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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 6

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.

The place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. — Our college is so crowded, that unless some course be taken, some of us shall be necessitated to lie out of doors; as bees hang out of the hive’s mouth on heaps, through lack of room within. This access to the number of the young prophets was in the days of idolatrous Jehoram. Plures efficimur quoties metimur, Tertullian. said the old Christians. The Church, like the palm tree, the more it is pressed with weight, the more it fructifieth: like the camomile plant, it flourisheth when most trodden: like the lily, it groweth by its own tears, as Pliny hath it. Fish thrive better in cold and salt waters, than in warm and fresh: the ground is most fruitful that is most harrowed: the walnut tree beareth best when most beaten, … Elisha’s fame might draw more resort to him, and, as the Hebrews say, Gehazi’s removal, who grumbled that the young prophets should partake of the provision brought in by good people to his master Elisha, in those hard times.

Verse 2

Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

Let us make us a place. — Though they were not worth their axes, yet they would be building: and here it is evident, saith an expositor, Mr Jackson. that they affected neither pomp nor state, but were contented with a very homely dwelling, since themselves were to be the builders of it.

Verse 3

And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.

Be content, I pray thee, to go with thy servants. — God had a special hand in this motion, that by Elisha the following miracle might be wrought, for the comfort and confirmation of those novices of the prophets.

And he answered, I will go. — "The wisdom which is from above is easy to be entreated." James 3:17

Verse 4

So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.

They cut down wood. — Wherewith they set up such huts or cabins as they could: being of his mind who said, I find no content but in a book and a nook. Tho. de Ken.

Verse 5

But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.

Alas, master! for it was borrowed. — So is all the Church’s beauty. Ezekiel 16:14 So is all the good we enjoy; for, "what hast thou that thou hast not received?" And therefore that face must needs be hatched with impudence that returneth not the entire honour of all to God alone.

Verse 6

And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast [it] in thither; and the iron did swim.

And cut down a stick. — Which, cast in by the prophet, became as a lodestone to draw the iron to it; and, as the Hebrews say, R. Solomon. a helve or handle for the hatchet into the eye whereof it fell right, and so both, by a double miracle, came up together. Demersam fluvio relevavit virga securim, saith Tertullian.

And the iron did swim. — God can as easily make our hard and heavy hearts, sunk down into the world’s mud, to float upon the streams of life, and to see the face of heaven again.

Verse 7

Therefore said he, Take [it] up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.

And he put out his hand, and took it. — As it came swimming toward him, for the greater evidence of the miracle.

Verse 8

Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place [shall be] my camp.

Then the king of Syria warred. — He delighted in it, as Pyrrhus, king of the Epirotes, is said to have done. Naaman, who should have dissuaded him from so doing, was now, belike, either dead, or else out of favour, because he had changed his religion into that of the Israelites.

Shall be my camp. — Or, The place where I will lay an ambush, viz., to surprise the king of Israel, as he rode a-hunting, saith Josephus.

Verse 9

And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

For thither the Syrians are come down. — To do mischief; where the holy penman maketh use of a Syrian word to set forth the Syrian doings. It signifieth demissi, prostrati, absconditi; there they lie couchant.

Verse 10

And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

And saved himself there. — It was the king himself whom they aimed at, as 1 Kings 22:31 ; - and as that officer of the cuirassiers, A horse soldier wearing a cuirass. The proper name of a certain type of heavy cavalry in European armies. who, pistoling the late victorious king of Sweden, said, This is the right bird.

Verse 11

Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us [is] for the king of Israel?

Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled. — Heb., Was tempested, or tossed with passions, as chaff is with whirlwinds, or the sea with counterblasts.

Verse 12

And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that [is] in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

And one of his servants said. — This was Naaman, saith Abulensis; but that is not likely. Rather it was some one that had been with Naaman, or on some other occasion, in Israel.

The words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber. — State secrets, Areana imperil, should not be blabbed or blazed abroad. The Romans for this, built a temple to Consus, the god of their counsels, sub tecto in Circo, in an open place, but under much covert; to show that counsels must be kept secret. Servius. Metellus Macedonicus was wont to say, that if he thought his shirt were privy to his designs, he would tear it off and cast it away. And Peter, king of Arragon, answered in like manner Pope Martin IV, who sent to him to ask what he meant by the navy he was then rigging forth. Benhadad suspected his counsellors of treachery; but Elisha it was who disclosed his designs and frustrated them, by his prophetical spirit.

Verse 13

And he said, Go and spy where he [is], that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, [he is] in Dothan.

That I may send and fetch him. — This, none but a madman would have attempted. Anger is a short madness: whensoever it anteverteth reason, it is sinful.

Verse 14

Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots. — To wage war with God himself, whose power he must needs behold in this his prophet; and yet fears not, giant-like, to oppose it. See the like done by Ahaziah, 2 Kings 1:1-17 and know, that as there were many Marii in one Caesar, so there are many Benhadads and Ahaziahs in the best by nature. We are all Theomachi, fighters against God.

Verse 15

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

Alas, my master! how shall we do?Vox desperantis. Flesh and blood in an exigent gives up all for lost. Infidelity limiteth God’s boundless power and bottomless mercy: this is a kind of taking away of the Almighty. Hope above hope. Qui nil potest sperare, desperet nihil.

Verse 16

And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us [are] more than they that [be] with them.

Fear not: for they that be with us, … — How many do ye reckon me for? said Antigonus to his soldiers, fearing the numbers of their enemies. God is for us, and so are all his hosts, his upper and nether forces, as the Rabbis style the creatures in heaven and earth.

Verse 17

And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. — These were angels. Psalms 34:7 ; Psalms 68:17 ; Psalms 91:11 It is a good note that one here maketh: Both those chariots that came to fetch Elijah, and those that came to defend Elisha, were fiery. God is no less lovely to his own in the midst of his judgments, than he is terrible to his enemies in the demonstration of his mercies.

Verse 18

And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

And he smote them with blindness.Scotomate, non αορασια sed ακρισια not with bodily blindness, but a dizziness and defect in their judgments, or a dazzling and deluding their senses, that seeing they saw, and yet perceived not. The like befell those sodomites in Genesis 19:11 God who made the senses, can either hold or delude them, at his pleasure.

Verse 19

And Elisha said unto them, This [is] not the way, neither [is] this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.

This is not the way, neither is this the city. — Here the prophet doth not equivocate; much less doth he tell an officious lie, as Tostatus holdeth he did; but useth a mere ambiguity of speech, This is not the city, sc., of Samaria, where Elisha dwelleth, but of Dothan, whence he is now come out; This is not the way, sc., to find Elisha, for he was now going to Samaria. By an answer not much unlike, Athanasius was, once at least, delivered from those cut-throats that pursued him.

Verse 20

And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD, open the eyes of these [men], that they may see. And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, [they were] in the midst of Samaria.

They were in the midst of Samaria. — Where they were "almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly," as he saith in Proverbs 5:14 . See Ecclesiastes 9:12 .

Verse 21

And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite [them]? shall I smite [them]?

My father, shall I smite them? — He calleth the prophet, "My father," either in a compliment, as Jeremiah 3:4 , or else in a sudden pang, which was soon over. See 2 Kings 6:31 .

Verse 22

And he answered, Thou shalt not smite [them]: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.

Thou shalt not smite them. — Though Elisha well knew that they came down to Dothan with bloody purposes toward him. This was "not to be overcome of evil," as the next was to "overcome evil with good."

Set bread and water before them. — Oh, noble revenge I Thus, thus should a prophet punish his persecutors: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him," … Romans 12:20 Proverbs 25:21 See Trapp on " Romans 12:20 " See Trapp on " Proverbs 25:21 "

And go to their master. — Praising their cheer, and convincing him of thy beneficence, a shame to his malevolence. We should confute the world’s miscarriages by our contrary practices.

Verse 23

And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

So the bands of Syria came no more. — Those bands did not - though others did; - so much they were wrought upon by this miracle and the prophet’s courtesy. The king of Israel also hath done that by his feast, which he could not so easily have done by his sword. He is eased at least of his bands of brigands. In doing good to our enemies, we do most to ourselves.

Verse 24

And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.

And went up, and besieged Samaria. — Which city now smarted for Ahab’s foolish pity. 1 Kings 20:34

Verse 25

And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was [sold] for fourscore [pieces] of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five [pieces] of silver.

And there was a great famine in Samaria. — Like as there was afterwards at Potidea in the Peloponesian war; at Utica, besieged by Hamilcar, the father of Hannibal; at Saguntum, also; yea, at Rome, when this voice was heard in the market, Pone precium humanae carni. Thucyd. Polyb. Sub Honor. Imp. The miserable straits the Jews were put to at the last siege of Jerusalem by Titus, who hath not read of? That I speak not of Scodra, Munster, Sancerre, Haarlem, besieged by the Duke de Alva, … This of Samaria was just upon them, saith Pellican, for their contempt of the heavenly manna, that precious food of the soul.

An ass’s head sold for fourscore pieces of silver,i.e., For four or five pounds: some say, ten. When Hannibal besieged Casiline, one mouse was sold for two hundred pence. Val. Max., lib. vii. cap. 6. Puddings made of dogs’ guts were dear bought at the siege of Scodra. Turk. Hist.

The fourth part of a cab. — A pint of doves’ dung. See 2 Kings 18:27 . The hunger-bit wolf eateth dirt.

Verse 26

And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.

Passing by. — To see all things well carried.

Verse 27

And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?

If the Lord do not help thee. — Or - by way of angry imprecation - Let not the Lord save thee; that is, God confound thee; Dispereas. Dii te perdant, Dii tibi male faxint, said the heathens in like case. Vatab.

Verse 28

And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.

Give thy son, that we may eat him. — The like fell out among the Turks and Tartars in Hungary; Turk. Hist., 1060. the Germans in Transylvania, 1604; the Tunetans in Africa; and the English here in Edward II’s time, A.D. 1316: so terrible was the famine, that horses, dogs, yea, men and children, were stolen for food; and the thieves newly brought into the jails were torn in pieces, and eaten presently, half-alive, by such as had been longer there. Purch., Pilgrim., 289. Speed, 674.

Verse 29

So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.

So we boiled my son, and did eat him.Male suada fames, made her require of her child that life, which not long before she had given it; laying him not in her bosom, but in her bowels. This was forethreatened. Leviticus 26:29

Verse 30

And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, [he had] sackcloth within upon his flesh.

He rent his clothes. — He said nothing to the case propounded, because it was horrid and hard to be judged. But this cruel mother should have died for a murderess.

Verse 31

Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

If the head of Elisha. — Who had only threatened these evils, not caused them, and perhaps refused to pray for a removal. The false prophets also might now stir up the king to slay the Lord’s prophet.

Verse 32

But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and [the king] sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: [is] not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?

The king sent a man. — An executioner.

See ye how this son of a murderer. — To wit, Of Ahab, that slaughter man of God’s servants; and Joram doth patrissare, take after him notably. See Matthew 23:35 .

Is not the sound, … — The king repenting, came with a countermand.

Verse 33

And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil [is] of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?

Behold, this evil is of the Lord. — He hath brought us to the lowest ebb, and done us as much mischief as is possible; an impious and blasphemous charge of injustice and hard dealing.

What should I wait for the Lord?q.d., Wait as wait will: I will yield up all, and make for myself as good terms as I can. See Proverbs 19:3 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 6". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-kings-6.html. 1865-1868.
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