Welcome Dear Readers to this week’s edition of Gregory’s Bible Stories. Today Gregory learned about a commander of the army of Syria, Naaman, who was having a little trouble with his skin. Let’s listen in, shall we?
Naaman’s Seven Baths
One biblical day about a fifth of the way through the bible, there lived in the holy land, a man named Naaman. As the commander of the Syrian army and as a close friend of the king of Syria, Naaman had it made in the shade or would have, anyway, had there been any trees.
But there was one tiny detail that tortured Naaman day and night. You see Naaman suffered from a horrible case of biblical dry skin , a dreaded old-testament skin condition for which there was no cure. (This was way before hand lotion was invented.)
Naaman’s dry skin condition took its toll on his life both at home and at work. Even the simplest tasks would cause him to look down at his scaly arms and legs in despair. Whether he was relaxing at home in his hobby room organizing his slaves by height and weightor whether he was at work slicing off heads or impaling enemies, Naaman was finding it more and more difficult to enjoy the little things in life.
Then one day Naaman brought home a cute little stray Israelite slave girl for his wife who was really into taking in stray slaves. In fact, she was known around the neighborhood as the Crazy Slave Lady.
Anyway, one day the little slave girl told Naaman’s wife that she knew of a prophet who might be able to help Naaman with his dry skin:
Naaman’s Wife: Norman! Good news. I just found out that a prophet named Elisha can cure your dry skin!
Naaman: Honey! My name’s not Norman, it’s Naamon!
Naaman’s Wife: It is?
So Naaman immediately went to the king of Syria and told him the news.
Naaman: Yeah, so I just found out that there’s a prophet in Samaria who can help me with my problem.
King of Syria: What problem is that, Norman? Your two left feet?
Naaman: No not that problem.
King: Oh you mean the problem of that strange odor that is always emanating from your personage? Or are you referring your propensity to whistle off-key?
Naaman: No, I’m talking about my dry skin problem!
Naaman: Yeah well, all I need now is a letter from you introducing me to the king of Israel along with ten thousand pieces of gold and ten changes of fine clothes and I think we can pretty much kiss my dry skin problem goodbye.
Later that day in Israel:
Naaman: Hello King of Israel! Here’s a letter from the King of Syria introducing me, Naaman, to you. How do you do?
King of Israel: Hi Norman.
Naaman: It’s Naaman.
King of Israel: The letter says, Norman.
Naaman: Whatever. Can you cure my dry skin or not?
King of Israel: Hm. . . I’m not sure. Listen why don’t you have a seat over there in dry skin waiting area, Norman, while I consult with my wise men on this matter of great importance. Oh and help yourself to the figs, Norm. You don’t mind if I call you Norm, do you?
Naaman: Sure go right ahead you stupid . . .
King of Israel: Sorry Norm, I didn’t catch that.
Naaman: Good figs!
The King began pondering what to do by wailing, moaning and tearing at his clothes as is the standard biblical procedure for making decisions, and finally decided to do what he always did when dealing with people with dry skin issues — send them to the prophet Elisha’s house.
When Naaman arrived, Elisha sent out his servant to deliver his usual dry skin advice:
Naaman: Hi, I’m Naaman. I’m here to get my dry skin cured by Elisha?
Elisha’s Servant, Gehazi: Oh yeah, he’s been expecting you Norman. He told me to tell you to take seven baths in the Jordan River.
Naaman: Seven whats?
At this exact moment all of Naaman’s servants took the opportunity to explain to Naaman not only what a bath was– but also, what it meant to brush one’s teeth (or tooth in Naaman’s case).
When Naaman was finished scrubbing up, his dry skin was completely gone! So Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, talked Naaman into giving Elisha six thousand pieces of silver and two changes of fine clothes for the bathing suggestion — which made Elisha mad because he never charged for personal hygiene advice as he felt the fresh air it created was reward enough.
But because Gehazi took money for Elisha’s advice, Elisha punished Gahazi by giving him dry skin which Gehazi was later able to cure by cutting strips of the fine clothing he received, soaking them in ointment and wrapping them around his arms and legs — a cure for dry skin which is known today as the Gehazi Strip.
And there you have it Dear Readers, what Gregory learned in Sunday School today. Please check back next week to find out what he will learn next.
Until next time . . . I love you