"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

Famous Biblical Noahides – Naaman

May 7, 2011

in Rachav

 

From Rachav’s page

 

The story of Naaman is found in 2 Kings Chapter 5.  He was the Commander of the army of the King of Aram (Syria) and a highly honoured one at that, because through him HaShem had granted victory to Syria.  He was not only a great warrior though, he was also a leper  (metzora), because he had (tzaraas) leprosy.

This word is popularly translated as leprosy, However, R’ Hirsch demonstrates at length that these notions are completely erroneous.

Tzaraas is a symptom of a spiritual malaise.  The primary cause of tzaraas (leprosy) is slander.  It is also a punishment for the sins of bloodshed, false oaths, sexual immorality, pride, robbery, and selfishness,  (Arachin 16a, Midrash).  Thus tzaraas is a Divine retribution for the offender’s failure to feel the needs and share the hurt of others.  G-d isolates him from society, so that he can experience the pain he has imposed on others – and heal himself through repentance.  See Stones Chumash,

Lev. 13.2 commentary.

An example of this is found in the story of Miriam who spoke against Moses, and who was stricken with Leprosy by G-d as a result of her ‘evil speech’.    Numbers 2:10.  We are not told why Naaman had leprosy, just that he suffered from it.

Naaman’s wife had a young Jewish maidservant (slave), who knew of his plight and informed him that it was possible for him to be healed, if he would go to a Jewish prophet.    Naaman’s name means ‘pleasantness’, so perhaps that was why his young Jewish slave girl felt she wanted to help him, also in doing so she would be helping her people Israel.

Naaman went to the King of Israel (Northern Kingdom) with a letter from his boss the king of Syria, this letter said that the King of Syria wanted the King of Israel to heal his servant Naaman.   This didn’t go down too well with the king of Israel, who felt that it was some sort of trap.  However, when Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments in distress at what he feared was a trap, Elisha sent word to the king, telling him to send Naaman to him.

Naaman came with his horses and chariot and stood at the entrance of Elisha’s house.   Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman to go and bathe in the river Jordan.   Now of course Naaman took umbrage at this, in fact he got downright enraged about the fact that Elisha didn’t even bother to come and speak to him personally, and ‘stand and call in the Name of Hashem, his G-d, and wave his hand over the [diseased] area – and the leper would be healed!’

Naaman responded “Are not Amanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?  Do I not always bathe in them?  Have I become cleansed?”   Then he turned and went in a fury.  2 Kings 5:12.

Naaman’s servants approached him and advised him “My father, had the prophet told you to do a difficult thing, would you not have done it?  How much more so [now] that he has told you to ‘bathe and become cleansed.’

So Naaman went down to the Jordan and immersed himself seven times as he was commanded by Elisha, and immediately his flesh became like that of a young boy, and he was cleansed.

Considering that one of the causes of ‘tzaraas’ is ‘pride’ it would seem that this was the thing which Naaman had to overcome.  Having overcome his pride about dipping himself in the Jordan river as opposed to the rivers of Damascus.

It is interesting that Elisha told Naaman to dip himself seven times into the River Jordan, as seven is the number of the Noahide Laws.

Naaman offered to pay a tribute to Elisha because of the healing, but Elisha refused even after Naaman urged him to accept it.  Naaman then asked permission to take a ‘mule-team’s load of earth’ so that he could offer burnt offerings to HaShem, as he swore that he would never again worship or sacrifice to any other gods, but only to HaShem.   However, because of his position as Commander of the Army of Syria, he asked permission to attend his king when the king went to the temple of Rimmon to bow down there, the king would lean on the arm of Naaman, so that Naaman would be forced to bow in the temple of Rimmon, so he asked that HaShem would forgive him for this transgression.   There is some dispute in Noahide circles about the meaning of the response from Elisha about this.   Elisha simply said to Naaman – ‘go to peace.’   Some authorities have said that this meant that Naaman would have to make up his own mind about this, and eventually would refuse to attend the king in this way.

The story continues on about the servant of Elisha who did not have the same scruples as his master, Gehazi was a greedy man, and he decided to chase after Naaman and take something from him.   Gehazi told Naaman that Elisha had sent him to beg 1 talent of silver and two changes of clothing from Naaman.  Naaman actually gave Gehazi 2 talents of silver and the two changes of clothing and gave it to his two attendants, who took it to Gehazi in a secluded place, so that he would not be seen, Gehazi then hid these things in his own house. Demonstrating his greed.

When he next stood before Elisha, he denied going anywhere. When Elisha questioned him about it.   Elisha told him that ‘his heart had gone along with Gehazi’ and he knew what Gehazi had done.  Elisha then told Gehazi that the leprosy of Naaman would now cleave to Gehazi.  When Gehazi left the presence of Elisha he was [white] as snow with leprosy [tzaraas].

Remember some of the causes of leprosy?  It seems to me that Gehazi’s sin was “robbery and selfishness!”

We can learn from this story of Naaman that repentance, and obedience to the commandment of a prophet will bring a blessing.   Naaman at first did not wish to bathe in the river Jordan because he compared it unfavourably with the rivers of his own city of Damascus.   He was proud and angry, when he was first told to dip seven times in the Jordan, but when it was pointed out to him by his servants, that his position was irrational, Naaman was willing to be persuaded, so his pride was tempered by his desire to be healed.

How many times have we been asked to do some small chore and believed it to be beneath us, yet that small thing could be extremely important.   In Naaman’s case he had to accept the ‘authority’ of a prophet of Israel, a nation which was conquered by his own nation Syria (Aram).  According to the commentary in Stones TeNaCh, Naaman was the ‘unnamed archer’ who slew the wicked king Ahab. (see 1 Kings 22:34 Rashi)

This would account for the reason why it says in the text of the Scriptures that HaShem granted victory to Aram (Syria).

 

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