Tuesday, August 11, 2009

10 Lepers

I'm trying to puzzle out some connections that seems to be floating around Luke 17.11-19:

"And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."

First off, the number of the lepers -- 10 -- seems pertinent. (My rule of thumb: if the Bible gives a number, it's important. It's our job to figure out why it's important).

I'm wondering if there's any relation to the contemporary Jewish requirement that there be a minyan (a minimum of 10 men) to hold certain religious rites, including public worship. I don't know if the 10 rule was already observed in first century Palestine. The bigger question I'm wondering is whether this was a synagogue. Would lepers -- being ritually unclean -- have had separate synagogues?

Also -- could the 10 hearken back to Gen. 18.32? ("And he said, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.") The number in Gen. 18 is used in some rabbinic arguments for the minimum for a minyan. In Luke 17, there were not 10 found to give thanks. But there was one, and he a "stranger." (Possibly indicating a non-Jew, or a Samaritan (vs. 11) Jew, or a God-fearing gentile).

No comments: