Original Research

Why is there an אָשָׁם sacrifice in Leviticus 14?

Esias E. Meyer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2832 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2832 | © 2023 Esias E. Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2023 | Published: 21 November 2023

About the author(s)

Esias E. Meyer, Department of Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


This article engages with the issue of the אָשָׁם sacrifice in Leviticus 14. Firstly, the paper provides an overview of the extensive cleansing ritual in Leviticus 14. Then the issue of the relation between צָרַ֫עַת and sin is addressed, with some scholars arguing against any causal connection in Leviticus 14. Although the latter argument can be made from a literary perspective, the presence of the אָשָׁם sacrifice, which is usually linked with sin against the sanctuary and YHWH, spoils the argument. After engaging with the meaning of the אָשָׁם sacrifice, the article presents another possible solution by arguing that we should distinguish between what the authors of the text thought and how their audience might have understood the relation between צָרַ֫עַת and sin.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article makes use of traditional historical-critical insights and consists mostly of an intradisciplinary discussion. The study’s conclusions could potentially have implications for disciplines such as ritual studies and pastoral care.


cleansing ritual; sin and disease; Leviticus 14; skin disease; reparation offering; reparation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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Crossref Citations

1. The Two Meanings of ’āšam in Leviticus 5
Esias Meyer
Journal for Semitics  year: 2024  
doi: 10.25159/2663-6573/14411