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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 7

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Kings Chapter 7

2 Kings 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."

We will see, in this chapter, the deliverance of Samaria out of the hands of Syria. This measure of fine flour would be about a peck and a half of flour. A shekel was 10 penny weights of whatever metal this is speaking of. This would be a drastic change from the inflated price of food, we saw in the last lesson. This would be the price of flour in times of plenty.

2 Kings 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."

This lord, upon whom the king leaned, was a very close servant. His doubt in what Elisha had said would cause him not to eat of the food. Remember, this is not spoken to the king. The servant was denouncing Elisha and God. It was almost as if he was denying that Manna fell from heaven before.

2 Kings 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?"

2 Kings 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."

The 4 lepers were sitting around waiting to die. They happened to be, just outside the city gate. They knew, if they entered the city, there was nothing but famine there. If they went to the camp of the Syrians, the worst thing that would happen to them would be that they killed them. They were dying anyway, what difference did it make when?

2 Kings 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."

They went in the twilight, so no one would see them. To their amazement, when they got into the camp, there was no one there. They had all left during the night.

2 Kings 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."

They had heard the chariots alright, but it had been the army of heaven they had heard. They were so frightened, when they heard the noise of the many chariots, that they fled for safety. They assumed this was the army of Egypt and the army of the Hittites coming against them.

2 Kings 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."

It appears, they fled so fast, that they took nothing with them that might slow them down. They left in the middle of the night. They must have run away on foot, because they left their horses and asses.

2 Kings 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]."

They had been starving with the people of the city of Samaria. The first thing they did, was eat and drink, until they could hold no more. They took some of the wealth {all they could carry} two different times out of the camp, and hid it for later.

2 Kings 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."

Probably, not their honesty, but their fear of being killed caused them to go, and tell the city of the good fortune. Of course, they would report it to the king and his house first.

2 Kings 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]."

It is strange, that they would have left their horses behind, because they could have travelled faster on their horses. Sometimes, people do strange things, when they are terribly frightened. The lepers report all of this to the porter, for him to tell the king. The king had no idea, neither did these lepers, why the Syrians had fled.

2 Kings 7:11 "And he called the porters; and they told [it] to the king’s house within."

2 Kings 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."

When the porter tells the king, he does not believe that they had fled. He believed they had set a trap to catch them, when they came out to the camp. Undoubtedly, it had slipped his mind, what Elisha had told him.

2 Kings 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."

2 Kings 7:14 "They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see."

There were very few horses left in the city. These were kept for emergencies. They were so hungry, there was very little to lose by going to see, if it was true they had fled and left their goods for the taking. The king sent a chariot and men to check this out.

2 Kings 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."

They left so fast, they left articles all along the way. Anything they thought might slow them down in their getaway, they left on the side of the road. It was obvious that something had frightened them so badly, they had fled home as fast as they could go.

2 Kings 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."

The prophet had spoken the truth. You can easily see why the whole town emptied, and ran for what food they could find. They would be like the lepers. They would eat first, and spoil the other things in the camp after.

2 Kings 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."

The lord, in the verse above, is speaking of the arrogant servant of the king, who laughed at Elisha and at God for saying, God would open the windows of heaven and send food to them. He was left to watch the gate, and the stampeding people ran over him, and killed him. He truly would not eat of the food.

2 Kings 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:"

2 Kings 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."

This repeats what Elisha had said to the king and his arrogant servant. This was a reminder to them, and to us, that Elisha truly was a man of God. His words were spoken as an oracle of God. They were God’s Words in the mouth of Elisha.

2 Kings 7:20 "And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died."

It is a dangerous thing to speak against God’s anointed. This servant found that out, by paying with his life. He saw this with his eyes and had time to regret it. He died, before he ate of the food.

2 Kings 7 Questions

1. What word of encouragement does Elisha speak to the king of Israel?

2. How much was a measure of fine flour?

3. What does a shekel weigh?

4. Who doubted what Elisha said?

5. What did Elisha say to him?

6. How many leprous men were at the gate of the city?

7. Why did they decide to sneak into the Syrian camp?

8. What did they find?

9. Why had the Syrians left?

10. What had they left behind?

11. What chariots had they really heard?

12. What did the lepers do at first, when they found the Syrians gone?

13. What caused these lepers to go to the city, and tell that the Syrians were gone?

14. Who did they tell?

15. What did the king think, when he heard they were gone?

16. What did one of the servants of the king suggest they do, to find out if they were gone?

17. Who went to check it out?

18. What was strewn along the way?

19. Who went out to the camp to spoil the camp?

20. Where did the servant, that the king had leaned upon, stay?

21. What happened to him?

Verses 1-2

2Ki 7:1-2

Introduction

GOD’S MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE OF BESIEGED SAMARIA

God continued to love all Israel in spite of their shameful division into two kingdoms and the apostasy in both of them. At first, the apostasy was worse in Northern Israel, but it would eventually destroy both nations (Israel and Judah). And yet God loved them both, showing no partiality whatever to either one. For example, there were two great deliverances of the national capitals, both Samaria and Jerusalem being rescued from threatened destruction by the most astounding miracles. Jerusalem would in time be delivered from the threat of Sennacherib; and in this chapter, Samaria was delivered from Benhadad by an equally astounding wonder.

2 Kings 7:1-2

ELISHA’S PROPHECY OF IMMEDIATE VICTORY FOR SAMARIA

"And Elisha said, Hear ye the word of Jehovah, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if Jehovah should make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shall not eat thereof."

If there was ever a prophecy that appeared to be absolutely IMPOSSIBLE of fulfillment, this was it! What the captain meant by his remark to Elisha was: "Your God Jehovah could not make that happen if he opened windows in heaven and rained down food on our city." The unbelief of the king of Israel and his evil court are evident in the conversation here. It is a marvel that the king did not proceed with his intention of executing Elisha, but God restrained him. Elisha promptly added another prophecy that likewise appeared to be IMPOSSIBLE of fulfillment, namely, that the captain would see the fulfillment of the promise of plenty of food within twenty-four hours, but that he would not eat any of it!

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 7:1. In the preceding chapter, the king of Israel realized the Lord had brought about the condition of distress then upon the capital city, or at least that he had suffered it to be so. He concluded also that it would be of no avail to ask God for help. In the present paragraph he will be promised a change. The prices named for necessities of life are so small that only by great plenty could such a thing be.

2 Kings 7:2. The king made no comment on Elisha’s prediction, that is recorded, but the personal attendant doubted it. He is called a lord, and Strong defines it as a general of the third rank. In response to the expression of doubt, Elisha made another prediction: that the great plenty would come and the lord would see it; but he would not get to eat of it. The fulfillment of this strange prediction will come soon.

Verses 3-5

2Ki 7:3-5

2 Kings 7:3-5

THE DESPERATE DECISION OF THE FOUR LEPERS

"Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? 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 shall 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. And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians; and when they were come to the outermost part of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no man there."

Never could desperate men have been more favorably surprised than were these four lepers. Expecting, at best, to be imprisoned, but far more likely to be brutally slain, they were astounded to find the camp of the Syrians DESERTED.

Their first concern, of course, was to find some authority to whom they could submit themselves, and that led to their exploration of the entire camp of the Syrians.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 7:3-4. The apparently abrupt change of subjects is necessary to lead up to the great plenty just predicted by Elisha. Leviticus 13:46 shows the isolated kind of life imposed by the law on lepers. They were not prohibited entirely from going abroad, but they must observe certain restrictions for the protection of others. Within these regulations they could leave their individual dwellings and go abroad and about the country. In a state of help- lesaness, these lepers had sat down on the outside of the city near the gateway. Under the general situation confronting them, they concluded that nothing could come to them any worse than by remaining there until death. If they entered the city, they would perish from the famine. The proposal of falling in with the Syrians had the advantage of its being no risk of anything worse than would come to them by any other procedure.

2 Kings 7:5. Having decided to take their chance with the Syrians, the lepers rose up in the evening and started toward their camp. When they reached the outskirts of the camp they found it deserted.

Verses 6-8

2Ki 7:6-8

2 Kings 7:6-8

THE LORD HAD LIFTED THE SIEGE OF SAMARIA AND HAD ENRICHED IT WITH IMMENSE FOOD SUPPLIES

"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. 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. 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 they came back, and entered another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it."

"The outermost part of the camp ... the uttermost part" (2 Kings 7:5; 2 Kings 7:8). Hungry as the lepers doubtless were, they were afraid to enter any of the tents, until, after exploring the whole site of the encampment, they realized that it was totally deserted.

It is foolish to attempt any rational explanation of such wonders as these. No mortal "wise man" should attempt it. He would be a fool to do so. How did God do it? We don’t know. For that matter, there are inexplicable wonders in the natural creation that are just as mysterious. For example, the lemmings of New England make a mad dash for Long Island Sound every seven years, drowning the vast majority of them in the sea. The few survivors, within another seven years, restore the astounding numbers of those tiny animals, which then repeat that mad dash to the sea, and that has been going on for thousands of years! When someone is able to explain how God does that, we might listen to his explanation of what happened here.

And that is only one mystery. That of the 17-year cicadas of Northeastern U.S.A. is just as inexplicable.

The conduct of the lepers following their discovery and of their relieving their hunger is understandable. God had suddenly enriched them, rescuing them from their dependence upon the doubtful charities of a starving city. Their humanitarian concern for others soon asserted itself, and they decided to spread the good news in Samaria.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 7:6. The idea that the Lord would mislead the Syrians is to be understood in the light of military procedure. For more comments on this point see 1 Kings 22:20. The Syrians did not feel able to cope with all these other forces which they were sure had been hired against them.

2 Kings 7:7. The flight of the panic stricken people was timed to coincide with the approach of the lepers. Consequently, when they came to it they found everything belonging to a well equipped camp intact.

2 Kings 7:8. They went from tent to tent, eating and drinking. They also carried much of the valuable property and assets to some place of hiding.

Verses 9-12

2Ki 7:9-12

2 Kings 7:9-12

THE LEPERS BROKE THE GOOD NEWS TO THE UNBELIEVING KING

"Then they said one to another, We do not do well; this is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, punishment will overtake us; now therefore come, let us go and tell the king’s household. 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 the horses tied, and the asses tied, and the tents as they were. And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s household within. And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore have they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive, and get into the city."

God had fulfilled the prophecy of Elisha, but Israel’s unbelieving king, instead of praising God for such a marvelous deliverance, went out of his way to deny that the wonder had even happened.

"I will now show you" (2 Kings 7:12) was the king’s proud, unbelieving boast, but God showed him instead.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 7:9. The lepers suddenly realized they were being selfish in not reporting their "find" to others so that they could share in the good things. Moreover, should they continue in their selfishness till morning, they might justly come to some punishment. It was then decided to let the king’s family know about the conditions.

2 Kings 7:10-11. A leper would not venture any farther than to a porter, which was the janitor or gate keeper. They gave the news to this person, describing the conditions as they found them. The one who was on duty at the time passed the word to other porters and they told it to the king’s family.

2 Kings 7:12. The king did not doubt the scheme of the Syrians. He took it to be a trick to get the Israelites drawn out of their entrenchments. The hunger that famine would naturally bring, might impel them to rush into the trap set for them. All this was the scheme of the Syrians as the king of Israel feared.

Verses 13-15

2Ki 7:13-15

2 Kings 7:13-15

THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED THE REALITY OF THE DELIVERANCE

"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 left the multitude of Israel that are left in it, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are consumed); and let us send and see. They took therefore two chariots with horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see. And they went after them unto the 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."

The king’s investigating party went all the way to the Jordan River and returned, a distance of some forty miles (round trip), which means that the confirmation of the tremendous miracle probably took place in Samaria early in the morning. One can only imagine the panic of all the people and the stampede of the whole city to plunder the rich remains of the Syrian encampment!

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 7:13. A servant had a plan for testing the purpose of the Syrians. They are as all the multitude. This means that this small number could learn the ,true state of affairs just as well as the whole number in the city could if they went. If these five horsemen were sent out on this "suicide" sort of mission and were slain, they would not be any worse off than the ones who remained in the city. On the other hand, if they survived, their discovery would result in the preservation of the other citizens.

2 Kings 7:14. The suggestion pleased the king and he adopted the plan in principle. He selected just two, however, for they would answer the purpose as well as five. He commanded them to go and discover the real situation.

2 Kings 7:15. The camp of the Syrians was near the city of Samaria, since they had been conducting a siege of that place. But they had fled their camp, and the two horsemen would need to track them some distance to get the information desired by the king. They kept up the pursuit as far as Jordan. That was not the direction they naturally would have taken, for the country of the Syrians was north of Samaria. But they were panic stricken and doubtless had taken the direction that first appeared to them. And the two men in pursuit were guided in their chase by the articles that the enemy had strewn along the way In their hasty flight.

Verses 16-20

2Ki 7:16-20

2 Kings 7:16-20

THE KING’S FOOLISH ATTEMPT TO TAKE CHARGE

"And the people went out and plundered the camp 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 Jehovah. And the king appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him. 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 tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria; and that captain answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if Jehovah 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: it came to pass even so unto him; for the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died."

The unbelieving king vainly attempted to control the crowd and even appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to be in charge of the gate of the city! Vanity of vanities! That royal officer might just as well have tried to stop a stampeding herd of wild buffaloes by getting in front of it! The multitudes rushing to alleviate their desperate hunger simply trampled him to death, fulfilling Elisha’s second "impossible prophecy."

Samaria had indeed been brought to the brink of destruction. The people had resorted to eating unclean animals, even asses, and all of the horses in the city except five! It surely seemed as if the city had no option except to surrender to their enemies. And at the very moment when it seemed that all was lost, God delivered them!

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 7:16. To spoil the tents means to take the goods found in the tents, especially the articles of food. The great plenty of the provisions caused the low price at which they could be bought. In selling them at these low prices, one prediction of Elisha was fulfilled. The one pertaining to the doubting lord will be described next.

2 Kings 7:17-20. After a period of distress from hunger, people are apt to be disorderly and need to be put under restraint. The sudden discovery of so much food threatened a state of disorder and a rush to obtain the much wanted articles. Samaria was a walled city, and the passing in and out would have to be through the gate. For the purpose of order, the king made an appointment for the very lord who had been his personal attendant, that he should have charge of the gate. The people were mad with hunger and paid no attention to the gate keeper. In their stampede to get access to the food, they bore down upon the lord and trampled him to death. By this tragedy the prediction made by Elisha (V. 2) was fulfilled. The lord saw the great plenty of food but did not get to eat of it.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Kings 7". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-kings-7.html.
 
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