LaShone Hara: The Biblical Back Story
In order to even begin to understand the concept of LaShone Hara we must see where the concept of Judaism’s doctrine of LaShone Hara comes from and how it is viewed Hebraically with a few samplings from the rest of the Bible before we can truly fully and rightly discuss and define it.
Numbers 12:1-16 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again. And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.
Tzara’atz, which is rendered in most translations as “leprosy,” but is defined as being virtually any skin disorder from acne to cold sores to rashes to actual leprosy, is a spiritual malady which results with evidence of a physical manifestation.
Miriam, a leader in Israel and Moses’ sister contracted Tzara’atz because of LaShone Hara (Evil Tongue), speaking evil about Moshe. She was afflicted with Tzara’atz despite being Moses’ sister wasn’t shown any preferential treatment and was confirmed by the Priests and as a result was put outside the camp for a week (Lev.13). This was done so as to give the person with Tzara’atz a chance to think about what they have done and to make Teshuvah (Repentance).
I bet you will never read passages regarding leprosy the same ever again.
Now let us now look at a passage in the Tanak (Old Testament) regarding Leprosy and LaShone Hara and see if we cannot draw any spiritual and practical applications from it.
II Kings 5:1-19 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syriasaid, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? Wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? For thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
As we learned in Leviticus 13, Leprosy was a blanket statement for various skin ailments and diseases. Secondly it is a physical manifestation of the sin of LaShone Hara (The Evil Tongue) like gossip, slander and such.
Nama’an, being a leader he was most likely used to making quick assessments and decisions and this most likely spilled over into all areas of his life.
We do not know exactly why or how Na’aman contacted Leprosy, but perhaps he saw a servant who just finished a task and briefly sat down before tackling the next one and Nama’an may have walked in at that moment and said, “Humph! Lazy servant!” I know this has happened to me in the workplace. It seems the supervisor is never around when you are working your tuchas off, yet the moment you take a breather they shows up and assumes you’ve been sitting around all day.
Anyhow, we can say that presumptuous words can be a form of LaShone Hara and presumption was clearly seen in Na’aman’s life and attitude.
Nama’an was an army captain for the king of Aram and he had an Israelite slave girl who cared for her master and suggested he visit Elisha Ha Navi (the Prophet) to be cured.
Nama’an came to Elisha with a preconceived idea of how he was going to be healed. So obviously he had faith. This wasn’t the problem; the problem was he assumed how God was going to heal him.
I’ll never forget a spiritual slump I was in, and I was on my way to a service and I thought, “I’ll go to the altar and pray, someone will come and pray over me and prophecy over me and I’ll fall out in the Spirit and my spiritual dry spell will be over!” In fact the opposite happened. I went to the altar and no one came to pray with me and I left lower that I came. On the way home I actually had the foolish chutzpah to get mad at God. Then I heard God say to my spirit:
“Don’t you ever tell Me how I’m going to heal you!”
The lesson of the sin of presumption is one I’ll never forget. David prayed that God would keep him from presumptuous sin.
Looks like Nama’an eventually learned his lesson, for in fact he ends up converting to Judaism!
V.17-19 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? For thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
Now let us look at Leprosy and the Evil Tongue as it is in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) and how Yeshua Messiah seen it.
Matthew 8:1-4 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Here we see Yeshua the Messiah, Like Elisha with Nama’an in the Haftarah portion and Moshe in the Torah portion praying on behalf of his sister Miriam imploring God to heal her of the dreaded disease of leprosy.
Notice Yeshua didn’t say, “Congratulations Mr. Former Leper, you have just been healed by the Messiah, Go on now and enjoy your life!” NO! He said:
v.4 “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”
He told the man to fulfill the requirements of the law/Torah when one has been cleansed of leprosy to show yourself to the Priests.
Lev. 13:49; 14:2
“And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:
This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:”
And he didn’t even say, “Now when you come to the Priests be sure to tell them that Yeshua the Messiah sent you!” NO! He said:
V.4 “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”
Now, to be cleansed of leprosy, assuming it was as Jewish Tradition states, that it was a physical manifestation of the sin of some sort of evil tongue spoken by the leper.
V.2 “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
That is to say he learned his lesson concerning LaShone Hara (the Evil Tongue) and that he was repenting. For we see Yeshua said:
V.3 “I will; be thou clean.”
In other words, “I accept your repentance.”
He is healed.
Leprosy, as we have read is traditionally thought in Judaism to be the result of sinful or harmful speech or actions to or about another during the times of the Temple or Tabernacle. Remember, Tzara’atz can take the form of any skin disorder, not only just what we know today as leprosy. So why do we not get “leprosy” today due to the evilness of our tongue. We still do, we just get better at hiding it. Medications contain and prevent acne and cold sores from fully breaking out and make-up hides what has already broken out. But due to the desensitization and normalization of such sin, skin ailments may not be as profound as they were in the times of the Tabernacle and Temple. ADONAI has created our bodies to react and protest against us when we sin in such ways. For example, when one lies or knowing speaks or does that which is hurtful to others the person, which can be considered a spiritual action, they tend to feel all knotted up inside and it creates a bodily reaction which results in various physical skin ailments; rashes, hives, pimples or cold sores.
I can personally attest to this as I recall one time in my life when I was knowingly being deceptive in front of others and the nervousness of being discovered resulted in me breaking out with a nasty fever blister on my bottom lip. I could actually feel it coming on as a result of me being nervous about my willful deception.