Dr. Allen and Dr. Karen Ranney
April 13, 2019(8 Nissan 5779) M'tzora "Leper"
April 13, 2019(8 Nissan 5779) M'tzora "Leper"
2 Kings 7:3-20
This Torah study titled “M’tzora” in Hebrew means “leper.” It teaches that no matter the condition you are in, mentally, physically, or spiritually, Jesus will love you and accept you and cleanse you of all sin, to bring you back into the camp.
John 3:16 2 Kings 5
Numbers 12:9-15 Romans 10:8-13
The reading for this Torah portion is found in Leviticus 14:1-15:33 it is titled in Hebrew “M’tzora #6879” and means “leper.”
Leviticus 14 records laws, statutes and ordinances concerning the rituals for cleansing healed lepers and the law concerning leprous houses.
Leviticus 15 records laws concerning bodily discharges.
The Haftarah or Prophet’s reading is in 2 Kings 7:3-20
2 kings 7:3-20 records the story of the lepers and the Syrian invasion.
The Gospel portion is in Luke 9:51-10:42
Luke 17:11-37 records Yeshua cleansing 10 lepers and teaching on the second coming.
This week’s Torah lesson is titled “M’tzora #6879” in Hebrew and means “leper.”
Leviticus 14:2 (Interlinear Bible) reads, “This shall be the law of “M’tzora” leper in the day of his cleansing, that he shall be brought to the priest.”
If you listen to the root word or syllable in the word “M’tzora,” you can hear the English word “sore.” There really is more Hebrew in the American dialect than most people realize, Amen. But that’s a lesson for another day.
“M’tzora #6879,” translated leprosy in our Bibles is really a generic term for all manner of skin disorders including boils, ringworm, rashes, psoriasis, scabies, leprosy and even up to the bubonic plague. Leprosy in garments and leather would most likely be mold or fungus of one form or another. Anyway, these conditions were serious enough to warrant isolation of the person as not to infect the rest of the camp.
The excluded or isolated person was required to let the hair of the head go loose, free, not tied back or up, then rend or tear their clothing, going about in rags covering the upper lip with their hand and cry, “unclean, unclean.” All this had to be done so as not to come into contact with any other person because it would make them ritually unclean.
The affected person had to appear repeatedly before the priest, who would pronounce on the character of the disease. In the event the condition improved, he was to go through the elaborate ritual process of being cleansed and make all the appropriate sacrifices and offerings. These diseases did not discriminate, infecting and effecting young, old, rich, poor, male and female alike.
Many cases of leprosy are recorded in the Bible, some were even the direct judgment or curse from God, but most were naturally occurring illnesses.
We see one such case of judgment in Numbers 12:10 where, Moses’ sister Miriam’s skin turned snowy white. Her crime was dissension. She spoke ill of Moses, because of the Ethiopian woman he married. This angered God greatly, but Moses intervened. He prayed and cried out for the Lord to heal her.
Social status could not prevent the disease either, as in the case of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army (2 Kings 5). He was healed by the prophet Elisha, but at the end of the story Elisha’s servant Gehazi’s greed was judged and he and his children received Naaman’s leprosy forever.
These diseases did have one positive impact on the children of Israel, as I’m sure this was one of the reasons to implement certain hygienic laws, such as washing one’s hands before eating, not eating certain unclean animals, pigs for instance, washing soiled clothing etc. Like I said earlier, most disease, leprosy included, is not a judgment or curse from God.
We live in a fallen world where war, disease and pestilence have power for now. God did not want it this way. In fact, He created a world, that was so perfect, when He looked at what He had created He said, “Tov meod” meaning “very good.” Man’s free will was given of God, but man’s choice to rebel against God’s rules directly impacted the earth, sky, waters, biology and geology of this world at great expense to ourselves. We, in fact, have become proverbial “M’tzora” lepers in our own camp. One day though, God will cleanse us and let us back into the garden of Eden.
2 Kings 7:3-20
Now there were four “M’tzora” leprous men at the entrance of the gate and they said to one another, “why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, “we will enter the city, the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” (2 Kings 7:3-4)
The story goes on to tell that the Syrian army fled in confusion brought about by God. Then the four “M’tzora” lepers found riches aplenty beyond their wildest imaginings. Had those men been truly cursed of God, they would not, in my opinion, have been allowed to find all the gold and silver they hid or share the good news of God’s defeat over the invading Syrian army.
"And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it". (2 Kings 7:8)
Their good news and good fortune had to be shared. They reasoned among themselves that not to do so would incur or merit divine punishment. This led me to think these four men did not consider their disease to be God’s judgment or a punishment on themselves.
In the story itself, we see an example of basic humanity, as it was then and so it is today, we see the four lepers in their unfortunate condition, primarily concerned with their own welfare. Selfishness is perhaps the most common human characteristic. The story progresses with the lepers acting in their own interests, even with the prospect of dire consequences, they proceeded with the plans that they had made. Upon finding the enemy camp empty and sating their thirst and hunger, they then find silver and gold and articles of value and hide them.
This is another example of our basic human nature, greed. This happens not just once but several times, selfishness, lust and greed controlling their actions until that spark of good, that which we call conscience, kicks in. That goodness of God, His Spirit that He puts in all of us starts to work on the men. Even then, they did not have to heed the unction of the Holy Spirit.
Truthfully, they could have continued in their selfishness, lust, and greed but in 2 Kings 7:9 it says, “then they said to one another, ‘we are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait till morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the King’s household.’”
It’s this reaction, rising above selfish interests (motivated by Godly fear maybe or just abhorrence of evil) and sharing the good news of salvation, deliverance from the enemy, that set these four men free in ways the world does not understand. That was their true reward, that was the true riches they found that day.
Luke 17:12-16 reads, “Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him 10 men who were “M’tzoraim” lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! And so when He saw them, He said to them, “go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.”
We could well take note of the progression of the story. First, the lepers humbled themselves before the Lord and asked for mercy. Second, they obeyed the statutes and ordinances as required, and so they were healed. But, the story goes on to say that only one, a Samaritan, came back and gave thanks and glory unto Jesus.
In verses 17-18, Jesus asks, “were there not 10 cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”
We should give our heartfelt thanks to the Lord for all things in our life. We may not have been delivered from leprosy, but our condition before salvation was surely that of a dead man walking. I pray Lord, that I would always be the one of 10 that gives you thanks, praise and glory for all that you do in my life. Amen.
The story does not say, but do you suppose the one leper received a healing that was far more than physical? Like the four lepers in the Haftarah portion, this one man, more than likely had to, could not help but go and share the good news of his salvation with his family and friends. I do believe that was the case because when I was saved, I couldn’t wait to share that Gospel, the “good news” with my family and friends, then with practically everyone I met for months afterward. I feel a little ashamed that sometimes I don’t share the gospel like I did back then. What about you? There is a lesson here that we can learn from those lepers.
Luke 17:20-21 reads, “now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “the Kingdom of God does not come with observation, nor will they say, “see here! Or see there! For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.”
What the Pharisees missed, and I believe what most people miss, is that Jesus explained the Kingdom of God is within us. The Kingdom begins in us, we’re not waiting for it anymore. After we’ve received salvation through Yeshua Messiah, we should begin building that Kingdom immediately, like the lepers. Laying down our selfish lusts and greed, putting the lives and welfare of others first, giving thanks and then sharing the good news (Gospel) with all we meet.
Are you ready for some good news? Have you been sore about the challenges in your life physically, spiritually or financially? Well, Jesus cares and He is as easy to find as ABC.
A. Admit, admit you have sinned, and are sorry you have.
B. Believe, believe Jesus died for that sin, then rose from the grave on the third day.
C. Confess, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and make Him King in your life.
Read Romans 10:8-13 and John 3:16, pray and repent, then ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit that you could be healed of all your afflictions. Ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer or one like it, I would like to welcome you to the family of God and encourage you to tell a Pastor, Messianic Rabbi or a Christian friend, they will know what to do next.
Bibliography for M’tzora “lepers”
Interlinear Bible, the Hendrickson publishing, 2006
New King James Version of the Bible, Thomas Nelson publishers, 2007
Strong’s Complete Dictionary of the Bible Words, Thomas Nelson publishing, 1996