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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Gehazi

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(Heb. Geychazi', גֵּיחֲזַי, as if for: חֶזְיוֹן גֵּיְא, valley of vision; but, according to First, denier, from an obsol. גָּחִז ; occasionally contracted Gechazi', גֵּחֲזַי, 2 Kings 4:31; 2 Kings 5:25; 2 Kings 8:4-5; Sept. Γιεζί ), the servant of Elisha, whose entire confidence he at first enjoyed. He personally appears first in reminding his master of the best mode of rewarding the kindness of the Shunammitess (2 Kings 4:14). B.C. 889. He was present at the interview in which the Shunammitess made known to the prophet that her son was dead, and was sent forward to lay Elisha's staff on the child's face, which he did without effect (2 Kings 4:31). B.C. cir. 887. The most remarkable incident in his career is that which caused his ruin. When Elisha, with a noble disinterestedness, declined the rich gifts pressed upon him by the illustrious leper whom he had healed, Gehazi felt distressed that so favorable an opportunity of profiting by the gratitude of Naaman had been so wilfully thrown away. He therefore ran after the retiring chariots, and requested, in his master's name, a portion of the gifts which had before been refused, on the ground that visitors had just arrived for whom he was unable to provide. He asked a talent of silver and two dresses; and the grateful Syrian made himt take two talents instead of one. Having deposited this spoil in a place of safety, he again appeared before Elisha, whose honor he had so seriously compromised. His master asked him where he had been, and on his answering, "Thy servant went no whither," the prophet put on the severities of a judge, and, having denounced his crime, passed upon, him the terrible doom that the leprosy of which Naaman had been cured should cleave to him and his forever. "And he went forth from his presence a leper as white as snow" (2 Kings 5:20-27). B.C. cir. 885. The case is somewhat parallel with that of Ananias (q.v.) and Sapphira (Acts 5). The rebuke inflicted on Gehazi, though severe, cannot justly be reckoned too hard for the occasion. He ought to have understood, from the determined rejection of Naaman's offers by Elisha, that there were important principles involved in the matter, which he should have been careful on no account, or by any movement on his part, to bring into suspicion. There was a great complication of wickedness in his conduct. He first arrogated to himself a superior discernment to that of the Lord's prophet; then he falsely employed the name of that prophet for a purpose which the prophet himself had expressly and most emphatically repudiated; further, as an excuse for aiming at such a purpose, he invented a plea of charity, which had no existence but in his own imagination; and, finally, on being interrogated by Elisha after his return whither he had gone, he endeavored to disguise his procedure by a lie, which was no sooner uttered than it was detected by the prophet. Such accumulated guilt obviously deserved some palpable token of the divine displeasure; the more so, as it tended to give a covetous aspect to the Lord's servant at a time when the very foundations were out of course, and when the true worshippers of God were called to sit loose to all earthly possessions. This, indeed, is the thought that is most distinctly brought out in the prophet's denunciation of Gehazi's conduct (2 Kings 5:26) the false impression it was fitted to give of Elisha's position and character. (See NAAMAN).

We afterwards find Gehazi recounting to king Joram the great deeds of Elisha, and, in the providence of God, it so happened that when he was relating the restoration to life of the Shunammitess's son, the very woman with her son appeared before the king to claim her house and lands, which had beer usurped while she had been absent abroad during the recent famine. Struck by the coincidence, the king immediately granted her application (2 Kings 8:1-6). B.C. 876. Lepers were compelled to live apart outside the towns, and were not allowed to come too near to uninfected persons. (See LEPROSY). Hence some difficulty has arisen with respect to Gehazi's interview with the king. Several answers occur. The interview may have taken place outside the town, in a garden or garden- house; and the king may have kept Gehazi at a distance, with the usual precautions which custom dictated. Some even suppose that the incident is misplaced, and actually occurred before Gehazi was smitten with leprosy. Others hasten to the opposite conclusion, and allege the probability that the leper had then repented of his crime, and had been restored to health by his master, a view which is somewhat corroborated by the fact that he is there still called "the servant of the man of God," from which it is supposed that the relationship between him and Elisha continumed to subsist, or had in some unexplained manner been renewed. (See ELISHA).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gehazi'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/g/gehazi.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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