Metzora (Leper) Vayikra/Leviticus 14:1-15:33
Haftorah Reading: II Kings 7:3-20
Bless each of you today. This Shabbat is known as Shabbat HaGadol. It is the last Shabbat before Pesach.
The Haftorah portion for the week is II Kings 7:3-20. Before we get to my question for the week, I would like to take a moment and spend a little time on this passage in II Kings. If you remember, the religious leaders of Israel set up a system of weekly readings from the prophets that could be tied to the Torah portion that week. This was done to get around a prohibition on Jews reading the Torah on Shabbat. King Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed the reading of the Torah around 168 BCE during the time the Seleucidans ruled Israel.
When we look at the portion for today we can easily see the connection to our Torah portion since lepers are mentioned in both places. We also see the sickness of leprosy mentioned throughout the Messianic writings like Matthew 8:2, Matthew 11:5, Mark 1:40 and Luke 17:12. This again shows us the importance of having a clear understanding of the Hebrew Bible and its connection with the Messianic scripture.
This week there is one other connection between our reading from II Kings and the books of the Messianic scriptures. In II Kings 7:9 the phrase “good news” was used by the lepers. They had good news to tell. They had discovered the Arameans empty camp after they had fled in the night during their siege of the city of Shomron. The lepers had been looking for food. The people of Shomron had run out of food and water during the siege and any food found was sold for an impossible price. The lepers found G-d had brought down a miracle and in His power sent the Arameans fleeing for their lives. They were so terrified they had abandoned all their supplies of food and money and left their animals behind. After eating their fill in the camp, the lepers felt they needed to go back and report to the city of Shomron what they had found and tell them what had happened. In this verse, II Kings 7:9 we see the phrase, “Good news.” This word is translated from the Hebrew word “besorah.”
When the Tanach was translated to Greek the translators used the word, “evangelion” for the word “besorah.” Later, in the Messianic scriptures, when this Greek word was translated to English the translators used a somewhat made up word, “gospel.” So, we see the Hebrew word besorah, or good news became gospel in English. Even four books of the Messianic scriptures are called the gospels. Things like this, over time, created a disconnect between Hebrew scriptures and our English Bible, all because of a mistranslation of this Hebrew word. This and other mistranslations has added to the separation between Christians and Jews over the centuries.
Now on to our Torah portion. Today, we again read the Hebrew words tamai and tahor or unclean and clean in English. Last week we spoke of these words and how a person could go through a process of cleansing to be able to again go into the Temple or the Tabernacle. I would like to expand this to look at a deeper understanding of these two words and what they say to each of us as the people of G-d.
It seems to me that on a spiritual level many people think of faith in today’s world as getting saved and therefore a promise of heaven when we die. There is not the same fervent hunger for discipling and knowing G-d in a deeper way. We have cheapened faith to something that requires little of us past that first decision. I in no way want to belittle that important step but G-d has so much more for us. As a result we find our lives, our world in an ever increasing state of being in a condition of on-going uncleanness. This limits our ability to connect with the Father in a meaningful way.
In our portion both last week and this week as well, we have studied in detail the things that can make us physically unclean. We need to look on a deeper level to what would make us spiritually unclean and prohibit us from coming into the presence of G-d. We have grown accustomed to the world and allowed the world’s standards to set our standards. As a result we have contracted spiritual leprosy from being involved in things that are abhorrent to G-d but are commonplace in the world.
A revolution of faith is what our spiritual world needs. We must plead to G-d to change our spirits and give us the understanding and depth we need to stand up and be heard as the people of G-d. We must plead for the wisdom to recognize spiritual leprosy in our own life and ask for G-d cleansing. Then we can shake off the scabs of leprosy and come into His Presence as a clean child of King. May you be blessed this week with G-d’s revelation in your life.