Some of these rituals seem like the kind of things that you would see from tribe deep in the jungle, far from modern society. I think it would be interesting to see what science has to say about the prescriptions mentioned in Leviticus.
Many of the ceremonial laws were about preservation and protection of the people from a health perspective. Here is a copy from a medical blog about these chapters:
My Torah (Old Testament) portion was in Chapter 13 of Leviticus, where God gives instructions to the priests – the closest thing then to doctors – on how to diagnose various skin conditions. Various types of skin blemishes and conditions are described and differentiated, to allow differential diagnoses, with different treatments prescribed for each.
In three key ways, this method is superior to that often used by today's doctors. First, the guidelines in Leviticus are clearly authoritative. The source has credibility among the priestly medical practitioners of that time and place, e.g., with reference to the proper sterilization of cloths. God clearly specified that under certain circumstances the double washing of certain cloths can make them clean enough for re-use (verse 58). Hospitals might find their policies on sterilization and the prevention of infections are somewhat less clear, and are less authoritative, than this, as the embarrassing news about the recent spate of hospital acquired infections makes clear.
Second, the guidelines in Leviticus were widely known. They had been published in numerous languages, and the Bible is the most widely owned book, so everyone could refer to them if needed. By contrast, often today's doctors aren’t aware of consensus guidelines, and don't heed them.
Third, the guidelines in Leviticus have been translated into a language that consumers can readily understand. Note that they originally appeared in a language – Aramaic - readable only by a few. This may be the biggest advantage that Leviticus holds over modern clinical guidelines, which are generally known only to doctors. Only now, with the Internet, is diagnostic information readily widely available to laymen.
The clinical guidelines in Leviticus are authoritative, widely known and available, and clearly understandable by laymen – excellent goals for more modern clinical guidelines in our more skeptical era.
This blog was originally written by Pastor Doug Bartel of Hillcrest Church, starting in Spring 2009. Keep that in mind if you read anything that doesn't quite add up to the time of year.
Come journey with us as we read through the Bible in a year. It is our desire to hear what God wants from us and to know his promises as well as warnings. Each day we will read a text and together we will share what we are learning and encourage one another to finish the goal!