THERE WERE MANY LEPERS IN ISRAEL, BUT NONE OF THESE WAS CURED, EXCEPT THE SYRIAN, NAAMAN.
Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper. Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went and told his master. “This and this,” he reported, “is what the girl from the land of Israel said.” “Go by all means,” said the king of Aram, “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: “With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. “Am I a god to give death and life,” he said, “that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.”
When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, “Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, “Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.” But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, “Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?” And he turned round and went off in a rage.
But his servants approached him and said, “My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, ‘Bathe and you will become clean.'” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.
Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. “Now I know,” he said, “that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.”
V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.