2 Kings 5:1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
‘Israel’s wars with Aram were interspersed with periods of peace between the two states. (e.g. 1 Kings 22:1) The story of Naaman is set in one such period. A theme which occurs at several points throughout the story is that Israel’s God is the world’s God; he is the only God and his power and interests are not local but cosmic in scale.’ (NBC)
Naaman is Healed
1. Naaman, commander of the Syrian army, gets leprosy. He hears from his Israelite servant girl about Elishas healing powers.
2. The king of Syria sends Naaman to Samaria. He goes to Elishas house.
3. Elisha instructs Naaman to wash in the River Jordan 7 times. Naaman feels insulted, but his servants persuade him. He is cured.
4. Naaman returns to Elisha, to give him a gift. Elisha refuses and sends him home.
5. But Gehazi, Elishas servant, follows Naaman and tells him Elisha would like 3000 pieces of silver. Naaman insists on 6000 pieces. On Gehazis return home, Elisha uncovers his deception and Gehazi is stricken with leprosy. Jenkins, S. (1997, c1985). Nelson’s 3-D Bible mapbook (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Through him the Lord had given victory to Aram – The Lord is in control, not only of the rise and fall of Israel, but of all nations. ‘The preservation and prosperity even of those that do not know God and serve him must be ascribed to him, for he is the Saviour of all men, but especially of those that believe. Let Israel know that when the Syrians prevailed it was from the Lord.’ (MHC)
But – ‘Every man has some but or other in his character, something that blemishes and diminishes him, some allay to his grandeur, some damp to his joy; he may be very happy, very good, yet, in something or other, not so good as he should be nor so happy as he would be. Naaman was a great as the world could make him, and yet (as bishop Hall expresses it) the basest slave in Syria would not change skins with him.’ (MHC)
He had leprosy – The term covers a number of skin complaints, and does not necessarily equate to what is now called leprosy. In fact, the infectious form did not reach Palestine until after this date. Naaman’s condition was probably psoriasis.
‘Leprosy, much like AIDS today, was one of the most feared diseases of the time. Some forms were extremely contagious and in many cases, incurable. In its worst forms, leprosy led to death. Many lepers were forced out of the cities into quarantined camps. Because Naaman still held his post, he probably had a midl form of the disease, or perhaps it was still in the early stages. In either case, his life would have been tragically shortened by his disease.’ (Life Application Bible)
See Lk 4:27.
2 Kings 5:2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.
The young girl had been captured ‘in one of the many predatory incursions which were then made by the Syrians on the northern border of Israel. (see 1 Sam 30:8 2 Kings 13:21 2 Kings 24:2) By this young Hebrew slave of his wife, Naaman’s attention was directed to the prophet of Israel, as the person who would remove his leprosy. Naaman, on communicating the matter to his royal master, was immediately furnished with a letter to the king of Israel, and set out for Samaria, carrying with him, as an indispensable preliminary in the East, very costly presents.’ (JFB)
‘Aram was Israel’s neighbour to the northeast, but the two nations were rarely on friendly terms. Under David, Aram paid tribute to Israel. In Elisha’s day, Aram was growing in power and frequently conducted raids on Israel, trying to frustrate the people and bring about political confusion. Israelite captives were often taken back to Aram after successful raids. Naaman’s servant girl was an Israelite, kidnapped from her home and family. Ironically, Naaman’s only hope of being cured came from Israel.’ (Life Application Bible)
2 Kings 5:3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
‘Elisha’s reputation as a healer reached Naaman through his wife’s Israelite maidservant. In spite of the fact that Naaman had once defeated her own people and taken her captive, she showed a sincere concern for his welfare. Her simple”] faith that Elisha would be able to cure Naaman’s disease was in stark contrast to the reaction of the king of Israel. His panic in v 7 is almost comical and full of irony. The king could not exercise God’s power over life and death, but it did not occur to him to send Naaman to the man of God who could.’ (NBC)
‘The little girl’s faith and Naaman’s quest contrast with the stubbornness of Israel’s king (5:7). A leader in mighty Aram sought the God of Israel; Israel’s own king would not. We don’t know the little girl’s name or much about her, but her brief word to her mistress brought healing and faith in God to a powerful Aramean captain. God had placed her for a purpose, and she was faithful. Where had God put you? No matter how humble or small your position, God can use you to spread his word. Look for opportunities to tell others what God can do. There’s no telling who will hear your message!’ (Life Application Bible)
2 Ki 5:4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said.
2 Ki 5:5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing.
2 Ki 5:6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
2 Ki 5:7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
2 Ki 5:8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
2 Ki 5:9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
2 Kings 5:10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
‘Naaman was at first outraged by Elisha’s instructions to wash seven times in the Jordan (10-12). His servants, however, had more faith – just as the Israelite maidservant had shown more faith than the Israelite king. They sensibly pointed out that he would have been keen enough to do something difficult, so why not something easy? Obedience to Elisha’s simple”] instructions produced healing. God is often asking for faith and obedience in small matters when we think he is requiring mighty deeds.’ (NBC)
2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.”
‘When the Syrian general, with his imposing retinue, arrived at the prophet’s house, Elisha sent him a message to “go and wash in Jordan seven times.” This apparently rude reception to a foreigner of so high dignity incensed Naaman to such a degree that he resolved to depart, scornfully boasting that the rivers of Damascus were better than all the waters of Israel. ‘ (JFB)
‘Naaman, a great hero, was used to getting respect, and he was outraged when Elisha treated him like an ordinary person. A proud man, he expected royal treatment. To wash in a great river would be one thing, but the Jordan was small and dirty. To wash in the Jordan, Naaman thought, was beneath a man of his position. But Naaman had to humble himself and obey Elisha’s commands in order to be healed.
Obedience to God begins with humility. We must believe that his way is better than our own. We may not always understand his ways of working, but by humbly obeying, we will receive his blessings. We must remember that (1) God’s ways are best, (2) God wants our obedience more than anything else, (3) God can use anything to accomplish his purpose.’ (Life Application Bible)
2 Ki 5:12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
2 Kings 5:13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
“If the prophet had told you to do some great thing…” – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. “It is so simple”],” says one. Yes, and that is the reason why it is so hard. If it were hard, people would do it, but because it is so simply, they won’t have it. It was a very hard thing for Naaman to go and wash in the Jordan, and why hard? Because it was so easy! If it had been a difficult thing it would not have been hard; he would have done it.’ (The Best of Spurgeon, 239)
2 Ki 5:14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
2 Ki 5:15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.”
2 Ki 5:16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
2 Kings 5:17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD.”
‘His request for two mule-loads of Israel’s soil need not mean that he thought Yahweh was somehow limited to Israelite territory. Rather, it probably reflected a belief that Yahweh’s land was holy and, therefore, its soil was necessary for the creation of a sacred area for the worship of Yahweh in Aram.’ (NBC)
2 Kings 5:18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also-when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.”
‘Naaman’s request in v 18 did not mean that he wished to continue worshipping Rimmon (a title of the Aramean god Hadad) as well as Yahweh. This would contradict his declarations in vs 15 and 17. His problem was that, as a member of the royal court, he must go through the motions of worshipping Rimmon, even though his allegiance was now to Yahweh alone. Elisha’s blessing assured him of the forgiveness he asked for. The whole passage should make us very sensitive to the difficulties of those who try to serve God among people of another faith.’ (NBC)
Naaman’s embarrassment at even seeming to countenance idolatry is in striking contrast to the Israelites, who were constantly worshiping many idols.
2 Ki 5:19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said. After Naaman had traveled some distance,
2 Kings 5:20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
‘Gehazi’s attempt at deception (20-27) provides a sad and salutary appendix to the story. As a high-ranking official, Naaman had brought with him gifts of enormous value – all of which Elisha had refused to accept. The temptation to obtain some of these riches for himself proved too strong for Gehazi, who took cruel advantage of Naaman’s gratitude and generosity. The service of God does not protect his servants from temptation. Indeed, it often places them in a position to abuse their status and take advantage of others. Elisha’s words in v 26 implied that there might have been times when it was right to accept gifts, but this (for a reason which is not explained) was not one of them.’ (NBC)
2 Ki 5:21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
2 Ki 5:22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.'”
2 Ki 5:23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi.
2 Ki 5:24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.
2 Ki 5:25 Then he went in and stood before his master Elisha. “Where have you been, Gehazi?” Elisha asked. “Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.
2 Ki 5:26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants?
2 Ki 5:27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and he was leprous, as white as snow.