A young girl, taken from her home in Israel, showed remarkable faith in God. It got the attention of not only her master, but also the kings of two nations!
“Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife” (2 Kings 5:1-2).
Things were definitely not good in Israel. For one thing, Israel’s rulers insisted on worshipping a false god—Baal. God sent prophets, among them Elijah and Elisha, to show His power and give His people a chance to correct their ways. But Israel was stubborn. The nation refused to wholeheartedly stop breaking the First Commandment, to have no other gods before the true God.
To make matters worse, enemy armies kept trying to invade Israel’s borders. First it was Moab and now, more recently, it was Ben-Hadad II, king of Syria, to the north.
The Syrians had been a problem since the time of King David. They periodically swept in, looting, pillaging and taking captives. During one such raid, a young girl—perhaps not even in her teens—was seized. She was destined to become a slave in the house of the mighty Naaman, field marshal for his powerful Syrian king.
Her eyes must have been wide with terror the day she saw the fierce robber bands swoop in on horses, shouting words she could not understand. The screams of alarm echoed in her ears as friends and neighbors fled before the menacing marauders.
Possibly she was running to hide when a rough arm scooped her off her feet and onto a galloping horse. The rider’s grip was as hard as iron as she struggled to be free. She’d be a prize fit for Naaman’s house for sure. The last scenes etched in her memory were likely those of slaughtered loved ones or of her beloved village going up in flames.
As her captors headed toward Damascus, a place she had probably never heard of, her young life was forever changed. Gone were the ways to which she was born. Ahead lay all things foreign: land, gods, customs and language.
When the young captive was presented to Naaman and his wife, she noticed something shocking about her new master. He was a leper! Such a person would have been banned from her village, and now she would be expected to serve in his house. So many troubling changes for one so young!
In the passage of time
The Bible doesn’t indicate how long she served Naaman’s wife before gaining her trust. We don’t know when the little maid had the courage to approach her mistress with a possible solution for her husband’s awful affliction.
Though far from home and in a foreign land, the young maid had not forgotten the works God had performed through His prophets. Perhaps she had heard of these wonders when she went to the village well to draw water with her mother. Or perhaps she had heard of them when her family talked of the happenings of each day before drifting off to sleep.
Or could it be that her father had been one of the 7,000 who refused to bend their knees to Baal? And that she had witnessed firsthand the courage it took to defy the wicked Jezebel? (This exciting account is found in 1 Kings 18.)
The Bible doesn’t say, but somehow she knew there was one who could help. A day came when she had the boldness to speak up. “Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy’” (2 Kings 5:3).
Not only did her mistress listen, but so did Naaman. He took the matter directly to his king, who in turn wrote a startling letter to Jehoram, the king of Israel. He wrote: “Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy” (verse 6).
Naaman left soon afterward on his journey to Israel, taking the royal letter and 10 talents of silver, 6,000 shekels of gold and 10 changes of clothing. These were suitable gifts to honor a king.
Naaman meets Elisha
When King Jehoram read Ben Hadad’s letter, he tore his clothes. He cried, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?” The king knew that only God could heal Naaman.
When Elisha heard of the king’s problem, he offered a solution. “Let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (verse 8).
When Naaman arrived in his chariot at Elisha’s house, the prophet sent a messenger to him with instructions. “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (verse 10).
Instead of being hopeful and willing, the leper was furious! The idea that the prophet would not heal him immediately was not what he had in mind. He certainly did not intend to wash himself in some river. Weren’t the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? The commander left Elisha’s house in a fit of anger.
Syria’s mighty man of valor had just experienced the unequalled power of Israel’s God. His leprosy was no more.Later his servants carefully reasoned with him. “If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?” (verse 13).
In time, their efforts paid off, and Naaman agreed to follow the prophet’s instruction. “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14).
Syria’s mighty man of valor had just experienced the unequalled power of Israel’s God. His leprosy was no more.
When Naaman next appeared before Elisha, he made an amazing statement: “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel” (verse 15). Then Naaman said he would “no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD” (verse 17).
Because of a young girl’s faith and courage, a great man was healed of leprosy and changed his way of life. Scripture says no more about her, but her example still serves to inspire, even to this day.
Suggestions for discussion
Here are some questions to consider or discuss as a family:
- Why would the little maid have been shocked by being in the presence of a leper? (See Leviticus 13-14.)
- Why do you think Naaman’s wife, Naaman himself, and Ben-Hadad believed the little maid?
- Why do you think Naaman was so angry at being told to dip in the river seven times?
- How do you think Naaman changed after being healed of his leprosy?
For other accounts of young people who found themselves captives and yet were used by God, see the following:
For more about Elisha and his ministry of miracles, see “Elisha the Prophet.”