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.
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(1-6) How the kindness of the Shunammite woman to Elisha was further rewarded through the prophet’s influence with the king.

(1) Then spake Elisha.—Rather, Now Elisha had spoken. The time is not defined by the phrase. It was after the raising of the Shunammite’s son (2Kings 8:1), and before the healing of Naaman the Syrian, inasmuch as the king still talks with Gehazi (2Kings 8:5).

Go thou.—The peculiar form of the pronoun points to the identity of the original author of this account with the writer of 2 Kings 4. Moreover, the famine here foretold appears to be that of 2Kings 4:38, seq., so that the present section must in the original document have preceded 2 Kings 5. Thenius thinks the compiler transferred the present account to this place, because he wished to proceed chronologically, and supposed that the seven years’ famine came to an end with the raising of the siege of Samaria.

For a famine.To the famine. The sword, the famine, the noisome beasts, and the pestilence were Jehovah’s “four sore judgments,” as we find in Ezekiel 14:21.

And it shall also come upon.And, moreover, it cometh into.

Seven Years.—Perhaps not to be understood literally, any more than Dante’s

“O caro Duca mio che più di sette

Volte m’hai sicurtà. renduta.”—Inferno 8. 97.

2 Kings 8:1. Then spake Elisha — There is nothing in the Hebrew for this particle of time, then. It is literally, And Elisha spake, or, as Houbigant renders it, had spoken. So 2 Kings 8:2, The woman had arisen, and done, &c. He conjectures, from 2 Kings 8:4, that this event happened before Gehazi was struck with the leprosy: this, however, is by no means certain. On the other hand, most commentators seem to be of opinion that it took place in the order in which it is recorded in the history, after the events related in the former chapter, and some think several years after. Unto the woman whose son he had restored to life — Manifesting his gratitude for her former kindness, by taking special care for her preservation. Go thou, and sojourn, &c. — In any convenient place out of the land of Israel. For the Lord hath called for a famine — Hath appointed to bring a famine upon the country, or a great scarcity of provisions. The manner of speaking intimates that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call. Seven years — A double time to the former famine under Elijah, which was but just, because they were still incorrigible under all the judgments of God, and under the powerful ministry of Elisha, who confirmed his doctrine by so many astonishing miracles.

8:1-6 The kindness of the good Shunammite to Elisha, was rewarded by the care taken of her in famine. It is well to foresee an evil, and wisdom, when we foresee it, to hide ourselves if we lawfully may do so. When the famine was over, she returned out of the land of the Philistines; that was no proper place for an Israelite, any longer than there was necessity for it. Time was when she dwelt so securely among her own people, that she had no occasion to be spoken for to the king; but there is much uncertainty in this life, so that things or persons may fail us which we most depend upon, and those befriend us which we think we shall never need. Sometimes events, small in themselves, prove of consequence, as here; for they made the king ready to believe Gehazi's narrative, when thus confirmed. It made him ready to grant her request, and to support a life which was given once and again by miracle.The famine here recorded, and the conversation of the monarch with Gehazi, must have been anterior to the events related in 2 Kings 5 since we may be sure that a king of Israel would not have entered into familiar conversation with a confirmed leper. The writer of Kings probably col ected the miracles of Elisha from various sources, and did not always arrange them chronologically. Here the link of connection is to be found in the nature of the miracle. As Elisha on one occasion prophesied plenty, so on another he had prophesied a famine.

Called for a famine - A frequent expression (compare the marginal references). God's "calling for" anything is the same as His producing it (see Ezekiel 36:29; Romans 4:17).


2Ki 8:1-6. The Shunammite's Land Restored.

1. Then spake Elisha unto the woman—rather "had spoken." The repetition of Elisha's direction to the Shunammite is merely given as an introduction to the following narrative; and it probably took place before the events recorded in chapters 5 and 6.

the Lord hath called for a famine—All such calamities are chastisements inflicted by the hand of God; and this famine was to be of double duration to that one which happened in the time of Elijah (Jas 5:17)—a just increase of severity, since the Israelites still continued obdurate and incorrigible under the ministry and miracles of Elisha (Le 26:21, 24, 28).The Shunammite having, by Elisha’s advice, left the land because of the famine, returneth home; and hath her whole estate restored to her for Elisha’s sake, 2 Kings 8:1-6. He cometh to Damascus. Ben-hadad is sick, and sendeth Hazael to him with presents. Elisha foretelleth Ben-hadad’s violent death, and Hazael’s cruel reign, with tears. Hazael’s answer: he killeth his master, and succeedeth him, 2 Kings 8:7-15. Jehoram’s wicked reign in Judah: Edom and Libnah revolt, 2 Kings 8:16-23. He dieth, and Ahaziah his son succeedeth him: his wicked reign: he entertaineth friendship with Joram king of Israel, 2 Kings 8:24-29.

Then: this particle of time may be understood either particularly and definitely of the time next following the former history, or more generally and indefinitely (as it is frequently used) of the time in which Elisha and this Shunammitish woman lived. Possibly this might happen before the history of Naaman, 2Ki 5, or at least before the siege of Samaria, 2Ki 6; but this is not certain.

Unto the woman; expressing his gratitude for her former kindnesses, by taking special care for her preservation.

Wheresoever thou canst sojourn; in any convenient place out of the land of Israel.

Hath called for a famine, i.e. hath appointed to bring a famine, or a great scarcity of provisions. This expression intimates that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call or command.

Seven years; a double time to the former famine under Elijah, Jam 5:17, which is but just and reasonable, because they were still obstinate and incorrigible under all the severe and succeeding judgments of God, and under the powerful ministry of Elisha, who confirmed his doctrine by glorious miracles. See Leviticus 26:21,24,28.

Then spoke Elisha unto the woman (whose son he had restored to life),.... His hostess at Shunem, 2 Kings 4:8 the following he said to her, not after the famine in Samaria, but before it, as some circumstances show:

saying, arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn; with the greatest safety to her person and property, and with the least danger to her moral and religious character:

for the Lord hath called for a famine, and it shall also come upon the land seven years: which Jarchi says was the famine that was in the days of Joel; it was, undoubtedly, on account of the idolatry of Israel, and was double the time of that in the days of Elijah.

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 {a} canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.

(a) Where you can find a convenient place to dwell, where there is plenty.

Ch. 2 Kings 8:1-6. The land of the Shunammite is restored to her by the king’s order for the sake of Elisha’s miracles (Not in Chronicles)

1. Then spake Elisha] R.V. Now Elisha had spoken. It is clear from verse 3 that Elisha’s advice was given at least seven years before the event narrated in these verses. Hence the necessity for the change of tense. It is probable that the accounts of Elisha’s work and influence are not related in their chronological order. The famine here spoken of was most likely the same to which allusion is made in 2 Kings 4:38, and perhaps the conference of the king with Gehazi mentioned in verse 4 took place before the latter was smitten with leprosy. It is not however absolutely certain that Jehoram might not have an interview with Gehazi, though leprous. Bp Hall says of them: ‘I begin to think some goodness in both these. Had there not been some goodness in Jehoram, he had not taken pleasure to hear, even from a leprous mouth, the miraculous acts and praises of God’s prophet: had there not been some goodness in Gehazi, he had not, after so fearful an infliction of judgement, thus ingenuously recounted the praises of his severe master’.

the woman, whose son he had restored] i.e. the Shunammite whose story is told in 2 Kings 4:8-37.

sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn] Why such advice should be given to a woman, who from the history appears to have been in better circumstances than others, it is not easy to decide. As the husband is nowhere mentioned in this appeal to Jehoram, it may be that he, being already old when the son was restored to life, had in the meantime died. Then she may have fallen into some distress, and have been unable to dwell on the lands which her husband had cultivated.

the Lord hath called for a famine] Similarly the Lord is said to call for the sword against a land, Jeremiah 25:29; Ezekiel 38:21.

and it shall also come] Elisha, as the seer, foretells the duration of the dearth, as he had done the termination of the siege, and the consequent abundance in Samaria (2 Kings 7:1). In both cases his words are directly referred to Jehovah.

Verse 1. - Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life. There is no "then" in the original, of which the simplest rendering would be, "And Elisha spake unto the woman," etc. The true sense is, perhaps, best brought out by the Revised Version, which gives the following: Now Elisha had spoken unto the woman, etc. The reference is to a time long anterior to the siege of Samaria. Saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine. A famine is mentioned in 2 Kings 4:38, which must belong to the reign of Jehoram, and which is probably identified with that here spoken cf. Elisha, on its approach, recommended the Shunammite, though she was a woman of substance (2 Kings 4:8), to quit her home and remove to some other residence, where she mighty, escape the pressure of the calamity He left it to her to choose the place of her temporary abode. The phrase, "God hath called for a famine," means no more and no less than "God has determined that there shall be a famine." With God to speak the word is to bring about the event. And it shall also come upon the land seven years. Seven years was the actual duration of the great famine, which Joseph foretold in Egypt (Genesis 41:27), and was the ideally perfect period for a severe famine (2 Chronicles 24:13). Many of the best meteorologists are inclined to regard the term of "seven years" as a cyclic period in connection with weather changes. 2 Kings 8:1Elisha's Influence Helps the Shunammite to the Possession of her House and Field. - 2 Kings 8:1, 2 Kings 8:2. By the advice of Elisha, the woman whose son the prophet had restored to life (2 Kings 4:33) had gone with her family into the land of the Philistines during a seven years' famine, and had remained there seven years. The two verses are rendered by most commentators in the pluperfect, and that with perfect correctness, for they are circumstantial clauses, and ותּקם is merely a continuation of דּבּר, the two together preparing the way for, and introducing the following event. The object is not to relate a prophecy of Elisha of the seven years' famine, but what afterwards occurred, namely, how king Joram was induced by the account of Elisha's miraculous works to have the property of the Shunammite restored to her upon her application. The seven years' famine occurred in the middle of Joram's reign, and the event related here took place before the curing of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5), as is evident from the fact that Gehazi talked with the king (2 Kings 8:4), and therefore had not yet been punished with leprosy. But it cannot have originally stood between 2 Kings 4:37 and 2 Kings 4:38, as Thenius supposes, because the incidents related in 2 Kings 4:38-44 belong to the time of this famine (cf. 2 Kings 4:38), and therefore precede the occurrence mentioned here. By the words, "the Lord called the famine, and it came seven years" (sc., lasting that time), the famine is described as a divine judgment for the idolatry of the nation.
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