Naaman’s Problem
Naaman was the captain of the army of the king of Aram. He was very important to his king* because the LORD used him to lead Aram to victory. Naaman was a great and powerful man, but he was also sick with leprosy.
The Aramean army sent many groups of soldiers to fight in Israel. One time they took a little girl from the land of Israel. This girl became a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to his wife, “I wish that my master would meet the prophet who lives in Samaria. He could heal Naaman of his leprosy.”
Naaman went to the king and told him what the Israelite girl said.
Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
So Naaman went to Israel. He took 750 pounds of silver, 6000 pieces of gold and ten changes of clothes as gifts. Naaman took the letter from the king of Aram to the king of Israel. The letter said: “Now this letter is to show that I am sending my servant Naaman to you. Cure his leprosy.”
When the king of Israel had read the letter, he tore his clothes to show he was sad and upset. He said, “Am I God? I don’t have the power over life and death. So why did the king of Aram send a man sick with leprosy for me to heal? Think about it, and you will see that it is a trick. The king of Aram is trying to start a fight.”
Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes. So Elisha sent this message to the king: “Why did you tear your clothes? Let Naaman come to me. Then he will know there is a prophet in Israel.”
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots to Elisha’s house and stood outside the door. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman who said, “Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. Then your skin will be healed, and you will be pure and clean.”
11 Naaman became angry and left. He said, “I thought Elisha would at least come out and stand in front of me and call on the name of the LORD his God. I thought he would wave his hand over my body and heal the leprosy. 12 Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than all the water in Israel. Why can’t I wash in those rivers in Damascus and become clean?” He was very angry and turned to leave.
13 But Naaman’s servants went to him and talked to him. They said, “Father, if the prophet told you to do some great thing, you would do it, isn’t that right? But he said, ‘Wash, and you will be pure and clean.’ ”
14 So Naaman did what the man of God said. He went down and dipped himself in the Jordan River seven times, and he became pure and clean. His skin became soft like the skin of a baby.
15 Naaman and his whole group came back to the man of God. He stood before Elisha and said, “Look, I now know there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now please accept a gift from me.”
16 But Elisha said, “The LORD is the one I serve, and as surely as he lives, I will not accept any gift.”
Naaman tried hard to make Elisha take the gift, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If you will not accept this gift, at least do this for me. Let me have enough dirt from Israel to fill the baskets on two of my mules.§ I ask this because I will never again offer any burnt offering or sacrifice to any other gods. I will offer sacrifices only to the LORD! 18 And I pray that the LORD will forgive me for this: When my master goes to the temple of Rimmon to worship that false god, he will want to lean on me for support. So I must bow down in the temple of Rimmon. I ask the LORD now to forgive me when that happens.”
19 Then Elisha said to Naaman, “Go in peace.”
So Naaman left Elisha and went a short way. 20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Look, my master has let Naaman the Aramean go without accepting the gift that he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after Naaman and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi ran to Naaman.
Naaman saw someone running after him. He stepped down from the chariot to meet Gehazi. Naaman said, “Is everything all right?”
22 Gehazi said, “Yes, everything is all right. My master has sent me. He said, ‘Look, two young men came to me from the group of prophets* in the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them 75 pounds of silver and two changes of clothes.’ ”
23 Naaman said, “Please, take 150 pounds.He persuaded Gehazi to take the silver. Naaman put 150 pounds of silver in two bags and took two changes of clothes. Then he gave these things to two of his servants. The servants carried these things for Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took these things from the servants. He sent the servants away, and they left. Then he hid those things in the house.
25 Gehazi came in and stood before his master. Elisha said to Gehazi, “Where have you been Gehazi?”
Gehazi answered, “I didn’t go anywhere.”
26 Elisha said to him, “That is not true! My heart was with you when the man turned from his chariot to meet you. This is not the time to take money, clothes, olives, grapes, sheep, cattle, or men and women servants. 27 Now you and your children will catch Naaman’s disease. You will have leprosy forever!”
When Gehazi left Elisha, his skin was as white as snow! He was sick with leprosy.
* 5:1 king Literally, “master.” 5:5 750 pounds Literally, “10 talents” (345 kg). 5:13 Father Slaves often called their masters “father,” and the masters often called their slaves “children.” § 5:17 Let me have … my mules Naaman probably thought the ground in Israel was holy, so he wanted to take some with him to help him worship the Lord in his own country. * 5:22 group of prophets Literally, “sons of the prophets.” These were prophets and people studying to become prophets. Also in 6:1, 4. 5:22 75 pounds Literally, “1 talent” (34.5 kg). 5:23 150 pounds Literally, “2 talents” (69 kg).