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Elisha and Naaman
by James Vasquez
A man once lived who for some years,
Enjoyed untarnished fame,
Commander of an army, he,
And Naaman was his name.
The king of Aram held this man,
In singular regard,
His victories were known abroad,
And sung by every bard.
Yes, through this man the Lord had giv'n,
Great triumphs in the field,
His men unmatched where'er they marched,
To brandish sword and shield.
But deep within this noble man,
Throughout the land renowned,
And 'spite his triumphs for his king,
An emptiness was found.
For Naaman had an illness which,
No cure or ample fee,
Was found to rid its dire effects,
And it was leprosy.
He stood aloof when men his name,
Extolled with pipe and drum,
For rank could not his sickness quit,
Nor fame his state o'ercome.
Now in his house a servant girl,
Of Hebrew legacy,
With pity looked upon her lord,
And made this earnest plea,
"If but my master would arise,
And to Samaria flee,
A prophet there he'd find with powers,
To cure the leprosy."
And Naaman then, of humble mind,
This maiden's kind request,
Did honor and approached the throne,
That at the king's behest,
With gifts of gold and garnished cloth,
He might the prophet seek,
Imploring that in mercy he,
Some miracle would wreak.
The king did also undertake,
With thoughtful, due respect,
To send to Israel's king a note,
This healing to effect.
And once received it pleased him not,
In truth, he tore his robe,
"Am I now God?" the king replied,
Who lacked the poise of Job.
"And why does he now send this man,
Diseased, that I should heal?
A quarrel with me he no doubt seeks,
In making this appeal."
But when Elisha heard these words,
A message then he sent,
"Let Naaman at my door appear,
And to my word assent,
"And he will know with certainty,
In Israel there abides,
A prophet of the Lord on high,
Who over all presides."
To Naaman then he sent this word,
With clear intent to bless,
That in the Jordan he should wash,
Full seven times, no less.
For there his wish would be fulfilled,
When once again on shore,
His robust flesh a witness to,
God's power to restore.
"Are not the waters of my land,"
Commander Naaman said,
"Far better than the Jordan's where,
He's sent me now instead?"
"I thought for sure he'd wave his hand,
And in a mighty voice,
Invoke his God that I might then,
Be cleansed and thus rejoice."
And in a rage great Naaman left,
He thought he'd come in vain,
Why should he dip in Jordan's banks,
And thus his own disdain?
But then a faithful servant bowed,
In trembling voice inquired,
"Would you have done a greater thing,
To gain what you've desired?
"If so, then why refuse this word,
So easy to fulfill,
To wash in Jordan's waters and,
Obey the prophet's will?"
And humbled, Naaman bent to what,
His servant had appealed,
He washed himself in Jordan's depths,
And found himself then healed!
What joy was his! He hurried back,
And sought Elisha out,
And finding then declared to him,
"I know without a doubt,
"In all the world there is no God,
Like him in Israel,
Whose land his dwelling e'er shall be,
And heav'n his citadel.
"And for this healing you have wrought,
These presents now I bring,
My gratitude to tell before,
I hasten to my king."
"I serve the Lord," Elisha said,
"And nothing have I lacked,
No gift will I accept from you,
For God's most kindly act."
But then a final plea was made,
By Naaman still most awed,
Which more than all his gifts revealed,
His new-found faith in God.
"Please grant your servant to return,
With Israel's holy sod,
That henceforth in my land I may,
Give thanks alone to God.
"And when the king obeisance does,
While resting on my arm,
To Rimmon in his temple there,
Please hold me from all harm,
"When I in turn do bow with him,
Respecting him alone,
But not the god to whom he prays,
Whom I no longer own."
To which Elisha then replied,
"Good man, now go in peace,
For God will see you when you bow,
And from all guilt release."
from the August 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine