Part 2. 2-Kings chs 6 to 8 (8 June 2017, 14 Sivan, 5777)
Continued from Elisha
To see our contnuation of the story of Elisha in more detail with Brit-Am Biblical Commentary go to:
1. The Floating Axe-Head
Elisha sojourned with the group known as "Son of the Prophets."
This was a kind of college where suitable candidates prepared themselves for Prophecy.
They had been in Beth-el in the territory of Benjamin near the border with Ephraim.
They then decided to move tot he east nearer to the Jordan River.
In the course of constructing a dwelling an axe-head fell into the water.
At that time such implements were difficult to obtain and valuable. This one had been borrowed from somebody else.
Elisha was called upon. He asked to be shown where in the water the axe-head had fallen.
He then cut a piece of stick and threw it in the water and the axe-head came floating tot he surface (2-Kings 6:7).
2. The Army of Angels
Elisha was an advisor to the King of Israel of the Ten Tribes north of Judah. Israel was at war with Aram (Syria).
Elisha through the gift of prophecy would warn the King of Israel of impending raids from Aram and precautions would be taken.
The King of Aram at first thought that there must be a spy in the palace serving the Israelites and informing them of his intentions.
He was told that the Prophet Elisha was to blame.
" Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom" (2-Kings 6:12).
The King of Aram sent an army to capture Elisha.
The Aramaeans were informed that the prophet was in Dothan to the north of Shechem and north of Samaria.
They sent a great army by night with horses and chariots to surround Dothan.
Elisha was indeed in the city together with his attendant.
In the morning the attendant arose. Seeing the army surrounding the city he was horrified. He appealed to Elisha who told him to keep calm.
Elisha replied that there were greater forces with them than with the enemy. Elisha then prayed that the eyes of his servant be opened and that he may see what God had sent to protect them.
The servant then saw an army of horses and chariots of flame all around.
Elisha asked that the Aramaeans be stricken blind and they were.
They were then led captive into the city of Samaria.
Their eyes were opened. They were given food and drink and sent away.
3. The Famine in Samaria
Some time later, Samaria was in famine due to siege.
A woman called out to the king while he was walking on the wall.
She had a dispute with her neighbor. The day before they had boiled and eaten her son on the understanding that the next day they would eat the child of the other.
The other part of the bargain was not being kept and the woman asked the king to pass judgment.
The King (apparently Jehoram son of Ahab) was shocked at the level of depravity to which his people had been reduced.
For some reason he blamed the Prophet Elisha for it all!
The king sent an emissary to cut the head of Elisha off!
Meanwhile Elisha was sitting in a room with the elders. It was revealed to him what was happening.
Elisha told those present to prevent the emissary from entering since the king himself was running after him to change the order.
Elisha told the king, "Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria" (2-Kings 7:1). This was an extremely cheap price.
An officer serving the king protested that even if grain should rain from heaven such an eventuality was impossible.
Elisha informed him that he should see it but not benefit from it.
Meanwhile, God caused the Arameans (who were the ones besieging the city) to hear the sounds of an overwhelming advancing army, though there was no such thing coming.
They imagined that the king of Israel had hired armies from the Hittites and from Egypt to attack them and that they were in danger of entrapment.
The Aramaeans fled leaving their tents and all their stocks of foot and other possessions behind them.
The abandoned camp was discovered by four lepers who had been outside the city. These lepers had realized they would starve if they stayed put. They therefore had decided to go to the Aramean camp and meet whatever fate awaited. Finding the camp abandoned they plundered it for a bit and then told the rest of Israel the good news. After some caution, fearing an ambush, the Israelites entered the camp, and there was food aplenty.
The price of rain went down to the extremely low price that Elisha had predicted.
The officer who had expressed skepticism was trampled to death in the gate of the city as the people rushed to replenish themselves from the abandoned enemy camp.
4. The Woman from Shunem Reappears
We saw (2-Kings ch.4) how Elisha with his servant Gehazi were in the habit of intermittently sojourning in the household of a couple in Shunem.
Elisha had prophesied that they should bear a son and they had. The child, after growing up somewhat, had died suddenly and Elisha had brought him back to life.
We now learn that just before the recent famine Elisha had warned the woman (whose husband had apparently died) to move with her son to the Land of the Philistines.
After seven years, when the famine was over the woman returned.
She found her land in Shunem occupied by squatters.
She came to the King to make an appeal. At that very minute Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, was telling the king of the miracles that Elisha had done including the one concerning the woman.
Gehazi recognized her, told the king who she was, and the king ordered that her lands be restored to her.