Ten lepers (Lk 17:12-17:12)

“As Jesus

Entered a village,

Ten lepers

Approached him.

They kept

Their distance.”

 

καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην ἀπήντησαν δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες, οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν

 

Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers, although Luke had Jesus cure a leper earlier in chapter 5:12-16, that can be found in the other synoptics, Matthew, chapter 8:1-4, and Mark, chapter 1:40-45.  Luke indicated that Jesus entered a village (καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην), where 10 lepers approached or met him (ἀπήντησαν δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες).  However, these lepers kept their distance (οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν).  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.  Thus, there were spiritual, physical, social, and religious implications with being a leper.  Here there were 10 lepers in this village, so that they might have been a small leper colony.  They approached Jesus, but kept their appropriate distance from him, since they were quarantined from being with other non-leper people.  Have you ever met a leper?

The man with leprosy (Lk 5:12-5:12)

“Once,

When Jesus was

In one of the cities,

There was a man

Covered with leprosy.

When he saw Jesus,

He bowed

With his face

To the ground.

He begged Jesus.

‘Lord!

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.

A leper wanted to be clean (Mk 1:40-1:40)

“A leper

Came to Jesus.

Begging,

And kneeling,

He said to Jesus.

‘If you choose,

You can make me

Clean.’”

 

Καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν καὶ γονυπετῶν λέγων αὐτῷ ὅτι Ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.

 

Luke, chapter 5:12, has something similar, but the man was covered with leprosy.  However, the request was the same as here.  Matthew, chapter 8:2, was closer to Mark here, almost word for word, indicating that Mark might be the source.  However, Matthew had the leper call Jesus “Lord”.  Mark, like Matthew said that a leper came to Jesus (Καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς).  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 “λεπρὸς” used here is a broader definition of leprosy than just Hansen’s disease.  Leprosy was a 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 Levitical priest could declare a person clean with a distinct ritual for cleansing the leper.  As a leper, you were considered unclean and not fit to live in normal communal life.  This leper was begging or imploring Jesus (παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν) as he knelt (καὶ γονυπετῶν) before him as to offer obedience to him.  Then he said (λέγων αὐτῷ) that if Jesus wanted to (ὅτι Ἐὰν θέλῃς), he could make him clean (δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι).  This leper was asking Jesus to make him clean, so that he could join normal Jewish society again.

The leper (Mt 8:2-8:2)

“There was a leper

Who came to Jesus.

He knelt before him.

Saying.

‘Lord!

If you choose,

You can make me clean.’”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.

 

This leper story can be found in Luke, chapter 5:12, and Mark, chapter 1:40, perhaps indicating Mark as the source, since Matthew was closer to Mark.  A leper came to Jesus (καὶ ἰδοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθὼν).  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 “λεπρὸς” used here is a broader definition of leprosy than just Hansen’s disease.  Leprosy was a 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, you were considered unclean and not fit to live in normal communal life.  This leper then knelt down before Jesus as to offer obedience to him (προσεκύνει αὐτῷ).  Then he spoke to Jesus, calling him Lord (λέγων Κύριε).  Then the leper asked Jesus to cure him if he wanted to (ἐὰν θέλῃς).  He knew that Jesus had the power to do this, since many prophets had cured lepers.  The leper was asking Jesus to perform as a prophet and make him clean (δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι), so that he could join normal Jewish society again.

The Christocentric Calendar

Dennis the Short (470-544 CE) or Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk who worked in Rome, came up with the idea of dating everything from the birth of Christ, instead of the Roman counsels who had held office.  In 525 CE, he developed his Christocentric calendar, but he was off by a few years in his calculations, since Jesus may have lived from 6 BCE-26 CE.  His dating system was known as Anno Domini, the year of Our Lord.  This AD system did not become popular until the Carolingian Reform of the 9th ninth century and the promulgation of the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century.  Since then, all world events have centered on the birth of Christ.  At the 2000 millennium year celebrations even non-Christian countries such as China and India celebrated the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ.  In the twentieth century, Jewish and Christian scholars adopted the term CE, or Common Era, showing a neutral stance towards Christ.  Now practically every country dates things from the birth of Christ, whether they consider themselves Christian or not.  2018 CE means 2018 years since the birth of Christ, the Common Era.  The time before Christ is called BC, before the Common Era, BCE.

The importance of the Romans (1 Macc 8:1-8:11)

“Judas heard of the fame of the Romans since they were very strong. They were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them. They pledged friendship to those who came to them since they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds which they were doing among the Gauls. They had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute. He learned what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there. They had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them. They inflicted great disaster upon them. The rest paid them tribute every year. They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, King Perseus of the Macedonians, and the others who rose up against them. They also had defeated King Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred twenty elephants, cavalry, chariots, and a very large army. He was crushed by them. They took him alive. They decreed that he and those who should rule after him should pay a heavy tribute, give hostages, and surrender some of their best provinces, the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. The Greeks planned to come and destroy them. However, this became known to them. Then they sent a general against the Greeks who attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell. The Romans took captive their wives and children. They plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved.”

For some reason, the Romans made a big impression on Judas Maccabeus as they were beginning their ascendancy in the Mediterranean world. He knew that the Romans were strong and faithful in their alliances. Then this biblical author presented the great feats of the Romans. First they had conquered the Gauls and the Spaniards, these western territories around 190 BCE and the Punic wars with Carthage in North Africa from the 3rd century BCE. Prior to this time the only thing west was Egypt and Greece. Now Rome and the west made an impression. These Romans had gone and subdued kings from the ends of the earth. The Romans had defeated the last of the Macedonian kings, King Perseus in 168 BCE, the son of King Philip who had had been defeated in 179 BCE. Obviously this author had some sense of history. As noted, King Antiochus V was not killed, but had to give hostages to Rome, one of which was this King Demetrius I. However, he kept Medes, but did give up Lydia and other parts of Asia Minor. King Eumenes was a Cappadocian ruler. The Romans also defeated the Greeks. Although the Roman Empire did not come to its full height for a few centuries, it was well on its way in the 2nd century BCE.

Mordecai writes the letter about the Jews to the empire (Esth 8:9-8:12)

“The king’s secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. An edict was written according to all that Mordecai commanded. It was sent to the Jews, to the satraps, the governors, and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. This went to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. He wrote letters in the name of King Artaxerxes. He sealed them with the king’s ring. He sent them by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal herd. By these letters, the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives. They were able to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods, on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Artaxerxes, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”

All the king’s secretaries came to help Mordecai. This took place at Sivan, which is in the May-June time frame. The Persians had something like the later American Pony Express, with horses for their couriers. Notice that it was written in various languages and scripts for the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. This letter had the king’s seal from his ring. This section is like that in chapter 3, when Haman was writing his letter to exterminate the Jews. This letter said that all the Jews could respond when they are attacked on the 13th day of the 12th month of Adar. They were allowed to destroy, kill, and plunder anyone attacking them. The Greek text also says that they should be allowed to follow their own laws.

The title of the decree for the extermination of the Jews (Greek text only)

“This is a copy of the letter. ‘The Great King, Artaxerxes, writes the following to the governors of the one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia and to the officials under them.”

Once again, this appears only in the Greek text and not in the Hebrew text at all. The king is clearly writing to the 127 governors of the various provinces form India to Ethiopia, the great Persian Empire that had been established by King Cyrus the Great. King Cyrus had issued a decree to let the Jewish people return to Jerusalem as in 539 BCE as in Ezra, chapter 1. This would have been around the year 452 BCE, about a hundred years later about 8 years before the time of Nehemiah.

The sending of the decree (Esth 3:12-3:13)

“The king’s secretaries were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month. In accordance with Haman’s instructions, they wrote in the name of King Artaxerxes to the magistrates and the governors in every province from India to Ethiopia. There were one hundred twenty-seven provinces in all. The governors were addressed each in his own language. It was written and sealed with the king’s ring. Letters were sent by couriers throughout all the empire of King Artaxerxes to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jewish people, young and old, women and children, on a given day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is Adar, and to plunder their goods.”

The king’s secretaries were summoned on the next day after the meeting between Haman and the king. They were to follow the instructions of Haman. They wrote in the name of the king to the magistrates and governors of all the 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia, each in their own language with the royal seal. They were sent by royal couriers throughout the empire. On the 13th day of the 12th month of that year they were to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jewish people and take their goods. This was also the final solution of Hitler some 2500 years before his time.

The kingdom of King Artaxerxes (Esth 1:1-1:4)

“It was after this that the following things happened in the days of King Artaxerxes, the same Artaxerxes who ruled over one hundred twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. In those days, when King Artaxerxes was enthroned in the capital city of Susa, in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his friends and other persons of various nations, the Persians and the Median nobles, as well as the governors of the provinces. After this, he had displayed to them the wealth of his kingdom and the splendor of his bountiful celebration during the course of one hundred eighty days.”

Now we begin the story of Esther with the Hebrew text. This was the great King Artaxerxes (465-424 BCE) with a huge empire from India to Ethiopia. This Persian king, which is now Iran, had over 127 provinces. So that when we read about Samaria in the Province Beyond the River Euphrates in Nehemiah and Ezra, it was only 1 of 127 provinces. This was the 3rd year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, about 462 BCE. The capital city was Susa, a town that dates back to about 5,000 BCE, about 7, 000 years old. Susa was a major Persian city that went out of favor when it was captured by the Greek Alexander the Great in 331 BCE. King Artaxerxes had invited most of the 127 governors, nobles, and especially the Persian and Median nobles to see the wealth and splendor of his kingdom for about 6 months, 180 days. Persia and Media were old friendly neighboring countries.