Desert Hygiene

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Leviticus 13:1-8

TO CHEW ON: “ ‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands,... I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.' " Leviticus 26:3,9

What is hygiene?

1. Reading the same books over and over.
2. Things we do, such as washing, that keep us healthy.
3. The habit of eating too much.

If you chose 2, you’re right.

Though you may not use the word hygiene much, no doubt you do many of the things that are hygienic – like washing hands after going to the bathroom, brushing teeth regularly and sneezing into a tissue instead of into the air or your hand.

When the people of Israel were in the desert they didn’t have many of the things we have today to help with good hygiene. Running water, flush toilets and toilet paper didn’t exist. Also, they didn’t know many things about the human body. No one had discovered germs and the way they cause sickness.

Yet Someone – the One who had created them – knew all these things. In the book of Leviticus, along with rules about sacrifices and feasts, God gave the Israelites some rules of hygiene.

There were rules about many things like which foods were healthy to eat and what to do with clothes or houses when they had fungi (mold or mildew) growing on them. Today’s reading has the rules about skin sores.

The person with sores went to the priest. He examined the sore place. Sometimes he told the person to come back in a week to see if the sore had changed.

The Priest examining for leprosy

At other times when the sore looked contagious, he told the person to move out of the camp and live alone for a while so his disease wouldn’t spread to others. After the sore had healed the person had to wash his body and clothes with water before coming back home.

Even though the people didn’t know about cleanliness and germs and being contagious, God did. His treatment for infections included isolation and washing – treatments we still use today. When the people followed His advice, even if they didn’t understand it, they stayed healthy and strong.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for caring for the health of each part of us. Help us to follow Your ways, even when we don’t understand them. Amen.

MORE: Modern Hygiene

How many good hygiene habits can you think of? Make a list.

For some ideas go here.

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