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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 4

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

Prophets. Josephus ([Antiquities?] ix. 4.) intimates that this man was Abdias; (3 Kings xviii. 13.) and the Rabbins pretend that Joram was the creditor. But these traditions are destitute of proof; and we know not that Abdias was a prophet. (Calmet) --- Serve him, not as slaves, for the Hebrews were not thus to be sold, except they had commited some crime. (Salien, the year before Christ 913.) See Leviticus xxv. 39. --- But the condition of mercenaries was perhaps little different; (Haydock) and we find that people were sold for debt, Exodus xxi. 7., and Isaias l. 1. The same practice seems to have continued till our Saviour’s time, Matthew xviii. 25. Children were regarded as part of a person’s property. (Halicar. ii. p. 96.; Plutarch, in Solon et Luculls.) The custom of selling children continued for a long time in our [British] islands.

Verse 2

Anoint me, for delicacy or health, Matthew vi. 17. (Menochius) --- To abstain from this unction, in the East, was a great mortification, 2 Kings xiv. 2., and Deuteronomy xxviii. 40. Sanctius supposes, that the woman intended the oil to anoint her body for interment, Matthew xxvi. 12. Hebrew asuc, occurs no where else, and my signify a pot, or "skin of oil." The woman had nothing else. The original does not say what she intended to do with it. (Calmet) --- She might use it for food: (3 Kings xvii. 12.) but the Septuagint agree with the Vulgate. (Haydock)

Verse 6

Stood. The grace of God ceases to flow, when the soul is full of vanity. (St. Bernard) --- Charity does not increase, when it bestows nothing. (St. Augustine, ser. 206. de Temp.)

Verse 8

Sunam, the birth-place of the beautiful virgin Abisag, (3 Kings i. 3.) at the foot of Thabor, (Calmet) and not above a mile from Carmel, ver. 23. (Tirinus) --- Great woman, "renowned for piety" (Arabic) and riches, ver. 13. (Tirinus) (Menochius) --- "Fearing sins." (Chaldean) This was true greatness! (Haydock) --- Eliseus often passed by her house, when he went to visit the colleges [of prophets] at Bethel, Jericho, &c. (Menochius)

Verse 10

Chamber. Hebrew adds, "on the wall," (Haydock) or surrounded "with walls," at the top of the house, where strangers usually lodged. (Calmet) --- After being entertained the first day with the family, they might retire, and live, as if they were at home; some presents being sent to them daily, at least among the Greeks of rank. (Vitruv. vi. 10.) --- The apartment of Eliseus might be separate from the house, that he might be less distracted in his meditations. (Menochius) (Vatable) --- Candlestick, on which many lamps, or even wood, might burn, Exodus xxv. 27. (Calmet)

Verse 13

He said, or "he had said;" (Junius and Piscator) so that we may include this and the following verse within a parenthesis, as alluding to what had passed before; (Calmet) unless the woman, out of modesty, did not come into the chamber of the prophet, who addressed her by an interpreter, (Menochius) or servant. (Haydock) --- Army. Eliseus had acquired great influence with Joram, in the war with Moab. (Calmet) --- The ancient canons exhort bishops to present the petitions of the poor to the prince. (Grotius) --- People. I have nothing to fear, (Haydock) and am not in want. (Tirinus) --- I have no quarrel with any person. (Calmet) --- I am of too mean a condition to have anything to do at court. (Abulensis)

Verse 14

No son. The desire of one was very natural, particularly to people in good circumstances (Menochius) and of the Hebrew nation. (Haydock)

Verse 16

Womb. Hebrew, "At this season, according to the time of life, (Haydock; or of a woman with child, Menochius) thou shalt embrace a son" in thy arms. (Haydock) See Genesis xviii. 10. (Calmet) --- If is added by St. Jerome, agreeably to an usual form of speaking. (Menochius) --- The prophet assures the woman, that she will not only live, but also bear a son, and nurse him. --- Lie, deceive, (ver. 28; Haydock) or flatter me with vain hopes. (Calmet) She might think that the prophet was not actually inspired. (Menochius) --- Through joy, she could hardly believe. See Luke xxiv. 41. (Haydock)

Verse 19

Carry. This interpretation suits with the occasion, and is conformable to the Septuagint and Chaldean. (Menochius) --- Literally, "conduct him," but he was sick and little. (Haydock)

Verse 21

Bed, esteeming it as a relic, (Haydock) or wishing to excite the man of God to pray for her child, and to conceal its death from her husband. (Menochius)

Verse 23

Moon, a day of devotion, (Numbers x. 10.; Calmet) or probably of obligation, like the sabbath, on which no long journey could be undertaken, (Tirinus; ver. 8.) unless for the sake of piety, (Exodus xxvi. 8.) as Sunam is a place six or seven leagues, (Calmet) or eight hours’ walk from Carmel. (Adrichomius) (Menochius) --- Piety was not so far decayed in Israel but many fervent souls still went to hear the prophets. (Calmet) It seems this woman had often made such journeys. (Menochius) --- Go. Hebrew, "peace." Protestants, "it shall be well:" let me depart. She is unwilling to reveal the reason of her journey; but her husband was so well convinced of her virtue, that he placed no obstacle in her way. Perhaps he might partly guess what was the matter, as he had sent the child home sick, and saw his wife so desirous to visit the prophet. (Haydock)

Verse 24

And do. Hebrew, "unless I bid thee." Some translate, "urge me not to get up, unless," &c. (Chaldean; Arabic, &c.) They suppose that she went on foot, and that the ass was designed for Eliseus. (Vatable)

Verse 26

Well. She declines mentioning what she wanted to the servant, in order that she might speak to the prophet in person. (Menochius) --- She might also rationally hope that the child was well in another world. (Haydock)

Verse 27


Her. Being aware of the extreme circumspection and modesty of his master. --- Told me. Hence it appears that the prophets were not inspired at all times, 2 Kings vii. 3, "that they might be sensible that what they had was a gift of God." (St. Gregory, hom. in 11 Ezech.)

Verse 28

A son. Better had it been for me not to have become a mother, than to be so soon delivered of my child. (Menochius)

Verse 29

Salute him not. He that is sent to raise to life the sinner spiritually dead, must not suffer himself to be called off, or diverted from his enterprise, by the salutations or ceremonies of the world. (Challoner) --- So must the preachers of the gospel diligently fulfil their important office, Luke x. 4. (St. Gregory, hom. 17.) Urbanity is not reprehended; but no human transaction ought to impede what is divine. (St. Ambrose, ibid.[Luke x. 4.?]) In ancient comedies, slaves are always represented in a hurry. The Jews will not salute any person when they are going to their synagogues, for fear of being distracted in their devotions. (Calmet) --- Eliseus requires the utmost expedition, that the favour might be the greater, Qui cito dat, bis dat. (Menochius) --- He would also prevent his servant from telling any one what he was about, that he might not be touched with vanity, and thus hinder the miracle, which some think was nevertheless the case. (R. Salomon) (Theodoret, q. 17.) (Tirinus)

Verse 31

The child is not risen. By the staff of Eliseus is represented the rod of Moses, or the old law, which was incapable of restoring life to mankind, then dead by sin. It was necessary that Christ himself should come in our flesh, to restore us to life again. In this, Eliseus, as a figure of Christ, behoved to go in person to restore the dead child to life. (Challoner) --- St. Augustine (contra Faust. xii. 35.) shews that many like things recorded in the Old Testament are figures of the New. (Worthington) --- Many of the fathers observe, that this miracle was intended to shew the necessity of the Incarnation to redeem lost man. The staff did not therefore restore life. Some lay the blame on Giezi; others on the woman, who required the prophet to come in person; and others suppose that Eliseus followed herein his own spirit. But all this is destitute of proof. (Calmet) --- He might alter his mind (Tirinus) at the request of the woman, and to imitate Elias; (3 Kings xvii. 21.) all by God’s direction. (Haydock) --- He had before trusted that God would perform the miracle by means of the staff, as he did formerly by the rod of Moses, or by the mantle of Elias. (Menochius)

Verse 34

Warm. Arabic adds, "by his breath," as when God breathed a soul into Adam. (Theodoret, q. 18.) --- Some Greek interpreters have, "he breathed upon him," &c.

Verse 35

Upon him. Septuagint, "he breathed," &c. (Calmet) --- Other copies, (Alexandrian and Vatican) "he bent down upon the child seven times, and the child opened his eyes." --- Gaped. Protestants, "sneezed;" (Haydock) in which interpretation, Junius, Montanus, &c., agree. Arabic, "he turned his eyes about seven times." Others, "he trembled," (Calmet) or sighed; (Menochius) or Eliseus "clasped him in his arms," &c. The child died of a headache; (ver. 19.) and sneezing is accounted good for alleviating the pain. Sternutamenta capitis gravedinem emendant. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxviii. 6.) (Calmet)

Verse 37

Ground. To honour the saint, who had done her such a kindness. (Menochius)

Verse 38

Galgal, where he had been often before. --- Dwelt. Hebrew, "sat," like disciples attending to the instructions of their master, Acts xxii. 3. (Calmet) --- To one, &c. Hebrew and Septuagint, "to his servant," Giezi. (Menochius) --- Eliseus provided for the temporal as well as for the spiritual wants of his followers. (Haydock) --- The famine had been sent by God, to punish the idolatry of the people, chap. viii. 1. (Menochius)

Verse 39

Wild herbs. Hebrew oroth. Septuagint Greek: arioth, may denote any thing that could be "gathered." --- Gourds: colocynthides. They resembled cucumbers; but were so bitter, that they were styled, "the gall of the earth." Vallesius, (Phil. c. 36.) who observes, that a small quantity may cause death, (c. 37.) and that the remedy used by the prophet was supernatural; though Lemnius (c. 7.) asserts, that the mixture of barley-flour would take away the bitterness. (Tirinus) --- It has, in effect, that tendency; but the hand of God must still be acknowledged. (Calmet)

Verse 40

Death, poison, &c. Matthiole accounts this fruit poisonous.

Verse 42

Baalsalisa, 15 miles south of Diospolis, and to the north of Jerusalem. (Calmet) --- His scrip. Hebrew bctsiklono. Protestants, "in the husk thereof." Carmel, means a greenish ear of corn, (Haydock) which might be rubbed in the hand, and so eaten. (Calmet)

Verse 43

Men. The disciples of Christ found the like difficulty, John vi. 9. (Menochius) --- God multiplied the provisions for these 100 men, (Calmet) living in the community at Galgal. (Haydock)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 4". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/2-kings-4.html. 1859.
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