Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 5:12

Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abana;   Anger;   Elisha;   Excuses;   Joram;   Jordan;   Leprosy;   Miracles;   Naaman;   Pharpar;   Pride;   Rashness;   Readings, Select;   Unbelief;   Scofield Reference Index - Miracles;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Damascus;   Home;   Impatience;   Man;   Man's;   Patience-Impatience;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Rivers;   Stories for Children;   Wrath;   Wrath-Anger;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Jordan, the River;   Leprosy;   Rivers;   Syria;   Unbelief;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abana, and Pharpar;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Healing;   Syria;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Heal, Health;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Amana;   Pharpar;   Rivers of Damascus;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abana;   Hezekiah;   Jordan;   Pharpar;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Abana;   Damascus;   Elisha;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Pharpar;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abanah;   Damascus;   Elisha;   Naaman;   Pharpar;   River;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Abana ;   Damascus;   Miracles;   Naaman ;   Pharpar ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Abana;   Mount amana;   Naaman;   Pharpar;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abana;   Amana;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Damascus;   Elisha;   Gehazi;   Pharpar;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ab'ana;   Am'ana;   Eli'sha;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Abana;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abanah;   Lake;   Naaman;   Pharpar;   River;   Stream;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abana;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Amana;   Damascus;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Are not Abana and Pharpar - At present these rivers do not exist by these names; and where they are we know not; nor whether they were the Orontes and Chrysorroes. Mr. Maundrell, who traveled over all this ground, could find no vestige of the names Abana and Pharpar. The river Barrady he accurately describes: it has its source in Antilibanus; and, after having plentifully watered the city of Damascus and the gardens, dividing into three branches, (one of which goes through the city, and the two others are distributed among the gardens), it is lost in the marshy country about five or six leagues from Damascus. Two of these branches were doubtless called in the time of Elisha Abana, or Amana, as many copies have it; and Pharpar. And in the time in which the Arabic version was made, one of these branches were called Barda and Toura, for these are the names by which this version translates those of the text.

May I not wash in them, and be clean? - No, for God has directed thee to Jordan! and by its waters, or none, shalt thou be cleansed. Abana and Pharpar may be as good as Jordan; and in respect to thy cleansing, the simple difference is, God will convey his influence by the latter, and not by the former.

There is often contention among the people of Bengal and other places, concerning the superior efficacy of rivers; though the Ganges bears the bell in Bengal, as the Thames does in England, and the Nile in Egypt.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

2 Kings 5:12

Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel.

Mr. Evil Questioning tried and executed

Proud Self and Evil Questioning are two of Satan’s firmest allies, and two of the chief destroyers of the souls of men. Both of these adversaries attacked Naaman at once.

I. Let us detect old Mr. Evil questioning. He does not go by that name in the world. When he was brought up to be tried as a traitor, he had the impudence to tell the Judge that his name was not Evil Questioning at all. “My Lord,” he said, “my proper name is Honest Enquiry, not Evil Questioning. There may be a man of the name of Evil Questioning, but I am not that person at all, and I hope it will never become a sin for a man to make an honest enquiry, and freely to ask the ground of any truth that is propounded to him. For, my Lord, if we are to take things upon mere credence, matters of faith upon the witness of men, indeed we shall soon make great fools of ourselves. My name is ‘Honest Enquiry,’ my Lord, and I think myself to be a very honest citizen.” Since Evil Questioning goes by that name, then, and you will not, therefore, readily detect him, I must take you round to see if we can find him out by his speech, for it is not by his name, but by his prating, that you may know this fellow. Now, Lord Will-be-will, according to John Bunyan, in his allegory of the Holy War, kept an officer called Mr. Diligence, who used to go about listening under people’s windows, catching every word he beard, and then he would bring to his Lord intelligence if any traitor were harboured within the gates. Let me play the part of Mr. Diligence, and we will listen a moment or two while we hear old Mr. Evil Questioning talk. He is a ready fellow, he can talk upon almost any subject; I heard him the other day preach a sermon upon doctrine. This minister had preached the truth as it is in Jesus, and he had earnestly exhorted him to lay hold on Christ Jesus, but Mr. Evil Questioning put it thus--“Now, if there are so many to be saved, and there are a certain number of people that are not to be saved, then it can make no difference to me, I had better leave it as it is; for if I am to be saved I shall be saved, and if I am not to be saved I shall not be saved. Besides,” said he, “it is irresistible grace that saves men. Now, if God sends that grace into my heart, then I shall be saved, and if he does not, why I cannot do anything, and therefore I may as leave sit still as try and do anything you know. I hear the minister say that faith and repentance are the gift of God; well, if they are the gift of God, how inconsistent he was to exhort me to believe and repent. The man does not understand logic. I shall not believe, I shall not repent. For, do you not see that it does not stand to reason that I should try to do either the one or the other, because they are both the gift of God.” Thus the man satisfied himself, and while I heard him talking, I thought to myself, “I know you, Mr. Evil Questioning, well, and I know your father too; you are a descendant of the old fellow that was hanged in Bad Street, in old Bunyan’s time, and I only wish I had the hanging of you again.” He went another day to hear a preacher. He heard this preacher talking about the universal love, and the universal mercy of God; and this minister exhorted him to lay hold on Christ. But Mr. Evil Questioning is like a spider, he can suck gall out of any flower; so he went home and he said--“Well, if God is so infinitely merciful, then my sins are very little things indeed. I need not make all this fuss and bother about them. I will just go on in them, and no doubt God will not be hard with me at the last, but will just forgive those sins off-hand, whether I believe or not. And, besides,” said he, “His mercy is so lasting, that when I come to die I will just say, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me,’ and then I shall enter into the kingdom of heaven as well as the best of them. And what is the use of that man exhorting me to believe and to repent, for he told me I might fall from grace? I might as well not begin, as begin now, presently to leave off, so I will wait till the end of my life before I begin, and then I shall run the less risk of falling from grace afterwards.” Thus he reasoned with himself. Now whenever you hear that kind of argument, you may know at once there is a traitor there. You have discovered him. That is old Mr. Evil Questioning. Do not lose a moment, run straight up to your chamber, and tell the Lord that you have found out a traitor; ask Him to send at once a warrant after him, to arrest the fellow who is doing the utmost he can to destroy your soul.

II. We will go on to describe him. Mr. Evil Questioning often boasts that he is the child of Human Reason; but I will let you know a secret or two about his parentage. Mr. Human Reason was once a very respectable man. He had a country-seat in the garden of Paradise, and he was then great and honourable. He served his God with all his might, and many a great and marvellous thing did he discover for the good of mankind; at that time he had a family, and they were all like himself, right good and loyal. But after the fall this man married again, and he took to himself one called Sin to be his partner, and this old Evil Questioning was one that was born after the fall. He does not belong to the first family at all. The first family was not so numerous as the last. There was one called Right Judgment born at that time. I hope he is still alive, and I believe he is. But the second family was very black and of tainted blood. They did not take at all after the father, except in one point, that at the time of the fall Mr. Human Reason lost his country-seat at Paradise, and together with the rest of the servants of Adam fell from his high estate and became perverted and depraved. His children are like him in their depravity, but not in their power of reasoning. They take after their mother, and they always have a predilection for sin, so that they “put darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” The old gentleman never mentions his mother’s name if he can help it. He always likes to boast that he is a lineal descendant of Human Reason, and so indeed he is, but he is a descendant of fallen Human Reason, not of Human Reason as it was in its glorious perfection. Now, all the powers of Adam were by the fall spoiled and ruined. They are there, but their bias was turned from that which is good to that which is evil, and now reason is not a trustworthy guide. Enlightened by the Spirit of God it can judge righteous judgment, but unenlightened and uninstructed, its bias is towards that which shall excuse man in his rebellion, which shall dishonour God, and which shall seek to raise the human race in proud rebellion against their Lord and Master. Understand then, that the parentage of Evil Questioning lies here; man’s perverted reason meets with man’s love of sin, and these twain do join to bring forth these evil questions. It is not your reason that makes you talk against God, except it be your perverted reason. It is your love of sin that sets your reason on the wide-awake watch to try and discover some difficulty, and to make that a pretence why you should not be obedient to the heavenly command.

III. Having thus described this old enemy I bring him out to execute him. I must give you a hit from John Bunyan’s Holy War, for it is so wonderfully suggestive, and so thoroughly worthy of its quaint author. Mr. Evil Questioning was detected harbouring four doubters, who had come to attack the town of Mansoul; when he was brought up, the indictment was that he had studied the ruin of the town of Mansoul, that he had feloniously and treacherously harboured four of the king’s enemies, and that he had expressed in the hearing of one Mr. Diligence his wish that there were ten thousand such doubters in Mansoul. The old fellow when he was brought before the bar, first denied his name, and said his real name was Mr. Honest Enquiry, but when it was proved that he was old Evil Questioning, for Lord Will be-will in the time of his evil estate had known him very intimately, then the old fellow pleaded “Not Guilty,” and he began at once to utter his defence. “I answer,” said Evil Questioning, “the men that came into my house were strangers, and I took them in, and is it now become a crime in Mansoul for a man to entertain strangers? That I also nourished them is true, and why should my charity be blamed? As for the reason why I wished ten thousand of them in Mansoul, I never told it to the witnesses nor to themselves. I might wish them to be taken, and so might wish well to the town of Mansoul. I also bid them take heed that they fell not into the Captain’s hands, but that might be because I am unwilling that any man should be slain, and not because I would have the king’s enemies escape.” So Mr. Evil Questioning was true to his name, he kept on questioning till the verdict was given, the sentence of death pronounced, and carried into execution; for they hanged him, as Bunyan says, opposite the door of his own house at the top of Bad Street. Ah! but I am afraid that he is alive now, still living and going about: I wish therefore to bring him up again to trial, and we will see if we cannot bring some charges against him; we will empanel an honest jury, and I know what the sentence will be, we shall lead him out to execution. Men and brethren, if you have been questioning, instead of believing, if you have been making enquiries, instead of saying, “What must I do to be saved?” which is the only allowable question, let me first beg of you to drive out this Evil Questioning, because he is a traitor to the King of heaven. He does not wish your good, but your ill; more than this, he is sent by Satan to prevent your obeying the commands of God: he is come to betray you. And then, again, I beseech you turn him out, for he is a liar. All the conclusions to which he has brought you are false ones, and you know they are. Another accusation I bring against him is this: he has led you into a world of mischief. This habit of questioning has often blunted the edge of some sermon that you have heard; when the Word was coming right home to your conscience, this Mr. Evil Questioning has held up a shield and prevented the point from entering into your heart; besides that, have you not sometimes when under the influence of his delusive logic gone off to the place where your lust has been cultivated, and where your conscience has been lulled to sleep? I have one other charge, and then I shall have closed up the accusation. Men and brethren, this man must die, for he has been a murderer. Oh I what millions of souls has Evil Questioning sent to hell! There are many gates to hell, but this is one of the widest and it is one of the most frequented, because it is a respectable gate.

IV. Old Mr. Evil Questioning is the father of a large family, and John Bunyan tells you about his family. He says, he married one called Miss No-hope, she was the daughter of old Dark, and when old Dark was dead, her uncle Incredulity took her and brought her up as his own daughter, and then he gave her to old Evil Questioning, and he had by her several children. I will give you the names of them, because it shall be my earnest endeavour to fire a shot at them this morning, as well as at their old father. Their names are these--Mr. Doubt, Mr. Legal Life, Mr. Unbelief, Mr. Wrong Thoughts of Christ, Mr. Clip Promise, Mr. Carnal Sense, Mr. Live-by-Feeling, and Mr. Self Love. All these were the offspring of the father, and against all these a warrant was issued by the prince Immanuel that they should be hunted down, and every one of them given to the sword. Now, I will take the eldest son, there is Mr. Doubt,--Is he not the child of Evil Questioning? Why, you can see his father’s image in his face. Another child is Mr. Clip-Promise. Do you know him? He does not doubt the promise, but he clips the edge of it. He makes out that it will not all be fulfilled, only a part of it. Now there is a proclamation issued against Mr. Clip-Promise, that whoever will arrest him shall be greatly honoured, for he is a notorious villain, by whose doings much of the King’s coin was abased, therefore it was expedient that he should be made a public example. And, Bunyan says, “They did take him, and they first set him in the pillory, and afterwards they tied his hands behind him and they whipped him through the streets of Mansoul, bidding all the children and servants whip him, and then at last they hanged him. And,” says mine author, “this may seem very hard treatment, but when one considers how much loss the town of Mansoul may sustain by the clipping of the promises which are the coins with which they trade, I can only say I hope that all his kith and kin may be treated with the like severity.” Oh! if you have attempted to cut the promise down, have done with it I pray you; and do take it as it stands in all its plenteousness of grace and all its sufficiency. Then there is Mr. Wrong Thoughts of Christ. Do you know him? Do you know what this fellow had the impudence to tell me? He said, “Oh! Christ will never receive such a sinner as you are.” And when I had come to Christ, and He received me, he said, “Oh! Christ will not hold you fast.” He will if you let Him, but then you will not let Him, for you are such a sinner He cannot hold you, and He will not. He has often made me doubt my Master’s immutability or His faithfulness, or His power to save. But as far as I am personally concerned of late, I was able to seize him, and I have laid him in prison; I think he is dying of a consumption, for I have not heard much of him lately. Glad enough shall I be to have him buried once for all. There are two others whom some of you may have known, Mr. Legal Life, and Mr. Live-by-Feeling. I think they were twins. Mr. Legal Life sometimes gets hold of the Christian and makes him judge himself by legal evidences, and not by evangelical evidence. When the Christian has kept a commandment, Mr. Legal Life will say, “There, now, you live by your works.” He knows that Christians would die by their works, and that the best of them can only live by faith. And when a Christian has made a slip, and has not kept the commandment, in comes Mr. Legal Life, and he says, “You are a lost soul, for you have not kept the commandment,” though he knows right well, “that if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Yet he tries to make his life by the law, which no Christian ever did do or ever will do, for the law is of death and not of life. Then there is Mr. Live-by-Feeling, who makes us judge ourselves according to what we feel. If we feel happy and devout, “Oh,” he says, “now you are in a blessed frame, the Master will accept you.” Anon you feel unhappy, and dull, and cold, and dead. “Oh,” says Mr. Live-by-Feeling, “you are no child of God, or else you would not be like this.” Now catch both these fellows, if you can, and away with them; away with such fellows from the earth. One of the children of old Evil Questioning was Mr. Carnal-Sense. Now John Bunyan tells us, and I believe that he is right, at least I have his authority for it, and that is no mean authority, that there is a proclamation set up in the market-place at Mansoul, that whosoever shall bring Mr. Carnal-Sense, dead or alive, to the King Immanuel, shall be made a nobleman, shall have a right to sit at the king’s table every day, and moreover, he shall be made keeper of the treasury of the city of Mansoul. There, you see, is a noble opportunity for you. There remains another one upon whom I must speak just for a minute. It is one called Mr. Self-Love. Ah, he is one of the biggest of the children of Mr. Evil Questioning. Now Mr. Self-Love was tried and condemned to die, but he had so many friends in the city, that they did not like to hang him outright. There was, however, a brave man in the king’s army, a common soldier, a man that was used to sleep out in the fields at night, and to do much hard work--his name was Mr. Self-Denial, and coming out from the midst of the crowd, just when the prisoner was going to be acquitted, he said, “If such villains as these are winked at in Mansoul I will lay down my commission.” He then took him from the crowd and had him among the soldiers, and there he was put to death. For this, the king made the common soldier a lord, and he was honoured in the town of Mansoul. “Though,” says Bunyan, “there were a good many people in the town that did not like it, and they used to mutter at it, but they did not say much as long as King Immanuel was there. Oh, do you know that old Self-Love? You will never get rid of him unless you get Mr. Self-Denial to help you; unless you are ready to deny the affections and lusts, to pluck out right eyes, and cut off right hands, and to yield up one delight after another, that so self may be trodden under foot, and Jesus Christ may be all in all. There is one other child--I have left him to the last--and then I have done with the family--Mr. Unbelief. “Now,” says Bunyan, “Unbelief was a nimble fellow.” He was often caught, but he was like the hero of the wicked Shepherd, he always broke his prison and was out again. Although he has often been kept in hold, he has always escaped, and he is every day about somewhere or other. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
.

God’s way and ours

“And Naaman said . . . 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” (2 Kings 5:12). We have here another illustration of the truth that a man himself is not necessarily the best judge of his condition, or of the course he should take to improve it.

I. Our attainment of knowledge, and of that practical wisdom which fits us for our earthly life. We cannot acquire this without laborious study, patient observation, repeated thought and consideration. The mastery of the elements of learning often seems to be wearisome drudgery, and if we do not “go away in a rage,” we are tempted to break off in vexation and to long for the “royal road” to learning and wisdom. But we must accept the method which God has prescribed for us, or remain in ignorance or folly.

II. The formation of our character. We wish to be strong and brave, to be characterised by fortitude and endurance, to be masters of ourselves, to be able to respect ourselves, and to command the esteem of the wise and good. We should like to be all that is admirable and, if possible, all that is noble in the character that we form. But how shall we build up within ourselves this honourable character? God has arranged that we do this

III. Our entrance into the kingdom of truth. We want to know all that can be learned about God, about our spiritual nature and its capacities, about our human life and its possibilities, about the future world. We prefer to solve these great problems by the exercise of our mental faculties, by interrogating our own nature, by scientific researches, by logical and philosophical reasoning. But this is not the path that conducts to the gate of heavenly wisdom. We must become “as little children” if we would enter the kingdom of truth--must be docile, trustful, inquiring.

IV. Our possession of eternal life. Of all the great questions we ask, the greatest and most practical is this, What shall we do that we may enter into the life which is eternal, that life which is found in the favour, the likeness, the near presence of God? Here we are disposed to insist upon the course which commends itself to our own judgment. (W. Clarkson, B. A.)

God’s method of healing offensive to the pride of man

I. That great men are not exempted from the evils which attach to our common nature. From one class of evils riches might exempt their possessors--the evils of poverty, perplexity, anxiety, and embarrassment. But from other ills they have no exemption.

1. None from those which attach to the body.

2. None from those which attach to the soul. Great men like others are involved in the effects of the original transgression.

II. That there are no evils attaching either to body or soul, which God cannot remove.

1. He can heal the body.

2. He can heal the soul.

III. That the simplicity of God’s remedies are frequently offensive to the pride of man. Look at the ease before us. What could be more easy than the remedy suggested? “Go, and wash in Jordan seven times.” But its simplicity was that which rendered it objectionable with Naaman.

1. It led the Jews to reject Christ. They desired the Messiah, as Naaman desired a cure.

2. It leads many to reject the peculiar doctrines of the gospel. The divinity of Christ, the doctrine of the atonement, and spiritual regeneration.

3. It hinders many from closing in with God’s method of justifying the ungodly. He offers a free pardon to men as sinners. The pride of the human heart rejects this, and brings a price--comparative innocence, works Of righteousness, acts of charity, or tears of penitence.

IV. When God’s remedies are adopted, they never fail to succeed. Look at the case before us, verse 14. In the cures by the brazen serpent, in the case of the man whose eyes were anointed with clay, in the conversion of St. Paul, of the Philippian jailer, of the great cloud of witnesses in every age, and especially of the present. Conclude--

1. With an address to those who are insensible of their disease. See how the moral leprosy has affected all your powers.

2. Address those who desire to be healed. The Jordan is flowing, the fountain is open. Come now, wash and be clean. (Skeletons of Sermon.)

Submission to God’s way of salvation

Mr. Moody remarks: “A man dreamt that he built a ladder from earth to heaven, and when he did a good deed up went his ladder a few feet. When he did a very good deed it went still higher, and when he gave away large sums of money to the poor, up it went further still. By and by it went out of sight, and as years rolled on, it went up, he thought, past the clouds, clear into heaven. When he died, he thought he would step off his ladder into heaven, but he heard a voice roll out from paradise: ‘He that climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.’ Down he came, ladder and all, and he awoke. He said if he wanted to get salvation he must get it in another way than by good deeds, and he took the other way, which is by Jesus Christ.”

Saved in an irregular way

When we were in Scotland during a former visit to Great Britain, there was an employer who became converted, and he then went to work among his employees and tried to lead them to Christ. He tried to get them to the meetings and succeeded, with one exception. The young man with whom he experienced the difficulty said, “If I am going to be converted, it shall be in the regular way--in the Presbyterian Church. As for those two impertinent Americans, Moody and Sankey, I am not going to hear them. His employer tried every way to induce him to come, but he did not succeed. We went into the north of Scotland, to Inverness; this employer sent the young man to that city on business, thinking he might possibly there come to hear us. One day we were out on the banks of the river preaching. The young man happened to be passing, and seeing a crowd gathered, he wondered what was going on. He came to see, and the text pierced him like an arrow. The truth entered his soul. The man was saved; he was converted in the very way in which he said he would not be converted. (D. L. Moody.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Kings 5:12". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-kings-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?.... Abana is, in the marginal reading, called Amana, and so the Targum; perhaps from the Mount Amana, from whence it sprung, a mountain in SyriaF7Tacit. Annal. l. 2. c. 83. , mentioned with Lebanon, Song of Solomon 4:8. This river is thought to be the Chrysorrhoas of PlinyF8Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18. , and other writers; there are no traces of its name, or of the following, to be met with now; the only river by Damascus is called Barrady, which supplies Damascus and its gardens, and makes them so fruitful and pleasant as they be; it pours down from the mountains, as Mr. MaundrellF9Journey from Aleppo, p. 122, 123. describes it, and is divided into three streams, of which the middlemost and biggest runs directly to Damascus, through a large field, called the field of Damascus; and the other two are drawn round, the one to the right hand, and the other to the left, on the borders of the gardens. Pharpar is thoughtF11Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 7, 8. Hiller. Onomast. Sacr. p. 908. to be the river Orontes, which runs close to the walls of Antioch, and courses through its large and spacious plain, being numbered among the rivers of Syria; it takes its rise from Lebanon, and, sliding through the said plain, falls into the Syrian sea. Benjamin of TudelaF12Itinerar. p. 55. speaks of these rivers under their Scripture names; Abana or Amana as he says, passes through the city and supplies the houses of great men with water through wooden pipes; and Pharpar is without the city and runs among the gardens and orchards, and waters them. Farfar is also the name of a river in ItalyF13Servius in Virgil. Aeneid. l. 7. p. 1243. :

may I not wash in them, and be clean? as well as in Jordan; or rather, since they are better waters, and so not have been at this trouble and expense to come hither; or have I not washed in them every day? I have, and am I clean? I am not; which is the sense the several Jewish writers giveF14Ben Gersom in loc. & R. Joseph Kimchi, & R. Jonah in Ben Melech in. loc. :

so he turned, and went away in a rage; in a great passion, swearing and cursing perhaps, ordering his chariot driver to turn and be gone at once.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-5.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Abana and Pharpar — the Barrady and one of its five tributaries - uncertain which. The waters of Damascus are still highly extolled by their inhabitants for their purity and coldness.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-5.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Are not, … — Is there not as great a virtue in them to this purpose? But he should have considered, that the cure was not to be wrought by the water, but by the power of God.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-5.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

Abana

Or, Amana.

Copyright Statement
These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 2 Kings 5:12". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/2-kings-5.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 12. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus] Benjamin in his "Itinerary" saith, there is not so fruitful and sweet a city in all the world as Damascus, by reason of these two rivers Abana and Pharpar, called by historiographers Adonis and Orontes, falling from mount Hermon. For which cause also, saith another writer, the impostor Mohammed would never enter in this city, fearing - as himself used to say - lest, being ravished with the ineffable pleasures of the place, he should forget the business whereabout he was sent, and make this town his paradise.

Better than all the waters of Israel?] Why, yes, they may so seem, so long as you look upon them with Syrian eyes. Thus carnal people despise the "foolishness of preaching," the simplicity of sacraments, the seeming inefficacy of censures, &c.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-5.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Kings 5:12

Naaman was a man who stood high in the highest virtues of the heathen world. He was lifted to the proudest eminence of worldly ambition. He had a generous heart; he enjoyed a well-earned reputation; he shared the smile and the favour of the great Benhadad. Such was the prosperity of Naaman.

How affecting are the words which follow: "but he was a leper." Wherever he went there was a heavy, settled trouble gnawing at Naaman's heart.

His story teaches us two things: (1) the simpleness of God's ways and (2) the pride of man's ways.

I. The first instrument used in providence towards the accomplishing of God's design was a little servant-girl. God's ends are gigantic, infinite, unutterable, but His ways are a little child's. He must have prepared the minds both of the king and Naaman to give implicit trust to the words of the little child. Solitude, and longsuffering, and frequent disappointments had made Naaman patient to take counsel. So God prepares souls for Christ.

II. Observe the natural tendency of man's heart. The maid had said, "Go to the prophet." That was simple. They must needs travel by a more royal road. The king of Syria writes a letter to the king of Israel; and with his horses and his chariots, and his silver and his gold, Naaman sets oft and comes to the palace at Samaria. Even when he went to Elisha, four things in the prophet's conduct seem to have given him offence. (1) He thought he should be treated with more personal consideration. (2) He had expected a too instantaneous cure. (3) He was jealous that contempt was put upon his natural resources. (4) He was incredulous that a means so simple should produce an effect so great. All these causes hinder us from coming to Christ.

Even Naaman's rebellious spirit was made to yield at last to God's longsuffering grace. He went and washed, and was clean. Thus we see the triumph of God's simple ways over man's proud ways.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 8th series, p. 9.


I. There were two ways of cleansing the leprosy: the grand way that Naaman expected; the very simple way which the prophet prescribed. Even so there are two ways of salvation: God's way and man's way. Man's way is unavailing, yet much frequented, because it flatters the pride of man. Man's way of salvation deals with what it takes to be great things: great works which man himself is to do, great organisations, great gifts, which flatter human vanity and will-worship, but have this trifling defect, that they are of no avail. God's plan knows nothing of earthly grandeurs, burdensome minutiae, external observances. God's messages are very short and very few and simple. He says only, "Wash, and be clean;" "Believe and obey;" "Believe and live."

II. The spirit of doing great things dominates all false religions, because it expresses an instinctive tendency. Satan's one object is to turn men towards the things which they devise for their own salvation, and away from the things which God requires. God vouchsafes to man His last, His absolute, His eternal revelation. He sent His Son to die for us, His Spirit to dwell in our hearts. We are to use God's way of salvation, not make it or add to that which is made. The first act is to know what is true of God; the second act is to express it in our lives.

III. It rests with you to take Christ's service or man's bondage, Christ's simplicity or man's inventions. If the kingdom of God is not within you, then it is nowhere for you. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

F. W. Farrar, Family Churchman, Sept. 22nd, 1886.

I. God has provided a remedy for all human ills. This remedy is found in the Gospel of His Son. It is (1) simple; (2) suitable; (3) it has in it the elements of success.

II. God's method of dealing is frequently offensive to the pride of man. Naaman thought that for such a patrician case of leprosy there could not be the ordinary plebeian method of cure. This preference of the rivers of Damascus to the waters of Israel is as foolish as it is wicked. There is no gospel in nature. It has its Genesis, its Exodus, its Psalms, sweet, plaintive, and beautiful, but it has no gospel. All its resurrections die again. There is no gospel in nature, not one word of recovery for the lapsed, not one announcement of recovery for the erring. The water of Israel is flowing today freely, as when its fountain was first opened in the house of David for sin and for uncleanness. Christ invites us to come and take of the water of life freely.

W. Morley Punshon, Penny Pulpit, No. 324.

References: 2 Kings 5:12.—F. G. Lee, Miscellaneous Sermons by Clergymen of the Church of England, p. 69. 2 Kings 5:13.—H. Melvill, The Golden Lectures, 1854 (Penny Pulpit, No. 2173); Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 892; W. G. Blaikie, Sunday Magazine, 1876, p. 386; C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 205; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 77; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 186. 2 Kings 5:13, 2 Kings 5:14.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 264. 2 Kings 5:13-16.—A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 161.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/2-kings-5.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Is there not as great a virtue in them to this purpose? But he should have considered that the cure was not to be wrought by the water, but by the power of God, who might use what means and methods of cure he pleased.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-5.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.Abana — The main stream by which the plain of Damascus is fertilized, and bears now the name Baroda. “It rises in the high plain south of Zebedany, on Anti-Lebanon, where I afterwards visited its fountains, and rushes in a southeasterly course down the mountain till it issues upon the plain. Here it turns eastward, and flowing along the north wall of the city, takes its way across the plain to the northern lakes. It is a deep, broad, rushing mountain stream; and although not less than nine or ten branches are taken from it for the supply of the city and the plain, yet it still flows on as a large stream, and enters the middle lake by two channels. The water is limpid and beautiful.” — Robinson.

Pharpar — The modern Awaj, that flows some distance south of Damascus. Its sources, course, and the lake into which it empties, were first explored by J.L. Porter in the year 1852. He says, “It has two principal sources, one high up on the eastern side of Hermon, just beneath the central peak; the other in a wild glen a few miles southward. The streams unite near Sasa, and the river flows eastward in a deep rocky channel, and falls into a lake about four miles south of the lake into which the Barada fails. Although the Awaj is eight miles distant from the city, yet it flows across the whole plain of Damascus; and large ancient canals drawn from it irrigate the fields and gardens almost up to the walls. The total length of the Awaj is nearly forty miles, and in volume it is about one fourth that of the Barada. The Barada and the Awaj are the only rivers of any importance in the district of Damascus, and there can be little doubt that the former is the Abana, and the latter the Pharpar.”

Better than all the waters of Israel — It was natural for the Syrian captain to prefer the streams of his own land to those of an enemy’s country. The Jordan is described by Robinson as “a deep, sluggish, discoloured stream;” and as it flows in its deep bed through wild, desolate jungles, until it empties into the Dead Sea, Naaman might have thought it a useless river in comparison with those limpid rivers of Damascus, which, flowing through the great plain, change it from a desert to a paradise. “Once and again,” writes Tristram, “we crossed the Barada (Abana) by low bridges; and as we beheld its fertilizing powers, and recalled the barren sides of Jordan, we could not but sympathize with the natural feeling of Naaman.”

Went away in a rage — “Carnal minds,” says Wordsworth, “despise the foolishness of preaching, and the simplicity of the sacraments. They look on the Christian Jordan with Syrian eyes. But the true believer knows that one drop of water, set apart by the Divine ordinance of God, has more virtue than all the Abanas and Pharpars of the world.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-5.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 5:12. Are not Abana and Pharpar — better than all the waters of Israel — How magnificently doth he speak of these two rivers, which watered Damascus, and how scornfully of all the waters of Israel! May I not wash in them and be clean? — Is there not as great virtue in them to this purpose? But he should have considered that the cure was not to be wrought by the water, but by the power of God, who might use what means and method of cure he pleased.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-5.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Pharphar. Benjamin (p. 53) informs us that the former river serves to water the city, and the second the surrounding gardens. Maundrell could discover no vestiges of these names in Syria, but he describes the Barrady, which supplies Damascus with abundance of water. Stephanus calls it Bardine; and others, the Chrysorroas. The Orontes, which is supposed to be one of these rivers, flows by Antioch into the Mediterranean sea. (Calmet)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-5.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Are not. ? Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

Abana. Some codices, and three early printed editions, read "Amana".

rivers. Hebrew. nahar, an ever-flowing stream. (Not nahal, a summer stream.) Rising in Mount Hermon and losing themselves in a lake near Damascus.

Damascus. Used of the district, or of the city near which they flowed and were known.

in a rage. One of eleven rulers offended with God"s servants for speaking the truth. See note on Exodus 10:28.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Abana and Pharpar - the Abana (strong); the Greek Chrysorrhoas (golden stream), now Barrada (gold river). Taking its rise in Anti-Lebanon at a height of 3,340 feet above the sea, and at least 1,000 feet above Damascus, it waters about 311 square miles of arable land. The Barrada and one of its five tributaries, most probably the 'Awaj. Joseph Schwarz (in 'Geography of Palestine') says that the Jews resident in Damascus describe Damascus still as 'situated on the two rivers Abana and Pharpar' (Wilson's 'Lands, of the Bible,' 2:, 325, note; Ritter's 'Erdkunde,' 117:, p. 1303; Porter's 'Five Years in Damascus,' 1:, pp. 159, 162, 394, 395; 2:, 11, 248, 249, 358; Lord Lindsay, 'Holy Land,' p. 330). The waters of Damascus are still as highly extolled by their inhabitants for their purity and coldness.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-kings-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(12) Abana.—So Hebrew text; Hebrew margin, Amana; and so many MSS., Complut., LXX., Targum, Syriac. (Comp. Amana, Song of Solomon 4:8, as name of a peak of the Lebanon, which is common in the Assyrian inscriptions also.) The river is identified with the present Burâda, or Barady (“the cold”), which descends from the Anti-Lebanon, and flows through Damascus in seven streams. (The Arabic version has Bardâ.)

Pharpar.—Parpar (“the swift”), the present Nahr el-Awâj, which comes down from the great Hermon, and flows by Damascus on the south. Both rivers have clear water, as being mountain streams, whereas the Jordan is turbid and discoloured.

Rivers of Damascus.—Add the. Damascus is still famous for its wholesome water.

May I not wash in them, and be clean?—If mere washing in a river be enough, it were easy to do that at home, and to much better advantage.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
Abana and Pharpar
or, Amana. This river is evidently the Barrada, or Barda, as the Arabic renders, the Chrysorrhoas of the Greeks, which taking its rise in Antilibanus, runs eastward towards Damascus, where it is divided into three streams, one of which passes through the city, and the other two through the gardens; which reuniting at the east of the city, forms a lake about five or six leagues to the south-east, called Behairat el Marj, or, Lake of the Meadow. Pharpar was probably one of the branches.
better
17; 2:8,14; Joshua 3:15-17; Ezekiel 47:1-8; Zechariah 13:1; 14:8; Mark 1:9
Reciprocal: Genesis 19:18 - GeneralGenesis 35:2 - clean

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-5.html.