Who was Naaman in the Bible?

Naaman was a Syrian captain who was healed by the prophet Elisha; his story is found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman is described in the Bible as a "mighty man of valor" (2 Kings 5:1), and was extremely respected by the king of Syria because of the battles he had won for his country. Naaman was a man who had everything—wealth, recognition, honor, power. However, he suffered from one thing: he was a leper, meaning he had a contagious, incurable skin disease.

Naaman's wife had a servant girl from Israel, who pitied her master's condition and said, "Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:3). Naaman went to his king and told him what the Israelite girl had said. The king told Naaman to go to Israel, sending with him a letter to the king of Israel to ask for Naaman's healing. Naaman set out for Israel with the letter and a great deal of silver, gold, and clothing to buy his healing.

When the king of Israel received the letter, he tore his clothes and cried out, "Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me" (2 Kings 5:7). Unlike the surrounding regions, the Israelites knew they couldn't command God to move according to their whims, and the king knew he would not be able to cure Naaman. It seems he did not think to consult God's prophet. But when Elisha heard of the king's distress, he asked why he tore his clothes and told the king to send Naaman to him.

Naaman arrived at Elisha's house, and instead of being greeted personally, a messenger came out to greet Naaman, saying to wash in the Jordan river seven times and he would be cleansed. Naaman became angry. Naaman was offended because he expected to be greeted by Elisha and healed by a spectacle or display of might. He considered the rivers of Damascus far better than the waters of Israel and was humiliated that it would take no great feat to be healed. But his servants called him to humble himself and receive healing. They said to him "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" (2 Kings 5:13, NKJV). Naaman humbled himself and washed in the Jordan seven times, and was cleansed.

Naaman returned to Elisha cleansed inside and out, saying, "Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel" (2 Kings 5:15). Realizing that his healing did not come out of his own merit, because of some great feat or his costly gift, Naaman offered Elisha his wealth as a gift, but Elisha refused. Then Naaman asked for two mule loads of earth on which to make sacrifices to God in his own country. Being fully convinced that the God of Israel was the only true God, he had one concern left. Naaman asked, "In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant; when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter" (2 Kings 5:18). Seeing the sincerity in his request, Elisha told him to go in peace because God would know in Naaman's heart that he only worshipped the God of Israel. Naaman returned home not only cleansed of his leprosy, but also rejoicing in the knowledge of the one true God.

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