Image source: TheLeviticusChurch
As parents we pay attention to what our children eat. We control their consumption of sugar and all other food items we believe will make them sick. We do this out of love, out of a concern for our own peace of mind, and out of the wisdom to avoid hospital bills. It is in this light that we view Leviticus Chapters 11 to 15 – these chapters provide health instructions for the new nation of Israel.
Remember that the new nation was about 2-3 million people living in a camp in the desert. Israel was living in conditions where illness and infection in one person could easily spread to thousands within a few days where there are no strict public health rules. If one person has diarrhea or any of the many types of fungal infection, it will spread like wildfire in a camp without strict health rules. These rules will often include quarantine of the sick person – we see this in Leviticus.
Leviticus 11 provide instructions about food, Chapter 12 provide health instructions around childbirth, Chapters 13-14 is on skin diseases and other infections including fungus, Chapter 15 is about good health practices around genital discharges. It is easy for us today to make fun or mock some of these instructions; it is easy for us to judge some of them as too strict. We forget that the new nation Israel, living in camps in the desert, needed these strict rules to protect the people from epidemics.
Consider Leviticus 11:35-38 (The Message Bible): “Anything that one of these carcasses falls on is unclean – an oven or cooking pot must be broken up; they’re unclean and must be treated as unclean. A spring, though, or a cistern for collecting water remains clean, but if you touch one of these carcasses you’re ritually unclean. If a carcass falls on any seeds that are to be planted, they remain clean. But if water has been put on the seed and a carcass falls on it, you must treat it as unclean.”
In the above passage, the people are told that if a dead animal falls into a spring or a water storage system (the flowing type), the water remains clean. This is in a situation where the animal is removed and not allowed to rot. Similarly, if a dead animal falls on a dry seed, the seed is ok; but if dead animal falls on a wet seed, the seed is unclean (could be infected). This passage shows that these instructions are intelligent; they are not foolish and thoughtless as they are sometimes presented and mocked.
Dear God, in your wisdom there is life, thank you for caring, Amen!