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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 7

 

 

Verses 1-20

2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20. The Siege of Samaria.—The date and source of this episode need discussion. The name of the king of Syria, as in 1 Kings 20, was Ben-hadad; the king of Israel is not named at all. Two Benhadads are possible, the king in 1 Kings 20 who was defeated by Ahab, and the son and successor of Hazael (2 Kings 13:24). If the first is meant, then Jehoram was king of Israel; if not, Jehoash, the grandson of Jehu. Elisha was called in the days of Ahab, and lived under Ahab and his two sons Ahaziah and Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash, dying under the last-named king. It is true that Elisha called the king "this son of a murderer," which may be applicable to a son of Ahab; but "son of" may be used as the common periphrasis, and the phrase simply mean "murderer." On the other hand, the scene seems better suited to the later stages of the Syrian war, and the king, despite his threat to kill Elisha, when distraught with misery at the tale of the two women, does not seem to have been on bad terms with the prophet. The event may therefore be placed late in Elisha's life (p. 69). The source is also uncertain. Elisha plays a conspicuous part, and therefore it may well belong to his biography. On the other hand, it bears some affinity to 1 Kings 20, 22, and may be from the same source—viz. a history or chronicle of the northern kingdom. The famine may have been in part caused by the scarcity mentioned in 2 Kings 8:1.

The famine was so severe that an ass's head was sold for eighty pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a kab (i.e. less than a pint) of dove's dung for five (2 Kings 6:25). A yet more terrible example was shown in the case of the two women (2 Kings 6:28 f.). The head of an ass, which would not be eaten in ordinary circumstances (Judges 6:4*), fetched an immense sum. What "dove's dung" means it is impossible to say; it may be some common vegetable. Josephus (Wars, vi. 3) relates that in the last siege of Jerusalem a woman devoured her own child. The king stood (not passed by) on the wall, and when he rent his clothes in horror, the people saw that he was secretly wearing, as Thomas Becket did, a garb of penitence (2 Kings 6:30). He attributed all the calamity to Elisha (2 Kings 6:31), probably for not having delivered him as on previous occasions (see 2 Kings 6:9). The words in Heb. for "messenger" and "king" are very similar, and perhaps it is not necessary to suppose that anyone came but the king, 2 Kings 6:32 having been amplified. Instead of fulfilling his oath to kill Elisha, the king gave way to despair (2 Kings 6:33). Elisha, however, foretold that provisions would soon be cheap, and four lepers at the city gate went into the Syrian camp, and found that the enemy had fled in a panic, believing that the king of Israel had hired Hittites and Egyptians to attack them (2 Kings 7:6). It seems unlikely that the Egyptians would at this time have combined with the Northern Hittites, whose home was in Asia Minor, and it is suggested that not Egyptians (Mizrim) but Muzrites should be read (see 1 Kings 10:28). The Muzrites (from Cappadocia, see Cent.B) were among the allies of Israel and Syria against Assyria in 854 B.C.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 7:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-kings-7.html. 1919.

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Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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