By Peter & Mary Minson
The story of Naaman.
King of Syria
3 Male servants of Naaman
Narrator: There a 3 things I want you to stay alert to as today's
The first is LEPROSY
The second is ELISHA
and the third is the river JORDAN
Now can anyone tell me what leprosy is?
And who can tell me what a prophet does?
And does anyone know where the river Jordan is? (wait for answers to each)
All right then. So as we go along in our family service today, be on the alert for these three things. What were they again?
First was it leprechauns? (let them correct you )
Second was it profits and losses? (let them correct you)
Third, um, Michael Jordan? (let them correct you)
We're going to need to stay alert and hear what God is saying to us through this story aren't we?
Now around 850 BC there was a certain King in the land which we now call Syria.
(King of Syria enters and sits on throne)
One of the smallest countries on the southern border was the land of Israel. They also had a King. (Israelite King enters)
Now we all know that kings and other monarchs are a bit like butterflies - they get a bit depressed unless they have people to swan around and admire them and cheer them on, so lets say, for the sake of keeping these kings happy, that the left hand side of the congregation is the Syrian king's followers. Give your King a hand! And the right hand side of the congregation is the Israelites. (Israelite chant signs)
We're the best, We're the toughest, We've got the best
We're the best, We've got the best prophet! We're the
Now the King of Syria had a hot shot army general called Naaman. He had won just about every war he'd fought in, and he had servants just to help carry all his medals! The people loved him too. But there was one little problem in his life - even though Naaman was a brilliant soldier, he had leprosy.
(Naaman enters. Goes to side of King of Syria. Is warmly greeted by King. Kiss on each cheek. Naaman stands by King's side.)
So did anybody spot the first of our three key words today?
Naaman has medals,
Naaman has respect,
Naaman has wealth,
He's even got a great wife too!
But what else does he have?
He has this terrible skin condition called leprosy.
Something to cause unhappiness in the midst of happiness.
It was obviously a problem to him, but not bad enough to stop him leading his men to fight the enemy. And as well as major battles to be fought with big countries there were often smaller raids and skirmishes between the Syrian kingdom here, and the little country of Israel to the south.
These two kingdoms were not openly at war, because they had a sort of a peace treaty....
("Peace treaty almost" signs are displayed by each King)
Narrator: Ahem! Do you mind! As I was saying, a peace treaty between their two kings, which almost worked, sort of, sometimes, between battles, you know, - rather like many peace treaties that we hear about in our world today.
(Narrator is interrupted by a raid. Five teenagers come in from back of church with camouflaged faces. They move swiftly up the aisle. Near the front, an unseen voice calls " Who's there? Identify yourself! " A burst of machine gun fire on synthesizer. Raiders fire back and rush through side door.
Raiders chief: (interrupting narrator) Synchronise watches. We move in at 1800 hours. This will be a lesson they won't forget in a hurry. We'll show them who's boss around here. Yeah - no-one defeats the men of Naaman! If we get scattered, make your way back to the Well of Boozywhimsy, bringing any loot you can lay your hands on. Lets move out!
(Start up aisle, action as described above - gunfire. Kids invited to join in. After it's complete, narrator takes up story)
Narrator: (switching to present tense) As you can see, these raids
are going on all the time. One band has recently kidnapped a young
girl from Israel, and she is now a servant for Naaman's wife.
Maybe the soldiers who took her captive thought Naaman would notice them and give them promotion when they presented her to Naaman's wife. Maybe they did get promotion. We don't know.
(During this, the girl quietly enters and moves to the front)
And the young girl - we don't even know her name, but there are many thousands like her in our world today. Children and adults with their lives wrecked by wars. So we don't know a lot about this girl, but what little we do know is remarkable. For instance, we know that she is not like this...
(Girl breaks into a torrent of "woe is me" behaviour, tears, self-pity, the lot.)
Girl: I just want to die. My life is ruined. I miss my mother and father so much. And all my friends. I'm so unhappy, and so lonely. I wake each morning, and just wish that I were dead and that I had not woken. Naaman may have leprosy but at least he has his family. I'm so alone. (Girl flops dejectedly in a heap.)
Narrator: Nor is she like this....
Girl ( pouting, angry, revengeful): I'm glad my mistress's husband has got leprosy. He deserves it. I hope they all get it. They all deserve disaster! His men broke up my family. I don't even know if they are still alive. I may never see them again. I hate him! I hate my mistress! I hate them all! May God punish them all ! (Girl stands passionately angry.)
Narrator: She must have had moments when she is tempted to behave
like this, but in the Bible, in the second book of Kings, we discover
that this girl behaves quite differently.
Does anyone know her story? (Girl's mistress quietly enters and beckons to girl)
It's to do with our second key word that we heard about at the beginning. (See if you get an answer, comment on kid's answers.)
Narrator: Here in the book of Kings we find this girl is alert to God. When God tells her to speak, she hears God, and does so. Let's listen to her now.
Girl (to mistress): If only my master Naaman would go and see the prophet of God in my country, I know the prophet Elisha would cure him of leprosy.
Mistress: (takes her by the shoulder in hope and excitement) What do you mean, my dear? What are you saying?
Girls: He should see the prophet of our God, Yahweh, in my country. He, Yahweh, can do anything. The prophet Elisha brought a dead boy back to life!
Mistress: What are these things you are saying, child? Come with me into the cool of the house and tell me all you know.
(Naaman enters and goes to King, miming speech as narrator says the following words.)
Narrator: Well, next thing, Naaman finds out about this Elisha. He must believe the girl, because off he goes to his King to tell him what the girl from Israel has been saying.
Then the King replies.
King: By all means, go, Naaman, it's worth a try. Look, I'll send a fax to the King of Israel. I'll say, maybe you can be saved from this disease by the God of the Israelites.
(All stay still as trio sing song - "turn to me".)
Narrator: Now there's a problem here, with this fax that the Syrian King is sending. Can you spot it? No, it's nothing to do with the fact that they didn't have faxes then! It's to do with a second key word. Can you remember what it is? (Elisha the prophet) Yes, well, I don't see any mention of Elisha the prophet in this fax, do you? It's got me worried. This could be an unprofitable journey for Naaman. Lets see what happens. Sometimes, even a fax isn't good enough! Well, Naaman is now leaving in his chariot, taking with him a bag of silver, a bag of gold, and 10 sets of top fashion clothing. He's got a copy of his King's fax to the King of Israel, which reads: "following this fax message I am sending my top general Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy."
(Naaman mounts his chariot as this is read, waves to his wife and to the servant girl, and charges down the aisle to the back doors, then back up again to the King of Israel's throne, and stands waiting, after giving his name and a copy of the fax to the Guard. Congregation join him with drumming for chariot. As Naaman comes up the aisle, the King, sitting at a desk, which includes a fax and a cell-phone, is already reading his own copy of the fax. He begins to stride about and pull his hair out and generally seem stressed. News of Naaman's actual arrival causes even greater agitation. With great trembling, the King tears his robes.)
Narrator: as soon as the King of Israel read the message he tore his robes in horror and said:
King: am I God? Can I kill people and bring people back to life? Why does this Syrian King send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? I suspect that this is some weird way of trying to pick a quarrel with me!
Narrator: well, it was all over the Six o'clock News that night.
(Stage crew bring in chair for news reader and cardboard TV screen.)
Newsreader: Good evening. There was tumult today in the Palace. An envoy has arrived here in Israel from the King of Syria, apparently demanding instant healing from leprosy. Sources within the Palace say that the Syrian King, Ben Hadad the 2nd, is seeking a pretext to resume hostilities. Our defence reporter suggests that recapturing the town of Ramoth Gilead may be Syria's objective. There has been no official comment from the Palace this evening, but we have learned that his Majesty tore his robes on receiving the approach. And now to other matters. The long awaited donkey pack for the new amusement centre has been...
(Newsreader is shunted off by stage hand.)
Narrator: Out in suburban Israel, who should be having his TV dinner but the missing link in the fax. Of course, Elisha the prophet. And when he hears all the news, he is no prophet at a loss! No! When Elisha hears that the King of Israel has torn his robes, he rips into the King.
Elisha: (to his servant Gehazi, who is near the altar watching TV) Gehazi, hand me the cell-phone would you? (Gehazi hands over cell-phone) Yes, Directory (aside to Gehazi) Hey! They answered straight away! Could you give me the Palace phone number please? Thanks. O 2 5 9 9 7 7 5 3. Thank you.
(Elisha dials. Cell-phone rings on Israelite King's desk, is answered by an aide who imitates one of the parish secretaries)
Aide: "Good evening, Palace of Israel, Judy speaking.
Elisha: I want to speak to his Majesty. It's about this Syrian crisis. No calls? He will talk to me. Tell him it's Elisha the prophet calling. Yes, I'll wait. (aside to Gehazi and audience) I can't stand this music on hold business, can you?
King: Hello, Elisha?
Elisha: Yes. King?
King: Thats right. King here. Is that Elisha there?
Elisha: No, I'm here. You're there. Oh, forget it! Now look King, why have you torn your robes? Your mother is going to be furious.
King: I was desperate, Elisha. It looks as if Syria is trying to pick a fight with us again.
Elisha: Never mind, King. Have this Syrian come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.
King: (gratefully) You mean it?
Elisha: Yes of course I mean it. Just send him here. I'm quite sure our God can deal with this.
King: now don't you do anything that might cause a war, Elisha!
Elisha: No, no question of wars or anything else. Give him my address, King, and I'll be here.
King: oh, you'll be there, will you?
Elisha: No! I'll be here. You're there! Oh, stuff and nonsense! (phones away)
Elisha: (to Gehazi) Get rid of this phone and put the telly away. Can't stand the things. Need some peace and quiet now. We'll just have to go without Wheels of Fortune tonight. Well, better get on my knees and find out what God's got to say on this. (Elisha kneels) We've got to stay alert to God all the time, you know. Close the tent flaps after you, my man. Thank you. You know the routine. No disturbances. I'll take no calls (pause) not even the King.
Narrator: So Naaman went with his horses and chariot and stopped at the door of Elishas house.
(Elisha off knees. Naaman enters from back of church, pauses outside King of Israel's stage, Kings servants madly gesticulate that he should ride on, so he goes on (congregation makes drumming noise for horses hooves again) to the prophet's house and stops outside. Naamans stands, proud and alert in chariot. He sends one servant to door, and another stands respectfully. Gehazi comes to door and speaks to Naaman)
Gehazi: Go and wash in the river Jordan seven times and your skin will be cleaned. (bows respectfully and moves back from central group)
Naaman: (almost speechless with fury) is that all? Is that ALL? I have come all this way to have a few words mumbled to me by a servant! I can't believe this! Its absolutely preposterous! I'm leaving immediately!
(Drives from top near altar to centre opposite the King's. Servants run after him)
Servant: Wait! Wait my general! General, please ! please wait a moment. Why can't we just stop and consider things rationally for a moment. (Other servants join in.) Yes. Please, please, general. (they grab reins, if they exist, or horse, if it exists.)
Naaman: (continues, furious) I thought that prophet fellow would at least do me the courtesy of coming out to me and calling on the name of the Lord his God, waving his hand over the spot to cure me of leprosy! But no! It's not enough that the commander of the King of Syria should humble himself to leave home and seek healing from a foreign God! Oh, no! And then to propose that I go and bathe in their Jordan ! that muddy snake creek of a river, totally lacking in beauty and life from what I've seen ! If I'm to bathe then why not in one of our own rivers? Are not the rivers Abana and Pharpar, in Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? (waxes lyrical and homesick) Ah, Damascus, do we not call your oasis Jinnat ed-dinnea "the garden of the world"? Ah, Damascus! Just to stand on your southern hills and gaze from desert to your unexpected orchard and blossoms! You are indeed like Paradise! (back to angry reality) so why could I not bathe there and be cleansed? Why in their mouldy Jordan? Like as not I'll be swept away, healed or not ! Never to be seen again ! It's all a hoax ! I'll have nothing more to do with any of it. On ! on !
(Drumming again. Chariot goes to back of church. Servants crash after it)
Servant: But General ! wait ! please ! there is another matter, my master. Please ! My Lord !
Naaman: (stops again. This said at back of church) Well, what is it? Spit it out man and let's get out of here.
Servant 1: My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn't you have done it? How much more, then, when he simply tells you "wash and be cleansed."
Servant 2: Please, my Lord. What have you got to lose? We've come all this way and your leprosy is never going to go away if we just go back. If you are not cleansed, they're the ones with egg on their faces - it's their God who will look silly, not you.
Servant 3: and is it not such a little, little thing, my general? We have seen you lead an army in battle for a whole day without rest. Now this small deed, my Lord. Please reconsider.
Naaman: You are right. You are right in this. We shall go and trust their God. More fool me if my pride should stop me now ! Perhaps that prophet is listening to his God after all. Let us go back to the river.
(Trio sing: "turn to me")
Naaman: Call to my servants! (Chariot moves up to where water is. Servant follows wiping his brow.)
Servant 1: (to servant 2) Call for a servant.
Servant 2: (off) Call for a survey. (Enter surveyor with clipboard)
Surveyor: Did someone call for a survey? Right.. Now, could all those who think Naaman our hero will be totally healed raise their hands. Good. And now those who think he won't be healed? Good. Those who think he will be partially healed. Right.. And now those who think he'll be spiritually healed.
Naaman: What are you doing here?
Surveyor: I thought you wanted a survey.
Naaman: No I did not ! I want action ! I've got incredibly important things to do today !
Surveyor: Ah, yes, but market research means that when you throw your spear, for instance, you already have your target identified !
Naaman: Madam., I know all about tactical manoeuvres! Now, please!. It was servants I called for!
Surveyor: Well I have my information, thank you. It's always best to get it on the spot, otherwise people take home hundreds of survey forms and you never see them again.
(Naaman and servants proceed to water. When they get to the Jordan, Naaman removes his outer garments in some way and dips 7 times. Servant gets children to keep tally. When he gets to 5 Naaman interrupts)
Naaman: Enough, enough. That'll do.
Servant: But, my lord, the prophet said seven times.
Naaman: He's not here. He probably didn't mean 7 exactly.
Servant: But it's their God who will heal my Lord, and their God Yahweh - they say he sees everything and knows everybody's motives.
Naaman: Oh, I don't know! It's mighty cold ! Brian should have heated this water ! Sometimes he gets full of his own importance up there (points to vicar of church playing King of Israel) and out of touch with raw life ! What do you think, children. What should I do? Should I leave it at that? Five times in the water? Or go the whole hog and do it seven times like the prophet said? (children, let us hope, respond in affirmative)
Naaman: Hands up for leaving it at 5. Now, how many think I should dip in seven times. (to congregation) Goodness, surveys can be fun ! Well, let's get it over with them. 7 it is. (after seventh time says) right.. That's it ! huh ! look! It's gone! Is there a doctor in the house (runs to doctor in congregation) look. There's no sign of it ! It's worked ! their God has done it ! he's done it ! (exclaims ! servants exclaim !) Lets get back to the prophet ! immediately ! (into the chariot, down to the back of the Church, and while theyre doing this the tent for Elisha is put back in place, and the chariot turns around at back and comes back up to where the tent now is.) Naaman: bring out the gifts.
(Gehazi comes out, hearing the noise, and calls Elisha who comes forth this time.) (NAAMAN gestures to his servants to bring forth the clothing and gold. They start laying these out on the ground to one side, while Naaman and Elisha talk. ) (GEHAZI wanders from being involved with NAAMAN"s news to the gold & silver etc, probably nearly 1/4 million 1994. We need to see him being overcome with this huge amount of wealth, never having seen so much all at once in his life)
NAAMAN: I'm healed! Completely healed! it worked. Look at my skin. Its like a baby's bottom! Look! It's completely gone! You've done it !
ELISHA: No. Not me. my friend. Remember? i wasn't even there.
NAAMAN: Ah yes. but you were the channel. Your God did it. What a mighty God.
Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.
ELISHA: As surely as the Lord lives whom I serve I will not accept a thing.
NAAMAN urges. ELISHA keeps refusing. Naaman: If you will not, please let me take as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for I will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but Yahweh your God. But may your God pardon me this one thing: When my master (the King) enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also - when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may your God Yahweh forgive me for this.
ELISHA: Go in peace. General. [to GEHAZI]: Take his servants and get the soil he desires.
GEHAZI: I've got just the thing! Come with me.
(Takes servants up to tent and produces two bags of soil. Takes them to chariot-wheelbarrow. A bit of Mr Bean-ishness between servants. Others load gifts back into chariot. GEHAZI helps, fingering treasures longingly.)
Naaman: come, let us depart. (Naaman proceeds down aisle to opposite King's where they freeze. Elisha disappears into tent. Gehazi looks after Naaman as though he is about to interrupt him, and the congregation, led by boys, sing "turn to me" once again. When complete there is an abrupt change) Gehazi suddenly starts singing: Money, Money, Money Lots of money It's a rich man's world. (repeat) A-a-a all that silver and gold! A-a-a to comfort me when I'm old! If I had a little money, lovely money It's all I'd need in the world. Gehazi: my master let this Syrian Naaman off lightly, by not accepting what he offered. As Yahweh lives, I will run after him and get something out of him. (Naaman and the rest come out of freeze position. Gehazi sets off in pursuit of Naaman. When Naaman sees him running after him, he jumps down from the chariot to meet him) Naaman: is everything all right? Gehazi: oh, yes, yes, general. All is well but my master has sent me to say "this very moment two young prophets have arrived from the Highlands of Ephraim. Be kind enough to give them a bag of silver and two of those robes. They've only got kilts to wear." Naaman: accept two bags - in fact take all the money! (gives items to two of his servants to carry them ahead of Gehazi. Gehazi hides his ill gotten gains and sends servants away. Gehazi presents himself to Elisha.) Elisha: (sternly) Gehazi, where have you been? Gehazi: oh. Nowhere in particular. Elisha: Gehazi! Why do I find myself thinking about a man stepping down from a chariot to meet you? What is it that makes me smell Money Money Money!? Yes, it's a rich man's world, Gehazi! now you have taken this filthy money, you can buy gardens with it, and olive groves, and sheep and oxen and male and female slaves. The curse of Naaman -his leprosy - will cling to you and your descendants forever. (two assistants come and apply leprosy. Gehazi slips away in disgrace.) Narrator: well, this just goes to warn us that it's impossible to trick God. All of us, young and old, need to remember that what God wants is a real relationship with him. He wants us to stay alert to him all the time, doesn't he? And speaking of staying alert, a question about a third key word. Remember our three key words, people? What are they? (leprosy, prophet Elisha, river Jordan.) Well whom can tell me who was the first actor to mention our third key word. What was it again? (river Jordan) Now who spoke about it first? (hopefully, get answer: Gehazi) (present child or children or adults with a chocolate fish) Narrator: good concentration. You stayed alert! Well done! Now can you imagine what it must have been like for Naaman and his family and his master the King when he returned home without leprosy? Lets remain sitting and join in our final song: heaven is in my heart verses 1 and 2.
(as this is sung, Naaman comes up the aisle again with servant. His wife and child greet him. They all proceed to King and stand together. Other actors ("LERTS ") come and stand at front with Elisha) (end of song. Bow) heaven is in my heart. (chorus again. During it, players exit.) The end.
© Copyright Mary and Peter Minson 1997. All rights
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the authors would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
They may be contacted at: email@example.com
Or at: The Anglican Parish of Burnside, 46 Kendal Ave, Christchurch 5, New Zealand