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GEHAZI (Heb. גְּחֲזִי, גְּיחֲזִי), servant of *Elisha. In the story of the wealthy Shunammite woman (II Kings 4:8–37), Gehazi is portrayed as Elisha's faithful messenger and loyal protector (4:27). In the story of Naaman (II Kings 5), he is portrayed as a greedy character who, contrary to the instructions of Elisha, cunningly solicited a reward from the Syrian general and then tried to practice deception on his master, the prophet Elisha. In punishment, Elisha cursed Gehazi and his descendants forever with the "leprosy" of Naaman (biblical şarʿat is not true leprosy, i.e., Hansen's disease, but more likely psoriasis). In the Bible şarʿat is punishment for disloyalty and challenge to authority (Zakovitch). The third time that Gehazi appears is in connection with the woman from Shunem and the king of Israel (II Kings 8:1–6). In this story Gehazi reported to the king on the great deeds which Elisha had performed. These three stories, so it would appear, did not occur in the chronological order in which they are now arranged in Kings, since it is unlikely that Gehazi would have stood before the king recounting Elisha's great deeds after he had been cursed with leprosy. It is reasonable to assume that they reflect two separate traditions. The first and third stories, which are related in content, constitute one tradition, while that of Naaman stems from a different circle.


Ginzberg, Legends, index; I. Ḥasida, Isheiha-Tanakh (1964), 97–98. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Zakovitch, Every High Official (1986), 142–45: D. Wright and R. Jones, in: ABD, 4:277–82; S.D. Sperling, in: HUCA, 70–71 (1999–2000), 48–9.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.