Reply To: Who was Naaman in the Bible

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Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram (present-day Syria),. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.Unfortunately, Naaman’s reputation for valor was not enough to protect him from one of the most shameful diseases the ancient world knew _ leprosy.

Ironically, though, it was one of Naaman’s prisoners of war who pointed the way to his eventual cure—a young Jewish servant girl suggested that Naaman visit the prophet Elisha. Naaman, the Syrian Army Commander sought the blessing of his master, the king of Aram, who sent a hefty payment to Israel’s king in order to procure Elisha’s services.

Naaman and his master seemed unaware that Israel’s prophets answered not to human authorities, but to God alone. At first, the bribe had the opposite of the intended effect, alarming the Israelite king, who suspected the Arameans of trying to pick another fight. But Elisha intervened, sensing an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of the one true God—both to Naaman and to Israel’s own unbelieving king.

Elisha staged his encounter with Naaman to leave no doubt as to who was responsible for the miraculous healing that took place. By refusing to meet Naaman face-to-face, Elisha made him realize that healing came from God, not from the superstitious incantations of a human prophet (see 2 Kings 5:11).

By demanding that Naaman wash in the Jordan River —instead of allowing him to wash in waters belonging to Aram and to Aram’s gods, Elisha asserted the supremacy of Israel’s God over Aramean idols. The carefully orchestrated episode left its mark on Naaman, who declared afterward,

“Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15).

The irony of the story is that a pagan warrior’s eyes were opened to what so few in Israel were able to see. Jesus mentioned Naaman as proof that ethnic or religious heritage does not entitle someone to God’s favor. He noted that none of Israel’s own lepers were healed in Elisha’s time, but only Naaman (Luke 4:24–27).

Later Jesus commanded His followers to take the gospel to all nations, proving once more that God’s love knows no geopolitical boundaries.