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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 13

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-25

2 Kings 13:4 . Jehoahaz besought the Lord, as oppressed Israel had done in the time of the Judges.

2 Kings 13:5 . The Lord gave Israel a Saviour. Not Joash, as some say, but Messiah, the Angel of his presence saved them, as the rabbins state. Why have they not told us more? The Messiah probably appeared as to Joshua, Gideon, and Manoah.

2 Kings 13:6 . There remained the grove in Samaria, where Astarte, one of the four names of Venus, had been worshipped, and probably was so worshipped still; yet Elisha had done much in putting down idolatry.

2 Kings 13:14 . Now Elisha was fallen sick; persecuted through life, but honoured with a royal visit at his death.

2 Kings 13:19 . Was wroth. The LXX read, the man of God “was grieved.” The Elegy of this very illustrious man is sung by the son of Syrac. Sirach 48.

2 Kings 13:21 . The bones of Elisha. The papists adduce this as an argument for the miraculous power of relics. Ah Rome! Ah Rome!

2 Kings 13:24 . Benhadad, the second, who revived the name of honour, which his father had received.


What a calamitous portrait have we here of Israel, and how unlike the glory of former days. When God ceases to defend a people, they soon fall into decay. What a proverb of reproach might the heathen now take up against them. Is this the nation whose God is the Lord: has their God forsaken them: is he no longer able to defend them? Nay, the more enlightened would reply, they have forsaken their God, and therefore he has suffered all these calamities to come upon them. Let individuals, churches and nations, be instructed by the errors of Israel: for what man ever forsook the Lord and prospered. Such was the situation of Judah. Samaria and her king Jehoash were also in the same degenerate condition: and to heighten the calamity they fought one against another, while the Syrians were endeavouring to ruin them both! In those calamitous times God took away the venerable Elisha from the evil to come, having fulfilled to him the promise made to obedience, even long life. He spent sixty or seventy years, if our chronologists be right, in the sacred ministry. He came to his sepulchre full of days and full of grace; and what more can a mortal man ask of God? If he failed in converting his country, he preserved the faithful from apostasy; and he lived to see those who revolted cut off by the sword.

He died revered by the wicked, and was honoured as a prince. His sovereign addressed him in his own words, when Elijah ascended: “Oh my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” What shall we do when thou art gone? We shall have no one to deliver, to raise sieges, and give bread in the time of famine. We should therefore regard faithful ministers as the defence of the church and nation; and those who honour them in life and death, are in a fair way to obtain a blessing from the Lord.

Elisha, affected by the royal tears which bedewed his cheeks, sought in the spirit to make the king some returns; and in dying to leave some hope to his country. With this view he directed him to open the window eastward, where the Syrian king had spread his conquests, and to shoot an arrow, which he pronounced to be a pledge of breaking the enemy’s yoke. The promised victory he farther illustrated by enjoining the king to smite on the floor, which he did three times. Here the prophet felt that the king came short in his efforts to emancipate his country; and therefore promised him but three victories over the oppressor. So it happens in the singular order of grace, that our salvation corresponds with our faith, and with the efforts we make to obtain deliverance.

God, who honoured Elisha during life, honoured him also after his death. Some people going to bury a man, for the Jews buried without the cities, saw an enemy approach. Perhaps Josephus is right, who says that they were robbers who had murdered the man; therefore they committed another barbarous deed in throwing his body into the prophet’s sepulchre; and behold, on touching his bones, he came to life. So Jesus Christ, when touched by faith, gives life to the soul spiritually dead. So Christ was honoured after his crucifixion, not by quickening an individual, but by giving eternal life to all those who take hold of his covenant.

Let us now fix our eyes on the king. Having received the consoling prediction of the expiring prophet, he went home, and animated the few troops he had; and by making a treble effort, he completely recovered his country. But Hazael was no sooner dead, than his son lost all the fruits of his father’s victories. What vanity in conquests, in depopulating kingdoms, and making cities without an inhabitant. This man, whose leading passion was military fame; this man, so terrible a scourge to Israel, and equally so to other nations, seems to have been anointed of the Lord solely for the purpose of cutting off the wicked. Hence it is said, “Him that escapes the sword of Jehu, shall Hazael slay.”

The efforts of Elijah and Elisha, though of an extraordinary kind, and those long and repeated strokes of judgment, failed of producing more than a temporary reform; and in this we have assuredly the most striking proof of the power of original sin. Man turns a deaf ear to instruction; he revolts against the rod, or soon forgets the smart; and in defiance of heaven, walks still in his own way. So this prophet died and left his country in its sins, and ultimately doomed to severer strokes of God’s afflicting hand.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-kings-13.html. 1835.
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