2 Kings 4:38
And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said to his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38-44) Elisha among the sons of the prophets at Gilgal during the famine.

(38) And Elisha came again.—Now Elisha had returned, commencing a new narrative. The word “return” refers to the prophet’s annual visit. (Comp. 2Kings 4:25, and 2Kings 2:1, Notes.) The story is not put in chronological sequence with the foregoing.

And there was a dearth.—And the famine was.

The sons of the prophets were sitting before him.—As disciples before a master; probably in a common hall, which served for lecture, work, and dining-room. (Comp. 2Kings 6:1; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 14:1; Acts 22:3.)

His servant.—Perhaps not Gehazi, but one of the sons of the prophets. So in 2Kings 4:43.

Seethe pottage.—Genesis 25:29.

2 Kings 4:38. There was a dearth in the land — The same that we read of chap. 2 Kings 3:1. It continued seven years, just as long again as that in the time of Elijah. For if a wicked nation will not be reformed by a lesser judgment, they must expect to be visited with a greater. The sons of the prophets were sitting before him — To hear his wisdom, and be instructed in the law, that they might teach others. He said unto his servant, Seethe the pottage, &c. — By this it appears that they lived together in society, and, after their lectures, were wont to eat together with their master; who now ordered his servant to prepare some food for them, which was very plain and common, such as the gardens and the fields would produce.4:38-44 There was a famine of bread, but not of hearing the word of God, for Elisha had the sons of the prophets sitting before him, to hear his wisdom. Elisha made hurtful food to become safe and wholesome. If a mess of pottage be all our dinner, remember that this great prophet had no better for himself and his guests. The table often becomes a snare, and that which should be for our welfare, proves a trap: this is a good reason why we should not feed ourselves without fear. When we are receiving the supports and comforts of life, we must keep up an expectation of death, and a fear of sin. We must acknowledge God's goodness in making our food wholesome and nourishing; I am the Lord that healeth thee. Elisha also made a little food go a great way. Having freely received, he freely gave. God has promised his church, that he will abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread, Ps 132:15; whom he feeds, he fills; and what he blesses, comes to much. Christ's feeding his hearers was a miracle far beyond this, but both teach us that those who wait upon God in the way of duty, may hope to be supplied by Divine Providence.There was a dearth in the land - Rather, "The famine was in the land." The seven years' dearth of which Elisha had prophesied (marginal reference) had begun.

The sons of the prophets - See 1 Kings 20:35 note. They were sitting before him as scholars before their master, hearing his instructions.

2Ki 4:38-41. Purifies Deadly Pottage.

38. there was a dearth in the land—(see on [328]2Ki 8:1).

the sons of the prophets were sitting before him—When receiving instruction, the scholars sat under their masters. This refers to their being domiciled under the same roof (compare 2Ki 6:1).

Set on the great pot—As it is most likely that the Jewish would resemble the Egyptian "great pot," it is seen by the monumental paintings to have been a large goblet, with two long legs, which stood over the fire on the floor. The seethed pottage consisted of meat cut into small pieces, mixed with rice or meal and vegetables.

Elisha came again to Gilgal; where he came with Elijah, 2 Kings 2:1; where was a school of the prophets, whom he designed to comfort concerning the present dearth and their other discouragements, and to confirm in the profession and practice of religion, and to instruct in the duties of the present season.

Sitting before him; at his feet, as scholars to be taught by him. See 2 Kings 2:3 Acts 22:3.

Seethe pottage: he provides no delicious meats, but mere necessaries, to teach them the contempt of worldly delights. And Elisha came again to Gilgal,.... Where he was with Elijah a little before his assumption to heaven, 2 Kings 2:1 and whither he went, there being a school of the prophets, as he did to all places where there were any, and where he had been before with Elijah; partly to instruct, encourage, and strengthen them, and partly to confirm his office as a prophet by miracles, which he did in several places he came to:

and there was a dearth in the land; a famine through drought:

and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: as disciples before their master, see Acts 22:3.

and he said unto his servant; very probably Gehazi:

set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets; who seemed to have lived together in one house or college, and to be to the number of one hundred, see 2 Kings 4:43 and therefore required to have a large pot set on to boil pottage for them all.

And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the {s} land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.

(s) That is, in the land of Israel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38–41. Elisha at Gilgal heals the noxious Pottage (Not in Chronicles)

38. Elisha came again to Gilgal] There are no notes of time in this narrative, or in the others, though we can see, here and there, that the events are not put together chronologically. (See below, on 2 Kings 8:1.) Elisha had been at Gilgal with Elijah, but there is no need to suppose that ‘came again’ alludes to that visit. Gilgal (on which see note on 2 Kings 2:1 above) was a centre of prophetic activity and it is probable that it was visited frequently both by Elijah and Elisha.

and there was a dearth in the land] The first noun has the article, and the clause might well be rendered ‘the famine was in the land’. The allusion will then be to the famine foretold in 2 Kings 8:1. That some of the incidents related before that chapter occurred after the famine, see note on 2 Kings 8:4.

the sons of the prophets were sitting before him] They would naturally gather round the great prophet, made famous by a large share of Elijah’s spirit, and catch at all he had to say. We can see from this story one aspect of the life in the colleges of the prophets. The members sat at the feet of some elder member, and learnt from him their duty and how to carry it out. (Cf. 2 Kings 6:1, and note.) By Elisha’s teaching, which would be drawn from his own experience, they would gather faith and courage, seeing that God was working in their midst, and had not forsaken Israel in spite of their sins. Hence grew the hope of a thorough reformation in the breasts of these who must be regarded as the reformers of their time.

unto his servant] Probably some one of the sons of the prophets, appointed to wait on Elisha while he tarried at Gilgal.Verses 38-41. - 3. The healing of the unwholesome pottage. Verse 38. - And Elisha came again to Gilgal; i.e. revisited Gilgal, where he had been previously with his master (2 Kings 2:1), either casually, or perhaps on one of his regular circuits (Keil) to visit the schools of the prophets. And there was a dearth in the land - probably the dearth again mentioned in 2 Kings 8:1 - and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him. Some translate "the sons of the prophets dwelt with him" (Vulgate, Luther, Bishop Hersley); but our version is probably correct. The LXX. give ἀκάθηντο; and Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 16:1; Ezekiel 33:31; with Zechariah 3:8, show that ישׁבים לפני may have the meaning of "sitting in the presence of a person." And he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot - i.e. the one great pot that there would be in the house - and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. Even in a famine there would be some vegetables produced on which life might be sustained. Elisha then entered the house, where the boy was lying dead upon his bed, and shut the door behind them both (i.e., himself and the dead child), and prayed to the Lord. He then lay down upon the boy, so that his mouth, his eyes, and his hands lay upon the mouth, eyes, and hands of the child, bowing down over him (גּהר; see at 1 Kings 18:42); and the flesh (the body) of the child became warm. He then turned round, i.e., turned away from the boy, went once up and down in the room, and bowed himself over him again; whereupon the boy sneezed seven times, and then opened his eyes. This raising of the dead boy to life does indeed resemble the raising of the dead by Elijah (1 Kings 17:20.); but it differs so obviously in the manner in which it was effected, that we may see at once from this that Elisha did not possess the double measure of the spirit of Elijah. It is true that Elijah stretched himself three times upon the dead child, but at his prayer the dead returned immediately to life, whereas in the case of Elisha the restoration to life was a gradual thing.

(Note: The raising of the dead by Elijah and Elisha, especially by the latter, has been explained by many persons as being merely a revivification by magnetic manipulations or by the force of animal magnetism (even Passavant and Ennemoser adopt this view). But no dead person was ever raised to life by animal magnetism; and the assumption that the two boys were only apparently dead is at variance with the distinct words of the text, in addition to which, both Elisha and Elijah accomplished the miracle through their prayer, as is stated as clearly as possible both here (2 Kings 4:33) and also at 1 Kings 17:21-22.)

And they both differ essentially from the raising of the dead by Christ, who recalled the dead to life by one word of His omnipotence (Mark 5:39-42; Luke 7:13-15; John 11:43-44), a sign that He was the only-begotten Son of God, to whom the Father gave to have life in Himself, even as the Father has life in Himself (John 5:25.), in whose name the Apostle Peter also was able through prayer to recall the dead Tabitha to life, whereas Elisha and Elijah had only to prophesy by word and deed of the future revelation of the glory of God.

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