In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Tazria (2 Kings 4:42-5:19), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson unpack the Biblical nuances behind 'baptism" and "mikvah," and find out what a pita bread and a leper have in common.
After a nod to the vignette that introduces this portion, Gordon and Johnson cannonball into the main story whose message aligns strongly with their respective ministries. It’s a story where the kings are nameless and the protagonist tries to stay in the background while helping a proud and powerful army commander with leprosy. But the hero is clearly Yehovah—orchestrating an unmistakable revelation of his grace sotto voce.
On the way to the portion’s illuminating ending, we learn what modern-day nation was Aram and the nuances of “baptize,” “mikvah,” and “dip”—“taval”, (tet-vet-lamed). Gordon also explains why Naaman expected more hocus-pocus and provides other examples of pagan thinking.
Gordon and Johnson draw parallels between the lessons in this portion and present-day spiritual police (both Jews and Christians) who trust more in doctrines than the Creator. In closing, Johnson prays for those in difficult circumstances to trust the bigness and greatness of God and to “yalak shalom”—to go in peace.
"But Naaman became furious... and said, 'Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely... stand and call on the name of Yehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'" (2 Kings 5:11)
The Original Torah Pearls - Tazria (Leviticus 12:1-13:59)
Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University.