Naaman the Aramean of Aram-Damascus- or ” On Wednesday”
The story of Naaman is one of Cleansing and Redemption, one, of the few words spoken by a Hebrew Maid, a vessel of the Lord the God of Israel; of wise servants and villains; of Prophets and kings.
We find four of our characters in the city of Aram in Syria they are Naaman, his wife, her maidservant, and the king ben Haddad II.
The other four in Israel and Samaria. The Prophet, 2 servants and a king Joram.
General Naaman held a special niche in the king’s heart because through him Yahweh had given salvation to Aram, in that he innocently killed Ahab, king of Israel.
And Naaman had leprosy.
Our young maidservant found herself in Aram because she was scooped up by a raiding party of 500 Arameans and taken captive to become a maidservant to Naaman’s wife. Of her, we know only that she came from the village of Naarah, in Israel.
Naaman’s wife does not have a speaking part in this little drama.
Leprosy (Metzora) is a curious thing in Hebrew, firstly it is one of a myriad of skin diseases all classified as Zaraath be it athletes’ foot tinea, cold sores, or Leprosy.
Why curious, because not everyone with the signs of it, little red spots on the skin, actually had any form of it. Zaraath and Metzora were also supra-natural bodily afflictions (often mistranslated as leprosy, perhaps that with which God had afflicted Miriam and Moses).
Naaman was afflicted with a disease of the spirit -A human being with the same virtues and vices as any of us today- and in need of salvation.
Today we might call it psychosomatic, when we make ourselves physically or mentally ill due to something more serious, we won’t face, in Naaman’s case the possible sin on his soul.
In the words of the maidservant as taken from the Tanach – the Jewish Scriptures
“The supplications for my master should be that he goes before the prophet who is in Samaria then he would cure him of his Zaraath” (Nevi’im – the Prophets- Melachim II 5:3)
And I sense that this young maidservant perceived more than her master’s kin of Naaman’s true state.
She had found herself in a strange land with a strange god- – Baal) and had kept her faith in a time when the world believed that gods were specific to Nation and Geography – as we shall see later on.
Naaman heeded the advice and approached his king, who was like his father for permission to go to Samaria.
Following the protocol of the day ben Haddad II wrote a letter to Joram, king of Israel, asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy, sending 10 sets of clothing and a substantial sum of money as payment for the healing.
And the king of Israel rent his garments and just about had a fit. Since Israel and Aram Damascus aka Syria were not on such good terms, Joram thought a trick was up the sleeve of ben Haddad.
Do I have power from YHWH to execute and restore to life, that ben Haddad sends to me to cure a man of leprosy?”
Naaman takes his servant with him and rides off on his chariot to Israel, meanwhile, enter the prophet Elisha who had heard of the rending and wanted to know why.
Have any of us here had the experience of great expectations the reality of which was somewhat a letting down or wet blanket experience? That’s just what happened to Naaman. He had come to the prophet steeped in the creed and liturgy of his own faith and expected certain protocol for such an occasion.
Similarly on Wednesday in Bible Study John related to us his befuddling experience when attending St. Mary’s Cathedral with his Partner.
Instead, Elisha sent his servant Gehazi, to tell Naaman to go and bathe 7 times in the Jordan, Naaman expected a word and the touching of the spot and a summons to YHWH god of Israel, not a bath.
He storms of, he is truly angry, disappointed, his expectations had come to nothing but his wise servant who was like a son to him cajoled his master.
Why not do such a simple thing as bathe in the Jordan when had the prophet asked you a difficult thing you would have done it? Sound familiar to anyone?
The Jordan River is central to the spiritual and military victories of Israel, when they first entered the Land of Canaan to capture Jericho. And recall that both Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha crossed the river dry-shod even if Elisha did wack the water with Elijah’s cloak.
Expressions of crossings over from death to life, Exile to Promise; The Jordan is a place where Salvation and epiphany occurred, a place where God was made manifest, where Jesus would be baptised.
On Wednesday we questioned, Why seven? I offered the numeral 7 as a perfect number, regard the 7 days of Creation, the seven clean animals, Jacob working 7 years for Leah and another seven years for Rachel. Dr. Elaine Goodfriend of torah.com offers many more examples.
When Naaman emerged from the river he was cleansed, free from sin as if a newborn babe.
As we all experience, this was not a permanent condition. Sin or error re-enter our lives and again we must be made clean
Naaman was Redeemed by the future yet already accomplished crucifixion of Our lord Jesus.
Naaman emerged from the Jordan, he had crossed over from death to life, he proclaimed, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.
And now, accept a gift from your servant.” Elisha did not accept the gift for fear it had been used in the worship of Baal.
Naaman overcame the problem to his satisfaction in asking for Israeli soil with which to build an altar in Aram to offer sacrifice to YHWH.
Naaman’s more serious dilemma was to be forgiven when he assisted his master ben Haddad in the temple of Rimmon to worship.
What we do in similar circumstances depends upon our Spiritual maturity since some of us are still very uneasy when worshipping in churches of other denominations.
On Wednesday we agreed that we must Know what we believe, and faith is a leap into the dark, a gift from God.
At just over 1047 words, we haven’t much stage time for the villain, very briefly he chased after Naaman lied to him about being sent by Elisha and by pretext absconded with all the gifts – his reward was to be made Leprous.
Real or Spiritual is the question, do you have any thoughts?
2 kings 5.