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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 5

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

By him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria - An Assyrian monarch had pushed his conquests as far as Syria exactly at this period, bringing into subjection all the kings of these parts. But Syria revolted after a few years and once more made herself independent. It was probably in this war of independence that Naaman had distinguished himself.

But he was a leper - leprosy admitted of various kinds and degrees Leviticus 13:0; Leviticus 14:0 Some of the lighter forms would not incapacitate a man from discharging the duties of a courtier and warrior.

Verse 2

No peace had been made on the failure of Ahab’s expedition 1 Kings 22:1-36. The relations of the two countries therefore continued to be hostile, and plundering inroads naturally took place on the one side and on the other.

Verse 4

One went in - Rather, “he went in,” i. e. Naaman went and told his lord, the king of Syria.

Verse 5

Six thousand pieces of gold - Rather, “six thousand shekels of gold.” Coined money did not exist as yet, and was not introduced into Judea until the time of Cyrus. Gold was carried in bars, from which portions were cut when need arose, and the value was ascertained by weighing. If the gold shekel of the Jews corresponded, as some think, to the doric of the Persians, the value of the 6,000 shekels would be about 6,837 British pounds If the weight was the same as that of the silver shekel (see Exodus 38:24 note), the value would exceed 12,000 British pounds.

The ancient practice of including clothes among gifts of honor in the East Genesis 41:42; Esther 6:8; Daniel 5:7 continues to the present day.

Verse 6

That thou mayest recover him - literally, “And thou shalt recover him.” The Syrian king presumes that, if there is a cure for leprosy to be had in Israel, the mode of obtaining it will be well known to his royal brother.

Verse 7

He rent his clothes - The action indicated alarm and terror quite as much as sorrow 2 Samuel 13:19; Ezra 9:3; 2 Chronicles 34:27; Jeremiah 36:22.

Consider, I pray you - Jehoram speaks to his chief officers, and bids them mark the animus of the Syrian monarch. Compare the conduct of Ahab 1 Kings 20:7.

Verse 8

He shall know ... Israel - namely, “That which thou (the king of Israel) appearest to have forgotten, that there is a prophet - a real Yahweh prophet - in Israel.”

Verse 10

Elisha was not deterred from personally meeting Naaman because he was a leper. He sent a messenger because Naaman had over-estimated his own importance 2 Kings 5:11), and needed rebuke.

And wash in Jordan - Compare the marginal references. A command is given which tests the faith of the recipient, and the miracle is not performed until such faith is openly evidenced.

Verse 11

He will surely come out to me - In the East a code of unwritten laws prescribes exactly how visits are to be paid, and how visitors are to be received, according to the worldly rank of the parties (compare 2 Kings 5:21). No doubt, according to such a code, Elisha should have gone out to meet Naaman at the door of his house.

And call on the name of the Lord his God - literally, “of Yahweh his God.” Naaman is aware that Yahweh is the God of Elisha. Compare the occurrence of the name of Yahweh on the “Moabite Stone” (2 Kings 3:4 note).

Strike - Better, as in the margin, “pass the fingers up and down the place” at a short distance. It seems implied that the leprosy was partial.

Verse 12

The Abana is the Barada, or true river of Damascus, which, rising in the anti-Libanus, flows westward from its foot and forms the oasis within which Damascus is placed. The Pharpar is usually identified with the Awaaj.

Naaman thinks that, if washing is to cure him, his own rivers may serve the purpose. Their water was brighter, clearer, and colder than that of Jordan.

Verse 14

Seven times - Compare 1 Kings 18:43. In both cases a somewhat severe trial was made of the individual’s faith. Compare the seven compassings of Jericho, and the sudden fall of the walls Joshua 6:3-20.

Verse 15

He returned - Naaman was grateful (compare Luke 17:15). From the Jordan to Samaria was a distance of not less than 32 miles. Naaman further went to Damascus, far out of his way, lengthening his necessary journey by at least three days. His special object in returning seems to have been to relieve his feelings of obligation by inducing the prophet to accept a “blessing,” i. e. a gift.

There is no God ... - Compare the marginal references; but in none of them are the expressions quite so strong as here. Naaman seems absolutely to renounce all belief in any other God but Yahweh.

Verse 16

I will receive none - The prophets were in the habit of receiving presents from those who consulted them 1 Samuel 9:7-8; 1 Kings 14:3, but Elisha refused. It was important that Naaman should not suppose that the prophets of the true God acted from motives of self-interest, much less imagine that “the gift of God might be purchased with money” Acts 8:20.

Verse 17

Two mules’ burden of earth - This earth, Naaman thought, spread over a portion of Syrian ground, would hallow and render it suitable for the worship of Yahweh.

Verse 18

Rimmon is known to us as a god only by this passage. The name is connected with a root “to be high.” Hadad-rimmon Zechariah 12:11, the name of a place near Megiddo, points to the identity of Rimmon with Hadad, who is known to have been the Sun, the chief object of worship to the Syrians.

When he leaneth on mine hand - The practice of a monarch’s “leaning on the hand” of an attendant was not common in the East (compare the marginal reference). It probably implied age or infirmity.

The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing - Naaman was not prepared to offend his master, either by refusing to enter with him into the temple of Rimmon, or by remaining erect when the king bowed down and worshipped the god. His conscience seems to have told him that such conduct was not right; but he trusted that it might be pardoned, and he appealed to the prophet in the hope of obtaining from him an assurance to this effect.

Verse 19

So he departed ... - This clause should not be separated from the succeeding verse. The meaning is, “So he departed from him, and had gone a little way, when Gehazi bethought himself of what he would do, and followed after him.”

Verse 20

This Syrian - The words are emphatic. Gehazi persuades himself that it is right to spoil a Syrian - that is, a Gentile, and an enemy of Israel.

As the Lord liveth - These words are here a profane oath. Gehazi, anxious to make himself believe that he is acting in a proper, and, even, in a religions spirit, does not scruple to introduce one of the most solemn of religious phrases.

Verse 21

He lighted down from the chariot - This was an act of quite uncalled-for courtesy. It indicates eagerness to honor the master in the person of his servant.

Verse 22

From mount Ephraim - Bethel and Gilgal 2 Kings 2:1, at both of which there were “schools of the prophets,” were situated on Mount Ephraim.

A talent of silver - A large demand in respect of the pretended occasion; but small compared with the amount which Naaman had pressed on the prophet 2 Kings 5:4. Gehazi had to balance between his own avarice, on the one hand, and the fear of raising suspicion on the other.

Verse 23

Be content - i. e. “consent.”

Verse 24

The tower - Rather, “the hill,” the well-known hill by Elisha’s house. The hill interrupted the view in the direction taken by Naaman, and Gehazi dismissed Naaman’s servants at this point lest they should be seen from his master’s residence.

Verse 25

Lest his absence should be noticed, Gehazi hastened, without being called, to appear before his master. In the East it is usual for servants to remain most of the day in their lord’s presence, only quitting it when given some order to execute.

Verse 26

Went not mine heart with thee? - i. e. “Was I not with thee in spirit - did I not see the whole transaction, as if I had been present at it?” He uses the verb “went,” because Gehazi has just denied his “going.”

Is it a time ... - i. e. “Was this a proper occasion to indulge greed, when a Gentile was to be favorably impressed, and made to feel that the faith of the Israelites was the only true religion? Was it not, on the contrary, an occasion for the exhibition of the greatest unselfishness, that so a pagan might be won to the truth?”

And oliveyards and vineyards ... - Gehazi’s thoughts had probably run on to the disposition which he would make of his wealth, and the prophet here follows them, enumerating his servant’s intended purchases.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/2-kings-5.html. 1870.
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