What is a “wen?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Leviticus 22:22 says: “Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.” What exactly is a “wen?”

We can consult The Oxford English Dictionary: “a boil or other swelling or growth on the skin, especially a sebaceous [oily-secretions] cyst.” The Old English word was wen(n), from unknown origin. Although, interestingly enough, the Low German term wehne means “tumor, wart.” They may be related.

The English and underlying Hebrew words are found this one time in the Bible text, so we have no other verses for comparison. Hebrew can help us here. The word is Strong’s H2990—yabbel. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines it as: “flowing out, sc. [that is to say] with matter, suffering from ulcers.”

Tying this all together, a “wen” is some sort of lump on the skin—an oozing or festering sore, swelling, ulcer, blister, or wart. As Leviticus 22:22 says, God did not want the animal to be sacrificed to Him if it had any blemishes or flaws (injuries, disabilities, sicknesses, et cetera). Why? These animals were types, or previews, of Jesus Christ, who would be the lamb “without blemish and without spot.” They had to be perfect in order to predict Him as the sinless blood sacrifice (only a sinless sacrifice could cover and cleanse sinners). Notice:

  • First Peter 1:18-21: “[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: [20] Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, [21] Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
  • Second Corinthians 5:21: “For he [Father God] hath made him [Christ Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
  • Hebrews 4:15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
  • Hebrews 7:26: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;….”
  • First Peter 2:22: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:….”

Also see:
» What is “scurvy?”
» Why did God demand blood sacrifices?
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?