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2Ki 7:1 Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time [shall] a measure of fine flour [be sold] for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
Ver. 1. Tomorrow about this time. ] Man’s perverseness stoppeth not the current of God’s infinite goodness. "What should I wait for the Lord any longer?" said wicked Joram. "Tomorrow shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel," &c., saith the Lord, as if he would condescend, where he might judge; and would please them who deserved nothing but punishment.
Shall a measure of fine flour. ] Not meal, but flour, and fine flour too, a peck and a pottle of it sold for a shekel; that is, for half-a-crown at most - some say, for half the money; where an ass’s head and a cab of dove’s-dung had been at such unreasonable rates. This was a wonderful change on such a sudden. What cannot the Lord do! In the last year, save one, of Queen Mary, wheat was sold here in England for four marks the quarter; malt for two pounds four shillings the quarter; peas at two pounds six shillings eight pence. Whereas after the next harvest, wheat was sold for five shillings the quarter; malt at four shillings eight pence; and in some places a bushel of rye was exchanged for a pound of candies, which came to fourpence. a In the year 1555, when, by reason of unseasonable weather, there was a great dearth in this land, there sprang up upon the rocks without tillage or sowing, in the county of Essex, betwixt Orford and Adleborough, such a crop of peas, that in August there were gathered above a hundred quarters; and in blossoming there remained as many more, where never grass grew, nor earth was ever seen, but hard solid rock for three yards deep under their roots. b
a Mr Clark’s Martyrol.
b Speed in Suffolk.
2Ki 7:2 Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, [if] the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see [it] with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
Ver. 2. Behold, if the Lord would make windows. ] If he should rain down corn, as once he did manna. Thus he questioned not only the prophet’s truth, but also God’s power, like as those of old did, who said, "Can God prepare a table for us in the wilderness?" &c.
2Ki 7:3 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?
Ver. 3. And there were four leprous men. ] These were Gehazi and his three sons, say the Rabbis; but who told them so? God maketh use many times of mean and abject instruments to effect great matters.
2Ki 7:4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine [is] in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.
Ver. 4. Let us fall unto the host of the Syrians. ] This they ought not to have done - because hereby occasion might be given to those idolaters to insult and blaspheme the true God, as not able to provide for his servants, - but to have died rather in the place.
If they kill us. ] Extreme famine had made them desperate: as it had those in this nation, about the year 700, who joined hand in hand, forty or fifty in a company, throwing themselves headlong into the sea. a
“ Hic rogo, non furor est, ne moriare, mori? ”
a Godw., Catal., 465.
2Ki 7:5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, [there was] no man there.
Ver. 5. And they rose up in the twilight. ] In the evening twilight, 2 Kings 7:9 ; 2Ki 7:12 the Syrians being fled but a little before. 2Ki 7:7
2Ki 7:6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, [even] the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.
Ver. 6. To hear a noise of chariots. ] Some think this noise was not in the air, but in their ears only, because none else heard it. But God can easily hold men’s senses, as hath been showed. 2Ki 6:18 Act 9:18 And it is likely that the angels made a hurrying noise in the air over their heads, which struck them into a great fear, and set them going in such posthaste, that they left their horses behind them. See a like miracle, 2 Samuel 5:24 , and observe how
“ Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus. ”
So the Roman historian reporteth, that by the noise of a great laughter, Hannibal’s great army lying at the gates of Rome was suddenly frightened and made to run away; whereupon a temple Deo Ridiculo, to the laughing god, was consecrated in via Appia, in the highway to the city.
Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us. ] A mere fancy of their own: whereby the Lord would, as it were, in a way of scorn and derision, put them into this disorder, running without any real cause, like so many madmen. God could have taken another course with them, as to have slain them by his angels, consumed them with fire from heaven, &c. About the year of grace 394, Theodosius had a great victory over the Persians and Saracens, whilst the Lord smote them with a panic terror, so that they ran headlong into the river Euphrates, and there perished in the waters above a hundred thousand of them, saith mine author. a
a Alsted., Chronol., p. 300.
2Ki 7:7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it [was], and fled for their life.
Ver. 7. Wherefore they arose and fled. ] Upon the forementioned imagination of theirs, which themselves, likely, made public, so that other nations took notice of it.
2Ki 7:8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid [it]; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence [also], and went and hid [it].
Ver. 8. And carried thence also, and went and hid it. ] Covetousness is unsatisfiable in hiding and hoarding; it is, as one saith, a dry drunkenness, never saying, Satis est. it is enough.
2Ki 7:9 Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day [is] a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household.
Ver. 9. Then they said. ] At length they bethink themselves of better; yet more for fear of danger, than care of community.
This day is a day of good tidings, &c. ] We are worthy to be shut out of the city gates as lepers, if the respects to the public good do not oversway us in all our desires and demeanours.
2Ki 7:10 So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, [there was] no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they [were].
Ver. 10. And, behold, there was no man there. ] God had made an utter riddance of them for the good of his people; neither had they any mind to return to their tents again, God continuing the sound which at first he had sent amongst them. So the Germans were frightened and sent home with a flea in their ear in bello Hussitico, in the war they made upon God’s people in Bohemia.
2Ki 7:11 And he called the porters; and they told [it] to the king’s house within.
Ver. 11. And they told it to the king’s house.] It was fit that the king and his counsellors should be acquainted with the first, that they might the better order things for the public good.
2Ki 7:12 And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we [be] hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.
Ver. 12. I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. ] This he saith, being nimium et intempestive meticulosus, more fearful than was fit; but he either believed not, or else had "forgotten the consolation" [ παρακλησεως ], as the apostle saith the Hebrews had, Heb 4:6 the promise made him by the prophet. 2Ki 7:1
They know that we be hungry, &c. ] By such a stratagem as this here mentioned, Tomyris, the Scythian queen, circumvented and destroyed Cyrus and his Persians. a So when the Christians besieged Ptolemais, and were themselves at the same time besieged by Saladine, they were so hard bestead for victuals, that they were forced to beg and buy it of their enemies. This when Saladine perceived, he pretended to go his way, leaving his camp full fraught with plenty of all things: and when the hunger starved Christians fell upon the spoil in a confused way, he turning short again, slew a great sort of them. b
a Justin., lib. i.
b Funcc., Chron.
2Ki 7:13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let [some] take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they [are] as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, [I say], they [are] even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.
Ver. 13. Five of the horses. ] These five were either all or the most that remained alive, and haply uneaten.
Behold, they are all, ] q.d., We need not scruple the doing of it; for, alas! all, both horses and men, are in a perishing condition.
2Ki 7:14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
Ver. 14. Two chariot horses. ] With their riders.
2Ki 7:15 And they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way [was] full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king.
Ver. 15. Full of garments and vessels. ] Impedimenta domestica vel bellica, whatsoever might encumber or dog them in their flight. Oh that in the race of religion we could cast away every weight! Heb 12:1
2Ki 7:16 And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was [sold] for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.
Ver. 16. So a measure. ] See on 2 Kings 7:1 .
2Ki 7:17 And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.
Ver. 17. And the king appointed. ] Not without a divine overruling providence, for a just punishment of this profane prince’s unbelief.
And the people trode upon him in the gate. ] Whether he had been an oppressor of the people, and was therefore justly trodden to death by them, is uncertain: but that he had shamefully trodden underfoot the honour of God’s power, is upon record, 2Ki 7:2 wherefore he was worthily trampled on by the hungry people, who would not be kept in by his authority. The belly hath no ears, we say; and hunger breaketh through stone walls. Such a like death Constantinus Paleologus, the last Greek emperor, suffered in the gate of Constantinople, when the Turkish army pressed into that city and took it, A.D. 1453.
2Ki 7:18 And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria:
Ver. 18. Two measures of barley. ] See on 2 Kings 7:1 , and observe the infallibility of God’s both promises and menaces.
2Ki 7:19 And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, [if] the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
Ver. 19. See on 2 Kings 7:2 .
Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes. ] The like misery shall befall reprobates at the last day; Luk 13:28 they shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and themselves thrust out.
2Ki 7:20 And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.
Ver. 20. For the people trode upon him. ] See 2 Kings 7:17 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 7". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany