Haftarah Metzorah: Reading the Text III
These metzoraim arrived at the edge of the camp; they came to a tent and ate and drank. From it they carried away silver, gold, and garments, and went and hid them; then they returned and went to another tent, carried away from there, and went and hid it.
One said to his fellow, “We are not acting properly; today is a day of good news, yet we remain silent! If we wait until the light of dawn we will be adjudged as sinners. Now come, let us go and report to the Kings palace!” (II Kings 7:8–9) By the way, they never made it to the king’s palace!
I guess you can’t blame people evicted from the city for not rushing to inform those people that the siege was over. You can’t blame them for eating and drinking; we can assume that they too were starving. We can’t blame them for hiding some gold and silver. However, we can blame them for visiting so many tents before even considering informing the people of the city.
When they decided to go inform the people of the city, they said that they would go to the king’s palace; they were expecting to be heroes. They probably also expected that they would no longer be excluded from the city. Yet, we never read of them again. They disappear from the story. The people of the city were insane with hunger; they rushed out of the city to get the food. They had no time to celebrate anyone as a hero. I expect that by the time people had collected all the food, they probably figured out that these four men had taken their time to announce the good news.
Can you imagine the scene of these four men sitting down in one of the tents, feasting on food and wine, having a grand old time, fully aware that there were people in the city starving to death?
When we go back to the opening of this story, when the verse describes them as men and as lepers, it is as if the verse is teaching us that they had an opportunity to become “men” once again, or to remain as lepers. When they sat down to party; they chose to remain lepers, outsiders, different, selfish.
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