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.

The dogs eat crumbs (Mk 7:28-7:28)

“But she answered him.

‘Yes!

Lord!

But even the dogs,

Under the table,

Eat the children’s crumbs.’”

 

ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίθη καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε· καὶ τὰ κυνάρια ὑποκάτω τῆς τραπέζης ἐσθίουσιν ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων τῶν παιδίων.

 

This Canaanite woman responded somewhat like in Matthew, chapter 15:27.  This woman was willing to accept that she was like a despised dog.  Mark said that she responded to Jesus, by calling him Lord and agreeing with him (ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίθη καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε).  She reminded him that even the dogs (καὶ τὰ κυνάρια), who are under the table (ὑποκάτω τῆς τραπέζης), eat the children’s crumbs (ἐσθίουσιν ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων τῶν παιδίων) that fall from the table.  In a wealthy materialistic country, we sometimes forget how our crumbs might feed or help poor people around the world today.

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 dogs eat crumbs (Mt 15:27-15:27)

“The Canaanite woman said.

‘Yes!

Lord!

Yet even the dogs

Eat the crumbs

That fall

From their master’s table.’”

 

ἡ δὲ εἶπεν Ναί, κύριε· καὶ γὰρ τὰ κυνάρια ἐσθίει ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων τῶν πιπτόντων ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν.

 

This Canaanite woman responded like in Mark, chapter 7:28.  This woman was willing to accept that she was like a despised dog.  She respected Jesus as her Lord (ἡ δὲ εἶπεν Ναί, κύριε).  However, she wanted to remind him that even the dogs eat the crumbs (αὶ γὰρ τὰ κυνάρια ἐσθίει ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων τῶν) that fall from its master’s table (πιπτόντων ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν). In a wealthy materialistic country, we sometimes forget how our crumbs might feed or help poor people around the world today.

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 captives and the poor (Jer 52:15-52:16)

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Carried into exile

Some of the poorest

Of the people.

He took into exile

The rest of the people

Who were left in the city,

He took into exile

The deserters

Who had defected

To the king of Babylon,

Together with the rest

Of the artisans.

But Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Left some of the poorest people

Of the land,

To be vinedressers

Or tillers of the soil.”

Once again, this is very close to 2 Kings, chapter 25. The king of Babylon did not come himself, but he sent the captain of his bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, to take all the people as captives. This included those who had deserted to the Chaldeans as well as those left in the city. However, he gave some poor people the vineyards and fields to work. This might be a problem when the exiles return. However, here, unlike the 2 Kings narrative and the earlier Jeremiah story of chapter 39, he also took the some of the poor people. This seems odd, since the next sentence talks about leaving the poor people to take care of the vineyards and till the soil. There was no mention of them getting fields and vineyards as in the earlier Jeremiah story. Also here there is a mention of artisans that was lacking in the other presentations.