Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
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.Elisha'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.
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.
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.When the woman returned to her home at the end of the seven years, she went to the king to cry, i.e., to invoke his help, with regard to her house and her field, of which, as is evident from the context, another had taken possession during her absence.
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.And just at that time the king was asking Gehazi to relate to him the great things that Elisha had done; and among these he was giving an account of the restoration of the Shunammite's son to life.
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.While he was relating this, the woman herself came into invoke the help of the king to recover her property, and was pointed out to the king by Gehazi as the very woman of whom he was speaking, which caused the king to be so interested in her favour, that after hearing her complaint he sent a chamberlain with her (saris as in 1 Kings 22:9), with instructions to procure for her not only the whole of her property, but the produce of the land during her absence. - For עזבה without mappiq, see Ewald, 247, d.
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.
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.Elisha Predicts to Hazael at Damascus the Possession of the Throne. - 2 Kings 8:7. Elisha then came to Damascus at the instigation of the Spirit of God, to carry out the commission which Elijah had received at Horeb with regard to Hazael (1 Kings 19:15). Benhadad king of Syria was sick at that time, and when Elisha's arrival was announced to him, sent Hazael with a considerable present to the man of God, to inquire of Jehovah through him concerning his illness. The form of the name חזהאל (here and 2 Kings 8:15) is etymologically correct; but afterwards it is always written without .ה דם וכל־טוּב ("and that all kinds of good of Damascus") follows with a more precise description of the minchah - "a burden of forty camels." The present consisted of produce or wares of the rich commercial city of Damascus, and was no doubt very considerable; at the same time, it was not so large that forty camels were required to carry it. The affair must be judged according to the Oriental custom, of making a grand display with the sending of presents, and employing as many men or beasts of burden as possible to carry them, every one carrying only a single article (cf. Harmar, Beobb. ii. p. 29, iii. p. 43, and Rosenmller, A. u. N. Morgenl. iii. p. 17).
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?
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 of this disease?
And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die.According to the Chethb חיה לא, Elisha's answer was, "Thou wilt not live, and (for) Jehovah has shown me that he will die;" according to the Keri חיה לו, "tell him: Thou wilt live, but Jehovah," etc. Most of the commentators follow the ancient versions, and the Masoretes, who reckon our לא among the fifteen passages of the O.T. in which it stands for the pronoun לו (vid., Hilleri Arcan. Keri, p. 62f.), and some of the codices, and decide in favour of the Keri. (1) because the conjecture that לו was altered into לא in order that Elisha might not be made to utter an untruth, is a very natural one; and (2) on account of the extreme rarity with which a negative stands before the inf. abs. with the finite verb following. But there is not much force in either argument. The rarity of the position of לא before the inf. abs. followed by a finite verb, in connection with the omission of the pronoun לו after אמר, might be the very reason why לא was taken as a pronoun; and the confirmation of this opinion might be found in the fact that Hazael brought back this answer to the king: "Thou wilt live" (2 Kings 8:14). The reading in the text לא (non) is favoured by the circumstance that it is the more difficult of the two, partly because of the unusual position of the negative, and partly because of the contradiction to 2 Kings 8:14. But the לא is found in the same position in other passages (Genesis 3:4; Psalm 49:8, and Amos 9:8), where the emphasis lies upon the negation; and the contradiction to 2 Kings 8:14 may be explained very simply, from the fact that Hazael did not tell his king the truth, because he wanted to put him to death and usurp the throne. We therefore prefer the reading in the text, since it is not in harmony with the character of the prophets to utter an untruth; and the explanation, "thou wilt not die of thine illness, but come to a violent death," puts into the words a meaning which they do not possess. For even if Benhadad did not die of his illness, he did not recover from it.
And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.Elisha then fixed Hazael for a long time with his eye, and wept. וגו ויּעמד literally, he made his face stand fast, and directed it (upon Hazael) to shaming. עד־בּשׁ as in Judges 3:25; not in a shameless manner (Thenius), but till Hazael was embarrassed by it.
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.When Hazael asked him the cause of his weeping, Elisha replied: "I know the evil which thou wilt do to the sons of Israel: their fortresses wilt thou set on fire (בּאשׁ שׁלּח, see at Judges 1:8), their youths wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children to pieces, and cut asunder their women with child" (בּקּע, split, cut open the womb). This cruel conduct towards Israel which is here predicted of Hazael, was only a special elaboration of the brief statement made by the Lord to Elijah concerning Hazael (1 Kings 19:17). The fulfilment of this prediction is indicated generally in 2 Kings 10:32-33, and 2 Kings 13:3.; and we may infer with certainty from Hosea 10:14 and Hosea 14:1, that Hazael really practised the cruelties mentioned.
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.But when Hazael replied in feigned humility, What is thy servant, the dog (i.e., so base a fellow: for כּלב see at 1 Samuel 24:15), that he should do such great things? Elisha said to him, "Jehovah has shown thee to me as king over Aram;" whereupon Hazael returned to his lord, brought him the pretended answer of Elisha that he would live (recover), and the next day suffocated him with a cloth dipped in water. מכבּר, from כּבר, to plait or twist, literally, anything twisted; not, however, a net for gnats or flies (Joseph., J. D. Mich., etc.), but a twisted thick cloth, which when dipped in water became so thick, that when it was spread over the face of the sick man it was sufficient to suffocate him.
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.
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.
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.Reign of Joram of Judah (cf. 2 Chronicles 21:2-20). - Joram became king in the fifth year of Joram of Israel, while Jehoshaphat his father was (still) king, the latter handing over the government to him two years before his death (see at 2 Kings 1:17), and reigned eight years, namely, two years to the death of Jehoshaphat and six years afterwards.
(Note: The words יהוּדה מלך ויהושׁפט have been improperly omitted by the Arabic and Syriac, and by Luther, Dathe, and De Wette from their translations; whilst Schulz, Maurer, Thenius, and others pronounce it a gloss. The genuineness of the words is attested by the lxx (the Edit. Complut. being alone in omitting them) and by the Chaldee: and the rejection of them is just as arbitrary as the interpolation of מת, which is proposed by Kimchi and Ewald ("when Jehoshaphat was dead"). Compare J. Meyer, annotatt. ad Seder Olam, p. 916f.)
The Chethb שׁנה שׁמנה is not to be altered, since the rule that the numbers two to ten take the noun in the plural is not without exception (cf. Ewald, 287, i.).
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 the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.Joram had married a daughter of Ahab, namely Athaliah (2 Kings 8:26), and walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, transplanting the worship of Baal into his kingdom. Immediately after the death of Jehoshaphat he murdered his brothers, apparently with no other object than to obtain possession of the treasures which his father had left them (2 Chronicles 21:2-4). This wickedness of Joram would have been followed by the destruction of Judah, had not the Lord preserved a shoot to the royal house for David's sake. For ניר לו לתת see 1 Kings 11:36. The following word לבניו serves as an explanation of ניר לו, "a light with regard to his sons," i.e., by the fact that he kept sons (descendants) upon the throne.
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.
In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.Nevertheless the divine chastisement was not omitted. The ungodliness of Joram was punished partly by the revolt of the Edomites and of the city of Libnah from his rule, and partly by a horrible sickness of which he died (2 Chronicles 21:12-15). Edom, which had hitherto had only a vicegerent with the title of king (see 2 Kings 3:9 and 1 Kings 22:48), threw off the authority of Judah, and appointed its own king, under whom it acquired independence, as the attempt of Joram to bring it back again under his control completely failed. The account of this attempt in 2 Kings 8:21 and 2 Chronicles 21:9 is very obscure. "Joram went over to Zair, and all his chariots of war with him; and it came to pass that he rose up by night and smote the Edomites round about, and indeed the captains of the war-chariots, and the people fled (i.e., the Judaean men of war, not the Edomites) to their tents." It is evident from this, that Joram had advanced to Zair in Idumaea; but there he appears to have been surrounded and shut in, so that in the night he fought his way through, and had reason to be glad that he had escaped utter destruction, since his army fled to their homes. צעירה is an unknown place in Idumaea, which Movers, Hitzig, and Ewald take to be Zoar, but without considering that Zoar was in the land of Moab, not in Edom. The Chronicles have instead שׂריו עם, "with his captains," from a mere conjecture; whilst Thenius regards צעירה as altered by mistake from שׂעירה ("to Seir"), which is very improbable in the case of so well-known a name as שׂעיר. הסּביב is a later mode of writing for הסּובב, probably occasioned by the frequently occurring word סביב. "To this day," i.e., to the time when the original sources of our books were composed. For the Edomites were subjugated again by Amaziah and Uzziah (2 Kings 14:7 and 2 Kings 14:22), though under Ahaz they made incursions into Judah again (2 Chronicles 28:17). - At that time Libnah also revolted. This was a royal city of the early Canaanites, and at a later period it was still a considerable fortress (2 Kings 19:8). It is probably to be sought for in the ruins of Arak el Menshiyeh, two hours to the west of Beit-Jibrin (see the Comm. on Joshua 10:29). This city probably revolted from Judah on the occurrence of an invasion of the land by the Philistines, when the sons of Joram were carried off, with the exception of the youngest, Jehoahaz (Ahaziah: 2 Chronicles 21:16-17).
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.
Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted 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?According to 2 Chronicles 21:18., Joram died of a terrible disease, in which his bowels fell out, and was buried in the city of David, though not in the family sepulchre of the kings.
(Note: "The building of Carthage, Dido, her husband Sichaeus, her brother Pygmalion king of Tyre (scelere ante alios immanior omnes), all coincide with the reign of Joram. This synchronism of the history of Tyre is not without significance here. The Tyrian, Israelitish, and Judaean histories are closely connected at this time. Jezebel, a Tyrian princess, was Ahab's wife, and again her daughter Athaliah was the wife of Joram, and after his death the murderess of the heirs of the kingdom, and sole occupant of the throne. Tyre, through these marriages, introduced its own spirit and great calamity into both the Israelitish kingdoms." - J. D. Michaelis on 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.
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.Reign of Ahaziah of Judah (cf. 2 Chronicles 22:1-6). - Ahaziah, the youngest son of Joram, ascended the throne in the twenty-second year of his age. The statement in 2 Chronicles 22:2, that he was forty-two years old when he became king, rests upon a copyist's error, namely, a confusion of כ twenty with מ forty. Now, since his father became king at the age of thirty-two, and reigned eight years, Ahaziah must have been born in the nineteenth year of his age. Consequently it may appear strange that Ahaziah had brothers still older than himself (2 Chronicles 21:17); but as early marriages are common in the East, and the royal princes had generally concubines along with their wife of the first rank, as is expressly stated of Joram in 2 Chronicles 21:17, he might have had some sons in his nineteenth year. His mother was called Athaliah, and was a daughter of the idolatrous Jezebel. In 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2 she is called the daughter, i.e., grand-daughter, of Omri; for, according to 2 Kings 8:18, she was a daughter of Ahab. Omri, the grand-father, is mentioned in 2 Kings 8:26 as the founder of the dynasty which brought so much trouble upon Israel and Judah through its idolatry.
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 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.Ahaziah, like his father, reigned in the spirit of Ahab, because he allowed his mother to act as his adviser (2 Chronicles 22:3-4).
And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.Ahaziah went with Joram of Israel, his mother's brother, to the war with the Syrians at Ramoth. The contest for this city, which had already cost Ahab his life (1 Kings), was to furnish the occasion, according to the overruling providence of God, for the extermination of the whole of Omri's family. Being wounded in the battle with the Syrians, Joram king of Israel returned to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds. His nephew Ahaziah visited him there, and there he met with his death at the same time as Joram at the hands of Jehu, who had conspired against Joram (see 2 Kings 9:14. and 2 Chronicles 22:7-9). Whether the war with Hazael at Ramoth was for the recapture of this city, which had been taken by the Syrians, or simply for holding it against the Syrians, it is impossible to determine. All that we can gather from 2 Kings 9:14 is, that at that time Ramoth was in the possession of the Israelites, whether it had come into their possession again after the disgraceful rout of the Syrians before Samaria (2 Kings 7), or whether, perhaps, it was not recovered till this war. For ארמּים without the article see Ewald, 277, c.
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.בּרמה equals בּלעד בּרמת, 2 Kings 8:28; see at 1 Kings 22:4.