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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XXVIII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

28.  Naaman the Syrian and the Jordan.  No Other Stream Has the Same Healing Power.

Should any one object to the expression “He smote the water,” on account of the conclusion we arrived at above with respect to the Jordan, that it is a type of the Word who descended for us our descending, we rejoin that with the Apostle the rock is plainly said to be Christ, and that it is p. 374 smitten twice with the rod, so that the people may drink of the spiritual rock which follows them.  The “smiting” in this new difficulty is that of those who are fond of suggesting something that contradicts the conclusion even before they have learned what the question is which is in hand.  From such God sets us free, since, on the one hand, He gives us to drink when we are thirsty, and on the other He prepares for us, in the immense and trackless deep, a road to pass over, namely, by the dividing of His Word, since it is by the reason which distinguishes (divides) that most things are made plain to us.  But that we may receive the right interpretation about this Jordan, so good to drink, so full of grace, it may be of use to compare the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian from his leprosy, and what is said of the rivers of religion of the enemies of Israel.  It is recorded of Naaman 4943 that he came with horse and chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.  And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall come again unto thee, and thou shalt be cleansed.”  Then Naaman is angry; he does not see that our Jordan is the cleanser of those who are impure from leprosy, from that impurity, and their restorer to health; it is the Jordan that does this, and not the prophet; the office of the prophet is to direct to the healing agency.  Naaman then says, not understanding the great mystery of the Jordan, “Behold, I said that he will certainly come out to me, and will call upon the name of the Lord his God, and lay his hand upon the place, and restore the leper.”  For to put his hand on the leprosy 4944 and cleanse it is a work belonging to our Lord Jesus only; for when the leper appealed to Him with faith, saying, “If Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean,” He not only said, “I will, be thou clean,” but in addition to the word He touched him, and he was cleansed from his leprosy.  Naaman, then, is still in error, and does not see how far inferior other rivers are to the Jordan for the cure of the suffering; he extols the rivers of Damascus, Arbana, and Pharpha, saying, “Are not Arbana and Pharpha, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?  Shall I not wash in them and be clean?”  For as none is good 4945 but one, God the Father, so among rivers none is good but the Jordan, nor able to cleanse from his leprosy him who with faith washes his soul in Jesus.  And this, I suppose, is the reason why the Israelites are recorded to have wept when they sat by the rivers of Babylon and remembered Zion; those who are carried captive, on account of their wickedness, when they taste other waters after sacred Jordan, are led to remember with longing their own river of salvation.  Therefore it is said of the rivers of Babylon, “There we sat down,” clearly because they were unable to stand, “and wept.”  And Jeremiah rebukes those who wish to drink the waters of Egypt, and desert the water which comes down from heaven, and is named from its so coming down—namely, the Jordan.  He says, 4946 “What hast thou to do with the way of Egypt, to drink the water of Geon, and to drink the water of the river,” or, as it is in the Hebrew, “to drink the water of Sion.”  Of which water we have now to speak.



2 Kings 5:9, 10.


Matt. 8:2, 3.


Matt. 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19.


Jer. 2.18.

Next: Chapter XXIX

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