2 Kings 7

CHAPTER VII

Elisha foretells abundant relief to the besieged inhabitants

of Samaria, 1.

One of the lords questions the possibility of it; and is

assured that he shall see it on the morrow, but not taste

of it, 2.

Four lepers, perishing with hunger, go to the camp of the

Syrians to seek relief and find it totally deserted, 3-5.

How the Syrians were alarmed, and fled, 6, 7.

The lepers begin to take the spoil, but at last resolve to

carry the good news to the city, 8-11.

The king, suspecting some treachery, sends some horsemen to

scour the country, and see whether the Syrians are not

somewhere concealed; they return, and confirm the report that

the Syrians are totally fled, 12-15.

The people go out and spoil the camp, in consequence of which

provisions become as plentiful as Elisha had foretold, 16.

The unbelieving lord, having the charge of the gate committed

to him, is trodden to death by the crowd, 17-20.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII

Verse 1. To-morrow about this time] This was in reply to the

desponding language of the king, and to vindicate himself from the

charge of being author of this calamity. See the end of the

preceding chapter. See Clarke on 2Ki 6:33.

A measure of fine flour-for a shekel] A seah of fine flour: the

seah was about two gallons and a half; the shekel, two

shillings and four-pence at the lowest computation. A wide

difference between this and the price of the ass's head mentioned

above.

Verse 2. Then a lord] shalish. This word, as a name of

office, occurs often, and seems to point out one of the highest

offices in the state. So unlikely was this prediction to be

fulfilled, that he thought God must pour out wheat and barley from

heaven before it could have a literal accomplishment.

But shalt not eat thereof.] This was a mere prediction of his

death, but not as a judgment for his unbelief; any person in his

circumstances might have spoken as he did. He stated in effect

that nothing but a miracle could procure the plenty predicted, and

by a miracle alone was it done; and any person in his place might

have been trodden to death by the crowd in the gate of Samaria.

Verse 3. There were four leprous men] The Gemara in Sota, R.

Sol. Jarchi, and others, say that these four lepers were Gehazi

and his three sons.

At the entering in of the gate] They were not permitted to

mingle in civil society.

Verse 5. The uttermost part of the camp] Where the Syrian

advanced guards should have been.

Verse 6. The Lord had made the-Syrians to hear a noise] This

threw them into confusion; they imagined that they were about to

be attacked by powerful auxiliaries, which the king of Israel had

hired against them.

Verse 12. The king arose in the night] This king had made a

noble defence; he seems to have shared in all the sufferings of

the besieged, and to have been ever at his post. Even in vile Ahab

there were some good things!

They know that we be hungry] This was a very natural conclusion;

the Syrians by the closest blockade could not induce them to give

up the city, but knowing that they were in a starving condition,

they might make use of such a stratagem as that imagined by the

king, in order to get possession of the city.

Verse 13. And one of his servants answered] This is a very

difficult verse, and the great variety of explanations given of it

cast but little light on the subject. I am inclined to believe,

with Dr. Kennicott, that there is an interpolation here which

puzzles, if not destroys, the sense. "Several instances," says he,

"have been given of words improperly repeated by Jewish

transcribers, who have been careless enough to make such mistakes,

and yet cautious not to alter or erase, for fear of discovery.

This verse furnishes another instance in a careless repetition of

seven Hebrew words, thus:-

The exact English of this verse is this: And the servant said,

Let them take now five of the remaining horses, which remain in

it; behold they are as all the multitude of Israel, which [remain

in it; behold they are as all the multitude of Israel which] are

consumed; and let us send and see.

"Whoever considers that the second set of these seven words is

neither in the Septuagint nor Syriac versions, and that those

translators who suppose these words to be genuine alter them to

make them look like sense, will probably allow them to have been

at first an improper repetition; consequently to be now an

interpolation strangely continued in the Hebrew text." They are

wanting in more than forty of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. In

some others they are left without points; in others they have been

written in, and afterwards blotted out; and in others four, in

others five, of the seven words are omitted. De Rossi concludes

thus: Nec verba haec legunt LXX., Vulg., Syrus simplex, Syrus

Heptaplaris Parisiensis, Targum. They stand on little authority,

and the text should be read, omitting the words enclosed by

brackets, as above.

They are consumed] The words asher tamu should be

translated, which are perfect; i.e., fit for service. The rest of

the horses were either dead of the famine, killed for the

subsistence of the besieged, or so weak as not to be able to

perform such a journey.

Verse 14. They took-two chariot horses] They had at first

intended to send five; probably they found on examination that

only two were effective. But if they sent two chariots, each would

have two horses, and probably a single horse for crossing the

country.

Verse 15. All the way was full of garments and vessels] A

manifest proof of the hurry and precipitancy with which they fled.

Verse 17. And the people trode upon him] This officer being

appointed by the king to have the command of the gate, the people

rushing out to get spoil, and in to carry it to their houses, he

was borne down by the multitude and trodden to death. This also

was foreseen by the spirit of prophecy. The literal and exact

fulfillment of such predictions must have acquired the prophet a

great deal of credit in Israel.

DR. Lightfoot remarks that, between the first and last year of

Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, there are very many occurrences

mentioned which are not referred nor fixed to their proper year;

and, therefore, they must be calculated in a gross sum, as coming

to pass in one of these years. These are the stories contained in

chapters iv., v., vi., and vii., of this book; and in

2Ch 21:6-19. They may be calculated thus: In the

first year of Jehoram, Elisha, returning out of Moab into the

land of Israel, multiplies the widow's oil; he is lodged in

Shunem, and assures his hostess of a child. The seven years'

famine was then begun, and he gives the Shunammite warning of

its continuance.

The second year she bears her child in the land of the

Philistines, 2Ki 8:2. And Elisha resides among the disciples of

the prophets at Gilgal, heals the poisoned pottage, and feeds one

hundred men with twenty barley loaves and some ears of corn. That

summer he cures Naaman of his leprosy, the only cure of this kind

done till Christ came.

The third year he makes iron to swim, prevents the Syrians'

ambushments, strikes those with blindness who were sent to seize

him, and sends them back to their master.

The fourth year Jehoshaphat dies, and Edom rebels and shakes off

the yoke laid upon them by David: Libnah also rebels.

The fifth year Samaria is besieged by Ben-hadad, the city is

most grievously afflicted; and, after being nearly destroyed by

famine, it is suddenly relieved by a miraculous interference of

God, which had been distinctly foretold by Elisha.

The sixth year the Philistines and Arabians oppress Jehoram,

king of Judah, and take captive his wives and children, leaving

only one son behind.

The seventh year Jehoram falls into a grievous sickness, so that

his bowels fall out, 2Ch 21:19. And in the same year the

seven years' famine ends about the time of harvest; and at that

harvest, the Shunammite's son dies, and is restored to life by

Elisha, though the story of his birth and death is related

together; and yet some years must have passed between them. Not

long after this the Shunammite goes to the king to petition to be

restored to her own land, which she had left in the time of the

famine, and had sojourned in the land of the Philistines.

This year Elisha is at Damascus, Ben-hadad falls sick; Hazael

stifles him with a wet cloth, and reigns in his stead. All these

things Dr. Lightfoot supposes happened between A.M. 3110 and

3117.-See Lightfoot's Works, vol. i., p. 88. In examining the

facts recorded in these books, we shall always find it difficult,

and sometimes impossible, to ascertain the exact chronology. The

difficulty is increased by a custom common among these annalists,

the giving the whole of a story at once, though several incidents

took place at the distance of some years from the commencement of

the story: as they seem unwilling to have to recur to the same

history in the chronological order of its facts.

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