2 Kings 6
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The Axe Head Recovered

1Now the [a]sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look now, the place where we [b]live near you is too small for us. 2Please let us go to the Jordan [River] and let each man take from there a beam [for the building]; and let us make a place there for ourselves where we may live.” And he answered, “Go.” 3Then one said, “Please be willing to go with your servants.” So he answered, “I shall go.” 4So he went with them; and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down [some of] the trees. 5But it happened that as one was cutting down a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Oh no, my master! It was borrowed!” 6The man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron [axe head] float. 7He said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out with his hand and took it.

The Arameans Plot to Capture Elisha

8Now the king of Aram (Syria) was making war against Israel, and he consulted with his servants, saying, “My camp shall be in such and such a place.” 9The man of God sent word to the king of Israel saying, “Be careful not to pass by this place, because the Arameans are pulling back to there.” 10Then the king of Israel sent word to the place about which Elisha had warned him; so he guarded himself there repeatedly.

11Now the heart of the king of Aram (Syria) was enraged over this thing. He called his servants and said to them, “Will you not tell me which of us is helping the king of Israel?” 12One of his servants said, “None [of us is helping him], my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 13So he said, “Go and see where he is, so that I may send [men] and seize him.” And he was told, “He is in Dothan.” 14So he sent horses and chariots and a powerful army there. They came by night and surrounded the city.

15The servant of the man of God got up early and went out, and behold, there was an army with horses and chariots encircling the city. Elisha’s servant said to him, “Oh no, my master! What are we to do?” 16Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “LORD, please, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servants eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha. 18When the Arameans came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Please strike this people (nation) with [c]blindness.” And God struck them with blindness, in accordance with Elisha’s request. 19Then Elisha said to the Arameans, “This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me and I will lead you to the man whom you are seeking.” And he led them to Samaria.

20When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men, so that they may see.” And the LORD opened their eyes and they saw. Behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21When the king of Israel (Jehoram) saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” 22Elisha answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and bow? Serve them bread and water, so that they may eat and drink, and go back to their master [King Ben-hadad].” 23So the king prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Aram did not come into the land of Israel again.

The Siege of Samaria--Cannibalism

24But it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram (Syria) gathered his whole army together and went up and besieged Samaria. 25Now there was a great famine in Samaria; and they [d]besieged it until a [e]donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a [f]kab of [g]dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. 26As the king of Israel (Jehoram) was passing by on the [city] wall a woman cried out to him, “Help, my lord, O king!” 27He said, “If the LORD does not help you, from where shall I get you help? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?” 28And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son so we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give your son so that we may eat him’; but she had hidden her son.” 30When the king heard the woman’s words, he [h]tore his clothes--now he was still walking along on the wall--and the people looked [at him], and he had on [i]sackcloth underneath [his royal robe] next to his skin. 31Then he said, “[j]May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today!”

32Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man ahead of him [to behead Elisha]; but before the messenger arrived, Elisha told the elders, “Do you see how this son of [Jezebel] a murderer has sent [a man] to remove my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it securely against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet [just] behind him?” 33While Elisha was still talking with them, the messenger came down to him [followed by the king] and the king said, “This evil [situation] is from the LORD! Why should I wait for [help from] the LORD any longer?”

[a] 1 See note 2:3.
[b] 1 Or sit before you. The Hebrew may refer to either a communal living area or an assembly area where the men would be taught by Elisha.
[c] 18 This is an unusual Hebrew word that implies they were blinded by a dazzling bright light (see Gen 19:11).
[d] 25 The purpose of a siege was to starve out or weaken the inhabitants of a fortified city, minimizing risk to the attacking army. The success of the siege depended on whether the city was sufficiently stocked with food and water. Here, with a famine, not only does the city fall well short of adequate provisions, but those inhabitants who have a surplus of anything edible or useful make the situation even worse by engaging in price-gouging.
[e] 25 Apparently the famine was so severe that the inhabitants were purchasing products that were barely edible as well as being ceremonially unclean.
[f] 25 One kab is about two quarts.
[g] 25 Normally dung was used as fertilizer or for fuel; however, in this verse “dove’s dung” may be a nickname for a wild pealike vegetable.
[h] 30 Usually an act symbolizing grief or anguish.
[i] 30 A coarse cloth usually made of goat’s hair and worn as a sign of mourning.
[j] 31 Jehoram, the king of Israel, may have been angry at Elisha because the prophet had persuaded him not to kill the enemy army when he had the chance (v 22). He may also have blamed Elisha for the famine (or for failing to ask God to end it), though there is no indication that Elisha had called for it or announced it.

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