Geichazi-His greediness and curse of leprosy

Melachim 2 Chapter 5

1.      Naaman and his illness of leprosy:

  • Who was Naaman? Naaman was the general of the king of Aram. He was a prominent man before the king and was well respected, as through him Hashem had given victory to Aram [over the king of Israel, as it was his accidental arrow which killed Achav[1]]. The man was a great warrior, and he was a Metzora [and thus due to his illness he was not able to go to war despite his warrior status[2]].
  • The Jewish captive taken as a maidservant: Units of Arameans bandits [numbering 100-200 men[3]] went out [to plunder Jewish cities] and captured from the land of Israel a young girl, who became a maidservant to Naaman’s wife.
  • The suggestion to cure Naaman of his leprosy through a prophet: The captured girl suggested to her mistress [the wife of Naaman] to seek a cure for her husband’s Tzaras from the prophet [Elisha] who is in the Shomron, as he would surely cure him of his Tzaras.
  • A letter is sent to the king of Israel asking him to cure Naaman: Naaman came and told his master [the king of Aram[4]] of the suggestion that he was given by his wife’s Jewish maidservant to ask the prophet of Israel to cure him. The king of Aram agreed with the suggestion and gave Naaman permission to go visit the prophet to seek a cure for his illness. The king of Aram also wrote a letter addressed to the king of Israel [asking him to instruct the prophet of Israel to cure his general Naaman].
  • Naaman brings with him a gift for the prophet: Naaman went [to travel towards the prophet] and he took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand gold pieces, and ten suits of clothes.
  • The response of the king of Israel: The letter from the king of Aram arrived to the king of Israel, stating as follows: “When this letter arrives, be aware that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, in order so you cure him of his Tzaras.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments [due to fear[5]] and said, “Do I have power from God to put people to death and to bring people to life? Why is this king sending me to cure a man of his Tzaras? Certainly, he is looking for a pretext to agitate a war against me.” [The king in his great wickedness did not believe in the power of Hashem and the power of his prophet.]
  • Elisha offers to cure Naaman: When Elisha the prophet of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent a message to the king, asking him as to why he tore his garments, and that he should send Naaman the him to be cured in order so everyone know that there is a prophet in Israel.

2.      Naaman is cured of his leprosy:

  • Naaman arrives by Elisha: Naaman traveled with his horses and with his chariots, and arrived at the doorway of Elisha’s house.
  • Elisha instructs Naaman to immerse in the Jordon River: Elisha [did not leave his house to greet Naaman and rather] sent a messenger to Naaman to instruct Naaman to go and immerse himself seven times in the Jordan River as through doing so his flesh will be restored and he will become cured from his leprosy.
  • Naaman is incensed at the suggestion and leaves: Naaman became incensed at the fact that Elisha did not personally come out to greet him, and over the suggestion that a simple immersion in the Jordan River will cure him of his leprosy. He left the home of Elisha in anger saying, “I thought that Elisha would at least personally come out to see me, and would stand in prayer to Hashem his God to help cure me, and that he would raise his hand toward the area of my leprosy and cure it. The rivers of Amanah and Parpar, which are the rivers of Damascus, are better than all the waters of Israel, and thus why should I immerse myself in the Jordan River and I will rather immerse in them and become cured.” And so, he turned and went away in anger.
  • The servants convince Naaman to listen: The servants of Naaman approached him and attempted to calm him down telling him that even if the prophet would have told him to do something very difficult to cure himself, he surly would to do so, and hence now that the prophet is asking him to do something so simple to immerse himself in the river why would he not do so? [Naaman listened to the advice of the servants and decided to heed the instructions of the prophet.]
  • Naaman immerses in the Jordon River and becomes cured: Naaman went down to the Jordan River and immersed himself there seven times, as he was instructed by the prophet, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young lad, and he became cured of his leprosy.
  • Naaman praises G-d and offers a gift to Elisha who refuses to accept it: Naaman and his entire entourage returned to Elisha and he stood before him and exclaimed, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.” Naaman then offered the gift that he brought with him to Elisha. However, Elisha refused to accept the gift even after Naaman continued to urge him to accept it, and Elisha swore in the name of God that he will not accept it [being that it contained monies from idolatry[6]]. Naaman replied to Elisha saying, “Give me a load of earth which will be carried by a team of mules [back to my country of Aram, as I plan on using the holy earth of Israel for building an altar for God[7]] as I, your servant, will no longer offer sacrifices to other deities, but rather only to Hashem. Now, please pray to God to forgive me for when I will be forced to join my master the king of Aram by the idolatry of Beth-Rimmon and I will be forced to prostrate myself there together with him, as he will be leaning on me when he prostrates which will cause me to prostrate with him. May Hashem forgive your servant for doing so, [as I have no choice in the matter].”
  • Naaman departs: Elisha told Naaman that he should go travel in peace, and so Naaman began his travels and was a certain distance away from him [until he was chased down by Geichazi, as will be explained next].

3.      Geichazi chases after Naaman to receive gifts from him:

  • Geichazi chases after Naaman and asks him for a gift: Geichazi, the servant of Elisha the prophet, said to himself that it is not right that his master Elisha refused the gift offered to him by Naaman, the Aramean, and hence he will chase after Naaman and request from him a gift. So, Geichazi chased after Naaman and when Naaman saw him running after him, he leaned over the side of the chariot towards him, and asked him as to if everything is well and as to what he wants. Geichazi answered him that everything is fine and he has chased after him being that Elisha, his master sent him to request a gift from Naaman, as two youths who are disciples of the prophets have just arrived from Mt. Ephraim [and are in need of funds]. “My master has requested you to please give them a talent of silver and two suits of clothing.”
  • Naaman gives him the requested gifts and more: Naaman [made Geichazi swear that he in truth was sent by Elisha[8] and then] generously replied saying, “Please take two talents of silver [even though he only asked for one].” Naaman urged him to accept the extra gift and he tied two talents of silver in two pockets, and prepared two suits of clothing and he gave them to his two servants, and they [these two servants of Naaman[9]] carried them before Geichazi.
  • Geichazi hides the gifts he received: Geichazi traveled to a discreet location where there was a high tower where he would keep his money, and he then took the gifts from the hands of the servants of Naaman, and he deposited them in the tower, and sent off the servants back to their master [in order so they will not be seen by Elisha, and tell him of the gifts that they had delivered[10]].

4.      Geichazi is chastised and cursed by Elisha:

  • Geichazi is confronted as to his whereabouts and lies: Geichazi arrived and stood before his master, Elisha, and Elisha inquired of him as to where he was and as from where he was coming from. Geichazi replied to him with a lie stating that he was not coming from anywhere and has not gone to any place.
  • Elisha curses Geichazi with leprosy: Elisha responded to Geichazi saying, “Do you not know that my prophetic vision escorted you to the man who turned from his chariot [i.e. Naaman] in order to ask as to what you want? Was it really the appropriate circumstance for you to take the silver in order to [become rich and use the money to[11]] buy clothing and olive trees and vineyards and sheep and cattle and slaves and maidservants [as it is not appropriate for one to benefit from a miracle of God[12]]? Now Naaman’s Tzaras shall cling to you and to your children forever.”
  • Geichazi left the presence of Elisha stricken with Tzaras, and he was as white as snow.

[1] Rashi 5:1

[2] Metzudos Dovid 5:1

[3] Rashi 5:2

[4] Rashi 5:4

[5] Metzudos Dovid 5:7

[6] Rashi 5:16

[7] Rashi 5:17

[8] Rashi 5:23

[9] Rashi 5:23

[10] Rashi 5:24

[11] Rashi 5:26

[12] Metzudos Dovid 5:26

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