2 Kings 13

CHAPTER XIII

Jehoahaz reigns in Israel seventeen years; his various acts,

and wars with the Syrians, 1-8.

He dies, and Joash reigns in his stead, and does evil in the

sight of the Lord, 9-13.

Elisha's last sickness; he foretells a three-fold defeat of

the Syrians, and dies, 14-20.

A dead man raised to life by touching the bones of Elisha, 21.

Hazael dies, having long oppressed Israel; but Jehoash recovers

many cities out of the hands of Ben-hadad, his successor, and

defeats him three times, 22-25.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIII

Verse 1. In the three and twentieth year of Joash] The

chronology here is thus accounted for; Jehoahaz began his reign at

the commencement of the twenty-third year of Joash, and reigned

seventeen years, fourteen alone, and three years with his son

Joash; the fourteenth year was but just begun.

Verse 5. And the Lord gave Israel a saviour] This was

undoubtedly Joash, whose successful wars against the Syrians are

mentioned at the conclusion of the chapter. Houbigant recommends

to read the seventh verse after the fourth, then the fifth and

sixth, and next the eighth, &c.

Verse 6. The grove also in Samaria] Asherah, or Astarte,

remained in Samaria, and there was she worshipped, with all her

abominable rites.

Verse 10. In the thirty and seventh year] Joash, the son of

Jehoahaz, was associated with his father in the government two

years before his death. It is this association that is spoken of

here. He succeeded him two years after, a little before the death

of Elisha. Joash reigned sixteen years, which include the years he

governed conjointly with his father.-Calmet.

Verse 12. Wherewith he fought against Amaziah] This war with

Amaziah may be seen in ample detail 2 Chron. 25; it ended in the

total defeat of Amaziah, who was taken prisoner by Joash, and

afterwards slain in a conspiracy at Lachish. Joash took Jerusalem,

broke down four hundred cubits of the wall, and took all the royal

treasures, and the treasures of the house of God. See

2Ch 25:20-27.

Verse 14. Now Elisha was fallen sick] This is supposed to have

taken place in the tenth year of Joash; and if so, Elisha must

have prophesied about sixty-five years.

O my father, my father] "What shall I do now thou art dying?

thou art the only defense of Israel." He accosts him with the same

words which himself spoke to Elijah when he was translated; see

2Ki 2:12, and the note there.

Verse 15. Take bow and arrows.] The bow, the arrows, and the

smiting on the ground, were all emblematical things, indicative

of the deliverance of Israel from Syria.

Verse 17. Open the window eastward] This was towards the country

beyond Jordan, which Hazael had taken from the Israelites.

The arrow of-deliverance from Syria] That is, As surely as that

arrow is shot towards the lands conquered from Israel by the

Syrians, so surely shall those lands be reconquered and restored

to Israel.

It was an ancient custom to shoot an arrow or cast a spear into

the country which an army intended to invade. Justin says that, as

soon as Alexander the Great had arrived on the coasts of Iona, he

threw a dart into the country of the Persians. "Cum delati in

continentem essent, primus Alexander jaculum velut in hostilem

terram jacit."-Just. lib. ii.

The dart, spear, or arrow thrown, was an emblem of the

commencement of hostilities. Virgil (AEn. lib. ix., ver. 51)

represents Turnus as giving the signal of attack by throwing a

spear:-

Ecquis erit mecum, O Juvenes, qui primus in hostem?

En, ait: et jaculum intorquens emittit in auras,

Principium pugnae; et campo sese arduus infert.

"Who, first," he cried, "with me the foe will dare?"

Then hurled a dart, the signal of the war.

PITT.

Servius, in his note upon this place, shows that it was a custom

to proclaim war in this stay: the pater patratus, or chief of the

Feciales, a sort of heralds, went to the confines of the enemy's

country, and, after some solemnities, said with a loud voice, I

wage war with you, for such and such reasons; and then threw in a

spear. It was then the business of the parties thus defied or

warned to take the subject into consideration; and if they did

not, within thirty days, come to some accommodation, the war was

begun.

Thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek] This was a city of Syria,

and probably the place of the first battle; and there, it appears,

they had a total overthrow. They were, in the language of the

text, consumed or exterminated.

Verse 18. Smite upon the ground] As he was ordered to take his

arrows, the smiting on the ground must mean shooting arrows into

it.

He smote thrice, and stayed.] The prophet knew that this

shooting was emblematical: probably the king was not aware of what

depended on the frequency of the action; and perhaps it was of the

Lord that he smote only thrice, as he had determined to give

Israel those three victories only over the Syrians. Elisha's being

wroth because there were only three instead of five or six

shots does not prove that God was wroth, or that he had intended

to give the Syrians five or six overthrows.

Verse 20. And Elisha died] The two prophets, Elijah and Elisha,

were both most extraordinary men. Of the former, it is difficult

to say whether he was a man, or an angel in a human body. The

arguments for this latter opinion are strong, the objections

against it very feeble. His being fed by an angel is no proof that

he was not an angel incarnate, for God manifest in the flesh was

fed by the same ministry. Of him the following from

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-11 is a nervous character:-

1. Then stood up Elias the prophet as fire, and his word burned

like a lamp.

2. He brought a sore famine upon them, and by his zeal he

diminished their number.

3. By the word of the Lord he shut up the heaven, and also three

times brought down fire.

4. O Elias, how wast thou honoured in thy wondrous deeds! and

who may glory like unto thee!

5. Who didst raise up a dead man from death, and his soul from

the place of the dead, by the word of the Most High:

6. Who broughtest kings to destruction, and honourable men from

their bed:

7. Who heardest the rebuke of the Lord in Sinai, and in Horeb

the judgment of vengeance:

8. Who anointedst kings to take revenge, and prophets to succeed

after him:

9. Who wast taken up in a whirlwind of fire, and in a chariot of

fiery horses:

10. Who wast ordained for reproofs in their times to pacify the

wrath of the Lord's judgment, before it brake forth into fury; and

to turn the heart of the father unto the son, and to restore the

tribes of Jacob.

11. Blessed are they that saw thee, and slept in love; for we

shall surely live.

Elisha was not less eminent than Elijah; the history of his

ministry is more detailed than that of his master, and his

miracles are various and stupendous. In many things there is a

striking likeness between him and our blessed Lord, and especially

in the very beneficent miracles which he wrought. Of him the same

author gives this character, ib. ver. 12-14: Elisha was filled

with his spirit: whilst he lived he was not moved with the

presence of any prince; neither could any bring him into

subjection. Nothing could overcome him; and after his death his

body prophesied, i.e., raised a dead man to life, as we learn from

the following verse. He did wonders in his life, and at his death

there his works marvellous; perhaps referring to his last acts

with Joash.

The bands of the Moabites] Marauding parties; such as those

mentioned 2Ki 5:2.

Verse 21. They spied a band] They saw one of these marauding

parties; and through fear could not wait to bury their dead, but

threw the body into the grave of Elisha, which chanced then to be

open; and as soon as it touched the bones of the prophet, the man

was restored to life. This shows that the prophet did not perform

his miracles by any powers of his own, but by the power of God;

and he chose to honour his servant, by making even his bones the

instrument of another miracle after his death. This is the first,

and I believe the last, account of a true miracle performed by the

bones of a dead man; and yet on it and such like the whole system

of miraculous working relics has been founded by the popish

Church.

Verse 23. And the Lord was gracious unto them] vaiyachon,

he had tender affection for them, as a husband has for his wife,

or a father for his own children.

And had compassion on them] vairachamem, his bowels

yearned over them; he felt for them, he sympathized with them in

all their distress: Therefore are my bowels troubled; I will

surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord, Jer 31:20.

And had respect unto them] vaiyiphen, he turned face

towards them, he received them again into favour; and this because

of his covenant with their fathers: they must not be totally

destroyed; the Messiah must come from them, and through them must

come that light which is to enlighten the Gentiles, and therefore

he would not make an entire end of them.

Neither cast he them from his presence as yet.] But now they are

cast out from his presence; they have sinned against the only

remedy for their souls. They sit in darkness and the shadow of

death; the veil is upon their face; but if they yet turn to the

Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

Verse 25. Three times did Joash beat him] The particulars of

these battles we have not; but these three victories were

according to the prediction of Elisha, 2Ki 13:19. That these

victories were very decisive we learn from their fruits, for Joash

took from the Syrians the cities which Hazael had taken from

Israel: viz., Gilead, the possessions of Reuben, Gad, and the

half-tribe of Manasseh, and the country of Bashan; see 2Ki 10:33.

Thus God accomplished his word of judgment, and his word of

mercy. The Syrians found themselves to be but men, and the

Israelites found they could do nothing without God. In the

dispensations of his justice and mercy, God has ever in view, not

only the comfort, support, and salvation of his followers, but

also the conviction and salvation of his enemies; and by his

judgments many of these have been awakened out of their sleep,

turned to God, learned righteousness, and finally become as

eminent for their obedience, as they were before for their

rebellion.

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