Read 2 Kings 5:1–19 and answer the following questions:
6) Read carefully verses 17–19. What is going on here? How do we understand Naamam’s request and Elisha’s response to it?
17And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
18In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
19And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
My question is this: Is Naaman asking forgiveness for the times he WENT into the house of Rimmon bowing down with his master or is he asking forgiveness in advance?
If the latter, why would that be OK? Even if it is a matter of subject to authority -- being a soldier an all.
Maybe the semantics got me here!
Thanks and Blessings!
I found it strange myself too, Yes I think so asking forgiveness
Perhaps Naaman is asking for forgiveness for past wrong doings and for future cultural problems, he has to go back to his pagan gods of worhsip and somehow pray to the correct GOD in heaven ? He is in a difficult situation, it is harder for a converted man to worship among an evil place, so if he down bow down ritually before other gods, His true heart is with the God of heaven ?
Hard to follow GOD publically when living with nonconverted people around you....perhaps Naaman is saying this...I like to think privately at home his little maid, himself and his wife pray to LORD GOD privately in their own home to the GOd who cures us from diseases....
Yes, Rob, I see!
There is a valid reason, I believe, for this last conversation between Naaman and Elisha. The fact that he (Naaman) asked for so much earth from Israel to take back with him to Syria.
And I understand wanting forgiveness for past transgressions. But, forgiveness in advance? "Pre-paid forgiveness", if you will, due to dire straits on the job (a direct command to kneel down from his commanding officer/ boss).
I can't help but think about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. What a difference!
Yet, I feel I might be missing something.
Blessings upon you!
Yes unless we read and understand Hebrew culture and Syrains culture we might not fully understand.....
Here is Dr Adam's Carke opinion.....
2 Kings 5:17 2Ki 5:17
Verse 17. Shall there not then, I pray thee] This verse is understood two different ways. I will give them both in a paraphrase:-
1. Shall there not then be given unto thy servant [viz., Naaman] two mules' burden of this Israelitish earth, that I may build an altar with it, on which I may offer sacrifices to the God of Israel? For thy servant, &c.
2. Shall there not be given to thy [Elisha's] servant [Gehazi] two mules' burden of this earth? i.e., the gold and silver which he brought with him; and which he esteemed as earth, or dust, in comparison of the cure he received. For thy servant [Naaman] will henceforth, &c.
Each of these interpretations has its difficulties. Why Naaman should ask for two mules' burden of earth, which he might have taken up any where on the confines of the land, without any such liberty, is not easy to see. As to the prophet's permission, though the boon was ever so small, it was not his to give; only the king of Israel could give such a permission: and what sort of an altar could he build with two mules' burden of earth, carried from Samaria to Damascus? If this be really the meaning of the place, the request was exceedingly foolish, and never could have come from a person enjoying the right use of his reason. The second opinion, not without its difficulties, seems less embarrassed than the former. It was natural for Naaman to wish to give something to the prophet's servant, as the master had refused his present. Again, impressed with the vast importance of the cure he had received, to take away all feeling of obligation, he might call two or ten talents of silver by the name of earth, as well as Habakkuk, Hab 2:6, calls silver and gold thick clay; and by terms of this kind it has been frequently denominated, both by prophets and heathen writers: "Tyrus heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets;" Zec 9:3. And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as stones; 2Ch 1:15. Which is agreeable to the sentiments of the heathen: crusov tiv koniv esti, kai argurov, Gold and silver are only a certain kind of earth.-ARIST. Eth. Nicomach.
Should it be said, The gold and silver could not be two mules' burden; I answer, Let the quantity that Naaman brought with him be only considered, and it will be found to be as much, when put into two bags, as could be well lifted upon the backs of two mules, or as those beasts could conveniently carry. The silver itself would weigh 233lbs. 9oz. 15 1/2dwts., and the gold 1,140lbs. 7oz. 10dwts.; in the whole 1,3741bs. 5oz. 5 1/2dwts. Troy weight. Should it be objected that, taken in this sense, there is no visible connection between the former and latter clauses of the verse, I answer that there is as much connection between the words taken in this sense as in the other, for something must be brought in to supply both; besides, this makes a more complete sense than the other: "Shall there not, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of this silver and gold, [to apply it as he may think proper; I regard it not,] for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, [for the cure he has now received; or by way of worship at any time;] but unto Jehovah." The reader may choose which of these interpretations he pleases.
And the next verse
2 Kings 5:18 2Ki 5:18
Verse 18. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant] It is useless to enter into the controversy concerning this verse. By no rule of right reasoning, nor by any legitimate mode of interpretation, can it be stated that Naaman is asking pardon for offenses which he may commit, or that he could ask or the prophet grant indulgence to bow himself in the temple of Rimmon, thus performing a decided act of homage, the very essence of that worship which immediately before he solemnly assured the prophet he would never practise. The original may legitimately be read, and ought to be read, in the past, and not in the future tense. "For this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, for that when my master HATH GONE into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he HATH LEANED upon mine hand, that I also HAVE BOWED myself in the house of Rimmon; for my worshipping in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing." This is the translation of Dr. Lightfoot, the most able Hebraist of his time in Christendom.
To admit the common interpretation is to admit, in effect, the doctrine of indulgences; and that we may do evil that good may come of it; that the end sanctifies the means; and that for political purposes we may do unlawful acts.
So its anybodies guess to the meaning....
Ask the Holy SPirt for wisdom and when you get inspred for an answer come and tell me....
Until than in patience, GOd bless your ministry...
Hello, my name is Michael and I am new here. In fact, this is my first post.
I beleive it is for the future rather than his past actions. HOWEVER, I don't think he's asking for permission to sin or for forgiveness in advance of sins he will commit. He has already stated that he will from this point forward only worship the true God. It would make no sense for him to make such a statement and then plan to worship a false god anyway.
I believe what he is saying here is that he still has an obligation to his king to serve. Part of that service requires that he accompany his king as the king goes to the temple to worship. He is an old king and cannot bow and rise under his own power. He needs to use the physical strenght of Naaman. Naaman is making it clear that when he "appears" to bow down to Rimmon while serving his king, that he is in no way worshipping and he is sorry that it "appears" that he is. As a new christian who has much to learn about the true God, it is bothering him that it will look like he is back to his old ways. Elisha tells him to go in peace because God knows the heart. Naaman had much to learn, but his heart was right before God.
Amen, Michael! Thanks and God Bless!
Thank you, Michael! I was going to post this very thought but wanted to read through the posts to make sure I wasn't duplicating anyone.
Clearly Naaman was the Brigadier General of the king's forces. He had responsibilities and duties and couldn't just walk away without endangering many others. He was an officer and a gentleman and approached God accordingly. I believe God honored his honesty and his situation.
What a great first post, Michael!!
I am really happy to have read your reply...I appreciate your thoughts, and concur!!..(smile)
Nice to have you aboard!!...Have fun..