Tazria-Metzora

Leviticus 12:1 – 15:33; Haftarah: II Kings 7:3 – 7:20

Synopsis –

The deaths of Nadab and Abihu opened a parenthesis which we will only close next week (verse 1 of chapter 16), therefore, we begin this week’s study with the immediate aftermath of these deaths – the injunction not to drink wine or strong drink before entering the sanctuary and go deeper into this teaching than we did two weeks ago. We follow this with a study of the sin of Aaron two remaining sons and compare this to that of Nadab and Abihu to meditate on the teaching about forgiveness reflected in it. Then we study in detail the profound teaching about clean and unclean animals and see how the underlying teaching here refers both to creation and to the state of the clean and unclean in their deaths – from where we also follow Origen to a teaching about human redemption in Christ. Finally, we study the uncleanness/cleanness of the woman giving birth and connect this with creation as well. We will study the glorious teaching about leprosy next week.

Scripture References

(Lk 2:22–35)

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in tthe Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in tthe Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
faccording to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

(Ex 12:8)

They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.

External Sources

(Lv 11:3) The Epistle of Barnabas 10:11

gain Moses saith; Ye shall eat everything that divideth the hoof and cheweth the cud. What meaneth he? He that receiveth the food knoweth Him that giveth him the food, and being refreshed appeareth to rejoice in him. Well said he, having regard to the commandment. What then meaneth he? Cleave unto those that fear the Lord, with those who meditate in their heart on the distinction of the word which they have received, with those who tell of the ordinances of the Lord and keep them, with those who know that meditation is a work of gladness and who chew the cud of the word of the Lord. But why that which divideth the hoof? Because the righteous man both walketh in this world, and at the same time looketh for the holy world to come. Ye see how wise a lawgiver Moses was.

(Lv 11:9) Origen – Homilies on Leviticus 7.4.5–5.1

Here is the explanation for clean and unclean animals. The Apostle is taught knowledge about these from heaven, because indeed there was no more eminent and better on earth. And he is taught, not by a single voice, nor by a single vision, but by three. I do not take that which is said “a third time” as a useless saying. It is said to him “a third time” and through him to all of us. “What God has made clean, do not call common.” For the things made clean are made clean, not by a single invocation, nor by a second, but unless a third invocation is pronounced, no one is cleansed. For unless you were cleansed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, you could not be clean. For this reason, therefore, these things are shown for cleansing not once or twice, but “a third time” they are shown and “a third time” they are taught.Thus, “all the quadrupeds and reptiles and birds of heaven” were on that sheet.
And after this, “Peter was thinking within himself what that was.” And while he was thinking about this, it says, “those who had been sent by Cornelius the centurion arrived” from that city, that is, Caesarea in Joppa. For Peter was there and “was a guest at the house of a certain Simon, a tanner.” It is appropriate that Peter stays “at the house of a tanner,” that one, perhaps, about whom Job says, “you clothed me with skin and flesh.” But these things are spoken in digression. Meanwhile, “they arrived who had been sent by Cornelius” to Peter. He, on receiving them, hears from them what Cornelius asks of him.
And “descending” from above he went hither to Cornelius. “He descended,” for Cornelius was still below and was staying below. Thus, he went to Caesarea. “He found a great crowd” gathered here at the house of Cornelius and after many things “he said to them, ‘God showed me that I should call no person common or unclean.’ ” Does it not appear to you that the Apostle Peter clearly translated “all” those “quadrupeds and reptiles and fowls” to human terms and understood as human beings those which had been shown to him in the sheet descending from heaven?
But perhaps someone may say, indeed concerning the quadrupeds and reptiles and birds you gave a reason that they ought to be understood as men. Also explain about “these which are in the water.” Since indeed the Law also designates some from these to be clean and others unclean, I ask no one to believe my words about this unless I produce sufficient witnesses. I will offer to you our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a witness and creator of these, how fish are said to be human beings. He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea, which draws together all kinds of fish; and when it is full, they sit on the beach and store those which are good in vessels. But those that are bad are cast out.” He clearly taught that those which are called “fish caught in nets” are either “good” persons or “bad” ones. Thus, these are the ones who according to Moses are called either clean or unclean fish.

Having laid down these definitions with respect to land animals, he proceeds to describe what aquatic creatures are clean and lawful to be used for food; distinguishing them also by two characteristics as having fins or scales.21 For those which have neither one nor the other, and those which have only one of the two, he rejects and prohibits.22 And he must state the cause, which is not destitute of sense and propriety; (111) for all those creatures which are destitute of both, or even of one of the two, are sucked down by the current, not being able to resist the force of the stream; but those which have both these characteristics can stem the water, and oppose it in front, and strive against it as against an adversary, and struggle with invincible good will and courage, so that if they are pushed they push in their turn; and if they are pursued they turn upon their foe and pursue it in their turn, making themselves broad roads in a pathless district, so as to have an easy passage to and fro.

(Lv 12:5) Book of Jubilees 3:1-13  

And on the six days of the second week we brought, according to the word of God, unto Adam all the beasts, and all the cattle, and all the birds, and everything that moves on the earth, and everything that moves in the water, according to their kinds, and according to their types: the beasts on the first day; the cattle on the second day; the birds on the third day; and all that which moves on the earth on the fourth day; and that which moves in the water on the fifth day. 2 And Adam named them all by their respective names, and as he called them, so was their name. 3 And on these five days Adam saw all these, male and female, according to every kind that was on the earth, but he was alone and found no helpmeet for him. 4 And the Lord said unto us: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone: let us make a helpmeet for him.’ 5 And the Lord our God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and he slept, and He took for the woman one rib from amongst his ribs, 6 and this rib was the origin of the woman from amongst his ribs, and He built up the flesh in its stead, and built the woman. And He awaked Adam out of his sleep and on awaking he rose on the sixth day, and He brought her to him, and he knew her, and said unto her: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called [my] wife; because she was taken from her husband.’ 7 Therefore shall man and wife be one, and therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. 8 In the first week was Adam created, and the rib—his wife: in the second week He showed her unto him: and for this reason the commandment was given to keep in their defilement, for a male seven days, and for a female twice seven days. 9 And after Adam had completed forty days in the land where he had been created. we brought him into the garden of Eden to till and keep it, but his wife they brought in on the eightieth day, and after this she entered into the garden of Eden. 10 And for this reason the commandment is written on the heavenly tablets in regard to her that gives birth: ‘if she bears a male, she shall remain in her uncleanness seven days according to the first week of days, and thirty and three days shall she remain in the blood of her purifying, and she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor enter into the sanctuary, until she accomplishes these days which (are enjoined) in the case of a male child. 11 But in the case of a female child she shall remain in her uncleanness two weeks of days, according to the first two weeks, and sixty-six days in the blood of her purification, and they will be in all eighty days.’ 12 And when she had completed these eighty days we brought her into the garden of Eden, for it is holier than all the earth besides, and every tree that is planted in it is holy. 13 Therefore, there was ordained regarding her who bears a male or a female child the statute of those days that she should touch no hallowed thing, nor enter into the sanctuary until these days for the male or female child are accomplished. 14 This is the law and testimony which was written down for Israel, in order that they should observe (it) all the days.

(Lv 13:9) The Babylonian Talmud – Sanhendrin I.108.I

Rabbis said, “His name is ‘the leper of the school house,’ as it is written, ‘Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted’ (Is. 53:4).”

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