Haftarah Metzorah: Reading the Text I
“Four men, were metzoraim, outside the gate; each one said to his friend, “why are we sitting here until we die? If we propose to come to the city, there is a famine in the city and we will die there, and if we remain here we will die; let us now go and throw ourselves upon the camp of Aram; if they let us live, we will live; and if they put us to death, we will die.”
The city is under siege, and for men are sitting at the gate of the city? Isn’t the whole point of the siege that no one can enter or leave the city? How did the Army of Aram allow these men to just sit there in front of the city?
Why doesn’t the verse simply say, “four metzoraim were outside the gate,” rather than say, “four men, were metzoraim?” If the verse had said, “four metzoraim were outside the gate,” it would be as if it was describing four lepers sitting in front of the city, untouchable because they were lepers. We could then imagine that the Army allowed them to remain there because no one wanted to go near them. When the verse begins by describing them as, “four men,” it gives the impression as if it was not their leprosy that allowed them or forced them to sit in front of the gate of the city.
Why are they sitting outside the city gate? Biblical lepers were considered impure, and were not permitted in the city. So how could they say, “if we propose to come to the city,” if they would not even be permitted to enter the city?
There are actually two groups outside the city: one is the besieging army, and the other is this group of four lepers.
The besieging army permitted the group of four men to sit right in front of the city’s gate as a provocation to the people stuck inside the city: “The people you excluded from your city have more freedom than you.” This group of men understood why they were allowed to sit in peace outside the city, and they believed that the people stuck inside would be so bothered by their freedom that they would allow these four “man” to enter; to enter as men, not as lepers.
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