Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 8:1

Now Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, "Arise and go with your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn; for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will even come on the land for seven years."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Elisha;   Famine;   Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Judge;   Kindness;   King;   Land;   Property;   Seven;   Thompson Chain Reference - Elisha;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Famine;   Judgments;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Famine;   Gehazi;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Dearth;   Famine;   Gehazi;   Shunem;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Famine;   Jehoram;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Court Systems;   Famine and Drought;   Gehazi;   Joram;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Ownership;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Elisha;   Poverty;   Shunem;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Famine;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Ramothgilead;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elisha;   Famine;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Sephe'la,;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Daniel, Book of;   Famine;   Gehazi;   Relationships, Family;   Shunammite;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Then spake Elisha - As this is the relation of an event far past, the words should be translated, "But Elisha had spoken unto the woman whose son he had restored unto life; and the woman had arisen, and acted according to the saying of the man of God, and had gone with her family, and had sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years." What is mentioned in these two verses happened several years before the time specified in the third verse. See the observations at the end of the preceding chapter, 2 Kings 7:17; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-8.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The famine here recorded, and the conversation of the monarch with Gehazi, must have been anterior to the events related in Ezekiel 36:29; Romans 4:17).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-8.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

ELISHA AGAIN AIDED THE SHUNAMMITE; THE ASSASSINATION OF BENHADAD BY HAZAEL; AND THE WICKED REIGNS OF JORAM AND AHAZIAH OF JUDAH;

THE SEQUEL TO THE STORY OF THE SHUNAMMITE

"Now Elisha had spoken unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thy household wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for Jehovah hath called for a famine; and it shall come upon the land seven years. And the woman arose, and did according to the word of the man of God; and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. And it came to pass, at the seven years' end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land. Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done. And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored to life him that was dead, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life. And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now."

The big problem in this paragraph is the mention of Gehazi. Unless he had providentially been healed of his leprosy, this episode would necessarily have had to happen PRIOR TO the healing of Naaman, because it would be quite unlikely that the king of Israel would be talking freely with a leper. This problem has resulted in different opinions of scholars regarding which king restored the Shunammite's properties. Hammond believed it was Jehoram,[1] and Martin wrote that it was Jehu.[2] (See our introduction regarding the uncertainties regarding the chronologies in 2Kings.) The very fact of the sacred author's omitting the information that men seek regarding such questions underscores their lack of importance. It really does not make any difference which king it was. The big point of the narrative is that of the Shunammite's trust of the prophet's word and her reward in doing so.

"She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines" (2 Kings 8:2). The coastal plain of Palestine was usually spared from droughts that came to Israel, and even when it was not spared, supplies were readily available by sea from Egypt and the Nile Delta. Of course, during the woman's seven years' absence, her properties were appropriated by someone else, hence, her appeal to the king. Also, it would appear that during her sojourn in Philistia her husband had died.

"The king was talking with Gehazi ... and as he was telling the king ... behold, the woman ... cried to the king" (2 Kings 8:4,5). Nothing is more wonderful than the timing of the providences of God. "Note the coincidence. God times incidents with precision; `things work together' (Romans 8:28); they interweave."[3] Another example is found in the reading to the king of Persia of the honors due Mordecai just before his asking Haman what should be done for the man whom the king delighted to honor (Esther 6:1-14).

"The king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers" (2 Kings 8:6). "The primary meaning of the word officer here is eunuch, and the secondary meaning is court minister."[4] "Eunuch is the preferred meaning here for propriety's sake when a man accompanied a lady."[5] The introduction of eunuchs into the social structure of the royal families of Israel was due to their shameful harems. David possessed eunuchs (1 Chronicles 28:1), and presumably Solomon also; and afterward "Eunuchs were common in the Samarian court of Israel; but there is no record of them in the kingdom of Judah until the times of Hezekiah (Isaiah 56:3-4)."[6]

"What happened here shows that Elisha's previous offer to speak to the king for the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:13) had not been an idle one."[7]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-kings-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then spoke Elisha unto the woman (whose son he had restored to life),.... His hostess at Shunem, 2 Kings 4:8 the following he said to her, not after the famine in Samaria, but before it, as some circumstances show:

saying, arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn; with the greatest safety to her person and property, and with the least danger to her moral and religious character:

for the Lord hath called for a famine, and it shall also come upon the land seven years: which Jarchi says was the famine that was in the days of Joel; it was, undoubtedly, on account of the idolatry of Israel, and was double the time of that in the days of Elijah.

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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 8:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-8.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou a canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.

(a) Where you can find a convenient place to dwell, where there is plenty.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-8.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

2 Kings 8:1-6. The Shunammite‘s land restored.

Then spake Elisha unto the woman — rather “had spoken.” The repetition of Elisha‘s direction to the Shunammite is merely given as an introduction to the following narrative; and it probably took place before the events recorded in 2 Kings 5:1-27 and 2 Kings 6:1-33.

the Lord hath called for a famine — All such calamities are chastisements inflicted by the hand of God; and this famine was to be of double duration to that one which happened in the time of Elijah (James 5:17) - a just increase of severity, since the Israelites still continued obdurate and incorrigible under the ministry and miracles of Elisha (Leviticus 26:21, Leviticus 26:24, Leviticus 26:28).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-8.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

The history of the Shunammite, which was in part given before, is prosecuted yet further in this chapter. Her land is restored to her. Here is also a short relation concerning Hazael, the Syrian. This chapter also contains an account of Jehoram's wicked reign, and of Ahaziah his successor in the kingdom.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-kings-8.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.

Sojourn — In any convenient place out of the land of Israel.

The Lord, … — Hath appointed to bring a famine. This expression intimates, that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call or command.

Seven years — A double time to the former famine under Elijah, which is but just, because they were still incorrigible under all the judgments of God, and the powerful ministry of Elisha.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-8.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

FAMINE—GOD’S MESSENGER

‘The Lord hath called for a famine.’

2 Kings 8:1

I. What is the meaning of this expression?—Simply, the Lord hath produced it—ordered it; it is part of His Providence. ‘God said, Let there be light: and there was light.’ A wonderful thing is this we find in the whole Bible—God calling for circumstances as if they were creatures which could hear Him and respond to His call; as if famine and plenty, pestilence and scourge of every name, were so many personalities, all standing back in the clouds, and God said, Famine, forward! and immediately the famine came, and took away the bread of the people; but then next door to famine stands plenty, and God says to abundance, Forward! and the earth laughs in harvests; the table is abundantly spread, and every living thing is satisfied. Take Ezekiel 36:29 as presenting the pleasant side of this call by the voice Divine: ‘I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.’ Hear how the Divine voice rolls through all this sphere of revelation. If you proceed to Romans 4:17 you will find in the last clause of the verse words often overlooked: ‘God … calleth those things which be not as though they were.’ God is always creating, calling something out of nothing, amazing the ages by new flashes of glory, unexpected disclosures of presence and grace. Calling for a famine is a frequent expression. You find it, for example, in Psalms 105:16 : ‘Moreover He called for a famine upon the land: He brake the whole staff of bread’; and you find it in so out-of-the-way a corner as the prophecy of Haggai 1:11 : ‘And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.’

II. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.—So there are men who still believe that plague, pestilence, and short harvest, and things evil that are of a material kind, have a subtle and often immeasurable relation to a Divine thought, to a new disclosure of Divine Providence; that all these things round about us are used as instruments in the chastening, and education, and sanctification of the human race. We cannot be laughed out of this citadel. Sometimes we have half left it under the joke of the jiber, because we had no answer to the mocker’s laugh; but presently we began to see how things are related, how mysteriously earth belongs to heaven, and how the simplest, meanest flower that grows draws its life-blood from the sun; then we have returned into the sanctuary, and said, ‘Be the mysteries dark as they may and all but innumerable, there is a comfort in this doctrine that there is in none other’—and not a quieting comfort after the nature of a soporific, but an encouraging, stimulating, rousing comfort, that lifts our prayer into a nobler elevation, and sharpens our voice by the introduction of a new accent. So we abide in this Christian faith, and await the explanation which God has promised.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/2-kings-8.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 8:1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.

Ver. 1. Then spake Elisha.] Or, Elisha had spoken to the woman, so Junius rendereth it, sc., about the time of his raising her son to life: then he foretold her, by way of gratitude, this sore famine, the same, some think, with that spoken of by Joel, [Joel 1:1-20] which soon after began, and lasted seven years, which was an ordinary time for great famines, as Genesis 41:27, 2 Samuel 24:13, 2 Kings 4:38.

Thou and thy household.] Her husband is not mentioned; either because he was now dead, or else so decayed through old age, that he left the ordering of all to his wife, whom he knew to be pious and prudent.

For the Lord hath called for a famine.] Invitavit: A metaphor, saith Vatablus, from such as invite others to a feast, Famines and the like public calamities are God’s guests, and come at his call.

Seven years.] Because the former famine of three years and a half did no good, now it is doubled.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-8.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 8:1. Then spake Elisha, &c.— Elisha had said, &c. So 2 Kings 8:2. And the woman had arisen, and done, &c. Houbigant: who conjectures from the 4th verse, that this event happened before Gehazi was stricken with leprosy.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-8.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 KINGS CHAPTER 8

The Shunammite having, by Elisha’s advice, left the land because of the famine, returneth home; and hath her whole estate restored to her for Elisha’s sake, 2 Kings 8:1-6. He cometh to Damascus. Ben-hadad is sick, and sendeth Hazael to him with presents. Elisha foretelleth Ben-hadad’s violent death, and Hazael’s cruel reign, with tears. Hazael’s answer: he killeth his master, and succeedeth him, 2 Kings 8:7-15. Jehoram’s wicked reign in Judah: Edom and Libnah revolt, 2 Kings 8:16-23. He dieth, and Ahaziah his son succeedeth him: his wicked reign: he entertaineth friendship with Joram king of Israel, 2 Kings 8:24-29.

Then: this particle of time may be understood either particularly and definitely of the time next following the former history, or more generally and indefinitely (as it is frequently used) of the time in which Elisha and this Shunammitish woman lived. Possibly this might happen before the history of Naaman, 2Ki 5, or at least before the siege of Samaria, 2Ki 6; but this is not certain.

Unto the woman; expressing his gratitude for her former kindnesses, by taking special care for her preservation.

Wheresoever thou canst sojourn; in any convenient place out of the land of Israel.

Hath called for a famine, i.e. hath appointed to bring a famine, or a great scarcity of provisions. This expression intimates that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call or command.

Seven years; a double time to the former famine under Elijah, James 5:17, which is but just and reasonable, because they were still obstinate and incorrigible under all the severe and succeeding judgments of God, and under the powerful ministry of Elisha, who confirmed his doctrine by glorious miracles. See Leviticus 26:21,24,28.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-8.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

THE SHUNAMMITE WOMAN AGAIN, 2 Kings 8:1-6.

1.The woman, whose son he had restored — The wealthy woman of Shunem. See 2 Kings 4:8-27. This narrative shows other ways, besides the ones already recorded, in which Elisha proved a blessing to this woman. He advises her to go and sojourn in a foreign land during the coming famine, and after her return the influence of his former miracles for her is instrumental in the recovery of her lost possessions.

The Lord hath called for a famine — “Famines do not come by chance, but they are messengers whom the Lord calls, and whom he sends to call his people to repentance.” — Wordsworth.

Seven years — A famine terrible by reason of its long continuance; just twice the duration of the drought foretold by Elijah in the days of Ahab. 1 Kings 17:1. Compare Luke 4:25. This famine was quite probably identical with the dearth mentioned 2 Kings 4:38.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-8.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 8:1. Then spake Elisha — There is nothing in the Hebrew for this particle of time, then. It is literally, And Elisha spake, or, as Houbigant renders it, had spoken. So 2 Kings 8:2, The woman had arisen, and done, &c. He conjectures, from 2 Kings 8:4, that this event happened before Gehazi was struck with the leprosy: this, however, is by no means certain. On the other hand, most commentators seem to be of opinion that it took place in the order in which it is recorded in the history, after the events related in the former chapter, and some think several years after. Unto the woman whose son he had restored to life — Manifesting his gratitude for her former kindness, by taking special care for her preservation. Go thou, and sojourn, &c. — In any convenient place out of the land of Israel. For the Lord hath called for a famine — Hath appointed to bring a famine upon the country, or a great scarcity of provisions. The manner of speaking intimates that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call. Seven years — A double time to the former famine under Elijah, which was but just, because they were still incorrigible under all the judgments of God, and under the powerful ministry of Elisha, who confirmed his doctrine by so many astonishing miracles.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-8.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Famine. God disposes of all things. (Calmet) --- Famine, &c., are his executioners. (Du Hamel) --- This dreadful visitation took place before the siege of Samaria, (Salien) and had even commenced when Eliseus raise the child to life; (chap. iv. 38.) so that we might translate, "Eliseus had spoken," &c. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-8.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

whose son. Compare 2 Kings 4:35.

famine = the famine, which had already begun. Probably the same as 2 Kings 4:38. Occasion is not determined by the text, but, 2 Kings 8:3 takes up the history at the end of the seven years.

it shall also come = it is come.

seven years: i.e. "[to last] seven years".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-8.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.

Then spake Elisha unto the woman - rather, 'had spoken.' The repetition of Elisha's direction to the Shunammite is merely given as an introduction to the following narrative; and it probably took place before the events recorded in 2 Kings 5:1-27; 2 Kings 6:1-33.

The Lord hath called for a famine. All such calamities are chastisements inflicted by the hand of God; and this famine was to be of double duration to that one which happened in the time of Elijah (James 5:17) - a just increase of severity, since the Israelites still continued obdurate and incorrigible under the ministry and miracles of Elisha (Leviticus 26:21; Leviticus 26:24; Leviticus 26:28).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-kings-8.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

VIII.

(1-6) How the kindness of the Shunammite woman to Elisha was further rewarded through the prophet’s influence with the king.

(1) Then spake Elisha.—Rather, Now Elisha had spoken. The time is not defined by the phrase. It was after the raising of the Shunammite’s son (2 Kings 8:1), and before the healing of Naaman the Syrian, inasmuch as the king still talks with Gehazi (2 Kings 8:5).

Go thou.—The peculiar form of the pronoun points to the identity of the original author of this account with the writer of 2 Kings 4. Moreover, the famine here foretold appears to be that of 2 Kings 4:38, seq., so that the present section must in the original document have preceded 2 Kings 5. Thenius thinks the compiler transferred the present account to this place, because he wished to proceed chronologically, and supposed that the seven years’ famine came to an end with the raising of the siege of Samaria.

For a famine.—To the famine. The sword, the famine, the noisome beasts, and the pestilence were Jehovah’s “four sore judgments,” as we find in Ezekiel 14:21.

And it shall also come upon.—And, moreover, it cometh into.

Seven Years.—Perhaps not to be understood literally, any more than Dante’s

“O caro Duca mio che più di sette

Volte m’hai sicurtà. renduta.”—Inferno 8. 97.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-8.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
A. M. 3113. B.C. 891. whose son
4:18,31-35
sojourn
Genesis 12:10; 26:1; 47:4; Ruth 1:1
the Lord
Genesis 41:25,28,32; Leviticus 26:19,20,26; Deuteronomy 28:22-24,38-40; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:2; Psalms 105:16; 107:34; Haggai 1:11; Luke 21:11,22; Acts 11:28
called for a famine
Jeremiah 25:29
seven years
Genesis 41:27; 2 Samuel 21:1; 24:13; Luke 4:25
Reciprocal: Genesis 41:30 - seven years;  2 Kings 4:13 - among mine;  2 Kings 4:35 - and the child opened;  2 Kings 4:38 - a dearth;  1 Chronicles 21:12 - three years' famine;  2 Chronicles 6:28 - if there be dearth;  Amos 4:6 - and want

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-8.html.