Newman’s Nook: Bat and Gehazi

Fist of the North Star is an anime series from the 1980s about a martial artist named Kenshiro who is…well, at the moment just wandering around helping people in a post-apocalyptic future set in the year 199X. In the first few episodes of Fist of the North Star, we are introduced to Bat. Bat is a young teen who is trying to make his way in the post-apocalyptic world any way he can. This means by stealing, lying, and cheating. He has become rather hardened, but shows signs of kindness, especially around the young girl, Lin.

When he meets Kenshiro, Bat sees a man of ridiculous strength. He sees someone who can seemingly do anything. He sees a horse to hitch his wagon to. He feels he could help Kenshiro as a sort of manager and, all the while, milk him for money. When Kenshiro helps a community, Bat rolls in to try to get what’s his for helping out. When Kenshiro defeats a giant, there’s Bat ready to rob the corpse. No, seriously, that’s the header image. Bat gets frustrated that Kenshiro doesn’t do more with his abilities. He’s mad because Kenshiro refuses to milk his ridiculous strength and martial arts skills to gain whatever he wants. This is the world they live in, a brutal one where people take what they want whenever they want with little regard for their fellow man.

Bat continues following along with Kenshiro for a while, milking him for all he can. At one point, a village tries to offer what little they have after Kenshiro saves the day. Bat tries to take it, but Kenshiro stops him. He doesn’t use force to make him to stop, but reminds him that the people have nothing except what little they offered. He reminds Bat of those who will be harmed if he takes what he wants. Bat relents and walks off, accepting that Kenshiro was right. Kind of. He still complains, but he does do the right thing in the end after being confronted with his actions.

When watching the episode live, I made a strange connection to this specific tale of Bat and Kenshiro. It reminded me of a story from the Bible, the story of Gehazi and Elisha.

Elisha is an Old Testament prophet with who is remembered for taking over after Elijah went up into Heaven and being able to heal many people. In 2 Kings 5:1-19, we see Elisha doing the latter. A Commander for the King of Aram named Namaan had a skin disease which was in need of healing. The King of Aram sent Namaan to the King of Israel to heal. Knowing he couldn’t possibly do it, the King tore his clothes assuming this meant that he would fall to Aram; he felt it was a setup. Enter Elisha, who calls for Namaan, meets with him, and provides the commander with the healing he needs through the power of the Lord. Namaan was overjoyed at this and offered quite a lot to Elisha as a form of compensation for the healing. Yet, Elisha wanted none of it. He did not need Namaan’s money. He did not want it. He freely gave and healed, content with the fact that Namaan seemed to be worshiping the Lord now.

Enter Gehazi. In the second half of this story (2 Kings 5:20-27), Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, is feeling ripped off. He did not trust Namaan and felt he could get something out of him. Behind Elisha’s back, Gehazi goes to Namaan and says that Elisha needed some money. Namaan, being generous after being healed, offers him double. Gehazi accepts…then runs home to hide it for himself.

Like Kenshiro with Bat, Elisha confronts Gehazi. He asks him flat out where he had been, what he had been doing. Elisha gave Gehazi ample opportunity to do the right thing. But what does Gehazi do? He lies to Elisha’s face.

In the case of Bat, Kenshiro gave him the chance to do the right thing, showing him exactly the consequences of his greed. When that happened, Bat relented. He saw the starving people and realized he should not take from them. In the case of Gehazi, he had no immediate need for food. He was not starving in a post-apocalyptic world. What he needed Elisha appeared to be providing. He just wanted more. He wanted extra money. So, he went back even after Elisha refused help. Then, when confronted, he lied about it. This is the biggest point of divergences of the two stories.

In the case of Bat, we know this is part of his character and we know this internal struggle may occur again. Yet, we also see that he is growing as a person at this point with the help of Kenshiro. In the case of Gehazi, we have an adult who lies to the Prophet he chose to serve after, effectively, robbing a man who was just healed. He lied to Namaan. He lied to Elisha. Gehazi is then cursed with the very skin disease that Elisha had cured from Namaan. Gehazi’s greed got him money that he had to hide, but at what cost? Later in the Bible, Christ asks us what does it gain a man to have the world but lose his soul? Gehazi and Bat should think that through.

Yes, robbing a dead body may help Bat out in the short term, but in the long term what did he gain? Getting bonus money behind Elisha’s back may have made Gehazi feel better, but in the end what did he gain? He had to hide the money and lie to his boss. If Bat had received the extra supplied from the town, many would have suffered. He may have profited temporarily, but in the end would those who died from his greed have been worth it? Gehazi felt the risk was worth it for fleeting wealth. Bat realized it was not.

It is not a perfect comparison by any stretch, but it is an interesting one. Hopefully when given this very choice, we make the choice of Bat and not that of Gehazi. I think both Elisha and Kenshiro would approve of that decision.


All screen shots from Fist of the North Star, which can be streamed legally at Crunchyroll. Painting included is ‘Elisha refusing the gifts of Naaman’ by Ferdinand Bol. (Source: Art and the Bible)

Interested in watching Fist of the North Star? Me too. I started recently – so join me and participate in the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #mdmrnfotns

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