Summary: A first person account of the healing of the 10 lepers.
I want to tell you about my encounter with Jesus (we call him Yeshua) I will never be the same after meeting him, although I do have some regrets. You see, I was a leper in Israel.
Being a leper is a hard life. If you have unusual spots on your body you must go to the priests to be examined. They can pronounce you unclean. Only they can rescind the proclamation and declare cleanness. But, once leprosy is identified, lepers are required to cover their mouths and shout, “Unclean!” whenever they meet anyone in the way. We must live alone outside the community, away from family and friends. We are not even able to worship in the temple or study in the synagogue. I don’t understand it all, but I obey the Torah because the LORD commanded it and I trust Him. The priest would visit me every seven days to check on the progress of the sores. Once healed I would go through a cleansing ceremony and bring sacrifices to the temple before being welcomed back into the community.
The Rabbis have combined gossip and leprosy. If a person is guilty of lashon harah, moldy spots first appeared on the walls of their house as a warning. If they did not get the hint, the spots moved to their clothing. Each of these could be dealt with by the priest trying to cleans the house or the clothes. If that did not work, he could have the house demolished and the clothes burned. However, if the person still did not change their ways, the spots appeared on the body and they were declared leprous. Harmful speech can cause someone to lose their homes, force them away from others, and ultimately cause them to lose their physical health. Once the damage is done, it is hard to fix. The isolation has been good so that I could reflect on how I have been using my speech.
You see, words are the means by which God created all things in the beginning. In fact, Yeshua is referred to as “The Word” who created in the beginning (John 1.1ff). Words are the building blocks of our relationships. When we misuse them everything about us – homes, clothes, bodies are in danger. The sages say, “The power of life and death is in the tongue.” Remember when Miriam spoke against Moses (Numbers 12)? She was struck with leprosy until she repented and Moses interceded for her and she had spent seven days outside the camp..
Your “Apostle Paul” (we call him Rav Shaul) tells us sinful people are those, Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” (Romans 3.14) He also instructs, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4.29) Speech is a powerful tool. It is life and death.
Of course, I was alone as a leper. I waited outside the camp and was inspected by the priest every seven days. But I got so lonely that I joined with people who were like me. We formed a band of ten lepers and went about together. We stayed outside the community, but we stayed together. It was far better for us to be together and apart than alone and apart. We were able to have more safety in numbers, but then, who would want to assault a leper? We shared in necessities; we had companionship; and we encouraged one another as we went about.
There was a time in our history when the Syrians sieged Israel (2 Kings 7). The siege brought a famine to the land. God frightened the Syrians and they fled, leaving their food and property behind. A band of lepers went into the Syrian camp to get food. What did they have to lose? They were going to die either by famine or by Syria’s sword. Yet, when they got into the camp the Syrians were gone and the lepers feasted and carried off wealth. But then it struck them that they were doing wrong. Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household” (2 Kings 7.9). They shared with the others.
Speaking of Syrians and lepers, there was another famous leper in our history, Naaman, a great soldier of the Syrian army. In fact the LORD gave him victories (2 Kings 5). In his indirect encounter with Elisha, he was cured of his leprosy when he did what he was told and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan and he was cleansed. That cleansing made him a follower of the living God.