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Gehazi, "How should I set this before a hundred men?' he asked. But Elisha repeated, Give the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, They shall eat and leave thereof. “So he set it before them, and they did eat and leave thereof, according to the word of the Lord.'
But Elisha's fame reached Syria, and the name of the Lord was to be acknowledged and reverenced in the land of the heathen.
Naaman, the brave and successful general of the Syrian army, though prosperous and powerful, was unfortunately afflicted with that direst of Eastern scourges, leprosy. His wife had a little Hebrew maidservant, a captive out of the land of Israel, who saw with grief and pity the sad fate of the Syrian captain. Would God,' she said to her mistress, my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria, for he would restore him from his leprosy.' Her words were repeated to Naaman; and yet again were they repeated until they came to the ears of the king of Syria. The king, little imagining it was Elisha who could effect the cure, bade Naaman journey to the king of Israel with the most costly presents, and at the same time he gave
him a letter to Jehoram. Behold,' so wrote the Syrian monarch, "I have therewith sent my servant Naaman to thee, that thou mayest restore him from his leprosy.' When Jehoram read this letter, he thought it was a snare to entice him into a feud; he rent his clothes and lamented; but Elisha, hearing of the king's alarm, sent a messenger to him with these words : “Wherefore hast thou now rent thy garments ?
Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.' So Naaman, the proud captain, came with his horses and his chariots, and stood at the door of the prophet's house.
Elisha did not appear, but he sent down a messenger to say to him, “Go, and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and
thou shalt be clean. This simple request seemed like an insult to Naaman ; he burst into a fit of anger, for he had expected that Elisha would come out and call upon the name of the Lord, and place his hand upon the leprous skin, and thus cure the evil. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus,' he exclaimed, better than all the waters of Israel ? May I not wash in them and be clean?' But his servants calmed him, and confiding in the efficacy of the easy and simple remedy which the prophet had suggested, they said: My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it ? how much rather then when he says to thee, Wash and be clean!' Naaman was soothed and followed the advice; he went and dipped seven times in the Jordan, “and his flesh came again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.'
With sincere humility and gratitude he returned to Elisha, and standing before him, he said in the presence of all his people: Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; now, therefore, I pray thee, take a present of thy servant. But the prophet refused everything, and firmly resisted Naaman's most urgent entreaties. Then the general departed, after swearing solemnly that thenceforth he would offer sacrifices to none but the one true God.
But when Gehazi saw the great captain leave Samaria taking all his costly presents back with him, he felt a strong temptation to obtain some of those precious trea
So he hastened after Naaman, who, seeing him approach, alighted from his chariot, and, full of reverence and solicitude for Elisha, asked, 'Is all well?' Then Gehazi invented the following tale: My master has sent me, saying, “Behold, just now there came to me from Mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets; give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver and two changes of garments.” Naaman at once replied, "Be
content to take two talents.' And he urged him and bound two talents of silver in two bags together with two changes of garments, and gave these things to two of his servants to carry them before Gehazi. When he came to the hill near Samaria where he lived, he took the money and the garments from the men, and brought them into his house. After the Syrians had returned, he went to his master, and when he entered, he was asked by Elisha, · Whence comest thou, Gehazi ?' and he boldly answered, Thy servant went nowhere.' Then the prophet said sternly, “Did not my heart go with thee, when the man turned from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money and to receive garments, and olive gardens and vineyards, and sheep and oxen and menservants and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave to thee and to thy seed for ever.' 6 And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.'
Unlike Elijah, who commonly dwelt alone among the crags of rocks, or near some secluded brook or streamlet, Elisha was surrounded by a school of prophets, who were growing into such a numerous band that their ordinary place of abode became too small for them. So they suggested that they should all remove to the banks of the Jordan, and there cut down the trees of a dense forest, and build a large house where they might live together. Elisha not only approved of their proposal, but consented to accompany them eastward to the Jordan. There, at the riverside, a remarkable miracle was performed. Whilst one of the young men was hewing down the wood, his axehead fell into the water, and he exclaimed, “ Alas, master! and it was borrowed.' Then Elisha asked, • Where did it fall ?' and upon being shown the spot, he cast a stick into the water, and the iron was seen swimming on the surface. The prophet said, Take it up to thee;' and the young man put out his hand and took it.
121. WARS OF JEHORAM, AND ELISHA'S HELP.
[2 KINGS VI. 8 899.] The king of Syria, Benhadad, was during all this time attacking and harassing the Israelites; his plan was to surprise them where they least expected it; but Elisha always knew his intentions, warned Jehoram of the danger, and thus saved him repeatedly from falling into the power of the enemy. The king of Syria supposed that there were traitors among his own subjects, but he was soon convinced that it was Elisha, the great prophet, who always frustrated his designs. He, therefore, bade his servants bring Elisha into his presence. A great number of men went out with horses and chariots, and surrounded by night the city of Dothan, where the prophet was dwelling. In the morning, his servant, as he looked out, beheld this large host, and he exclaimed, Alas! my master, what shall we do ?' But Elisha told him to give up all fear, as the number of his own warriors was even larger than that of his enemies; and then he prayed to the Lord to open his servant's eyes, that he might see. The young man looked, and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.' When the Syrians were encompassing his house, he entreated the Lord to smite them with blindness, and his supplication was answered. This is not the way,' he said to them, “neither is this the city ; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.' And he led them to Samaria. Then Elisha prayed to the Lord to open the eyes of the men, that they might see, and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. When the king of Israel became aware that his enemies were in his hands, he said,
My father, shall I smite them ?' But the gentle-hearted prophet advised the king to spare their lives, to set bread and water before them, and send them back to their master. So Jehoram prepared a great feast for
the Syrians and allowed them to depart in peace to Benhadad.
But the Syrian king, still intent upon the conquest of Samaria, assembled his whole army and besieged the capital of Israel. Added to the horrors of the war were the horrors of a seven years' famine, which had been predicted by Elisha. The prospects of the inhabitants were indeed gloomy. An ass's head was sold for eight shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of pigeon dung for five shekels. When the king was one day walking on the walls, and looked down upon the bare and parched country without, and upon the starved and wretched city within, the plaintive wail of a woman suddenly struck his ear. Help, my lord O king,' she cried. The king's answer came from the very depth of his despair: 'If the Lord does not help thee, whence shall I help thee ? out of the barn floor, or out of the wine press ? What ails thee?' He could not have anticipated her horrible answer. • This woman said to me,' she replied, pointing to her companion in misery, "“ Give thy son that we may eat him to-day, and we will eat my son to-morrow;" so we boiled my son, and did eat him; and I said to her on the next day, “ Give thy son that we may eat him;" and now she has hid her son. When the king heard these words, he rent his clothes; and as he passed along the wall, the people saw that he was wearing sackcloth. But, in spite of this sight of humiliation, his heart was fast hardening against Elisha, to whom he attributed the evils of the war and the famine; he swore an oath that he would have the prophet's life that very day, and he at once sent out a man to seize him. Elisha knew of the approach of the king's messenger, who was followed by the king himself; he bade his attendants tightly close the door, for the son of the murderer' had sent to take his life. Yet he admitted the messenger, who, more pious than his master, said, “Behold, this evil is of the