🔼The name Gehazi: Summary
- Valley Of Vision
- From (1) גיא (gai'), valley, and (2) the verb חזה (haza), to see or have [a] vision.
🔼The name Gehazi in the Bible
There is only one man named Gehazi in the Bible, and he was the servant of the prophet Elisha. We hear first of him in the gut-wrenching story of the son of the Shunammite couple (2 Kings 4:12). These elderly people ran an establishment where Elisha habitually dined, and were as considerate as to build him a little room to repose. Wanting to express his gratitude, Elisha was able to predict the miraculous birth of their son (reminiscent of the prediction of Isaac's conception; Genesis 18:10).
When the child had become a boy, he developed migraine and died on his mother's lap (2 Kings 4:20). His mother travelled to mount Carmel, where Elisha was staying. Initially she told Gehazi that all was well, but when she reached the prophet she told him that her son had died. He sent Gehazi to the woman's house, to lay his staff on the boy's face, but nothing happened (2 Kings 4:31). Then Elisha went himself and brought the boy back to life (4:35).
The second time Gehazi shows up in the narrative is in the story of Naaman, the leprous Aramean general whose Israelite slave girl had informed him about Elisha's miraculous power and subsequently went to see him (2 Kings 5:3). Elisha told the man to wash himself seven times in the Jordan, upon which he was healed. Gratefully, Naaman wanted to give Elisha some expensive presents but Elisha refused to accept them. But when Naaman headed for home, Gehazi ran after him and told him that Elisha had changed his mind. Elisha obviously hadn't, and when Gehazi came back home, Elisha told him that because of this little stunt, the leprosy of Naaman would cleave to him and his descendants forever.
Gehazi left the presence of Elisha as a leper, white as snow (2 Kings 5:27), yet he shows up one more time. For an undisclosed reason, Jehoram, the king of Israel was in the middle of a conversation with Gehazi about the great deeds of Elisha, when the Shunammite lady appeared at the court. At Elisha's urging she and her family had escaped a famine seven years earlier by moving to Philistine country, but now she had returned and wanted her house and fields back. Gehazi testified that she indeed was the Shunammite lady whose son Elisha had resurrected and the king ordered all her possessions restored (2 Kings 8:1-6).
🔼Etymology of the name Gehazi
The name Gehazi is mostly spelled גיחזי but גחזי in 2 Kings 4:31, 5:25 and 8:4-5. It is thought to be a contraction of the phrase גיא חזיון, meaning "valley of vision" as used in Isaiah 22:1 and 22:5. The first part of our name comes from the noun גיא (gai'), meaning valley:
The verb גיח (giah), or גוח (gwh), means to burst forth. It's applied to rivers and human births. Human collectives such as families and tribes are in the Bible often symbolized as mountains. Hence births signify valleys and are associated with rivers.
Verb גיא (gy') isn't used in the Bible and its meaning is subsequently unknown. The derived noun גיא (gai'), however, means valley and is used frequently. There are at least seven named valleys mentioned in the Old Testament.
The observation that "every valley shall be exalted and every mountain made low" ties into the principle of rebirth, via which is peopled a world in which every individual is king and high priest and utterly free.
The second part comes from the root cluster חזה (hzh):
The verb חזה (haza) means to see or behold. Noun חזה (hozeh) means seer or visionary. Nouns חזות (hazot), חזות (hazut), חזיון (hizzayon) and מחזה (mahazeh) mean vision, anything between the mere act of seeing to experiencing a prophetic apparition. The noun מחזה (meheza) literally describes a place or instrument of vision and is the word for window.
It may be that the verb חזה (haza) originated in the idea of being or looking forward, which would explain the noun חזה (hazeh), which describes the breast of an animal. It may also be that this noun derives from a second verb חזה (haza), to be in front.
In a rare display of consent, NOBSE Study Bible Name List, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and even BDB Theological Dictionary translate the name Gehazi with Valley Of Vision.
Note the possible ironic charge of this name, which is almost a contradiction. In order to see what was going on, a lookout would typically perch on a mountain and not sit in a valley. Spiritual visions also befell people mostly on mountains, and valleys were typically known as areas where things could be hidden and not revealed (see our article on the verb עמק, 'amoq).
The name Gehazi seems to convey a being in he wrong place for the wrong reasons; it conveys something like: the "night" of understanding, or the "desert" of love. It could be the name of someone who tries to sell ice to Eskimos: a prophetic Blunder Head.