When Jesus was
In one of the cities,
There was a man
Covered with leprosy.
When he saw Jesus,
With his face
To the ground.
He begged Jesus.
If you choose,
You can make me clean.’”
Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐν μιᾷ τῶν πόλεων καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ πλήρης λέπρας· ἰδὼν δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν, πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ λέγων Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς, δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.
Luke said that Jesus was in one of the cities (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐν μιᾷ τῶν πόλεων), but without naming it. There was a man there fully covered with leprosy (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ πλήρης λέπρας). When he saw Jesus (ἰδὼν δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν), he bowed with his face to the ground (πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ). He implored Jesus, calling him Lord (λέγων Κύριε). He said that if Jesus would choose (ἐὰν θέλῃς) to help him, he had the power to make him clean (δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι). This was similar Matthew, chapter 8:2, and Mark, chapter 1:40. However, here the man was fully covered with leprosy, but the request was the same. Mark, like Matthew said that a leper was begging Jesus, as he knelt before him. Then he said that if Jesus wanted to, he could make him clean. This leper was asking Jesus to make him clean, so that he could join normal Jewish society again. He knew that Jesus had the power to do this, since many prophets had cured lepers. Leprosy was some kind of skin disease that was usually found among poor people. Today, there are about 2,000,000 people with leprosy or Hansen’s disease, mostly in India, Indonesia, and Brazil. The Greek word “λέπρας” used here is a broader definition of leprosy than just Hansen’s disease. Leprosy was a Jewish religious problem also. What to do about it was clearly defined in Leviticus, chapters 13-14. Leprosy in the wide sense was considered unclean and had religious connotations, since only a priest could declare a person clean, with a distinct ritual for cleansing the leper. As a leper, they were considered unclean and not fit to live in normal communal life.
Brought to him
A blind man.
They begged him
To touch him.”
Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Βηθσαϊδάν. Καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτῷ τυφλὸν, καὶ παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα αὐτοῦ ἅψηται.
This story of the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida was unique to Mark, who said that Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida (Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Βηθσαϊδάν) that was at the upper northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Then some people brought a blind man to Jesus (Καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτῷ τυφλὸν). They begged, implored, exhorted, or encouraged Jesus to touch this blind man (καὶ παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα αὐτοῦ ἅψηται). Once again, there was an emphasis on a physical healing that included the touching of Jesus.
“When I considered these things inwardly,
I pondered in my heart.
In kinship with wisdom
There is immortality.
In friendship with her,
There is pure delight.
In the labors of her hands,
There is unfailing wealth.
In the experience of her company,
There is understanding.
There is renown in sharing her words.
I went about seeking
How to get her for myself.
As a child
I was naturally gifted.
A good soul fell to my lot.
Rather being good,
I entered an undefiled body.
But I perceived
That I would not possess wisdom
Unless God gave her to me.
It was a mark of insight
To know whose gift she was.
So I appealed to the Lord.
I implored him.
With my whole heart,
This author considered these things in his heart. When you are related to wisdom you have immortality (ἀθανασία ἐν συγγενείᾳ σοφίας). There is delight in her friendship and her laboring hands. There is wealth and understanding in her company. You will become famous by sharing her words. He wanted wisdom for himself. He had been a gifted child. Interesting enough there is the Platonic thought of the pre-existent soul (ψυχῆς) that was united to a wonderful body (εἰς σῶμα ἀμίαντον). He realized that he could not possess wisdom unless God gave (ὁ Θεὸς δῷ) him this gift (χάρις) to him. Thus he appealed and implored the Lord (τῷ Κυρίῳ) with his whole heart (ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας μου). This is reminiscent of the story in 1 Kings, chapter 3, when King Solomon asked Yahweh for the gift of wisdom.
“Timothy, who had been defeated by the Jews before, gathered a tremendous force of mercenaries. He collected the cavalry from Asia in no small number. He came on, intending to take Judea by storm. As he drew near, Judas Maccabeus and his men sprinkled dust on their heads. They girded their loins with sackcloth, in supplication to God. Falling upon the steps before the altar, they implored God to be gracious to them. They wanted him to be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries, as the law declares.”
Timothy, the head of the Ammonites, had been defeated before in chapter 8 of this work and in 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. This time he had a large cavalry from Asia and a tremendous mercenary force. However, Judas Maccabeus and his troops put dust on their heads and sackcloth on their loins. They prayed to God before his altar in Jerusalem. They asked God to be gracious to them. He wanted God to be the enemy of his enemies and the adversary of his adversaries. This he proclaimed what the law said. God was with his people and against the others. This is the great cry of all wars. “God is on our side.”
“Now Judas Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city. They tore down the altars which that had been built in the public square by the foreigners. They also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary. They made another altar of sacrifice. Then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices. After a lapse of two years, they burned incense. They lighted lamps. They set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate. They implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes. If they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations.”
This purification of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus took place earlier in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, about a year before the death of King Antiochus IV. Here it is 2 years after the desecration of the Temple. In fact, the description in 1 Maccabees was more elaborate, but pretty much the same as here. There was no lamentation and mourning for the city and the Temple here. The Lord led them on here as the altars were in the public square. In 1 Maccabees, they saved the old stones. Here they just made another altar. They offered sacrifices, burned incense, lighted lamps, and set out the bread of Presence as in 1 Maccabees. Here there is a prayer to be more lenient next time if they do sin.
“With the Almighty as their ally, Judas Maccabeus killed more than nine thousand of the enemy. They wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army. They forced them all to flee. They captured the money of those who had come to buy them as slaves. After pursuing them for some distance, they were obliged to return because the hour was late. It was the day before the Sabbath. For that reason they did not continue their pursuit. When they had collected the arms of the enemy and stripped them of their spoils, they kept the Sabbath. They gave great praise and thanks to the Lord, who had preserved them for that day. He allotted it to them as the beginning of mercy. After the Sabbath, they gave some of the spoils to those who had been tortured, the widows, and the orphans. They distributed the rest among themselves and their children. When they had done this, they made common supplication. They implored the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants.”
This section is a little like the battles in 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, but not quite the same. The leader of the army is Nicanor and Gorgias. As God Almighty was on their side, Judas and his men killed more than 9,000 of the 20,000 enemy soldiers. They also wounded and disabled most of Nicanor’s army, as those who were able, fled the scene. They even got the money that was going to be used to buy Jewish slaves. They had to stop pursuing them since it was the eve of the Sabbath. They then celebrated the Sabbath with great praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s mercy to them. Then on the day after the Sabbath, they gave some, but not all, of the spoils to those who had been tortured, as well as the widows and orphans. The rest of the money they distributed it among themselves and their children. They once again prayed to the Lord so that he might be reconciled with his servants. There is no longer any mention of religious sacrifices of any kind.
“Word came to Judas Maccabeus concerning Nicanor’s invasion. When he told his companions of the arrival of the army, those who were cowardly and distrustful of God’s justice ran off and got away. Others sold all their remaining property. At the same time, they implored the Lord to rescue those who had been sold by the ungodly Nicanor before he ever met them. If not for their own sake, then for the sake of the covenants made with their ancestors, because he had called them by his holy and glorious name.”
This incident can be found in 1 Maccabees, chapter 3. Here, however, there is more fear among the men of Judas Maccabeus than in 1 Maccabees, where they begin to pray. Some just run away. Others sold their goods so that they would not be sold into slavery. They wanted the Lord to rescue them, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of their ancestors. They had called the Lord by his holy and glorious name.
“Meanwhile Judas, who was also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the villages. They summoned their kindred. They enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish faith. They gathered about six thousand men. They implored the Lord to look upon the people who were oppressed by all. They wanted the Lord to have pity on the temple which had been profaned by ungodly men. They wanted him to have mercy on the city that was being destroyed, and about to be leveled to the ground. They wanted the Lord to hearken to the blood that cried out to him. They wanted him to remember also the lawless destruction of the innocent babies. They wanted him to remember the blasphemies committed against his name. They wanted him to show his hatred of evil.”
Judas Maccabeus and his companions, and not just his brothers, entered the villages. There is no mention of Mattathias, the father of Judas, as if nothing happened until Judas came on the scene. This is the first mention of Judas in chapter 8, outside of the author’s preface in chapter 2 of this book. In 1 Maccabees, Judas came on the scene in chapter 3, after the death of his father, who had started the uprising. Judas gathered about 6,000 men. The first thing they did was pray to the Lord. They wanted God to look on their oppression and have pity on the Temple and its profanation. They wanted mercy for their city Jerusalem that was being leveled to the ground. They wanted God to listen to the innocent blood crying out to him from innocent babies. They wanted him to remember the blasphemies against his name and all the other evils that was going on.