2 Kings 5
Jordan River heals a man’s skin disease
Slave girl of Israel advises her master1Naaman commanded the Syrian army. He was a favorite of the king because he had won so many battles, with the LORD’s help. Naaman was a strong warrior, but he had a skin disease. 
2On one of Naaman’s raids into Israel, they captured a young Israelite girl they assigned to work as a servant of Naaman’s wife. 3The girl told Naaman’s wife, “It’s too bad my master is so far away from Samaria.  There’s a prophet in that town who could cure his skin disease.”
4Naaman took the Israelite’s news to the king.
Naaman goes to Israel for healing5Syria’s king said, “You need to go. Absolutely. I’ll write a letter to the king of Israel.” So, Naaman left for Israel. He took almost half a ton of silver and gold as gifts: 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold.  He took 10 sets of clothing, as well.
6The Syrian king’s message read, “I’m sending this letter to introduce one of my officials, Naaman. I’ve sent him to you so you can cure his skin disease.” 7When Israel’s king read that letter, he ripped his clothes in anger. He said, “Who does he think I am, God? Have I killed anyone lately and raised them from the dead? Do you see what he’s doing? He’s trying to start a war!”
Elisha tells Naaman to wash in the Jordan8Elisha got the news quickly. He heard about the letter and about how the king reacted. So he sent this message to the king: “Why rip your robe over something like this? Just send the man to me. I’ll show him there’s a real prophet in Israel.” 9Naaman and his entourage of chariots and cavalry rode to Elisha’s home and parked outside his door.
10Elisha didn’t go outside to meet him. Instead, he sent a messenger to tell Naaman, “Go back to the Jordan River  and wash yourself seven times. You’ll come out of there cured.”
Naaman gets mad, then wet11Naaman left, furious. He said, “I thought he would take me seriously. Why didn’t he come out to see me and to call on the power of his God, the LORD? He should have waved his hands over the spot on my skin to cure me. 12But no, he’s sends me to the Jordan. I could have washed in the rivers of Damascus—the Abana or the Pharpar. They have better water than anything we’re going to find down here in Israel.” Naaman was becoming livid.
13His servants tried to calm him down. “Please sir, you know that if the prophet asked you to do something huge and hard, you would do it. Why not do it even more so, since he told you to do something so small and easy? Wash and get well.”
14So Naaman did what Elisha said. He went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times into the water. Then he came up out of the water with skin as healthy and as clear as you’d find on a young boy.
Elisha refuses to accept Naaman’s gifts15Naaman and his entourage rode back to Elisha’s house and met with the prophet. Naaman said, “I’m convinced now that there’s only one God in the world—the God of Israel. Please accept a gift from me, your grateful servant.”
16Elisha said, “There is a God. And as sure and he’s alive, I won’t take anything from you.” Naaman pressed Elisha to accept the gift, but the prophet refused.
Naaman takes dirt from Israel17Naaman said, “If you won’t take anything from me, please let me take something from you. I’d like to take as much soil of Israel as a pair of pack mules can carry. I’ll use it when I burn sacrificial offerings. I promise you this, I’ll never burn another sacrifice to any god but the LORD of Israel.
18Even so, I would ask for tolerance when I get home to Damascus. When my king goes into the temple devoted to the god Rimmon,  he leans on me when he bows. So, I have to go in there and bow with him. I ask the LORD to forgive me for this.”
19“Don’t worry,” Elisha said, “Go in peace.” Naaman headed home.
Elisha’s servant gets greedy20Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, said to himself, “The master was way too easy on that Syrian, Naaman. He should have taken the gifts. I’m going to catch up with Naaman and get something.” 21Gehazi ran to catch Naaman. The commander saw him running, so he stopped and climbed down out of his chariot. He asked, “Is everything okay?”
22“Yes,” Gehazi said. “My master wanted me to tell you that two prophets just showed up at his house. They’re from a community of prophets in the hills of Ephraim. He’d like to give them each 75 pounds  of silver and two sets of clothes.”
23Naaman said, “Absolutely. But take twice as much silver.” He told Gehazi to take the clothes, too. So, Gehazi took the silver and clothes and stuffed them into two sacks. That was too much for Gehazi to carry that far. So, Naaman sent two servants to help Gehazi. They walked ahead of him. 24When they reached the hill where Gehazi lived, Gehazi took the gifts, hid them in his house, and sent the servants away.
Elisha’s servant gets sick25When Gehazi later showed up at Elisha’s house, the prophet said, “Tell me, Gehazi, where have you been?” Gehazi said, “Nowhere, sir. Just around here.”
26Elisha said, “Odd thing, I sure thought it was you that my spirit  saw greeting that man as he stepped down out of his chariot. Gehazi, you didn’t have any right to take the money and clothes, so you could buy olive groves, vineyards, flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, along with men and women as slaves. 27Naaman’s disease has become yours now. It will latch onto you, and it won’t let go. It will become your legacy to your descendants from now on.” Gehazi left and his skin turned leprous white.
The Hebrew word describing the disease, ṣāraʽ, can refer to any serious skin disease that would make an Israelite ritually unclean, and unfit to step foot on the sacred grounds of a worship center. Skin diseases reported in the Bible may often have been what we know today as a simple rash or perhaps eczema or psoriasis. The word is often translated as leprosy, but there’s no way of knowing if Naaman had what we today call Hansen’s disease. It’s caused by bacteria that grows slowly and damages nerves, skin, and eyes. It can produce light patches on the skin. Hansen’s disease is curable today with steroids and antibiotics. Without treatment, lepers sometimes get injured and don’t treat the injury because they can’t feel the pain. Infection sets in and body parts are amputated.
Samaria was capital of Israel, at the time. It was roughly 100 miles (160 km) south of Naaman’s home in Damascus. That’s about a five-day trip, at the average of 20 miles (32 km) a day.
That’s 340 kilograms of silver (10 talents in ancient Hebrew weight) and 78 kg of gold (6,000 shekels).
The Jordan River was about a day’s ride east of Samaria, 20 miles (32 km). Fun fact: The Jordan empties into the Dead Sea, a body of water so rich in salt and other minerals that even people who can’t swim will float. Many physicians in the region prescribe bathing in the Dead Sea as a treatment for skin disorders that produce dry skin, itching, peeling, and inflammation. These symptoms are caused by psoriasis, dermatitis, vitiligo, and other skin disorders. Dead Sea water contains therapeutic elements such as magnesium, calcium, and stomium. Dead Sea water splashing into the eyes stings like fire.
“Rimmon” was the Assyrian name for the Canaanite god, Baal—god of storms and thunder and rain. That’s a welcome god in a desert land. Assyria, based in what is now northern Iraq, was at that time the rising power. This empire would eventually erase the Syrian nation and Israel off the world map.
That’s 34 kilogram or one talent in ancient Hebrew weight.
Did Elisha have an out-of-body experience, soaring as soul in flight? Or did God slip him a message. Or did Elisha make an educated guess—for if Gehazi did take anything from Naaman, the commander would likely have climbed out of the chariot. The writer didn’t say, perhaps because he had no idea.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.