The Book of Leviticus tells the story of Moses delivering God’s commandments to the Jews after leading them out of Egypt but before entering the promised land of Israel. According to tradition, Moses wrote the first five books of the Torah, including Leviticus, around 1,400BC, but some Biblical scholars believe it was written by multiple unknown authors over hundreds of years, and its final edits were written around 400BC. Some Biblical scholars have also found evidence Moses wasn’t a real person, and a mass exodus of Jewish slaves from Egypt never happened.
If Moses never existed, the Jewish exodus never happened, and the Torah was written by multiple authors competing to record and rewrite an oral tradition passed down over generations, then the first five books of the Bible are merely “a story that serves to define the fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and describing the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society…” in other words, mythology. It would also be accurate to call the Bible a fraudulent work of fiction.
If you doubt this claim, then put the Bible to the test to see if you can find any evidence of primitive tribesmen projecting their culture into their religion. You can find it in every chapter of the Bible, especially the first five books. Leviticus 13-14 is a perfect example. It gives detailed instructions on how to diagnose and treat skin diseases and mold. I’ve copied the verses dealing with skin diseases below, highlighted important parts, and added commentary between each section.
Regulations About Defiling Skin Diseases
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a shiny spot on their skin that may be a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest. The priest is to examine the sore on the skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is a defiling skin disease. When the priest examines that person, he shall pronounce them ceremonially unclean. If the shiny spot on the skin is white but does not appear to be more than skin deep and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest is to isolate the affected person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine them, and if he sees that the sore is unchanged and has not spread in the skin, he is to isolate them for another seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine them again, and if the sore has faded and has not spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce them clean; it is only a rash. They must wash their clothes, and they will be clean. But if the rash does spread in their skin after they have shown themselves to the priest to be pronounced clean, they must appear before the priest again. The priest is to examine that person, and if the rash has spread in the skin, he shall pronounce them unclean; it is a defiling skin disease.
Leviticus 13 begins with the words, “The Lord said.” So if you believe the Bible is divinely inspired, you should follow the rest of the instructions verbatim. You don’t though, and you never will because the instructions in Leviticus aren’t practical, ethical, or scientifically accurate. If you don’t believe the Lord actually said these things, then you should doubt every other passage in the Bible that claims to be spoken by the Lord.
The second sentence says to bring people with skin diseases to Aaron, or one of his sons who is a priest. This is tantamount to a modern day prophet saying, “The Lord says if your car is broken, take it to Donny’s mechanic shop on 42nd street or one of Donny’s kid’s.” This is not universal, timeless instruction. It’s one person talking to his community. Nothing more.
The author also says to seek medical attention from priests, which is tantamount to a witch doctor. Jews and Christians might think I’m being hyperbolic, but I guarantee, you’ve never gone to a priest for medical advice. You go to a doctor who uses secular knowledge because it’s more accurate than a priest’s opinion.
When Aaron or one of his sons diagnoses your skin disease, he either declares you clean and lets you go, or he pronounces you unclean and quarantines you for seven days. One one level, this is primitive but practical. You don’t want contagious diseases spreading through a camp where priests use broscience to diagnose life threatening illnesses, but consider what else the tribe of Israel also considered unclean:
Leviticus 11 explains which foods are clean and unclean. Leviticus 12 says a woman (and anything she touches) is unclean for one week after giving birth to a boy and two weeks after giving birth to a girl. She is also unclean when she’s on her period. Leviticus 15 says a man (and anything he touches) is unclean for a week after having an orgasm. It also reiterates that women are unclean when they’re on their period and specifies that a man will be unclean for a week if he has sex with her during that time.
Some of these instructions are practical. You don’t want to get sick eating dirty animals, but that’s not an issue if you cook them properly. An omnipotent God would have told you that. More importantly, you would never ostracize another person or avoid touching anything they touched after starting their period, having a wet dream, or giving birth. You may claim to believe the Bible, but you don’t believe these rules.
“When anyone has a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to the priest. The priest is to examine them, and if there is a white swelling in the skin that has turned the hair white and if there is raw flesh in the swelling, it is a chronic skin disease and the priest shall pronounce them unclean. He is not to isolate them, because they are already unclean.
“If the disease breaks out all over their skin and, so far as the priest can see, it covers all the skin of the affected person from head to foot, the priest is to examine them, and if the disease has covered their whole body, he shall pronounce them clean. Since it has all turned white, they are clean. But whenever raw flesh appears on them, they will be unclean. When the priest sees the raw flesh, he shall pronounce them unclean. The raw flesh is unclean; they have a defiling disease. If the raw flesh changes and turns white, they must go to the priest. The priest is to examine them, and if the sores have turned white, the priest shall pronounce the affected person clean; then they will be clean.
“When someone has a boil on their skin and it heals, and in the place where the boil was, a white swelling or reddish-white spot appears, they must present themselves to the priest. The priest is to examine it, and if it appears to be more than skin deep and the hair in it has turned white, the priest shall pronounce that person unclean. It is a defiling skin disease that has broken out where the boil was. But if, when the priest examines it, there is no white hair in it and it is not more than skin deep and has faded, then the priest is to isolate them for seven days. If it is spreading in the skin, the priest shall pronounce them unclean; it is a defiling disease. But if the spot is unchanged and has not spread, it is only a scar from the boil, and the priest shall pronounce them clean.
“When someone has a burn on their skin and a reddish-white or white spot appears in the raw flesh of the burn, the priest is to examine the spot, and if the hair in it has turned white, and it appears to be more than skin deep, it is a defiling disease that has broken out in the burn. The priest shall pronounce them unclean; it is a defiling skin disease.But if the priest examines it and there is no white hair in the spot and if it is not more than skin deep and has faded, then the priest is to isolate them for seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine that person, and if it is spreading in the skin, the priest shall pronounce them unclean; it is a defiling skin disease. If, however, the spot is unchanged and has not spread in the skin but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn, and the priest shall pronounce them clean; it is only a scar from the burn.
“If a man or woman has a sore on their head or chin, the priest is to examine the sore, and if it appears to be more than skin deep and the hair in it is yellow and thin, the priest shall pronounce them unclean; it is a defiling skin disease on the head or chin. But if, when the priest examines the sore, it does not seem to be more than skin deep and there is no black hair in it, then the priest is to isolate the affected person for seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine the sore, and if it has not spread and there is no yellow hair in it and it does not appear to be more than skin deep, then the man or woman must shave themselves, except for the affected area, and the priest is to keep them isolated another seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine the sore, and if it has not spread in the skin and appears to be no more than skin deep, the priest shall pronounce them clean. They must wash their clothes, and they will be clean. But if the sore does spread in the skin after they are pronounced clean, the priest is to examine them, and if he finds that the sore has spread in the skin, he does not need to look for yellow hair; they are unclean. If, however, the sore is unchanged so far as the priest can see, and if black hair has grown in it, the affected person is healed. They are clean, and the priest shall pronounce them clean.
“When a man or woman has white spots on the skin, the priest is to examine them, and if the spots are dull white, it is a harmless rash that has broken out on the skin; they are clean.
Leviticus 13:9-39 lists six skin conditions you should see a priest about and how the priest should diagnose the progression of the disease. Each set of instructions is laughably unscientific. Notice how the Bible says, “If the disease breaks out all over their skin and, so far as the priest can see, it covers all the skin of the affected person from head to foot…” Ask yourself honestly if that sounds more like something an all-knowing God would say or a quack doctor covering his ass? You would never put the life of your loved ones in the hands of someone with such amateur medical training. So why would you trust the same person’s spiritual expertise? The answer is, you already don’t.
“A man who has lost his hair and is bald is clean. If he has lost his hair from the front of his scalp and has a bald forehead, he is clean. But if he has a reddish-white sore on his bald head or forehead, it is a defiling disease breaking out on his head or forehead. The priest is to examine him, and if the swollen sore on his head or forehead is reddish-white like a defiling skin disease, the man is diseased and is unclean. The priest shall pronounce him unclean because of the sore on his head.
“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!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.
Imagine if a bald man you love and respect told you they went to the doctor to have a sun spot on their head checked out, and the doctor diagnosed him as unclean and legally sentenced him to leave the city indefinitely, wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face, and shout “Unclean! Unclean!” when anyone approached him. I guarantee your response wouldn’t be, “Well, the Bible says that’s what you’re supposed to do. You just have to have faith. Now get out of town.”
Cleansing From Defiling Skin Diseases
The Lord said to Moses, “These are the regulations for any diseased person at the time of their ceremonial cleansing, when they are brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the defiling disease, and then pronounce them clean. After that, he is to release the live bird in the open fields.
Imagine if you went to a doctor for a rash, and the doctor said, “It looks pretty bad. So meet me outside of town, and bring two birds, some cedar wood, scarlet yarn, hyssop, and a clay pot. I’m going to kill one of the birds and wipe its blood on your rash. Then we’re going to let the other bird go, and you should be fine.” If this still doesn’t sound like mythology to you, then you’re trying painfully hard to deny the obvious. Even if you can justify this, you’re still not going to obey it, because you don’t really believe it.
“The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days. On the seventh day they must shave off all their hair; they must shave their head, their beard, their eyebrows and the rest of their hair. They must wash their clothes and bathe themselves with water, and they will be clean.
If a doctor said you need to wash your clothes to clean any infectious bacteria out of it, you’d comply. That’s just common sense. However, if your doctor told you that you have to shave off all your body hair and live outside your tent for seven days, you’d never ask them for any advice ever again, and you’d tell everyone you know to avoid the unqualified psycho witch doctor. So why would you share the Bible with other people and tell them they have to base their life on a book you don’t, won’t, and can’t follow?
“On the eighth day they must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil.The priest who pronounces them clean shall present both the one to be cleansed and their offerings before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
“Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. He is to slaughter the lamb in the sanctuary area where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy. The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the Lord seven times. The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for them before the Lord.
“Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from their uncleanness. After that, the priest shall slaughter the burnt offering and offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering, and make atonement for them, and they will be clean.
If, after reading Leviticus 13, you’re wondering why the nomadic priest doctors of ancient Israel made medical treatment into such a convoluted religious/legal matter, Leviticus 14 provides the answer. In order to be declared clean and thus allowed to re-enter the city and your home, you have to bring your priest/doctor/ruler a bunch of free food. He slaughters your animals on an altar to feed God, wipes some of the animal’s blood on your right ear and big toe, and then keeps the rest of your food for himself. Basically, the Jewish priest class designed their healthcare system to exploit their community.
“If, however, they are poor and cannot afford these, they must take one male lamb as a guilt offering to be waved to make atonement for them, together with a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, and two doves or two young pigeons, such as they can afford, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.
“On the eighth day they must bring them for their cleansing to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. The priest is to take the lamb for the guilt offering, together with the log of oil, and wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. He shall slaughter the lamb for the guilt offering and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. The priest is to pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, and with his right forefinger sprinkle some of the oil from his palm seven times before the Lord. Some of the oil in his palm he is to put on the same places he put the blood of the guilt offering—on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement for them before the Lord.Then he shall sacrifice the doves or the young pigeons, such as the person can afford, one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. In this way the priest will make atonement before the Lord on behalf of the one to be cleansed.”
These are the regulations for anyone who has a defiling skin disease and who cannot afford the regular offerings for their cleansing.
It should seem odd that God requires animal sacrifices to let you back in the city after getting a rash. It’s even more suspicious that God will waive part of the fee if you’re too poor to provide a full-grown, unblemished ox. It makes much more sense that the rulers of the city are just squeezing as much as they can out of their citizens according to their pay grade. It just goes to show how greedy they are that they specify poor people still have to bring them offers of the “finest flour” before they’ll be allowed back in their house.
You wouldn’t comply with these archaic rules, and you’d report any doctor who asks for goats and pigeons as payment to the police. The amount of mental gymnastics you’d have to do to justify God’s instructions in Leviticus would drive you insane, and you still wouldn’t follow the rules. This should make you wonder what else the Bible says that you don’t believe and why you’re pretending you do.
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December 25th, 2017 at 11:47 pm
Posts like this make me wonder how I went most of my life claiming to believe the Bible. One thing I do remember is trying to avoid reading the Old Testament altogether, whether consciously or unconsciously. Because if I did, I’d inevitably come across passages like this that would cause too much cognitive dissonance, and pastors also avoided teaching on these parts of the Bible, so you could go your entire life not knowing this stuff is even in there. If only this blog (and the internet) could have existed when I was growing up, it could have saved me from years of mental manipulation!