Holy Ground

2 Kings 5:17 (ESV)
"Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord." 

The story of Naaman, a commander in the Syrian army, is an interesting one where he is cured of leprosy by dipping himself in the Jordan River seven times, as the prophet Elisha directed him. But what might get lost in the story is our study verse above. Why take soil back to your country?

The easy and simple explanation is that he believed the soil in Israel would allow him to worship Yahweh properly when he returned to his native land.

But there is more to the story, and we must go back to Genesis for a moment and look at an event to help us see what is happening.

In Genesis 11:1-9, we see a people attempting to “make a name” for themselves by building a tall tower to the heavens. When the Lord saw this, He scattered the people and confused their languages. When we fast forward to Deuteronomy 32:8-9, we see this episode replayed, where God divided mankind, fixing the borders, according to the number of the Sons of Elohim. The Hebrew word elohim in the Bible refers to God, or a god. Some translations that use later manuscripts may refer to the Sons of Elohim as Sons of Israel, but that would not make much sense, since Israel did not even exist yet. The older manuscripts, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, refer to them as Sons of Elohim.

When we see elohim in the OT, such as Psalm 82:1; Psalm 86:8; Psalm 96:4, we see references to lesser gods (elohim). The fact that other gods exist beyond simple wood or metal carvings is further substantiated by what Yahweh says in Exodus 12:12: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt……and on all the gods (elohim) of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord” and in Psalm 82:6: “I said, “You are gods (elohim), sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

God Most High is certainly not going to execute justice on something that does not exist; and He is not referring to humans, else Psalm 82:6 makes no sense whatsoever.

Elisha fully understood Naaman’s request and Scripture nowhere records confusion as to why Naaman would make such a request. Yahweh had turned the land of Syria over to a lesser god (likely Baal). Naaman wanted soil from the land where Yahweh ruled, hoping to worship the God Most High in full respect despite being in a foreign land.

This makes for an interesting study. Is it 100% accurate? I wouldn’t make such a claim, but the multitude of supporting verses and scholarly support certainly make the argument compelling. And it definitely sheds light on Paul’s statement in Ephesians 6:12 regarding the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We may have dulled our senses to the supernatural world today, but we must always remember that for the Biblical writers they were living in the midst of many supernatural occurrences on a regular basis. Further, I believe it is wrong to pick and choose which supernatural events in Scripture to believe and which not to believe when we read God’s Word.

It’s all or nothing. It’s the Truth or it isn’t. Your choice.