ACTS OF THE LEPERS (Episode VIII)
Read Prologue Here:
In their wake, the Syrians had left litters of food all over, with donkeys and horses tethered to tent pegs, as campfires kept burning still. I had only enjoyed the view from my window for months, but it looked much different riding through it now. As we rode farther towards Ginae, just before the Jordan, the route was strewn with clothing, and pieces of equipment reaching as far as Aenon.
Somehow, the Syrians have fled their camp for reasons we were yet to know. At Aenon, just when we turned to leave, Uriel sighted a figure limping away in the dark, some distance away. We pursued. In their haste, the Syrians had left one of their slingers behind and the stampede that resulted must have caused him several injuries. We bound him hand and foot, and rode back to the city.
Back in the city, the crowd grew out of control. Some already scaling the walls, only to be scared off by the towering depth below. They hoped the ‘rumours’ were true, we all did. From the gates, as soon as Uriel signaled ‘all-clear’, the ensueing stampede knocked off the giant bolts as wave after wave of people stormed out of the city gate with heavy shouts, trampling several guards in their wake.
They plundered each tent, making away with garments, tunics, volumes of food grain, and livestock. No doubt, the Syrians planned to stay for much longer. If they had,…
The scribes won’t miss this, tonight will go down into the chronicles as a night of deliverance. Reminds me of our forefathers’ exodus from Egypt. The plunder continued for days, even weeks. The city gates were never shut…the surviving elders sat once more, not to settle cases of lack, but fair distribution of abundance.
Amidst the partying and jubilation, only a few cared about the true story. In the days that followed, the Syrian prisoner began to narrate how, that night, they’d been drinking, partying and having rounds of wrestling when suddenly, they heard the clattering of chariots, loud gallops of numerous horses and sounds of troops approaching and how they all left their belongings and fled into the night, each man for himself.
It didn’t end there, Gehazi the leper and his three sons —who lived by the city gate— had crawled into the Syrian camp to at least surrender and find some food, but finding no one, they spread the news (after helping themselves of course). So, despite the shameful dismissal from his master’s service, Gehazi once more earned a reputation as the ‘salvagory leper’, who brought good news at a time we most needed it…and so goes the proverb; “good tidings can come from anyone, even lepers.” If they had delayed till morning, if they hadn’t ventured into the camp that night, more bodies would’ve been buried the next day.
After having my share of flour, wheat, barley, livestock, tent pegs and other valuables, I left Hanameel at the city gate and staggered indoors, peering through my window once more. For the first time in months, there were no campfires, no Syrian music, no fear of impending attack, and no worries over tomorrow’s meal, only a crowd of delighted people, trading their excess bounties.
Each time I thought of deliverance (for Israel), I always imagined a clash of shields and swords. Even though I didn’t quite fancy Jehoram’s decision, something told it was necessary. At least I know better. The prophecy was true, deliverance came, but who could’ve predicted how? No one saw the lepers as useful.
You see, it still amazes me how God deliberately chose the foolish things to confound the wise and used what we called ‘weak’ to shame the strong. I don’t know for how long, but the lessons are sure to stick.
I’ve missed my “business trips” so much. Hanameel and I will be at Tirzah in the next full moon.