christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 24:8-9, tzaraas or the evil tongue

Read Deuteronomy 24:8-9 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 24:8-9, do not bear false witness

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

The Ninth Commandment, Do not bear false witness, is explained in Deu 24:8-9. There is one Hebrew paragraph in the explanation:

Deu 24:8-9 {s} Tzaraas, or the evil tongue

Take heed in an outbreak of leprosy, that you carefully observe and do according to all that the priests, the Levites, shall teach you; just as I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way when you came out of Egypt! Deu 24:8-9

The skin disease that Miriam suffered because she spoke against Moses, is known in Hebrew as tzaraas, the evil tongue, and is not technically the disease we think of as leprosy, even though the English translators have translated it as such. The ancient Hebrew pictures tzaraas as bringing someone down in the eyes of others. The enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). Accusations are from the enemy; edifications are from the Lord’s Spirit. When we repeat an accusation or complaint that originates from the enemy (as accusations do) we are voicing our agreement with our enemy. That is why it is bearing false witness: the accuser of the brethren is a liar and the father of lies (Joh 8:44).

But what if they really did something? Jesus taught us to speak to them alone, as they are the ones who have power to do anything about it (Mat 18:15). And if that person broke the law, then the proper place to speak of it, or to give eyewitness testimony, is in a court of law. Speaking of it to anyone else is evil speaking; it is gossip and perhaps slander or defamation. Miriam did not speak to Moses; she spoke to Aaron, who couldn’t do anything about it. I believe this is why it was Miriam who suffered the tzaraas or leprosy and not Aaron.

Now isn’t it interesting that the leprosy or tzaraas is termed as an outbreak, as if it were an infectious disease. Tzaraas, the evil tongue, is an infectious spiritual condition comparable to leprosy, an infectious disease as a physical condition. Have you ever noticed that bad mouthing spreads? One person starts it, and pretty soon a whole chorus of people have starting repeating the same thing. Therefore, take heed in an outbreak of tzaraas, that you do not let yourself be caught up in the evil speaking also!

Continued: deuteronomy 24:8-9, ninth commandment chiastic structure


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