March 09, 2007

Breadcrumb: Burn that tunic?

The latter part of Lev. 13 (verses 47-59) discusses what to do with clothing that has been infected by someone with a skin disease, particularly leprosy. Great lengths are taken to ensure the garment is free from disease before it can be declared clean. In fact, in most cases the commandment is to burn the garment. Why didn't God simply command the Israelites to burn all garments that contained infectious diseases, as we might today? Probably because clothing was much more expensive in ancient times than it is today. If you burned your tunic, you had to spin, weave, and sew a new one; you couldn't just go down to Walmart and pick up a replacement. It it could be salvaged, it would be. They just needed to be extra-careful that the next time they wore it, they wouldn't come down with a nasty case of leprosy.

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