(Naʹa·man) [from a root meaning “be pleasant”].
1. A grandson of Benjamin through his firstborn Bela. (1Ch 8:1-4, 7) Having founded a family, the Naamites in the tribe of Benjamin (Nu 26:40), Naaman himself is elsewhere listed as one of the “sons” of Benjamin.—Ge 46:21.
2. A Syrian army chief of the tenth century B.C.E., during the reigns of Jehoram of Israel and Ben-hadad II of Syria. Naaman, ‘a great, valiant, mighty man held in esteem,’ was the one by whom “Jehovah had given salvation to Syria.” (2Ki 5:1) The Bible gives no details as to how or why Naaman was used to bring this salvation to Syria. One possibility is that Naaman headed the Syrian forces that successfully resisted the efforts of Assyrian King Shalmaneser III to overrun Syria. Since, by remaining free, Syria formed a buffer state between Israel and Assyria, this may have served the purpose of slowing down Assyria’s aggressive push in the W until Jehovah’s due time to allow the northern kingdom to go into exile.
Cured of Leprosy. Naaman was a leper, and while the Syrians did not demand his isolation as Jehovah’s law required of lepers in Israel, yet to learn how he might be cured of this loathsome disease was indeed welcome news. Such news came to him through his wife’s Israelite slave girl who told of a prophet in Samaria who could cure leprosy. Immediately Naaman set out for Samaria with a letter of introduction from Ben-hadad II. However, Israelite King Jehoram, after receiving him with coolness and suspicion, sent him to Elisha. Elisha did not meet Naaman personally but, instead, had his servant tell Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordan River. His pride hurt, and apparently feeling he had unceremoniously and fruitlessly been run from one place to another, Naaman turned away in a rage. Had his attendants not reasoned with him and pointed out the reasonableness of the instructions, Naaman would have returned to his country still a leper. As it turned out, he bathed the seven times in the Jordan and was miraculously cleansed, the only leper whom Elisha was instrumental in curing.—2Ki 5:1-14; Lu 4:27.
Becomes Worshiper of Jehovah. Now filled with gratitude and humble appreciation, the Syrian army chief returned to Elisha, a distance of perhaps 50 km (30 mi), and offered him a most generous gift, which the prophet insistently refused. Naaman then asked for some of the earth of Israel, “the load of a pair of mules,” to take home, that upon Israel’s soil he might offer sacrifices to Jehovah, vowing that from then on he would worship no other god. Perhaps Naaman had in mind offering sacrifices to Jehovah upon an altar of ground.—2Ki 5:15-17; compare Ex 20:24, 25.
Naaman next requested that Jehovah forgive him when, in the performance of his civil duties, he bowed before the god Rimmon with the king, who evidently was old and infirm and leaned for support upon Naaman. If such was the case, then his bowing would be mechanical, being solely for the purpose of dutifully supporting the king’s body and not in personal worship. Elisha believed Naaman’s sincere request, replying, “Go in peace.”—2Ki 5:18, 19.
After leaving, Naaman was overtaken by Elisha’s covetous servant Gehazi, who lyingly made it appear that Elisha had changed his mind and would, after all, accept some gifts. Naaman gladly granted him gifts of silver and garments. But for this greedy and lying act in which he tried, by misusing his office as Elisha’s attendant, to profit from the work of Jehovah’s spirit, Jehovah punished him by inflicting leprosy on him and on his offspring to time indefinite.—2Ki 5:20-27.