“And it came to pass, as [Yeshua] 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, ‘Yeshua, Master, have mercy on us.’ And when he saw them, he said unto them, ‘Go show 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 Elohim, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. And Yeshua answering said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine?’ There are not found that returned to give glory to Elohim, except this stranger [lit. sprung from another tribe, foreigner or alien]. And he said unto him, ‘Arise, go your way, your faith has made you whole.'”
Prophetic Points to Analyze
- verse 11— the midst of Samaria and Galilee
- verse 12— ten men that were lepers
- verse 12— that stood afar off
- verses 14–15— they were cleansed … healed
- verse 16— he was a Samaritan
- verse 18— stranger
Samaria and Galilee were Roman provinces comprising of the ancient territories of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the home of the ten northern tribes. As noted earlier, Yeshua spent much of his time ministering in that region and in much of what he taught, as well as the venues where he ministered, in the meanings of the geographical names, and in the terminologies used in describing his ministry activities, we can find a deeper or allegorical prophetic meaning relating to his ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This account of the ten lepers is no exception.
These ten lepers lived in the historic region of the Northern Kingdom, house of Israel or Samaria. The number ten corresponds to the number of tribes that historically had lived in that area. These tribes were: Ephraim, Manasseh, Reuben, part of Levi, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Zebulin and Issachar. (Judah, part of Levi and Benjamin comprised the Southern Kingdom, or house of Judah; Simeon is omitted, for it is thought that they were assimilated into Judah in accordance with the Genesis 49:5–7 prophecy, and that their land inheritance was surrounded by that of Judah.) But when the ten northern tribes were exiled from the land of Israel they became strangers or aliens in the countries of their captivity. These terms are used throughout the Scriptures in reference to the scattered tribes of Israel. These lepers, because of their disease, were likewise aliens from their fellow Israelites in the land of Judea where they currently were living.
The term “leprosy” scripturally, was a generic term for any infectious skin condition and does not necessarily relate to the modern term leprosy that is a disease involving the slow rotting away of the flesh. Samson Raphael Hirsch, the nineteenth century Jewish Torah scholar, shows that the biblical skin condition of tzaraas is unrelated to leprosy and therefore is an erroneous translation in our English Bibles.Here is a brief study on the skin disease the Torah calls tzaraas and some of the spiritual implications of this ailment. It is quoted from the author’s own Torah commentary.
Leviticus 13 discusses various skin disorders known as tzaraas. The KJV uses the word “leprosy,” but this is a mistranslation. The [Jewish sages] teach (and so does Christian biblical commentator Matthew Henry in his commentary) that these skin disorders “[were] a plague often inflicted immediately by the hand of [Elohim].”
Tzaraas is a result of sins of the mouth such as slander, gossip, murder with the mouth, false oaths and pride as well as sexual immorality, robbery, and selfishness. For proof of this the [Jewish sages] cite the similarity between the Hebrew word for “skin disorder” (m’tzora) and the word “one who spreads slander”(motzeyra). They say that these skin disorders are “divine retribution for the offender’s failure to feel the needs and share the hurt of others. YHVH rebukes this antisocial behavior by isolating him from society, so that he can experience the pain he has imposed on others—and heal himself through repentance.”They then cite the examples of Miriam’s skin turning white when she slandered Moses. We must not forget what occurred to Gehazi and to king Uzziah, as well (2 Kgs 5:27; 2 Chr 26:19, 21).
It would be well for us to pause at this moment and to consider our own behavior with respect to our tongue. Thankfully, we’re under the grace of Elohim. But in the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira found out what happens when one sins with one’s mouth and Elohim pulls back his hand of grace. They were instantly struck dead. As we get closer to the end of the age and the return of Messiah it is likely that Elohim will begin to require greater spiritual accountability of his people, especially of leaders, in the areas we are discussing. He wants to instill within his people the true fear of YHVH-Elohim and a repentant and contrite heart, and to turn people away from lukewarmness. It is likely that such rapid judgments as happened to Miriam, Korah et al, Gehazi, Uzziah, Ananias and Sapphira and others in the Scriptures will begin to occur soon, in our day, and may already be occurring.
The time for playing fast and loose with our mouths and other members of our bodies is over. We are all being called to account by Elohim. Be hot or cold, not in-between! Yeshua is not coming back for a Babylonian (half world and half Word-orientated lifestyle), sin-spotted bride, but one who is without spot and wrinkle.
The skin disease, tzaraas, was like a red flag which if a person had it was regarded as a judgment from Elohim for the sin of slander, gossip, murder with the mouth, false oaths and pride as well as sexual immorality, robbery, and selfishness. That person was considered to be physically and spiritually contagious and so was put outside the camp of Israel until the disease was gone. According to Samson Raphael Hirsch, quarantine was a means of shocking the victim into recognizing his moral shortcomings and driving him to repentance.
It is the skin disease of tzaraas that the ten men of Luke 17 most likely had making them ritually impure and causing them to be legally banned from social contact with the rest of Jewish society. It was these social outcasts of the region of the historic homeland of the lost sheep of the house of Israel to which Yeshua was reaching out. These men knew they were spiritually and physically unclean and they cried out to the only one who could heal and save them—Yeshua the Messiah, whose very name means “salvation.”
Similarly, in the end times, the house of Israel (or the Christian church) will begin to recognize that many of its Torahless religious traditions have been inherited lies handed down from previous generations (Jer 16:19), that she has failed to remember her Torah-based marriage covenants with YHVH (Mal 4:4–6), and that the foreign lovers to which she turned spiritually did not satisfy her like YHVH her husband once had (Hos 2:7). The house of Israel (and the house of Judah) will eventually return to YHVH (Hos 2:6–7) in covenantal relationship (Jer 31:31, 33). They will no longer be a rejected people (Hos 1:6, 9). YHVH will begin to call his people to come out of the filth of Torahlessness and spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:4) and urge them to stop forgetting his Torah (Hos 4:6; 8:1, 12). YHVH pleads with both Judah and her sister Israel (Ephraim) to return to him from their backslidden spiritual condition (Jer 3:6–14). Hosea prophesied that both the houses of Ephraim and Judah will acknowledge their sin against YHVH (the sin of breaking their covenants with him and syncretizing themselves spiritually with the customs of the heathen nations around them, Hos 5:3), and begin to seek YHVH eagerly (Hos 5:15). Hosea then prophesies that Messiah will return after three days (or in the third millennium) to “revive,” resurrect or resuscitate them spiritually and give to Israel new life (Hos 6:1–2), after which she will live in Messiah’s sight during the Messianic Age (or Millennium, verse 3).
Yeshua’s encounter with the ten lepers is an allegorical picture of this. After the Messiah healed the lepers, he instructed them to present themselves to the priests whose duty it was, according to the Torah, to declare that they were physically healed and ritually clean. This pronouncement on the part of the priests cleared the way for the former lepers to legally integrate themselves back into Jewish society without fear of retribution or ostracism.
It is interesting to note that one of the ten “lepers” was a Samaritan. These people were highly shunned and disdained by many in the Jewish culture of the first century. This mixed race people lived in the historic lands of the house of Israel. They were most likely comprised of Northern Kingdom Israelites and heathen Gentiles that the Assyrians had transplanted into northern Israel when they conquered that nation. Here Yeshua is reaching out to this people whom the Jews despised and rejected. Hosea prophesied that the house of Israel would mix herself with the nations of the world (Hos 7:8; 8:8), yet Yeshua reached out to these same type of people when he ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), and when he commanded his disciples to take the gospel to Samaria (Acts 1:8).
This account of Yeshua’s ministry to the ten “lepers” teaches us that even though some lost and scattered Israelites may be in a state of extreme spiritual contamination and pollution brought on by sin, YHVH’s grace is open to all—even those whom society shuns and considers to be at the lowest echelon.
Ezekiel 34 paints a clear picture of YHVH’s sheep who have been lost and scattered, but who YHVH, the True Shepherd, will regather. His sheep are starving spiritually, have been pillaged by evil and covetous shepherds and ravished by spiritual diseases and predators. Yeshua is that true Shepherd whose arms of love are still open wide (as they were while he was hanging on the cross). He takes upon himself the burdens of all lost Israelites who are returning to him and promises to heal and to feed them, and to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
What You Can Do
We must follow the example of Yeshua and reach out to anyone regardless of their race or religious affiliation and offer them the good news of spiritual healing and salvation through Yeshua the Messiah. The disease of sin has made all humans impure and separated us all from a loving relationship with YHVH Elohim through Yeshua. Only as we as come into contact with Yeshua the Savior , place our trust in him, and receive his mercy can we be made whole.