What is “scurvy?”


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.” Just what exactly is “scurvy?”

We can look in The Oxford English Dictionary to discover the following: “a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, characterized by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds, which particularly affected poorly nourished sailors until the end of the 18th century.” The word originated from “the late Middle English (as an adjective meaning ‘scurfy’): from scurf + -y. [This] noun use (mid 16th century) is by association with French scorbut (see scorbutic).” “Scurf” is defined as “flakes on the surface of the skin that form as fresh skin develops below, occurring especially as dandruff.”

The underlying Hebrew word, (Strong’s H1618) garab, is found two other times in the Bible text:

  • Leviticus 21:20: “Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy [garab], or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;….” (These outlined some of the traits Aaron’s sons needed to lack in order to serve as Israeli priests—see verses 16-24. They, being without blemish, pictured Jesus Christ in His flawless state as the ultimate High Priest. See Hebrews 7:26 at the end of this article.)
  • Deuteronomy 28:27: “The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab [garab], and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.” (This was God’s warning to Israel if she failed to keep all His commandments. The “botch” here was a boil; the “emerods” were tumors—namely, hemorrhoids.)

Apparently, “scurvy” and “scab” are synonyms—they are used interchangeably. In summary, “scurvy” is a skin disease we cannot positively identify (scab, rash, itch of some type). 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 a “wen?”
» Why did God demand blood sacrifices?
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?