According to dictionary.com, the idea of quarantine began in 1663, when a ship suspected of carrying disease was kept in isolation.
But God introduced the idea of quarantine to the Israelites sometime between 1406 and 1446 B.C. when He told Moses and Aaron:
"If the spot on his skin is white but does not appear to be more than skin deep and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest is to put the infected person in isolation for seven days." (Lev. 13:4)
According to dictionary.com, the idea of 'mold' began around 1100-1200 A.D. and the idea of mildew being a kind of fungus began in 1340 A.D. And only in the last 40 or so years have we begun to understand the dangers of mold and mildew on the respiratory system, causing allergies, asthma, respiratory infections, etc.
But again, in Leviticus 13, God not only gives the Israelites very detailed instructions on how to identify mold and mildew, but also gives explicit details on how to get rid of it.
In addition, Lev. 11:32-40 contains measures to prevent contamination of food and water supplies. The same principles govern present-day public health regulations.
But then, the Bible says this:
"The priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed. Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields." (Lev. 14:4-7)
After giving such practical advice, which shows a knowledge of microbiology thousands of years before man even discovered microorganisms, suddenly it sounds like Leviticus is turning to superstitious ceremony.
Ah, but a closer look shows that this is not the case at all.
- The hyssop plant contains thymol, which is used as an antiseptic and a fungicide, as well as a preservative. It also contains carvacrol, which is a disinfectant and a fungicide. Hyssop has been used to relieve respiratory symptoms. Doctors use medications containing thymol and carvacrol to treat respiratory infections, remove parasites, and cleanse the body of many types of infection, fungus and bacteria.
- Cedar wood contains a substance used in medicine for skin diseases. For example, red cedar has been used to make a poultice or oil from its inner bark to treat skin diseases, including topical fungal infections and warts.
Leviticus 13 and 14 talks about leprosy, infectious skin disease, and mold. In a spiritual sense, all of these are representative and symbolic of sin. Mildew and infectious skin disease are contaminants which spread, as sin is a contaminant which spreads.
- Hyssop: they put a sponge on the stalk of the hyssop plant and put it to Jesus' lips when He was on the cross.
"A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips." (John 19:29)
- Cedar wood represents the cross.
- Scarlet yarn: Matt. 27:28 says that they put a scarlet robe on Jesus. Though the scarlet yarn could presumably represent the blood of Jesus as well, the color scarlet has also been used biblically to represent sin. Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
- Clay pot: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (II Cor. 4:7) As far as killing the bird over a clay pot, Jesus (God the Son) came down as a man [God formed man from clay: "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground..." (Gen. 2:7)] to die for us.
- The bird's blood is a foreshadowing of the final/ultimate blood sacrifice of Christ Jesus.
- Releasing the bird signifies freedom from sin.