Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 8:15

On the following day, he took the cover and dipped it in water and spread it on his face, so that he died. And Hazael became king in his place.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ben-Hadad;   Elisha;   Falsehood;   Hazael;   Homicide;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Murder;   Syria;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Hazael;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ben-hadad;   Elisha;   Hazael;   Syria;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Elijah;   Elisha;   Hazael;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Damascus;   Elisha;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Damascus;   Elisha;   Hazael;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ben-Hadad;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Benhadad ;   Cloth;   Hazael ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Hazael;   Ramothgilead;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Benbadad;   Elisha;   Hazael;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ben-Ha'dad;   Eli'sha;   Haz'a-El;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Benhadad;   Elijah;   Elisha;   Hazael;   Reign;   Sick;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Benhadad;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ben-Hadad;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A thick cloth - The versions, in general, understand this of a hairy or woollen cloth.

So that he died - He was smothered, or suffocated.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-8.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A thick cloth - Probably, a cloth or mat placed between the head and the upper part of the bedstead, which in Egypt and Assyria was often so shaped that pillows (in our sense) were unnecessary.

The objection that Elisha is involved in the guilt of having suggested the deed, has no real force or value. Hazael was no more obliged to murder Benhadad because a prophet announced to him that he would one day be king of Syria, than David was obliged to murder Saul because another prophet anointed him king in Saul‘s room 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-8.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass on the morrow,.... In such haste was Hazael to be king, as the prophet said he would be:

that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died; not that Benhadad took or ordered such a cloth to be dipped and laid on his own face, to allay the violent heat in him; but Hazael did this, and perhaps under such a pretence; but his real design was to strike in the heat, or suffocate him; for such a thick cloth, one of the bedclothes, made of goats' hair, as is supposed, being dipped in water, would suck in a great deal; and being laid on his face, would press hard, and he not able to throw it off, it would let in much water into his mouth and nostrils, and suffocate him, without leaving any marks of violence, which might render his death suspicious:

and Hazael reigned in his stead; having an interest in the army, of which he was general, and perhaps had done some exploits which had recommended him to the regard of the people.

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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 8:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-8.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped [it] in water, and h spread [it] on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.

(h) Under pretence to refresh or ease him, he suffocated him with his cloak.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "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

took a thick cloth, etc. — a coverlet. In the East, this article of bedding is generally a thick quilt of wool or cotton, so that, with its great weight, when steeped in water, it would be a fit instrument for accomplishing the murderous purpose, without leaving any marks of violence. It has been supposed by many doubtful that Hazael purposely murdered the king. But it is common for Eastern people to sleep with their faces covered with a mosquito net; and, in some cases of fever, they dampen the bedclothes. Hazael, aware of those chilling remedies being usually resorted to, might have, with an honest intention, spread a refreshing cover over him. The rapid occurrence of the king‘s death and immediate burial were favorable to his instant elevation to the throne.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 8:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-8.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.

Spread it — So closely, that he choaked him therewith.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-8.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 8:15 And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped [it] in water, and spread [it] on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.

Ver. 15. He took a thick cloth.] A blanket, saith the Vulgate; a haircloth, saith Pagnine; a coarse canvas, saith the Chaldee; and that empoisoned, haply, saith Serrarius, as was Hercules’s shirt, sent him by Deianira; or as was the garment put on by Otho III, emperor; by Ladislaus, king of Hungary, and by Solyman the Grand Signior. Princes usually find treason in trust, and are killed by their nearest friends; as Augustus was by his wife Livia, Claudius by Agrippina, &c.

And dipped it in water.] Under a pretence of cooling and curing him, laborabat enim febre ardentissima, for he was sick of a burning fever, saith Vatablus. This he did per imprudentiam, say some; ex industria, say others; on set purpose to put an end to his life, without any mark or sign of violence offered unto him.

So that he died.] To be sure that he should not surely recover, as 2 Kings 8:14. Buchanan telleth of Natholicus, the thirty-first king of the Scots, that having usurped the crown, he sent a trusty friend to a famous witch, to know what success he should have in his kingdom, and how long he should live. The witch answered, that he should shortly be murdered, not by an enemy, but by his friend. The messenger instantly inquired, By what friend? By thyself, said the witch. The messenger at first abhorred the thought of any such villainy; but afterwards, conceiving that it was not safe to reveal the witch’s answer, and yet that it could not be concealed, he resolved rather to kill the king to the content of many, than to hazard the loss of his own head. Thereupon, at his return, being in secret with the king, to declare to him the witch’s answer, he suddenly slew him.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". 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 8:15. He took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water He did this that no signs of violence might appear upon him; for had the murder been in the least suspected, Hazael could not so easily have acceded to the throne; because, according to the account of Josephus, Ben-hadad was a man of such reputation among the people of Syria and Damascus, that, as his memory was celebrated among them with divine honours, his death, no doubt, had it been known to have been violent, would have been fully revenged upon the murderers. History makes mention of other princes who have died in the same manner. The emperor Tiberius, according to Suetonius, was in his last sickness choked in his bed by a pillow crammed into his mouth, or, as Tacitus has it, was smothered under a vast load of bed-clothes; and king Demetrius, the son of Philip, as well as the emperor Frederick II. was hurried out of the world in the same way. See Calmet, and Joseph. Antiq. lib. ix. c. 2.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,

1. The advice of Elisha to his kind hostess at Shunem. He warned her to remove betimes to some neighbouring country, because of the approaching famine; and, Philistia being near, she there fixed her abode. Note; (1.) Men's sins provoke God's judgments, and his own unfaithful Israel shall feel the scourge heavier than even their idolatrous neighbours. (2.) The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself.

2. As soon as the famine was over, she hasted home, and, to her grief, either found her land seized by the officers for the crown, as forfeited for her leaving the kingdom; or the person entrusted with it refused to give up possession. For want of a friend with the king, which once she thought she should never need, see chap. 2 Kings 4:13 she is constrained to apply to him herself for redress; and so providence graciously ordered it, that at this very instant he was discoursing with Gehazi, Elisha's servant, about his miracles, and this very woman and her son were the subject, who now opportunely appear to confirm his narrative. Gehazi's being still Elisha's servant shews that this event preceded the cure of Naaman, and the siege of Samaria. Note; (1.) A strange coincidence of events, exactly suited to accomplish our desires, proves often to a demonstration the finger of an overruling Governor. (2.) God can raise us up friends, in our difficulties, where we least expected them.

3. The king, having heard from the woman herself the confirmation of Gehazi's report, orders an officer to put her in possession of her estate, and see that every farthing of the profits of it, from the day when she left it, be faithfully accounted for. Note; (1.) If the ears of kings are open to the cries of the oppressed, how much more will the King of kings hear their prayers and help them. (2.) The glory of a government is the righteous and impartial administration of justice.

2nd, What brought Elisha to Damascus is uncertain; what he did there, we are informed.

1. He is consulted by Ben-hadad concerning the event of his sickness. The king of Syria was no sooner apprized of his being there, than the report of his former miracles weighed more with him than all his idol gods, and he places greater confidence in the prophet of the Lord, than in all the priests of Damascus. With great respect he addresses him, sends his prime minister to be his messenger, and orders a magnificent present, as a token of his regard. Note; (1.) Sickness and death pay no compliments to crowned heads. (2.) Many on their death-beds send to God's ministers, who, all their lives long, paid little or no regard to them. (3.) The sinner that lieth sick is usually more solicitous to know, Shall I recover? than to inquire, What shall I do to be saved?

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". 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

Spread it on his face; pretending, it may be, to cool his immoderate heat with it; but applying it so closely, that he choked him therewith; by which artifice his death seemed to be natural, there being no signs of a violent death upon his body. And this he the more boldly attempted, because the prophet’s prediction made him confident of the success.

Hazael reigned in his stead; having the favour of the people, and of the men of war.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". 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

15.He took — Hazael, not, as some have thought, Ben-hadad, applied the cloth.

A thick cloth — Probably a bed quilt, with which he suffocated the king; and this method of assassination would leave no marks of violence upon the dead. Thus Kitto: “The coverlets used in the East, where blankets are unknown, being thickly quilted with wool or cotton, become of great weight when soaked in water; and it thus became the fittest instrument for such a purpose that could be found about an Eastern bed; while the use of wet bedclothes in fever would prevent any suspicion arising from the coverlet being found saturated with moisture. It is an Eastern practice, in some kinds of fever, to wet the bedding, and it is in such cases often done with good effect; while in other kinds of fever such an application would be dangerous, if not fatal.”

Hazael reigned in his stead — Ben-hadad perhaps died childless, and so Hazael’s accession to his throne may have been the more easily and quietly brought about.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "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 8:15. And spread it on his face — Pretending, it may be, to cool his immoderate heat with it, but applying it so closely that he choked him therewith; the king being weak, and unable to help himself, or perhaps asleep. By this artifice he prevented his crying out, and his death would appear to be natural, there being no signs of violence upon his body. Such a bubble is the life of the greatest men, and so exposed are princes to treachery and outrage. We found this haughty monarch (1 Kings 20:1-10) the terror of the mighty in the land of the living; but now he goes down slain into the pit, with his iniquity upon his bones, Ezekiel 32:25. And Hazael reigned in his stead — Being, it is likely, in great favour, both with the people and the soldiery, and not suspected of the murder of Ben- hadad; and he leaving no son to succeed him in the government.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-8.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Blanket. Hebrew macber, a word which the Septuagint retain. (Haydock) --- It denotes a hairy coverlet, pillow, &c. Tiberius and Frederic II met with the like fate. (Calmet) --- some think that Hazael was only guilty of imprudence; (Menochius) or that Benadad killed himself; as the Hebrew might be rendered, if the sequel did not evince that his death was caused by Hazael's malice. (Calmet) --- He might pretend that the wet cloth would give Benadad refreshment. (Haydock) --- But it would bring on present death, with most exquisite torture. (Tirinus) --- The names of both these kings were in great veneration among the Syrians, who paid them divine honours. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] ix. 4.) --- Perhaps they might not know that the latter had been guilty of such a base murder. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-8.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

it came to pass. The inscriptions of Shal-manezer II agree with this. The name of Jehu appears on them with Hazael"s.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "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

And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.

Took a thick cloth ... [ hamakbeer (Hebrew #4346)] - the coarse (hair) cloth used as a coverlet. In the East this article of bed furniture is generally a thick quilt of wool or cotton, so that, with its great weight when steeped in water, it would be a fit instrument for accomplishing the murderous purpose, without leaving any marks of violence. But it has been supposed by many (among whom are J.D. Michaelis and Harmer) doubtful that Hazael purposely murdered the king. It is common for Eastern people sleep with their faces covered with a mosquito net, and in some cases of fever they damp the bed clothes. Hazael, aware of those chilling remedies being usually resorted to, might have, with an honest intention, spread a refreshing cover over him; or Ben-hadad, encouraged by the report of Elisha's answer, might do it himself, and a sudden chill being produced, the act might have become unexpectedly fatal. The rapid occurrence of the king's death and immediate burial were favourable to Hazael's instant elevation to the throne.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "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

(15) He took—i.e., Hazael, the nearest subject. Ewald objects that if Hazael were meant, his name would not occur where it does at the end of the verse. But the objection does not hold, for in relating who succeeded to the throne, it was natural to give the name of the new king. Further, a considerable pause must be understood at “he died.” The Judæan editor of Kings then appropriately concludes: “So Hazael reigned in his stead.” The mention of the name significantly reminds us that Elisha had designated Hazael as the future king. Besides, after the words “and he died,” it would have been more ambiguous than usual to add, “and he reigned in his stead.”

A thick cloth.—Rather, the quilt, or coverlet. So the LXX., Vulg., Targum, and Arabic. The Syriac renders “curtain;” and, accordingly, Gesenius and others translate, “mosquito net.” The Hebrew term (makbçr) means, etymologically, something plaited or interwoven. It is not found elsewhere, but a word of the same root occurs in 1 Samuel 19:13. It is clear from the context that the makbçr must have been something which when soaked in water, and laid on the face, would prevent respiration.

Josephus says Hazael strangled his master with a mosquito net. But this and other explanations, such as that of Ewald, do not suit the words of the text. The old commentator, Clericus, may be right when he states Hazaeľs motive to have been ut hominem facilius suffocaret, ne vi interemptus videretur. And, perhaps, as Thenius supposes, the crown was offered to Hazael as a successful warrior. (Comp. 2 Kings 10:32, seq.) When Duncker (Hist. of Antiq., 1:413) ventures to state that Elisha incited Hazael to the murder of Ben-hadad, and afterwards renewed the war against Israel, not without encouragement from the prophet as a persistent enemy of Jehoram and his dynasty, he simply betrays an utter incapacity for understanding the character and function of Hebrew prophecy. The writer of Kings, at all events, did not intend to represent Elisha as a deceiver of foreign sovereigns and a traitor to his own; and this narrative is the only surviving record of the events described.

Hazael reigned in his stead.—On the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser II. (B.C. 860-825), now in the British Museum, we read: “In my 18th regnal year for the 16th time I crossed the Euphrates. Haza’ilu of the land of Damascus came on to the battle: 1,121 of his chariots, 470 of his horsemen, with his stores, I took from him.” And again: “In my 21st year for the 21st time I crossed the Euphrates: to the cities of Haza’ilu of the land of Damascus I marched, whose towns I took. Tribute of the land of the Tyrians, Sidonians, Giblites, I received.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-8.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.
And it came
13; 1 Samuel 16:12,13; 24:4-7,13; 26:9-11; 1 Kings 11:26-37
on the morrow
Psalms 36:4; Micah 2:1
that he took a thick cloth
There is a considerable degree of ambiguity in this passage. The pronoun he is generally referred to Hazael; but Dr. Geddes and others are decidedly of the opinion, that we should understand by it Ben-hadad; who, encouraged by the favourable answer of Elisha, as reported by Hazael, adopted a violent remedy to allay the heat of his fever, and put over his face the keever, or fly-net, (See Note on 1 Sa 19:13,) dipped in water, which suddenly checked the perspiration, and occasioned his death.
so that he died
9:24; 15:10-14,25,30; 1 Kings 15:28; 16:10,18; Isaiah 33:1
Hazael
13; 1 Kings 19:15
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 8:10 - he shall surely die

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-8.html.