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From: Dean and Susan Wheelock
To:      heb_roots_chr@hebroots.org
Subject: Preparing the Bride: Sin and Leprosy (Part 1 of 2)

              Dean and Susan Wheelock have a ministry called Hebrew
roots. They produce a quarterly magazine called Hebrew roots. If you
would like to receive the magazine, please send an e-mail to Dean and
Susan at: (dewheelock@aol.com) or write them at the following address:

                                   Hebrew Roots
                                      P.O. Box 98
                               Lakewood, WI 54138


              Preparing the Bride: The Sin of Leprosy
                                     (Part 1 of 2)

                                  From the website:


The following is a Midrash, a story written to teach a truth.

     Suppose that you are a member of an ancient Hebrew society. You
are betrothed to a beautiful virgin girl, who lives in a faraway 
town, and have gone back to your father's house to prepare the
Chuppah (Who-pah = wedding chamber) for her.   Much time has
already passed but your father has given you no indication that he is
anywhere near ready to send you back to get your bride. Legally you
and your bride are fully married, but according to custom you are not
allowed to consummate the marriage until your father tells you; "Go
and fetch your bride, it is time to bring her to the Chuppah."

     You puzzle over the fact that it has been such a long period of
time since the betrothal took place. What could be the problem? The
Chuppah is all prepared and stocked with provisions for the seven day
wedding consummation. It has been quite some time since your father
has made any suggestions about further changes that should be made to
it. In addition, you have been studying Torah, praying three times a
day, working diligently at a job, saving your money and not running
around with the boys. Besides, your father has given you no
indication that you need to make changes in your personal habits.
What could possibly be the problem? You are longing so much to bring
your beautiful bride home to the Chuppah and to dwell with her in the
fullness of marriage.

     Finally, out of desperation, you go to your father and ask; "Why
haven't you sent me to fetch my bride? Is there something else that I
need to do in preparation for marriage? Please tell me, what is the

     Your father looks at you and with a very sad eye says; "Your
bride has contracted a serious, even life threatening illness. She
has leprosy. You cannot go for her until she is healed of
this terrible disease."

     What a shattering blow to learn about the one with whom you hope
to spend the rest of your life. What utter devastation. Even more
devastating to you is the realization that leprosy is understood to
be a punishment for a serious sin of which the leper has not
repented. This means your beloved bride is harboring some sin which
she either refuses to recognize or refuses to give up. You wonder
what awful sin it is that she has not only committed, but of which
she is either unwilling or unable to repent.

     The element of truth in this Midrash is that the Bride of Messiah
does have a terrible disease, one that affects the whole body, and
that disease is spiritual leprosy. The Bride is afflicted with this
disease for a number of reasons. This article will touch on some
possible ones. However, this is a condition from which the Bride can
be healed and cleansed, so the situation, while very serious, is not

                                     ~ Biblical Leprosy ~

     Most scholars and medical people agree that the modern disease of
leprosy (Hansen's disease) is not the one that carries that name in
the English translations of our Bibles. In Hebrew the word for
leprosy is tzara'at (tzah-rah'aht). In Greek the word is lepra
(lep-rah) and it means; "scaliness or leprosy." In is interesting to
note that James Hastings, in his Dictionary of the Bible, says that
tzara'at comes from the word tzr'ah (tzer'ah), and both words are
general terms "for any prostrating experience or disabling disease."
(p. 575). In other words, the leprosy of the Bible was a disease that
caused you to prostrate yourself. This could be interpreted to mean
that it would confine a person to bed, but the scriptures do not
substantiate that view, as lepers were often seen in public. In
actual fact, the disease of leprosy did cause people `to prostrate
themselves in order to be cured, but it was a prostration
born of repentance, not from the symptoms of the illness itself.

     Biblical leprosy did not affect just an individual's body, it
could also afflict one's clothing, vessels or house. Leprosy of this
nature appeared as greenish or reddish spots, which some feel
were a type of mildew or mold. On a person's body it manifested itself
as flaky or scaly skin, or ulcerous eruptions. The Jewish Encyclopedia
summarizes the characteristic features of leprosy, found in Leviticus
13, as follows: "(1) bright white spots or patches on the skin, the
hair on which also was white; (2) the depression of the patches below
the level of the surrounding skin; (3) the existence of `quick raw
flesh;' (4) the spreading of the scab or scall." (Vol. VIII, p. 9).

     What is described in the Scriptures as `leprosy' is definitely
not the modern disease of the same name. More likely it covered a
variety of skin diseases similar to modern day psoriasis. What is
significant about Biblical leprosy is that all of the lepers
mentioned in the Tanakh (Tah-nahk = Old Testament) received their
affliction as a result of a serious sin, either their own, or that of
a relative.

     The best know of the Old Testament lepers was Miriam the sister
of Moshe (Moses). She was stricken with the disease as a result of
speaking against the marriage of her brother Moshe to the "Ethiopian
woman whom he had married..." (Num. 12:1).

     According to Jewish tradition, both Miriam and Ahron (Aaron) were
immediately plagued with leprosy, but Ahron's leprosy was quickly
removed because he had not actually spoken against Moshe, but had
committed a lessor sin by listening to Miriam's complaint and not
rebuking her. In Jewish teaching, the words Miriam spoke against
Moshe constituted lashon hara (lah-shone hah-rah = evil
tongue) which is considered to be one of the greatest of sins.

     God immediately took action against these evil words:

          "Then He said, `Hear now My words: If there is a prophet
among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision,
And I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?'"
(Num. 12:6-8)

     In Miriam's case it required an intercessory prayer on the part
of Moshe in order for Miriam to be healed.

               "So Aaron said to Moses, `Oh, my lord! Please do not
lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we
have sinned. Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is
half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb!' "So Moses
cried out to the LORD, saying, `Please heal her, O God, I pray!'"
(Num. 12:11-13)

     God answered Moshe's brief, but heartfelt, prayer and healed
Miriam of her leprosy, but He required her to remain outside the
camp, cut off from her people, for seven days.

               "Then the LORD said unto Moses, `If her father had spit
in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out
of the camp seven days, and after that she be received again. So Miriam
was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journeyed
on till Miriam was brought in again." (Num. 12:14-15)

                                   ~ The Laws of Leprosy ~

     The thirteenth chapter of Leviticus details the laws concerning
leprosy; whether it be on a person's body, vessel, clothing or house.
It is not the purpose of this article to go into great detail
concerning these laws, but rather to look at leprosy as a type of
punishment for sin. However, some knowledge of these laws is
necessary for us to understand that all forms of leprosy found in the
Bible, no matter what the severity, made the bearer of the disease

               "`Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall
be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry,
"Unclean! Unclean!" "`He shall be unclean. All the days he has the
sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone;
his habitation shall be outside the camp.'" (Lev. 13:45-46)

     Once the disease had subsided, the leper was required to be
examined by a priest. This examination was done every seven days,
outside the camp, until the priest was convinced the disease had
vanished. At that point the leper was required to go through a ritual

               "And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the
priest shall look; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper,
then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed
two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the
priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen
vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it,
the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the
living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running
water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be
cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall
let the living bird loose in the open field." (Lev. 14:2-7)

     It is interesting to note that the accouterments used in the
cleansing ceremony of the leper; cedar wood, scarlet and
hyssop (Lev. 14:4), are the very same ones used in the sacrifice of
the red heifer (Num. 19:6). In addition, there is a similarity between
this ceremony and the offering of the two goats on Yom Kippur (Day of
Atonement). One is slaughtered and the other is let go. All of these
things have significance or they would not be mentioned as part of the

     Meanwhile, the leper who has been found rid of his disease still
has a time consuming and expensive ritual to go through before he can
reenter society.

               "He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave
off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean.
After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his
tent seven days.  "But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off
his head and his beard and his eyebrows--all his hair he shall shave
off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he
shall be clean." Lev. 14:8-9)

     The phrase `wash himself in water,' is understood in Jewish
teaching to be an immersion in a mikvah (meek-vah = immersion pool),
what Believers today call a baptismal pool. This was done, not to
cleanse the body of dirt, but to signify a change of status in the
person being immersed. One was always expected to have
bathed before going into the mikvah.

     On the eighth day the cleansed leper was required to bring a
sacrifice to the Temple. This sacrifice included two male lambs, one
ewe lamb, flour and oil. One animal was for a sin offering,
another for a burnt offering and the third for a trespass offering. If
the man could not afford the full offering of animals, he was allowed
to substitute one male lamb, as a trespass offering, and two
turtle-doves or young pigeons, as a sin offering and a burnt offering,
along with a grain offering. What was the reason for all of this
ritual? To teach the people the difference between being clean and
being unclean.

               "This is the law for any leprous sore and scall, for
the leprosy of a garment and of a house, for a swelling and a scab
and a bright spot, to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean.
This is the law of leprosy." (Lev. 14:54-57)

     Let it be understood that when the Scriptures speak of people
becoming `unclean,' they are speaking of ritual uncleanness, not a
dirty physical body. When a person became ritually unclean, he or she
was prohibited from worshipping at the Temple. Also, a ritually
unclean person could transmit their uncleanness to another person
through physical contact. Therefore, it was especially important for
the priests and Levites to refrain from situations that would cause
them to come into physical contact with other people. To
do so would put them in jeopardy of becoming unclean themselves, If
they were to be-come unclean they could not perform their duties at
the Temple. Since service at the Temple was considered not only a
great honor, but an absolute obligation before God, the priests and
Levites took great pains to make sure that they would not come in
contact with anyone or anything that might make them ritually unclean.

                                ~ The Causes of Uncleanness ~

     There were a number of things, in addition to leprosy, that could
cause ritual uncleanness. One of the most obvious was contact with a
dead body.

               "`He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be
unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the
third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he
does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he
will not be clean. "`Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died,
and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That
person shall be cut off from Israel He shall be unclean, because the
water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is
still on him.  "`This is the law when a man dies in a tent: All who
come into the tent and all who are in the tent shall be unclean seven
days; and every open vessel, which has no cover fastened on it, is
unclean.  "`Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by
a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be
unclean seven days.'" (Num. 19:11-16)

     Not only was contact with a dead body a cause of uncleanness,
even going into the tent of a dead person rendered one unclean. Also,
graves were a source of ritual uncleanness, as was the touching of a
dead man's bone. In fact, not only did contact with a grave render a
person ritually unclean, if one's shadow were to cross a grave that
person was also considered to be ritually unclean.

     Uncleanness also came by other means. Each month a woman goes
through an unclean period during her menstrual cycle. During this
time a mated woman would have to refrain from having intimacy with
her husband, plus, she could not go to the Temple to worship. Anyone
touching her also became unclean. For this reason she was required to
wear clothing that identified her as being unclean so that others
could avoid physical contact with her. In fact, another person was
not even allowed to sit upon the bed on which she lay during her
unclean time. (See Leviticus 15:19-30.) She was required to
go through a purification ritual at the end of each monthly period.

     Likewise, a man who had a discharge from his body became unclean
and also had to go through a purification ritual in order to be
declared clean. Whatever object the unclean person sat
upon also became unclean, and anyone that sat upon that item of
furniture also became unclean. (See Leviticus 15:1-18).

     It is difficult for us today to understand why it was so terrible
for religious Jews to be in a state of ritual uncleanness. In modern
society it is common for women to use sanitary items that
allow them to maintain a regular lifestyle and no one is the wiser. It
would be unthinkable, in Western society, for a woman to actually
dress in a manner that told the entire world that she was having a
menstrual period. But in God's society, things are very different. All
of these laws are given to instruct us about very important concepts.
From the laws of ritual cleanliness we learn that one did not dare to
approach the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, in a
state of ritual uncleanness, for no unclean person can come before God
and live.

               "`Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from
their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they
defile My tabernacle that is among them. "`This is the law for one
who has a discharge, and for him who emits semen and is
unclean thereby, and for her who is indisposed because of her
customary impurity, and for one who has a discharge, either man or
woman, and for him who lies with her who is unclean.'" (Lev. 15:31-33)

                                  ~ Cleansing the Unclean ~

     While it is very easy to become ritually unclean, the methods of
ridding one's self of that uncleanness varied from the simple and
inexpensive to the expensive and complex. We have already
seen what was required for the cleansing of leprosy. Other forms of
uncleanness did not demand quite as much ritual or expense.

     Cleansing from contact with a dead body required seven days and
two sprinklings with `the waters of purification.' These were the
waters which contained the ashes of the Red Heifer.

     The man with a discharge and the woman coming out of her menses
had to wash their clothes, and bathe in water. Then on the eighth day
they had to bring to the priest two turtledoves or two young pigeons
as an offering.

     In all cases of uncleanness, part of the ritual purification
process included bathing in water. The Jewish people always
understand this terminology to be immersion in a mikvah or immersion
pool. One was required to be physically clean before entering the
mikveh. A witness would stand beside the pool to testify that the
person immersing themselves went completely under water. It was this
immersion in the mikveh of `living water' that completed the cleansing
ritual and signified that the person had changed status from `unclean'
to `clean.' There is much that we, as Believers, can learn about our
relationship with God from the laws of clean and unclean.

                                 ~ Sins That Cause Leprosy ~

     According to Jewish tradition, there are ten sins that caused a
person to be afflicted by the plague of tzara'at (leprosy), however,
not everyone who committed one of these sins was afflicted by the
disease. Only those who found it very difficult to do teshuvah
(teh-shoe-vah = repentance) were afflicted with leprosy. It
was felt that only the `dreadful suffering of tzara'at' would bring
such a person to the place where they were willing to fully repent of
their sin.

     These ten sins are:

     Serving Idols
     Desecrating or Blaspheming the Name of God
     Robbing the Public
     Acting In a Capacity Not Permitted
     Lashon Hara (evil speech)
     An Evil Eye (acting miserly)
     Taking a Vain Oath

     The remainder of this article will be taken up with the
examination of these ten sins. Because of the severe nature of
these sins, any manifestation of them within the Body of Messiah may
cause the Bride to become afflicted with a spiritual form of leprosy,
unless complete confession and repentance takes place in a speedy

                                      ~ Serving Idols ~
                                          (Sin #1)

               "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not
make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that
is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of
the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of
those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love
Me and keep My commandments." (Ex. 20:3-6)

     Idol worship can take many forms. Anciently, it took the form of
people bowing down in front of a statue, painting or amulet to pray.
Unfortunately, many people today are still caught up
in this form of idolatry.

     But idolatry can take other forms as well. Whatever a person puts
between themselves and God is an idol. This can include one's career,
money, power, family or spouse, or a philosophy or religion that does
not focus on Torah and the Scriptures. One thing the Bride of Messiah
must learn, and learn well, is that serving her Husband, Yeshua
HaMashiach, must be first and foremost in her life.

     One of the punishments for idolatry is tzara'at (leprosy). This
is born out in the scriptures by one of the punishments
which was inflicted upon the children of Israel for their Sin with the
Golden Calf.

               "So the LORD plagued the people because of what they
did with the calf which Aaron made.  (Ex. 32:35)

     Tradition holds that the plague mentioned in this verse is that
of leprosy. Are there any members of the Bride of Messiah who today
stand guilty of the sin of idolatry? If so, complete repentance and a
change of lifestyle is urgently needed.

                                       ~ Immorality ~
                                          (Sin #2)

        "You shall not commit adultery."
          (Ex. 20:14)

     Yeshua extended the definition of the sin of adultery to include
even the thought of sexual immorality:

       "`You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall
not commit adultery." But I say unto you that whoever looks at a woman
to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in
his heart.'" (Matt. 5:27-28)

     Sexual immorality is especially evil because of the effect that
it can have on other people. Many times adultery can cause the
complete disruption of two families; the four adults, plus
numerous children, not to mention the grandparents, brothers and
sisters, nieces and nephews, etc., who sometimes feel they must break
off relationships with divorced in-laws' who were formerly held in
high esteem, in order to remain loyal to their blood relatives.

     Jewish tradition tells us that when the Pharaoh of Egypt took
Abraham's wife Sarah into his palace with the intent of having sexual
relations with her, God brought swift punishment (even
before he could go through with his plan) by striking his entire
household with tzara'at (leprosy).

     "But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great
plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife."  (Gen. 12:17)

     Are there any members of the Bride of Messiah today who stand
guilty of the sin of immorality? If so, complete repentance and a
change of lifestyle is urgently needed.

                                        ~ Murder ~
                                          (Sin #3)

     "You shall not murder." (Ex. 20:13)

     Yeshua extended the definition of murder to include being angry
without a cause:

     "`You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall
not murder," and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a
cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says
to his brother, "Raca!" shall be in danger of the council. But
whoever says, "You fool!" shall be in danger of hell fire.'" (Matt. 5:20-22)

     God can, and does, forgive all sins including the sin of murder,
but only if the one who has committed the sin asks for
forgiveness and fully repents (I John 1:9). The story of Joab, King
David's general, is very interesting, for Joab committed a murder
during a time of war. He was not given the death penalty, nor was he
personally afflicted with leprosy, but rather King David placed a
curse upon his family which included tzara'at.

     After King Saul's death, David found himself at war with Saul's
descendants. Saul's son, Ishbosheth, was officially recognized as
king by all the tribes except Judah. Ishboseth's general, Abner, went
to David and made a pact. But David's general, Joab, became angry
when he heard that Abner had met with David. Joab
hated Abner because he had been responsible for the death of Joab's
brother in a recent battle, and so he had Abner killed. David was
furious, and showed the nation that he had nothing to do with the
murder by marching in Abner's funeral procession. David then placed a
curse upon Joab and his descendants.

               "And afterward, when David heard it, he said, `My
kingdom and I are guiltless before the LORD forever of the blood of
Abner the son of Ner. Let it rest on the head of Joab and on all his
father's house; and let there never fail to be in the house of Joab
one who has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff
or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.'" (II Sam. 3:28-29)

     Are there any members of the Bride of Messiah today who stand
guilty of hatred or murder? If so, complete repentance and a change
of heart is urgently needed.

                    ~ Desecrating the Name of God ~
                                          (Sin #4)

               "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in
vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in
vain." (Ex. 20:7)

     It is perhaps our greatest purpose in life to glorify the name of
God. We can do this in both word and deed.

          "Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD; Praise Him,
0 you servants of the LORD! You who stand in the house of the LORD,
In the courts of the house of our God, Praise the LORD, for the LORD
is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant." (Psalm 135:1-3)

     However, there are grave consequences for blaspheming the name of

               "Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an
Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel; and this Israelite
woman's son and a man of Israel fought each other in the camp. And
the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD and
cursed; and so they brought him to Moses. (His mother's name
was Shelomith the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)  "Then
they put him in custody, that the mind of the LORD might be shown to
them. "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, `Take outside the
camp him who has cursed; then let all who heard him lay their hands
on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. Then you shall
speak to the children of Israel, saying: "Whoever curses his God
shall bear his sin. And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall
surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly
stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When
he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death." (Lev.

     The reason the Jewish people refuse to speak the name of God
(YHVH) is because they do not wish to risk taking God's name in vain.
Instead, they substitute the Hebrew words Adonai (Lord) or HaShem
(the Name) whenever they speak or encounter, in Scripture, the name
of God. When writing these substitute words for the Name, some will
eliminate the vowels. This is done as a sign of respect for the
ineffable name of God. Thus, God becomes G-d, and Lord
becomes L-rd.

     In the Jewish world the actual name of God (YHVH) can only be
spoken in synagogue on Yom Kippur. When the name is spoken all of the
worshippers fall to the floor on their faces. It is apparent from
these practices that the Jewish people hold the Name of God in great
awe and reverence.

     Several people have written to Hebrew Roots urging us to use the
`Scared Names' exclusively in our publication. While we also
appreciate their stand on this issue, and do not condemn
it in any way, we are convinced that very few people currently know
the correct pronunciation for God's Name (YHVH). We do use Yeshua as
the given Hebrew name of our Saviour, but also recognize that it was
by the name of Jesus Christ that we were brought to repentance and
baptized into His body of believers. Therefore, we continue to also
honor `Jesus Christ' as the anglicized form of the Hebrew name and
title, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).

     What then constitutes taking the LORD's name in vain? The Jew
would say it is the indiscriminate use of the tetragrammaton (YHVH).
The Sacred Names Believers would say the use of substitutes such as
Adonai, LORD, God, and the name Jesus.

     However, consider this; one does not need to address our Father
in heaven by His actual name. I never called my physical father
Emory; it was always Dad, or Daddy or Pa. Neither do I call my
spiritual Father by His name, but rather by the closer and more
familiar terms `Father,' or the Hebrew form `Abba.' In our opinion,
one even more virulent form of taking the LORD's name in vain
is to commit open and unrepentant sin before others while claiming to
be serving the one true God.

     Are there any members of the Bride of Messiah today who stand
guilty of desecrating God's name? If so, complete repentance and a
change of behavior is required.

                              (End Part 1 of 2)

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