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Bible Commentaries

Parker's The People's Bible

2 Kings 6

Verses 1-23

2Ki 6:1-23

1. And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell [where we sit before thee] with thee is too strait for us [their numbers had increased (comp. 2Ki 4:43 )].

2. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam [the Jordan valley was well-wooded], and let us make a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

3. And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants [to superintend; to help in case of difficulty]. And he answered, I will go.

4. So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood [timber].

5. But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell [Heb., and as for the iron, it fell] into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas [my lord, Elisha], master! for it was borrowed.

6. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither: and the iron did swim.

7. Therefore [And he said] said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.

8. ¶ Then the king of Syria warred [Now the king of Syria (Aram) was warring, i.e. continually] against Israel, and took counsel [comp. 2Ch 20:21 ] with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp [or, encamping].

9. And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass [pass over, across, or through] not such a [this] place: for thither [there] the Syrians are come [coming] down.

10. And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned [ Eze 3:19 ; 2Ch 19:10 ] him of, and saved himself [was wary; on his guard] there, not once nor twice.

11. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled [literally, storm-tost] for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

12. And one of his servants said, None [Nay], my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel [all] the words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber.

13. ¶ And he said, Go and spy where he is that I may send and fetch [take] him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

14. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host [of infantry; not an army, but a company]: and they came by night [so as to surprise], and compassed the city about.

15. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early [comp., for the Hebrew construction, Psalms 127:2 ; Isaiah 5:11 ; Hos 6:4 ], and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

16. And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them [comp. Numbers 14:9 ; Psa 3:6 ].

17. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw [just as Elisha's had been opened (2 Kings 2:10 , 2Ki 2:12 ). (Comp. also Num 22:31 )], and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire [literally, horses and chariots, to wit, fire (Genesis 15:17 ; Exodus 3:2 , Exodus 13:21 , seq., Exodus 19:16 , seq. ; Isaiah 29:6 , Isaiah 30:30 , Isaiah 30:33 , Isa 33:14 )] round about Elisha.

18. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed [mentally, as he approached his foes] unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness [a dazing effect, with mental bewilderment]. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

19. ¶ And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring [lead] you to the man whom ye seek [an irony]. But he led [guided] them to Samaria.

20. And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

21. And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father [comp. 2 Kings 2:12 , 2 Kings 8:9 ("Thy son Benhadad"), 2Ki 13:14 ], shall I smite them? shall I smite them [or, May I smite, may I smite, my father? How eager was the king to slay his powerless enemies! He asks the prophet's permission (comp. 2Ki 4:7 )].

22. And he answered, Thou shalt [or, must] not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.

23. And he [the king of Israel] prepared great provision [a great feast] for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

Elisha and the Young Prophets

We see in the opening of this chapter some of the simple and happy relations which existed between the elder and the younger prophets. Is it not possible to revive some of these relations? Look at the case: "And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us" ( 2Ki 6:1 ). Put into modern language the statement amounts to this: "Our college is getting too small, we want more room; let us, therefore, consider this practical question, and see what can be done." Elisha did not live with the young men. That, perhaps, was rather a happy than an unhappy circumstance, though a very beautiful picture could be drawn concerning domestic collegiate life. A college or a school with the teachers and students all living together must, one would surely say, be a little heaven upon earth. What can be, ideally, more perfect than the old prophet surrounded by all the younger prophets, eating and living together, having a common room, and a common hostelry, or a common home? What can be, imaginatively, more taking, more pathetic and satisfactory? Without pronouncing a judgment upon that inquiry, it is enough to be so far just to the text as to say that Elisha did not adopt that system of collegiate life. He went round about from place to place; he visited the schools of the prophets in the various localities; and now, when he came to this place, the young men said: "We have not room enough; we must consider our circumstances, and endeavour to enlarge our accommodation."

What did they propose? It is well now and again to hear what young men have to suggest. It is useful to listen to young politicians in national crises, that we may hear how they would treat the patient. It is desirable that young voices should mingle with old voices in the common council. Now it is the turn of the young men to speak. What will they propose to Elisha? The answer is given in the second verse: "Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make a place there where we may dwell." The city was not situated exactly upon the Jordan, but upon a stream a little way from it, which flowed directly into that great river; and now the young men proposed to get a little nearer to the main stream, for the district of it was called The Valley of Palms. Palestine was notably destitute of trees, but in this particular locality timber was to be got. So the young men made the proposition to Elisha. What does the proposition amount to? It amounts to something which in this day might horrify a good many of the successors of Elisha. The young men said: "Let us go and cut down our own timber, and enlarge our college with our own hands." Did they propose that the question should be "reported upon" that it should be brought under the attention first of the general committee, then be referred to a sub-committee being bound to report to the general committee, and the general committee being unable to attend, or to constitute a quorum, and so go on to forget the whole business? The young men said: "We want room: let us make it; we want a larger college: let us build it." Why not adopt the same principle today? There is nothing so easy as to send round an appeal for a contribution and never get any reply to it. We, wanting to be missionaries, should go by the next boat; wanting to preach the gospel to the heathen, we should say: "When does the ship start?" and being unable to pay the fare, we should work our passage. And when people ask us what we are doing, and whether we have lost our senses, we should say: "Yes; if we be beside ourselves, it is unto God." Then an impression might be made upon those who look on. They would say; "Surely these men are in earnest; be they right, or be they wrong: be they fanatical or sober-minded, their earnestness burns in them like a fire, and such men can neither be put back nor kept down." Without wishing, however, to modernise the details of this incident, which, owing to our civilisation, would be impossible, it is enough to remember that, in the early days of collegiate and school life, the scholars were prepared to do something towards helping themselves. They did not send for builders from Jerusalem, or even from the city of Jericho; they undertook the work at their own impulse and at their own charges. There is a line of beauty even in the proposition of the young men. They desired Elisha's permission. They said in effect, "Father, may we go?" They were enthusiastic, but they were under discipline; they had fire enough, but they responded to the touch of the master; they were ready, not only to go, but to run, and yet they would not stir a foot until Elisha said, "Go ye." What then did they do? "And one said [to Elisha], Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants" ( 2Ki 6:3 ). They were stronger when the elder man was with them. Sometimes the eye is the best master. It often happens that the man who is standing in the harvest field resting upon his rake, a picture of dignity and ease, is doing more than if he were sweltering himself by cutting down corn with his own sickle: his eye is doing the work, his presence is exerting an immeasurable and happy influence upon the whole field. Elisha was not asked to go and fell the timber, but to be with the young men whilst they did the hard work; and, becoming young again himself, as old men do become young when associated with young life, he instantly said: "I will go: the work is a common work; it belongs to me as well as to you; it belongs to all Israel, in so far as all Israel is true to the living God; come, let us go in one band: union is strength." Now they went, the old and the young together. Why would they not go alone? Perhaps they were reminded of what happened when once they did go alone. Elisha ordered that food should be prepared, and when the seething pot was on, one of the young men went out and gathered something and threw it into the pot, and nearly poisoned the whole college. What wonder if some of them, remembering this, said: "No more going out alone, if you please; we once took the case into our own hands, and do you not remember how many of us fell sick, and how we cried to Elisha, 'Master, father, there is death in the pot!' and how he kindly took a handful of meal, sprinkled it into the vessel, and restored its healthfulness? The pot was relieved of all the disease which it contained, and the meal happily proceeded." We should remember our blunders, and learn from them. We are always safer in the company of the old and wise than when we are in our own society. Happy is the man who takes counsel with his elder neighbours, and who can sometimes renounce himself and say to wise men: "Such and such are my circumstances; now, what would you advise me to do?"

Elisha and the young men have now gone down to the Jordan. Elisha felled no tree; but he did his own particular kind of work. What that particular kind of work was will further appear as the narrative proceeds.

The Syrian king could not rest. In his heart he hated or feared the king and the hosts of Israel. There was chronic war between Israel and Syria. The king of Syria said: "I will fix my camp in such and such a place;" and the ninth verse thus reads: "And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place, for thither the Syrians are come down." There is a ministry of warning. Men may not go themselves to battle, and yet they may be controlling the fortunes of war. We need statesmen, spiritual interpreters, religious teachers, men of thought and men of prayer; and they may be doing more practical work than is being done by those who are engaged in the physical work of leading armies and commanding military hosts. This is what Elisha did. He felled no tree; he wielded no sword; and yet, alike in the building of the college and in the direction of the war, his was the supreme mind. The prophet saved the king. This must always be the case. The great man of the nation is the man who can think most profoundly and most comprehensively. The architect is a greater man than the builder. The prophet is a greater man than the king. He reads more; he sees further; he grasps a larger field. He is master of metaphysical principles: and metaphysical principles alone endure: they wear the clothes of the present time; they adopt the form of the passing generation, but they go on from age to age, themselves always the same, their adaptations being addressed to the immediate necessities of the people. We have been told that "justice is not an intermittent apparition." That is perfectly true in one sense; but justice is often a deferred creditor, and sometimes that may be done tomorrow which cannot be justly done today. The prophet sees all this; he looks ahead; he has a larger horizon than is accessible to the vision of other men. So let it stand, an eternal lesson, that the greatest men in any nation are the men who can think most, pray best, feel most deeply, and penetrate the metaphysics and the inmost reality of politics and of civilisation.

Spiritual power is not only useful in one direction; it is alarming in another. When the king of Syria felt himself baffled, all his plans thrown into uncontrollable bewilderment, his heart was sore troubled. It is the Immeasurable that frightens men. It is the Unknown Quantity that troubles all their calculations, and gives them to feel that after they have completed their arithmetic their conclusion is a lie. What was in the air? Whose was this ghostly presence that was upsetting Benhadad's well-laid schemes? What was it, or who, that always went before him, and that made his proposals abortive, and turned all his policies into mocking nothings? Had there been any man who was visible and measurable, that man could have been dealt with. There is always a quantity equal to any quantity that is known. What is wanting in one way can be made up in another; as, for example, what is wanting in number may be made up in quality. As one great leader said in ancient history, when his soldiers were saying they were too few for the battle, "How many do you count me for?" That touched the fire of the army, and inspired the soldiers with confidence. But when the element that troubles the heart is not visible, not measurable, when it is here, there, round about, above, below, spectral, something in the wind, then even Benhadad, with his footmen and horsemen and chariots, cannot come at the awful thing. It is a presence without a shape, an influence without a magnitude. Now, this spectral ministry has never been wanting in human history. There is always something which even statesmen cannot calculate upon. There is not only a spirit in man, there is a spirit in the universe, there is a spirit in wide civilisation. Is it a spirit of justice? Is it a spirit of criticism? Is it a spirit of holiness? There it is, however, whatever it be; and we must take that into account when we lay our plans. The rich man made a map of his estate, drew it in beautiful and vivid and graphic lines, and when it was all done, he said: "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry; thy fortune is assured." "But" then the voice not human was heard "but God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee." Then the one thing, as we have often had occasion to say, which the rich man had forgotten in his calculations was God; in other words, was everything; or, in other terms still, was the only thing worth remembering, and ought to have been the first thing in the opening line of the calculation. Consult your own life, and say what it is that upsets your plan. You left the door open, purposing to return presently; and behold, when you do go back the door is shut from the inside locked, bolted; the wood is turned to iron, and there is no admission for you! Who did this? Lift up your voice; cry aloud; demand in emphatic tones: "Who did it?" and the dumb universe will not even grant you the reply of an echo. How is this? Surely "things are not what they seem." Surely there is a Throne above all other thrones; a Power higher than all known might. The Christian gives the answer a sure, strong, happy answer: "The Lord reigneth: he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth."

Now the matter was revealed to the king, and he took means to remove the spectral influence. He made this arrangement: "Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him;" and when he knew that Elisha was in Dothan the king sent "thither horses and chariots and a great host." What unconscious tributes bad men pay to good influences! Men do not know wholly what they are doing. Why, this was but a poor prophet, wearing a hairy robe that had descended to him; he was no king; he had no sword, he had no horse: he was but a man of prayer. How did Benhadad propose to capture him? The king sent "horses and chariots and a great host" to take a man whose sword was the word of God, whose helmet was the defence of the Most High, whose breast-plate was Righteousness! Here are three arms of the Syrian service footmen, horsemen, chariots; and remember that these were all employed to bring one poor man to the king's presence! Might not Elisha have said before Antigonus uttered it, "How many do you count me for?" He might well have taunted the king of Syria, saying: "Why all this ado? Would not one soldier have been enough to take one prophet? He might have come on foot; a horse was not necessary, and certainly not a sword; one soldier might surely have arrested me." But bad men unconsciously pay tribute to good men. They say, in effect, "Elisha is only one, but a stubborn one; only one tree, but his roots seem to have spread themselves through the earth, and to have taken hold of the entire scheme of things; he is only one, yet, strangely, he is many in one." And this, indeed, was the interpretation given by Elisha, for he said: "They that be with us are more than they that be with them," Who can tell how many angels are round about the praying-man? How is it that when the arresting hand is laid upon some men it becomes softened, the muscles relax, and have no more pith in them, and the men come back to say: "Never man spake like this man; arrest him we cannot"? This is a tribute paid to the Christian religion. Men have passed parliamentary statutes against it, but the religion of the cross has outlived the statutes has seen them grow into yellow letters, has observed them being cancelled, or otherwise passing into obsoleteness. Who can hinder the progress of the divine kingdom? Who can stay the chariot of God, saying: "No further shalt thou proceed"? Remember, Christian men, that you do not stand in your units only. You are not simply ones and twos. Not by arithmetic is your force or influence to be measured. You are the mediums through which the Spirit of the living God operates upon the age. Give him a noble outlet. Give him a free way through your heart, and say: "Make use of me, thou living Christ, so that I may be the means of occasioning immeasurable good to the age in which I live." Blessed are they whose defences are spiritual. Rich are they who are rich in faith, heirs for ever, never to be cut off by any law of parliament, who, through Christ, inherit the kingdom that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.

We are now brought to a very striking point in the incident. The servant of Elisha came back, saying: "Alas, my master! how shall we do? I have been up early, and behold a host compasses the city, both with horses and chariots." Then Elisha said; "Lord, open his eyes: let this young man see; at present he can only look upon appearances which are not realities. The universe is within the universe. The Bible is within the Bible. The man is within the man. This servant of mine sees only the outer circle, the rim or rind of things, Lord, show him the reality; let him see, and then he will be at peace." There is a view of sight; there is a view of faith. The worldly man goes by what his bodily eyes notice or discern; the spiritually-minded man walks by faith, not by sight. The telescope does not create the stars; the telescope only reveals them, or enables the eye to see them. If, then, a telescope can do this, shall we deny to that spiritual power within us called Faith the power which we ascribe to a mechanical instrument which our own hands have fashioned? Look upon a given object say you take a piece of glass, two inches square; look upon it, and say: Is there anything upon that glass? And looking with the naked eye, the sharpest man would say: "No, that glass is perfectly free from blot or stain, or flaw, or inscription of any kind whatsoever." Now put that same two-inch square of glass under a microscope; and look through the microscope. What is upon it? A portrait, or a long writing say the Lord's Prayer upon a speck not discernible by the naked eye. If, then, we ascribe such wonderful powers to a glass which we ourselves have determined as to its size and relation to other glasses, shall we deny to a certain spiritual faculty the power of seeing that which cannot be discriminated by unaided reason? By all the pressure of analogy, by all the reasoning of inference, we insist that, if such wonderful things can be done mechanically, things at least equally wonderful can be done by forces that are spiritual. The sun does not make the landscape; the sun only shows it. A man may stand upon a high hill on a dull, gray day and say: "I can imagine what this would be when the sun was shining." But no man can imagine light. It stands as a sacred mystery in our life that the sun never comes within the lines of imagination. The sunlight is a continual surprise, even to the eyes that have most reverently and lovingly studied it. When the sun looks upon the landscape there are new colours, new distances, new forms; a whole work is wrought upon the landscape which can only be described by the word "wizardry." So it is with the Bible, the great work of the living God. Look at it with the natural vision, and you may discover in it particular beauties. You may say: "The poetry is noble; the English is pure; and the moral sentiment of the book is not without a certain elevation." But the book wants no such reluctant or impoverished compliments. Let the soul be touched by the Spirit that wrote the book; let the eyes be anointed by the living God; and then the Bible is like a landscape shone upon by the noonday's cloudless sun. Then the reverent reader says: "The half had not been told me; up to this time I have been as one blind, but now I see;" and evermore the opened eyes are fascinated by the disclosed beauties of revelation, and to the end the observer reads with heightening delight and with still more glowing thankfulness.

Elisha took his own way with the Syrian army, and here occurs a point worthy of special note. When the Lord smote the people with blindness according to the word of Elisha, "Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria." What! Then did the man of God resort to a false strategy? This is a very serious case indeed, and has occasioned a good deal of difficulty. Nor need we wonder, for in The Speaker's Commentary we find such words as these: "Untruth has been held by all moralists to be justifiable towards a public enemy. Where we have a right to kill, much more have we a right to deceive by stratagem." When words like these occur in a Christian Commentary, no wonder that infidelity should seize upon the annotation as a prize, or use it as a weapon. No such comment can we adopt in perusing this portion of sacred Scripture. It cannot be justifiable to treat a public enemy by untruth or deception. We have no right to kill, and therefore we have no right to deceive by stratagem. This is not the way to recommend the word of the living God. The incident must be taken in its totality. The reader must not arrest the progress of the narrative by stopping here or there to ask a question; he must see the incident in its completeness, and, seeing it, he will have reason further to glorify God for the pure morality of the book and the noble spirit of the record. Elisha might well so far follow his illustrious predecessor as to use the weapon of irony or taunting in dealing with the Lord's enemies. Elijah said to the prophets of Baal: "Cry aloud: for he is a god." As well might we stop there and say: "By Elijah's own testimony deity was ascribed to Baal." We forget the irony of the tone; we forget that Elijah was mocking the debased prophets. So Elisha might say: "This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek." There was a taunt in the tone; there was sarcasm in the emphasis. Nor is the verse to be read in its unity; it is to be read as part and parcel of a whole narrative. Now what became of all this so-called deception and stratagem? When the people were come into Samaria, Elisha said, "Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see." He prayed first that their sight might be taken away. That seemed to be cruel. Now he prays that their sight may be given to them again. "And, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father," as if he had become a convert. The son of Ahab and the son of Jezebel said to Elisha: "My father" a reluctant and hypocritical compliment, for Jehoram could be neither reverent nor true. But, said he, observing the prize that was before him: "Shall I smite them? shall I smite them?" a Hebraism equal to "Smiting, shall I smite?" an equivalent of "Blessing, I will bless thee, and multiplying, I will multiply thee." So Jehoram said: "Shall I smiting, smite them?" And the prophet said: "No." Now let us hear what this man can say who has been judged guilty of untruth and of stratagem? And the prophet said, "Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow?" equal to: "If you yourself have won the victory then you can smite; but you did not take these men, and therefore you shall not smite them: what you have taken by your own sword and spear may be your lawful prize in war: but here is a capture with which you have had nothing to do." What, then, is to be done? Hear Elisha: "Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master." And so great provision was prepared; "and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master." We might even excuse a strategic act in order to secure such a conclusion.

What was the effect? "The bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel." This is the true revenge. This is the great miracle. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." "Love your enemies" is the great Christian maxim. Here is Christ operating in Elisha; here is the pre-incarnate Son of God; here is the Gospel in the Old Testament. Let us use our enemies in the same way. If, for a little time, we seem to practise upon them that which brings them into our power, let us see to it, that when they are in our hands they shall feel that, however desirable it may be to have a giant's strength, it is tyrannous to use it. Having got them into our power, let them hear how we can pray; let them observe how liberal we can be; let them carry back to the land of Syria the news that the kings of Israel are merciful kings, and the prophets of Israel are men of great, glowing, noble hearts. In this way by our benefactions we preach without words. In this way we comment upon the Spirit of the Cross which is the Spirit of Love!

Selected Note

Does the king of Syria devise well-concerted schemes for the destruction of Israel? God inspires Elisha to detect and lay them open to Jehoram. Benhadad, on hearing that it was he that thus caused his hostile movements to be frustrated, sent an armed band to Dothan in order to bring him bound to Damascus. The prophet's servant, on seeing the host of the enemy which invested Dothan, was much alarmed; but by the prayer of Elisha God reveals to him the mighty company of angels which were set for their defence. Regardless of consequences, the prophet went forth to meet the hostile band: and having again prayed, God so blinded them that they could not recognise the object of their search. The prophet then promised to lead them to where they might see him with the natural eye. Trusting to his guidance, they followed on till they reached the centre of Samaria, when, the optical illusion being removed, Elisha stands in his recognised form before them! Who can tell their confusion and alarm at this moment? The king is for putting them all to death; but, through the interposition of him whom they had just before sought to destroy, they were honourably dismissed to their own country (b.c. 892). But a year had scarcely elapsed from this time when Benhadad, unmindful of Israel's kindness and forbearance, invests Samaria and reduces its inhabitants to such a state of starvation that an ass's head, a proscribed animal by the Levitical law, was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab a quart or three pints of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.

Verses 24-33

2Ki 6:24-33

24. ¶ And it came to pass after [afterwards] this, that Benhadad [Ben-hahad 11, who had besieged Samaria in the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 20:1 .)], king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.

25. And there was [there arose: in consequence of the siege] a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they beseiged [were besieging] it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces [eighty shekels = about £10. Ass's flesh would not be ordinarily eaten, and the head would be the cheapest part. When Hannibal besieged Casalinum, Pliny states that a mouse was sold for 200 denarii (£6 5s.)], of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung [probably denotes some kind of common vegetable produce] for five pieces of silver [five shekels in silver = about 12s. 6 d .].

26. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.

27. And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor [Jehovah alone is the giver of corn and wine (comp. Hosea 9:2 ; Hos 2:8-9 )] or out of the winepress?

28. And the king said [compare these facts with Deuteronomy 28:56 , seq.; 1 Samuel 4:10 ; Eze 5:10 ] unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.

29. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son [perhaps to save him (comp. 1Ki 3:26 )].

30. ¶ And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes: and he passed [now he was passing] by upon the wall, and the people looked [saw], and, behold, he had sackcloth [the sackcloth was. "The sackcloth," i.e., the garb of penitence and woe ( 1Ki 21:27 )], within upon his flesh [comp. Isa 20:2-3 ].

31. Then he [the king] said, God do so and more also to me [literally, so may God do to me, and so may he add (comp. Ruth 1:17 ; 1 Samuel 3:17 ; 1Ki 2:23 )], if the head of Elisha [the king's horror is succeeded by indignation (comp. with the oath, 1Ki 19:2 )] the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

32. But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man [to behead the prophet] from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders [Elisha foreknew what was about to happen (comp. chap. 2Ki 5:26 )], See ye how this son of a murderer [referring to Ahab's murder of Naboth ( 1Ki 21:19 )] hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door [literally, press him back with the door]; is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?

33. And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came [was coming] down unto him: and he [the king] said, Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 6". Parker's The People's Bible. 1885-95.