2 Kings 6

Elisha Makes an Ax Head Float

1Some of the prophets
Heb “the sons of the prophets.”
said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you
Heb “sit before you.”
is too cramped
Heb “narrow, tight.”
for us.
2Let’s go to the Jordan. Each of us will get a log from there and we will build a meeting place for ourselves there.” He said, “Go.” 3One of them said, “Please come along with your servants.” He replied, “All right, I’ll come.” 4So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they started cutting down trees. 5As one of them was felling a log, the ax head
Heb “iron.”
dropped into the water. He shouted, “Oh no,
Or “ah.”
my master! It was borrowed!”
6The prophet
Heb “man of God” (also in v. 9).
asked, “Where did it drop in?” When he showed him the spot, Elisha
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
cut off a branch, threw it in at that spot, and made the ax head float.
7He said, “Lift it out.” So he reached out his hand and grabbed it.

Elisha Defeats an Army

8 Now the king of Syria was at war with Israel. He consulted his advisers, who said, “Invade
The verb form used here is difficult to analyze. On the basis of the form נְחִתִּים (nekhitim) in v. 9 from the root נָחַת (nakhat), it is probably best to emend the verb to תִּנְחְתוּ (tinkhetu; a Qal imperfect form from the same root). The verb נָחַת in at least two other instances carries the nuance “go down, descend” in a military context. For a defense of this view, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 72.
at such and such
The advisers would have mentioned a specific location, but the details are not significant to the narrator’s purpose, so he simply paraphrases here.
a place.”
9But the prophet sent this message to the king of Israel, “Make sure you don’t pass through this place because Syria is invading there.” 10So the king of Israel sent a message to the place the prophet had pointed out, warning it
The vav + perfect here indicates action contemporary with the preceding main verb (“sent”). See IBHS 533–34 #32.2.3e.
to be on its guard. This happened on several occasions.
Heb “and the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God spoke to him, and he warned it and he guarded himself there, not once and not twice.”
11This made the king of Syria upset.
Heb “and the heart of the king of Syria was stirred up over this thing.”
So he summoned his advisers
Heb “servants.”
and said to them, “One of us must be helping the king of Israel.”
Heb “Will you not tell me who among us [is] for the king of Israel?” The sarcastic rhetorical question expresses the king’s suspicion.
12One of his advisers said, “No, my master, O king. The prophet Elisha who lives in Israel keeps telling the king of Israel the things you say in your bedroom.” 13The king
Heb “he” (also a second time in this verse); the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
ordered, “Go, find out where he is, so I can send some men to capture him.”
Heb “Go and see where he [is] so I can send and take him.”
The king was told, “He is in Dothan.”
14So he sent horses and chariots there, along with a good-sized army.
Heb “heavy force.”
They arrived during the night and surrounded the city.

15 The prophet’s
Heb “man of God’s.”
attendant got up early in the morning. When he went outside there was an army surrounding the city, along with horses and chariots. He said to Elisha,
Heb “his young servant said to him.”
“Oh no, my master! What will we do?”
16He replied, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.”
Heb “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that
Heb “and he saw, and look.”
the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18As they approached him,
Heb “and they came down to him.”
Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike these people
Or “this nation,” perhaps emphasizing the strength of the Syrian army.
with blindness.”
On the basis of the Akkadian etymology of the word, M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 74) translate “blinding light.” HALOT 761 s.v. סַנְוֵרִים suggests the glosses “dazzling, deception.”
The Lord
Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
struck them with blindness as Elisha requested.
Heb “according to the word of Elisha.”
19Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the right road or city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you’re looking for.” He led them to Samaria.
For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.

20 When they had entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open their eyes, so they can see.” The Lord opened their eyes and they saw that they were in the middle of Samaria.
Heb “and they saw, and look, [they were] in the middle of Samaria.”
21When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Should I strike them down,
Heb “Should I strike them down? I will strike them down.” In the Hebrew text the first person imperfect form is repeated; the first form has the interrogative he prefixed to it; the second does not. It is likely that the second form should be omitted as dittographic or that the first should be emended to an infinitive absolute.
my master?”
Heb “my father.” The king addresses the prophet in this way to indicate his respect. See 2 Kgs 2:12.
22He replied, “Do not strike them down! You did not capture them with your sword or bow, so what gives you the right to strike them down?
Heb “Are [they] ones you captured with your sword or your bow (that) you can strike (them) down?”
Give them some food and water, so they can eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
23So he threw a big banquet
Or “held a great feast.”
for them and they ate and drank. Then he sent them back
Heb “they went back.”
to their master. After that no Syrian raiding parties again invaded the land of Israel.

The Lord Saves Samaria

24 Later King Ben Hadad of Syria assembled his entire army and attacked
Heb “went up.”
and besieged Samaria.
For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.
25Samaria’s food supply ran out.
Heb “and there was a great famine in Samaria.”
They laid siege to it so long that
Heb “and look, [they] were besieging it until.”
a donkey’s head was selling for eighty shekels of silver
Heb “eighty, silver.” The unit of measurement is omitted.
and a quarter of a kab
A kab was a unit of dry measure, equivalent to approximately one quart.
of dove’s droppings
The consonantal text (Kethib) reads, “dove dung” (חֲרֵייוֹנִים, khareyonim), while the marginal reading (Qere) has “discharge” (דִּבְיוֹנִים, divyonim). Based on evidence from Akkadian, M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 79) suggest that “dove’s dung” was a popular name for the inedible husks of seeds.
for five shekels of silver.
Heb “five, silver.” The unit of measurement is omitted.

26 While the king of Israel was passing by on the city wall, a woman shouted to him, “Help us, my master, O king!” 27He replied, “No, let the Lord help you. How can I help you? The threshing floor and winepress are empty.”
Heb “From where can I help you, from the threshing floor or the winepress?” The rhetorical question expresses the king’s frustration. He has no grain or wine to give to the masses.
28Then the king asked her, “What’s your problem?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Hand over your son; we’ll eat him today and then eat my son tomorrow.’ 29So we boiled my son and ate him. Then I said to her the next day, ‘Hand over your son and we’ll eat him.’ But she hid her son!” 30When the king heard what the woman said, he tore his clothes. As he was passing by on the wall, the people could see he was wearing sackcloth under his clothes.
Heb “the people saw, and look, [there was] sackcloth against his skin underneath.”
31Then he said, “May God judge me severely
Heb “So may God do to me, and so may he add.”
if Elisha son of Shaphat still has his head by the end of the day!”
Heb “if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat stays on him today.”

32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house with the community leaders.
Heb “and the elders were sitting with him.”
The king
Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
sent a messenger on ahead, but before he arrived,
Heb “sent a man from before him, before the messenger came to him.”
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
said to the leaders,
Heb “elders.”
“Do you realize this assassin intends to cut off my head?”
Heb “Do you see that this son of an assassin has sent to remove my head?”
Look, when the messenger arrives, shut the door and lean against it. His master will certainly be right behind him.”
Heb “Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?”
33He was still talking to them when
The Hebrew text also has “look” here.
the messenger approached
Heb “came down to him.”
and said, “Look, the Lord is responsible for this disaster!
Heb “Look, this is a disaster from the Lord.”
Why should I continue to wait for the Lord to help?”
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