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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 5

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Kings Chapter 5

2 Kings 5:1 "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, [but he was] a leper."

The name "Naaman" means pleasantness. Naaman had, possibly, been an army officer in the army of Ben-hadad. It seems that at this point in time, he had been made captain of the host. The master, spoken of here, is Benhadad. He had led the Syrian army in battle against the Assyrians, and the LORD had helped him to victory. He was honored by his countrymen, because of his bravery and skill in battle. It appears, from the verse above, that he was a good moral man, as well. His leprosy had not been severe enough to keep him out of battle.

2 Kings 5:2 "And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife."

It seemed, there was never a peace between Syria and Israel, that lasted very long. There were border skirmishes frequently. This little maid from Israel had been captured on one of these raids.

2 Kings 5:3 "And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord [were] with the prophet that [is] in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."

It appears, the maid was happy in her captivity. It even appears, that she cares for Naaman, her master. She believes, that if Naaman was in Samaria, Elisha could heal his leprosy. She is aware the healing comes from the LORD, but is mightily manifested through Elisha. She is so sure of this, that she tells her mistress.

2 Kings 5:4 "And [one] went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that [is] of the land of Israel."

This, possibly, means that Naaman went in and told Ben-hadad that this girl said, there was a prophet in Israel, who could cure Naaman’s leprosy.

2 Kings 5:5 "And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand [pieces] of gold, and ten changes of raiment."

A talent of silver weighs 125 pounds, so this is 1,250 pounds of silver, plus 6,000 pieces of gold {probably coins}. He, also, sent ten changes of clothing. This means that Naaman was very important to the kingdom, and he must be cured regardless of cost. Notice, who he sends the money to. It is the king of Israel. Such a gift would surely turn the head of the king of Israel.

2 Kings 5:6 "And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have [therewith] sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy."

Messengers from kings were allowed to carry their messages to the king of the land without danger. Ben-hadad was a heathen king. He thought, if there were someone in the land that could heal Naaman, he would surely be working for the king. He sent the letter and the gifts to the king, so Naaman would be healed.

2 Kings 5:7 "And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, [Am] I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me."

The king of Israel knew that only God could give life to a person. Someone with leprosy was thought of as being dead. The king of Israel knew how serious a sin it would be, to put himself in the place of God. He tears his clothes to prove that this is not his idea. He believes this to be some kind of a trick the king of Syria is pulling, to get him in trouble with God.

2 Kings 5:8 "And it was [so], when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel."

We do not know for sure, but it appears the king was not aware of Elisha’s part in the raising of the woman’s son from the dead. Elisha heard of this, and sent word to the king to send Naaman to him. It was almost as if he was saying, "the king of Israel and the king of Syria will realize there is a prophet in the land". This was as much for the benefit of Israel, as it was for Syria.

2 Kings 5:9 "So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha."

From a very early age, the Syrians used horse-drawn chariots. This was not unusual, then. This proud man would not go into the humble house of Elisha.

2 Kings 5:10 "And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."

Since he did not come in to Elisha, Elisha did not come out to him, but sent him a message. The commander of the army would find this a very degrading thing to do, as if he were not clean.

2 Kings 5:11 "But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper."

We see a very proud man. He was a great man in his land, and he expected the holy man to show him respect. We must remember, he had shown the holy man no respect. He had made up his mind, how this healing was to take place, and none of his expected things happened. He did not even hear the holy man call upon his LORD. He is insulted.

2 Kings 5:12 "[Are] not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage."

His pride was about to keep him from being healed. He was familiar with the rivers of Damascus, and he knew they were clean. He could not believe he had come so far, to just wash in the water of the river. He was really angry.

2 Kings 5:13 "And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, [if] the prophet had bid thee [do some] great thing, wouldest thou not have done [it]? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?"

The servants were not so puffed up with pride. They are saying to Naaman, what will it hurt to wash in the water and try it? You might be healed. You have come so far, why not just try washing in the river like the prophet said?

2 Kings 5:14 "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."

He realized how foolish it was, not to take the advice of the holy man, after he had come so far to get his advice. He swallowed his pride, and obeyed the commands of God, which came from Elisha’s lips. He immediately had soft skin like a young man. His leprosy was gone, and his skin was very soft.

2 Kings 5:15 "And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that [there is] no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant."

He had been angry, when he left the house of the prophet before. Now, he went back and honored the prophet, who the LORD used to heal him. He recognizes the God of Elisha as the One True God. He tries to pay Elisha for the healing.

2 Kings 5:16 "But he said, [As] the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take [it]; but he refused."

It was not wrong for the prophet to take an offering. In fact, generally, the person blessed, did give an offering. It, perhaps, was because Naaman had first expressed his importance, or it could have been because he was a heathen. Elisha, possibly, wanted Naaman to see that a person could not buy the favors of God. Elisha wanted Naaman to realize, that it was the LORD who truly healed him.

2 Kings 5:17 "And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD."

Naaman said above, "There is no God in all the earth, save in Israel". The request, here in verse 17, was to take a little of Israel home with him, so he could worship on the soil of Israel. His burnt offering and sacrifices would be made on that soil. In doing this, he would be recognizing the God of Israel.

2 Kings 5:18 "In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, [that] when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing."

Naaman is asking, in this, for the LORD to forgive him for going to the house of Rimmon to worship. He will no longer believe in any other God than the LORD. He will go to the house of Rimmon, to keep from being killed. He is saying in advance, that the visit to the house of Rimmon would be to please his leader, and he would worship in form only. His heart will be forever with the LORD.

2 Kings 5:19 "And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way."

In this, we do not see Elisha expressing approval of Naaman going to the house of Rimmon. He does not reprimand him either. He does send him away in peace.

2 Kings 5:20 "But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, [as] the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him."

The greed of Gehazi is showing. He is like many today, who are in the ministry for the money they make from it. That is the wrong reason to minister, as we will see in the next few verses. It is such a shame that he tries to include the LORD in this act of lying and stealing. He uses the phrase "as the LORD liveth". Had he been a true servant of the LORD, and of Elisha in particular, he would have trusted Elisha’s judgment on this matter.

2 Kings 5:21 "So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw [him] running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, [Is] all well?"

Naaman had seen Gehazi serving Elisha. His respect, shown here, is for Elisha.

2 Kings 5:22 "And he said, All [is] well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments."

The servant of Elisha is giving an excuse to Naaman for Elisha changing his mind about the gift. Of course, this whole statement is a lie. A talent of silver was thought to weigh 125 pounds. This is worth a great deal.

2 Kings 5:23 "And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid [them] upon two of his servants; and they bare [them] before him."

Naaman was so thankful for his healing that he wanted to give even more than was asked. He insisted on giving two talents of silver and two changes of garments. It took two men to carry the silver. Even at that, the load would have been very heavy. These servants were not Gehazi’s.

2 Kings 5:24 "And when he came to the tower, he took [them] from their hand, and bestowed [them] in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed."

Gehazi knows what he had done was wrong. He did not let the two carrying the load of silver come back into the city, for fear Elisha would find out what he had done. He hid the silver in the house, perhaps his own, and went to Elisha.

2 Kings 5:25 "But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence [comest thou], Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither."

We can look back to when the staff of Elisha was sent by Gehazi to put on the face of the dead boy. We remember, the boy did not improve. Now, we know it was the hands of this liar, that kept the staff from helping. God knew the heart of Gehazi even then. His heart had not been with the LORD all along.

2 Kings 5:26 "And he said unto him, Went not mine heart [with thee], when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? [Is it] a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?"

Elisha loved Gehazi. He had been Elisha’s personal servant, as Elisha had been Elija’s. Gehazi should have known that Elisha would know everything he did. Elisha had a vision of the whole thing. Gehazi’s plan for the money was to buy oliveyards, vineyards, sheep, oxen, menservants and maidservants. He was tired of being poor, and wanted to be rich from the ministry. This sounds all too familiar, does it not?

2 Kings 5:27 "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow."

He took the gifts of Naaman, now he will, also, have his leprosy. He will no longer serve Elisha. He must go out from him. He was no longer fit to serve Elisha. He was not trustworthy, and his greed made him unfit for the ministry. The leprosy that Gehazi received was the worst kind. He received his as a curse for his terrible sin. He could stop the leprosy with 203 himself, by never getting married. If he married and had a family, the curse of the father would be on his sons and daughters.

2 Kings 5 Questions

1. Who was captain of the host of the king of Syria?

2. What kind of captain was he?

3. What does the name "Naaman" mean?

4. Who is the master spoken of in 2 Kings 5:1?

5. How did the little maid happen to be in Naaman’s house?

6. How do we know the little maid liked Naaman?

7. Who does she suggest Naaman go to see, to get rid of his leprosy?

8. Naaman takes the maid’s suggestion to whom?

9. What did Ben-hadad send as a gift to Elisha?

10. How much does a talent of silver weigh?

11. Who sent the letter to the king of Israel?

12. What did the letter request of the king?

13. When the king of Israel read the letter, what did he do?

14. When did Elisha send word to the king that he would help Naaman?

15. How did Naaman get to Elisha?

16. Why did Elisha not come out and speak personally with Naaman?

17. What did Elisha tell him to do?

18. How did Naaman feel about this?

19. His _________ was about to keep him from being healed.

20. Who spoke to Naaman, and convinced him to do what Elisha had told him to do?

21. What happened, when he obeyed the words of Elisha?

22. What admission did Naaman make in 2 Kings 5:15?

23. When Naaman offered Elisha gifts for what he had done, what did Elisha do?

24. What did Naaman ask Elisha for?

25. What did he want with dirt from Israel?

26. Who ran after Naaman, and asked for a gift?

27. What did Naaman give Gehazi?

28. Where did Gehazi hide the silver?

29. What did Elisha tell Gehazi, when he came back?

30. What punishment came on Gehazi for his sin?

Verses 1-4

2Ki 5:1-4

Introduction

ELISHA HEALED THE LEPROSY OF NAAMAN; THE GREAT GENERAL

This is one of the most popular stories of the O.T., and it has the distinction of being specifically mentioned by our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 4:27). It is difficult to find fault with Matthew Henry’s observation that Jesus Christ by that reference made the episode, "Typical of the calling of the Gentiles; and therefore Gehazi’s stroke may be looked upon as typical of the blinding and rejecting of the Jews, who envied God’s grace to the Gentiles, as Gehazi envied Elisha’s favor to Naaman."

2 Kings 5:1-4

A CAPTIVE MAIDEN SPOKE OF GOD’S PROPHET

"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him Jehovah had given victory unto Syria: he was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out in bands, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maiden; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would that my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! then would he recover him of his leprosy. And he went in and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maiden that is of the land of Israel."

The unsung heroine of this whole narrative is this precious little girl who had been captured by the Syrians and made a slave to the house of Naaman. Instead of becoming bitter against her exploiters and harboring an undying hatred of them, she accepted her fate with meekness and exhibited deep friendship and sympathy with her mistress and her husband, Naaman.

It was this captive maiden who enlightened the great lord of the Syrian armies of the existence of a true prophet of God in Samaria and of his ability to cure leprosy.

What an exhortation is this for everyone to seize all opportunities to speak of God and His great power to benefit sinful and suffering humanity! Through the word of this servant girl, the king of Syria received the knowledge of a true prophet of God in Samaria, information which was not even known (because of his own fault) by the king of Israel (Joram).

"By him Jehovah had given the victory unto Syria" (2 Kings 5:1). Some scholars have marveled that Jehovah in this expression is accredited with the victory of Syria, but this is in full keeping with Daniel 4:25 c. As for which victory is spoken of here, Hammond thought it was probably a victory over an army of Shalmanezer II that had threatened the independence of Syria.

"But he was a leper" (2 Kings 5:1). It is rather annoying that a number of commentators go out of the way to tell us that the word "leper" in this passage came from a Hebrew term, "covering a large variety of scabious diseases, being used even of mould in houses." Such a comment has no utility except that of DOWNGRADING this miracle. One writer even mentioned that Hansen’s disease (the modern name of true leprosy) was rare in those times. However, the king of Israel rated the king of Syria’s request for the healing of Naaman’s disease as the equivalent of God’s ability to "kill and to make alive" (2 Kings 5:7); and that states in tones of thunder that Naaman was truly a leper in the current sense of the word.

The absence of any statement indicating that Naaman had become a social outcast because of his leprosy (as would certainly have been the case in Israel) does not mean that his disease was anything different from leprosy, but that the pagan reaction to it was different from that in Israel.

"Would that my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria" (2 Kings 5:3). It is sometimes insinuated that this contradicts other Biblical passages. Montgomery wrote that, "The prophet is presented as having a house in Samaria, and yet he was last seen in Shunem." So what! Elisha never lived in Shunem, but only stopped overnight there on his occasional passing through the place. Besides that, 2 Kings 6:32 indicates clearly that Elisha had a house in Samaria, a fact strongly supported by the offer of the prophet to speak to the king on behalf of the Shunammite woman. Elisha doubtless had access to the presence of the kings both of Israel and of Judah.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:1. Naaman was commander in chief of the Syrian army. He was honorable which means he ranked high in the esteem of his king. The reason given for this high standing, is the fact that the Lord had given victory to his arms. This favor from God agrees with the declaration made to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:17.) It also should be considered in connection with Romans 13:1-6. Since the existence of human governments is of divine origin, we should not wonder at God’s interest and participation therein. He even has used them in chastising his own people. Naaman was afflicted with leprosy, an incurable disease by any natural remedy.

2 Kings 5:2. Syria was just north of Israel, and was frequently engaged in battle with that kingdom. In one of the raids into the territory of the Israelites, the Syrians had captured a little maid who became the attendant of Naaman’s wife.

2 Kings 5:3-4. The little maid remembered Elisha and his ability to cure disease. Her interest in the welfare of her master was sweet and unselfish. She had been taken out of her native land, and under the command of this very master. In spite of that, she was desirous of having him cured of the terrible disease. She spoke to her mistress about the matter, and another person revealed the message to the king, who was naturally eager that so valuable a soldier be healed.

Verses 5-7

2Ki 5:5-7

2 Kings 5:5-7

THE KING OF ISRAEL WAS UPSET BY THE SYRIAN’S REQUEST

"And the king of Syria said, Go now, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, And now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? but consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me."

"He took with him ten talents of silver, ..." (2 Kings 5:5). It does not appear that this was intended as a present for the king of Israel, because he is addressed here by the king of Syria as a vassal.

"He seeketh a quarrel against me" (2 Kings 5:7). The time of this miracle seems to have been rather late in the career of Elisha, because Gehazi’s leprosy would have terminated that servant’s association with the prophet. We cannot agree with the suggestion of Montgomery that, "The afflicted Gehazi was still a member of society in a later story (2 Kings 8:4 ff)." We have already determined that the stories of this section of 2Kings are not recorded in any chronological sequence.

On this account, we cannot plead any ignorance on the part of Joram regarding the great miracles wrought by Elisha. Joram’s failure to think of Elisha in this situation was not due to his ignorance but to his unbelief and his unwillingness to accept the authenticity of Elisha’s prophetic ministry.

Joram’s mistaken notion that Benhadad (the probable king of Syria) who sent Naaman to Samaria sought a quarrel with him, was not altogether unreasonable. "It will be remembered that Benhadad, seeking the subjugation of Ahab, had made unreasonable demands of Joram’s father (1 Kings 20:3-6)."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:5. Go to, go. This was an obsolete way of saying, "come, and I will send," etc. It was a mistake, doubtless due to some misunderstanding, that the king of Syria wrote to the king of Israel, instead of to the prophet Elisha. The articles mentioned to be taken along should not be considered as a bribe. It was customary to recognize kings and other dignitaries by making them presents. See 1 Kings 4:21; 2 Kings 17:3; 2 Chronicles 17:5; Psalms 68:29. been respectfully addressed, and then requested that the services of Elisha be tendered him, there might not have been any friction. The error was in asking the king to recover him of his leprosy.

2 Kings 5:7. Jehoram was the king of Israel at that time. He had never professed to have miraculous power, and this direct request, made by the king of a foreign nation, was equivalent to a declaration of war, or at least, a threat of one. Friendly nations are supposed to be willing to grant favors to each other, and the refusal is considered as an unfriendly act. By asking a favor on this established basis, and yet one that he knew would be impossible of fulfillment, it seemed that the king of Syria was laying plans for a pretext on which to make a complaint.

Verses 8-9

2Ki 5:8-9

2 Kings 5:8-9

ELISHA HEARD OF THE KING’S ACTION AND OFFERED HELP

"And it was so, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha."

"When the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes" (2 Kings 5:8). Such an action on the part of the king would have at once enlisted the attention and concern of the whole city. The widespread gossip about the event reached the ears of Elisha, who at once sent an offer to the king proposing that Naaman be sent to him. Joram at once complied with Elisha’s request.

"So Naaman came ... and stood at the door of the house of Elisha" (2 Kings 5:9). At first glance, this seems to say that Naaman was standing at Elisha’s door, intending to be admitted to his house, but Naaman’s own words (2 Kings 5:11) indicate that Naaman had merely driven up to the front of Elisha’s house, expecting the prophet to come out of his house and serve Naaman in his chariot. Thus it was Naaman and his impressive party, chariots, horses and all, that "stood at the door of the house."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:8. Word of the affair came to the ears of Elisha. The humbleness of the man of God, as well as his respect for the Lord, was indicated by the message he sent to the king. He brought out the significant motive he had for seeking the chance to cure Naaman; that he might know there was a (inspired) prophet in Israel.

2 Kings 5:9. The word was passed on to the unfortunate Naaman, and he arrived at the door of Elisha’s house, eager to have him administer to his stricken condition.

Verses 10-12

2Ki 5:10-12

2 Kings 5:10-12

RECEIVING ELISHA’S COMMAND; NAAMAN LEFT IN A RAGE

"And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage."

"Go and wash in the Jordan seven times" (2 Kings 5:10). "The word for `wash’ here is `dip’; and it is identified with `baptism’ in the N.T." (See the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the O.T.) Thus, what was commanded was that Naaman should be IMMERSED seven times in Jordan. Jesus gave a similar command to the man born blind, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam" (John 9:7); and it should be remembered that all mankind are commanded to "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

Significantly, the reaction of countless sons of Adam to that Divine injunction is very similar to that of Naaman’s initial reaction here, with exactly the same result. He remained a leper; they remain in their sins.

This leads us to inquire as to why Naaman was angry. There were several reasons: (1) The implication that he needed a bath was offensive. (2) The waters of Jordan were usually muddy as compared with the crystal streams of Damascus. (3) His pride had been wounded. He was a great man and expected to be honored and respected by the prophet, but Elisha’s merely SENDING him a message appeared to him as an insult.

However, his salvation from leprosy, designed to serve as a type of the whole Gentile world receiving salvation, required that he obey God’s Word as conveyed to him by a messenger. All people are to be saved "through their word" (John 17:20), that is, the word of the apostles, the messengers and preachers of the truth, through whom they shall hear the words of eternal life.

"Behold, I thought, He will come out to me ... and call on the name of Jehovah his God" (2 Kings 5:11). It is significant that Naaman knew the name of the God of Israel, a name also mentioned on the Moabite Stone. In fact, one of the important revelations of this episode is that the Gentiles indeed "knew God," as Paul declared that, "Knowing God, they glorified him not as God" (Romans 1:21).

"Are not Abanah and Pharpar better than all the waters of Israel" (2 Kings 5:12). There is a sense, of course, in which it was true that the Jordan did not compare favorably with the crystal rivers of Damascus. "Abanah is identified with the Barada, and the Pharpar was either a tributary to Abanah called Fidjeh, or another independent river, the Awaaj, running several miles south of Damascus. The Romans called the Abanah the Chrysorrhoas."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:10. The original word for wash applies to part or the whole of a body. The command was understood by Naaman, however, to mean to dip or plunge, for that is what he finally did, receiving the desired result. At the same time, much unnecessary speculation has been done on this case. Whether Naaman was afflicted in whole or in part of his body with the leprosy we do not know. The conclusion remains that what was done was a plunging into the water, not a mere application of water to the affected parts.

2 Kings 5:11-12. Naaman belonged to a race of idolaters, and such people were more or less superstitious. They believed in the ceremonies of conjuration as a means of obtaining some superhuman result. Naaman was describing such a ceremony in this place. He reasoned on the theory that Elisha expected the leprosy to be healed through the virtue of the water. Had he been acquainted with the ideas offered to our readers at 2 Kings 2:8, he might have made a different speech. The rivers of Damascus were fed by clear and clean water, while the Jordan was a swift, muddy stream. The reasoning from a material standpoint, therefore, was sound. Naaman’s disappointment caused him to turn away in a rage, and he was about to return home.

Verses 13-14

2Ki 5:13-14

2 Kings 5:13-14

NAAMAN OBEYED GOD’S WORD AND WAS HEALED

"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."

"If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing" (2 Kings 5:13). The very simplicity and insignificance of what the man of God commanded appears to have been another one of the reasons why he, at first, refused to obey. Alas, this is an attitude often found in mortal sinners on the brink of the grave. This writer vividly remembers an incident in 1932 at the base hospital in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, when the wife of a high-ranking military officer fell while visiting her son in that area. She sent word to this young preacher to visit her, and she asked what to do to be saved, since she realized that her death was near. The great passages pertaining to the forgiveness of sins, as found in the holy N.T., were read in her hearing, prayers were offered, and she was invited and urged to obey the gospel. She thought about it awhile; and then said, "Well, baptism has always seemed to me to be such an insignificant thing that I just can’t believe that it would do any good!"

"His flesh came again" (2 Kings 5:14). It appears from this that some of Naaman’s flesh had been lost, as also indicated by the words of the prophet, "Thy flesh shall come again to thee" (2 Kings 5:10). When this writer visited a leper compound in Pusan, Korea in 1953, he observed sufferers from this disease who had lost their nose, or eyelids, or ear, or portions of their lips, and it is certain from the terminology used here that Naaman had suffered such loss of flesh. If there had been any doubt of what his disease was, these words would have certified the diagnosis as confirming a case of Hansen’s disease, or leprosy.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:13. Servant and father are used as opposite terms in the present connection; the conclusion is that. Naaman was regarded as their master. The line of thought the servants were following was that some great thing would have been done on the theory that it would have accomplished the desired end naturally, or as a logical consequence. The simpler instructions, however, should have commended themselves as coming from a person of authority. An uninspired man would need to use some great method, if the outcome sought were to be obtained. Therefore, this simpler and illogical plan should indicate to the interested party that it was no ordinary person who was directing him.

2 Kings 5:14. The inspired writer tells us that when Naaman dipped himself, it was according to the saying of the man of God. See comments on wash in 2 Kings 5:10. When "seven" is used figuratively it denotes completeness. One dipping would have ended in the cure of the leprosy, had the prophet seen fit to command only one. The desired result was obtained from the Lord, because Naaman went to the end of the commandment.

Verses 15-19

2Ki 5:15-19

2 Kings 5:15-19

NAAMAN RETURNED TO THANK AND HONOR ELISHA; THE MAN OF GOD

"And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him; and he said, Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a present of thy servant. But he said, As Jehovah liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it, but he refused. And Naaman said, If not, yet, I pray thee, let there be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth; for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto Jehovah. In this thing Jehovah pardon thy servant: when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, Jehovah pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way."

"And he returned to the man of God" (2 Kings 5:15). It was no easy thing that Naaman did here. His dipping seven times in Jordan had been accomplished on his way back to Syria, at least some twenty miles from Samaria, and some scholars say thirty miles. Making the whole round trip with the animal-drawn conveyances of that era was a matter of several days additional travel. It is therefore a mark of Naaman’s character and of his high appreciation for the miracle God had been performed on his behalf that he would undertake this additional travel to return to Samaria.

"Let there be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth" (2 Kings 5:17). In this request of Naaman, there is evident the ancient conception of God’s being identified with a certain land. Much as he honored God, he did not at that time understand that God is God of ALL lands. Jonah learned that he could not get away from God’s presence merely by going to a different country, but the common superstition of that period of history is evident in this request.

Montgomery tells us that when the Jews built a synagogue in Persia, "It was composed entirely of earth and stone brought from Jerusalem." and that, "The empress Helena imported holy soil to Rome."

"When I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, Jehovah pardon thy servant" (2 Kings 5:18). Rimmon, of course was a pagan deity worshipped in Damascus; and Martin wrote that, "Rimmon is only the Syrian title for Baal." Keil wrote that, "Rimmon is probably a short form for Hadad-rimmon, because Hadad was the supreme deity of the Damascene Syrians, the sun god."

Scholars of all generations have had trouble with this passage. Did Elisha actually give his consent to what Naaman suggested here? Did he not say, "Go in peace"? Stigers interpreted this as meaning that, "Naaman received assurance that God understood his heart." However, such a conclusion appears to be very questionable.

"Elisha answered, `Go in peace,’ without thereby either approving or disapproving the religious intentions just expressed by Naaman." "The clause, `go in peace,’ merely means farewell." "Elisha’s words here, `Go in peace,’ should be taken simply as Elisha’s parting wish that the peace of God would accompany Naaman on his way back to Damascus."

"So he departed from him a little way" (2 Kings 5:19). The terminology used here seems to be for the purpose of indicating that "some distance" (as in the margin) from the house of Elisha, Naaman paused long enough to load up that two mutes’ burden of earth which he had requested. That would also have facilitated the performance of Gehazi’s wicked deception.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:15. Gratitude is one of the greatest of virtues, and very unworthy is he who does not manifest it in return for favors. The benefit was already bestowed upon Naaman; his offer of the blessing, therefore, was from a pure and unselfish motive. The blessing is elsewhere translated "present" in the A. V. Naaman was a lord over others, but called himself a servant to Elisha, which was in humble respect for his benefactor.

2 Kings 5:16. There could not be anything morally wrong in offering or accepting the present. We are not told why Elisha refused it. He was so positive about it that he emphasized his determination by making it as sure as that the Lord lived.

2 Kings 5:17. We know there was earth available in the land of Syria. The use Naaman proposed to make of this was to build an altar on which to offer sacrifices. He had the erroneous idea that earth from the country where he had been converted to the God of Israel was more suitable for the purpose. Elisha made no objection to his taking the earth, nor to his proposal to offer sacrifices to God. The Patriarchal Dispensation was in force, and any man not an Israelite was eligible for proselyting to that form of religion, even if he were not in direct line. See Exodus 18:12; Job 1:5.

2 Kings 5:18. Naaman was a servant of the king, and he was an idolater. When they entered the house of Rimmon, an idolatrous temple, Naaman would still need to accompany his master to give him bodily support. By that sort of service he would have to move his body up or down in conjunction with his master’s body. In this verse he is reserving the right to do that, and it was not to be regarded as a breaking of the promise just made to Elisha to worship God only.

2 Kings 5:19. The reservation was approved as indicated by the words, go in peace. A little way means he got only a short distance homeward until something happened, of which we will read in the next paragraph.

Verses 20-27

2Ki 5:20-27

2 Kings 5:20-27

GEHAZI’S DISAPPROVAL OF ELISHA’S REFUSAL OF NAAMAN’S GIFT

"But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: as Jehovah liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And Naaman saw one running after him, and he alighted from his chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there are come to me from the hill-country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets; give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of raiment. And Naaman said, Be pleased to take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of raiment, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house; and he let them go, and they departed. But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. And he said unto him, Went not my heart with thee, when the man turned from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive-yards, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and menservants and maid-servants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee and unto thy seed forever. And he went out from his presence a leper white as snow."

This unhappy episode so closely allied with the healing of Naaman, as pointed out by Henry, strongly suggests the envy of racial Israel who rejected the Christ because of his receiving the Gentiles. Gehazi dearly despised and hated "this Syrian" and determined to take from him whatever he could get. There are spiritual overtones here of the very grandest dimensions.

Note this early example of crooked "fund raisers" who base their appeals upon helping others. Gehazi pretended to be seeking help for impoverished sons of the prophets, but he was merely a lying scoundrel seeking to enrich himself. Many "charities" of our own times are of that same character. "To the shame of all, a few continue to exploit unsuspecting persons on the pretext of giving aid to needy religious causes. Religious charlatans of the twentieth century are little different from Gehazi."

Gehazi was indeed a skillful liar. His trumped up story about those two impoverished sons of the prophets who arrived just after Naaman left must have sounded like the gospel truth to Naaman.

"Is it a time to receive money ... garments ... oliveyards ... vineyards ... sheep and oxen ... men-servants and maid-servants?" (2 Kings 5:26). In these words, the prophet merely pointed out all of those material benefits which would in Gehazi’s mind have resulted from that great gift he had extorted from Naaman.

"This is a constant warning to all who would magnify the externals of life at the expense of spiritual realities." Did not our Savior ask, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul"?

"Gehazi was like Judas; his concern for money and material things blinded him to the great realities of Elisha’s prophetic mission."

"It was not merely for his avarice that God punished Gehazi, but for his abuse of the prophet’s name.

Hammond pointed out not merely the severity of God’s punishment of Gehazi, but its immediacy also. "It fell upon him suddenly, as Miriam’s leprosy had fallen upon her (Numbers 12:10)."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 5:20. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, had overheard the conversation between his master and Naaman. Being of covetous mind, he thought he saw an opportunity to get some valuaables for his own possession, and Elisha would not know about it. As the Lord liveth means, "as sure as the Lord lives."

2 Kings 5:21. Naaman had not gone far, which is signified by the words a little way in 2 Kings 5:19. He saw Gehazi coming and stopped his travel to greet the approaching servant of his benefactor. Is all well was a courteous expression of good will.

2 Kings 5:22. The story that Gehazi told seemed reasonable. There was nothing morally wrong in the proposition to give something to Elisha; he merely was not disposed to accept it for his personal use. But this emergency of the arrival of the student prophets would change the situation; there would be nothing wrong in helping them.

2 Kings 5:23. Naaman would be glad for the opportunity to show his appreciation. In asking for only one talent of silver, Gehazi appeared very modest in the estimation of Naaman. That is why he urged him to take more. The amount of the gift called for some help in carrying it back to Elisha, and two servants were sent for that purpose.

2 Kings 5:24. Gehazi did not intend for Elisha to know anything about the ill gotten articles. As soon as they reached the tower, which would afford a hiding place for the goods, he took charge of them and dismissed the servants, who returned to resume the homeward journey with their master.

2 Kings 5:25. We may wonder that Gehazi ever imagined he could deceive Elisha. He had been his servant and in close touch with him. He knew of his inspiration and other superhuman ability; but covetousness is a strong sentiment. It is so dominating that Paul calls it idolatry; not merely as bad as idolatry. (Colossians 3:5.) With such an evil desire in his heart, it should be no surprise that he would lie to the prophet.

2 Kings 5:26. One definition of heart is "the mind." Through inspiration, Elisha’s mind was present at the transaction between Naaman and Gehazi. Is it a time, etc. The mere fact of receiving some material gift would not be wrong. But when a serious circumstance had called for a test of the authority of God’s prophet, it was not an appropriate time to be interested in money and clothing. That would be especially true when obtained by fraud, and by playing on the generosity of another.

2 Kings 5:27. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, the leprosy of the Old Testament was the white variety. It was not fatal at once, and in some cases the leper might live to old age and die of some other disease. But it was a loathsome malady, and subjected the victim to great shame. Leprosy of Naaman does not mean that Gehazi "caught" the disease from Naaman. The expression is figurative, and means that as he was so eager for Naaman’s valuables, he would receive his disease also.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Kings 5". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-kings-5.html.
 
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