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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 8

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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.

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).

Verse 2

And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.

Sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. Their territory was recommended to her from its contiguity to her usual residence; and now that this state had been so greatly reduced, there was less risk than formerly from the seductions of idolatry, and many of the Jews and Israelites were residing there. Besides, an emigration there was less offensive to the king of Israel than going to sojourn in Judah.

Verse 3

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.

Cry unto the king for her house and for her land [ lits`oq (H6817), to present a humble petition (cf. 2 Samuel 19:28); Septuagint, boeesai pros ton basilea, to complain to the king]. In consequence of her long-continued absence from the country, her possessions were occupied by her kindred, or had been confiscated to the crown. No statute in the law of Moses ordained that alienation; but the innovation seems to have been adopted in Israel.

Verse 4

And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.

The king talked with Gehazi. The circumstances narrated in these opening verses are generally believed to have taken place before the infliction of leprosy upon Gehazi, though they are recorded after the account of it. Kings in the East often talk with the servants of others about the doings and affairs of their masters. 'Goosh Bekee, the prime minister of the king of Bokhara, engaged my Jewish servant in a conversation about my business' (Joseph Wolff, 'Missionary Labours,' p. 493). The providence of God so ordained that king Jehoram had been led to inquire with great interest into the miraculous deeds of Elisha, and that the prophet's servant was in the act of relating the marvelous incident of the restoration of the Shunammite's son, when she made her appearance to prefer her request. The king was pleased to grant it, and a state officer was charged to afford her every facility in the recovery of her family possession out of the hands of the occupier.

Verses 5-6

And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, 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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 7

And Elisha came to Damascus; and Ben-ha'dad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.

Elisha came to Damascus - being directed there by the Spirit of God in pursuance of the mission formerly given to his master in Horeb (1 Kings 19:15), to anoint Hazael king of Syria.

Verse 8

And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?

The king said unto Hazael ... It is an interesting confirmation of the sacred history, that the names of king Ben-hadad and his minister Hazael, as inscribed on the famous obelisk of Nimroud, were first deciphered by the late Dr. Hincks. On the arrival of the prophet being known, Ben-hadad, who was sick, sent to inquire the issue of his disease; and, according to the practice of the pagans in consulting their soothsayers, ordered a liberal present in remuneration of the service. The consultation of Elisha by the pagan king of Syria needs occasion no surprise; for it is probable, or rather certain, from the time of Naaman's cure (2 Kings 5:1-27), that the fame of the Hebrew prophet was diffused throughout that country. But besides, among the Shemitish nations in particular, there was, with all the diversity of gods, a general community of religious sentiment. The people of one region never hesitated to realize the prophets or priests of another.

Verse 9

So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Ben-ha'dad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?

Forty camels' burden. The present, consisting of the rarest and and most valuable produce of the land, would be liberal and magnificent. But it must not be supposed it was actually so large as to require 40 camels to carry it. The Orientals are fond of display, and would ostentatiously lay upon 40 beasts what might very easily have been borne by four.

Thy son Ben-hadad. So called from the established usage of designating the prophet 'father.' This was the same Syrian monarch who had formerly persecuted him (see the notes at 2 Kings 6:13-14).

Verse 10

And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die.

Go, say ... Thou mayest certainly recover. There was no contradiction in this message. This part was properly the answer to Ben-hadad's inquiry. The second part was intended for Hazael, who, like an artful and ambitious courtier, reported only as much of the prophet's statement as suited his own views (cf. 2 Kings 8:14). Waterland ('Scripture Vindicated,' part 2:, p. 122), however, translates Elisha's words, 'Go, say, thou shalt certainly not live; for the Lord hath shown me,' etc.

Verse 11

And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.

He settled his countenance stedfastly, [ Waya`ªmeed (H5975) 'et (H853) paanaayw (H6440) wayaasem (H7760), and he fixed his countenance, and set it; Septuagint, parestee too prosoopoo autou, kai etheeken].

Until he was ashamed ie Hazael The stedfast penetrating look of the prophet seemed to have convinced Until he was ashamed - i:e., Hazael. The stedfast, penetrating look of the prophet seemed to have convinced Hazael that his secret designs were known; and the deep emotions of Elisha were justified by the horrible atrocities, too common in ancient warfare which that successful usurper committed in Israel (2 Kings 10:32; 2 Kings 13:3-4; 2 Kings 13:22). Elisha's prophecy of Hazael's wickedness was a striking instance of a final effort to prevent the perpetration of that wickedness.

Verse 12

And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.

Hazael said, But what! is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? [ Hakeleb (H3611), THE dog; the Septuagint has: ho kuoon ho tethneekoos, the dead dog. This is the full phrase used in the East (cf. 1 Samuel 24:14). The predicate is not hakeleb (H3611), which, as the article shows, belongs to the subject, `abdªkaa (H5650), being assumed by Hazael as denoting, according to Oriental usage, the abject nature of his condition; the predicate is maah (H4100), what is thy servant? what power has he, or what prospect of ever possessing power sufficient for doing this great thing?] 'It was the greatness, not the atrocity, that startled him; and it is of meanness, not of cruelty, that the dog is the Oriental symbol' (Black's 'Exegetical Study of the Oriental Scriptures,' p. 33).

Verse 14

So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest surely recover.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Took a thick cloth ... [ hamakbeer (H4346)] - 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.

Verse 16

And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.

Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat ... began to reign - (see the notes at 2 Kings 3:1.) His father resigned the throne to him two years before his death.

Verse 17

Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 18

And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.

Daughter of Ahab - Athaliah, through whose influence Jehoram introduced the worship of Baal and many other evils into the kingdom of Judah (see 2 Chronicles 21:2-20). This apostasy would have led to the total extinction of the royal family in that kingdom, had it not been for the divine promise to David, (2 Samuel 7:1-29.) A national chastisement, however, was inflicted on Judah by the revolt of Edom, which, being hitherto governed by a tributary ruler (2 Kings 3:9; 1 Kings 22:47), erected the standard of independence (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 21:9).

Verses 19-23

Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah for David his servant's sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 24

And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.

Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead - (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 22:1-6.)

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