Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.D.—The Influence of Elisha with the King, and his Residence at Samaria
2 KINGS 8:1–15
1THEN spake [Now] Elisha [had spoken] 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 [up] a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years. 2And 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. 3And 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. 4And the king talked [was just then talking] with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done. 5And 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. 6And 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 left1 the land, even until now.
7And 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. 8And 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? 9So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of [and—omit 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? 10And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto [tell] him [then], Thou mayst [shalt2] certainly recover [live]: howbeit the Lord hath 11shewed, me that he shall surely die. And he [Elisha] settled his countenance [, and gazed] steadfastly [at him], until he was ashamed [became confused]: and the man of God wept. 12And 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 [in pieces], and rip up their women with child. 13And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, [What is then3 thy servant, the dog,] that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath showed me that thou shalt be [let me see thee] king over Syria. 14So 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 [omit that] Thou shouldest [shalt] surely recover [live]. 15And it came to pass on the morrow, that he [Hazael] took a thick cloth [the blanket], and dipped it in [the] water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Kings 8:1. Then spake Elisha, &c., or, as it should read, Elisha had spoken; for what is told in 2 Kings 8:2 took place long before the incident which is narrated in the 3d and following verses, and forms only the necessary introduction. The famine of four years’ duration is doubtless the same which is mentioned 2 Kings 4:38. The years in which it falls among the twelve of Jehoram, it is impossible to fix. The advice which the prophet gave the woman to go into a foreign land, must have been founded upon peculiar grounds, since she did not belong to the poorer classes (2 Kings 8:6 and 2 Kings 4:8 sq.). Perhaps she had become a widow, as some suppose, and had lost, in her husband, her chief reliance in a time of distress. She chose the land of the Philistines as her residence, probably because it was near, and because the plains on the sea-coast did not suffer so much from scarcity as the mountainous country of Israel (Thenius). On her return, the woman found her property in the hands of strangers. We may suppose that it had been taken possession of, either by the royal treasury, as property which the owner had abandoned (Grotius, Clericus, and others), or by individuals, who had illegally established themselves in the possession of it, and who were not willing now to surrender it. She appeals, therefore, to the chief judge, the king.
2 Kings 8:4. And the king talked with Gehazi, &c. Piscator, Sebast. Smith, Keil, and others, have felt compelled to assign this incident to a time previous to the healing of Naaman, because it is said (5:27) that Gehazi and all his posterity were, from that time on, to be lepers, but here we find the king conversing with him. In general, there is no objection to this, for it is very doubtful if the narrative of the acts of Elisha presents them to us in their chronological order (see above. p. 45). The principal ground for this opinion, viz., Gehazi’s leprosy, has not compulsory force, for, although lepers were obliged to remain outside the city (2 Kings 7:3, and the places there cited), yet it was not forbidden to talk with them (Matt. 8:2; Luke 17:12). Naaman, the leper, was admitted to the palace of the king (2 Kings 8:6), and, at a later time, such persons were not excluded even from attendance in the synagogues (Winer, R.-W.-B. i. s. 117). Gerlach thinks that the king could the more probably meet with Gehazi, for the very reason that the latter had not been for a long time in Elisha’s service. Jarchi and some of the other rabbis declare that the four lepers (2 Kings 7:3) were Gehazi and his sons, but this is a purely arbitrary and unfounded notion. They were led to it probably by the desire of bringing the present incident into some connection with the preceding. Menzel also brings the story, 2 Kings 8:1–6, into connection with that in chap. 7. by saying: “Great fear of the prophet took possession of the king from that time on” (i.e., from the death of the scoffer—7:20—which Elisha had predicted). However, if this had been the ground of his interview with Gehazi, the story would certainly have had a different introduction from that in 2 Kings 8:1–3. It is no cause for wonder that the king did not ask Elisha himself in regard to his acts, but obtained a recital of them from Gehazi. As he had been himself a witness of so many of the prophet’s acts, he was now curious to hear, from a reliable source, about those acts which Elisha had done quietly, in the narrow circle of his intimate associates, and in regard to which so many unreliable reports circulated among the people. To whom could he apply with more propriety for this information than to one who had formerly been the prophet’s familiar servant? Among these acts the restoration of the Shunammite’s son to life was the most important. By סרים, 2 Kings 8:6, we must understand a high officer of the court, not necessarily a eunuch (cf. 1 Kings 22:9). תְּבוּאָה can hardly mean the rent; it is rather the produce in kind, which must have been restored to her out of the royal stores.
2 Kings 8:7. And Elisha came to Damascus, &c.: not into the city of Damascus, as is often assumed, for Hazael came out with camels to meet him (2 Kings 8:9), so that the most it can mean is that he came into the neighborhood of the city. Perhaps the name Damascus stands for the whole province, as Samaria did. Keil, who follows the old expositors, thinks that Elisha clearly went thither “with the intention of executing the commission which had been laid upon Elisha at Horeb (1 Kings 19:15) to appoint Hazael to be king of Syria,” but so important an object to the journey must have been specified in some way. To pass over the objection that that commission was given to Elijah and not to Elisha, and that there is nowhere any mention of its having been transferred to the latter, we observe that the prophet does not say here (2 Kings 8:12): Jehovah has commanded me to anoint, or appoint, thee, Hazael, king of Syria, but: He has made me see that thou wilt be king of Syria, and that thou wilt do much evil to Israel. According to Ewald, Elisha went into voluntary exile for a time, on account of a disagreement between himself and Jehoram, who still tolerated idolatry, but the text does not say anything of this, and we are not compelled to assume anything of the kind. The prophet was already known and highly esteemed in Syria, as we see from the entire narrative, especially from 2 Kings 8:7 and 8. He might very well, therefore, even without any especial ground, extend the journeys, which he made in the pursuit of his prophetical calling (2 Kings 4:9), as far as Damascus. We may, nevertheless, suppose that it was done “by the instigation of the Spirit” (Thenius). The revelation, of which he speaks in 2 Kings 8:10 and 13, he certainly did not receive until after his arrival in Syria. It was not the occasion of his journey thither.
2 Kings 8:8. And the king said unto Hazael, &c. Josephus calls Hazael ὁ πιστότατος τῶν οἰκετῶν: perhaps he was also commander-in-chief of the army (2 Kings 8:12). There is a tacit request in the question of Benhadad that the prophet would obtain his restoration to health, from Jehovah, by prayer. He who wished to consult a man of God did not come with empty hands (1 Sam. 9:7; 1 Kings 14:3). The וְ before כָל, 2 Kings 8:9, is hardly explanatory: “and in truth” (Keil); it is rather the simple conjunctive (Thenius). The messenger had a “gift in his hand,” and besides there were all kinds of other valuable articles and products from Damascus, which were carried by forty camels. A camel-load is reckoned at from 500 to 800 pounds, but it would be wrong to reckon the weight of these gifts accordingly at 20,000 to 32,000 pounds (Dereser). “The incident is rather to be estimated by the oriental custom of giving the separate parts of a gift to as many servants, or loading them upon as many animals as possible, so as to make the grandest possible display of it. Harmar, Beobb., ii. s. 29. Rosenmüller, Morgenland, iii. s. 17.” (Keil). “Fifty persons often carry what a single one could very well carry” (Chardin, Voyage, iii. p. 217). Nevertheless, the gifts were very important, and we see from their value in how great esteem Elisha stood among the Syrians. If he refused to accept any gift whatsoever at the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:16), far less is it likely that he accepted these grand gifts in this case, where he had to bewail the misfortunes of his country (2 Kings 8:11 and 12).
2 Kings 8:10. And Elisha said unto him, &c. The keri gives לוֹ instead of לֹא after אֱמָר, and the Massoretes reckon this among the fifteen places in the Old Testament where לֹא is a pronoun, and not the negative particle. All the old translations, and some manuscripts also, present the keri. No one of the modern expositors but Keil has adopted לֹא, non; he accepts that reading as “the more difficult.” He rejects the makkeph between אמר and לא, joins לא with the following word חָיֹה, and translates: “Thou shalt not live, and (for) Jehovah hath shown me that he will die.” But וְ never means for, as it would here, if this interpretation were correct. It rather means here but, as it so often does, so that the sentence which begins with it forms a contrast to the one which precedes. This tells strongly against the chetib לֹא. A further consideration is that the infinitive before the verb (חָיֹה תִחְיֶה) always serves to strengthen the verbal idea (Gesen., Gramm., § 131, 2, a), and that, in this construction, the negative stands before the finite verb and not before the infinitive, cf. Judges 15:13 (Ew., Lehrb., § 312, b). לֹא cannot, therefore, be connected with חָיֹה. Still less can it be taken as a negative with אמר, for Hazael says, 2 Kings 8:14: “He (the prophet) told me: ‘Thou shalt surely recover.’ ” This, therefore, was the answer of Elisha, which Hazael (suppressing the other words of the prophet) brought to the king; an answer such as the latter was eager to receive. If there is any case where the keri is to be preferred to the chetib, this is one. Nearly all the expositors, accordingly, agree in reading לוֹ, but their interpretations differ. Some translate, apparently with literalness: “Tell him:—Thou shalt recover;—but God hath shown me that he shall die,” and they suppose, accordingly, that Elisha consciously commissioned Hazael with a falsehood, either because he did not wish to terrify or sadden the king, that is, out of compassion (Theodoret, Josephus), or, because it was generally held to be allowable to deceive foreign enemies and idolaters (Grotius). Neither the one nor the other, however, is consistent with the dignity and character of the prophet, who here speaks in the name of Jehovah. It is impossible that the narrator, who only aims to advance the glory of the prophet, in all his stories about him, should have connected with his words a sense which would have made Elisha a liar. Other expositors, therefore, explain it thus: “Of thy illness thou shalt not die, it is not unto death;” but that he then added, for Hazael: “the king will lose his life in another way” (i.e., violently). Clericus (following Kimchi), J. D. Michaelis, Hess, Maurer, Von Gerlach, and others, agree in this interpretation. The form חָוֹה תִחְיֶה in the first member of the sentence, to which מוֹת יָמוּת in the second member corresponds, is a bar to this interpretation. The infinitive strengthens the verbal idea in both cases. It cannot serve with תִחְיֶה to tone down the verb (“as far as this illness is concerned, thou mayest preserve thy life”), and with יָמוּת to strengthen it. We must, therefore, translate: “Thou shalt surely live,” and: “He shall surely die.” Then the words can have no other sense than that which Vitringa has established in his thorough discussion of the verse (Observatt. Sac., i. 3, 16, pages 716–728): Vade et dic modo (κατ’ ἐπιτροπήν) ipsi: Vivendo vives; Deus tamen mihi ostendit, illum certe moriturum esse. So, likewise, Thenius: “Just tell him (as thou, in thy capacity of courtier, and according to thy character, wilt surely do): ‘Thou shalt surely recover;’ yet Jehovah hath revealed to me that he shall surely die” (cf. Roos, Fuszstapfen des Glaubens Abrahams, s. 831). [This exposition of the grammatical sense of the words is undoubtedly correct, but there is room for some scruple about the interpretation. Elisha seems to encourage the courtier to flatter the king with a delusive hope. This could at best be only a sneer, or irony. A clue to a better interpretation is given above. Note that the question is: “Shall I recover of this disease?” The answer seems to be measured accurately, and strictly to fit this question: “Go, say to him: Thou shalt surely live.” That is the answer to the question asked, and the infinitive has its full force. Thus the prophet promises a recovery from the illness. At the same time he sees farther, and sees that though the illness is not fatal, other dangers threaten Benhadad. He need not declare this, and in his categorical answer to the king he does not, but in an aside he does: “Nevertheless, Jehovah hath shown me that he shall surely die,” i.e., not of the disease, but by violence.—W. G. S.] Elisha, by his prophetical insight, had seen through the treacherous Hazael, just as he once saw through the plans of Benhadad (2 Kings 6:12), and he now showed him that he knew the secret purpose which he cherished in his heart. He gave him to understand this, not only by his words, but also by the circumstance which is added in 2 Kings 8:11: “And he fixed his countenance steadfastly until he (Elisha) shamed him (Hazael),” i.e., he fixed his eyes steadily and sharply upon him, so that the piercing look produced embarrassment and made Hazael’s countenance fall. This detail is consistent with the above interpretation of 2 Kings 8:10 and with no other. [“Jehovah hath shown me that he shall surely die,” says the prophet, and fixes his eyes upon the ambitious and treacherous courtier, who has already conceived the idea of murdering his master, until the guilty conscience of the latter makes him shrink from the scrutiny.—W. G. S.] The Sept. give a purely arbitrary rendering of 2 Kings 8:11, thus: καὶ ἐστη ’Αζαὴλ κατὰ πρόςωπον αὐτοῦ, καὶ παρέθηκεν ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ τὰ δῶρα ἕως ᾐσχύνετο. The only possible subject of וַיַּעֲמֵד is Elisha, and the text says nothing about the presentation of the gifts. עַד־בּשׁ does not mean either: “remarkably long” (Ewald), nor: “In a (taking the words strictly) shameless manner” (Thenius), cf. on 2 Kings 2:17. The man of God did not weep for Benhadad, nor for Hazael, but for his own countrymen, on account of the judgments which should be inflicted upon them by the hand of Hazael, as he himself declares in 2 Kings 8:12.
2 Kings 8:12. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? The particular statements in Elisha’s reply must not be taken too strictly in their literal meaning. He only means to say: Thou wilt commit in Israel all the cruelties which are wont to be practised in the bitterest wars (see Hos. 10:14; 13:16; Isai. 13:15 sq.; Nahum 3:10 sq.; Ps. 137:9; Amos 1:13 sq.). How this was fulfilled we see in chap 10:32 sq.; 13:3, 4, 7, 22. In the 13th verse, where the proud Hazael, high in office, and already plotting to reach the throne, calls himself “thy servant, the dog,” he commits an extravagance which, in itself, shows us that he was not in earnest, and that his humility was hypocritical and false. “Dog” is the most contemptuous epithet of abuse, 1 Sam. 24:14; 2 Sam. 16:9 (Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 517). Elisha now declares openly to the hypocrite that which, in 2 Kings 8:10 and 11, by word and look, he had only hinted at: “Jehovah hath shown thee to me as king of Syria,” i.e., I know what thou aimest at, and also what thou wilt become. The words by no means involve a solemn prophetical institution or consecration (anointing) to be king, such as, for instance, occurs in 2 Kings 9:3, 6, but they are a simple prediction (which, at the same time, probes Hazael’s conscience) of that which should come to pass. He means to say: As God has revealed to me Benhadad’s death, so has he also revealed to me thy elevation to the throne. Hazael, therefore, startled by the revelation of his secret plans, makes no reply to the earnest words of the prophet, but turns away.
2 Kings 8:14. So he departed from Elisha, &c. Hazael makes the very reply to his master which the prophet had predicted that he would (2 Kings 8:10). and we see from the words אָמַר לִי וגו still more clearly, that we must read לוֹ for לֹא in 2 Kings 8:10. In the 15th verse וַיִּקַּח cannot have any other subject than the three verbs which precede, ויבא ,וילך, and ויאמר. It is not, therefore, Benhadad (Luther, Schulz, and others), but Hazael. Moreover, it is inconsistent with the entire context that Benhadad himself, in order to refresh himself, should have laid a cloth, dipped in water, upon his face, and then should have died from the effects of the repressed perspiration. מַכְבֵּר means, primarily, something woven, a woven fabric, but it is not a fly-guard (Michaelis, Hess, and others), nor a bath-blanket or quilt (Ewald); but a woven, and hence thick and heavy, coverlet (Sept. στρῶμα); the bed-coverlet. This, when dipped in water, became so heavy that, when spread over his face, it prevented his breathing, and so either produced suffocation, as most understand it, or brought on apoplexy, as Thenius suggests. Clericus correctly states the reason why Hazael chose just this form of murder: ut hominem facilius Suffocaret, ne vi interemtus videret. He would have the less opposition to fear, in mounting the throne, as he intended, if Benhadad appeared to have died a natural death. We have not, therefore, to think of strangulation, which Josephus states was here employed (τὸν μὲν στραγγάλῃ διέφθειρε). Philippson remarks that, in cases of violent fever, it is the custom in the Orient, according to Bruce, to pour cold water over the bed, and that this bold treatment was perhaps tried in the case of Benhadad, but with unfortunate results. This, however, is not at all probable. We may feel confident that no one will ever succeed in clearing Hazael from the crime of regicide, however much some have tried it. Ewald (Geschichte des Volkes Israel, iii. s. 522 [3e Ausg. s. 561]), narrates the occurrence thus: “As the king was about to take his bath (?), his servant (?), we cannot now tell more precisely from what particular motive, dipped the bathing-blanket (?) in the warm (?) water, and drew it, before the king could call for help, so tightly together (?) over his head, that he was smothered.” Every one sees that the text says nothing of all that. [It is unnatural, of course, to introduce a new subject for ויקח. Also, it is not likely that the king committed suicide the day after he had shown so much anxiety about his life. Hazael alone remains, and so we translate. But Ewald refers the case to the usage in which an indefinite subject, one (Germ. man), must be supplied, § 294, b. He furthermore points to the article in המכבר, which refers to some well-known object, he thinks to a bath-blanket. This, then, would identify the subject as the servant who was assisting him in the bath. Again, Ewald observes that if Hazael were the subject he would not be mentioned again immediately afterwards (Geschichte, ed. iii. vol. III. s. 562 n. 2). These considerations are not, perhaps, strong enough to support the inferences which he draws from them, but they certainly are not contemptible.—W. G. S.]
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. This passage is not by any means arbitrarily inserted here in the course of the history of the kings. It stands in close and intelligent connection with what precedes and what follows. The first incident (2 Kings 8:1–6) is not intended simply to prove “how God, by overruling slight circumstances, often brings about great blessings” (Köster); neither can it properly be entitled: “The Seven-year Famine,” or “The Restoration of the Shunammite’s Property.” It is rather intended to show the high estimation in which the king held the prophet. The king had been a witness of very many acts of Elisha, which forced from him a recognition of the prophet’s worth. In order to arrive at a still more complete estimate of him, he desires to learn from a reliable source all the great and extraordinary works which Elisha had accomplished, and of which he had already perhaps heard something by public rumor. He therefore applies to Gehazi for this information. While Gehazi was telling the story of the Shunammite, she herself came in and was able to ratify what he narrated. The king was so much carried away by the story, and by this marvellous meeting with the woman herself, that he, for the sake of the prophet, restored to her the property she had lost, and even added more than she ever could have expected. This story, therefore, shows us the effect which the acts of Elisha had had upon the king, and is perfectly in place here. Moreover, it forms the connection with what follows. In spite of all his recognition of Elisha as a prophet, still Jehoram “cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam and departed not therefrom” (3:3). He still tolerated the disgraceful idolatrous worship in Israel, so that, before his end, Jehu could retort upon him: “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22). Therefore it was that the storm-clouds of divine judgment, which were to bring ruin to him, and to the entire house of Ahab, were already collecting. This judgment came from two directions, as the oracle 1 Kings 19:15 sq. (see Exeg. notes thereon) had already predicted that it would come, both from without and from within; foreign invasion from Syria by Hazael, and domestic rebellion by Jehu. The second narrative above concerns Hazael; chap. 9. treats of Jehu. The main point in the second narrative (2 Kings 8:7–15) is the announcement of the divine judgment which is to fall upon Israel by the hand of Hazael (2 Kings 8:11–13). All the rest, both what precedes and what follows, is only introduction to this, or development of it. As God’s prophet in Israel (5:8), Elisha had the painful task, which he performed with tears, of designating in advance the usurper Hazael as the one through whom the divine judgment should be inflicted, “in order that Israel might thereafter know all the more surely that Jehovah had prepared this chastisement, and that it was His hand which laid this scourge upon apostates” (Krummacher). [As the whole series of incidents, of which this is one, is told in order to show the greatness of the prophet, so it seems more consistent to see the aim of this one in the intention to show that Elisha foreknew and foretold Hazael’s crime and usurpation, and the misery which he inflicted upon Israel.—W. G. S.]
2. The first narrative (2 Kings 8:1–6) contains, besides the chief point, which has already been specified, a series of incidents which form a marvellous web of divine dispensations. The restoration of the Shunammite’s property, with which it ends, is connected by a chain of intervening incidents with the famine predicted by the prophet, with which it begins. The restoration of the property presupposes its loss; this the temporary absence from the country; that took place by the advice of the prophet, and this advice was founded upon the scarcity which God had inflicted as a punishment, and which He had revealed beforehand to the prophet. It was especially the marvellous, divinely ordered, meeting of the Shunammite and Gehazi in the presence of the king, which influenced the latter to his unexpected decision. This meeting was, for the king, a seal to the story of Gehazi, and for the Shunammite a seal upon her faith and trust in the prophet. Once she declined any intercession of the prophet with the king on her behalf (chap, 4:13); now she found that she received help, for the prophet’s sake, even without his immediate interference. Krummacher: “God does not always help by startling miracles, although His hands are not tied from even these. More frequently His deliverances are disguised in the more or less transparent veil of ordinary occurrences, nay, even of accidents. This and that takes place, which at the time we hardly consider worthy of notice; but let us wait until these slight providential incidents are all collected together, and the last thread is woven into the artistic web.”
3. What is here told us about king Jehoram presents him to us from his better side. His desire to learn all of Elisha’s acts, still more the way in which he was ready at once to help the distressed Shunammite to the recovery of her property, testify to a receptivity for elevated impressions, and to a disposition to yield to them. By the fact that he recognized all that was extraordinary in the person of the prophet, and yet that he did not desist from his false line of conduct, he showed that, in the main point, the relation of himself and of his people to Jehovah, nothing good could any longer be expected of him. His better feelings were transitory and, on a broad and general survey, in effectual. He continued to be a reed, swayed hither and thither by the wind, easily moved, but undecided and unreliable, so that finally, when all the warnings and exhortations of the prophet had produced no effect, he fell under the just and inevitable judgment of God.
4. The second narrative (2 Kings 8:7–15) relates, it is true, the fulfilment of the oracle in 1 Kings 19:15, but it shows, at the same time, that that oracle cannot be understood in its literal sense (see the Exeg. notes on that passage), for it is historically established here that Hazael, who now appears for the first time in the history, was not anointed king of Syria by either Elijah or Elisha, though he does appear as the divinely-appointed executor of the judgments which God had decreed against Israel. Jehovah “shows” him as such to the prophet, and the latter, far from seeking him in Damascus and anointing him, or even saluting him, as king, gives the usurper, who comes to meet him with presents and hypocritical humility, to understand, both by his manner and his words, that he sees his treacherous plans, and he tells him, with tears, what God had revealed, that he should be the great enemy and oppressor of Israel. Thereupon Hazael departs, startled and embarrassed, without a word. This is the clear story of the incident as this narration presents it to us. There is no room, therefore, for any supposition that Hazael was anointed by the prophet. On the other hand, it is an entire mistake, on the part of some of the modern historians, to see in the conduct of Elisha only the “enmity of the prophets of Jehovah” towards Jehoram and his dynasty, and to make Elisha a liar and a traitor, as Duncker (Geschichte des Alterthums, i. s. 413) does, when he says: “At a later time [after the siege of Samaria by Benhadad, chap. 6.] Elisha spent some time among the enemies of his country, in Damascus. Here Benhadad was slain by one of his servants, Hazael, at the instigation of Elisha. Hazael then mounted the throne of Damascus and renewed the war against Israel, not without encouragement from Elisha.” In like manner Weber (Gesch. des Volkes Israel’s, 236) remarks: “This opportunity [the illness of Benhadad] appears to have been taken advantage of by the prophet to bring about a palace revolution, as a result of which the king of Damascus was murdered on his sick-bed, by means of a fly-net (?).” Such misrepresentation of history can only be explained by the neglect or ignorance of the Hebrew text. When will people cease to make modern revolutionary agitators of the ancient prophets? According to Köster (Die Proph., s. 94) the sense of the entire story is this: “A prophet may not allow himself to be restrained from proclaiming the word of Jehovah, by the possibility of evil or crime which may result from it.” This thought, which is, at best, a very common-place one, and which might have been presented more strikingly and precisely in a hundred other ways, is entirely foreign to the story before us.
5. The prophet Elisha appears, in this second narrative, in a very brilliant light. As he had forced recognition of his own worth from the king of Israel, so he had attained to high esteem with the king of Syria. The rude, proud, and unsubmissive Benhadad, the arch-enemy of Israel, whose undertakings Elisha had often frustrated, who had once sent an armed detachment to capture him, shows him, as soon as he hears of his presence in his country, the highest honors. He sends out his highest officer with grand gifts to meet him, calls himself humbly his son, and sends a request to him that he will pray to God on his behalf. This in itself overthrows the notion that “Elisha’s celebrated skill in medicine” (Weber) led the king to this step. We are not told what produced this entire change in Benhadad’s disposition; but it is, at any rate, a strong proof of the mighty influence which Elisha must have exerted, both by word and deed, that he was held in so high esteem even in Syria, and that Benhadad himself bent before him. This reception, which he met with in a foreign land, was also a warning sign for Israel. He stands before us, high in worth and dignity in this occurrence also, both as man of God and prophet. He does not feel himself flattered by the high honors which are conferred upon him. They influence him as little as the rich gifts, which he does not even accept. At the sight of the man who, according to the purpose of God, was to be the scourge of his people, he is carried away by such grief that he, as our Lord once did, at the sight of Jerusalem moving on to its destruction, burst into tears for the people who did not consider those things “which belonged to their peace.” How any one can form the suspicion, under such circumstances, that Elisha stood in secret collusion with Hazael, to whose conscience he addresses such sharp reproofs, or can say: “Hazael at once commenced a war upon Israel, instigated by Elisha” (Weber), it is hard to understand.
6. This narrative leaves no room for doubt as to Hazael’s character, and especially is that labor thrown away which is spent upon the attempt to acquit him of the murder of Benhadad, or to represent his guilt at least as uncertain, for וַיָּמֹת, which follows the words: He (Hazael) “spread it on his face,” means, so that he died, as in 1 Sam. 25:38; 1 Kings 2:46; 2 Kings 12:21. At heart proud, haughty, and imperious, he affects humility and submissiveness; towards his master, who had entrusted him with the most important commission, he is false and treacherous. He shrinks from no means to attain his object. He lies and deceives, but, at the same time, he is cunning and crafty, and knows how to conceal his traitorous purposes. When, alarmed and exposed by the words of the prophet, he can no longer keep them secret, he marches on to the crime, although he seeks to execute it in such a way that he may not appear to be guilty. With all this he combines energy, courage, cruelty, and a blind hatred against Israel, as the sequel shows. On account of these qualities, he was well fitted to be, in the hand of God, a rod of anger and a staff of indignation (Isai. 10:5). “The Lord makes the vessels of wrath serviceable for the purpose of His government” (Krummacher), and here we have again, as often in the history of redemption, an example of wickedness punished by wickedness, and of godless men made, without their will or knowledge, instruments of holiness and justice (see above, 1 Kings 22. Hist. § 6).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Kings 8:1–6. King Jehoram and the Shunammite. (a) The marvellous meeting of the two (the inscrutable and yet wise and gracious orderings of God, Isai. 28:29; 55:8, 9); (b) the restoration of the property believed to be lost (a proof of the truth of Prov. 21:1; and Ps. 146:7, 9; therefore, Ps. 37:5).
2 Kings 8:1–3. KRUMMACHER: Famine, pest, war, and all other forms of calamity, form an army which is subject to the command of God, which comes and goes at His command, which is ready to attack or ready to retire as He may order, and which can assail no one without command. They are sometimes commissioned to punish, and to be the agents of the divine justice, sometimes to arouse and to bring back the intoxicated to sobriety, sometimes to embitter the world to sinners, and push them to the throne of grace, and sometimes to try the saints, and light the purifying fires about them.… So no man has to do simply with the sufferings which fall upon him, but, before all, with Him who inflicted them.—SEILER: It is not a rare thing for God to lead even a large number of persons at the same time away from a certain place, where some calamity would have befallen them with others. Do not abandon thy fatherland without being certain of the call of God: “Arise! Go,” &c, as Abraham was (Gen. 12:1). Faith clings to the words in Ps. 37:18, 19. It is the holy duty and the noblest task of human government to help the oppressed, to secure justice for orphans, and to help the cause of the widow (Isai. 1:17; Ps. 82:3).
2 Kings 8:4–6. The King’s Consultation with Gehazi. (a) The motive of it; (b) the effect of it.
2 Kings 8:4. OSIANDER: That is the way with many great men; they like to hear of the deeds and discourses of pious teachers, and even admire them, but will not be improved by them (Mark 6:20; Acts 24:24 sq.; 25:22; 26:28).—KRUMMACHER: People are not wanting even now-a-days who, although they are strangers to the life which has its source in God, nevertheless have a feeling of interest and enthusiasm for the miraculous contents of the text. They read such portions of Scripture with delight.… Even a certain warmth of feeling is not wanting. What, however, is totally wanting, is the broken and contrite spirit, the character of a poor and helpless sinner.
2 Kings 8:5. That the word which has been heard may not fall by the wayside, but take root in the heart, God, in His mercy, often causes special occurrences to take place immediately afterwards which bear testimony to the truth of the word.
2 Kings 8:6. For the sake of the prophet the Shunammite was helped out of her misfortune, and reinstated in the possession of her property. The Lord never forgets the kindnesses which are shown to a prophet in the name of a prophet (Matt. 10:41); He repays them not once but many times (2 Kings 4:8–10). The word of God often extorts from an unconverted man a good and noble action, which, however, if it only proceeds from a sudden emotion, and stands alone, resembles a flower, which blooms in the morning, and in the evening fades and dies. True servants of God, like Elisha, are often fountains of great blessing, without their own immediate participation or knowledge.
2 Kings 8:7–15. Elisha in Syria, (a) Benhadad’s mission to him; (b) the meeting with Hazael; (c) the announcement of the judgments upon Israel.
2 Kings 8:7 and 8. Benhadad upon the Sick-bed. (a) The rebellious, haughty, and mighty king, the arch-enemy of Israel, who had never troubled himself about the living God, lies in wretchedness; he has lost courage, and now he seeks the prophet whom he once wished to capture, just as a servant seeks his master. The Lord can, with his hammer, which breaketh in pieces even the flinty rock, also make tender the hearts of men (Isai. 26:16). Those who are the most self-willed in prosperity are often the most despairing in misfortune. Not until the end approaches do they seek God; but He cannot help in death those who in life have never thought of Him. (b) He does not send to ask the prophet: What shall I, poor sinner, do that I may find grace and be saved? but only whether he shall recover his health. (STARKE: The children of this world are only anxious for bodily welfare; about eternal welfare they are indifferent.) It should be our first care in severe illness to set our house in order, and to surrender ourselves to the will of God, so that we may truthfully say with the apostle: “For whether we live,” &c. (Rom. 14:8). The time and the hour of death are concealed from men, and it is vain to inquire about them.
2 Kings 8:7. The man of God is come! That was the cry in the heathen city of Damascus, and the news penetrated even to the king, who rejoiced to hear it. This did not occur to Elisha in any city of Israel, Luke 4:24 sq. (John 1:11; Acts 18:6). Blessed is the city and the country where there is rejoicing that a man of God is come!
2 Kings 8:9–11. So much the times may change! He who once was despised, hated, and persecuted, is now met with royal honors and rich presents; but the one makes him uncertain and wavering just as little as the other. The testimonials of honor, and the praise of the great and mighty, the rich and those of high station, are often a much more severe temptation to waver for the messengers of the word of God, than persecution and shame. To be a true man of God is not consistent with vanity and self-satisfaction. The faithful messenger delivers his message without respect of persons, in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). He who seeks for the honor which cometh only from God (John 5:44), will not let himself be blinded by honor before men (Acts 14:14; Sirach 20:31).
2 Kings 8:10. However well a man may know how to conceal his secret thoughts and wicked plans, there is One who sees them, even long before they are put in operation; from whom the darkness hideth not, and for whom the night shineth as the day (Ps. 139:2–12). He will sooner or later bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and reveal the secret counsel of the heart (1 Cor. 4:5).
2 Kings 8:11. He who has a good conscience is never disturbed or embarrassed if any one looks him directly in the eye; but a bad conscience cannot endure an open, firm look, and trembles with terror at every rustling leaf.
2 Kings 8:11, 12. Elisha weeps. These were not tears of sentiment, but of the deepest pain, worthy of a man of God, who knows of no greater evil than the apostasy of his people from the living God, the determined contempt for the divine word, and the rejection of the divine grace. Where are the men who now-a-days weep such tears? They were also tears of the most faithful love, which is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, vaunteth not itself, and is not puffed up. So our Lard wept once over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), and St. Paul over Israel (Rom. 9:1–3).
2 Kings 8:13. Subserviency before men is always joined with falseness and hypocrisy. Therefore trust no one who is more than humble and modest. Hazael called himself a dog, while he plotted in his heart to become king of a great people.—CRAMER: It is the way with all hypocrites that they bend and cringe, and humble themselves, and conceal their tricks, until they perceive their opportunity, and have found the key of the situation (2 Sam. 15:6).—KRUMMACHER: There is scarcely anything more discordant and disgusting than the dialect of self-abasement, when it bears upon its face the stamp of affectation and falsehood.
2 Kings 8:14, 15. It is the curse which rests upon him who has sold himself to sin, that all which ought to awaken his conscience, and terrify and shock him out of his security, only makes him more obstinate, and pushes him on to carry out his evil designs (cf. John 13:21–30).
2 Kings 8:15. The Lord abhorreth the bloody and deceitful man (Ps. 5:7). He who, by treason and murder, ascends a throne, is no king by the grace of God, but only a rod of wrath in the hands of God, which is broken in pieces when it has served its purpose.
2 Kings 8:6.—[The Masoretes write ה in עזבה as suffix without mappik, of which other examples occur (cf. 1 Kings 14; Isai. 23:17). It might be punctuated as a perfect עָֽזְבָֽה. Ew. 247, d. and nt. 2.—Böttcher (§ 418, c) accounts for the omission of mappik by the accumulation of guttural and hissing letters: ע ,ז ,א.
2 Kings 8:10.—[I. e., give him that delusive hope, since he longs for it, and you, as a courtier, desire to gratify him. This is adopting the keri לוֹ. See Exeget.
2 Kings 8:13.—[כּי has the force of then. What then is thy servant, the dog, that, &c. The English translators rendered the sentence as if it were the same use of language as in 1 Sam. 17:43; 2 Sam. 3:8, but it is quite the contrary. Hazael calls himself a dog and asks how he can do great deeds. Goliath and Abner resent being treated as if they were contemptible, which they do not admit. מָה, even when it refers to persons, asks, not who? but what? i.e., what kind of one? (Böttcher. § 899. ζ.)—W. G. S.]
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.FIFTH SECTION
THE MONARCHY UNDER JEHORAM AND AHAZIAH IN JUDAH, AND THE ELEVATION OF JEHU TO THE THRONE IN ISRAEL.
2 KINGS 8:16–9:37
A.—The reigns of Jehoram and Ahaziah in Judah.
CHAP 8:16–29 (2 CHRON. 21:2–20).
16AND in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel [(]4 Jehoshaphat being then [had been] king of Judah [)], [or expunge the sentence in parenthesis] Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. 17Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years5 in Jerusalem. 18And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab; for the daughter of Ahab6 was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 19Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah7 for David his servant’s sake, as he [had] promised him to give him always [omit always] a light [forever], and to [referring to] his children.
20In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. 21So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about,8 and [smote]9 the captains of the chariots [i.e., of the Edomites]: and the people [of 22Israel] fled into their tents. Yet [So] Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time. 23And 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? 24And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.
25In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign. 26Two 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. 27And 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 [connected by marriage with]10 the house of Ahab.
28And he went with Joram the son of Ahab [And Joram himself11 went] to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians12 wounded Joram. 29And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him13 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 CHRONOLOGY OF THE PERIOD FROM AHAB TO JEHU.
Polus says of the chronological statement with which this passage commences: Occurrit hic nodus impeditus, because it does not accord with previous data, especially with 2 Kings 1:17, and has, therefore, caused the expositors great trouble. The question whether any reconciliation at all is possible, and, if so, how it is to be brought about, can only be answered after comparing all the data with reference to the reigns of the several kings of both realms between Ahab and Jehu. For, not only does a new period in the history of the monarchy begin with Jehu’s reign, but also it gives a fixed point from which to calculate the chronology of the preceding period, seeing that Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah were both slain by him, perhaps upon, the same day (2 Kings 9:21–27), and so there was a change of occupant on both thrones at the same time. This year, which almost all modern expositors agree in fixing, with a unanimity which is not usual with them, is the year 884 B.C. [This unanimity is not apparent. Rösch (Art. “Zeitrechnung,” in Herz. Encyc.) gives a table of twelve authorities. They fix this date as follows: Petavius, 884; Ussher, 884: Des Vignoles, 876; Bengel, 886; Thiele, 888; Winer, 884; Ewald, 883; Thenius, 884; Keil, 883; Seyffarth, 855; Bunsen, 873. We may add, Rawlinson, 884; Lenormant, 886; Lepsius (on the ground of the Egyptian chronology) 861. No one of them makes this the starting point for introducing the dates of the Christian era into the Jewish chronology, and it is clear that there is no more certain means of establishing the date of Jehu’s accession in terms of the Christian era, than that of any other event. This date being thus arbitrarily fixed by the consensus of chronologers who have reached it by starting from some other date which they were able to fix by some independent means, all the other dates in Bähr’s chronology must suffer from the uncertainty which attaches to this. It is not an independent and scientific method of procedure. For the true point of connection between the Jewish chronology and the Christian era, see the appendix to this volume. The dates adopted by Bähr are also there collected into a table for convenience of reference.—W. G. S.] From this date backwards, the dates of the other reigns must therefore be fixed according to the data given in the text. As there are two kings who have the same name, יוֹרָם or יְהוֹרָם (in 2 Kings 1:17 and 2 Chron. 22:6, both are called יְהוֹרָם, in 2 Kings 9:15, 17, 21, יוֹרָם is the name of the king of Israel; in 2 Kings 8:16 and 29, the king of Israel is called יוֹרָם, and the king of Judah יְהוֹרָם, while in 2 Kings 8:21, 23, 24, the king of Judah is called יוֹרָם), we will call the king of Israel, in what follows, Joram, and the king of Judah, Jehoram, simply in order to avoid ambiguity.
We have to bear in mind, first of all, in counting the years of the reigns, the peculiar method of reckoning of the Hebrews. According to a rule which is given several times in the Talmud, and which was adopted also by Josephus in his writings, a year in the reign of a king is reckoned from Nisan to Nisan, in such a way that a single day before or after [the first of] this month is counted as a year (see Keil on 1 Kings 12. s. 139 sq., where the passages from the Talmud are quoted). [The note is as follows: “ ‘The only method of reckoning the year of the kings is from Nisan.’ Further on, after quoting certain passages in proof, it is added: ‘Rabbi Chasda said: “They give this rule only in regard to the kings of Israel.” ’ Nisan was the beginning of the year for the kings, and a single day in the year (i.e., after the first day of Nisan) is counted as a year. ‘One day on the end of the year is counted as a year.’ ” The citations are from the tract on the “Beginning of the Year” (ראשׁ השׁנה) in the Guemara of Babylon, 100:1 fol. iii., p. 1, ed. Amstel.] It cannot be doubted that this method of reckoning is the one employed in the books before us, for we saw above (1 Kings 15:9 and 25) that the reign could not have comprised full years to the number stated. The same is also clear from a comparison of 1 Kings 22:51, and 2 Kings 3:1, and other examples will follow. Such a method of reckoning, which counted portions of a year as whole years in estimating the duration of a reign, necessarily produced inaccuracies and uncertainties, so that the difference of a year in different chronological data cannot present any difficulty, much less throw doubt upon the entire chronology of the period or overthrow it. If now we reckon back from the established date, 884 B.C., the reigns of the separate kings, the following results are obtained:
(a) For the kings of Judah:—Ahaziah, who died in 884, reigned only one year (2 Kings 8:26), and, in fact, as is generally admitted, not a full twelvemonth. He therefore came to the throne in 884 or 885. His predecessor, Jehoram, reigned eight years (2 Kings 8:17), down to 885, so that his accession fell in 891 or 892. Jehoshaphat, his father, reigned twenty-five years (1 Kings 22:42), that is, from 916 or 917 on. As he came to the throne in the fourth year of Ahab, the accession of the latter falls in 919 or 920.
(b) For the kings of Israel.—Joram, who died in 884, had reigned for twelve years (2 Kings 3:1). He came to the throne, therefore, in 895 or 896. His predecessor, Ahaziah, reigned for two years (1 Kings 22:51 and 2 Kings 3:1), but, as is admitted, not two full years. Hence he became king in 897 or 898. Ahab, his father, reigned for twentytwo years (1 Kings 16:29); came to the throne, therefore, between 919 and 920, which agrees with the reckoning above.
Again, if we reckon the corresponding years of the reigns in the two kingdoms, we arrive at the following calculation: (a) Ahaziah of Judah became king in the twelfth year of Joram of Israel (2 Kings 8:26), and, as the latter was slain in the same year as the former (884), the one year of the former (8:26), cannot have been a full year, (b) Jehoram of Judah became king in the fifth year of Joram of Israel (8:16), and, as the latter’s accession falls in 895 or 896 (see above), his fifth year coincides with 891 or 892, the date above established for the accession of Jehoram. (c) Ahaziah of Israel became king in the seventeenth (1 Kings 22:51), and his successor, Joram, in the eighteenth (2 Kings 3:1) year of Jehoshaphat, whence it is clear that Ahaziah, as was above remarked, did not reign for two whole years (1 Kings 22:51). The seventeenth of Jehoshaphat falls, reckoning from his accession in 916, in 899, and his eighteenth in 898, whereas, according to the above calculation, Ahaziah came to the throne between 897 and 898, and Joram between 897 and 896. This insignificant discrepancy is evidently due to the Hebrew method of reckoning, for under that system it might well be that the two years of Ahaziah, although not complete, might embrace parts of 898, 897, and 896, and still Ahaziah might follow in the seventeenth and Joram in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. At any rate, the historical details, which are of far greater importance, are not touched by these slight chronological differences, far less are they in contradiction with them. Finally, if we add the reigns of the three kings of Judah, viz., Jehoshaphat twenty-five, Jehoram eight, and Ahaziah one, the sum is thirty-four years. As these years, however, were not all full, there cannot be more than thirty-two in all. The reigns of the three kings of Israel, Ahab twenty-two, Ahaziah two, Joram twelve, amount to thirty-six years, which were not all complete, so that they cannot give in all over thirty-five years. The entire period from Ahab to Jehu contains between thirty-five and thirty-six years, and, as Jehoshaphat came to the throne in the fourth year of Ahab, the sums agree.
While the eleven data given in six passages thus agree essentially, one statement, 2 Kings 1:17, according to which Joram of Israel became king in the second year of Jehoram of Judah, differs decidedly. If it is authentic, Jehoshaphat cannot have reigned twenty-five years, but only seventeen, and there was no eighteenth year of his, in which the accession of Joram of Israel is declared to have fallen (3:1). Moreover, Jehoshaphat’s successor, Jehoram of Judah, did not then reign eight (2 Kings 8:17), but fourteen years, and he came to the throne, not in the fifth (8:16) year of Joram of Israel, but a year before him. This brings great disturbance, not only into the chronology, but also into the history of the entire period. In order to do away with this glaring discrepancy, the founder of biblical chronology, Ussher, following the rabbinical book called Seder Olam, adopted the explanation, in his Annal. Vet. et Nov. Testam., 1650, that Jehoram reigned for six or seven years with his father Jehoshaphat. This theory of a joint reign is the most generally accepted explanation. Keil defends it very vigorously, and asserts that “Jehoshaphat, when he marched out with Ahab to war against Syria in Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 22:3 sq.), appointed his son regent, and committed to him the government of the kingdom. The statement in 2 Kings 1:17, that Joram of Israel became king in the second year of Jehoram of Judah, dates from this joint government.… But, in the fifth year of this joint administration, Jehoshaphat gave up the government entirely to him (Jehoram). From this time, i.e., from the twenty-third year of Jehoshaphat, we have to reckon the eight years of the reign of Jehoram of Judah, so that he reigned alone, after his father’s death, only six years.” This reconciliation is artificial and forced; but the following considerations tell especially against it:
(a) The biblical text says nothing anywhere about the assumed fact that Jehoshaphat raised his son to share his throne six or seven years before he died, and that he then, in the fifth year of this divided government, retired entirely, although, if any king had done such a thing, it must have had deep influence on the history of the monarchy. Keil himself is forced to admit that “we do not know the reasons which impelled Jehoshaphat to abdicate in favor of his son two years before his death.” It never can be proper to supplement the history on the basis of an isolated chronological statement. In 2 Chron. 21:5 and 20, the reign of Jehoram dates from the death of his predecessor, just as in the case of all the other kings, and its duration is stated as eight years, no account being taken of any two years during which he is thought to have reigned while his father was yet alive, or of five years that he reigned jointly with him. It is said there, in 2 Kings 8:3, that Jehoshaphat “gave” to his sons gold and fortified cities, but to his eldest son, Jehoram, the kingdom; yet that clearly refers to the disposition he made for the time after his death, and not to any distribution which he accomplished two, or, in fact, seven, years before his death.
(b) Appeal is made, in support of this assumed joint government, to the obscure words in 2 Kings 8:16: וִיהוֹשׁפָטָ מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה, which Clericus supplements by עוּד חי, adhuc erat in vivis, aut simile quidpiam. Keil, with many of the old commentators, translates: “While Jehoshaphat was (still) king of Judah,” i.e., during the lifetime of Jehoshaphat. But those words are wanting in the Syrian and Arabic versions, in some MSS., and in the Complutensian Septuagint. Luther and De Wette leave them untranslated. Houbigant, Kennicott, Dathe, Schulz, Maurer, and Thenius want to remove them from the text. Thenius says that they are “evidently due to an error of the copyist, who has repeated them here from the end of the verse,” and that “they were then provided with the conjunction, in order to give them a connection.” We cannot, therefore, call their omission from the text “a piece of critical violence,” as Keil does. If, however, it is desired to retain them, because they are in the massoretic text, the Chaldee version, the Vulgate, and the Vatican Sept., still they cannot be translated in the manner proposed. The word “still,” which is here so important, is wanting in the text, and cannot be inserted without further deliberation. Kimchi and Ewald, with the rabbinical Sedar Olam, supply מֵת after יְהוּדָה, i.e., “and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was dead.” This, however, would be constructing a sentence which states what is true to be sure, but “the super-fluousness of which, and the unprecedentedness also, in the midst of the current formula in which it occurs, it is not necessary to point out” (Thenius). If the words are to stand, the only possible recourse is to supply היה, which so often is wanting, in the sense of the pluperfect. The sentence would then have to be understood as a parenthesis, intended to refer back again to the last king of Judah, because, in this verse, the history of the kingdom, which has been interrupted by the narrative of other incidents from 1 Kings 22:50 up to this point, is now to be resumed. “Jehoshaphat had been king of Judah.” But in what manner soever the words may be translated, they can in no case obscure the clear and definite declaration that Jehoram became king in the fifth year of Joram of Israel, and that he reigned eight years. What is obscure can never explain what is clear, but only, vice versa, that which is clear can explain what is obscure.
(c) When Joram of Israel undertook the war against Moab (2 Kings 3:4 sq.), (at the earliest in the first year of his reign), he called upon “Jehoshaphat king of Judah” to go with him, and when the three kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom, turned, in their distress, to Elisha, he would have nothing to do with Joram, but referred him to the prophets of Ahab and Jezebel, and finally gave ear to him only for the sake of “Jehoshaphat king of Judah,” who was faithful to Jehovah (2 Kings 8:14). But if Jehoram had then been king of Judah according to 2 Kings 1:17, or even joint ruler, Jehoshaphat could not have been spoken of simply as ruling king of Judah.
(d) Jehoshaphat held firmly to the worship of Jehovah, and was a decided opponent of all worship of Baal or Astarte. He was, in fact, one of the most pious of the kings of Judah (1 Kings 22:43; 2 Chron. 17:3–6; 19:3; 20:32); his son Jehoram, on the contrary, did what was evil in the sight of God, and was devoted to the worship of Baal, which Ahab’s family had introduced (2 Kings 8:18; 2 Chron. 21:6 and 11 sq.). It is impossible, therefore, that they should have ruled together. If Jehoshaphat had allowed his fellow-ruler to introduce and foster the worship of Baal, he would have made himself a participant in the same guilt, and would not have received the praise of changeless fidelity to Jehovah.
(e) Joint governments are foreign to Oriental, and, above all, to Israelitish antiquity. It is true that it is stated in the history of king Azariah (Uzziah) that he was a leper, and, therefore, lived in a separate house, and that his son Jotham “was over the house, judging the people of the land” (2 Kings 15:5). The “house” here meant is the royal palace (cf. 1 Kings 4:6; 18:3), and it is not intended to assert that he became king during the lifetime of the rightful king, as is assumed with regard to Jehoram. Jotham did not become king until Uzziah’s death, and then he ruled for sixteen years (2 Kings 15:7, 33). The years in which he acted as regent for his sick father are not reckoned in these, as they should be, if it is to be a precedent for including in the eight years of Jehoram certain years during which he was joint-ruler with his father. There is no statement anywhere with regard to Jehoshaphat that he was sick or otherwise incapacitated for governing. This energetic ruler was far from needing an assistant, certainly not such a weak one as Jehoram. The latter was sick for two years before his death; but even he had no joint regent. His son Ahaziah did not come to the throne until after his death.
From all this we see plainly that all attempts to bring 2 Kings 1:17 into agreement with the other chronological data, which are essentially in accord among themselves, are vain. We are therefore forced to the conclusion that the text of this verse, as it lies before us, is not in its original form. Thenius considers it corrupt, and desires to read for: “In the second year of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat,” “in the twenty-second year of Jehoshaphat.” But this does not agree with 2 Kings 3:1, where it is said that Joram of Israel came to the throne in the eighteenth, not twenty-second, of Jehoshaphat, nor with 1 Kings 22:51, where “in the seventeenth year” must be changed, as Thenius proposes, to “in the twenty-first year,” a change which is inadmissible. On the other hand, it must be admitted that the form of statement varies considerably from the standing formula. In each case where the death of a king is recorded, there follows immediately the formula: such a one became king in his stead, without any further details in regard to the successor than simply his name. Then when the history of the following reign commences, often after the insertion of other incidents and reflections of greater or less length, it is stated in what year of the reign of the king of the other nation he began to reign, of what age he was, and how many years he ruled (cf. 1 Kings 14:20–31; 15:8–24; 16:28; 22:40–51; 2 Kings 8:24; 10:35; 12:21; 13:9; 14:16–29; 15:7, 22, 25, 30, 38; 16:20; 20:21; 21:18, 26; 23:30; 24:6). Now, in 2 Kings 1:17, after the words “and he died according to the word of the prophet Elijah,” follows the ordinary formula, “and Joram became king in his stead;” but then there is added, what is not added in a single other passage: “In the second year of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah,” but without the further details, which are usually given in that connection, in regard to the length of the reign, &c. These details are not added until we come to the commencement of the history of his reign, 2 Kings 3:1; there, however, they vary very much from this short statement, as does also 8:16. Now since, of course, the two complete and precise statements are to be preferred to the incomplete one, the unusual chronological datum in 1:17 must be regarded as a later and incorrect addition, all the more as it stands in contradiction with all the other chronological data of the period in question. It appears distinctly as an addition in the Sept., where it stands at the end of the verse, and is not incorporated into it. It is remarkable that scholars have preferred to change the other complete and consistent data, in order to force them into agreement with this, rather than to give up this one statement which is totally unsupported, and which introduces confusion not only into the chronology, but also into the history.
Finally, we have to notice another calculation of the chronology of this period which Wolff has attempted (Studien und Kritiken, 1858, 4: s. 625–688). He rejects in general very decidedly any assumption of joint sovereignty, and especially the joint rule of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat; but he inconsistently sets up such an assumption when he says (s. 643): “As his (Ahaziah of Israel’s) health was so far lost that he could no longer administer the government, he took his brother Joram on the throne with himself, as co-regent, at about the end of the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. He remained king until the twenty-second year of Jehoshaphat, and then gave up the government entirely in favor of his brother, but did not die until the second year of Jehoram.” Ignoring the above-mentioned Jewish mode of reckoning, and starting from the purely arbitrary and unfounded assumption that only the dates given for the reigns of the kings of Judah are correct and reliable, Wolff changes the twenty-two years of Ahab to twenty, the two years of Ahaziah of Israel to four and a half, makes Joram succeed to the throne in the twenty-second instead of the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram in the third and not in the fifth year of Joram, and, finally, Ahaziah of Judah in the eleventh and not in the twelfth year of Joram. No one else has hitherto conceived the idea of undertaking so many changes in the text; they are all as violent as they are unnecessary, and, therefore, need no refutation, although their necessity is confidently asserted. The joint rule of Ahaziah and Joram is, if possible, still more contrary to the text than that of Jehoshaphat and Jehoram.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Kings 8:19. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah, &c. The connection between 2 Kings 8:19 and 20 is this: Although for David’s sake Judah did not, as a consequence of its apostasy, lose its dynasty and its existence as a nation, yet it had to pay dearly for its sin; for the Edomites, who had been subject to Judah for one hundred and fifty years, endeavored, during Jehoram’s reign, to regain their independence. Josephus says that they had killed the governor, whom Jehoshaphat had appointed (1 Kings 22:47), and had chosen a king for themselves. In order to re-subjugate them Jehoram marched out with an army צָעִירָה, unquestionably the name of a place, but not equivalent to Zoar (Hitzig and Ewald), for this lay in Moab (Jerem. 48:34), not in Edom. The place cannot be more definitely located. The chronicler has instead עִס־שָׂרָיו, i.e., “with his captains,” and does not mention any place, probably because he did not know any place by the name here given. Thenius proposes to read שְׂעִירָה, which is favored by the Vulg., Seira, so that we should have to understand it as referring to the well-known mountainous region of Edom.
2 Kings 8:21. And he rose by night, &c. “It is clear that we have in this verse the record of an unsuccessful attempt of Jehoram to re-subjugate Edom. We must, therefore, form our conceptions of the details according to this character of the whole” (Thenius). It is an utter mistake to understand the occurrence as the Calwer Bibel, on 2 Chron. 21:7 sq., explains it: “The cowardly, faithless king plotted and executed a massacre by night of the Edomites who surrounded him, in which his own captains also fell; and since, according to 2 Kings 8:21, his own people upon this deserted him, he could not accomplish anything further against the Edomites, and they remained independent.” The passage rather states simply that the army of Judah, as it approached Edom, was surrounded by the Edomites, but broke through them by night, and fled homewards (1 Kings 8:66), so that it barely escaped an utter defeat. From this time on the dominion of Judah over Edom was at an end (Ps. 137:7).
2 Kings 8:22. Unto this day, i.e., until the time of composition of the original document from which this is taken (see above, on 1 Kings 8:8). The Edomites were, indeed, re-subjugated for a short time (14:7, 22), but never again permanently.—Then Libnah revolted at the same time. This city lay in the plain of Judah, not far from the frontier of Philistia. It was at one time an ancient royal residence of the Canaanites, and afterwards one of the priests’ cities [cities of refuge] of the Israelites (Josh. 15:42; 12:15; 21:13), though it can hardly have retained the latter character until the time of Jehoram. We may suppose that it was instigated to revolt by the Philistines, and that it was assisted by them. Among the further details mentioned by the chronicler, it is stated that the Philistines attacked Jehoram, and inflicted upon him a severe defeat (2 Chron. 21:16 sq.). [It is also stated there that the allied Philistines and Arabians took Jerusalem and plundered. the temple, an event to which Hitzig refers the passage Joel 4:4–6. Thenius approves this, but thinks that 2 Chron. 21:17 is inconsistent with 2 Kings 10:3, which assigns a different fate to Ahaziah’s kindred.—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 8:25. Did Ahaziah begin to reign. The chronicler states Ahaziah’s age at his accession as forty-two (II., 22:2). This is the result of a mistake of מ for כ, in the numerals (Keil, Winer, Thenius), as we must conclude from the age assigned to Jehoram in 2 Kings 8:17. Jehoram was, thirty-two when he ascended the throne; he reigned eight years; died, therefore, at forty. Ahaziah was twenty-two at his accession; he was, therefore, born when his father was eighteen. There is nothing astonishing in this, for, according to the Talmud, young men might marry after their thirteenth year, and eighteen was the usual age of marriage (Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 297). [It should be noticed that this bears upon 2 Chron. 21:17, where it is said that Ahaziah was the youngest of the sons of Jehoram.—W. G. S.]—Athaliah is here (2 Kings 8:26) called the daughter of Omri, although she was in fact his granddaughter, because he was the founder and father of the royal house to which she belonged, and which brought so much misfortune upon Israel and Judah. The chronicler adds (II., 22:3), that she was “his [Ahaziah’s] counsellor to do wickedly.”
2 Kings 8:28. And he went with Joram, &c. [Joram himself went; see the amended translation and Textual and Grammatical, note 7. If אֶת is taken as the prep., then we have to assume that, after Joram was wounded, Ahaziah also left the seat of war and went to Jerusalem, and then that he went down from there again to Jezreel to visit Joram; for that is the simple and natural meaning of the last clause of 2 Kings 8:29. The awkwardness of this acceptation is evident. It is better to take אֶת as the so-called “accusative sign,” as explained in the note referred to.—W. G. S.] On Ramoth-Gilead, see note on 1 Kings 4:13. This strongly fortified city was, in the time of Ahab, in the hands of the Syrians, and he did not succeed in taking it away from them. He was wounded in the attempt so that he died (1 Kings 22). From 2 Kings 9:2; 14:15, we see that, at the time when Joram was at war with Hazael, it was again in the possession of the Israelites. It is not stated when or how, since the death of Ahab, it came into their hands. According to 9:14, Joram was שֹׁמֵר בְּרָמֹת, i.e., he was defending the city against the attacks of Hazael, who was thirsting for conquest, and who undoubtedly commenced the war. It was, therefore, in defending, and not in attacking the city, that Jehoram was smitten, that is, severely wounded. [See note on 9:1.] He ordered that he should be taken to Jezreel (see note on 1 Kings 18:45), and not to Samaria, although the latter was much nearer, probably because the court was at Jezreel. [Thenius’ suggestion that he could make this journey over a smooth road, while the way to Samaria lay over mountains, is also good.—W. G. S.] But the army remained under command of the generals in and before Ramoth. The king’s wound does not seem to have healed for some time. Ewald maintains that Ahaziah did not go to the war with Joram, but went to visit him from Jerusalem at a later time, when he was being healed of his wound. He says, therefore, that the particle אֶת in 2 Kings 8:28 is to be struck out. There is, however, no ground for this (see Thenius on the verse), for יָרַד, in 2 Kings 8:29, does not prove that he went from Jerusalem to Jezreel, since the latter lay to the north of Ramoth as well as of Jerusalem. It may well be that he visited Joram from Ramoth, whither he had gone with him to the war, especially as it was not so far from there as from Jerusalem. [אֶת is not the prep. but the case-sign with the nominative; יוֹרָם is therefore the subject of וילךְ, and not Ahaziah, as it is commonly understood (see Text. and Gramm.). Ahaziah did not go to Ramoth, but went down from Jerusalem to Jezreel.—W. G. S.]
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. The history of the reign of the two kings of Judah, which forms a consistent whole, does not interrupt the flow of the narrative, as might at first appear, but is inserted here for good and imperative reasons. The kingdom of Judah had kept itself free from the worship of the calf and of Baal, which prevailed in the kingdom of Israel, until the death of Jehoshaphat. That worship was, however, transplanted to Judah by the marriage of Jehoram, the son and successor of Jehoshaphat, with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, for Athaliah controlled her husband Jehoram, and his son, Ahaziah, as we see from 2 Kings 8:18 and 27, and from 2 Chron. 21:6 and 22:3, just as Jezebel, the fanatical idolatress, controlled Ahab. Though the guilt of the house of Ahab, which persisted in its evil courses in spite of all the testimonies of the divine grace, and in spite of all the exhortations and threats of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, was already great enough, it became still greater and heavier by the extension of the apostasy to Judah. Thus the measure became full, and the judgment which the prophet Elijah had predicted, the utter destruction of the dynasty, was brought about. It was inaugurated by Hazael, and consummated by Jehu. Joram of Israel was defending Ramoth against the former when he was wounded; he was brought to Jezreel where Jezebel was. Ahaziah of Judah came thither to visit him (by an especial dispensation of Providence, as 2 Chron. 22:7 expressly states), and so it came to pass that the three chief representatives of the house of Ahab were present at one and the same place. At this time now, Jehu was elevated to the throne; he hastened to Jezreel and killed all three of them, Joram, Ahaziah, and Jezebel. It was necessary, therefore, that the history of Jehoram and Ahaziah of Judah should precede chap. 9, which tells about the elevation of Jehu. This also explains the brevity of this record compared with the more detailed one in Chronicles. The author restricts himself to those details which give the causes and the explanation of the judgment which fell upon Joram and Ahaziah by the hand of Jehu.14
2. Jehoram and Ahaziah were the first kings of Judah under whom idolatry was not only tolerated, but formally introduced (2 Chron. 21:11). The book of Chronicles contains no further information than is here given in regard to Ahaziah, who did not reign for even one full year. What is there stated in regard to Jehoram shows him to us as one of the wickedest and most depraved kings that ever reigned in Judah, under whom the nation not only sank religiously, but also politically came near to ruin. He drove it by force to idolatry (וַיַּדַּח); he murdered his six brothers, and other princes besides; the Edomites established their independence of his authority; the Philistines and Arabians defeated him, and carried off all his treasures, his wives, and his children; finally, a horrible disease attacked him, which lasted two years, when he at length died. Schlier (Die Könige in Israel, s. 121 sq.) asserts in regard to him: “It was oppressive to him to be only a joint ruler; he determined to cast off the restraints of a correcting and warning father. So he sought to accomplish this by his marriage. He murdered his six brothers, who were better than himself, and also several chiefs who stood by them, and he held his royal father in captivity. It is true that he scrupled to stain his hand with the blood of his father, and that he left him still the title of king; but he held the government, from this time on, entirely in his own hands.” Of all these facts, with the exception of the murder of his brothers and the other prominent men, there is not a word in the biblical text. They are all pure fictions, to the invention of which the author is led by assuming as an historical certainty that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram ruled together for seven years. After making this assumption he feels justified in going on to explain the circumstances which produced this state of things, and especially why, after five years of this arrangement, Jehoshaphat should have retired entirely from the government for the last two years of his life. [It is a very good, instance of the method of commenting on the Scriptures which consists in inventing possible combinations in order to reconcile apparently inconsistent statements, and it shows what comes of it. It is often undertaken in a false idea of reverence for the Scriptures, and in a mistaken desire to save their authority. It is clear that a high and pure conception of, and loyalty to, historical truth, must be abandoned before any one can adopt this method of interpretation. The statements of the text are one thing, and the inventions of the commentator are another. Any one who undertakes this work must determine beforehand to keep the distinction between the two clearly and firmly before himself in his work, and the only sound method of interpretation is to cling to the text and leave inventions aside. The notion of a joint government is a pure fiction, and there is no reason why any one who adopts it should not go farther, and invent fictitious causes, occasions, and other details to account for it.—W. G. S.] The asserted facts fall to the ground with the false assumption on which they are built. The facts which are given in the documents are more than sufficient in themselves to establish the depravity of Jehoram. His wickedness is explained, since his father was one of the best and most pious kings of Israel, by the influence of his wife, and by his connection with the house of Ahab. In his history and that of Ahaziah we have a terrible example of the way in which one bad woman (Jezebel) can radically corrupt entire dynasties and entire states, and of the curse which rests upon matrimonial connections which are only formed in order to attain political objects (see above, 1 Kings 22. Hist. § 1).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Kings 8:16–29. Jehoram and his son Ahaziah: (a) The way in which both walked (18–27); (b) how they came to choose this way (18–27); (c) whither they were brought by it (2 Kings 8:20–22, 28, 29; see also Histor. § 2).—The Spirit of the House of Ahab: (a) Perversion of all divine and human ordinances. Wicked and corrupt women set the tone, and ruled over their weak husbands; (b) immorality, licentiousness, murder, and tyranny (2 Chron. 21:4, 6, 11); (c) contempt, on the one hand, for the richness of God’s long-suffering and goodness, and, on the other, for the warnings of God’s judgments and chastisements. What a different spirit animated the household of a Cornelius (Acts 10:2), of a Crispus (Acts 18:8), of the jailer at Philippi (Acts 16:34)! Cf. Prov. 14:11; 12:7; Ps. 25:2 and 3.—The Importance of Family Relationships: (a) The great influence which they exert. (They necessarily bring about relationship in spirit and feeling; they work gradually, but mightily; one member of the connection draws another with him, either to good or to evil. In spite of their pious father and grandfather, Jehoram and Ahaziah were tainted by the apostasy of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18, 27). How many are not able to resist the evil influences of these connections, and therefore make shipwreck of their faith, and are either drawn into open sin and godlessness, or are transformed into a superficial, thoughtless, and worldly character. (b) The duty which therefore devolves upon us. (The calamities which even the pious Jehoshaphat brought upon his house, nay, even upon his country, arose from the fact that he gave the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel to his son, as a wife, and did not bear in mind that relationships which do not rest upon the word and commandment of God bring discontent and ruin. Therefore beware of entering into relationships which lack the bond of faith and unity of spirit, however grand or advantageous externally they may seem to be. Do not, by such connections, transplant the Ahab and Jezebel spirit into your house, for it eats like a cancer, and corrupts and destroys to the very heart.)
2 Kings 8:19. Behold the faithfulness of God, who, for the sake of the fidelity of the father, chastises indeed the son, but yet will not utterly destroy him.—CRAMER: God will sustain his Church (kingdom) until the end of the world, in order that a holy leaven may remain, no matter how many may be found who scoff at His promise to sustain His Church.
2 Kings 8:20. God punishes infidelity to himself by means of the infidelity of men to one another.—CRAMER: If we do not keep faith with God, then people must not keep faith with us. By means of insurrection God punishes the sins of sovereigns, and dissolves the authority of kings (cf. Job 12:18).
2 Kings 8:26. CALW. BIB.: It is a horrible thing when not merely relatives, but even a mother instigates to evil.
2 Kings 8:28. CRAMER: Have no dealings with a fool-hardy man, for he undertakes what his own mind dictates, and you will have to suffer the consequences with him (Sirach 8:18).
2 Kings 8:29. CALW. BIB.: As he so gladly joined himself to Ahab’s family, and was so fond of spending his time with them, there it was, by the ordering of Providence, that he met his end. Those who, by their hostility to the Lord, belong together, must come together, according to God’s just decree, that they may perish together. Jehoram was so anxious to be healed of the bodily wound which the Syrians had given him, that he left the army and returned to Jezreel; but the wounds of his soul, which he had inflicted upon himself, caused him no trouble, and did not lead him back, as they should have done, to Him who promised: “I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds” (Jerem. 30:17). The children of this world visit one another when they are ill; they do it, however, not in order to console the sick one with the Word of Life, and to advance God’s purpose in afflicting him, but from natural love, from relationship, or other external reasons. Their visits cannot, therefore, be regarded as Christian work.
2 Kings 8:16.—[Keil and Bähr and the English translators take ויהושׁפט מלך יהודה as a parenthesis. In this view it must be understood that Jehoram of Judah assumed the government during the lifetime of his father. (See the Excursus on the Chronology.) In the Sept. (Alex.) Syr., Arab., and many MSS., the words are wanting. They arise from an error of the copyist, who repeated them from the end of the verse (Thenius, Bunsen). Ewald supplies מֵת before מָלַךְ; but, as Thenius well objects, there is no instance of any such statement inserted in the midst of this current formula.
2 Kings 8:17.—[The keri proposes the pl. שָׁנִים according to the rule for numbers between two and ten.
2 Kings 8:18.—[“Daughter of Ahab,” viz., Athaliah, 2 Kings 8:26. According to 2 Chron. 21:4, he put to death all his brothers, perhaps, as Keil suggests, in order to get the treasures which Jehoshaphat had given to them (2 Chron. 21:3).
2 Kings 8:19.—[“The Lord would not destroy Judah,” &c., 2 Chron. 21:7. “The Lord would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He had made with David,” cf. 2 Sam. 7:12. On נִיר, see on 1 Kings 11:36. לְבָנָיו, i.e., “referring to, or, according to the sense, through, or by means of, his children” (Thenius, Bähr, Keil, Bunsen, and others). A man’s posterity is spoken of as his light. It burns until his descendants die out. God promised that David’s light should last forever, “referring to” his posterity, through whom, or by preserving whom, God would keep the promise. Cf. 1 Kings 15:4, for another example of the usage. The “and” in the E.V., is imported from 2 Chron. 21:7, where it is adopted, as in the Vulg. and Sept., as an “easier reading” (Thenius).
2 Kings 8:21.—[הַסֹּבֵיב is an anomalous form. It is punctuated with tsere, which is thus written full, although it is long only by accent. Ewald only says of it that it “is very remarkable” (s. 52, note 1). There are a few forms like יוֹסִיף which have sometimes been explained as part. kal, and some desire to punctuate this סֹבִיב, still regarding it as part. kal, but explaining it by the last-mentioned analogy. Böttcher, however (§ 994, 3), disposes otherwise of every one of those forms, and thus destroys that analogy. He punctuates this הַסָּבִיב. The sense would not be different, but a concise and literal translation is difficult. “He attacked Edom, the investment against him,” i.e., he attacked the line which enclosed him.
2 Kings 8:21.—[“Smote” must be repeated in the English in order to show that “captain” is in the same construction with “Edomites.”
2 Kings 8:27.—חתן is used here generally for a relative by marriage. See the Chron. (II., 22:3 and 4) for a development of this statement.
2 Kings 8:28.—[אֶת is not the prep., but the case-sign. Böttcher has vindicated for this the signification “self,” § 515, cf. 2 Kings 6:5. “The iron itself;” the part which was iron; not the handle.
2 Kings 8:28.—[For the omission of the article in ארמים, cf. 1 Sam. 17:52 and 53, and Ew. § 277, c. The article is necessary according to the general usage, but exceptions occur.
2 Kings 8:29.—[“Which the Syrians had given.” The imperf. here, and in 9:15 in the Hebrew text, is very remarkable. Elsewhere we find the perf. in relative or other subordinate clauses, which interrupt the flow of discourse in order to specify attendant circumstances or details. It is like the aorist used for the pluperf. In 2 Chron. 22:6 we find the perf.—In 2 Chron. 21:17 it is stated that the Philistines and Arabians carried away all the sons of Jehoram but Jehoahaz, the youngest. In 22:1 it is stated that the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, the youngest and only remaining son of Jehoram, king. The two names are equivalent in meaning, the syllable from the name of Jehovah being in the one case prefixed, and in the other, affixed. Probably the latter form was the one adopted when he ascended the throne. In 22:6 we have the form Azariah, which is probably, as Ewald suggests, a slip of the pen.—W. G. S.]
 [The dynasty of Omrl and its connections: