and also what we should have said! Yes, you heard right, there is also a command to speak when we should in order to address issues, to warn our brothers and sisters, or to go to a brother or sister who has a problem with us or vice versa.
Matthew 12:36-37, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty words they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned.”
Our own words can acquit us… Let me explain: If you have been hurt by a friend, family member, pastor, boss, and so forth, and you do not take it to them and address it, bitterness can come in. Then this bitterness begins to fester and grow, and the next thing we know you are telling everyone what they did to you, yes, everyone but them. However, most the time the problem lies in saying too much.
James said the tongue is a fire. He said men can put bits in horse’s mouths and make them turn this way and that way and that a ship can be steered by a very small rudder, but try and control our tongue. Fugettaboutit!
It has been said that lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech) kills three: the person who speaks it, the person who hears it, and the person about whom it is told. (Talmud Arachin 15b).
I raise my hand that I am guilty–guilty of saying too much and not enough. I hope that we will take it to The Lord Adonai today, and ask Him to help us make things right. I pray that we all begin to repent and come out of isolation and heal the streaks that can infest both our physical houses and our spiritual ones.
photography by Ândrēw Yīsrâ’Ęl