na'-a-man (na`aman, "pleasantness"; Septuagint; Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus Naiman; so Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek in the New Testament; Textus Receptus of the New Testament, Neeman) :
(1) A successful Syrian general, high in the confidence and esteem of the king of Syria, and honored by his fellow-countrymen as their deliverer (2 Kings 5:1-27). Afflicted with leprosy, he heard from a Hebrew slave-maid in his household of the wonder-working powers of an Israelite prophet. Sent by his master with a letter couched in somewhat peremptory terms to the king of Israel, he came to Samaria for healing. The king of Israel was filled with suspicion and alarm by the demands of the letter, and rent his clothes; but Elisha the prophet intervened, and sent word to Naaman that he must bathe himself seven times in the Jordan. He at first haughtily resented the humiliation and declined the cure; but on the remonstrance of his attendants he yielded and obtained cleansing. At once he returned to Samaria, testified his gratitude by the offer of large gifts to the prophet, confessed his faith in Elisha's God, and sought leave to take home with him enough of the soil of Canaan for the erection of an altar to Yahweh.
The narrative is throughout consistent and natural, admirably and accurately depicting the condition of the two kingdoms at the time. The character of Naaman is at once attractive and manly. His impulsive patriotic preference for the streams of his own land does not lessen the reader's esteem for him, and the favorable impression is deepened by his hearty gratitude and kindness.
The Israelite king is most probably Jehoram, son of Ahab, and the Syrian monarch Ben-hadad II. Josephus (Ant., VIII, xv, 5) identifies Naaman with the man who drew his bow at a venture, and gave Ahab his death wound (1 Kings 22:34). There is one reference to Naaman in the New Testament. In Luke 4:27, Jesus, rebuking Jewish exclusiveness, mentions "Naaman the Syrian."
John A. Lees
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