1Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, was highly respected and esteemed by the king of Syria, because through Naaman the LORD had given victory to the Syrian forces. He was a great soldier, but he suffered from a dreaded skin disease. 2In one of their raids against Israel, the Syrians had carried off a little Israelite girl, who became a servant of Naaman's wife. 3One day she said to her mistress, “I wish that my master could go to the prophet who lives in Samaria! He would cure him of his disease.” 4When Naaman heard of this, he went to the king and told him what the girl had said. 5The king said, “Go to the king of Israel and take this letter to him.”
So Naaman set out, taking 30,000 pieces of silver, 6,000 pieces of gold, and ten changes of fine clothes. 6The letter that he took read: “This letter will introduce my officer Naaman. I want you to cure him of his disease.”
7When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and exclaimed, “How can the king of Syria expect me to cure this man? Does he think that I am God, with the power of life and death? It's plain that he is trying to start a quarrel with me!”
8When the prophet Elisha heard what had happened, he sent word to the king: “Why are you so upset? Send the man to me, and I'll show him that there is a prophet in Israel!”
9So Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and stopped at the entrance to Elisha's house. 10Elisha sent a servant out to tell him to go and wash himself seven times in the River Jordan, and he would be completely cured of his disease. 11But Naaman left in a rage, saying, “I thought that he would at least come out to me, pray to the LORD his God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and cure me! 12Besides, aren't the rivers Abana and Pharpar, back in Damascus, better than any river in Israel? I could have washed in them and been cured!”
13His servants went up to him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it. Now why can't you just wash yourself, as he said, and be cured?” 14So Naaman went down to the Jordan, dipped himself in it seven times, as Elisha had instructed, and he was completely cured. His flesh became firm and healthy, like that of a child. 15He returned to Elisha with all his men and said, “Now I know that there is no god but the God of Israel; so please, sir, accept a gift from me.”
16Elisha answered, “By the living LORD, whom I serve, I swear that I will not accept a gift.”
Naaman insisted that he accept it, but he would not. 17So Naaman said, “If you won't accept my gift, then let me have two mule-loads of earth to take home with me, because from now on I will not offer sacrifices or burnt offerings to any god except the LORD. 18So I hope that the LORD will forgive me when I accompany my king to the temple of Rimmon, the god of Syria, and worship him. Surely the LORD will forgive me!”
19“Go in peace,” Elisha said. And Naaman left.
He had gone only a short distance, 20when Elisha's servant Gehazi said to himself, “My master has let Naaman get away without paying a thing! He should have accepted what that Syrian offered him. By the living LORD, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21So he set off after Naaman. When Naaman saw a man running after him, he got down from his chariot to meet him, and asked, “Is something wrong?”
22“No,” Gehazi answered. “But my master sent me to tell you that just now two members of the group of prophets in the hill country of Ephraim arrived, and he would like you to give them 3,000 pieces of silver and two changes of fine clothes.”
23“Please take 6,000 pieces of silver,” Naaman replied. He insisted on it, tied up the silver in two bags, gave them and two changes of fine clothes to two of his servants, and sent them on ahead of Gehazi. 24When they reached the hill where Elisha lived, Gehazi took the two bags and carried them into the house. Then he sent Naaman's servants back. 25He went back into the house, and Elisha asked him, “Where have you been?”
“Oh, nowhere, sir,” he answered.
26But Elisha said, “Wasn't I there in spirit when the man got out of his chariot to meet you? This is no time to accept money and clothes, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and cattle, or servants! 27And now Naaman's disease will come upon you, and you and your descendants will have it for ever!”
When Gehazi left, he had the disease — his skin was as white as snow.
The Recovery of the Axe Head
1One day the group of prophets that Elisha was in charge of complained to him, “The place where we live is too small! 2Give us permission to go to the Jordan and cut down some trees, so that we can build a place to live.”
“All right,” Elisha answered.
3One of them urged him to go with them; he agreed, 4and they set out together. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began to work. 5As one of them was cutting down a tree, suddenly his iron axe head fell in the water. “What shall I do, sir?” he exclaimed to Elisha. “It was a borrowed axe!”
6“Where did it fall?” Elisha asked.
The man showed him the place, and Elisha cut off a stick, threw it in the water, and made the axe head float. 7“Take it out,” he ordered, and the man bent down and picked it up.
The Syrian Army is Defeated
8The king of Syria was at war with Israel. He consulted his officers and chose a place to set up his camp. 9But Elisha sent word to the king of Israel, warning him not to go near that place, because the Syrians were waiting in ambush there. 10So the king of Israel warned the people who lived in that place, and they were on guard. This happened several times.
11The Syrian king became greatly upset over this; he called in his officers and asked them, “Which one of you is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12One of them answered, “No one is, Your Majesty. The prophet Elisha tells the king of Israel what you say even in the privacy of your own room.”
13“Find out where he is,” the king ordered, “and I will capture him.”
When he was told that Elisha was in Dothan, 14he sent a large force there with horses and chariots. They reached the town at night and surrounded it. 15Early the next morning Elisha's servant got up, went out of the house, and saw the Syrian troops with their horses and chariots surrounding the town. He went back to Elisha and exclaimed, “We are doomed, sir! What shall we do?”
16“Don't be afraid,” Elisha answered. “We have more on our side than they have on theirs.” 17Then he prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD answered his prayer, and Elisha's servant looked up and saw the hillside covered with horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha.
18When the Syrians attacked, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, strike these men blind!” The LORD answered his prayer and struck them blind. 19Then Elisha went to them and said, “You are on the wrong road; this is not the town you are looking for. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are after.” And he led them to Samaria.
20As soon as they had entered the city, Elisha prayed, “Open their eyes, LORD, and let them see.” The LORD answered his prayer; he restored their sight, and they saw that they were inside Samaria.
21When the king of Israel saw the Syrians, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, sir? Shall I kill them?”
22“No,” he answered. “Not even soldiers you had captured in combat would you put to death. Give them something to eat and drink, and let them return to their king.” 23So the king of Israel provided a great feast for them; and after they had eaten and drunk, he sent them back to the king of Syria. From then on the Syrians stopped raiding the land of Israel.