2 Kings 5
Barnes' Notes
Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
By him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria - An Assyrian monarch had pushed his conquests as far as Syria exactly at this period, bringing into subjection all the kings of these parts. But Syria revolted after a few years and once more made herself independent. It was probably in this war of independence that Naaman had distinguished himself.

But he was a leper - leprosy admitted of various kinds and degrees Leviticus 13; 14 Some of the lighter forms would not incapacitate a man from discharging the duties of a courtier and warrior.

And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
No peace had been made on the failure of Ahab's expedition 1 Kings 22:1-36. The relations of the two countries therefore continued to be hostile, and plundering inroads naturally took place on the one side and on the other.

And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
One went in - Rather, "he went in," i. e. Naaman went and told his lord, the king of Syria.

And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
Six thousand pieces of gold - Rather, "six thousand shekels of gold." Coined money did not exist as yet, and was not introduced into Judea until the time of Cyrus. Gold was carried in bars, from which portions were cut when need arose, and the value was ascertained by weighing. If the gold shekel of the Jews corresponded, as some think, to the doric of the Persians, the value of the 6,000 shekels would be about 6,837 British pounds If the weight was the same as that of the silver shekel (see Exodus 38:24 note), the value would exceed 12,000 British pounds.

The ancient practice of including clothes among gifts of honor in the East Genesis 41:42; Esther 6:8; Daniel 5:7 continues to the present day.

And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
That thou mayest recover him - literally, "And thou shalt recover him." The Syrian king presumes that, if there is a cure for leprosy to be had in Israel, the mode of obtaining it will be well known to his royal brother.

And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
He rent his clothes - The action indicated alarm and terror quite as much as sorrow 2 Samuel 13:19; Ezra 9:3; 2 Chronicles 34:27; Jeremiah 36:22.

Consider, I pray you - Jehoram speaks to his chief officers, and bids them mark the animus of the Syrian monarch. Compare the conduct of Ahab 1 Kings 20:7.

And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
He shall know ... Israel - namely, "That which thou (the king of Israel) appearest to have forgotten, that there is a prophet - a real Yahweh prophet - in Israel."

So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
Elisha was not deterred from personally meeting Naaman because he was a leper. He sent a messenger because Naaman had over-estimated his own importance 2 Kings 5:11), and needed rebuke.

And wash in Jordan - Compare the marginal references. A command is given which tests the faith of the recipient, and the miracle is not performed until such faith is openly evidenced.

But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
He will surely come out to me - In the East a code of unwritten laws prescribes exactly how visits are to be paid, and how visitors are to be received, according to the worldly rank of the parties (compare 2 Kings 5:21). No doubt, according to such a code, Elisha should have gone out to meet Naaman at the door of his house.

And call on the name of the Lord his God - literally, "of Yahweh his God." Naaman is aware that Yahweh is the God of Elisha. Compare the occurrence of the name of Yahweh on the "Moabite Stone" (2 Kings 3:4 note).

Strike - Better, as in the margin, "pass the fingers up and down the place" at a short distance. It seems implied that the leprosy was partial.

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.
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.

And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Seven times - Compare 1 Kings 18:43. In both cases a somewhat severe trial was made of the individual's faith. Compare the seven compassings of Jericho, and the sudden fall of the walls Joshua 6:3-20.

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
He returned - Naaman was grateful (compare Luke 17:15). From the Jordan to Samaria was a distance of not less than 32 miles. Naaman further went to Damascus, far out of his way, lengthening his necessary journey by at least three days. His special object in returning seems to have been to relieve his feelings of obligation by inducing the prophet to accept a "blessing," i. e. a gift.

There is no God ... - Compare the marginal references; but in none of them are the expressions quite so strong as here. Naaman seems absolutely to renounce all belief in any other God but Yahweh.

But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
I will receive none - The prophets were in the habit of receiving presents from those who consulted them 1 Samuel 9:7-8; 1 Kings 14:3, but Elisha refused. It was important that Naaman should not suppose that the prophets of the true God acted from motives of self-interest, much less imagine that "the gift of God might be purchased with money" Acts 8:20.

And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
Two mules' burden of earth - This earth, Naaman thought, spread over a portion of Syrian ground, would hallow and render it suitable for the worship of Yahweh.

In this thing the LORD 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.
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.

And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
So he departed ... - This clause should not be separated from the succeeding verse. The meaning is, "So he departed from him, and had gone a little way, when Gehazi bethought himself of what he would do, and followed after him."

But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
This Syrian - The words are emphatic. Gehazi persuades himself that it is right to spoil a Syrian - that is, a Gentile, and an enemy of Israel.

As the Lord liveth - These words are here a profane oath. Gehazi, anxious to make himself believe that he is acting in a proper, and, even, in a religions spirit, does not scruple to introduce one of the most solemn of religious phrases.

So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
He lighted down from the chariot - This was an act of quite uncalled-for courtesy. It indicates eagerness to honor the master in the person of his servant.

And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
From mount Ephraim - Bethel and Gilgal 2 Kings 2:1, at both of which there were "schools of the prophets," were situated on Mount Ephraim.

A talent of silver - A large demand in respect of the pretended occasion; but small compared with the amount which Naaman had pressed on the prophet 2 Kings 5:4. Gehazi had to balance between his own avarice, on the one hand, and the fear of raising suspicion on the other.

And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
Be content - i. e. "consent."

And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
The tower - Rather, "the hill," the well-known hill by Elisha's house. The hill interrupted the view in the direction taken by Naaman, and Gehazi dismissed Naaman's servants at this point lest they should be seen from his master's residence.

But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
Lest his absence should be noticed, Gehazi hastened, without being called, to appear before his master. In the East it is usual for servants to remain most of the day in their lord's presence, only quitting it when given some order to execute.

And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
Went not mine heart with thee? - i. e. "Was I not with thee in spirit - did I not see the whole transaction, as if I had been present at it?" He uses the verb "went," because Gehazi has just denied his "going."

Is it a time ... - i. e. "Was this a proper occasion to indulge greed, when a Gentile was to be favorably impressed, and made to feel that the faith of the Israelites was the only true religion? Was it not, on the contrary, an occasion for the exhibition of the greatest unselfishness, that so a pagan might be won to the truth?"

And oliveyards and vineyards ... - Gehazi's thoughts had probably run on to the disposition which he would make of his wealth, and the prophet here follows them, enumerating his servant's intended purchases.

The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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