Page images
PDF
EPUB

back and met them, saying, “The child is not awaked.” When Elisha reached the house, he found the child lying on his own bed, quite dead. So he shut himself up with the dead child, and prayed unto the Lord. Then he laid himself upon the child, putting his mouth upon the child's mouth, and his eyes upon the child's eyes, and his hands upon the child's hands. And as Elisha stretched himself on the child's body, his flesh waxed warm. Elisha walked to and fro, and then again stretched himself on the child's body; and this time the boy sneezed seven times, and opened his eyes. Then Elisha bade Gehazi call the mother, and when she came, he gave her living son back to her bosom. Once again she fell at his feet, but this time it was in overflowing joy and thankfulness. Thus it was given to Elisha, as well as to Elijah, to set forth a striking type of the Resurrection of the dead.

NAAMAN, THE LEPER.

At this time there was frequent war between the kings of Israel, and Benhadad, king of Syria. And the captain of the Syrian host, called Naaman, was a very great and mighty man, high in the king's esteem; but he was a leper, and by reason of this loathsome disease, he had no enjoyment of his many advantages. It chanced that Naaman's wife had a little Israelitish maid, who had been brought a captive by some of the parties making war upon Israel. She had probably seen some of Elisha's miracles, for she said to her mistress, “Would to God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria ! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

When Naaman heard this, he wished to seek the prophet ; so he set out, taking with him a very large sum of money, and ten changes of raiment. Moreover, because the king of Syria prized his chief captain very much, he gave him a letter to the king of Israel, saying, “Now when this letter is come to thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy." Naaman brought Benhadad's letter to the king of Israel, who was troubled at it, and rent his clothes, saying, “ Am I GOD, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? Wherefore

consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

But when Elisha heard of it, he sent to the king, saying, “ Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes ? Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.' So Naaman came in state, with his chariot and horses, to Elisha's house.

The prophet did not come forth: he only sent a message to Naaman, saying, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again unto thee, and thou shalt be clean.”

But Naaman was angry at being treated, as he thought, with so little respect, and at having so simple a remedy offered him. “Behold, I thought,” he said, " he will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the Name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper ! Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel ? May I not wash in them, and be clean ? So he turned, and went away in a rage.

But his servants soothed him, and reasoned with him, saying, "My father, if the Prophet had bid thee do some great thing; wouldest

11.

thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean ?” Then Naaman let himself be persuaded, and he went to the river Jordan, and washed seven times in its waters; and his flesh became clean, like the flesh of a little child. Naaman was now convinced that the God of Israel was indeed mighty to save. He went back to Elisha with all his train, and said, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel ; now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But the Prophet would not receive any payment for Naaman's

Naaman wholly gave up his heathen worship, saying that he would never again offer up sacrifice to any save the One True God of Israel, and he begged Elisha to let him have two mules' burden of earth from Mount Carmel, whereon to offer his sacrifices. He also asked that he might be permitted to attend his royal master as usual to the temple of the god Rimmon, and that when he bowed there, because the king leant upon him, he might not be accused of worshipping Rimmon himself. Then he departed with the Prophet's blessing.

But Gehazi was sorry that his master had allowed the rich Syrian to depart without ac

cure.

cepting any of his costly gifts. Gehazi's covetousness grew so keen as he thought upon them that he resolved to follow Naaman, and get something yet. So he hastened to overtake the Syrian party. As soon as Naaman saw Gehazi following, he stopped, and got out of his chariot to receive him, asking, “Is all well ?" Gehazi answered, “ All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there came to me from Mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets ;-give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.”

Naaman was ready to give, and made Gehazi take the garments and two talents of silver, sending two of his servants back to carry them. Gehazi dismissed the men without their being seen, and hid the gifts in the house, and then went before his master as though nothing had happened. But Elisha could not be deceived, and he asked, “Whence comest thou, Gehazi ?” Gehazi was afraid, and told a lie. Thy servant went no whither,” he said. But Elisha sternly rebuked him, saying, “ Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?" And then the Prophet told the guilty man of God's sen

« PreviousContinue »