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|Publication Type||Book Chapter|
|Year of Publication||2023|
|Authors||Shannon, Avram R.|
|Book Title||Old Testament Cultural Insights|
|Keywords||Bible; Disease; Law of Moses; Leprosy; Naaman; New Testament; Ritual Purity|
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In the Old Testament, leprosy refers to a variety of skin ailments, most of which are not to be associated with Hansen’s disease, the disease we commonly call leprosy. Instead, biblical leprosy (Hebrew ṣa‘arat) refers to those skin diseases that rendered an individual ritually unclean under the law of Moses. Some potential skin infections contained under the rubric of ṣa‘arat could have been psoriasis, scabies, favus, impetigo, and other skin infections that leave a specific mark or wound. In fact, under the law, buildings and cloth could also contract ṣa‘arat and its attendant ritual impurity. The ritual uncleanness was, from the biblical perspective, more important than potential contagiousness. This is illustrated by the non- Israelite Naaman, whose leprosy was not an obstacle to his achieving a high office in the army.
2 Kings 5:1–27
2 Chronicles 26:19
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