What does it say?
One of the jobs given to the priest, was to inspect persons and articles for leprosy. If a person had an open area on the skin, he or she was to go to the priest for inspection. If the suspect area was obviously leprosy, the person was to be considered unclean by all the congregation. If leprosy was not obvious to the priest, the person was quarantined for seven days, then reinspected by the priest. If the infected area grew during the week of quarantine, he or she was to be considered unclean but if the area did not grow he or she was to remain in quarantine for another seven days and reinspected by the priest, who would then declare him or her clean. Persons who had an infected area on the skin lived outside the camp. They were to look disheveled and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” The priest also inspected articles of clothing that had some suspect area on them. If these had infection, they were destroyed but care was made to determine if it was an infection before destroying them.
What does it mean?
Leprosy, refers to several skin diseases but also to a condition affecting garments and houses. (ESV Global SB Notes) Living in a camp meant close proximity to other persons. Disease unchecked could rapidly spread. Instead of multiple persons inspecting these wounds, the priest became the resident expert on wounds. It should be understood that a person was not excluded from the congregation easily. Great care was given to make sure that the suspect area on the skin was a spreading infection before declaring a person unclean. It should also be noted that all human life has value. The person was excluded from the camp but was not destroyed like an infected garment. The person cried, “Unclean! Unclean!” out of love for his or her neighbor.
What shall I do?
I shall treat all persons as valuable because all persons were created in the image of God. There may be reason to quarantine a person to protect the larger community from illness, but I shall remember that quarantined persons have value and should be treated with dignity. If I should harbor a disease that could be passed to others, I shall submit quarantine, for the love of my neighbor.