Simon the Leper

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Simon the Leper is a biblical figure mentioned by the Gospels according to Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:3-9). These two books narrate how Jesus made a visit to the house of Simon the Leper at Bethany during the course of which a woman anoints the head of Jesus with costly ointment. Bethany was the home of Simon the Leper as well as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

The Gospel according to John (12:1-8) recounts an episode with many similarities. John reports that Jesus attended a dinner hosted by Mary, Martha and Lazarus. According to John's gospel (12:1), Jesus arrived at Bethany six days before the Passover, whereas Matthew and Mark report his arrival as two days before Passover. Martha served and Lazarus sat at the table. According to John's Gospel, the feet of Jesus were anointed by Mary. Matthew and John report that Judas Iscariot and other disciples of Jesus were in attendance and protested the costly anointing of Jesus.

Simon the Leper is sometimes identified with Simon the Pharisee (see Shimon ben Gamliel), who is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (7:36-50) as the host of a meal during which the feet of Jesus are anointed by a penitent woman.[1] Because of some similarities, efforts have been made to reconcile the events and characters, but some scholars have pointed out differences between the two events.[2] An alternative explanation for the similarities is that the Luke 7 anointing and the anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:6, Mark 14:3, John 12:1) happened with some of the same participants, but several years apart.[3]

Simon the Leper is also sometimes identified as the same person as Lazarus of Bethany, or identified as his father or brother[citation needed]. This is because Matthew and Mark mention Simon, while John mentions Lazarus, but all four gospels assume one lodging at Bethany during the last week. Abbé Drioux identified all three as one: Lazarus of Bethany, Simon the Leper of Bethany, and the Lazarus of the parable, on the basis that in the parable Lazarus is depicted as a leper, and due to a perceived coincidence between Luke 16:30 and John 12:10—where after the raising of Lazarus, Caiaphas and Annas tried to have him killed.[4]


  1. ^ Sir William Smith, A dictionary of the Bible, Volume 2 1863 p78
  2. ^ The Anointing of Jesus
  3. ^ Whittaker H.A. Studies in the Gospels, Cannock 1996
  4. ^ Drioux C.J. La Bible populaire. Paris, 1864

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