(Heb. tsara'ath, a "smiting," a "stroke," because the disease
was regarded as a direct providential infliction). This name is
from the Greek lepra, by which the Greek physicians designated
the disease from its scaliness. We have the description of the
disease, as well as the regulations connected with it, in Lev.
13; 14; Num. 12:10-15, etc. There were reckoned six different
circumstances under which it might develop itself, (1) without
any apparent cause (Lev. 13:2-8); (2) its reappearance (9-17);
(3) from an inflammation (18-28); (4) on the head or chin
(29-37); (5) in white polished spots (38, 39); (6) at the back
or in the front of the head (40-44).

Lepers were required to live outside the camp or city (Num.
5:1-4; 12:10-15, etc.). This disease was regarded as an awful
punishment from the Lord (2 Kings 5:7; 2 Chr. 26:20). (See
MIRIAM T0002562; GEHAZI T0001452; UZZIAH T0003760.)

This disease "begins with specks on the eyelids and on the
palms, gradually spreading over the body, bleaching the hair
white wherever they appear, crusting the affected parts with
white scales, and causing terrible sores and swellings. From the
skin the disease eats inward to the bones, rotting the whole
body piecemeal." "In Christ's day no leper could live in a
walled town, though he might in an open village. But wherever he
was he was required to have his outer garment rent as a sign of
deep grief, to go bareheaded, and to cover his beard with his
mantle, as if in lamentation at his own virtual death. He had
further to warn passers-by to keep away from him, by calling
out, 'Unclean! unclean!' nor could he speak to any one, or
receive or return a salutation, since in the East this involves
an embrace."

That the disease was not contagious is evident from the
regulations regarding it (Lev. 13:12, 13, 36; 2 Kings 5:1).
Leprosy was "the outward and visible sign of the innermost
spiritual corruption; a meet emblem in its small beginnings, its
gradual spread, its internal disfigurement, its dissolution
little by little of the whole body, of that which corrupts,
degrades, and defiles man's inner nature, and renders him unmeet
to enter the presence of a pure and holy God" (Maclear's
Handbook O.T). Our Lord cured lepers (Matt. 8:2, 3; Mark
1:40-42). This divine power so manifested illustrates his
gracious dealings with men in curing the leprosy of the soul,
the fatal taint of sin.