Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a very important man in the eyes of his master. And he was highly respected. That's because the LORD had helped him win the battle over Aram's enemies. He was a brave soldier. But he had a skin disease.
Companies of soldiers from Aram had marched out. They had captured a young girl from Israel. She became a servant of Naaman's wife.
She spoke to the woman she was serving. She said, "I wish my master would go and see the prophet who is in Samaria. He would heal my master of his skin disease."
Naaman went to see his own master. He told him what the girl from Israel had said.
"I think you should go," the king of Aram replied. "I'll give you a letter to take to the king of Israel." So Naaman left. He took 750 pounds of silver with him. He also took 150 pounds of gold. And he took ten sets of clothes.
He carried the letter to the king of Israel. It said, "I'm sending my servant Naaman to you with this letter. I want you to heal him of his skin disease."
The king of Israel read the letter. As soon as he did, he tore his royal robes. He said, "Am I God? Can I kill people and bring them back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be healed of his skin disease? He must be trying to pick a fight with me!"
Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes. So he sent the king a message. It said, "Why have you torn your robes? Tell the man to come to me. Then he will know there is a prophet in Israel."
So Naaman went to see Elisha. He took his horses and chariots with him. He stopped at the door of Elisha's house.
Elisha sent a messenger out to him. The messenger said, "Go. Wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times. Then your skin will be healed. You will be pure and clean again."
But Naaman went away angry. He said, "I was sure he would come out to me. I thought he would stand there and pray to the LORD his God. I thought he would wave his hand over my skin. Then I would be healed.
And what about the Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus? Aren't they better than any of the rivers of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be made pure and clean?" So he turned and went away. He was burning with anger.
Naaman's servants went over to him. They said, "You are like a father to us. What if the prophet Elisha had told you to do some great thing? Wouldn't you have done it? But he only said, 'Wash yourself. Then you will be pure and clean.' You should be even more willing to do that!"
So Naaman went down to the Jordan River. He dipped himself in it seven times. He did exactly what the man of God had told him to do. Then his skin was made pure again. It became clean like the skin of a young boy.
Naaman and all of his attendants went back to the man of God. Naaman stood in front of Elisha. He said, "Now I know that there is no God anywhere in the whole world except in Israel. Please accept a gift from me."
The prophet answered, "I serve the Lord. You can be sure that he lives. And you can be just as sure that I won't accept a gift from you." Even though Naaman begged him to take it, Elisha wouldn't.
"I can see that you won't accept a gift from me," said Naaman. "But please let me have some soil from your land. Give me as much as a pair of mules can carry. Here's why I want it. I won't ever bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god again. I'll bring them only to the Lord. I'll worship him on his own soil.
"But there is one thing I hope the LORD will forgive me for. From time to time my master will enter the temple to bow down to his god Rimmon. When he does, he'll lean on my arm. Then I'll have to bow down there also. I hope the LORD will forgive me for that."
"Go in peace," Elisha said. Naaman started out on his way.
Gehazi was the servant of Elisha, the man of God. Gehazi said to himself, "My master was too easy on Naaman from Aram. He should have accepted the gift he brought. I'm going to run after Naaman. I'm going to get something from him. And that's just as sure as the LORD is alive."
Gehazi hurried after Naaman. Naaman saw him running toward him. So he got down from the chariot to greet him. "Is everything all right?" he asked.
"Everything is all right," Gehazi answered. "My master sent me to say, 'Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me. They've come from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them 75 pounds of silver and two sets of clothes.' "
"I wish you would take twice as much silver," said Naaman. He begged Gehazi to accept it. Then Naaman tied up 150 pounds of silver in two bags. He also gave Gehazi two sets of clothes. He gave all of it to two of his own servants. They carried it ahead of Gehazi.
Gehazi came to the hill where Elisha lived. Then the servants handed the things over to Gehazi. He put them away in Elisha's house. He sent the men away, and they left.
Then he went back inside the house. He stood in front of his master Elisha. "Gehazi, where have you been?" Elisha asked. "I didn't go anywhere," Gehazi answered.
But Elisha said to him, "Didn't my spirit go with you? I know that the man got down from his chariot to greet you. Is this the time for you to accept money or clothes? Is it the time to take olive groves, vineyards, flocks or herds? Is it the time to accept male and female servants?
You and your children after you will have Naaman's skin disease forever." Then Gehazi left Elisha. And he had Naaman's skin disease. His skin was as white as snow.