5.76 2 Kings -- Gehazi's Offspring

On the other hand, there was Elisha's servant, Gehazi.  While Naaman, who was a despised foreigner, could value the true God so highly that he carried Israelite dirt home with him, Gehazi was only too eager to trade closeness to God for some silver and a couple of fancy suits.  Gehazi was of the same spirit as Judas Iscariot: he looked after the purse strings to his own advantage.  Gehazi saw that his master had wasted an opportunity to make a profit off of Naaman.   This grieved him, so he went after Naaman and cooked up a story about two visiting prophets needing money and clothes (2 Kings 5:19-25).  Naaman willingly gave him the gifts, and Gehazi returned home.

       

The outstanding thing about this story is the incredible stupidity of the man.  How do you hide evil from the eyes of God?  Did he not realize that a prophet who could see into the foreign king's council chambers could also know the secret thoughts of his own servant?  Gehazi had served Elisha for some time, he had seen the Shunamite's son raised from the dead.  Did he think he could get away with theft?  But even more important, what was the desire of his heart as compared with Naaman's?  Naaman came prepared to give his treasure for the genuine knowledge of God.   But Gehazi, who lived in the presence of God, yearned more for clothes and silver.  Consider this -- as Elisha once served Elijah, so Gehazi served Elisha.  Was it God's purpose to make Gehazi the successor to Elisha?  If so, we have another Esau on our hands, a man who traded away his destiny in God for a few baubles and trinkets.

        

Elisha confronted his servant, and Gehazi concocted another lie -- I didn't go anywhere.  And Elisha responded,

         "Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you?" (2 Kings 5:26).

           Then he pronounced the sentence:  as Gehazi had taken the goods of Naaman, so also he would bear his sickness too, and his descendants after him forever.

        

There is a racial postscript to this incident. White Christians have historically been quick to use the Bible to slander the character of Africans.  However, they have not had a monopoly on this practice, and certain African-American Bible teachers have dredged up some ammunition for their own cause.  Substituting the curse of Elisha for the curse of Ham, they traced the origin of the Anglo-Saxon race to Gehazi's leprosy.  Supposedly, he ran off and sired a race of white people, whose skin color itself was both a sign of disease and of God's rejection.

        

This teaching dates back to at least the late 19th Century.  It was held by a sect known as the Church of the Living God, the Pilar Ground of Truth for All Nations, founded by F S Cherry in 1886.  Cherry was a seaman who taught that African Americans were the true Jews, and whites were the cursed offspring of Gehazi  (Black Zion, by Yvonne Chireau).  This was also the doctrine of George Wilson Brent, writing in the 1893 AME Church Review  (Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity, Craig Prentiss).  These sources may themselves be dependent on earlier traditions within the black church.

       

Though the origins of this doctrine may be obscure, it is now firmly established as one of the orthodoxies of Afrocentrism, and is common on Afro-sponsored hate sites on the internet  (do a search on "Gehazi Caucasians").  Yet even prior to the internet, the doctrine was spread within the black community.  The author of this study heard this teaching broadcast on Christian radio in the 1980's by an African-American preacher.

       

In reflecting upon this racial myth, one can observe that turn about is fair play, but that hardly represents an advance in moral maturity.  Indeed, those black preachers who spread this tale merely debase themselves to the level of the old-time white supremacists.  The doctrine of the leprous origin and nature of white people is genetically and historically absurd.  The fact that it is "on the rise" in the black community and among technical sophisticates (creators of internet content), shows a disturbing penetration of racist thought-patterns among a segment of young urbanites.  This belief is not the product of serious scholarship and logical thought, but a justification for pre-existing hatred and an incentive for its further spread.  It is a mirror image, in its virulence, irrationality, and malevolence, of the white-originated "curse of Ham" doctrine.  But the irony is that, while for the most part white Christianity is getting over its own racist sickness, at least the violent stage, the infection is still very prevalent, and possibly spreading, among the African, or Afro-American, population.  The fact that it is incompatible with both the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God is not admitted by its adherents, who think that they can meld black spirituality with anti-white rhetoric into an African-only syncretistic Christianity.