The Life of a Leper
1. The life of a leper was a living death. In the early stages, his face became severely deformed. His first loss would be his nose and ears, followed by the gradual loss of his hands and feet. He also lost his sense of touch and his ability to feel pain. With this sensory deprivation, he could inadvertently hurt himself or be harmed by the rats which would come to feast at night on his unfeeling flesh. Although physically deformed, a leper's mind remained unaffected. Each personal encounter with the unafflicted would be a fresh reminder that his presence caused a sense of revulsion.
2. Lepers couldn't come into a walled city or walk under the same tree as one unaffected. They would be denied shade while watching someone else enjoy that privilege. The last time I was in
3. Lepers could no longer associate with family and friends or even walk within arm's length.
4. They were highly contagious even if the leprosy was only in the beginning stages. The leper was required to go about with an uncovered head, disheveled hair, and torn clothing, as a warning to others.
5. Everything a leper touched was considered "unclean" and hence unusable. This included clothing, house, vessels, etc.
6. The lepers were required to warn the unaffected. They had to cover their mouths and lips and cry, "Unclean, unclean." (Lev. 13:45)
This uncleanness did not just mean that the leper was dirty or refer only to physical uncleanness. It implied that your ritual impurity was a permanent state. Ritual purity was required for service in the temple, and ritual uncleanness meant that you were prohibited from being anywhere near the vicinity of the temple. (pg 8 Hebrew Roots, leprosy paper)
The Jews believed that any unclean person who attempted to stand in God's Presence would be destroyed. In the sixth chapter of Isaiah there is an excellent example of this principle. Isaiah found himself, in the Spirit, in God's heavenly
"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
Compared to the holiness of God, Isaiah symbolically considered himself a spiritual leper whose earthly environment could be compared to living in a leper colony.