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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Na´aman (pleasantness), commander of the armies of Damascene Syria, in the time of Joram, king of Israel. Through his valor and abilities Naaman held a high place in the esteem of his king Benhadad; and although he was afflicted with leprosy, it would seem that this did not, as among the Hebrews, operate as a disqualification for public employment. Nevertheless, the condition of a leper could not but have been in his high place both afflicting and painful: and when it was heard that a little Hebrew slave-girl, who waited upon Naaman's wife, had spoken of a prophet in Samaria who could cure her master of his leprosy, the faint and uncertain hope thus offered was eagerly seized; and the general obtained permission to visit the place where this relief was to be sought. Benhadad even furnished him with a letter to his old enemy King Joram; but as this letter merely stated that Naaman had been sent for him to cure, the king of Israel rent his clothes in astonishment and anger, suspecting that a request so impossible to grant, involved a studied insult or an intention to fix a quarrel upon him with a view to future aggressions. When tidings of this affair reached the prophet Elisha, he desired that the stranger might be sent to him. Naaman accordingly went, and his splendid train of chariots, horses, and laden camels filled the street before the prophet's house. As a leper, Naaman could not be admitted into the house; and Elisha did not come out to him as he expected, and as he thought civility required; but he sent out his servant to tell him to go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan, and that his leprosy would then pass from him. He was, however, by this time so much chafed and disgusted by the apparent neglect and incivility with which he had been treated, that if his attendants had not prevailed upon him to obey the directions of the prophet, he would have returned home still a leper. But he went to the Jordan, and having bent himself seven times beneath its waters, rose from them clear from all leprous stain. His gratitude was now proportioned to his previous wrath, and he drove back to vent the feelings of his full heart to the prophet of Israel. He avowed to him his conviction that the God of Israel, through whom this marvelous deed had been wrought, was great beyond all gods; and he declared that henceforth he would worship Him only, and to that end he proposed to take with him two mules' load of the soil of Israel wherewith to set up in Damascus an altar to Jehovah. This shows he had heard that an altar of earth was necessary (); and the imperfect notions which he entertained of the duties which his desire to serve Jehovah involved, were natural in an uninstructed foreigner. He had also heard that Jehovah was a very jealous God, and had forbidden any of his servants to bow themselves down before idols; and therefore he expressed to Elisha a hope that he should be forgiven if, when his public duty required him to attend his king to the temple of Rimmon, he bowed with his master. The grateful Syrian would gladly have pressed upon Elisha gifts of high value, but the holy man resolutely refused to take anything, lest the glory redounding to God from this great act should in any degree be obscured. His servant, Gehazi, was less scrupulous, and hastened with a lie in his mouth to ask in his master's name for a portion of that which Elisha had refused. The illustrious Syrian no sooner saw the man running after his chariot, than he alighted to meet him, and happy to relieve himself in some degree under the sense of overwhelming obligation, he sent him back with more than he had ventured to ask (2 Kings 5). Nothing more is known of Naaman; and what befell Gehazi is related under another head [GEHAZI].





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Naaman'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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