Matthew Poole's 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.The Shunammite having, by Elisha’s advice, left the land because of the famine, returneth home; and hath her whole estate restored to her for Elisha’s sake, 2 Kings 8:1-6. He cometh to Damascus. Ben-hadad is sick, and sendeth Hazael to him with presents. Elisha foretelleth Ben-hadad’s violent death, and Hazael’s cruel reign, with tears. Hazael’s answer: he killeth his master, and succeedeth him, 2 Kings 8:7-15. Jehoram’s wicked reign in Judah: Edom and Libnah revolt, 2 Kings 8:16-23. He dieth, and Ahaziah his son succeedeth him: his wicked reign: he entertaineth friendship with Joram king of Israel, 2 Kings 8:24-29.
Then: this particle of time may be understood either particularly and definitely of the time next following the former history, or more generally and indefinitely (as it is frequently used) of the time in which Elisha and this Shunammitish woman lived. Possibly this might happen before the history of Naaman, 2Ki 5, or at least before the siege of Samaria, 2Ki 6; but this is not certain.
Unto the woman; expressing his gratitude for her former kindnesses, by taking special care for her preservation.
Wheresoever thou canst sojourn; in any convenient place out of the land of Israel.
Hath called for a famine, i.e. hath appointed to bring a famine, or a great scarcity of provisions. This expression intimates that all afflictions are sent by God, and come at his call or command.
Seven years; a double time to the former famine under Elijah, Jam 5:17, which is but just and reasonable, because they were still obstinate and incorrigible under all the severe and succeeding judgments of God, and under the powerful ministry of Elisha, who confirmed his doctrine by glorious miracles. See Leviticus 26:21,24,28.
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.Either because that was near her lands and dwelling, which she thought she might have an eye to, when occasion required; or because there was more plenty than in Judah; or because she knew that her going to dwell in Judah would be very displeasing to the king of Israel, whose favour she was like to need hereafter. Nor was there now that danger of idolatry from the Philistines as there had been formerly, because their power and influence was now grown inconsiderable, and probably many of the Jews and Israelites lived among them. And this land, though bordering upon Israel, was free from this famine, that it might appear that this was a special hand and judgment of God upon the Israelites for their idolatry, and for their unprofitableness under all the means of grace which now they plentifully enjoyed by Elisha and many other prophets; which the Philistines not enjoying, their sin was much less, and therefore their present condition was better.
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.Which having been forsaken by her, were possessed by her kindred, or others, who had obtained them from the king, and now intended to keep the possession of them.
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.Quest. How could the king speak with Gehazi, who was a leper?
Answ. Either the king might speak with him at a convenient distance, it being usual for others to discourse with lepers, as 2 Kings 7:8 Matthew 8:2 Luke 17:12; or his leprosy might be of that sort which was not infectious; or, if his leprosy was such as made him yet to be unclean, the king’s great curiosity might easily prevail with him to break a ceremonial law, who made no scruple of violating God’s moral law.
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.The woman was by God’s wonderful and gracious providence brought thither in the most advantageous season.
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.The king asked the woman concerning the truth of Gehazi’s relation.
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.To Damascus; either to the city, or rather to the kingdom, of Damascus, by comparing 2 Kings 8:9; as Samaria, which properly was the name of the city, is sometimes the name of the kingdom; of which See Poole "1 Kings 13:32". Hither he came by the special direction of the Spirit, and under God’s protection, upon the errand here following.
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?Take a present in thine hand; by which he thought to purchase his favour, and the healing of his 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?Forty camels’ burden. Hazael carried the more noble present, hoping, as his master did, to get some interest in the prophet and advantage to himself by it. Whether the prophet received it or not, is not here mentioned; but it is most probable he did not, from his former practice, 2Ki 5 and because the reasons which then swayed him were still of the same force.
Song of Solomon Ben-hadad: he who before persecuted him as an enemy, 2 Kings 6:13,14, now in his extremity honours him like a father.
And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die.Here is no contradiction; for the first words contain an answer to Ben-hadad’s question, 2 Kings 8:8,
Shall I recover of this disease? To which the answer is, Thou mayest or shalt recover, i.e. notwithstanding thy disease, which is not mortal, and shall not take away thy life. The latter words contain the prophet’s explication of or addition to that answer, which is, that he should die, not by the power of his disease, but by some other cause. But it is observable, that in the Hebrew text it is lo, the adverb, which signifies not; which though most affirm to be put for to, the pronoun, signifying to him; yet others take it as it lies, and translate the words thus, Say, Thou shalt not recover; for the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. Or, according to the former reading, the first words may be taken interrogatively, Say unto him, Shalt thou indeed recover? (as thou dost flatter thyself:) no; (which negation is implied in the very question, and gathered from the following words;) for the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die.
And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.He settled his countenance stedfastly; the prophet fixed his eyes upon Hazael.
Until he was ashamed; either till the prophet was ashamed to look any longer upon him; or till Hazael was ashamed, as apprehending that the prophet suspected or discerned something extraordinary and of an evil and shameful nature in him. The Hebrew words are ambiguous, and may indifferently be referred to either of them; but they seem more properly to belong to Hazael, because it follows, by way of distinction, the man of God wept.
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.So here was a double cause of his grief and tears, the evil of sin in Hazael, and the evil of suffering upon Israel.
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.Is thy servant a dog? either so vile and unworthy, as this expression is used, 2 Samuel 3:8 9:8; or so impudent, for which dogs are noted; or so fierce, and barbarous, and inhuman. Compare Psalm 22:16,20 59:6.
Thou shalt be king over Syria; and then thou shalt have power in thy hand, thou wilt discover that bloody disposition, and that hatred against God’s people, which now lies hid from others, and possibly from thyself; and therefore with the kingdom thou wilt inherit their cruel dispositions.
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.He represents the prophet’s answer by halves, that by his master’s security he might have the fitter opportunity to execute his reasonable design.
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.Spread it on his face; pretending, it may be, to cool his immoderate heat with it; but applying it so closely, that he choked him therewith; by which artifice his death seemed to be natural, there being no signs of a violent death upon his body. And this he the more boldly attempted, because the prophet’s prediction made him confident of the success.
Hazael reigned in his stead; having the favour of the people, and of the men of war.
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.Jehoram was first made king or viceroy by his father divers years before this time, to wit, at his expedition to Ramoth-gilead, as was noted before; which dominion of his ended at his father’s return. But now Jehoshaphat, being not far from his death, and having divers sons, and fearing some competition and dissension among them, makes Jehoram king the second time, as David did Solomon upon the like occasion, 1 Chronicles 29:22, which is the thing here related. But of this See Poole "2 Kings 1:17"; See Poole "2 Kings 3:1".
Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.Part with his father, and part by himself alone.
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.He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, after his father’s death. The daughter of Ahab; Athaliah, 2 Kings 8:26. This unequal marriage, though Jehoshaphat possibly designed it as a mean of uniting the two kingdoms under one head, and in the true religion, is here and elsewhere noted as the cause both of the great wickedness of his posterity, and of those sore calamities which befell them.
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.Alway, Heb. all days, until the coming of the Messiah, as it is elsewhere limited and explained; for so long, and not longer, this succession might seem necessary for the making good of God’s promise and covenant made with David. But when the Messiah was once come, there was no more need of any succession, and the sceptre might and did without any inconvenience depart from Judah, and from all the succeeding branches of David’s family, because the Messiah was to hold the kingdom for ever in his own person, though not in so gross a way as the carnal Jews imagined, but in a spiritual manner.
A light, i.e. a son and successor. Of this phrase, See Poole "1 Kings 11:36".
In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.From under the hand of Judah; under which they had been from David’s time, 2 Samuel 8:14. Compare 1 Kings 22:47.
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.i.e. The common soldiers of the Edomites, herein following the example of their captains.
Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time.Edom revolted; for though Joram had given them a defeat, yet it may seem to have been no great slaughter, but only a putting them to flight; and therefore they might easily rally again. And Joram could not pursue the victory, because he was recalled by the revolt of his own subjects, which had taken the occasion of his absence, and probably feared that others would follow their example, if they had the like occasion.
Libnah; a considerable city in Judah, belonging to the priests, Joshua 15:42 21:13. Why Libnah revolted, see 2 Chronicles 21:10,11. It is probable they returned to their obedience, because those words, unto this day, which are added to the former clause, are omitted here.
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?of which See Poole "1 Kings 14:19".
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.In the twelfth year of Joram.
Object. It was in the eleventh year of Joram, 2 Kings 9:29.
Answ. Either, first, He began to reign in the confines of Joram’s eleventh and twelfth year, in the very end of his eleventh year, or towards the beginning of the twelfth, whence it is indifferently ascribed to the one or the other. Or, secondly, The one year of Ahaziah did concur with the latter half of Joram’s eleventh year, and the former half of his twelfth year: and if he could not be said to
begin to reign in both these years, yet he might unquestionably be said to reign in both of them; and the Hebrew word, both here and 2 Kings 9:29, properly signifies he reigned, and not he began to reign, as it is translated. Or, thirdly, Ahaziah began to reign with his father, and during his life, according to the late examples both in Judah and Israel, there being also special occasion for it, by reason of Joram’s cruel and long sickness, 2 Chronicles 21:18, &c.; and this was in Joram’s eleventh ear, and then his father died, and he began his single reign in Joram’s twelfth year.
Ahaziah, called also Jehoahaz, 2 Chronicles 21:17, and Azariah, 2 Chronicles 22:6.
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.How this agrees with 2 Chronicles 22:2, See Poole "2 Chronicles 22:2" on that place.
The daughter of Omri, i.e. his granddaughter. See above 2 Kings 8:18.
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.He was the proper son of Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, and the grandson-in-law of Ahab, because his father was Ahab’s son-in-law, 2 Kings 8:18.
And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The same place with Ramoth, or Ramoth-gilead.