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.

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.)

1. Unto Moses and to Aaron — There must have been in the mind of Jehovah a reason for sometimes addressing Moses alone and sometimes addressing both Moses and Aaron. That reason is not revealed.

2. Issue out of his flesh — The word flesh is here a euphemism for the part on which circumcision was performed. “My covenant shall be in your flesh.” Genesis 17:13. The Targum of Palestine adds, “When the man hath seen the defluxion three times, he is unclean.” The Seventy have translated the “issue” by gonorrhea. Keil questions the existence of this disease in its syphilitic character at so early a period, and inclines to the theory of an involuntary flow, drop by drop, through weakness, and he suggests that its more appropriate name is blenorrhea urethrae, a catarrhal affection of the mucus membrane of the urethra.

3. Be stopped — Literally, whether he stop his flesh from his issue. The uncleanness continues, though the issue be temporarily obstructed, until its perfect cure.

4. Every bed — The inconveniences of ceremonial impurity are strikingly set forth in this and the following verses. The only posture in which the man did not communicate ceremonial impurity was standing without touching any vessel or utensil. The obstruction to social intercourse, business, and trade must have exceeded one’s conception. The man, while under this disability, could neither sit nor lie down without spreading impurity; nor could he eat or drink without defiling the vessel which he touched; while the grasp of friendship polluted the person of his friend and incapacitated him for the public offices of religion and for communion with his kindred until he had washed his clothes and bathed himself, and waited for the friendly shades of evening to emancipate him from ceremonial bondage. Till his purification he was to be excluded from the camp. Numbers 5:2. In contrast with this burdensome ritual Christianity is appropriately called “the law of liberty.”

5. Bathe himself in water — The Targum of Palestine specifies that the quantity of water shall be forty seahs — about seventy gallons.

6. He that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat — The very stool occupied for a moment by a man afflicted with the issue was ceremonially defiled. The precautions are as great as they would have been if the issue had been a deadly contagion, except that there was no quarantine required. We should assert that the gonorrhea virulenta, or syphilitic suppuration, was under consideration, were not history against such a supposition.

9. Saddle — The original word signifies any thing on which to ride. In 1 Kings 4:26, it is translated chariots; in Canticles 3:10, covering. It occurs only in these places.

11. Rinsed his hands — It is generally understood that this act refers to the diseased man. The Greek and Latin versions convey this meaning. The Hebrew is doubtful. The Syriac refers the hand rinsing to the person touched, though it is strange that he should be cleansed by washing his hands when some other part was touched.

12. The vessel of earth… shall be broken — The reason for this command will be found in the fact that the earthen vessels in use among the Hebrews were unglazed, and from their porous nature, capable of defilement beyond the possibility of cleansing by washing. See Leviticus 11:33, note.

13-15. When he… is cleansed — When by any means his issue was healed and his physical purity was restored he was to pass through a ceremonial cleansing after seven days by washing his clothes and bathing his flesh in running, that is, living, water, and by presenting to the priest two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. For the order see The Order of the Levitical Sacrifices. The sin offering was required because all natural evil springs more or less directly from moral evil or sin. An atonement… for his issue — The physical defilement needed to be covered from the eye of Infinite Purity, and its moral cause needed expiation, in addition to the satisfaction which should be rendered for duties omitted during the period of uncleanness. Jesus Christ “bare our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:17, note. If we “are complete in him,” (Colossians 2:10,) both body and soul, diseased by sin, are to be ultimately restored by the great Physician.

16. Seed of copulation — In the restatement of this law in Deuteronomy 23:10, the impurity is described as involuntary. It is not an infusion, but an effusion. In Luther’s version the words im schlaf, in the sleep, are added. In the light of this precept of the law it would not seem that “the sexual impulses, and their dream images in sleep, are morally wholly indifferent.” The spirit feels disgraced, as though it had lost its kingly sceptre and had been involuntarily dragged about by the wheel of nature, as Hector was dishonoured when his feet were bound to the axle of Achilles’s chariot. Antiquity, from India to Egypt, loathes the dreamer who defiles the flesh. The form of expression, go out from him, does not seem to refer to the solitary vice, masturbation, improperly called Onanism, (Genesis 38:9,) one of the most destructive crimes ever committed by fallen man; and yet it must include this vice. “In many respects,” says Dr. A. Clarke, “it is several degrees worse than common whoredom, and has in its train more awful consequences, though practised by numbers who would shudder at the thought of criminal connexion with a prostitute. It excites the powers of nature to undue action, and produces violent secretions, which necessarily and speedily exhaust the vital energy. Appetite ceases; nutrition fails, tremors are generated; and the wretched victim, superannuated even before he had time to arrive at man’s estate, debilitated in mind to idiotism, tumbles into the grave, and his guilty soul (guilty of self-murder) is hurried into the awful presence of its Judge.”

17. Every skin — Those inhabitants of the East who affect ancient simplicity of manners make use of goatskins for seats and beds. In some cases they take the place of carpets.

18. They shall both bathe — There are two opinions respecting this verse. The first is, that it relates to the same pollution as verse 16; the second, that it ascribes ceremonial impurity to the most intimate association of matrimony. Keil dissents from the latter opinion on grounds which seem to us insufficient. The design of this statute is doubtless not only to deter from polygamy and unlawful sexual intercourse, but also to set up a safeguard against conjugal excess, which is a sin against the law of the Creator written on the human body and mind. This verse intimates that David, in Psalm 51:5, did not use an Oriental exaggeration. Pravity attaches to man from his conception to his death, unless he be sanctified throughout his “whole spirit and soul and body,” 1 Thessalonians 5:23,) through faith in Christ. Every outflow of nature, even under the holiest sanctions, is not only defiled but defiling. From an impure fountain all the streams are polluting. Circumcision seems to imply that the moral impurity with which the fall of Adam had stained humanity, had concentrated itself in the sexual organs.

No comments:

Post a Comment