Leprosy, disease or divine punishment?

Leprosy, disease or divine punishment?, InfoMistico.com

In ancient times, the belief was that leprosy, like other diseases in general, was divine punishment for some sin committed. Theologian X. Leon-Dufour, “leprosy is the ‘plague’ par excellence with which God wounds (naga) sinners” (Vocabulary of Biblical Theology [Barcelona: Editorial Herder, 1980] p. 473).

Is leprosy a skin disease or a divine punishment?

So for example, the Egyptians (Exodus 9:9), Miriam (Numbers 12:10-15), Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27), and King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:19-23) were punished with this disease.

Even skin ulcers are mentioned as one of the possible curses that the Israelites will suffer in case of disobeying Yahweh’s ordinances (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35).

Unlike the doctrine expressed in the Hebrew Bible, according which it was necessary to distinguish between the healing power of God (cf. Exodus 15:26; Psalms 103:3) and the exclusively mediating function of the prophet (on this crucial point, see the story of Elisha, the Shunammite and her son [2 Kings 4:8-37]), in the New Testament this distinction is completely neutralized.

Jesus the Galilean had the power to heal lepers

The power of healing is an inherent attribute of the messianic condition attributed to Jesus. Hence, then, Jesus the Galilean had the power to heal lepers. As the following account relates:

“When he came down from the mountain, a great crowd followed him. At this, a leper came up and fell before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said, ‘I will be cleansed.’

And immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:1-4 and parallels. Cf. also Luke 17:11-19).

This ability of Jesus to heal lepers or other diseases (paralytics, demoniacs, or the blind. Cf. Matthew 8:5-13, 28-34; 9:1-7, 27-31 and par.) was a clear testimony to his power over nature, and thus “proof” of his Anointed status.

The mission of the prophet

Jesus replied to John’s question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we wait for another?” (Matthew 11:2):

“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hears, the dead are raised and the Good News is preached to the poor; and blessed is he who does not find fault with me!” (vers. 4-6).

(Note: Jesus’ answer presents a modified version of “the mission of the prophet”, according to the words of the Deutero or Trito Isaiah 61:1-2. It should be noted that this same text from Isaiah plays a central role in Luke’s version of Jesus’ Sabbath visit to the synagogue in Nazareth [4:16-24]).

Anyway, one thing is certain. In the view of the ancient Israelites, whether it was the priest, the prophet, or the Messiah, all of them could heal in their capacity as God’s messengers.

For only He, as the Lord of life, could bestow life itself. As the Jewish Jerusalemite sage, Jesus son of Sirach (first third of the second century B.C.E.) said:

“For healing comes from the Highest, as a gift that is received from the king” (Ecclesiasticus 38:2).

Shabbat Shalom!

This article has been adapted and translated by InfoMistico.com / Source: tarbutsefarad.com