… You were estranged from the national life of Isra'el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God's promise. You were in this world without hope and without God. (13) But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah's blood.
We are in the ninth century BCE. Joram the son of Ahab rules in a Samaria besieged by Ben-Hadad the Aramean king. This is the same Ben-Hadad who sent Naaman to Israel to be healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5). During a siege people living in villages and encampments around the city took refuge within the walls inside. Not all the people though as according to the Torah, lepers had to live in special quarters outside the city (Leviticus 13:46), and even in a case of siege, they were not allowed inside. Once all the people were in, all the invading armies had to do was to cut off food and water supplies. Famine and starvation followed and the city fell like a ripe fruit.
The siege induced famine in Samaria was desperate 2 Kings 7). Prices sky-rocketed and as was prophesied, people cannibalized their young trying to survive (Deuteronomy 28:53). Outside the gate were four lepers literally caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one side a city that rejected them, on the other side the Syrian armies. Some people have suggested that those four lepers were Gehazi, Elishah’s servant who contracted leprosy by lusting after Naaman’s rewards (2 Kings 5:27) and his four sons.
One day these lepers said to themselves, "Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, 'Let us enter the city,' the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die" (2 Kings 7:3-4). So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. … And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them. Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news (same word used in Hebrew for Gospel: Besora). If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household" (2Kings 7:5-9).
Lepers are the disfranchised of society and this story reminds of the Master’s special concern for lepers. Crossing Samaria on His way to Jerusalem ten lepers cried out to the Master saying, "Yeshua, Adon, have mercy on us." We are all lepers in the sight of God and as the four lepers in our story, we have cried to the Son of David for help and found the good news of God’s victory over the enemy of our soul. We are now responsible to share it with all, even with those who showed no mercy to us.
P. Gabriel Lumbroso
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