What was unusual about Jesus’ dealings with lepers?
The ancient Jews had a fear of the form of leprosy common in Bible times. That dreaded disease could attack the sufferer’s nerve endings and lead to permanent damage and disfigurement. There was no known cure for leprosy. Rather, those afflicted by it were quarantined and were obliged to warn others of their condition.—Leviticus 13:45, 46.
The Jewish religious leaders devised rules about leprosy that went beyond what was stated in the Scriptures, making life unnecessarily hard for the victims. For example, rabbinic regulations prohibited anyone from coming within 4 cubits, or about 6 feet (2 m), of a leper. But if a wind was blowing, no one was to come within 100 cubits, or about 150 feet (45 m). Certain Talmudists interpreted the Scriptural requirement that lepers live “outside the camp” to mean that they should be excluded from walled cities. Hence, one rabbi, when he saw a leper within a city, would throw stones at him and say: “Go to your place, and do not defile other people.”
How different was Jesus’ approach! Rather than chasing lepers away, he was willing to touch them—and even heal them.—Matthew 8:3.
On what grounds did Jewish religious leaders grant a divorce?
Divorce was a matter of debate among religious leaders in the first century C.E. Hence, on one occasion, some Pharisees challenged Jesus with this question: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on every sort of grounds?”—Matthew 19:3.
The Mosaic Law permitted a man to divorce his wife if he “found something indecent about her.” (Deuteronomy 24:1) In Jesus’ time, there were two schools of rabbinic thought that held contrasting interpretations of the meaning of that law. Shammai, the more rigorous school, interpreted it to mean that the only valid reason for divorce was “unchastity,” that is, adultery. The School of Hillel, on the other hand, held that a man could legitimately divorce on grounds of any marital discord, no matter how small. According to the latter school, a man could divorce his wife if she so much as spoiled his dinner or if he found another woman whom he considered prettier.