2 Kings 5
Elisha Heals a Syrian General1 Now Naaman, the commander of the king of Syria’s army, was esteemed and respected by his master, ▼
▼ Heb “was a great man before his master and lifted up with respect to the face.”for through him the Lord had given Syria military victories. But this great warrior had a skin disease. ▼
▼ For a discussion of מְצֹרָע (metsora’), traditionally translated “leprous,” see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 63. Naaman probably had a skin disorder of some type, not leprosy/Hansen’s disease.2 Raiding parties went out from Syria and took captive from the land of Israel a young girl, who became a servant to Naaman’s wife. 3 She told her mistress, “If only my master were in the presence of the prophet who is in Samaria! ▼ Then he would cure him of his skin disease.”
4 Naaman ▼ went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 The king of Syria said, “Go! I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman ▼ went, taking with him ten talents ▼
▼ The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 750 pounds of silver (cf. NCV, NLT, CEV).of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, ▼
▼ Heb “six thousand gold […].” The unit of measure is not given in the Hebrew text. A number of English versions supply “pieces” (e.g., KJV, ASV, NAB, TEV) or “shekels” (e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV).and ten suits of clothes. 6 He brought the letter to king of Israel. It read: “This is a letter of introduction for my servant Naaman, ▼
▼ Heb “and now when this letter comes to you, look, I have sent to you Naaman my servant.”whom I have sent to be cured of his skin disease.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill or restore life? Why does he ask me to cure a man of his skin disease? ▼
▼ Heb “Am I God, killing and restoring life, that this one sends to me to cure a man from his skin disease?” In the Hebrew text this is one lengthy rhetorical question, which has been divided up in the translation for stylistic reasons.Certainly you must see that he is looking for an excuse to fight me!” ▼
▼ Heb “Indeed, know and see that he is seeking an occasion with respect to me.”
8 When Elisha the prophet ▼ heard that the king had torn his clothes, he sent this message to the king, “Why did you tear your clothes? Send him ▼
▼ Heb “Let him come.”to me so he may know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood in the doorway of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent out a messenger who told him, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan; your skin will be restored ▼
▼ Heb “will return to you.”and you will be healed.” 11 Naaman went away angry. He said, “Look, I thought for sure he would come out, stand there, invoke the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the area, and cure the skin disease. 12 The rivers of Damascus, the Abana and Pharpar, are better than any of the waters of Israel! ▼
▼ Heb “Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all of the waters of Israel?” The rhetorical question expects an emphatic “yes” as an answer.Could I not wash in them and be healed?” So he turned around and went away angry. 13 His servants approached and said to him, “O master, ▼ if the prophet had told you to do some difficult task, ▼
▼ Heb “a great thing.”you would have been willing to do it. ▼
▼ Heb “would you not do [it]?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course you would.”It seems you should be happy that he simply said, “Wash and you will be healed.” ▼
▼ Heb “How much more [when] he said, “Wash and be healed.” The second imperative (“be healed”) states the expected result of obeying the first (‘wash”).14 So he went down and dipped in the Jordan seven times, as the prophet had instructed. ▼
▼ Heb “according to the word of the man of God.”His skin became as smooth as a young child’s ▼
▼ Heb “and his skin was restored, like the skin of a small child.”and he was healed.
15 He and his entire entourage returned to the prophet. Naaman ▼ came and stood before him. He said, “For sure ▼
▼ Heb “look.”I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel! Now, please accept a gift from your servant.” 16 But Elisha ▼ replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives (whom I serve), ▼
▼ Heb “before whom I stand.”I will take nothing from you.” Naaman ▼ insisted that he take it, but he refused. 17 Naaman said, “If not, then please give your servant a load of dirt, enough for a pair of mules to carry, ▼
▼ Heb “and [if] not, may there be given to your servant a load [for] a pair of mules, earth.”for your servant will never again offer a burnt offering or sacrifice to a god other than the Lord. ▼
▼ Heb “for your servant will not again make a burnt offering and sacrifice to other gods, only to the Lord.”18 May the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to worship, and he leans on my arm and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.” ▼
▼ Heb “When my master enters the house of Rimmon to bow down there, and he leans on my hand and I bow down [in] the house of Rimmon, when I bow down [in] the house of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this thing.”▼
▼ Rimmon was the Syrian storm god. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 65.19 Elisha ▼ said to him, “Go in peace.”
When he had gone a short distance, ▼
▼ Heb “and he went from him a distance of land.” The precise meaning of כִּבְרַה (kivrah) “distance,” is uncertain. See BDB 460 s.v. כִּבְרַה, and HALOT 459-60 s.v. II *כְּבָרַה, and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 65.20 Gehazi, the prophet Elisha’s servant, thought, ▼
▼ Heb “said” (i.e., to himself).“Look, my master did not accept what this Syrian Naaman offered him. ▼
▼ Heb “Look, my master spared this Syrian Naaman by not taking from his hand what he brought.”As certainly as the Lord lives, I will run after him and accept something from him.” 21 So Gehazi ran after Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from his chariot to meet him and asked, “Is everything all right?” ▼
▼ Heb “Is there peace?”22 He answered, “Everything is fine. ▼
▼ Heb “peace.”My master sent me with this message, ‘Look, two servants of the prophets just arrived from the Ephraimite hill country. ▼
▼ Heb “Look now, here, two servants came to me from the Ephraimite hill country, from the sons of the prophets.”Please give them a talent ▼
▼ The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 75 pounds of silver (cf. NCV, NLT, CEV).of silver and two suits of clothes.’” 23 Naaman said, “Please accept two talents of silver. ▼
▼ Heb “Be resolved and accept two talents.”He insisted, and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, along with two suits of clothes. He gave them to two of his servants and they carried them for Gehazi. ▼
▼ Heb “before him.”24 When he arrived at the hill, he took them from the servants ▼
▼ Heb “from their hand.”and put them in the house. Then he sent the men on their way. ▼
▼ Heb “and he sent the men away and they went.”
25 When he came and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” He answered, “Your servant hasn’t been anywhere.” 26 Elisha ▼ replied, “I was there in spirit when a man turned and got down from his chariot to meet you. ▼
▼ Heb “Did not my heart go as a man turned from his chariot to meet you?” The rhetorical question emphasizes that he was indeed present in “heart” (or “spirit”) and was very much aware of what Gehazi had done. In the MT the interrogative particle has been accidentally omitted before the negative particle.This is not the proper time to accept silver or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, sheep, cattle, and male and female servants. ▼
▼ In the MT the statement is phrased as a rhetorical question, “Is this the time…?” It expects an emphatic negative response.27 Therefore Naaman’s skin disease will afflict ▼
▼ Heb “cling to.”you and your descendants forever!” When Gehazi ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (Gehazi) has been specified in the translation for clarity.went out from his presence, his skin was as white as snow. ▼
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