By Peter & Mary Minson
In Memory of Bruce MacGregor.
Narrative based on 2 Kings 6:24 - 7:20.
The following narrative requires a NARRATOR [well-rehearsed, with a script]
The other characters KING, WOMAN, ELISHA, 4 LEPERS require neither script nor rehearsal. They can be called out of the congregation as the story proceeds.
The audience will be asked to provide sound effects.
Narrator: Can some of our older parishioners remember when the Syrian army invaded northern Israel? Well, it's all happened several times, actually ... in fact, the invasion we're going to be part of today happened about 3000 years ago ... when the Syrians came down the Golan Heights and besieged the people living in the northern city of Samaria.
In those days Syria had a king - Ben Hadad by name - everybody say "Hey, Dad!" ["Hey dad!"] and I'd like you to call that out whenever I mention his name, Ben Hadad. ["Hey dad!"].
King Ben Hadad ["Hey dad!"] led his entire army against the city of Samaria, which also had its own king in those days too, but we don't know his name - all we know is that under his robes he wore an uncomfortable hair shirt. So I'd like you, every time we mention the King of Samaria ... or should I say "some hairier"? (sorry!)... I'd like you to wriggle round and itch yourself as though you had a tee-shirt lined with prickly, spiky horse-hair. Could you do that when I mention the King of Samaria? [scratch]
Very good! So now we know about Syrian King Ben Hadad ["Hey dad!"] and the uncomfortably itchy and scratchy King of Samaria [scratch]
The siege of the city went on and on and on, and nobody could bring food in, and nobody could get out. There was a prophet of God in the city, Elisha by name, and he told the King of Samaria [scratch] not to give in to King Ben Hadad ["Hey dad!"] because Elisha was sure God would help his people.
But meanwhile, the people began to starve, and the price of food shot up so it cost a week's wages for a packet of frozen peas. Now whenever I mention the word "food", I'd like you to lift up your hands in praise, and say "Ah McCain, you've done it again!"
But outside in the tents of King Ben Hadad ["Hey dad!"] his army had plenty of food ["Ah McCain'] and drink and fine cigars! They just sat around and had great feasts - tables laden with food ["Ah McCain"] with King Ben Hadad ["Hey dad!"] , and waited for the King of Samaria [scratch] and his people in the city to starve to death so they could go in and steal all their gold and take over their land.
This was a very serious time for the Israelites, and they prayed to Yahweh their God for help, but no help came.
SING: AS THE DEER LONGS FOR RUNNING STREAMS
(During this song, go and get a KING and an ELISHA and a WOMAN.)
Narrator: One day after months of this siege the King of Samaria [scratch] was walking round the top of the high walls of his city - which I might say was quite some area! - and he heard a maiden crying in the valley below, "Help me, O King!"
Woman: Help me, O King!
Narrator: The King replied, "If God won't help us, how can I help?"
King: If God won't help us, how can I help?
Narrator: I know you're starving, but I haven't got any food! ["Ah, McCain"]
King: I know you're starving, but I haven't got any food! ["Ah McCain"]
Narrator: The Woman said: "Oh king of Samaria [scratch]"
Woman: Oh king of Samaria [scratch]
Narrator: "My neighbour suggested we have my child for dinner."
Woman: My neighbour suggested we have my child for dinner.
Narrator: The King said, "That's nice!"
King: That's nice!
Narrator: But the woman said, "No you don't understand, I mean EAT him for dinner."
Woman: No... you don't understand... I mean EAT him for dinner!
Narrator: [to the audience] Everybody go "Yuck!" [Yuck]
But let's not be too hard on them - everybody had been doing it since TV screened that movie about the survivors of that plane-crash in South America.
Well, the woman explained to the King that her next-door neighbour had suggested they have her little boy for dinner one day, then they'd eat her daughter next day. So the woman cooked up the little boy, who was named "Chewy" after the Wookie in Star Wars, and he was great...just a little tough in places! Next day it was the neighbour's turn, but by then she'd hidden her wee girl, who was called "Candy."
Narrator: [cueing the Woman] And the woman finished her complaint to the king, saying, "She cheated, O King of Samaria.
Woman: "She cheated, O King of Samaria [scratch]
Narrator: "I'll make her get her just desserts!"
Woman: I'll make her get her just desserts!
Narrator: The king was very uncomfortable on "hairing" this, and he tore his robes in dismay, and the crowd could see he was wearing a hair shirt, and they ware irritated too! The King blamed Yahweh and his prophet Elisha. He rapped out [n mock rap style] "May God strike me dead if that prophet keeps his head!"
King: May God strike me dead if that prophet keeps his head!
Narrator: "It's that Elisha dude turning' kids into food ["Ah McCain"]
King: It's that Elisha dude turning' kids into food ["Ah McCain"]
Narrator: Following the King's outburst, his slimy chief assistant, whose name was The Evil Jaffar [ Please go "Oooooh Slimy!" & rub your hands whenever I mention the Evil Jaffar ]
The Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] rushed off to tell the prophet Elisha the headline news. Meanwhile, Elisha was at home having a nice cup of hot water with the Vicar. Suddenly, he looked up and said: 'Im about to be sentenced to death by the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"]
Elisha: I'm about to be sentenced to death by the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"]
Narrator: Now even though we all know Vicars only work on Sundays, this particular Vicar was prepared to do a spot of work this day because it was an emergency. So he slammed the door, causing the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] to slide to a halt outside, with the King of Samaria [scratch] hairing along behind.
The King called out: "Elisha! Open up, or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in."
King: Elisha! Open up, or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in.
Narrator: Um, excuse me, king of Samaria [scratch], that's a different story!
Adjust your red riding hood, king, and let's try that again. "Elisha!" called the king.
King: Elisha! ,
Narrator: "Open up and let me see if this glass slipper fits you."
King: Open up and let me see if this glass slipper fits you!
Narrator: Terribly sorry, O king of Samaria [scratch] , but that's wrong too! Children, Tell his majesty which story he's confused with now [Cinderella]. Yes! He needs a genie to sort things out, doesn't he? Now King, lets get it straight. Please tell Elisha the people are starving.
King: Elisha, the people are starving.
Narrator: And tell him its God's fault. [King does it] And tell him if something doesn't give, he'll lose his head. [King does it]
Narrator: Then Elisha told the King to listen to what the Lord was going to do. "O king of Samaria [scratch]," said Elisha.
Elisha: O king of Samaria [scratch]
Narrator: "By this time tomorrow a can of baked beans will cost 20c."
Elisha: By this time tomorrow a can of baked beans will cost 20c,
Narrator: "... and the price of food ["Ah McCain"] will be back to normal."
Elisha: and the price of food ["Ah McCain] will be back to normal.
Narrator: But the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] started laughing uncontrollably and said, "Even if God opened the windows of heaven, nothing much would change. The trouble with you religious people is you don't understand the free-market economy, and every time you open your mouth you put both feet in it." [to audience] ... sound familiar? But Elisha rounded on the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] and said, "Jaffar [l"Oooooh Slimy!"] you'll see it happen, but you won't taste the food"["Oooooh Slimy!"]
Elisha: Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] you'll see it happen, but you won't taste the food["Oooooh Slimy!"]
Narrator: So the people began to pray with renewed hope
SING: 0 LORD, HEAR MY PRAYER
Narrator: Now, I want four people to come and be a group of Samaritans who were stuck outside the gates of Samaria. Could you 4 come up here please? and sit down here outside the gates of the city, which are shut up tight. [They come and are seated. The Narrator speaks to them] You four nice people, I'm' afraid, all have a terrifying skin disease, and even though the people in the city are starving to death, they're even more scared of catching your disease, so they won't let you in. [To the 4] How do you feel about all this? [let them reply] [to the congregation] and of course, they are starving too. I wonder ... can anybody guess why no soldiers came from the camp of King Ben Hadad ["Hey Dad"] to kill them?
The very next morning the smallest one spoke up [let the 4 work this out!] [the smallest one was, of course, the smartest one] They said, "Hey, why stay here until we die.'?"
Leper: Hey, why stay here until we die?
Narrator: "If we stay here we die,"
Leper 1: If we stay here we die.
Narrator: "Why not go over and surrender to Ben Hadad? ["Hey Dad"]
Leper 1: Why not go over and surrender to Ben Hadad? ["Hey Dad"]
Narrator: "If he spares us, that's great. But if he kills us, so what?"
Leper 1: If he spares us, that's great. But if he kills us, so what?
Narrator: And the other three said, "Yeah!"
Lepers 2,3,4: Yeah!
Narrator: So up they got and shambled over to the Syrian camp of King Ben Hadad ["Hey Dad"]. When they reached the outskirts of the camp, they looked for guards, but found none, because God had heard the prayers of the Samaritans and the prophet Elisha. And God had tricked the invading army into believing there was another army of chariots and horses charging down on them, and the night before, the army of King Ben Hadad ["Hey Dad"] had fled in a panic, leaving behind their horses, and their weapons, their tents ... and ... their ... food ["ah McCain, you've done it again!]
The four hungry lepers tiptoed into one tent, and quiet as mice, slipped some uneaten bread off one table, a cask of Chardonnay wine off another, and some Tararua cheese from a third. Then, munching greedily, they threw off their rags and put on beautiful, expensive designer fashions the Syrians had left in their panic, and they loaded up their pockets with the silver knives and forks, gold goblets, and some loose change they found lying round! What a haul! Not only were they well fed, they looked great too!
[to the 4] Tell me, you four, how are you feeling now?.
By now the sky was the limit - obviously there was nobody about, the camp was deserted. And they went into another tent and pinched some more stuff. But then one of them - the oldest one [let the 4 work this out] - suddenly stopped chewing and said, "Hang on, this isn't right."
Leper 4: Hang on, this isn't right.
Narrator: The 3 others said "Whaaat?"
L 1,2,3: Whaaat?
Narrator: The oldest one said, "This is a day of celebration, and we're keeping it to ourselves."
Leper 4: This is a day of celebration, and we're keeping it to ourselves
Narrator: "If we don't tell the others, we're sinning."
Leper 4: If we don't tell the others, we're sinning.
Narrator: The other 3 said "Yeah!"
Lepers 1,2,3: Yeah!
Narrator: So the 4 of them hurried off to the city gates at once, and shouted out their good news to the gatekeepers [shout] "We went to the Syrian camp and the place was deserted!"
Lepers: We went to the Syrian camp and the place was deserted.
Narrator: [shout] "Not a sound."
Lepers: Not a sound.
Narrator: "Only tethered horses and donkeys."
Lepers: Only tethered horses and donkeys.
Narrator: "And the tents were empty."
Lepers: And the tents were empty.
Narrator: The gatekeepers passed on the news pretty quick to the king of Samaria [scratch]. He couldn't sleep anyway, not dressed like that! He got up and said to the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] "It's a trick - the Syrians are trying to lure us out of the city."
King: It's a trick - the Syrians are trying to lure us out of the city."
Narrator: But the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] was cunning and sly. He said, "Let's send our last five horsemen out to check. If they're caught, so what, we're all doomed anyway. If they come back, we'll know this story is true." So they did it. The five horsemen followed the tracks of the departing army as far as the Jordan River, and everywhere they found evidence that what the 4 outcasts had said was true! There were swords, shields, clothes, and equipment littering the road - thrown away in the Syrian army's flight.
Then the king of Samaria [scratch] was itching to throw open the gates and all the starving people swarmed out to the enemy camp and had a wonderful meal of Syrian food ["Ah McCain"] And later that day, a can of baked beans sold in Samaria for just 20c again, just as the prophet of Yahweh had predicted.
SING: I THE BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD
But the Evil Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] was too miserable to believe God had done it, and he lurked around the gates, and in the rush to get the Syrian food, the crowd trampled him, and so perished the Evil Jaffar ("Oooooh Slimy!"] just as the man of God had foretold: Jaffar ["Oooooh Slimy!"] you'll see it happen, but you won't taste the food.["Ah McCain"]
But the heroes of the day were the four with that horrible skin disease. They could have kept the good news to themselves, but they felt sorry for their friends even though their friends were mean to them, and they didn't want their friends to starve when there was tonnes of food ["Ah McCain"].
So today, let's not be afraid to be like those four outcasts. Let's be good friends to others who don't know the good news that Jesus has come to save us from sin, suffering, spiritual starvation, and a distinctly unpleasant future!
.................. is going to lead us in our prayers now for the people in the world who are starving today, and those who are suffering dreadful diseases, and those who are caught in terrible wars, and we'll pray for the Christian organisations who aren't prepared to keep the good news of Jesus to themselves.
PRAYERS [response: "O Lord Hear My Prayer"]
© Copyright Mary and Peter Minson 1997. All rights
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the authors would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
They may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org