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Tazria/Metzora (Conceived/Leper)

Weekly Torah Section: Tazria (Conceived) and Metzora (Leper) Leviticus 12:1-15:33,

Haftorah: II Kings 7:3-20

What binds these Torah sections and II Kings 7:3-20 together? Leprosy and Lepers are the common themes. What is leprosy? Today it is known as Hanson’s Disease. But what the scripture talks about is probably something else. In scripture when people had leprosy it was usually different types of skin problems, boils, rashes or psoriasis.

In II Kings we read of Elisha and how he followed Elijah as the prophet to the northern kingdom. The events here happened during the reign of King Joram, son of Ahab, the king of Syria. Ben Hadad had laid siege to the city and people had been reduced to eating their own children as prophesied in Deut. 28:53. In chapter 6 verse 25, it tells how bad it had become. We pick up the story in II Kings 7:3 where we see four lepers talking at the entrance to the city. Why were they outside the city?  The answer can be found in Leviticus 13:46. Because of their leprosy they were not allowed inside the city.

The lepers decided to go to the Syrian camp and upon arrival find it deserted. After eating, drinking and looting several tents, some of the lepers were troubled because they had not told anyone in the city the good news,  that the Syrian camp was empty and the Syrian soldiers had fled. In II Kings 7:9 the word in Hebrew the lepers used for the good news they had to tell was “basurah”. It is the same word used in the New Testament for the gospel. What was the good news they had not shared? It was the news that the city was saved.

Yeshua ministered to lepers often in the New Testament. He saw their healing as one of the signs of the kingdom of heaven. Lepers were a physical picture of the hopeless, helpless society. They were cut off from the Tabernacle and the Temple. In Luke 17:13 we hear our own cry, “Yeshua, Master, have mercy on us.” In a spiritual way we are represented by these lepers. We are cut off from G-d until we hear the good news. Sometimes we are content,  like these men were for awhile, to hoard what we have, just sitting around gorging ourselves on the treasures of heaven. We must, as they did here, go back to the city and share this good news that the Messiah loves the world and has come to seek us out.

Now in Leviticus the whole idea of leprosy is expanded upon. First, Leviticus is a literal handbook for priests. It was the first book learned by school children. Here in these two Torah sections we can see this clearly. Walda asked a good question today. She asked if we are a kingdom of priests. The New Testament says we are a nation of priests. As such, the book of Leviticus should speak to us very directly. How are we to spend our day? What is to be the overriding focus of our lives? What does it mean to be a priest? I want you to really think about this as you go through each day of the coming week. Then evaluate your thoughts and actions against what G-d reveals to us about what a priest should be doing.

Here in Leviticus we see the priest dealing with people, objects, and houses that have signs of leprosy.  First, let us look at the person with leprosy. The person had to be examined by a priest to see if he truly had leprosy and also if he had been cleansed from it. If he was clean he then had to offer a sacrifice of two birds. One was killed over living water and its blood collected in an earthen jar. The second bird was dipped in the blood of the first and let go. Now, what symbolism do you see here? First, the leper could see that something had to die that he might be able to enter the camp again. The second bird would be a good spiritual picture of that entry as it fluttered away “Free as a bird.” In English the water is called “running water” but in Hebrew it is “living water” and means free flowing water. In John 7:38 Yeshua uses the phrase “living water” to describe the Spirit of G-d.  He spoke these words at Succoth, which is called the most joyous of holidays. One of the major themes of Succoth is living water. Water was collected and poured each day on the altar. Prayers were centered on praying for rain for the coming year in hopes of having an abundant harvest.  So symbolically we can see the people understanding this as Yeshua using the term “living water” flowing out of us was to be a sign first of us being in right relationship to the Father. The same as here in Leviticus, the leper had been restored.  A product of our restoration would be joy and abundance in our spiritual life as we, as priests, minister to His people.

Also, a person’s clothes and house could contract leprosy. How can that be? One way could be that these things being in close contact with the person took on his ailment so to speak. There is good reason to believe that this problem was connected with sin. A guilt offering and sin offering had to be given. So these problems could be G-d’s discipline for not dealing with sin in the person’s life. The sin could be a number of things but Jewish teachers believe it could possibly be the sin of slander and gossip. The words we use are powerful and have an effect on us and things around us. So, it is important how we as priests use our words.