Scripture: verse 8
If the person with the discharge spits on someone who is clean, the latter is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening.
Observation: This passage is discussing the uncleanness of someone with a bodily discharge: anything they touch is unclean and needs to be washed and/or quarantined. This passage sounds less like a matter of divine judgement and more an attempt to introduce basic hygienic practices to control the spread of sickness. (They didn’t have soap, of course, but washing with water alone is considerably better than nothing.)
(Huh. The internet says that ancient Egyptians did have a soap-like substance, after all. I don’t know whether the Israelites would have used it. Probably not.)
I mostly picked this verse because I was amused by the image of the sick person terrorizing everyone around him with the threat of being spat upon – or, possibly, offering to spit on a friend who is looking for an excuse to take a bath.
To the people who heard this, these laws were just as irritating and arbitrary as the ones about mildew and leprosy. They didn’t see the point. Nowadays we know about germs and infection and contagion and incubation rates, and keeping away from someone who is contagious is just common sense.
Which raises the question, of course, of the other rules that seem irritating and arbitrary to us today. God knows more than we do. He may have some mystical reason for telling us to do or not do certain things – or He may just want to protect us from getting spat on by sick people.
Application: Trust God’s word. He knows more than we do, and He’s not trying to hurt us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for protecting me. Thank you for making secrets for us to discover and delight in and use. Thank you for giving me eyes to see and a brain to think with, and for keeping me safe while I do it. Amen.