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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Naaman

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NAAMAN (the word means ‘pleasantness,’ or, as an epithet, as is probable, of Adonis or Tammuz, ‘darling’; cf. the Adonis plantations referred to in Isaiah 17:10 [Heb.]. The Arabs of the present day still call the red anemone, which blooms in the spring, at the time at which one of the Adonis festivals used to be held, the ‘wounds of the darling, or Naaman’; the name of the flower probably comes from ‘Naaman’; see W. R. Smith in the English Historical Review , April 1887). 1 . One of the sons of Benjamin ( Genesis 46:21 ), though in Numbers 26:40 and 1 Chronicles 8:4 he is referred to as Benjamin’s grandson; in Numbers 26:40 the ‘family of the Naamites ’ is spoken of, they therefore probably formed a clan belonging to the tribe of Benjamin.

2 . A Syrian general who came to Elisha to be healed of leprosy. The story is told in 2 Kings 5:1-27 , where it appears in entire independence of the context. Through an Israelite slave-girl Naaman hears of the man of God who works miracles, and in the hope of being cured of his leprosy he comes to Elisha; it is, however, noteworthy that he comes at Elisha’s request ( 2 Kings 2:8 ) in order that he may learn that ‘there is a prophet in Israel.’ On his arrival Naaman receives a message to the effect that he is to wash in the river Jordan seven times; his objection that the prophet ought to work the miracle ‘in the name of the Lord his God’ seems very justifiable; upon the advice, however, of his servants he dips himself seven times in the Jordan, and is healed. His first words to the prophet, thereupon, are, ‘Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.’ On Elisha’s refusing the gift offered to him, Naaman asks for two mules’ burden of Israelitish soil upon which to worship the God of Israel; this is in entire accordance with the ideas of the time that a god of a country cannot be worshipped properly excepting upon his own soil (cf. 1 Samuel 26:19-20 ). Quite natural, too, according to the beliefs of the time, is his wish to bow down in the house of Rimmon; for apart from the necessity of this on account of his attendance on the king, there is the fact that religious syncretism was considered not only permissible, but, under various circumstances, commendable. [For the unworthy conduct of the prophet’s servant Gehazi , and the punishment inflicted on him, see Gehazi.]

W. O. E. Oesterley.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Naaman'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/n/naaman.html. 1909.

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