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?

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He took care of him (Lk 10:34-10:34)

“The Samaritan

Approached him.

He bandaged

His wounds.

He poured oil

And wine

On them.

Then he put him

On his own animal.

He brought him

To an inn.

He took care of him.”

 

καὶ προσελθὼν κατέδησεν τὰ τραύματα αὐτοῦ ἐπιχέων ἔλαιον καὶ οἶνον, ἐπιβιβάσας δὲ αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ ἴδιον κτῆνος ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς πανδοχεῖον καὶ ἐπεμελήθη αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus said that this Samaritan went to or approached this wounded man (καὶ προσελθὼν), instead of crossing over to the other side of the road.  He bandaged his wounds (κατέδησεν τὰ τραύματα αὐτοῦ) and poured oil and wine on them (ἐπιχέων ἔλαιον καὶ οἶνον).  Apparently, oil and wine were like medicine to heal the wounds.  Then he put him on his own animal (ἐπιβιβάσας δὲ αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ ἴδιον κτῆνος), either a horse or a mule.  He then brought him to an inn (ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς πανδοχεῖον).  This Samaritan really took care of this wounded man (καὶ ἐπεμελήθη αὐτοῦ).  This underclass Samaritan stepped up.  He helped the wounded half dead man by the wayside.  He apparently was ready for this kind of thing, because he had bandages, oil, and wine with him.  He even was traveling with an animal, probably a mule.  There was no mention of any animal with the priest or the Levite.  Thus, we have the famous saying about Good Samaritans, based on this story, someone unrelated, who shows up and helps a person in need.  This Good Samaritan story has become part of our contemporary secular cultural language.  Thus, this story has reached beyond a pure religious context.  However, the assumptions are always that the helping person was motivated by a higher calling.  Have you ever been a Good Samaritan?

The Levite passed by (Lk 10:32-10:32)

“Thus,

Likewise

A Levite,

When he came

To the place

Saw him.

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus said that a Levite also (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης) came to this same place (κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν) on the road.  He saw the wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν).  Then he too crossed over to the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν), so as not to engage with this man.  The same questions can be asked of this Jewish Levite that were asked about the priest.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Normally, the Levites do not come in for much criticism in the gospel narratives.  Levites were sons of Levi, and tied to ritualistic practice at the Temple.  For instance, the father of John the Baptist was Zechariah and his mother Elizabeth, both of them were descendants of Aaron.  Zechariah was a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, while Elizabeth was from a Levite family.  These Levites had Temple duties.  Thus, they were religious ritual leaders in the Jewish community.  Both the priest and the Levite represented the upper religious strata of the Jewish community.  Do you think that religious leaders should set an example by their lifestyle?

Do not tell anyone (Lk 5:14-5:14)

“Jesus ordered

The cleansed leper

To tell no one.

He said.

Go!

Show yourself

To the priest!

Make an offering

For your cleansing,

As Moses commanded,

For a testimony

To the people.’”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς παρήγγειλεν αὐτῷ μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν, ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν δεῖξον σεαυτὸν τῷ ἱερεῖ, καὶ προσένεγκε περὶ τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ σου καθὼς προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς

 

Luke said that Jesus ordered the leper (καὶ αὐτὸς παρήγγειλεν αὐτῷ) to tell no one (μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν).  Jesus told him to show himself to the priest (ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν δεῖξον σεαυτὸν τῷ ἱερεῖ).  He was to make an offering for this cleansing (καὶ προσένεγκε περὶ τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ σου), just as Moses had commanded (καθὼς προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς), as a testimony or witness to the people (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).  This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 8:4, and Mark, chapter 1:43-44, so that Mark might be the source of this admonition saying.  Mark and Matthew said that Jesus sternly warned the cleansed leper not to say anything to anyone.  This is often referred to as the messianic secret because Jesus did not want anyone to know about his power.  Instead, the leper was to show himself to the priest, as recommended in Leviticus, chapter 14:2-9.  He should make the offering for his cleansing as outlined in Leviticus, since this is what Moses had commanded.  He wanted this cleansed leper to show himself as a witness or testimony to the priests and the people.

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 sacrifice offering (Lk 2:24-2:24)

“They offered

A sacrifice,

According to

What is stated

In the law

Of the Lord.

‘A pair of turtledoves,

Or two young pigeons.’”

 

καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Κυρίου, ζεῦγος τρυγόνων ἢ δύο νοσσοὺς περιστερῶν.

 

Luke said that Mary and Joseph offered a sacrifice (καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν), according to what was stated in the law of the Lord (κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Κυρίου).  They were offering a pair of turtledoves (ζεῦγος τρυγόνων) or 2 young pigeons (ἢ δύο νοσσοὺς περιστερῶν.).  Leviticus, chapter 12:5-8, said that when the days of purification were completed, the new mother had to bring a lamb and a pigeon to the entrance of the tent of meeting for a sin offering and a burnt offering.  If she could not afford a lamb, she could bring two pigeons or two turtledoves, which was the case here, since Mary was giving the offering of a poor person.  The priest then made atonement on her behalf to make her clean.  Thus, the unclean mother’s birth had to become clean with a burnt and sin offering, since childbirth was considered an unclean action.  Her period of uncleanness was much longer than merely touching a dead unclean animal.

Zechariah on duty (Lk 1:8-1:8)

“Zechariah

Was serving

As a priest

Before God,

Because his section

Was on duty.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ ἱερατεύειν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ τάξει τῆς ἐφημερίας αὐτοῦ ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ,

 

Having described Zechariah and his wife, Luke turned to the action around Zechariah.  This happened (Ἐγένετο) as he was serving as the priest (δὲ ἐν τῷ ἱερατεύειν αὐτὸν) before God (ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ).  His section or division of Levite priests were on duty (ἐν τῇ τάξει τῆς ἐφημερίας αὐτοῦ).  Apparently, his group of Abijah priests served for 2 weeks at the Temple each year.  Not bad, instead of 2 weeks off for vacation, they served for only 2 weeks a year, since there were 24 groups of priests with various tasks.