Only the foreigner returned (Lk 17:18-17:18)

“None of them

Returned

To give praise

To God

Except this foreigner.”

 

οὐχ εὑρέθησαν ὑποστρέψαντες δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος;

 

Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that none of the others could be found (οὐχ εὑρέθησαν) to return (ὑποστρέψαντες) and give glory or praise (δοῦναι δόξαν) to God (τῷ Θεῷ), except this foreigner (εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος).  Luke was the only biblical writer to use this word ἀλλογενὴς, that means of another race or another nation, a foreigner.  Clearly, Luke indicated that Jesus was steeped in racial animosity, since he considered these Samaritans as foreigners, another race of people.  However, Jesus had more compassion for them in the stories of Luke than in the other gospel stories, where they are ignored.  The prophet Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 5, had also cured a foreign leper, Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army in a fairly complicated story.  Do you have racial animosity towards those not of your culture?

A great prophet (Lk 7:16-7:16)

“Fear seized

All of them.

They glorified God.

Saying.

‘A great prophet

Has arisen among us!

God has looked favorably

On his people!’”

 

ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας, καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that fear seized all the people (ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας) there in Nain.  They glorified God (καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν).  They said that a great prophet had arisen among them (λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν).  God had visited or looked favorably on his people (καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ).  This was truly a shocking development.  The people of Nain were fear struck and felt privileged at the same time.  They began to praise God.  They called Jesus a great prophet like Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 17:17-24, and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 4:32-37, who restored life to dead young people about 1,000 years prior.  This was a big deal.  Would you be afraid or amazed if you saw a dead man rise up from a casket?

The evil in Gilgal (Hos 9:15-9:15)

“Every evil

Of theirs

Began at Gilgal.

There I began

To hate them.

Because of the wickedness

Of their deeds,

I will drive them

Out of my house.

I will love them

No more.

All their officials

Are rebels.”

Gilgal was the original west bank camping grounds, east of Jericho, in Joshua, chapters 4-5. There Saul was also anointed king in 1 Samuel, chapter 11, despite the fact that Samuel was opposed to him. Gilgal was, nevertheless, the home of the prophets Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 2. Yahweh, via Hosea, said that all the evil things began here at Gilgal, as they entered the promised land. Yahweh began to hate the Israelites there, because of their wicked deeds. Yahweh was going to drive them out of his house, because he was not going to love them anymore. All their officials were rebels against Yahweh.

The Twelve prophets (Sir 49:10-49:10)

“May the bones

Of the twelve prophets

Send forth new life

From where they lie.

They comforted

The people of Jacob.

They delivered them

With confident hope.”

Finally we have the 12 prophets without mentioning their specific names. Just as there were 12 tribes so there also were 12 prophets. Sometimes they are referred to as the 12 Minor Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. They were important enough for Sirach to mention them so that this book of 12 or series of books about 12 prophets might have been considered canonical by the time of the writing of Sirach. Sirach wanted them to be like Elisha, whose dead body revived another dead person. These prophets gave comfort to the people of Jacob. They gave the Israelites hope.

Infidelity and punishment (Sir 48:15-48:16)

“Despite all this,

The people did not repent.

They did not forsake their sins,

Until they were carried off

As plunder

From their land.

They were scattered

Over all the earth.

The people were left,

Very few in number,

But with a ruler

From the house of David.

Some of them did

What was right,

Pleasing to God.

But others sinned

More and more.”

Despite the warnings of these two great northern prophets of Israel, Elijah and Elisha, the northern Israelites did not repent. They did not give up their sinning ways. Only when they were carried off as plunder in the captivity did they realize how bad they had been. They were scattered all over the earth. Only a few people were left. However, there was a ruler from the house of David in Judah. Some people did what was right and pleased the Lord, but many others continued to multiply their sins.

Elisha (Sir 48:12-48:14)

“When Elijah was enveloped

In the whirlwind,

Elisha was filled

With his spirit.

He performed

Twice as many signs.

He performed marvels

With every utterance of his mouth.

Never in his lifetime

Did he tremble before any ruler.

No one could intimidate him at all.

Nothing was too hard for him.

When he was dead,

His body prophesied.

In his life,

He did wonders.

So in death

His deeds were marvelous.”

The story of this prophet Elisha takes up 13 chapters in 2 Kings, 1-13. He follows in the spirit of Elijah with many miracles and confrontations with the various Israelite kings. However, he died a natural death. Nevertheless, he performed twice as many miracles as Elijah. Also he spoke quite a lot to the various rulers. He was never intimidated, as Elijah had occasionally been. Nothing was too hard for him. Even in his death, he was able to perform a miracle. When a dead man was thrown into his grave, the dead man came alive by touching his dead body in 2 Kings, chapter 13. Thus he continued in the spirit of his spiritual father, Elijah.

The taking up of Elijah (Sir 48:9-48:11)

“You who were taken up

By a whirlwind of fire.

You were taken up

In a chariot

With horses of fire.

At the appointed time,

It is written,

That you are destined

To calm the wrath of God

Before it breaks out in fury.

You are destined

To turn the hearts of parents

To their children.

You are destined

To restore the tribes of Jacob.

Blessed are those

Who saw you.

Happy are those

Who were adorned

With your love.

We also shall surely live.”

The story of the taking up of Elijah is recorded 2 Kings, chapter 2, in the so-called Elisha cycle. Elijah, like Enoch, was taken up to heaven without dying, being the only 2 in all these biblical stories. Not even Moses, Aaron, David, or any other of the patriarchs, prophets, or kings had this privilege. Thus near the Jordan River, the chariots of fire came and took Elijah away in a whirlwind of fire. Elisha took Elijah’s place, as he was able to part the waters of the Jordan River. Other prophets went looking for Elijah, but to no avail. However, it is not clear where the idea of the second coming of Elijah comes from at some appointed hour. For many Christians, Jesus was the Messiah of the Second Coming. However, some believe it was John the Baptist, or as the Mormons believe with Joseph Smith in 1836. At the appointed hour, Elijah will calm the wrath of God, turn parents to their children, and restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy and blessed are those who saw and loved Elijah for they will live on.