SIMON THE LEPER part 4

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

It didn’t take them long to get back down to the ground level. They left the wagon with Jorel and walked back toward the large plaza. At the base of the southern wall was a large gate guarded by some Roman soldiers. Inside was a tall chamber with two sets of steep staircases left and right off the entrance. Simon and his son went up an indeterminate number of high steps to a landing before taking another set. Simon counted six landings, he thought, before emerging again into the sunlight. As their eyes adjusted to the light, they faced the wondrous Temple complex where Simon would bring a young bull to offer as sacrifice for his family. Just inside the complex was the court of Israel, where only Jewish males were allowed to pray. Simon always felt awed whenever he saw the bright golden doors of the Holy of holies.

But the Temple was not their destination. They both solemnly bowed their heads to the Temple, then turned around. Built on the southern end of the Temple Mount was a long three story building with a red tiled roof. In there were the offices of the priests where they minister directly to the public. The lower levels are usually left to the minor priest who deal with the masses. The upper levels cater more to the upper class. It was to a second level office that they went to.

“Simon!” said a priest getting up from behind a large desk filled with scrolls. He was of his same age but wider in girth.

“Nadab,” Simon said as he ritually bowed to him. “You would think that a high priest like yourself would not be so stout. What if the Lord calls us back to the wilderness? Will you survive?”

“Probably not,” he laughed. “So, what brings you to my office?”

“Lazarus, my son, why don’t you wait for me outside?” Lazarus bowed to the priest and quietly stepped out.

“What ails you cousin? I don’t think you’ve ever visited me here at this office. At that matter, I don’t ever remember you being so ill that you would end up here.”

“I must show you something,” he said as he began to disrobe.

When he peeled off his tunic, he lifted his left arm up and said, “After my bath, I felt some dryness right under here.” He pointed to an area about a hand’s length below his armpit.

“Come to the light, Simon.”

Simon moved to the window. Nadab took a step closer and peered a little closer but he kept his hands behind his back.

“Mmm… I see some whiteness but it seems to be only skin deep. I wouldn’t worry too much, however, the priesthood does have procedures handed down to us by Moses to follow. We have to separate you from any contact for about a week. You must isolate yourself in your upper room away from your family. After seven days, I and two others will come and make another examination.”

The ride back to Bethany was a little somber. Simon had told Lazarus what had transpired.

“Father, Nadab had said not to worry.”

“Still, my son, we must take all precautions especially with Mary. It is up to you to keep her away. She will not understand.”

When they got back to their house, instructions were given to move some of his personal things to the upper room on the roof while he waited on the wagon. Transfer to the roof went well except for a close call when Mary gleefully ran to Simon with arms wide open. But Lazarus caught her at mid stride before she could reach him. For seven days, Simon stayed in isolation. Food and water was usually left at the top of the stairs three times a day. Then Nadab came with two other priests.

All three priests stood two arms length from Simon as they circled around to examine him closely. They had told him to strip naked and had his arms raised. They slowly circled him at least three times. Then, they told him to dress and stepped away from him to confer quietly among themselves. Simon was not liking that they were whispering together for such a long time. Then, Nadab approached him.

“I’m afraid, my friend, you have leprosy.”

To be continued…

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Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

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