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Naaman’s master considered him an extraordinary man. He was the military commander of Aram’s army, and he had won many important battles for Aram by the power of the Eternal. Naturally he was greatly esteemed by his king. Naaman was a fierce warrior, but he also had a skin disease. Now one time, the Arameans went out in raiding parties and took a little girl from Israel as their prisoner. The little girl became a servant to Naaman’s wife.

Girl (to Naaman’s wife): If only my master could be near the prophet in Samaria, the prophet there could heal my master’s disease.

Naaman became hopeful, and he went and told his king what the little girl from Israel said.

King of Aram: I am going to write a letter to Israel’s king, and I want you to take it to him immediately.

Naaman left with the king’s letter in his hand, plus 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 sets of fine clothing. 6-7 Naaman handed the letter to Israel’s king, and the king read it.

King of Aram’s Message: The man carrying this letter is my servant, Naaman. He has a skin disease, and I request that you heal him.

King of Israel (ripping his clothing): Who does he think I am—God? Why does Aram’s king think I have the power to kill and make alive again? What in the world makes him think that I can heal you of your disease? It is obvious that Aram’s king is trying to create trouble between us.

Elisha, the man of God, received word that Israel’s king had ripped his clothing, so he sent a message to Israel’s king.

Elisha’s Message: What has caused you to rip your clothing? Tell the man who has come to you for healing to come to me. Then he will be assured that a prophet lives in Israel.

The king told Naaman to go find Elisha, so Naaman showed up at Elisha’s door with his horses and chariots. 10 Elisha did not show his face to Naaman, but instead sent instructions: “Wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times. The waters will heal you, and your skin will be back to normal. You will be cleansed.” 11 Naaman boiled with anger as he left Elisha. He had come to his house expecting something much different.

Naaman: What is this! I came here thinking that Elisha would come outside and call upon the name of the Eternal One his God, and that Elisha’s hand would pass over my sores and heal my skin disease, not the waters of the Jordan River. 12 The Abanah and Pharpar Rivers in Damascus are greater rivers than all the rivers of Israel combined, so why couldn’t I just go bathe in those and be healed?

Naaman then stormed away, boiling with anger. 13 Later his servants approached and spoke to him with respect.

Naaman’s Servants: Father, if the prophet had told you to do some important thing, wouldn’t you have done what he asked? Why is it difficult for you to follow his instructions when he tells you, “Bathe yourself in the Jordan River, and be cleansed”?

14 So Naaman swallowed his pride, walked down to the Jordan River, and washed himself seven times, just as the man of God had instructed him to do. There, the miracle occurred. Naaman’s disease was healed: his skin was as new as an infant’s, and he was clean from the disease. 15 Naaman and all his entourage went back to the man of God.

Naaman: I am convinced that there is no God who exists in the entire world like the True God in Israel. Please accept this gift from me, your humble servant.

Elisha: 16 As certain as the life of the Eternal whom I worship, I refuse to take any gifts.

Naaman tried again to give Elisha a gift, but Elisha would not take it.

Naaman: 17 OK. If you won’t take my gift, at least allow me to take two mule-loads of earth. I, your servant, will no longer give burnt offerings or sacrifices to other gods. The Eternal One is my only God now. 18 May the Eternal One forgive me when I walk into the house of Rimmon, the storm god of Aram, to worship there beside my master. As his first officer, I must be by his side wherever he goes, even when he worships. May He forgive me for bowing down in that place.

Elisha: 19 Go, and be at peace about this matter.

So Naaman left and traveled for a while.

20 About this time, Gehazi, who served Elisha, the man of God, had a wicked thought: “My master let this Aramean Naaman leave and refused Naaman’s gift! That means the gift is still with Naaman. As certain as the life of the Eternal, I vow to go after him and try to get the gift from him myself.”

21 So Gehazi went after Naaman. When Naaman saw Gehazi chasing him, he stepped down from his chariot in order to greet Elisha’s servant.

Naaman: Is everything fine?

Gehazi: 22 Yes, everything is well. Elisha told me to hurry after you and give you this message. He says, “Two young men who are the prophets’ disciples have just arrived from the hilly land of Ephraim. I request that you give them 75 pounds of silver and two changes of clothing.”

Naaman: 23 Of course. Please take 150 pounds.

Naaman then put the 150 pounds of silver in two bags, along with two sets of clothing. He secured the bags, placed them in the possession of two of his servants, and gave them instructions to take the bags back to Elisha’s house with Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi and Naaman’s servants arrived at the hill where Elisha’s house sat, Gehazi took the bags from Naaman’s servants and placed them in the house. He then told the servants to go back to Naaman, and so they went away. 25 Gehazi then went to find Elisha.

Elisha: I’ve missed you. Where have you been, Gehazi?

Gehazi: I’ve been here all along.

Elisha: 26 You must not be aware that I knew where you were when Naaman stepped down from his chariot and asked you if everything was well. Do you think you are in a place to accept money, clothes, olive groves, vineyards, sheep, oxen, and servants on my behalf? 27 Because you have sought to deceive me and have deceived Naaman, the skin disease that was washed away from Naaman in the Jordan River will now infect you and your offspring for all of time.

Skin diseases of all kinds—psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, and even baldness—are of great concern in God’s purity laws (Leviticus 13–15). The appearance of some of these diseases makes a person ineligible to enter the temple, especially diseases with open sores and flaking skin. Israelites with such a skin disease are quarantined outside of the cities until it disappears and they become pure again. In the case of chronic diseases such as psoriasis, the sufferer is doomed to permanent exile and separation from God. What greater punishment can there be for a prophet of God?

Gehazi turned and departed from Elisha. By the time Gehazi had walked out of the room, the skin disease had entirely infected him, and his skin was as white as snow.

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