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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
2 Kings 7

 

 

Verse 1

2 Kings 7:1. Then — When things were at the worst; when all help and relief were despaired of, and the king was impatient of waiting any longer; said Elisha — To the king, who was now come to him, (2 Kings 7:18,) and to his courtiers, who were come with him, 2 Kings 7:2. Hear ye the word of the Lord Hear what he saith; hear it, and believe it. Thus saith the Lord — He whom you have so highly offended, and at present despise and refuse to wait upon, or wait for, any longer; He, I say, of his own mere grace and bounty, hath sent you glad tidings of your deliverance. To-morrow shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel — The Hebrew סאה, seah, which is rendered a measure here, implies a quantity equal to six cabs, or a peck, or, according to some, a peck and two quarts, of our measure. The shekel was about three shillings; and though to have a peck of fine flour for three shillings at other times would not have been extraordinary, yet in the present situation of affairs it was wonderful. Thus, as has often been observed, man’s extremity is God’s opportunity of magnifying his power; and his time of appearing for his people is when their strength is gone, Deuteronomy 32:36.


Verse 2

2 Kings 7:2. A lord on whose hand the king leaned — When he walked; said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven — Through which he should rain down corn, as once he did manna; might this thing be? — He could not conceive, considering the prodigious famine that then reigned in Samaria, and their being surrounded by a powerful army, that it was possible there should be such a change wrought by any means in a few hours, as that there should be such plenty to-morrow, where there was such want and distress to-day. He judged, as we too generally do, according to the visible appearance of natural and instrumental causes, and did not consider that with God all things are possible. Thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof — A just punishment for his unbelief, by which he made not only the prophet, but God himself, (in whose name Elisha had long given full proof that he spoke and acted,) a liar. Here we see, as we have often seen elsewhere, that unbelief of God’s declarations and promises is a sin whereby men both greatly displease him, and deprive themselves of the favours he designed for them. The murmuring Israelites saw Canaan, but could not enter in because of unbelief. “Such,” says Bishop Patrick, “will be the portion of those who believe not the promise of eternal life; they shall see it at a distance, but never taste it.” Take care, reader, that this be not thy case! that a promise being left thee of entering into his rest, thou do not fall short of it.


Verses 3-5

2 Kings 7:3-5. There were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate — Namely, of the city, out of which they were shut by virtue of God’s law. They had either had their dwelling-place near the gate, or had come near it for fear of the Syrian army. They said one to another, Why sit we here till we die? — None passed through the gate to relieve them, and they were ready to perish with hunger. Should they go into the city, there was nothing to be had there, they must die in the streets; should they sit still, they must pine to death in their cottage: they therefore determine to go over to the enemy, and throw themselves upon their mercy; for death seemed unavoidable every other way. They rose up, therefore, in the twilight — In the evening twilight, as appears from 2 Kings 7:9; 2 Kings 7:12. To go to the camp of the Syrians — Which, to their great surprise and joy, they found wholly deserted, not a man being to be seen or heard in it.


Verse 6

2 Kings 7:6. The Lord had made the host of the Syrians hear a noise of chariots, &c. — The air, by the ministry of angels, doubtless, was put into such a motion about the camp of the Syrians, as to give sounds like to those it would have given if it had been agitated by the rattling of chariots, the prancing of horses, and all the other motions and actions of a numerous army and their attendants: so that the Syrians could not well draw any other conclusion than that an exceeding large army was marching against them and was just at hand, as they heard exactly the same noise as if it had been actually so. Some have supposed that it was not the air which was influenced, or acted upon, in this miracle, but the ears of the Syrians: if so, the work was the more wonderful, for in that case there must have been as many distinct miracles wrought as there were individuals that heard the noise. In either way their hearing was imposed upon, just as the sight of those that besieged Dothan had been imposed on: for God knows how to work upon any and every sense, pursuant to his own counsels. They said, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites — Under which name, as elsewhere under the name of Amorites, seem to be comprehended all, or any of the people of Canaan. For though the greatest number of that people were destroyed, yet very many of them were spared, and many of them, upon Joshua’s coming, fled away, some to remote parts, others to the lands bordering upon Canaan, where they seated themselves, and grew numerous and powerful. Kings of the Egyptians — Either the king of Egypt, the plural number being put for the singular, or the princes and governors of the several provinces in Egypt.


Verse 7

2 Kings 7:7. Wherefore they arose and fled — And that with incredible precipitation, as for their lives, leaving their camp as it was, and even their horses, which, if they had taken them, might have expedited their flight. None of them had so much sense as to send scouts to discover the supposed enemy, much less courage enough to face them. God can, when he pleases, dispirit the boldest, and make the stoutest hearts to tremble. They that will not fear God, he can make them fear at the shaking of a leaf. Perhaps Gehazi was one of these lepers, which might occasion his being taken notice of by the king, chap. 2 Kings 8:4.


Verses 9-11

2 Kings 7:9-11. They said — We do not well — Not well for our brethren, whom we should pity and help; nor well for ourselves, for we may suffer for this neglect; either from the Syrians, who may be lurking hereabouts, or from our king and people, or from God’s immediate hand. Thus their own consciences spoke to them, and they hearkened to the dictates thereof, and acquainted the sentinel with what they had discovered, who straightway carried the intelligence to the court, which was not the less acceptable for being first brought by lepers; and these poor afflicted men increased their own joy by thus communicating it. Selfish, narrow-spirited people cannot expect to be happy or prosperous: the most comfortable prosperity is that in which our brethren share with us.


Verse 12

2 Kings 7:12. The king said, I will show you what the Syrians have done — He was jealous of a stratagem, and feared the Syrians had only retreated to be in ambush, and draw out the besieged, that they might fall upon them to more advantage. He knew he had no reason to expect that God should appear thus wonderfully for him, having forfeited his favour by his unbelief and impatience. And he knew no reason the Syrians had to flee; for it does not appear that either he, or any of his attendants, or, indeed, any in Samaria, had heard the noise of the chariots, &c., which had affrighted the Syrians.


Verse 13

2 Kings 7:13. Let some, I pray thee, take five of the horses, &c. — The sense seems to be, We may well venture these five horses, though we have no more, because both they and we are ready to perish with hunger: let us, therefore, use them while we may, for our common good, or to make the discovery. Behold, they are as the multitude of Israel — The words may be rendered, Behold, they are of a truth (the Hebrew prefix, Caph, being not here a note of similitude, but an affirmation of the truth and certainty of the things, as it is taken Numbers 11:1; Deuteronomy 9:10) all the multitude of the horses of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even all the multitude of the horses of the Israelites, which (which multitude) are consumed, reduced to this small number, all consumed except these five. And this was indeed worthy of a double behold, to show what mischief the famine had done both upon men and beasts, and to what a low ebb the king of Israel was come, that all his troops of horses, to which he had trusted, were shrunk to so small a number.


Verses 14-16

2 Kings 7:14-16. They took therefore two chariot horses — It is probable the king would venture no more than two horsemen, whom he thought sufficient: and these took two of his own horses to make the discovery. They went after them unto Jordan — Finding the camp empty, as the lepers had related, they followed them as far as this river. All the way was full of garments, &c., cast away in their haste — Hebrew, בחפזם, bechaphezam, in their fear, trepidation, or consternation, wherewith God had struck them. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, &c. —

They found such store of provisions in the tents of the Syrians, that it made this sudden change in the price of corn, according to Elisha’s prediction.


Verses 17-20

2 Kings 7:17-20. The king appointed the lord to have the charge of the gate To prevent tumults and disorders among the people, and to take care to have the gates shut, if need were, and if the Syrians should happen to return upon them. And that lord answered, &c. — This part of the history is repeated, because it attests a remarkable fulfilment of a divine prediction. The people trode upon him in the gate, and he died — Before he could enjoy, in any measure, the benefit of that plenty which God had bestowed upon them. This fact is an awful proof how heinously God resents men’s distrust of him, and of his power, providence, and promise. When Israel said, Can God furnish a table? the Lord heard and was wroth. Infinite wisdom will not be limited by our folly. God never promises the end, but he knows where to provide the means. Here also we learn how certain God’s threatenings are, and how sure to fall on the heads of the guilty. Let all men fear before the great God, who treads upon princes as mortar, and is terrible to the kings of the earth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 7:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-7.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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