Gehazi The Unfairly Punished


Part 4 of 4 in this week’s “How a Jew Gets Screwed for Eternity” series.

Poor Gehazi. Sure, he wasn’t a nice guy. Callous, avaricious, a bit of a jerk. But was he evil enough to have to forfeit his share in the World to Come?

Servant to esteemed prophet Elisha—the faithful disciple and successor of Elijah—Gehazi made a few bad moves. His first failure finds him pushing aside a woman who beseeches Elisha for help after her child dies. Nevertheless, Elisha instructs Gehazi to place his staff upon the child’s head. Though he does as he is told, he fails to revive the child.

In his second failure, hapless Gehazi lies to Naaman, a leprous Syrian commander, requesting two talents of silver and two changes of garment for Elisha. Instead, he pockets the goods. Naturally, Gehazi is found out, and, in punishment, catches Naaman’s leprosy. Elisha declares, “The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever.”

And, well, that’s that. No World to Come for Gehazi. But he did leave a different sort of legacy: In 1915, the English poet Rudyard Kipling published “Gehazi,” a poem thought to be a rebuke of Rufus Isaacs, the second practicing Jew of the British cabinet, a “leper white as snow!”


» Buy the Kipling collection containing “Gehazi”

» Learn all about the biblical affliction we call leprosy

» Read up on the legends of Gehazi

» Consider the cases of the other eternally screwed biblical Jews


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