Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 13:19

So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Arrow;   Doubting;   Elisha;   Jehoash;   Prophecy;   Reproof;   Symbols and Similitudes;   Thompson Chain Reference - Earnestness-Indifference;   Elisha;   Half-Heartedness;   Lost;   Opportunity;   Service;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Kings;   Syria;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Elisha;   Jehoahaz;   Joash or Jehoash;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Jehoash;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Kings, First and Second, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Zeal;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Damascus;   Jonah;   Judah, Kingdom of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Aphek;   Damascus;   Joash;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Lots;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Damascus;   Elisha ;   Jehoahaz ;   Joash ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Joash;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Eli'sha;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Augury;   Elisha;   Jehoash;   Kings, Books of;   Number;   Prophecy;   Salvation;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bashan;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Numbers and Numerals;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The unfaithfulness of man limits the goodness of God. Though Joash did the prophet‘s bidding, it was without any zeal or fervour; and probably without any earnest belief in the efficacy of what he was doing. Compare Mark 6:5-6. God had been willing to give the Israelites complete victory over Syria 2 Kings 13:17; but Joash by his non-acceptance of the divine promise in its fulness had checked the outflow of mercy; and the result was that the original promise could not be fulfilled.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-13.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the man of God was wroth with him,.... Because he ceased smiting, and smote no oftener; for it was revealed to the prophet, by an impulse upon his mind, that by the number of times he smote on the ground, it would be known how often he should get the victory over his enemies; but this was to be left to the king's own will, how often he would smite, and thereby the prophet would know also with what spirit he would pursue his victories, and the advantages he would gain:

and said, thou shouldest have smitten five or six times, then hadst thou smitten Syria until thou hadst consumed it; as a nation, as well as routed their several armies:

whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice; beat them only three times in battle, according to the number of his smitings on the ground.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the man of God was k wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed [it]: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria [but] thrice.

(k) Because he seemed content to have victory against the enemies of God two or three times but did not have the zeal to overcome them continually, and to destroy them completely.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-13.html. 1599-1645.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 13:19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed [it]: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria [but] thrice.

Ver. 19. Thou shalt smite Israel but thrice.] And this for a punishment of the king’s slackness and slothfulness in pursuing the execution of God’s vengeance on the enemies, which the prophet might foresee.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-13.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 13:19. And the man of God was wroth Whether Joash before this interview with Elisha was acquainted or not with the nature of those parabolic actions, whereby the prophets were accustomed to represent future events, he could not but perceive, by the comment which Elisha made upon the first arrow that he shot, which he calls the arrow of deliverance from Syria, 2 Kings 13:17 that this was a symbolical action, and intended to prefigure his victories over that nation; and therefore, as the first action of shooting was a kind of prelude to the war, he could not but understand further, even though the prophet had said nothing to him, that this second action, of striking the ground with the arrow, was to portend the number of victories he was to obtain; but then, if we may suppose with the generality of interpreters, that the prophet had apprised him beforehand that such was the symbolical intent of what he now put him upon, that the oftener he smote upon the ground, the more would be the victories which his arms should obtain; that this was the decree of heaven; and that thus, in some measure, his success in war was put into his own power; the king's conduct was utterly inexcusable, if, diffident of the prophet's promise, and considering the great strength of the kings of Syria more than the power of God, he stopped his hand after he had smote thrice; supposing that the prediction would never have been fulfilled, had he gone on, and smote upon the earth oftener. Upon the whole therefore, the prophet had just reason to be offended at the king for not believing in GOD, who had done so many signal miracles in favour of the Israelites; for not believing in Him, who, according to his own acknowledgment, had been a constant defender of the state, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof, 2 Kings 13:14 and now, in his dying hours, was full of good wishes and intentions for his country. See Le Clerc and Patrick.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-13.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Quest. Wherein was Jehoash’s fault, or why was the prophet angry with him?

Answ. The prophet himself did not yet know how many victories Jehoash should obtain against the Syrians, but God had signified to him that he should learn that by the number of the king’s strokes. And he was angry with him, not simply because he smote only thrice, but because by his unbelief and idolatry he provoked God so to overrule his heart and hand that he should smite but thrice, which was a token that God would assist him no further; although his smiting but thrice might proceed either from his unbelief or negligence. For by the former sign, and the prophet’s comment upon it, he might clearly perceive that this also was intended as a sign of his success against the Syrians, and therefore he ought to have done it frequently and vehemently.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19.Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times — And therefore his smiting but three times symbolized that lack of determination and perseverance whereby he would fail to overthrow, effectually, the Syrian power.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-13.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Angry. Septuagint, "grieved." (Haydock) --- Or seven is omitted in Hebrew and Septuagint. This text proves that God knows what would take place conditionally. (Tirinus) --- If, &c. By this it appears, that God had revealed to the prophet that the king should overcome the Syrians, as many times as he should then strike on the ground; but, as he had not, at the same time, revealed to him how often the king would strike, the prophet was concerned to see that he struck but thrice. (Challoner) --- Joas was assured that he should consume the Syrians. But this was to be understood, provided he performed this part, (Menochius; Tirinus) and that destruction was not said to be entire. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

man of God. See App-49.

God. Hebrew. Elohim.with Art. App-4.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-13.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) The man of God was wroth with him.—Because his present want of zeal augured a like deficiency in prosecuting the war hereafter. The natural irritability of the sick man may also have had something to do with it. Thenius well remarks on the manifestly historical character of the entire scene. It may be added that, to appreciate it fully, we must remember that βελομαυτεία, or soothsaying by means of arrows, was a practice of unknown antiquity in the Semitic world. Shooting an arrow, and observing where and how it fell, was one method of trying to fathom the secrets of that Power which overrules events and foreknows the future. The proceedings of David and Jonathan, recorded in 1 Samuel 20:35, seq., appear to have been an instance of this sort of divination, which in principle is quite analogous to casting lots, a practice so familiar to readers of the Bible. The second process—that described in 2 Kings 13:18—seems equally to have depended upon chance, according to modern ideas. The prophet left it to the spontaneous impulse of the king to determine the number of strokes; because he believed that the result, whatever it was, would betoken the purpose of Jehovah. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Elisha’s anger was the natural anger of the man and the patriot, disappointed at the result of a divination from which he had hoped greater things. In conclusion, it cannot be too often or too forcibly urged upon students of the true religion that the essential differences which isolate it from all imperfect or retrograde systems are to be found not so much in matters of outward organisation, form, and ritual, such as priesthoods and sacrifices, prophets and modes of divination, which were pretty much the same everywhere in Semitic antiquity; but in the inward spirit and substance of its teaching, in the vital truths which it handed on through successive ages, and, above all, in its steady progress from lower to higher conceptions of the Divine character and purposes, and of the right relations of man to God and his fellow-creatures.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.
the man of God
1:9-15; 4:16,40; 6:9
was wroth
Leviticus 10:16; Numbers 16:15; Mark 3:5; 10:14
now thou shalt
25; Mark 6:5
Reciprocal: Genesis 31:36 - was wroth;  Numbers 31:14 - wroth;  2 Kings 4:3 - borrow not a few;  2 Kings 4:6 - And the oil

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-13.html.