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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 6

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Kings Chapter 6

2 Kings 6:1 "And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us."

It appears, that there had been many young men, who had come to the school of the prophets. They had run out of space for housing these young men. This school was at Jericho, and it would have been difficult to expand here.

2 Kings 6:2 "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."

Elisha is suggesting, that they move near the Jordan River, several miles away. If they all work together, they can build the facilities they need. The timber in this particular area would belong to anyone who wanted to cut it. This land had not been designated to any particular family. Elisha sends them out to begin the work.

2 Kings 6:3 "And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go."

It appears, one of the young men did not want to be sent by Elisha. He wanted Elisha to go with them, so the blessings of God would be on their project.

2 Kings 6:4 "So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood."

It seems, trees were plentiful here to build their school. All of the young men cut the wood for the school.

2 Kings 6:5 "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."

They were cutting down trees, and trimming them into beams in the crudest fashion. They were using axes for this purpose. While he was working with the axe, one blow knocked the head of the axe off, and it fell into the water. The young man started crying out for help, because he had borrowed the axe.

2 Kings 6:6 "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."

Even though this is a minor miracle, in the sense that the axe was not an expensive loss, it is a major miracle to get iron to float. Elisha is the man of God spoken of here.

2 Kings 6:7 "Therefore said he, Take [it] up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it."

So many times, we do not realize the necessity for miracles. We must remember, that the men observing this miracle were all in training to be prophets. This would build up their faith. You must have an impossibility in the natural, before you can have a miracle.

2 Kings 6:8 "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."

We do not know exactly how long after Naaman had been healed of leprosy, that the Syrians came to war against Israel. The miracle performed by Elisha seems to be long forgotten.

2 Kings 6:9 "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."

It seems, that Elisha warned the king of Israel of the attack by the Syrians. The king at the time was, probably, Jehoram.

2 Kings 6:10 "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."

We see that the king of Israel, on checking out the situation told to him by the prophet, found it to be true two different times. The king, himself, did not go to that area, but sent scouts to check it out.

2 Kings 6:11 "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?"

It appears, that the king of Syria thought some of his own men had been traitors to him. He did not know how the king of Israel found out about the sneak attack. He wants the men to admit it, if they were on the side of Israel, rather than on the side of Syria.

2 Kings 6:12 "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."

We are not told who this servant is. It could very well have been Naaman. He would know first hand of the miracle abilities of Elisha. It was a relief, that none of his own people had played the traitor.

2 Kings 6:13 "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."

Dothan was about twelve miles north of Samaria. The spies had found Elisha there, and brought back the information to their king. The king intends to send men, and bring Elisha back to him.

2 Kings 6:14 "Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about."

This great host of the army with chariots and horses encircled the city, so Elisha would not be able to escape. They came by night, so as to not be detected, until they were completely around the city.

2 Kings 6:15 "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?"

This servant was alarmed at the number of soldiers around the city. He had no idea, they were here just to take Elisha back to their king. He felt fear in his heart, that they were about to attack the city and kill them all, or take them for slave labor. He is very alarmed, and runs to Elisha to find out how they can protect themselves.

2 Kings 6:16 "And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us [are] more than they that [be] with them."

This servant could not believe the answer that Elisha gave. Notice, "fear not". The following Scripture is what Elisha is saying. Psalms 3:6 "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set [themselves] against me round about."

2 Kings 6:17 "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."

The young man had been looking with physical eyes. The eyes of his understanding were opened, and he saw the heavenly warriors around Elisha. Psalms 68:17 "The chariots of God [are] twenty thousand, [even] thousands of angels: the Lord [is] among them, [as in] Sinai, in the holy [place]." Of course, there are many more than even the ones mentioned in Psalms above. The army protecting Elisha was from heaven.

2 Kings 6:18 "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."

It is amazing, the power that the LORD had given Elisha. This blindness was speaking of them being confused, and not being able to take Elisha. It was not total blindness, but partial, since they would be able to see enough to follow Elisha. We do know, they were not thinking clearly, to let the one they had come for lead them away.

2 Kings 6:19 "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."

They blindly followed Elisha away from Dothan. Samaria would have been the last place they would have gone, if they had been aware of what they were doing.

2 Kings 6:20 "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."

Elisha had led them inside the walls of the enemy, even into the capital of Samaria. After he had led them into the city, he asked the LORD to open their eyes, and let them see where they were. Before, they had eyes to see, and they did not see; now they have eyes to see, and they do see.

2 Kings 6:21 "And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite [them]? shall I smite [them]?"

Elisha is not the father of the king. This is a name showing respect. Now, that this great army of Syria is in the hands of the king of Israel, what does he do with them? He is an evil king, and his first thought is to kill them. Since Elisha brought them to him, he asks him what to do to them.

2 Kings 6:22 "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."

You do not take helpless prisoners, and kill them. Elisha tells him they will not be killed, but fed. Elisha is showing the king of Israel a way to be at peace with Syria. If he shows kindness to these helpless soldiers now, perhaps, the Syrian king will stop sending troops to Israel. I

1 Kings 6:23 "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."

Jehoram did exactly as Isaiah had told him. He was kind to them, and fed them, and gave them drink. They went back to Syria humbled by this whole affair. The raids, that had been regularly sent against Israel, stopped at this time. We are not told for what period of time, but at least as long as this incident was fresh on their minds.

2 Kings 6:24 "And it came to pass after this, that Ben-hadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria."

This happens much later, than the incident we just studied. Ben-hadad had forgotten. Here, he is back around Samaria, where his troops had been freed from before.

2 Kings 6:25 "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."

Samaria was a walled city, and the king and his men were inside the city. The siege had gone on so long, that there was no food left. We see the extent of the lack of food, when an ass’s head would sell for 80 pieces of silver.

2 Kings 6:26 "And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king."

2 Kings 6:27 "And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?"

The walls surrounding the cities were very wide. In this particular situation, the king is, possibly, checking on his troops and looking out across the land to see, if by chance, the enemy had gone. The woman is starving and calls to her king for food. She, probably, thought the king had food stashed away for his own use, and perhaps, he would give her some of his food.

2 Kings 6:28 "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."

The king becomes aware, that she wants him to judge a matter for her. Cannibalism is strictly forbidden. These women have agreed to do something opposed to the will of God. There are three times in Jewish history, when this very thing took place. At the siege of Samaria here, in Jerusalem at the siege of Nebuchadnezzar, and in Jerusalem at the siege of Titus.

2 Kings 6:29 "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."

This is the most unnatural thing a mother could do. The normal mother will protect her child to the end in every circumstance. The second mother, who hid her son, is more like a true mother.

2 Kings 6:30 "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."

The mourning of the king, over such conditions as this, caused the king to tear his clothes. Under his outer garment, it was revealed that he had been wearing sackcloth.

2 Kings 6:31 "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."

This is interesting, that the king is blaming Elisha for this. He is remembering the kindness they had shown the Syrians, and this is their repayment for letting them go at the request of Elisha.

2 Kings 6:32 "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?"

God had warned Elisha what was taking place. The king of Israel was very evil and was, indeed, a murderer. Elisha was in his home that was in the middle of Samaria. The elders had come to Elisha, possibly, for some answers to the terrible predicament the city was in. The king wanted Elisha, beheaded. Elisha told the elders to hold the door, so the king’s men cannot come in and kill him.

2 Kings 6:33 "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?"

Their deduction of why the war had left them in such bad shape was true. This certainly was from the LORD. The king was very evil, and the people were worshipping false gods. The king wanted to know, if they must wait even longer than they had already. He is saying, "How long can the LORD allow this to happen"? This chapter is chopped off abruptly here, but will continue in the next lesson.

2 Kings 6 Questions

1. What is the problem spoken of in 2 Kings 6:1?

2. Where was the school of the prophets at that time?

3. What was Elisha’s solution to the problem?

4. Why did one young man refuse to go?

5. What river would this new facility be near?

6. What happened, while they were cutting the trees?

7. Why was the young man concerned about so minor a thing, as an axe head?

8. What did Elisha do?

9. What strange thing did the iron part of the axe do?

10. How could this be thought of as a giant miracle?

11. How would this benefit these young prophets?

12. In the last lesson, Naaman was healed of leprosy, why, then, was Syria trying a sneak attack on Israel now?

13. Who did Elisha warn of the sneak attack?

14. The king of Syria accuse his men of what?

15. When he found it was Elisha, the prophet, who told of the invasion, what did he do?

16. Where was Elisha staying at this time?

17. Who did the king of Syria send to bring Elisha back?

18. Who discovered the city was completely surrounded by the army of Syria?

19. Why did Elisha tell him not to fear?

20. What calmed the fear of the servant of Elisha?

21. Quote Psalms 3:6.

22. How was the servant able to see the army of the LORD encamped around Elisha?

23. Quote Psalms 68:17.

24. What did Elisha ask the LORD to do to the Syrian army?

25. Where did Elisha lead the Syrians?

26. What happened to them, as soon as they were inside the city walls of Samaria?

27. What did the king of Israel want to do with them?

28. What did they do, instead?

29. Sometime after this happening, what did Ben-hadad do?

30. How bad was the famine in Samaria?

31. Where was the king, when the woman called out to him?

32. What terrible thing had she and another woman done?

33. When the king heard what she said, what did he say he would do to Elisha?

34. What does Elisha call the king?

35. What question does the king ask Elisha?

Verses 1-7

2Ki 6:1-7

2 Kings 6:1-7

MORE MIRACLES PERFORMED THROUGH ELISHA;

MAKING THE IRON TO FLOAT

"And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell before thee is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto the Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye. And one said, Be pleased, I pray thee, to go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the axe-head fell into the water; and he cried and said, Alas, my master! for it was borrowed. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither, and made the iron to swim. And he said, Take it up to thee. So he put out his hand and took it."

Dentan alleged that this event is "the most trivial of the stories told of Elisha." On the other hand, it is actually one of the most important miracles performed by that remarkable prophet. Why? It emphasizes God’s concern for the problems pressing upon the hearts of the poor. It was no trivial matter at all that confronted this young man!

He did not have the money to purchase an axe, so he borrowed one. And, if he had not been able to recover it, he would have been unable to replace it. After the brutal custom of the times, he could have been sold into slavery for such a trivial debt. Oh yes! Amos mentioned those who "sold the poor for a pair of shoes" (Amos 2:6). God’s honoring the willingness of Elisha to recover that axe-head demonstrates God’s care for the concerns of the poor. As Jesus said, "Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven" (Luke 6:20).

The mercy and tenderness of the love of God for his own shines in such a wonder as this. Christians today have the privilege of asking through their prayers for God’s help, no matter how "trivial" their requests may seem to others.

The whole situation of this paragraph was that of one of the schools of the prophets, most probably the one at Jericho, having outgrown their cramped quarters, and having no money to buy or build a larger place, they proposed to build them a shelter near the Jordan River, where there was plenty of timber available.

When the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts in 1620, they built such shelters as what the sons of the prophets decided to build for themselves.

Several important deductions from what is written here are justified: (1) Elisha’s work had been successful. More and more people were believing in the One God, and the sons of the prophets were increasing in number. (2) Their love for Elisha is evident in their desire that he should accompany them. (3) The sons of the prophets were entitled to be praised for their creative energy and industry.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 6:1. Too strait means too narrow or cramped for their needs.

2 Kings 6:2. A beam was the body of a tree, and the plan was for each man to cut down a tree, then use the log in building a dwelling.

2 Kings 6:3. Elisha had approved of the proposal of the prophets, and upon their request agreed to go with them to Jordan to get the timber.

2 Kings 6:4-5. These men were cutting down the trees growing on the bank of the Jordan. The ax slipped off the handle and disappeared in the water. It showed a good principle to be concerned over the loss of the article because it was borrowed. It indicated unselfishness and a regard for the interests of another.

2 Kings 6:6-7. This is another place to consider the comments at 2 Kings 2:8.

Verses 8-13

2Ki 6:8-13

2 Kings 6:8-13

ELISHA REVEALED THE MANEUVERS OF THE SYRIANS TO JORAM

"Now the king of Syria was warring against Israel; and he took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp. And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are coming down. And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of; and he saved himself there, not once nor twice. And 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 show me which of you is for the king of Israel? And one of his servants said, Nay, 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 he said, Go, and see where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan."

The war mentioned here was not an all-out operation, but a kind of guerilla attack carried out by bands of soldiers making sudden forays into Israel, striking first in one place and then in another. This is evident from 2 Kings 6:23.

"He saved himself there, not once, nor twice" (2 Kings 6:10). These words indicate that there were multiple occasions (a half dozen or more), upon which the band of Syrians had laid a careful ambush against Israel, only to have it completely frustrated by the Israelites’ prior knowledge of it. This became so obvious that the king of the Syrians believed that a traitor in his own staff was a secret spy for Israel. However, when he mentioned this possibility in a staff meeting, he was told that his real problem was the prophet Elisha. He then ordered them to find and capture the prophet.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 6:8. Syria was the country lying immediately north of Israel, and Damascus was the capital. There was war frequently between the two kingdoms. In such and such a place meant that the location of the camp was named to the servants of the king of Syria, so that they would be informed about it. At the same time the expression denotes the fact that Elisha could locate the camp through his inspiration, in spite of the indefinite language used by the Syrian king.

2 Kings 6:9. With the knowledge mentioned in the preceding paragraph, Elisha gave the warning to the king of Israel, definitely pointing out such a place to him, though the king of Syria intended such a place to be so indefinite an expression that no stranger could find it.

2 Kings 6:10. The king of Israel acted on the warning of Elisha. When he would be thinking of making a journey near the danger zone, he would first send out a reconnaissance force to learn of the conditions. By doing this he saved himself not once nor twice, which means he saved himself one or two times.

2 Kings 6:11. The king of Syria kept looking for the king of Israel, and wondered why he never came into sight. He finally concluded there was a traitor in his camp who was keeping the Israelites informed. In his distress he called upon his people to inform him of the guilty person. 2 Kings 6:12. Some servant of the Syrian king thought about Elisha and his superhuman knowledge. He was correct in his idea that no secret could be hid from Elisha.

2 Kings 6:13. If the knowledge of an inspired man cannot be outdone, it should be realized that he cannot be defeated by mere human strategy. But the king of Syria was so desperate that he overlooked all such reflections, and made plans to capture the man of God laying siege to the town where he was at the time.

Verses 14-19

2Ki 6:14-19

2 Kings 6:14-19

HOW THAT ORDER TO CAPTURE ELISHA TURNED OUT

"Therefore sent he thither horses and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city (Dothan) about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold a host with horses and chariots was round about the city. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master, how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not; for they that are with us are more than they that are with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Jehovah, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And Jehovah 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. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto Jehovah, and said, Smite this people with blindness. And he smote them with blindness, according to the word of Elisha. 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. And he led them to Samaria."

"A host with horses and chariots" (2 Kings 6:15). This is not a reference to a whole army but to a band of Syrians somewhat larger than usual. After all, Dothan was only a village.

"Open his eyes, that he may see" (2 Kings 6:17). This must be rated as one of the most inspiring texts in the O.T. Those whose hearts are attuned to realize and appreciate spiritual realities may find infinite encouragement and confidence in the omnipotence of God and his ultimate victory that will be achieved over all enemies of truth and righteousness. The threatened or discouraged should always remember that, "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).

"Smite this people with blindness" (2 Kings 6:18). Some scholars view this as actual physical blindness, but the fact of the band being able, later in the narrative, to return to their own nation makes it evident that they were merely DECEIVED. Such a usage of the word "blindness" is often found in Scripture. Jesus called the Pharisees the "blind leaders of the blind," but he was speaking of deception and the deceived, not of actual literal blindness.

Apparently, the leader of the raiding party happened to ask a man, who turned out to be Elisha himself, where the prophet was; and Elisha promptly responded: "You are on the wrong road; he doesn’t even live in this city (and of course, he didn’t live there). Follow me, and I will take you to where he really lives (which is exactly what he did)!

"And he led them to Samaria" (2 Kings 6:19). That was the place where Elisha lived, and thus Elisha had done exactly as he promised. He brought them to himself in Samaria, but the king of Israel and all his armies were there also!

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 6:15. In the morning the besieging forces were seen around the town. The servant of Elisha was frightened at the sight and made a distress call to him.

2 Kings 6:16. The forces with Elisha were not visible to the natural eye, but the prophet was aware of their presence and help.

2 Kings 6:17. For the benefit of the young man, Elisha prayed God to give him a vision of the forces on their side. God answered the prayer and he saw the mountain covered with the hosts of Heaven, in the form of flaming chariots and their horses.

2 Kings 6:18. They in this place means the Syrians besieging the city. Elisha prayed again and in answer God smote the enemy with blindness.

2 Kings 6:19. Elisha misled the people, but such action was according to military practice, and this was a military action according to the words captive and sword in 2 Kings 6:22. While Elisha misled his enemy, he did not mistreat him. Instead, he chastised the king of Israel for wanting to do so, and commanded him to treat them with kindness.

Verses 20-23

2Ki 6:20-23

2 Kings 6:20-23

THE BAND OF MARAUDERS HAD A BANQUET AND WERE SENT HOME

"And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Jehovah, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And Jehovah opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with they sword and with thy bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. And he prepared great provision for them; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel."

The last sentence here is a reference to the type of warfare by roving bands of marauders; and following the utter failure of such raids to give Syria any advantage over Israel, they abandoned for some considerable time altogether that type of warfare. The next time they attacked Israel it was upon a much larger scale.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 6:20-23. Much of this paragraph was commented on above. Had the king of Israel been allowed to carry out his suggestion against these captives, he would have become a "war criminal." The treatment accorded them had the desired effect, by putting a stop to the inroads of the Syrians for the present.

Verses 24-31

2Ki 6:24-31

2 Kings 6:24-31

BENHADAD AND HIS HOST BESIEGED SAMARIA

"And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up and besieged Samaria. 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 kab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. And he said, If Jehovah do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the threshing floor, or out of the winepress? 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 today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. 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. And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes (now he was passing by upon the wall); and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. Then he said, God do so to me, and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand upon him this day."

We pass over this awful paragraph with a minimum of comment. What a horrible thing, really is warfare, not merely in ancient days, but in our own as well. The famine in Samaria was entirely the result of the siege by the Syrians, their purpose being simple and brutal enough. They would starve the inhabitants into submission!

If Israel had remained united, Damascus would have been their dependent, but the sins of Solomon and his brutal slave-state had laid the ground for the division of the chosen people, whose conceited and ambitions kings walked in their own godless ways, bringing continued sorrows upon the people. "Causing Israel to sin" is the oft-repeated phrase in the record of their shameful reigns.

The horrors of this particular siege of Samaria had been prophesied by the great Lawgiver (Moses) himself.

"And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters ... in the siege and in the distress wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee ... if thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 28:53-58).

Thus, the terrible calamities that came upon God’s people were directly due to their sins and were the consequences of their rebellion against God. However, that in no way diminishes the sorrow and shame of such extremities as those mentioned here.

But, look at the reaction of the king of Israel! Fool that he was, he decided to kill God’s prophet instead of deciding to get rid of his paganism and return to the worship of God in Jerusalem. Of course, he would be no more successful in that intention than Benhadad had been.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 6:24. The war spirit is a restless one. Sometime after the events of the preceding paragraphs, the Syrians again came into the land of Israel. They laid siege to Samaria, the capital of that kingdom.

2 Kings 6:25. In all ages and in every country, a prolonged siege of a walled city results in a famine; and a famine results in the inflation of costa of necessities of life. Ordinarily, no one would care to eat the head of an ass. In this siege it was not only accepted as food, but was sold for the enormous sum of 80 pieces of silver, which Moffatt says is ten pounds. A cab was about a pint, and one fourth of a cab of dove’s dung was sold for five pieces of silver, or about three dollars. The dung was used for fuel in that country, and as all kinds of fuel would be difficult to find in a siege, this article was obtainable from the fact of the birds’ being winged creatures, and not affected by a siege.

2 Kings 6:26. The king of Israel was on the wall of the city, looking out to view the position of the enemy. This brought him into sight of one of his distressed subjects, who cried to him for help.

2 Kings 6:27. Threshing was done by piling the whole straw on a barn floor, then beating out the grain by driving oxen round and round over it. When that was done, the loose chaff and grain was tossed up into the air with a winnowing shovel (called a fan in Matthew 3:12), where the wind would blow the chaff away, letting the grain drop back on the floor. In times of famine there would be no grain to thresh. The winepress also would be empty as there would be no grapes to press. The first of this verse means that if a miracle is not performed to help them, it would be in vain to look to a man for relief from natural sources.

2 Kings 6:28-29. There was some indication that a special situation prompted the woman to call on the king to intervene. Upon his inquiry she related her terrible story. Hunger had driven two mothers to the extreme plan of devouring their own flesh and blood. This very thing was predicted in Deuteronomy 28:53. After eating the flesh of one child the pangs of hunger were relieved and the mother was restored to a saner mind, and it was natural for her to back down from the agreement that hunger had impelled her to make. The other mother was thus expecting the king to take a hand in the case.

2 Kings 6:30. The king did nothing about the affair of these women, but the case made a profound impression on him. He rent his clothes and covered his nakedness with a coarse material, commonly used for making sacks. In this condition he walked by the people as he was still on the wall of the city.

2 Kings 6:31. God do so is a Biblical expression found frequently. It means that if the speaker does not carry out the thing he is threatening against someone, then may God do that thing to him, the speaker. In the case at hand, the king threatened to have Elisha beheaded. The prophet had performed miracles when it was God’s will. The king of Israel was so rash as to think a miracle could be performed at will at the request of a wicked ruler. In his distress he threatened vengeance against Elisha.

Verses 32-33

2Ki 6:32-33

2 Kings 6:32-33

THE ORDER WENT FORTH TO KILL ELISHA

"But Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting 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 my head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold the door fast against him; is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him? And while he was yet talking with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of Jehovah; why should I wait for Jehovah any longer?"

As Montgomery noted, we must read "The king of Israel as the speaker in that last sentence." We get the clue to this in the previous verse, where Elisha revealed that the king himself would appear shortly after the arrival of the messenger. The king, of course, was ready to execute Elisha, but Elisha’s bold word, "THUS SAITH JEHOVAH," frustrated the king’s evil intention. This narrative will be concluded in 2 Kings 7.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 6:32. Elisha was a national prophet of God, and was informed by inspiration of the king’s plot. He prepared himself against attack by having the elders, men of outstanding rank, to bar the door against the entrance of the execution party.

2 Kings 6:33. While Elisha was talking with the elders, the messenger of the king of Israel came, the king immediately following. When they got to the door of Elisha’s house they found it locked against them. By this time the king concluded that the whole difficulty of the siege and famine was from the Lord, and that it would be vain to oppose it farther. What should I wait, etc., means he was despairing of receiving any help from the Lord. However, Elisha assured him that the situation would soon be eased. This assurance is shown in the next chapter.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Kings 6". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-kings-6.html.
 
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