2 Kings 5:18
In this thing the LORD pardon your servant, that when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans 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 your servant in this thing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) In this thing.—Touching this thing (but in at the end of the verse). The LXX. and Syriac read, “and touching this thing,” an improvement in the connection.

To worship.—To bow down (the same verb occurs thrice in the verse).

The house of Rimmon.—The Assyrian Rammânu (from ramāmu, “to thunder”). One of his epithets in the cuneiform is Râmimu, “the thunderer;” and another is Barqu (=Bâriqu), “he who lightens.” Rimmon was the god of the atmosphere, called in Accadian, AN. IM (“god of the air or wind”), figured on bas-reliefs and cylinders as armed with the thunderbolt. His name is prominent in the story of the Flood (e.g., it is said Rammânu irmum, “Rimmon thundered”); and one of his standing titles is Râhiçu (“he who deluges”). The Assyrians identified Rammân with the Aramean and Edomite Hadad. (Comp. the name Hadad-rimmon, Zechariah 12:11; and Tabrimon, 1Kings 15:18.) A list of no fewer than forty-one titles of Rimmon has been found among the cuneiform tablets.

Leaneth on my hand.—A metaphor denoting the attendance on the king by his favourite grandee or principal adjutant. (Comp. 2Kings 7:2; 2Kings 7:17.)

When I bow down myself.—An Aramaic form is used. The clause is omitted in some Hebrew MSS.

The Lord pardon thy servant.—Naaman had solemnly promised to serve no god but Jehovah for the future. He now prays that an unavoidable exception—which will, indeed, be such only in appearance—may be excused by Jehovah. His request is not, of course, to be judged by a Christian standard. By the reply, “Go in peace,” the prophet, as spokesman of Jehovah, acceded to Naaman’s prayer. “Naaman durst not profess conversion to the foreign cultus before the king, his master; so he asks leave to go on assisting at the national rites” (Reuss).

The Lord pardon.—In the current Hebrew text it is the Lord pardon, I pray. The LXX. appears to have had the same reading; but very many MSS. and all the other versions omit the precative particle. It is, however, probably genuine.

2 Kings 5:18. When my master goeth into the house of Rimmon — Or rather, went, or hath gone, namely, formerly; for the Hebrew text of the whole verse may be properly rendered in the past time, thus: In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master went into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaned on my hand, and I bowed myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bowed myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. Rimmon, it must be observed, was a Syrian idol, called here by the Seventy Remman, and Acts 7:43, Remphan. And as Naaman, in the preceding verses, had declared that he would worship no other God but Jehovah, this translation seems evidently the true one, and is approved by many learned men, as Mr. Locke, Dr. Lightfoot, Lord Clarendon, and others. Certainly, as Dr. Dodd observes, “‘the incongruity would be great, if Naaman, who had just before declared his renunciation of idolatry, should now confess his readiness to relapse into the same crime, and desire God’s pardon for it beforehand; whereas to ask pardon for what he had done amiss, and to desire the prophet’s intercession with God in that behalf, argued a mind truly sensible of his former transgression, and very much resolved to avoid it for the future; and accordingly it is supposed that upon his return home he refused to worship Rimmon any more, and was thereupon dismissed from being general of the king’s forces.”5:15-19 The mercy of the cure affected Naaman more than the miracle. Those are best able to speak of the power of Divine grace, who themselves experience it. He also shows himself grateful to Elisha the prophet. Elijah refused any recompence, not because he thought it unlawful, for he received presents from others, but to show this new convert that the servants of the God of Israel looked upon worldly wealth with a holy contempt. The whole work was from God, in such a manner, that the prophet would not give counsel when he had no directions from the Lord. It is not well violently to oppose the lesser mistakes which unite with men's first convictions; we cannot bring men forward any faster than the Lord prepares them to receive instruction. Yet as to us, if, in covenanting with God, we desire to reserve any known sin, to continue to indulge ourselves in it, that is a breach of his covenant. Those who truly hate evil, will make conscience of abstaining from all appearances of evil.Rimmon is known to us as a god only by this passage. The name is connected with a root "to be high." Hadad-rimmon Zechariah 12:11, the name of a place near Megiddo, points to the identity of Rimmon with Hadad, who is known to have been the Sun, the chief object of worship to the Syrians.

When he leaneth on mine hand - The practice of a monarch's "leaning on the hand" of an attendant was not common in the East (compare the marginal reference). It probably implied age or infirmity.

The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing - Naaman was not prepared to offend his master, either by refusing to enter with him into the temple of Rimmon, or by remaining erect when the king bowed down and worshipped the god. His conscience seems to have told him that such conduct was not right; but he trusted that it might be pardoned, and he appealed to the prophet in the hope of obtaining from him an assurance to this effect.

18. goeth into the house of Rimmon—a Syrian deity; probably the sun, or the planetary system, of which a pomegranate (Hebrew, Rimmon) was the symbol.

leaneth on my hand—that is, meaning the service which Naaman rendered as the attendant of his sovereign. Elisha's prophetic commission not extending to any but the conversion of Israel from idolatry, he makes no remark, either approving or disapproving, on the declared course of Naaman, but simply gives the parting benediction (2Ki 5:19).

Rimmon; a Syrian idol, called here by the LXX. Remman, and Acts 7:43 Remphan.

On my hand; or, arm, as that word sometimes signifies, both in Scripture and other authors; or, shoulder; upon which the king leaned, either for state or for support. Compare 2 Kings 7:2.

When I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon; not in honour to the idol, which I do here, and shall there, openly renounce; but only in compliance with the king’s infirmity and conveniency, who cannot well bow if I stand upright. The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing: because there seemed to be an appearance of evil in this action, though done with an honest mind, he desires the prophet’s prayers that God would not charge it upon him as idolatry nor be displeased with him for that practice. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant,.... Which he next mentions, and on account of which he desires the prayers of Elisha for him, as the Vulgate Latin version; or it may be, this is a prayer of his own, put up at this time to the true Jehovah, in whom he believed:

that when my master: meaning the king of Syria:

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; the house of Rimmon was a temple of an idol of that name; what idol it was is not easy to say; the Septuagint version calls it Remman, thought by some to be the same with Remphan, Acts 7:43, a name of Saturn, said to be given him from a Greek word, which signifies to "wander" (q), he being placed among the wandering stars in the supreme heavens; which is not likely, for the word is certainly of a Syriac signification, and comes either from which signifies "high", and so the same with Elioun, the Phoenician deity, called the most high (r); or, as "Rimmon" is used for a pomegranate, this is thought to design the Syrian goddess, to whom this sort of fruit was sacred; or Juno, whose statue, in her temple at Mycenas (s), had a pomegranate in one hand; or rather this Rimmon was Jupiter Cassius, so called from Mount Cassius, which divided Syria from Egypt, who is painted with his hand stretched out, and a pomegranate in it (t); and may be the same with Caphtor, the father of the Caphtorim, Genesis 10:14 who might be deified after his death, their names, Rimmon and Caphtor, being of the same signification (u). But be this deity as it may, it was worshipped by the Syrians; and when the king of Syria went in to worship, he used to lean upon the hand of one of his officers, either being lame, or for state sake, in which office Naaman was; and his request to the prophet, or to the Lord, is, not for pardon for a sin to be committed; nor to be indulged in his continuance of it; not to worship the idol along with his master; nor to dissemble the worship of it, when he really worshipped it not; nor to be excused any evil in the discharge of his post and office; but for the pardon of the sin of idolatry he had been guilty of, of which he was truly sensible, now sincerely acknowledges, and desires forgiveness of; and so Dr. Lightfoot (w), and some others (x), interpret it; and to this sense the words may be rendered:

when my master went in to the house of Rimmon to worship there; which was his usual custom; and he leaned on my hand, which was the common form in which he was introduced into it:

and I worshipped in the house of Rimmon, as his master did, for the same word is used here as before:

in as much, or seeing I have worshipped in the house of Rimmon, have been guilty of such gross idolatry:

the Lord, I pray, forgive thy servant in this thing; the language of a true penitent.

(q) A "vagari", Hesychius. (r) Vid. Selden. de Dis Syris Syntagm. 2. c. 10. (s) Pausan. Corinthiac. sive, l. 2. p. 114. (t) Achilles Tatius, l. 3. Vid. Reland. Palestin. Illustrat. tom. 2. p. 934. (u) See Clayton's Origin of Hieroglyphics, p. 113. (w) Works, vol. 1. p. 86. (x) Vid. Quenstedt. Dissert. de. Petit. Naaman. sect. 21, 22.

In this thing the LORD {i} 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.

(i) He feels his conscience is wounded by being present at idols service, and therefore desires God to forgive him, lest others by his example might fall to idolatry: for as for his own part he confesses that he will never serve any but the true God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. the Lord pardon thy servant] Naaman can see the inconsistency of his conduct. He will offer no more sacrifices to Rimmon. But the king his master worships in Rimmon’s temple, and Naaman must be in attendance, and must bow when the king bows down, or he will give offence. He sets his difficulty before Elisha, and Elisha, regarding the degree of his faith and obedience as all that could be expected from his amount of light, gives him a comforting answer. We must judge both Naaman and the prophet according to the times in which they lived. It was impossible for the former at once to cast away all his old ideas. His strongest wish, for some of the soil of the holy land to carry home, bespeaks the darkness in which he had lived and was living, and a new creature is not to be made in a moment out of men like Naaman. Elisha on the other hand had no light such as we have concerning God’s message to the heathen; the Jew has not either in ancient or in modern times been a missionary, and we need not judge Elisha hardly, because he felt no call to rebuke the half converted heathen for his imperfect service. The Lord had not yet given His message to any of the chosen people ‘Go ye out into all the world’.

Rimmon] The god of the Syrians of Damascus. The name is most likely derived from the Hebrew word rûm = to be high; and so signifies ‘most high’, a natural title to apply to a divinity. The Syrians had the name Tab-Rimmon (1 Kings 15:18) = good is Rimmon, among the names of their royal family, and the existence of a place called Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo (Zechariah 12:11) would seem to indicate that the worship of Rimmon had at some time prevailed in a part of Palestine. Rimmon is mentioned nowhere in the Bible but in this passage.Verse 18. - In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant. Naaman is not prepared to be a martyr for his religion. On returning to Damascus, it will be among his civil duties to accompany his master to the national temples, and to prostrate himself before the images of the national deities. If he declines, if (like an early Christian) he will not enter "the house of devils," much less bow down before the graven image of a false god, it may cost him his life; it will certainly cost him his court favor. For such a sacrifice he is not prepared. Yet his conscience tells him that he will be acting wrongly. He therefore expresses a hope, or a prayer, that his fault, for a fault he feels that it will be, may be forgiven him - that Jehovah will not be "extreme to mark what is done amiss," but will excuse his outward conformity to his inward faith and zeal. That when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon. Riminon is probably derived from rum (רוּם), "to be high," and means "the exalted god," according to the gloss of He-sychins - Ράμας ὕψιστος θεός. It is wrongly connected with רִטּון, "a pomegranate," and should rather be compared with the Arabic Er Rhaman, "the Most High." The royal name, "Tab-Bitumen" (1 Kings 15:18), contains the root, as does also the local name (Zechariah 12:11), "Hadad-Rimmon." This last word gives rise to the suspicion that Hadad and Rimmon are merely two names of the same deity, who was called "Hadad" or "Hadar" as bright and glorious, "Rim-men" as lofty and exalted. To worship there, and he leaneth on my hand. Either Naaman's leprosy must have been recent, and he refers to the king's practice in former times, or there must have been far less horror of leprosy among the Syrians than there was among the Hebrews. And I bow myself in the house of Rimmon - before the image, or at any rate before the supposed presence of the god - when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. The repetition of the clause indicates Naaman's anxiety on the subject. When Naaman stopped with his horses and chariot before the house of Elisha, the prophet sent a messenger out to him to say, "Go and wash thyself seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh will return to thee, i.e., become sound, and thou wilt be clean." ישׁב, return, inasmuch as the flesh had been changed through the leprosy into festering matter and putrefaction. The reason why Elisha did not go out to Naaman himself, is not to be sought for in the legal prohibition of intercourse with lepers, as Ephraem Syrus and many others suppose, nor in his fear of the leper, as Thenius thinks, nor even in the wish to magnify the miracle in the eyes of Naaman, as C. a Lapide imagines, but simply in Naaman's state of mind. This is evident from his exclamation concerning the way in which he was treated. Enraged at his treatment, he said to his servant (2 Kings 5:11, 2 Kings 5:12): "I thought, he will come out to me and stand and call upon the name of Jehovah his God, and go with his hand over the place (i.e., move his hand to and fro over the diseased places), and take away the leprosy." המּצורע, the leprous equals the disease of leprosy, the scabs and ulcers of leprosy. "Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? (for the combination of טּוב with נהרות, see Ewald, 174f.) Should I not bathe in them, and become clean?" With these words he turned back, going away in a rage. Naaman had been greatly strengthened in the pride, which is innate in every natural man, by the exalted position which he held in the state, and in which every one bowed before him, and served him in the most reverential manner, with the exception of his lord the king; and he was therefore to receive a salutary lesson of humiliation, and at the same time was also to learn that he owed his cure not to any magic touch from the prophet, but solely to the power of God working through him. - Of the two rivers of Damascus, Abana or Amana (the reading of the Keri with the interchange of the labials ב and מ, see Sol 4:8) is no doubt the present Barada or Barady (Arab. brd, i.e., the cold river), the Chrysorrhoas (Strabo, xvi. p. 755; Plin. h. n. 18 or 16), which rises in the table-land to the south of Zebedany, and flows through this city itself, and then dividing into two arms, enters two small lakes about 4 3/4 hours to the east of the city. The Pharpar is probably the only other independent river of any importance in the district of Damascus, namely, the Avaj, which arises from the union of several brooks around Sa'sa', and flows through the plain to the south of Damascus into the lake Heijny (see Rob. Bibl. Researches, p. 444). The water of the Barada is beautiful, clear and transparent (Rob.), whereas the water of the Jordan is turbid, "of a clayey colour" (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 256); and therefore Naaman might very naturally think that his own native rivers were better than the Jordan.
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