The next few chapters of Leviticus take us into cleanliness laws that have everything to do with the outside of the body. Chapter 13 and half of 14 give details about what to do with lepers and the cleansing of lepers (which is a common word encompassing all kinds of skin diseases, not just what we would understand as leprosy today). The second half of chapter 14 deals with how to make sure a house is clean, and what to do when it is unclean. Finally, chapter 15 deals with bodily discharges, and how to keep clean, and be made clean after a bodily discharge.
We have here a very detailed and practical way of staying clean. Once again, we need a bit of background and a bit of context to grasp what’s going on here, otherwise all these clean and unclean laws and rules can appear to us somewhat exclusionary and nit-picky. Well, the first thing we must understand is that contrary to what we might think, or indeed read into the text, being unclean does not necessarily mean that a person was under condemnation for something. Neither does it mean that the said person was outside the love of the community of God’s people. The purpose of these laws was to an attempt to create some order in the community of God’s people, and to provide a way of living safely in the midst of disease that sometimes hits, and in order to make sure that the community of God’s people are kept from death by disease. Indeed, when we find mould in our own homes, we know what we need to do to get rid of it. But because the ancient Israelites did not have Cif (!) they had to use other techniques.
This, however, is nothing compared to being clean on the inside, which is what we find being dealt with in chapter 16, the Day of Atonement.