All Glory to Him

Parashat Tazria (She Conceives)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-13:59
Haftara: 2 Kings 4:42-5:19

In the center of this week’s reading is the issue of leprosy. It is important to remember that when studying leprosy in biblical texts, what we consider a disease today was more of a sign from God to demonstrate His power in biblical times. For example, in Exodus 4:6–7 we read that leprosy was one of the signs that God gave to Moses:

The LORD furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand inside the fold of your robe.” So he put his hand inside the fold, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then He said, “Put your hand inside the fold of your robe again.” So he put his hand into the fold again, and when he took it out of the fold, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.”

We also find that God used leprosy as a form of judgment or affliction. For example, after Miriam used what we call the "evil tongue" against her brother, Moses, when he married the Cushite woman, we read of God’s judgment over her in the form of leprosy:

But when the cloud had withdrawn from above the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous.
Numbers 12:10

In the Haftarah portion, we find another important story in which leprosy is a sign of wonder to show the ultimate power of God, and that He is the one and only true God:

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man in the view of his master, and eminent, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but afflicted with leprosy. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife and she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “The girl who is from the land of Israel spoke such and such.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothes.

And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” But when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to keep alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” Now it happened, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why did you tear your clothes? Just have him come to me, and he shall learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots, and stood at the doorway of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away, and he said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will certainly come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the site and cure the leprosy.’ Are Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, not better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants approached and spoke to him, saying, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, in accordance with the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
2 Kings 5:1-14

There is much that can be written about the above story. However, there are a few points that I would like to highlight:

  • Naaman was a commander in the army of the king of Aram and was also highly esteemed by the king. It is interesting to note that the reason he was considered a great man is because God had given him victory in battle. An important question then is why would the God of Israel show favor to a gentile army commander? I personally believe it was to demonstrate His ultimate power over all peoples — Jew & Gentile, alike.
  • God used a “little girl from the Land of Israel” to bring a message of God’s power to heal to the great army commander and ultimately to the king of Aram. An interesting point is that the Land of Israel is mentioned here.
  • The little girl demonstrated more faith in God’s healing power than the king of Israel. The king’s reaction to the king of Aram’s letter indicates that perhaps he did not believe God could or would heal Naaman, and thus bring a possible conflict upon his kingdom.
  • When Naaman came to Elisha’s house, Elisha did not come to him, but sent a lowly messenger to tell Naaman what to do to be healed. To me, this comes across as humility. Could it be that Elisha did not want to get the glory, but rather wanted to show the healing power of the God of Israel? Also, the fact that both the Jordan River and the number seven are mentioned here directly connect to the God of Israel, since the Jordan River is where Israel crossed into the Land of Promise and the number seven represents the Sabbath as the eternal covenant between God and Israel.
  • It is interesting to note that Naaman wanted a “quick fix” miracle. While he probably felt snubbed by Elisha, it seems he also was not interested in doing things God’s way. Perhaps he felt it was beneath him. I believe that this is an important point for us to understand. At times, we His followers want the “quick fix” to whatever situation we’re in, and we try to solve things our way instead of waiting for His way. 

I believe we are living in days when we will see the God of Israel do great signs and wonders so that people will know that He is the one and only God. We His followers will need to wait upon Him and allow Him to do His work without “getting in the way”. It will require us to wait and listen for His instructions and to follow them as He asks us. It is about Him and His glory alone!

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

Share this Post

One Comment on “All Glory to Him”

  1. I always appreciate your insights. I, too, am convinced that days are quickly approaching when the power of the God of Israel will be seen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *