Are not Abana and Pharpar - At present these rivers do not exist by these names; and where they are we know not; nor whether they were the Orontes and Chrysorroes. Mr. Maundrell, who traveled over all this ground, could find no vestige of the names Abana and Pharpar. The river Barrady he accurately describes: it has its source in Antilibanus; and, after having plentifully watered the city of Damascus and the gardens, dividing into three branches, (one of which goes through the city, and the two others are distributed among the gardens), it is lost in the marshy country about five or six leagues from Damascus. Two of these branches were doubtless called in the time of Elisha Abana, or Amana, as many copies have it; and Pharpar. And in the time in which the Arabic version was made, one of these branches were called Barda and Toura, for these are the names by which this version translates those of the text.
May I not wash in them, and be clean? - No, for God has directed thee to Jordan! and by its waters, or none, shalt thou be cleansed. Abana and Pharpar may be as good as Jordan; and in respect to thy cleansing, the simple difference is, God will convey his influence by the latter, and not by the former.
There is often contention among the people of Bengal and other places, concerning the superior efficacy of rivers; though the Ganges bears the bell in Bengal, as the Thames does in England, and the Nile in Egypt.
The Abana is the Barada, or true river of Damascus, which, rising in the anti-Libanus, flows westward from its foot and forms the oasis within which Damascus is placed. The Pharpar is usually identified with the Awaaj.
Naaman thinks that, if washing is to cure him, his own rivers may serve the purpose. Their water was brighter, clearer, and colder than that of Jordan.
I have a case now in mind of one who was presented before me in vision who neglected these little things and could not interest himself in small duties, seeking to lighten the work of those indoors; it was too small business. He now has a family, but he still possesses the same unwillingness to engage in these small yet important duties. The result is, great care rests upon his wife. She has to do many things, or they will be left undone; and the amount of care which comes upon her because of her husband's lack is breaking her constitution. He cannot now overcome this evil as easily as he could in his youth. He neglects the little duties and fails to keep everything up tidy and nice, therefore cannot make a successful farmer. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” 2T 309.1
Naaman the Syrian consulted the prophet of God as to how he could be cured of a loathsome disease, the leprosy. He was bidden to go and bathe in Jordan seven times. Why did he not immediately follow the directions of Elisha, the prophet of God? Why did he refuse to do as the prophet commanded? He went to his servants, murmuring. In his mortification and disappointment he became passionate, and in a rage refused to follow the humble course marked out by the prophet of God. “I thought,” said he, “he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.” His servant said: “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash [merely], and be clean?” Yes, this great man considered it beneath his dignity to go to the humble river Jordan, and wash. The rivers he mentioned and desired were beautified by surrounding trees and groves, and idols were placed in these groves. Many flocked to these rivers to worship their idol gods; therefore it would have cost him no humility. But it was following the specified directions of the prophet which would humble his proud and lofty spirit. Willing obedience would bring the desired result. He washed, and was made whole. 2T 309.2
Your case is similar in some respects to Naaman's. You do not consider that in order to perfect a Christian character you must condescend to be faithful in the littles. Although the things you are called to do may be of small account in your eyes, yet they are duties which you will have to do just as long as you live. A neglect of these things will make a great deficiency in your character. You, my dear boy, should educate yourself to faithfulness in small things. You cannot please God unless you do this. You cannot gain love and affection unless you do just as you are bidden, with willingness and pleasure. If you wish those with whom you live to love you, you must show love and respect for them. 2T 310.1Read in context »