Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RASH (04/12/18)
- TITLE: My Master Just Never Got It…
By Noel Mitaxa
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A horribly-disfigured Syrian war hero had shuffled into the throne room; barely able to stand under the weight of his ceremonial armour. A pathetic, denigrated figure, but with an entourage that displayed 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, a whole new fashion wardrobe and—as a special bonus—the letter Joram was now holding in his trembling hands. From Ben-Hadad II, king of Syria, it read: “This is all yours, so you may cure my general Naaman’s leprosy!”
Am I God? Joram muttered - able to cure leprosy?
Apparently this Naaman had an Israeli servant girl back home, who had mentioned my master in Israel; and—given his own prophets-shortage—Ben-Hadad must have assumed that she meant King Joram.
Joram’s advisers quickly assured him that pre-emptively striking at Syria would be a rash move, and certainly lacking in gratitude for what was being offered. Anxiety was reaching epidemic proportions in Israel, until it also reached my master Elisha.
“Send this man to me,” was his message to Joram, who willingly re-routed it to Naaman.
The thunder of horses and clatter of chariots got louder and louder, until it suddenly stopped; the only movement coming from dust settling over the entourage outside our gate.
Hearing the commotion, Elisha gave the house-boy a message for these hopeful arrivals.
“Go to the Jordan and wash yourself in it seven times, and your leprosy will be cured.” What else to do but go back inside and close the door…
Naaman’s response echoed around the street and further afield as he left, shouting in disgust. “He couldn’t come out himself and pray something dramatic? I’m used to big occasions. And the Jordan – a trickle that can’t even find its way to the sea? Besides this leprosy just might fade back to the rash that started it all. Nah, I’m outa here! Back to some half-decent rivers like Pharpar or Abana! Let’s go!”
That might have been the end of it, but his servants got in his ear: “Please don’t be rash! If he’d told you to perform a big deed, you would have jumped at the chance. How hard can it be to dip in the Jordan? It’s on our way home anyway.”
They all stopped at the river to lead Naaman into the water, where he dipped down; so sure that nothing would happen. And it didn’t. Not until the seventh time, when he came up, clean and wrinkle-free!
He was still drying off when they raced back to us.
It could have gone so much further, if Elisha hadn’t gone all humble again.
He just never got it. I’d travelled with him for years, and he always refused to cash in on his skill. Naaman’s leprosy was nothing compared to purifying Jericho’s water-supply by throwing salt into the spring; or raising a boy from death; or freeing a widow from debt with a limitless supply of oil to sell; dividing the Jordan to walk across its dry bed.
I could go on, but a miracle like this could been a means of securing peace with Syria forever, or persuading them to worship our God, but Elisha let it slip. He even okayed Naaman to go back to Syria’s pagan religious rituals!
Suddenly I had an idea to score something on the side. For me.
As soon as I could get away, I followed our new-found, happy Syrian friends.
Catching up with them, I told them about friends suddenly arriving and in need of some silver and decent clothing. Well, I thought, maybe at the next market I could befriend whoever bought the clothes…
Naaman could not have been more cooperative. He gave me all I’d asked for, along with two servants to carry it. Close to home, I let them return, to make my own way back and hide my booty.
No sooner had I stashed it when Elisha fixed his eye on me. “Where have you been, Gehazi?”
“Nowhere? No way! I’m not a prophet for nothing, despite what you think. I saw you con Naaman out of rewards I refused to accept. Your rashness condemns you, because from now on, you and your entire family will be afflicted with Naaman's leprosy!”
Suddenly, a small rash broke out on my hands, to spread as I watched it, changing colour to the pallid dead skin of leprosy.
And I was isolated forever.
Leprosy – also known as Hansen’s disease - is highly-infectious, but less contagious than it is feared to be. It is spread by sustained exposure to leper’s coughs and sneezes, although world-wide there is a 95% natural immunity to it. By attacking and desensitizing nerve-cells, it causes its victims to be unaware of the effects of any superficial cuts, burns or ulcers. So infections can spread unnoticed and thus untreated, which can cause hideous disfigurement. The disease is now much easier to treat than ever, and most people recover within twelve months of multi-drug therapy.
It’s ironic and tragic that in ancient times, fear of this disease meant that any skin conditions like a rash could consign people irretrievably to the isolation and shame of existing in leper colonies.
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