Na'aman The Gentile God-Fearer
Na'aman is one of my favorite Biblical accounts. There are many facets of daily life that bring great value to the passage. We have a Gentile commander named Na'aman who is suffering from leprosy (a skin disease). A wonderful servant girl who sees the need of Na'aman and has faith knowing that Elisha could heal Na'aman.
The King of Israel who is distressed due to this request from Na'aman. Elisha tells the King of Israel to remain calm, let me handle the request. The request comes to Elisha and Na'aman is angered that Elisha won't meet personally with him. Elisha sends his messenger and tells him to dip 7 times in the river Jordan.
Na'aman's servants beg him to listen to Elisha; Na'aman does and is healed and his skin returns to that of a child's in perfect condition.
In this account you see the condition of the hearts of indivduals and at the same time their human emotions, desires, expectations, and frustrations that are highlighted.
Na'aman ends up becoming a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a very polytheistic world. In verse 15 we read. "15Then, with his whole retinue, he returned to the man of God, went and stood before him, and said, “Well, I’ve learned that there is no God in all the earth except in Isra’el; therefore, please accept a present from your servant.”
For us today, we can easily see how we would potentially respond in similar ways as Na'aman, the servant girl, the King, the servants of Na'aman, and Elisha. I encourage you to take time this week to read the account in 2 Kings 4:42-5:19.
"42 A man came from Ba‘al-Shalishah bringing the man of God twenty loaves of bread made from the barley firstfruits and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give this to the people to eat.” 43 His servant said, “How am I to serve this to a hundred men?” But he said, “Give it to the people to eat; for Adonai says that they will eat and have some left over.”
44 So he served them, and they ate and had some left over, as Adonai had said. 1 Na‘aman, commander of the king of Aram’s army, was highly respected and esteemed by his master; because through him Adonai had brought victory to Aram. But although he was a brave warrior, he also suffered from tzara‘at.
2 Now on one of their raids into Isra’el’s territory, Aram carried away captive a little girl, who became a servant for Na‘aman’s wife.
3 She said to her mistress, “I wish my lord could go to the prophet in Shomron! He could heal his tzara‘at.” 4 Na‘aman went in and told his lord, “The girl from the land of Isra’el said such-and-such.”
5 The king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Isra’el.” He set out, taking with him 660 pounds of silver, 6,000 pieces of gold and ten changes of clothes.
6 He brought the king of Isra’el the letter, which said, “When this letter reaches you, you will see that I have sent my servant Na‘aman to you, so that you can heal his tzara‘at.”
7 When the king of Isra’el finished reading the letter, he tore his clothes. “Am I God, able to kill and make alive,” he asked, “so that he sends me a man to heal of tzara‘at? You can see that he is only seeking an excuse to quarrel with me.”
8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Isra’el had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why did you tear your clothes? Just have him come to me, and he will know that there is a prophet in Isra’el.”
9 So Na‘aman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, who said, “Go, and bathe in the Yarden seven times. Your skin will become as it was, and you will be clean.”
11 But Na‘aman became angry and left, saying, “Here now! I thought for certain that he would come out personally, that he would stand, call on the name of Adonai his God and wave his hand over the diseased place and thus heal the person with tzara‘at.
12 Aren’t Amanah and Parpar, the rivers of Dammesek, better than all the water in Isra’el? Why can’t I bathe in them and be clean?” So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 But his servants approached him and said, “My father! If the prophet had asked you to do something really difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So, doesn’t it make even more sense to do what he says, when it’s only, ‘Bathe, and be clean’?”
14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Yarden, as the man of God had said to do; and his skin was restored and became like the skin of a child; and he became clean.
15 Then, with his whole retinue, he returned to the man of God, went and stood before him, and said, “Well, I’ve learned that there is no God in all the earth except in Isra’el; therefore, please accept a present from your servant.”
16 But Elisha answered, “As Adonai lives, before whom I stand, I will not accept it.” And despite his urging him to take it, he refused.
17 So Na‘aman said, “If you won’t take it, then please let your servant be given as much earth as two mules can carry; because from now on, your servant will offer neither burnt offerings nor sacrifices to other gods, but only to Adonai.
18 Except this, and may Adonai forgive your servant for it: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon — when I bow down, may Adonai forgive your servant for this.”
19 Elisha said to him, “Go in peace.”
Na‘aman had gone only a short distance from him," - 2 Kings 4:42-5:19