This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Living Witnesses

In every generation there are needed living witnesses to corroborate the resurrection of Christ. For these on the witness stand of every age He has made provision in the gift of the Holy Ghost. "Believers started to live when He did, and their resurrection is a triumphant proof of His resurrection." On the day of Pentecost the astonished Jews saw a hundred and twenty duplicates of the resurrection of Jesus. A feeble, almost pulseless life they had before, but now they have a stalwart and abundant life. Every Christian who has had a personal Pentecost is a new attestation of the basal proof of Christianity, the resurrection of its Author. Every believer, if he lives at the summit of his privilege, is to an unbelieving world a risen Christ. O Spirit divine, multiply on the earth the number of such facsimiles of the resurrection of the God-Man as shall overwhelm the skepticism of the world and bring hosts of unbelievers to crown Jesus Lord of all!

As George Bowen wrote:

It is the vocation of every believer, in every generation, to afford in his own person the evidence that Christ has risen. Art thou a Christian? Then art thou one whom Christ has chosen to convey to men the proof that He is risen. This is thy vocation. Wilt thou roll back the stone upon the sepulchre and make the world believe that Christ is still there? This thou art actually doing if thou walk not in the Spirit.

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 9.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The Safeguard Against Sinning is the Presence of Christ

QUESTION: Explain 1 John 5:18. 

"We know that whosoever has been begotten of God is not sinning, but he who was begotten of (aorist) of God (the only begotten Son) keepeth him."

ANSWER: My version is from the text of Westcott and Hort, considered the most accurate. The safeguard of the believer against sinning is the promised presence of Christ, "Lo, I am with you always." "Kept by the power of God through faith." If faith lapses, sin comes in. So long as the Christian is in probation he is within the bow-shot of the devil and every moment needs the shield of faith. To deny this is to teach a fanatical perversion of evangelical perfection.

— From Steele's Answers p. 20.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Leviticus 17:10-16 - Blood (Part 2 & Concluding Note).

"10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. 12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. 13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. 14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. 15 And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean. 16 But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity." —  Leviticus 17:10-16 KJV. 

10. I will even set my face against — This form of words indicates that the extermination of the blood eater will not be by imperfect human judicatories, but by the direct intervention of Jehovah cutting off the offender, as if guilty of a most heinous crime. See Leviticus 7:26, note.

11. The life… in the blood — Literally, “the נֶ֣פֶשׁ (nephesh, soul) of the flesh.” The soul has a double sphere of life. It is both animus, the subject of all the activities of knowing, feeling, and willing, and anima, the principle of animal life vitalizing the blood and operating in nutrition and respiration. In 1628 Dr. Harvey discovered the vitality of the blood, for the circulation of the blood results from a living principle inhering in it. This wonderful discovery of anatomical science had been standing as an open secret in the Mosaic writings three thousand years, overlooked by science in her pride and disbelief of revelation. This is more surprising when we read Solomon’s beautiful announcement of the same truth in Ecclesiastes 12:6. The Bible, when rightly understood, never contradicts science. I have given it… for your souls — Jehovah has not only devised the scheme of an atonement, but he gives the blood which is demanded to perfect this scheme. He not only saves through sacrifice, but he affords the victim. “Behold the Lamb of God” — the Lamb which God requires, and which he accepts, himself provides. The atonement originates with the Father. John 3:16. He is not, as some blasphemously portray him, an inexorable Shylock demanding his pound of flesh. The blood which he demands he gives. How widely different the divine scheme from human attempts at propitiation, in which the god to be appeased is to be bought off by costly sacrifices. God provides his own means of propitiation, so that all boasting is excluded, for we are saved by grace through faith in the one God-given, atoning sacrifice. “The death of Christ,” says Delitzsch, “was a conscious act of loving free-will, the central act of his own self-sacrifice, the solution of the enigma, ‘I have given it,’ in which the saints of the Old Testament had to rest their implicit faith.” Atonement for the soul — All the versions, except the Revised Version, have missed the great truth revealed in the Hebrew, “it is the blood that maketh atonement BY REASON OF THE LIFE.” ב is plainly an instrumental preposition, and not to be rendered ἀντί, instead of, as the Seventy, nor pro, for, as the Vulgate, nor fur, as Luther. See extensive discussion in The Ceremonial Function of the Blood. Men are redeemed from death only by the price of a life. Jesus gave his life a ransom for the world. Says Kalisch, “It is impossible to doubt that the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice was entertained by the Hebrews… The animal dies to symbolize the death deserved by the offerer on account of his sins.” The apparent discrepancy between this verse and Hebrews 10:4, 11, is removed when, with Outram, we regard the blood as a “condition of pardon,” and with Ebrard and Alford, “not the instrument of complete vicarious propitiation, but an exhibition of the postulate of such propitiation.” See concluding note.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Leviticus 17:1-9 - Blood (Part 1).

"1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying, 3 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, 4 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: 5 To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD. 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD. 7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. 8 And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people."  Leviticus 17:1-9 KJV. 


Since blood is the only means of atonement, it becomes important to impress upon the Hebrew mind not only the sacredness of the blood of the victims slain in sacrifice, but of the shed blood of all beasts and birds. Hence, when the sacrificial animals are slain for food, they must be killed at the door of the tabernacle, (1-6.) Sacrifices to demons are forbidden, (7-9,) and all blood eating, (10-16.)


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Wesleyan Reformation

The Lutheran reformation was theological and ecclesiastical, the Wesleyan was experimental and spiritual. The Spirit, for centuries relegated to the apostolic age, or limited to the sacraments "administered by the priests in the mythical apostolic succession," freed Himself from all these fancied limitations and came into immediate, vital, conscious contact with believing souls, and there stood up a great and valiant army in the valley of dry bones both in England and America. Faith in Christ and reliance on His promise of the Paraclete afforded the conditions of the Spirit's manifestation. The secret of Methodism is conscious salvation through the testimony of the Spirit, the finger of God touching every penitent who surrenders to God and receives His Son as both Saviour and Lord, who expectantly waits for the Dove of Peace to bring the olive leaf of divine peace and afterwards to bring in perfect purity through perfect love shed abroad in the heart. 

— From: The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 30.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Graven Images

QUESTION: Explain Ex. 20:4: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness," etc.

ANSWER: This does not forbid, as some think, sculpture and painting. The words "unto thee," taken in connection with the next prohibition of image worship, are sufficient proof that this is a prohibition of image making for idol worship only. This is clearly declared in Deut. 4:15-19, especially these words, "For ye saw no form in the day when Jehovah spake to you at Horeb." This authoritative exposition of this prohibition on the part of Moses himself demonstrates that it refers, not to pictures and statues in general, but only to symbolical representations of Jehovah. If the Arabs had properly noted this comment of Moses they could have indulged their artistic taste without straining their noddles to produce those monstrosities called Arabesques still visible on much of their wall paper.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 18, 19.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Leviticus 16 - The Day of Atonement (Part 2)

 "3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. 5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. 7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness." — Leviticus 16:3-10 KJV.


3. Holy place — This is here used, not for the court of the priests, but for the holy of holies. Bullock — The high office of Aaron requires the greatest of the sin offerings. See chap. 4, concluding notes. (4.) Note the presumption, that this high official had so failed to keep the holy law of God that he annually needed an offering not only for his conscious and wilful sins, but also for his inadvertencies, ignorances, and errors. Hebrews 5:2. See concluding notes to chap. 4.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Leviticus 16 - The Day of Atonement (Part 1)

"1 And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died; 2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat." — Leviticus 16:1, 2 KJV.


This chapter contains the most solemn and significant ordinance found in the entire Levitical code, in the opinion not only of the modern Jews, but of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The great scheme of symbol worship culminated on the day of atonement. It was celebrated in the latter part of the month of September, and it seems to have been a sort of condensation of all the sacrifices of previous months, and to be an atoning or purifying of the tabernacle, the altar, the priests, and the people. Although the main part of the Mosaic ritual was sacrificial, as the guilt of sin was perpetually calling for new acts of purification, yet on this one day the idea of atonement rose to its highest expression in one grand comprehensive series of actions. This solemn service affords the most exact representation of the perfect atonement of Christ which can be found in all the Levitical ritual. See Hebrews 9. It also sets forth sanctification through the blood of sprinkling as the second grand element of salvation. How far the people understood and profited by the spiritual lessons of this day we know not. But ceremonially their sins were all pardoned. After stating the occasion of the institution, (verses 1, 2,) the chapter is divided into three parts: An outline of the whole ceremonial, (3-10,) a detailed description of certain rites, (11-28,) and general rules respecting the day of atonement. Verses 29-34.

Why I Am Not A Premillennialist

Introduction by Dr. Vic Reasoner


The American holiness movement revered Daniel Steele (1824-1914) more than any other theologian. Most of his works have been reprinted. Yet no one within the holiness movement opposed premillennialism more than Daniel Steele. It is an irony of history that the holiness movement canonized Daniel Steele, but embraced the very teaching he opposed. 

In [our] climate of doomsday eschatology, it is appropriate that we reprint a piece by Steele that has not been reprinted by the holiness movement. This was the last published work of Daniel Steele and appeared in The Methodist Review, Vol. 93 (May, 1911): 405-415.

There are two theories of Christian eschatology. The first is that the present dispensation of the Holy Spirit will continue till all nations shall be evangelized, "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in," drowning out the unbelief of the Jews till "all Israel shall be saved." After this period of gospel triumph Christ will wind up the probationary history of the human race by the simultaneous resurrection of the good and the bad and the general judgment, assigning them to their eternal destinies. The second theory is that the purpose of Christ's second coming is to set up for the first time his kingdom on the earth, reigning in person on the throne of David in Jerusalem for a thousand years, attended by a bodyguard of angels and by the risen and glorified saints, the most eminent of whom Christ, the Imperator, will appoint as governors of the various countries of the globe, ruling over mortals who are eating and drinking, sowing and reaping, marrying and bearing children; meanwhile thousand are converted in a day, the Jews first, as suddenly as Saul of Tarsus, and all rushing to the Holy City, and thence into all the world, preaching the true Messiah. This theory is called premillennialism, which, for the sake of brevity, we may call chiliasm, a Greek term preferred by the Reformers. We propose to show that this scheme, having elements at once fascinating the carnal mind and attracting a certain class of truly spiritual people who "love his appearing" is at variance with the Holy Scriptures, proceeding upon crude, arbitrary, and false principles of interpretation, and dodging their absurd, yet legitimate, results; a system lacking coherence, making no provision for some of the most important future events in the history of our race, and painfully imperiling some of the most precious Christian doctrine.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Some Things That Methodism Stands For

Guest Blog by: Bishop Willard F. Mallalieu (1828-1911)

Doubtless Methodism is the greatest religious movement of the last two hundred years. At present it encircles the world and reaches from pole to pole. Strictly speaking, it is not theological in its origin or development. It never has claimed that it has discovered, much less originated, any new doctrine. It has held fast to the theory that, so far as doctrines are concerned, the old are true, and the new are false, and the newer the doctrines, the more likely they are to be false. It has always had substantial faith in the supernatural element in the Bible. It has had a firm belief in the reality of inspiration, that holy men wrote and spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Never, in the slightest degree, has Methodism confounded the inspiration of the Scriptures with the so-called inspiration of the writings of Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, and Homer. Hence Methodism has always had implicit faith in the Biblical prophets and their prophecies; has believed that the prophets were illuminated; that they clearly saw the things that were to be unfolded in the far-distant ages; that their horizon was not bounded by the things about them, but, rather, when lifted on wheels of fire and wings of flame, their vision was vast as the thoughts of God, and only limited by the horizons of eternity. Methodism has never doubted concerning the recorded miracles of the Bible. It has believed in them all, and has had no trouble in so doing, for it has always recognized an Almighty God as an ever-present factor in the performance of all these miracles.

Leviticus 15:19-33 - Concerning Bodily Discharges (Part 2)

"19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. 24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean. 25 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation. 27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 28 But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. 29 And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 30 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her uncleanness. 31 Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them. 32 This is the law of him that hath an issue, and of him whose seed goeth from him, and is defiled therewith; 33 And of her that is sick of her flowers, and of him that hath an issue, of the man, and of the woman, and of him that lieth with her that is unclean."  — Leviticus 15:19-33 KJV.


The separation of the woman during the menstrual period is so obviously a sanitary requirement that the custom was not confined to the Hebrews.

19. Seven days — This is sufficient to cover the ordinary period of physical impurity. It is worthy of note that no ceremonial cleansing or atonement is required at the expiration of this normal uncleanness, as there is after the healing of an abnormal issue. See verses 25 and 30. Toucheth — This word is used in its common signification, and not in the Pauline sense, (1 Corinthians 7:1,) which is treated of in verse 24, and especially in Leviticus 20:18, where the penalty of excision is attached.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Leviticus 15:1-18 - Concerning Bodily Discharges (Part 1)

"1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean. 3 And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness. 4 Every bed, whereon he lieth that hath the issue, is unclean: and every thing, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean. 5 And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 6 And he that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 7 And he that toucheth the flesh of him that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 8 And if he that hath the issue spit upon him that is clean; then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 9 And what saddle soever he rideth upon that hath the issue shall be unclean. 10 And whosoever toucheth any thing that was under him shall be unclean until the even: and he that beareth any of those things shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 11 And whomsoever he toucheth that hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 12 And the vessel of earth, that he toucheth which hath the issue, shall be broken: and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water. 13 And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean. 14 And on the eighth day he shall take to him two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, and come before the LORD unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and give them unto the priest: 15 And the priest shall offer them, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD for his issue. 16 And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. 17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. 18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even." — Leviticus 15:1-18 KJV.


There is an intense reality in the fact of the divine law taking hold of a man by the ordinary infirmities of the flesh, and setting its stamp in the very clay of which he is moulded. The sacredness attached to the human body is parallel to that which invested the ark of the covenant itself. Thus there is foreshadowed the unspeakable dignity with which the body of the Christian is to be crowned under the dispensation of the Holy Ghost when it shall become an habitation of God through the Spirit. The successive dwellings of Jehovah among men are, first, the tabernacle in the midst of Israel; secondly, the body of Jesus Christ, in which the Word (ἐσκήνωσεν) tented is used, (John 1:14;) and lastly, the body of every believer in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19. The minute and burdensome regulations of the ceremonial law relating to the purity of the body suggest some such honour as the privilege of believers when the dispensation of realities should supersede that of shadows. The principal source of both moral and physical defilement is found in the sexual nature. That the issues spoken of in this chapter are not ordinary running sores, but impurities resulting from the weakness or disease of the genitals, is evident from the division of the chapter into two parts — the uncleanness of men in their issues, (1-18,) and the uncleanness of women in their issues, (19-33.)

Saturday, March 2, 2024

When Was Paul Entirely Sanctified?

QUESTION: When was Saul entirely sanctified?

ANSWER: The fact is more important than the date. This fact is implied in all his exhortations and prayers, for he would not have urged others to obtain what he himself had not received. Nor would he have appealed to the Searcher of hearts as he did in 1 Thess. 2:10, to witness "how holily" he was living. In Gal. 1:15 there is noted a crisis in his experience after his conversion, which may have been his entire sanctification: "But when [it] was the good pleasure of God, who separated me (unto the Gospel Rom. 1:1) from my birth, and called (regenerated) me through his grace, to reveal His Son in me," etc. This is not the revelation of Christ in his natural vision, but rather the inward manifestation of Christ to his spiritual perception quickened into life when he was born from above. No unregenerate man can have an inward revelation of Christ. This may be Paul's phrase for his entire sanctification. It corresponds with modern experiences of this grace as the writer can testify.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 17,18.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Leviticus 14:33-57 Leprosy in a House

"33 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 34 When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; 35 And he that owneth the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house: 36 Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house: 37 And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall; 38 Then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days: 39 And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house; 40 Then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into an unclean place without the city: 41 And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place: 42 And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister the house. 43 And if the plague come again, and break out in the house, after that he hath taken away the stones, and after he hath scraped the house, and after it is plaistered; 44 Then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the plague be spread in the house, it is a fretting leprosy in the house: it is unclean. 45 And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place. 46 Moreover he that goeth into the house all the while that it is shut up shall be unclean until the even. 47 And he that lieth in the house shall wash his clothes; and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes. 48 And if the priest shall come in, and look upon it, and, behold, the plague hath not spread in the house, after the house was plaistered: then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed. 49 And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: 50 And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water: 51 And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times: 52 And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet: 53 But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean. 54 This is the law for all manner of plague of leprosy, and scall, 55 And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house, 56 And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot: 57 To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy." — Leviticus 14:33-57 KJV.


The nature of house leprosy is a great mystery. If it proceeded from a natural cause we should expect to find the same cause productive of a like effect in modern Palestine. But travellers report no instances. The most prevalent theory, having a slight scriptural basis (see verse 34, note) is, that it was a supernatural plague. This is the opinion of Patrick, Aberbanel, and many rabbins. The author of Sepher Cosri says, “God inflicted the plague of leprosy upon houses and garments as a punishment for lesser sins, and when the parties continued to multiply transgressions, it invaded their bodies.” Maimonides specifies the sin of which this is the punishment to be an evil tongue. The Targum of Palestine says that the plague was because the house was “built by rapine.” Michaelis has suggested, as a natural cause, a nitrous efflorescence produced by saltpetre, or rather an acid containing it, and issuing in red spots. He cites the case of a house in Lubeck. But this does not counterbalance the absence of such phenomena in the Holy Land in modern times. Says Dr. W.M. Thomson, “I have suspected that this disease is caused by living and self-propagating animalculae; and thus I can conceive it possible that these might fasten on a wall, especially if the cement were mixed with sizing, as is now done, or other gelatinous or animal glues. Still, the most cursory reference to the best of medical works shows how little is known about the whole subject of contagion, and its propagation by fomites. One finds in them abundant and incontestable instances of the propagation of many terrible constitutional maladies, in the most inexplicable manner, by garments, leather, wood, and other things, the materies morbi meantime eluding the most persevering and vigilant search, aided by every appliance of modern science, chemical or optical.”