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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 8

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Introduction

Second Kings Chapter 8

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."

This Shunammite woman had befriended Elisha on several occasions. He had prayed, and God had brought her son back to life on one occasion. He knew of the 7 year famine, that would come upon the land. He went to his friend, and told her to take her family out of the land, before the famine begins. The famine in Egypt, at the time of Joseph, had been for 7 years, as well. It seems, a severe famine lasts 7 years.

2 Kings 8:2 "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."

This woman does not doubt what the prophet Elisha has told her. She immediately does exactly as the prophet has told her to do. She knows that Elisha spoke as an oracle of God. She chose the land of the Philistines, because they were less subject to famine. Grain was plentiful there, and there was much water there, as well. She was a woman of means, so she could move fairly easily.

2 Kings 8:3 "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."

She had not sold her land, but had left it to find safety for her family. When she came back after the seven years, it seems, someone had tried to claim her place. She had gone to the king to judge on the matter.

2 Kings 8:4 "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."

This particular account was while Gehazi was still in good standing with Elisha. Later on, Gehazi becomes a leper because of his greed and lying. The king, perhaps, had not heard much of the miracles Elisha had done, and who would be better to tell him of them than his closest servant?

2 Kings 8:5 "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."

Of course, the greatest miracle that Gehazi had seen Elisha do, was the restoration of life to the young boy. God arranged, that at the very moment he is telling of this miracle, the woman, who it happened to, would enter. She will confirm the fact, that this miracle really did take place.

2 Kings 8:6 "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."

Not only did she have the opportunity to tell the king of the miracles of Elisha, but the king believed her about her claim for her land, and she was restored her property, as well.

2 Kings 8:7 "And Elisha came to Damascus; and Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither."

We are not told why Elisha came to Damascus. We can safely assume the LORD sent him. He might have been having trouble in Samaria at this time, but I would assume, it was to meet Hazael. Ben-hadad, king of Syria, is sick. Everyone in Syria knew of the miracles that Elisha had performed in the past. The king will surely try to get help from Elisha.

2 Kings 8:8 "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?"

We know that before the ascension of Elijah into heaven, the LORD had told him to anoint Hazael as king of Syria. If he did that, it was long before the opportunity arose for Hazael to be king. It was Hazael that Benhadad sent to inquire of Elisha, if he would live over this sickness?

2 Kings 8:9 "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-hadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?"

Elisha was not the father of Ben-hadad. This was a way of showing the honor due Elisha from Ben-hadad. This gift, that he sent, was tremendous. The gift consisted of gold, and silver, and expensive clothing, just like the offering that Naaman had brought earlier for his cleansing from leprosy. He wanted Elisha to tell him, if the sickness he had was fatal, or not.

2 Kings 8:10 "And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die."

It appears, that the king is going to die. Hazael would, probably, not want to tell the king that. Elisha just says, "if you want to, go and tell him he will live, but he will die".

2 Kings 8:11 "And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept."

This is speaking of Elisha. When he could control his feelings no longer, he began to weep.

2 Kings 8:12 "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."

Hazael appeared to be concerned about Elisha, but he was not interested in anyone, except himself. We must stop and take note that even an evil king, like Hazael, was king because God put him in power. Wars, in this region of the world, were bloody, cruel wars where all of the things Elisha mentioned above are commonplace. They did not have human feelings toward their enemies, or their families.

2 Kings 8:13 "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."

At the time that Elisha said this, Hazael did not even know that he would be king. To call someone a dog, was about the lowest name you could call them. Hazael denies that he would act like a dog, if he became king. Elisha reminds him that the LORD showed him Hazael as king, and the kind of king he would be.

2 Kings 8:14 "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."

He told the king what he wanted to hear. We are not told, whether Elisha accepted the camels with all the gifts on them, or not. We do know that he gave Hazael a different answer, than the one he gave Ben-hadad.

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."

This, to me, is saying that Hazael suffocated Ben-hadad to death. This makes the answer that Elisha gave a little more understandable. Ben-hadad would have recovered from his illness, had not Hazael suffocated him with the wet pillow over his face. Hazael was next in line, to became king.

2 Kings 8:16 "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."

This is on an entirely different subject here. The rule of the kings of Syria are dropped, and now, this reflects back to the rule of the kings in Judah. There were two kings named Joram, or Jehoram. One ruled in Israel, and one in Judah. It is very strange that Israel would have a king by the same name as the king of Judah, at the same time. Jehoram of Judah married the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. He did not follow in the footsteps of his father Jehoshaphat, who did right in the sight of God. Both, Jehoram of Judah and Jehoram of Israel, were very evil.

2 Kings 8:17 "Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem."

This Jehoram {Joram} of Judah, reigned until he was 40 years old.

2 Kings 8:18 "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."

He brought the worship of Baal and Astarte to Judah. Probably, his evil wife brought them with her. Her mother, Jezebel, and her father, Ahab, had introduced the worship of these false deities in Israel. This wife’s name was Athaliah, and she was just as evil as her mother.

2 Kings 8:19 "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."

We see the only reason God did not destroy Judah, was because of his promise to David. There would always be a glimmer of the Light of the LORD in Judah.

2 Kings 8:20 "In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves."

Edom was the land that Esau settled so many years ago. Edom was an enemy of God’s people continuously. They were constantly breaking away from Judah, and proclaiming their freedom. This is just one more time, when they did that very thing.

2 Kings 8:21 "So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents."

Joram is the same as Jehoram. He fought with the Edomites, to keep them from gaining their freedom from Judah.

2 Kings 8:22 "Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time."

The battle of Jehoram was not effective. They still revolted. Libnah was near Philistia. They took advantage of the revolt of Edom and revolted, too.

2 Kings 8:23 "And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?"

2 Kings 8:24 "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."

This is that same book of records, that is not in the Bible. He was buried in the city of David. His very evil son, Ahaziah, who was the grandson of Jezebel and Ahab, reigned in his stead. Ahaziah was, also, called Azariah, and Jehoahaz.

2 Kings 8:25 "In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign."

I suppose, it is giving the name of the king of Israel, when each person is king of Judah, to show who they had to deal with during their reign. Ahaziah, probably was acting king during the two years of his father’s illness. At his death, he became sole ruler.

2 Kings 8:26 "Two and twenty years old [was] Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel."

His mother’s father was, actually, Ahab. Omri was her grandfather. The name "Athaliah" means whom Jehovah hath afflicted. Omri was prominent, because he did a great deal to establish the ten tribes as separate Israel.

2 Kings 8:27 "And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as [did] the house of Ahab: for he [was] the son in law of the house of Ahab."

This is speaking of him carrying on the worship of Baal in Judah. He was a relative of Ahab. His mother was the daughter of Ahab.

2 Kings 8:28 "And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramoth-gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram."

2 Kings 8:29 "And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick."

His father and his uncle, both, were named Joram or Jehoram. It would be a likely thing for these close relatives to join forces in battle against a mutual enemy. We remember, that Hazael was unusually wicked. He called himself a dog, when Elisha told him of what he would do. Ramoth-gilead was in the hands of Israel at the time of this war. Hazael was the aggressor, then. His uncle, Joram, was wounded in the battle, but it was not a fatal wound. It appears, that he and his uncle left the battlefront in the hands of capable captains, and went home to their capitals. It appears, from this, that Ahaziah actually took Joram, king of Israel, to Jezreel to be healed, before he went home to his own capital.

2 Kings 8 Questions

1. Elisha warned the Shunammite woman of a ___________.

2. How long will the famine last?

3. Where did she take her family, until the famine was over.

4. She knows that Elisha speaks as an ___________ of God.

5. Why did she choose the land of the Philistines?

6. After the 7 year famine, what did the woman do?

7. Who was the king speaking with, when she came to him?

8. What had the king asked him?

9. Gehazi told him of what miracle?

10. What did Gehazi tell the king that helped get her land back for her?

11. In 2 Kings 8:7, where did Elisha go?

12. Who was sick?

13. Who did Ben-hadad send to inquire of Elisha?

14. What did the king want to know?

15. How large was the gift he brought to Elisha?

16. What did Elisha tell Hazael to say?

17. Why did the man of God weep?

18. What does Hazael call himself in 2 Kings 8:13?

19. How did Elisha know of the evil he would do?

20. How did Ben-hadad really die?

21. What two kingdoms had a king named Joram, or Jehoram?

22. Jehoram of Judah reigned, until he was ________ years old.

23. What was the only reason God did not destroy Judah?

24. Who revolted from Judah?

25. How old was Ahaziah, when he began to reign?

26. What kind of a king was he?

27. Who did Hazael war against at Ramoth-gilead?

28. Who was wounded in battle, and taken to Jezreel to heal?

Verses 1-6

2Ki 8:1-6

2 Kings 8:1-6

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, and Martin wrote that it was Jehu. (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." 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." "Eunuch is the preferred meaning here for propriety’s sake when a man accompanied a lady." 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)."

"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."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:1. The famine of the preceding chapter was local, confined to a city and caused by a military siege. The one predicted now will be a miraculous one and will affect the land in general. A natural famine would not likely continue for a definite number of years as this one is to continue. In two respects it will be like the famine in Egypt in the time of Joseph. It is to last just seven years, and the Lord was to call for it. (Psalms 105:16). In kind appreciation for past favors from the woman, Elisha warned her of the coming distress so she could arrange some place to live.

2 Kings 8:2. Acting upon the advice of Elisha, the woman went into the land of the Philistines where she remained for the duration of the famine. This land seems to have been more fortunate in times of famine. Isaac went there (Genesis 26:1) at such a time and prospered. Now this woman went there to escape the famine in her country.

2 Kings 8:3. In the absence of the owner during the famine, the woman’s property had been unlawfully seized by some person. She was unable to dislodge the intruder and had to appeal to the king for relief.

2 Kings 8:4. Before the woman came to the king, however, he had entered into conversation with Gehazi, personal servant of Elisha. It would be expected that he would make mention of his master, the prophet, and of his greatness in general. But general reference to the accomplishments of the man of God did not satisfy the king.

2 Kings 8:5. Among the great things Gehazi told the king was the feat of restoring to life the son of a certain woman. Just as he was telling the king about it, that very woman came into their presence to make the petition mentioned in V. 3. That served as an excellent introduction, and Gehazi confirmed her plea by connecting her with the miracle then being reported.

2 Kings 8:6. The word famine is from BLAB and Strong’s definition is, "hunger (more or less extensive)." From this definition we would conclude that even in a time of famine, there would be some products of the land available. In Genesis 43:11 we read that in spite of the general famine, Jacob was able to send nuts and other products as a "present" into Egypt. Some things could be staples that had been stored for many years, but nuts and other such things would not likely be suitable for food after too many seasons. The conclusion is, therefore, that a state of general dearth would not entirely stop the production of such articles as would be brought forth from the deeper moisture of the earth. This all agrees with the "more or less extensive" part of the definition. There would not be sufficient for sustenance of the whole citizenry, but a scant subsistence might be maintained by a person here and there, through the use of these commodities. They could be exchanged at some market within reach for the more necessary items of food. Such use had been made of this woman’s land in her absence. The king ordered her property to be given up by the usurper, and also to have her reimbursed for these things that had been produced while she was out of the country.

Verses 7-9

2Ki 8:7-9

2 Kings 8:7-9

ELISHA IN DAMASCUS; THE KING INQUIRED OF HIM

"And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thy hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of Jehovah by him, saying, Shall I recover of this sickness? 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 Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover from this sickness?"

That Elisha was honorably received in Damascus at that time might have been due to his fame that resulted from the healing of Naaman. Certainly, something had changed from that situation in which Benhadad sought to capture him (2 Kings 6:13 ff). "Not only in Israel, but also in the neighboring nations, Elisha was well known and respected as God’s man."

"And the king said unto Hazael" (2 Kings 8:8). This character should not be confused with the father of Benhadad, who was called the son of Hazael (2 Kings 13:3). This Hazael was the "son of a nobody," who murdered Benhadad and seized his throne.

"Hazael ... took a present with him ... forty camels’ burden ... Shall I recover of this sickness?" (2 Kings 8:9). "One camel’s burden is six hundred pounds"; but, "This affair must be judged according to Oriental custom of making a grand display with the sending of presents, employing as many men or beasts of burden as possible to carry them, each one of them carrying only a single article."

"Shall I recover of this sickness?" That the king of Syria would bring such a question before Elisha is a strong indication that the Gentiles, generally, throughout that whole era, were aware of the True God’s existence and of the worthlessness of the pagan deities of the peoples.

The exact date of this event is not known; however, "The inscriptions of Shalmanezer III, record his victory over Benhadad in 846 B.C. and another victory over Hazael, whom he described as `a nobody who seized the throne,’ in the year 842 B.C. This would have been during the reign of Jehoram in Judah, about three years before Jehu seized the throne of Israel."

A number of scholars suppose that Elisha anointed Hazael king over Syria on this trip, but there is nothing here to support such a view. God had commanded Elijah at Horeb to anoint Hazael (1 Kings 19:15); and there are two ways of understanding what happened: (1) Either Elijah went to Damascus and anointed him without any Scriptural record of it being recorded, or (2) Elijah transferred the obligation to Elisha who anointed him without any record of it being placed in the Bible. LaSor assumed that, "Elisha’s doing so was the purpose of this visit." Honeycutt also wrote that, "The anointings, both of Hazael and of Jehu, were fulfilled by Elisha." The Lord has not revealed to us everything that happened, because such information, if we had it, would be of no value. The purpose of the sacred author was that of revealing the manner of God’s triumph over paganism.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:7. Damascus was the principal city i of Syria, and was located just north of Israel. Elisha went to that place where an occasion came up for making a prediction. Ben-hadad was the king of Syria, and he was sick. He heard of the arrival of Elisha.

2 Kings 8:8. The Syrian king had knowledge of the talents of Elisha, and decided to appeal to him for information. Hazael was an attendant upon Benhadad and did service at the royal court. He was told to take the customary "present" and call upon Elisha. Shall I recover of this disease? All that Ben-hadad had in mind when he sent for answer to this question was whether his illness was necessarily fatal. He knew nothing of the other conditions that might arise.

2 Kings 8:9. The extent of the present which Hazael took to Elisha would tell the reader that such was not to meet any material need for just one man. See the comments at Genesis 32:13 for further explanation. Thy son was a figurative term that denoted a feeling of respect. Hazael delivered the very question of his king to Elisha.

Verses 10-13

2Ki 8:10-13

2 Kings 8:10-13

ELISHA’S ANSWER TO BENHADAD THROUGH HAZAEL

"And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him. Thou shalt surely recover; howbeit Jehovah hath showed me that he shall surely die. And he settled his countenance stedfastly upon him, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. 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 strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what is thy servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, Jehovah hath showed me that thou shalt be king over Syria."

We find some of the comments scholars have made about this reply of Elisha to the question of Benhadad very disgusting. Snaith declared that, "The purpose of the oracle (the prophecy) was to lure Benhadad into false confidence," and that, "Elisha at once took steps to insure the death of Benhadad." "Some even attribute Hazael’s foul crime to Elisha’s instigation." Such opinions are wrong and sinful.

Harold Stigers gives us the proper understanding of what is written here. "Thou mayest certainly recover (2 Kings 8:10). This means, Go, say to the king, as you have already intended to do, `Thou shalt surely live’; however, the Lord has shown me that he shall surely die (by your hand)."

The very thing overlooked by those who miss the true interpretation here is, that Elisha did NOT say that, "Jehovah says the king will recover," because the Lord did not say that, nor did Elisha declare that God did say it. He merely told Hazael, the cruel assassin who stood in front of him, "Go ahead and assure him of his recovery as you have already decided to do, but God has revealed to me that HE WILL DIE." Those who speak of the prophet’s "apparent lie" in this passage have simply failed to read what is written.

The prophet gave only one answer to Benhadad through Hazael, namely, that he would die, but Hazael concealed that answer from Benhadad, and then went ahead and lied to him about his recovery just exactly as Elisha had said he would do. The proof of this is evident in the shame of Hazael as he could not stand before the withering gaze of God’s prophet. "Elisha’s fixed gaze upon Hazael surely revealed to Hazael that his guilty purpose of usurping Benhadad’s throne was certainly known to Elisha."

Hazael lied to his lord, promising him recovery, when Elisha had plainly told him, "Thus saith the Lord, he shall surely DIE." The promise of recovery was never a part of what the Lord said through Elisha. That lie originated entirely in the evil heart of Hazael, as detected and exposed by Elisha.

"I know the evil that thou wilt do to the children of Israel" (2 Kings 8:12). The terrible crimes mentioned here, which Elisha stated that Hazael would commit, were in no sense offensive to that evil usurper. Hazael even referred to them as "a great thing" (2 Kings 8:13).

"What is thy servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing" (2 Kings 8:13). "Hazael here should not have maligned the more noble brute than himself (the dog), suggesting that any creature except man was capable of such villainy." This remark by Hazael should not be misunderstood. He was merely saying that he was only a SLAVE of Benhadad and that he had no power to do such things as Elisha had mentioned. Then Elisha plainly told him of the Divine prophecy of his accession to the throne of Syria.

The horrible atrocities which Elisha here prophesied would mark Hazael’s actions against Israel are very similar to those terrible deeds mentioned by Amos in the first two chapters of his prophecy. Such deeds were characteristic of the warfare of all nations in that era; and we might add that, even today, there is no such thing as a "kind" war.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:10. We do not believe that an inspired man would contradict himself. When a statement is made that seems to disagree with another, an explanation will be apparent if an attempt is made with fairness. As far as the illness was concerned, Ben-hadad need not die, and the message that Elisha intended for the Syrian king went that far only. The prediction of the last half of the verse was made to Hazael, and of course he did not tell that to his master.

2 Kings 8:11. Ashamed is from an original that means also "to be long." It here means that Elisha had set an expression on his face that continued for a long time, and he finally burst into tears. Inspired men can write or speak only what they see revealed, and such revelations often come to them as the occasion arises. When Elisha had delivered the prediction that Benhadad was to die, the Lord opened up another vision regarding the future of Syria. That had so much sorrow in it that it brought forth the weeping just mentioned.

2 Kings 8:12. Up to this point in the conversation, there is no indication that Hazael knew the significance of Elisha’s prediction of the death of Benhadad. When he asked the prophet why he was weeping, the answer connected it with his own mistreatment of the people of Syria. Among the acts of violence he was going to commit, were the dashing of the children against the ground or other hard surfaces, and the murderous mutilation of expectant mothers.

2 Kings 8:13. The Old Testament has one word only for "dog." The literal meaning is the same as we understand by it today. The next definition is "a male prostitute." It next has a figurative meaning, being used to express the idea of unworthiness, and a general state of weakness. Hazael used the word in its figurative sense. "How could I, a private man, and one as insignificant as a dog, accomplish all these things thou hast predicted of me?" Hence the word as used in the present connection does not mean a dog in its moral sense, for that would be the very kind of character that would commit the horrible deeds described. The remark of Hazael brought forth the additional prediction that he was to become king of Syria. With such power, and with the disposition to misuse that power which so many kings show, he would be in a position to do the things predicted by Elisha.

Verses 14-15

2Ki 8:14-15

2 Kings 8:14-15

HAZAEL RETURNED TO THE KING; LIED TO HIM; AND ASSASSINATED HIM THE NEXT DAY

"Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said unto him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou wouldest surely recover. And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took the coverlet, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead."

"He took the coverlet ... and spread it on his face, so that he died" (2 Kings 8:15). "The noun translated `coverlet’ is otherwise unknown"; and the opinions of scholars that it was "a mosquito net" or maybe "a pillow" are of no consequence. Whatever it was, it was an effective instrument by which Hazael suffocated Benhadad, the king of Syria.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:14. The report that Hazael gave his master was a faithful one. He was not instructed. to say anything on the subject of his death; that prediction was made to Hazael only. The words shouldest surely are not in the Hebrew text. The word recover is from a word that has been translated "live" 148 times. The answer, therefore, that Elisha sent back to Benhadad was that he would live, but nothing was said as to how long. The Lord had his own reason for withholding part of the truth from him.

2 Kings 8:15. We do not know how far Elisha’s predictions influenced Hazael in his actions. In 1 Kings 11:27 we are told that Jeroboam’s rebellion was caused by the prediction recorded in V. 31 of that chapter. Elisha told Hazael that his king would die, and that he would reign in his stead. If the Lord predicts some evil act of mankind, that prediction will be fulfilled. But that fact will not justify the evil motive of the one doing the evil. See Luke 17:1; 1 Corinthians 11:19. Hazael committed the brutal murder of his helpless master by suffocating him with a damp cloth. By that act he brought about the fulfillment of a prediction, but we have no intimation that God was pleased with it. His motive for the deed was a selfish one.

Verses 16-19

2Ki 8:16-19

2 Kings 8:16-19

TWO DIFFERENT JEHORAM’S REIGNING IN BOTH JUDAH AND ISRAEL

"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. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife; and he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. Howbeit Jehovah would not destroy Judah, for David his servant’s sake, as he promised to give unto him a lamp for his children alway."

"It was the religious solidarity of the Judean kings with the apostasy of Northern Israel" that led to the inclusion of the record of their reigns just here. The lamp of truth burned very dimly in Israel at this time, in both kingdoms. Only by God’s direct intervention was it kept burning. That intervention was planned in this chapter and executed in 2 Kings 9.

"Joram ... Jehoram" (2 Kings 8:16). "These names are the same, Joram being merely an abbreviation of the other." The Jehoram of Israel was generally referred to as Joram. Only a very brief record of the reign of Jehoram in Judah is given here, but there is a much fuller account of all his wickedness in 2 Chronicles 21.

"It is confusing that these two Jehorams reigned simultaneously in Israel and Judah for about three years."

"For he had the daughter of Ahab to wife" (2 Kings 8:18). This evil woman, of course, was the daughter of Jezebel. "That disastrous political marriage which Jehoshaphat unwisely allowed," was the instrument by which Satan almost removed faith in Jehovah from the chosen people. Athaliah, here called the daughter of Ahab (and Jezebel) is also called "the granddaughter of Omri" (2 Kings 8:26 RSV), and "the daughter of Omri" (2 Kings 8:26 KJV). The words "son" and "daughter" are used nine different ways in the Bible, and one of the meanings is "descendant of" (Matthew 1:1). Snaith mentioned these variations, referring to "daughter of Omri" as incorrect; but, of course, in the light of Biblical usage throughout the Holy Scriptures, all of these designations are absolutely correct!

"He did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah" (2 Kings 8:18). Of course, when we discuss 2 Chronicles 21, we shall understand more fully the implications of this. "One of the worst of Jehoram’s terrible sins was his ruthless murder of his six brothers merely for the purpose of seizing their wealth (2 Chronicles 21:4)."

To be sure, the gross wickedness of Jehoram would have resulted in the total destruction of him and his dynasty, "If the Lord had not promised to preserve a shoot to the royal family for David’s sake." The nature of this promise to David is revealed in 2 Samuel 7:13-16, in which the Lord said, "If thy children forsake my Law, and walk not in my statutes, I will visit their offenses with the rod, and their sin with scourges, but I will not utterly take away, nor suffer my truth to fail. My covenant I will not break." In this very chapter, we shall see evidences of the rod, and of the scourges. Also, see 2 Chronicles 21:12-19.

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:16. Joram and Jehoram were forms of the same name. Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, each had a son with that name. The wording of this verse is somewhat unusual. The writer seems eager to give us plenty of details. The meaning is that the Jehoram who was the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign in the fifth year of the Jehoram who was the son of Ahab. The extra detail is put in, that Jehoshaphat was still reigning in. Judah, down to the fifth year of Jehoram, king in Israel. The reader should again consult the comments at 1 Kings 12:17.

2 Kings 8:17. The item of where the kings reigned is given because there were two kingdoms of the children of Israel. Jerusalem was the capital of one, Samaria the other.

2 Kings 8:18. There was no law against marrying into another tribe. The fact of Jehoram’s taking the daughter of Ahab to wife is stated, therefore, to help account for his evil reign. It is a strong argument against marriage with a family of doubtful principles, because of the evil influences. See 1 Corinthians 15:33.

2 Kings 8:19. In spite of the evil conduct of Jehoram, God suffered the kingdom of Judah to continue for the time, in respect for David. A light means a representative to sit on the throne in the royal line.

Verses 20-24

2Ki 8:20-24

2 Kings 8:20-24

A SUMMARY OF THE REIGN OF JORAM (JEHORAM) IN JUDAH

"In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. Then Joram passed over to Zair, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night and smote the Edomites that compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots; and the people fled to their tents. So Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then did Libnah revolt at the same time. And the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 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."

The Edomites had been subjected by David and remained under the dominion of Solomon, from whom they revolted for a time when the kingdom divided. However, they again came under the dominion of Judah during the reign of Jehoshaphat, but this revolt against Joram resulted in their independence. "They remained from henceforth a separate and independent nation; and the kings of Edom are often mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions."

"The text of 2 Kings 8:21 here is confused"; but what seems to be reported here is a disastrous route of Joram’s army and his being surrounded by the Edomite troops. "Jehoram with his chariots was able to break through the surrounding Edomites and escape with his life, leaving the rest of his army to escape as best they could."

"This military disaster which stopped just short of being complete ... was followed by the loss of Libnah a city to the southwest of Judah, probably in the area of the Philistines."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:20. This verse shows the fulfillment of the prediction made by Jacob to Esau. (Genesis 27:40). The Edomites were descendants of Esau.

2 Kings 8:21. Joram, king of Judah, attempted to force the Edomites back into subjection. He took some forces and attacked the people at Zair, an Edomite city, and defeated the people of that place, driving them into their tents.

2 Kings 8:22. The victory over the forces at Zair was local only, and the Edomites continued to be independent. Their success encouraged the people of Libnah, a Canaanitish community, also to declare their independence.

2 Kings 8:23. For chronicles see 1 Kings 14:19.

2 Kings 8:24. Slept with his fathers is explained at 1 Kings 2:10. City of David was the principal borough of Jerusalem, and the place of headquarters for the kings.

Verses 25-29

2Ki 8:25-29

2 Kings 8:25-29

SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE LIQUIDATION OF AHAB’S HOUSE

"In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign. Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, as did the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab. And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael the king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead: and the Syrians wounded Joram. And king Joram returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick."

"The reign of Ahaziah was very brief, lasting only about a year in 841 B.C." The purpose of this paragraph is that of bringing to one place the final posterity of Ahab for the execution of God’s judgment upon that wicked monarch and the prophecy that his dynasty would end.

This could not have been viewed as an ordinary accomplishment, because the house of Ahab was now on the thrones of BOTH Israel and Judah, but God used Joram’s illness in Jezreel to bring Ahaziah from Jerusalem, thus bringing together both branches of Ahab’s house and enabling the termination of both of them at once!

Appropriately, the final settlement of God’s account with the house of Ahab would take place at Jezreel, at that very vineyard of Naboth, where through Ahab’s murder of that righteous man, the dogs licked his blood, and, in the next chapter, we shall see how the dogs indeed licked the blood of Ahab in the person of his grandson Ahaziah in the very same place. None of God’s prophecies ever failed!

Regarding that war in which the two kings had jointly opposed Hazael at Ramoth-Gilead, "It was apparently successful. It was recovered by Israel (2 Kings 9:14) and remained thenceforth in the hands of Israel."

Josephus gives us a little more complete information on what took place in that battle. "Joram was struck by an arrow in the course of the siege, but remained until the place surrendered. He then withdrew to Jezreel, leaving his army under Jehu within the walls of the town."

Thus, the stage was set perfectly for the liquidation of the house of Ahab. His total posterity were gathered together at Jezreel, and Jehu who was destined to be the executioner of God’s purpose was left in charge of the military force that was needed to accomplish it.

To all intents and purposes, the Syrians killed Joram the king of Israel, although, of course, they only wounded him. "His convalescence at Jezreel became the occasion for the visit of Ahaziah thus providing the occasion when Jehu’s bloody purge terminated the dynasty of Ahab."

E.M. Zerr:

2 Kings 8:25-26. The preceding verse had said merely that Ahaziah took the throne after the death of his father. This one gives us the date, based on the reign of the king then on the throne of Israel. He reigned one year only, and it was a turbulent time for him. The mother’s name is given according to the thoughts at 1 Kings 14:21.

2 Kings 8:27. Son-in-law of the house of Ahab means he married into that line. The fact is mentioned as an explanation, in part at least, of his wicked reign.

2 Kings 8:28. Ramoth-gilead was an important city east of the Jordan, and had been in the control of the Syrians for several years. The kings of Israel and Judah joined in an expedition to wrest the city from Hazael, the king then on the throne of Syria. The action was successful although Joram was wounded.

2 Kings 8:29. Jezreel was a city that became noted in the days of Ahab. To this place Joram went for treatment of the wounds inflicted on him by the Syrians. Ramah was another name for Ramoth-gilead. The close of the verse is merely an incidental mention of the sick call of one king upon another.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Kings 8". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-kings-8.html.
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