“There were also many lepers
At the time
Of the prophet Elisha.
None of them
καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ Ἑλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου, καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν ὁ Σύρος.
Luke then cited another unique story about the prophet Elisha, the prophet who followed Elijah in the 9th century BCE. He too was well known for his exploits in the first 13 chapters of 2 Kings. This episode was about Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army, who suffered from some kind of leprosy. Naaman asked his king if he could go get a cure from a prophet he had heard about. Elisha told the king to send Naaman to him so that he could cure him. He told Naaman to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan River. This made Naaman very upset. Finally, he went and immersed himself 7 times in the Jordan River. Thus, he was cured of his leprosy, as found in 2 Kings, 5:1-14. Luke said that there were also many lepers (καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν) in Israel (ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ) at the time of the prophet Elisha (ἐπὶ Ἑλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου). None of them were cleansed (καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη), except Naaman, the Syrian (εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν ὁ Σύρος). Syrian and Aramean are almost the same. The key idea was that someone other than an Israelite was cured.
Damascus was the Syrian capital city about 130 miles northeast of Jerusalem, fairly close to the older northeastern territory of Manasseh. Damascus still exists today as the capital of Syria. It was under Aramean rule from 950-732 BCE so that is often referred to in the Bible as Aram instead of Syria. However, the Assyrian people conquered them in 732 BCE. Damascus was an important city with over 100,000 people during the biblical times, about half the size of Babylon. Thus it is often mentioned in the Bible as the northern neighbor of Israel.
“In the days of King Ahaz,
Son of King Jotham,
Son of King Uzziah,
King of Judah,
King Rezin of Aram Syria
And King Pekah,
Son of Remaliah of Israel
Went up to attack Jerusalem.
But they could not mount
An attack against it.”
King Ahaz (736-716 BCE) was the grandson of King Uzziah, mentioned above, and the son of King Jotham (740-736 BCE) who ruled Judah. At the same time, King Rezin was the Syrian king of Aram from 792-732 BCE. He joined with the northern Israelite King Pekah (743-732 BCE) to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to mount an attack against Jerusalem. The story of King Ahaz can be found in 2 Kings, chapter 16 and 2 Chronicles, chapter 28.
“They all decreed by public vote never to let this day go unobserved, but to celebrate the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is called Adar in the Syrian language, the day before Mordecai’s day.”
Here like in 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, they will keep this day as a memorial, the day before Mordecai’s Day, the 13th of Adar, as the celebration of this event. However, here it is a public vote. So that Purim is then connected to this event with a clear reference to the Book of Esther, chapter 9, with the mention of Mordecai.
“The citadel became an ambush against the sanctuary.
The citadel was an evil adversary of Israel at all times.
On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood.
They even defiled the sanctuary.
Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled.
She became a dwelling of strangers.
She became strange to her offspring.
Her children forsook her.
Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert.
Her feasts were turned into mourning.
Her Sabbath turned into a reproach.
Her honor turned into contempt.
Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory.
Her exaltation was turned into mourning.”
Once again, we have the poem about the terrible situation in Jerusalem. This new Syrian citadel was an ambush to the sanctuary and an adversary to Israel. There was innocent blood everywhere. The residents of Jerusalem had fled. Only the strangers remained. The sanctuary was like a desert. The feasts were now times of mourning. The Sabbath and honor had now turned to reproach and contempt. The joy had turned to mourning.