Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan — Persuaded by his calmer and more reflecting attendants to try a method so simple and easy, he followed their instructions, and was cured. The cure was performed on the basis of God’s covenant with Israel, by which the land, and all pertaining to it, was blessed. Seven was the symbol of the covenant [Keil].
Seven times – Compare 1Ki_18:43. In both cases a somewhat severe trial was made of the individual’s faith. Compare the seven compassings of Jericho, and the sudden fall of the walls Josh. 6:3-20.
He returned to the man of God – He saw that the hand of the Lord was upon him; he felt gratitude for his cleansing; and came back to acknowledge, in the most public way, his obligation to God and his servant.
Stood before him – He was now truly humbled, and left all his state behind him. It is often the case that those who have least to value themselves on are proud and haughty; whereas the most excellent of the earth are the most humble, knowing that they have nothing but what they have received. Naaman, the leper, was more proud and dictatorial than he was when cleansed of his leprosy.
There is no God in all the earth – Those termed gods are no gods; the God of Israel is sole God in all the earth. See my sermon on this subject.
Take a blessing – Accept a present. Take an expiatory gift. – Arabic. He desired to offer something for his cleansing. He thought it right thus to acknowledge the hand from which he had received his healing, and thus honor the Lord by giving something to his servant.
He returned – Naaman was grateful (compare Luk_17:15). From the Jordan to Samaria was a distance of not less than 32 miles. Naaman further went to Damascus, far out of his way, lengthening his necessary journey by at least three days. His special object in returning seems to have been to relieve his feelings of obligation by inducing the prophet to accept a “blessing,” i. e. a gift.
There is no God … – Compare the marginal references; but in none of them are the expressions quite so strong as here. Naaman seems absolutely to renounce all belief in any other God but Yahweh.
I will receive none – It was very common to give presents to all great and official men; and among these, prophets were always included: but as it might have appeared to the Syrians that he had taken the offered presents as a remuneration for the cure performed, he refused; for as God alone did the work, he alone should have all the glory.
I will receive none – The prophets were in the habit of receiving presents from those who consulted them 1Sa_9:7-8; 1Ki_14:3, but Elisha refused. It was important that Naaman should not suppose that the prophets of the true God acted from motives of self-interest, much less imagine that “the gift of God might be purchased with money” Act_8:20.
Naaman this Syrian; a stranger, and one of that nation who are the implacable enemies of God’s people; whom therefore my master should not have had so much regard to as to the Lord’s prophets, who before deserved and more needed the money which he offered than Naaman himself did.
As the Lord liveth; he swears, that he might have some pretence for the action to which he had bound himself by his oath, not considering that to swear to do any wicked action is so far from excusing it, that it makes it much worse.
2Ki 5:20 Gehazi – One would expect Elisha’s servant should have been a saint: but we find him far otherwise. The best men, the best ministers, have often had those about them, that were their grief and shame.
This Syrian – A stranger, and one of that nation who are the implacable enemies of God’s people. As the Lord – He swears, that he might have some pretence for the action to which he had bound himself by his oath; not considering, that to swear to do any wicked action, is so far from excusing it, that it makes it much worse.
He lighted down from the chariot – This was an act of quite uncalled-for courtesy. It indicates eagerness to honor the master in the person of his servant.
He lighted down from the chariot – He treats even the prophet’s servant with the profoundest respect, alights from his chariot, and goes to meet him.
Is all well? – השלום hashalom; Is it peace, or prosperity?
2Ki 5:22 And he said, all is well,…. He need give himself no uneasiness at the coming and sight of him:
my master hath sent me, saying, behold, even now there be come to me; just then, since he departed from him:
from Mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: where perhaps was a school of them:
give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments: which, as it was a downright lie, so highly improbable that Elisha should ask so large a sum of money, with two changes of raiment, for two young scholars, see 2Ki_5:5 and which Naaman, with a little reflection, might have seen through; but his heart was so filled with gratitude for the benefit received, that he was glad of an opportunity, at any rate, of showing respect to the prophet.
From mount Ephraim – Bethel and Gilgal 2Ki_2:1, at both of which there were “schools of the prophets,” were situated on Mount Ephraim.
A talent of silver – A large demand in respect of the pretended occasion; but small compared with the amount which Naaman had pressed on the prophet 2Ki_5:5. Gehazi had to balance between his own avarice, on the one hand, and the fear of raising suspicion on the other.
When he came to the tower – The Chaldee, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic understand the word עפל ophel, which we translate tower, as signifying a secret, dark, or hiding place. He was doing a deed of darkness, and he sought darkness to conceal it. He no doubt put them in a place little frequented, or one to which few had access besides himself. But the prophet’s discerning spirit found him out.
The tower – Rather, “the hill,” the well-known hill by Elisha’s house. The hill interrupted the view in the direction taken by Naaman, and Gehazi dismissed Naaman’s servants at this point lest they should be seen from his master’s residence.
Keil and Delitzsch
But when he entered his master’s presence again, he asked him, “Whence (comest thou), Gehazi?” and on his returning the lying answer that he had not been anywhere, charged him with all that he had done. הָלַךְ לִבִּי לֹא, “had not my heart gone, when the man turned from his chariot to meet thee?” This is the simplest and the only correct interpretation of these difficult words, which have been explained in very different ways. Theodoret (ουχὶ η καρδία μου η μετὰ σου) and the Vulgate (nonne cor meum in praesenti erat, quando, etc.) have already given the same explanation, and so far as the sense is concerned it agrees with that adopted by Thenius: was I not (in spirit) away (from here) and present (there)? הָלַךְ stands in a distinct relation to the הָלַךְ לֹא of Gehazi. – וגו הַאֵת: “is it time to take silver, and clothes, and olive-trees, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and servants and maidens?” i.e., is this the time, when so many hypocrites pretend to be prophets from selfishness and avarice, and bring the prophetic office into contempt with unbelievers, for a servant of the true God to take money and goods from a non-Israelite for that which God has done through him, that he may acquire property and luxury for himself?
2Ki 5:26 And he said unto him, went not mine heart with thee?…. Did my heart or knowledge go from me, that what thou hast done should be hid from me? so Ben Gersom and others; or my heart did not go with thee, it was contrary to my mind and will what thou didst; so Abendana; or rather, as the Targum, by a spirit of prophecy it was shown unto me, &c. I knew full well what thou wentest for, and hast done; and so Maimonides (y); was not I employed in my thoughts? or, did I not think that so it was as thou hast done? I did:
when the man turned again from chariot to meet thee? meaning Naaman the Syrian:
is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments: as Gehazi had now done:
and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? that is, to purchase those with the two talents of silver he had received, as he thought in his heart, or intended to do, as the Targum; or had given orders to purchase such for him to the persons to whom he had committed the care of them in the tower; this was not a proper time, when the honour of the prophet, and the credit of religion, and the good of this man, as a new proselyte, were in danger thereby. (y) Moreh Nevochim, par. 1. c. 39.
Went not mine heart with thee? did not my mind. being enlightened by God’s Spirit, discern what thou saidst and didst?
Is it a time? was this a fit season for this action? I had but newly and obstinately refused his gifts, for great reasons; of which See Poole “2Ki_5:16”; and now thou hast given him cause to think that I was a cursed and wicked impostor, who vain-gloriously refused in public what I inwardly and greedily desired, and sought only a fitter place and opportunity to take; and that all our religion is but an imposture; and that the God who owns such a vile wretch for his prophet, as thou hast represented me to him, is not so holy and righteous as we pretend.
Garments, and oliveyards, & c.; which Gehazi intended to purchase with this money; and therefore the prophet names them, to inform him that he exactly knew by Divine inspiration, not only Gehazi’s outward actions, but even his most secret intentions.
Went not mine heart with thee? – i. e. “Was I not with thee in spirit – did I not see the whole transaction, as if I had been present at it?” He uses the verb “went,” because Gehazi has just denied his “going.”
Is it a time … – i. e. “Was this a proper occasion to indulge greed, when a Gentile was to be favorably impressed, and made to feel that the faith of the Israelites was the only true religion? Was it not, on the contrary, an occasion for the exhibition of the greatest unselfishness, that so a pagan might be won to the truth?”
And oliveyards and vineyards … – Gehazi’s thoughts had probably run on to the disposition which he would make of his wealth, and the prophet here follows them, enumerating his servant’s intended purchases.
The leprosy of Naaman – shall cleave unto thee – Thou hast got much money, and thou shalt have much to do with it. Thou hast got Naaman’s silver, and thou shalt have Naaman’s leprosy. Gehazi is not the last who has got money in an unlawful way, and has got God’s curse with it.
A leper as white as snow – The moment the curse was pronounced, that moment the signs of the leprosy began to appear. The white shining spot was the sign that the infection had taken place. See on Lev_13:2 (note), and the notes at Lev_13:58 (note).
1. Some have thought, because of the prophet’s curse, The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave unto thee and thy seed for ever, that there are persons still alive who are this man’s real descendants, and afflicted with this horrible disease. Mr. Maundrell when he was in Judea made diligent inquiry concerning this, but could not ascertain the truth of the supposition. To me it appears absurd; the denunciation took place in the posterity of Gehazi till it should become extinct, and under the influence of this disorder this must soon have taken place. The for ever implies as long as any of his posterity should remain. This is the import of the word לעולם leolam. It takes in the whole extent or duration of the thing to which it is applied. The for ever of Gehazi was till his posterity became extinct….
3. Let us not suppose that the offense of Gehazi was too severely punished.
1. Look at the principle, covetousness.
2. Pride and vanity; he wished to become a great man.
3, His lying, in order to impose on Naaman: Behold even now there be come to me, etc.
4. He in effect sells the cure of Naaman for so much money; for if Naaman had not been cured, could he have pretended to ask the silver and raiment?
5. It was an act of theft; he applied that to his own use which Naaman gave him for his master.
6. He dishonored his master by getting the money and raiment in his name, who had before so solemnly refused it.
7. He closed the whole by lying to his master, denying that he had gone after Naaman, or that he had received any thing from him. But was it not severe to extend the punishment of his crime to his innocent posterity? I answer, it does not appear that any of Gehazi’s children, if he had any prior to this, were smitten with the leprosy; and as to those whom he might beget after this time, their leprosy must be the necessary consequence of their being engendered by a leprous father.
Reader, see the end of avarice and ambition; and see the truth of those words, “He that Will be rich, shall fall into temptation, and a snare, and into divers hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” – St. Paul.
4. We have already remarked the apparently severe and manifestly kind providence of God in this business.
1. A marauding party was permitted to spoil the confines of the land of Israel.
2. They brought away, to reduce to captivity, a little maid, probably the hope of her father’s house.
3. She became Naaman’s property, and waited on his wife.
4. She announced God and his prophet.
5. Naaman, on the faith of her account, took a journey to Samaria.
6. Gets healed of his leprosy.
7. Is converted to the Lord; and, doubtless, brought at least his whole family to believe to the saving of their souls. What was severe to the parents of the little maid was most kind to Naaman and his family; and the parents lost their child only a little time, that they might again receive her with honor and glory for ever. How true are the words of the poet! “Behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.”
And see the benefits of a religious education! Had not this little maid been brought up in the knowledge of the true God, she had not been the instrument of so great a salvation. See my sermon on this subject 2Ki_5:12 (note).
Keil and Delitzsch
“And let the leprosy of Naaman cleave to thee and to thy seed for ever.” This punishment took effect immediately. Gehazi went out from Elisha covered with leprosy as if with snow (cf. ex. 2Ki_4:6; Num_12:10). It was not too harsh a punishment that the leprosy taken from Naaman on account of his faith in the living God, should pass to Gehazi on account of his departure from the true God. For it was not his avarice only that was to be punished, but the abuse of the prophet’s name for the purpose of carrying out his selfish purpose, and his misrepresentation of the prophet.
(Note: “This was not the punishment of his immoderate δωροδοκιας (receiving of gifts) merely, but most of all of his lying. For he who seeks to deceive the prophet in relation to the things which belong to his office, is said to lie to the Holy Ghost, whose instruments the prophets are” (vid., Act_5:3). – Grotius.)