2nd Kings 8

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This woman is the great woman, the Shunamite.

1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years. The warning was that hardship will be experienced and you need to go away from Israel to survive. The seven years reminds me of the famine in Egypt.

2 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. The land of the Philistines was toward the west and south of the land. So it was on the coastal strip.

3 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. Her house and land was secured to her under the law. It could not be taken away even though they were absent. The king was the one to solve this problem for her.

4 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. The king was interested to learn of Elisha’s miracles. He heard reports and wanted them confirmed.

5 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. Gehazi was delighted to be able to point out to the king who it was that had her son restored to her, after he died in the field.

6 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. Because of this connection with Elisha she was treated in a special way by the king.

There was a famine in Palestine about this time. Because of the distress, Paul arranged for the Gentiles to contribute to the poor fund administered from Jerusalem. It suggests that many Jewish believers departed from Palestine finding places throughout the Gentile world to reside for a time. The period is specifically given as seven years, which connects with the covenant to Abraham as distinct to the covenant of the law.

The drought ended and things got back to normal in Palestine, however things had changed not ever to be the same. The success of the truth had been reported through Israel and the leaders were keen to know all that had been done. Gehazi, whose position is known from another parable to be in league with the law-keepers, appears happy to report all the news as if he and the king are brethren.

The concern of the woman was that she not lose the inheritance because she consorted for a time with Gentiles. None of the things she was entitled to were lost. In fact it clearly implies she was better-off for having done as she had done.

We come to another story and another issue.

7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. Why Elisha would come to Damascus is unknown.

8 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? Ben-hadad wanted to know the future of his illness. Is it an illness that will kill him or not?

9 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 Ben-hadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? Forty camels is a lot of booty. This is the man who sent Naaman to Elisha to have him cured of his leprosy.

10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die. You will recover from the disease but a different event will end your life.

11 And he settled his countenance steadfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. He looked on Hazael and it was Hazael who was ashamed, and it was Elisha who wept.

12 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. Hazael was respectful of the man of God. He wanted to know what Elisha was concerned about concerning him. The catalog of mayhem credited to Hazael would make anyone blush. It was to be against the people of God and would result in the death of children and destroying families.

13 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. God told him Hazael would be the king of the Gentiles. This was the question Ben-hadad wanted answered. Would he live and continue to reign.

Five horses

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Five horses convey the idea of grace, as five is the number of grace. This was the single element that explained the phenomenon. These people could not even pretend to be worthy, then the only explanation was forgiveness of sins. Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas were sent to carry the limits placed on the Gentiles and verify the reports were true.

As they went there was evidence of the truth of the report, for, from that time on a measure of fine flour speaking of the fruit of the Gentile harvest that came after the two measures of firstfruits or Barley harvest, speaking of the Jewish converts.

The Lord on whose hand the King leaned were the elders of the ecclesia in Jerusalem who maintained the Gentiles would have to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses to be saved. They were important people in the structure of the early ecclesia and were relied on for much of the work of the truth, but they clung to the things of the law in such a way that they could not see that it had been done away, because of the forgiveness of sins in Christ. They were crushed in the swell of numbers rushing through the gate to take advantage of the blessings available now. They died, because they would not believe it could happen.

The tragedy is mentioned again because it was such a devastating end to what should have been for them freedom just as it was freedom for the others. They fought against this change but did not prevail.

What they did not believe was there would be a wheat and a barley harvest. They did not believe fruit could be produced unless it was through conventional means which to them meant the works of law. It involved doing something to earn the right of salvation, or doing something to be worthy of the title. To them the righteous alone would be saved, and you could not be righteous unless you did what God had described in the law.

They witnessed the influx of Gentile believers. They saw that unworthy Jews were accepted in Christ and they did not believe it was right. It was said about them that they would miss the mercy themselves, because they had no mercy to give. They saw themselves as righteous and the others as sinners, so they forsook their own mercy in favor of their own rightness.

The people argued about it for a time but they refused to listen. In the end their position was lost in the numbers who knew they were not righteous as these people insisted they must be.

Trod upon him in the gate

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17 And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him. This man was given the job of overseeing the orderly progress of the distribution. Unfortunately he could not control the tumult and was slain in his attempts. This was before he had time to eat of the food himself.

18 And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria. It is hardly necessary to remind us of what the prophet said and yet the record goes through it again, drawing attention to it as the issue.

19 And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, [if] the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. It was a matter of belief. The man should have believed the word of God, and those who did not believe were slain in the rush to respond to the miracle of the change.

20 And so it fell out unto him: for the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died. You need to identify the man of God and do exactly as he tells you or you are at risk.

This parable presents the suddenness of the change in Israel after the death of Messiah. It happened in a day. The fine flour spoke of Gentile conversion and the Barley, which was the first fruit, spoke of Jewish believers. You might find this fantastic at first, but just allow the story to speak to you and you will discover information you did not have before.

That a shekel would buy so much indicates the harvest would be plentiful. That it should come so soon after the drought is remarkable and accounts for the way the Lord upon whom the king leaned could not fathom it. Not even God could do that. It takes time to grow fruit suitable for harvest. And in this idea lay the problem that killed him.
The four leprous men are Paul, Barnabus, John Mark and Silas. I say this because these were the men who took the news of salvation to Gentiles, who marveled at the extent of the harvest. They returned to Jerusalem to tell the king (Peter) the threat of death no longer existed and that they were plundering the Gentiles, so the harvest was huge.

It is interesting to note the thoughts of the leprous men as they pondered their position. Paul in particular knew he was called to the truth expressly to teach Gentiles. If the need was not there he would not have been called. Need was laid on him. If he did not do this work he would die. He came to realize he was leprous, that he was going to die because of sin and he took the only course that gave any hope. I have no doubt these thoughts motivated Barnabas and the others, just as it should motivate us. We have no idea why we are called to the truth. It may not be for our sake at all, but for another upon whom God would confer the status of a son. Do not run away with any notion of worth or destiny, for none of that applies.

We have to do the work assigned to us. At least that is the way Paul saw it. To say they were as surprised as anyone the road was so easy is not fantasy. So staggered was Paul that when he reported it to the brethren in Jerusalem it was presented as a marvel. It was God who turned it into a marvel. It was God who superintended the effort. He said it would be marvelous and it was.

They said we have no hope if we resist. The message of Paul was received by the Gentiles as if it was something against which they had no power. Now it is that Paul’s custom was to go to the Synagogue first and teach the Jews, and it was not until they got to the extremities of the first journey that they announced they would no longer speak to the Jews, but that they would turn to the Gentiles. So it was that they went into the tent at the extremity of the camp and found treasure to plunder.

To men charged with the duty to teach their meat and drink is to gain a response to their words. Gentiles listened and embraced the truth in a way not experienced in Israel. It was a tale to tell, and they sort opportunity to report it.
There was an urgency to this task. In another parable this element of the story is missed, so each parable adds its portion to the whole, creating drama not known before.

There were all the usual signs of commerce but no voice of protest. If you argue there were no people there to talk to, then you press the parable to the point where it can not yield any message at all. Having Gentiles in the truth in the days of Elisha was not contemplated by anyone. The elders were summoned and were not a little skeptical about the early reports. It was thought that this inclusion of Gentiles was counterfeit. On what basis would God allow this to occur. There was something in this not yet explained. The messengers need to be interrogated further. Proof of the claim must be furnished as it could bring all undone.

2nd Kings 7

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We move on. If you were to see the size of a shekel you would get the point immediately. It is a small coin and a little money.

1 Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, Tomorrow about this time [shall] a measure of fine flour [be sold] for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. So something was going to happen that would make things cheaper, all in one day. Elisha had a habit of telling astonishing things to Israel, but this was too much.

2 Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, [if] the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see [it] with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. We are not told the name of this man. He is just the one the king relied on. He cannot see how the prophet can be right, for not even God can do impossible things like that. It could happen in months but not a day. He imagined it would come by rain falling in the usual manner and seeds germinating as they do and food growing during events. It would take a long time. The prophet tells him he would see it but he would not enjoy eating of the bounty, because he doubted.

3 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? Leprosy as we have discovered is a living death. They were not welcome inside the city or anywhere where they may spread their contagion. They were starving like everyone else and decided to fall to the enemy. The worse that could happen is they get killed.

4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine [is] in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. They had a good reason to go over to the Syrian camp. At least there they could get food.

5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, [there was] no man there. This twilight was in the morning and offered them cover of darkness to hide their disease. No one could tell they were lepers. They found the camp but it was empty.

6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, [even] the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. They had fled for their lives leaving all behind. The noise must have been terrifyingly real for them not to have looked to find the enemy in the turmoil.

7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it [was], and fled for their life. You would think they would have taken the horses and asses as a swifter mode of transport but obviously not.

8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid [it]; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence [also], and went and hid [it]. They took advantage of their situation and selfishly squirreled away until they felt ashamed.

9 Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day [is] a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household. Morning had not broken when they decided to report the matter. Once it was common knowledge everyone would be doing what they had done and they might well be critical of them because they kept the information to themselves.

10 So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, [there was] no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they [were]. They hurried back to the city and told the authorities. They were suspicious at first imagining it was a trap to draw them out of the city.

11 And he called the porters; and they told [it] to the king’s house within. The king was informed. It was still night. The porters were taking a risk waking the king on the word of these lepers.

12 And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we [be] hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city. He is paid to think strategically, and he quickly concluded it was a trap.

13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let [some] take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they [are] as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, [I say], they [are] even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see. But a good strategy needs a better one. Do not commit all your resources to the investigation, just five of the horses left. These five represented the whole because they were all in the same boat.

14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see. But in the end they only sent two chariot horses. These were the sturdiest kind.

15 And they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way [was] full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king. They followed the tracks to the Jordan and stopped for there was every sign they had crossed to the other side. They proved it was not a trap and told the king.

16 And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was [sold] for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD. The result was they could trade in the city and food was now at a reasonable price. You could only eat so much and the perishable items could not be stored and so they had to be sold in the market. And the prophets words were true.

Summary

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Impact concept.

Before we proceed, and to help those struggling with this information, let me demonstrate just how much information is here. To do this we mention the connection from the Kings record first and then the way it relates to the story of Herod.

1. Elisha laid hold on the messenger
Herod lay hold on John
2. Elisha shut the door and fastened it
Herod held him in prison
3. The woman had a quarrel with the other
Herodius had a quarrel with John
4. The woman would have killed the others
Herodius would have killed John but she could not
5. Ahab respected the Prophet of God
Herod feared John the Baptist
6. Elisha held a meeting with the elders
Herod had a banquet with his nobles
7. The king asked what the woman wanted
Herod asked the same of the daughter
8. The woman consulted the other
The daughter sought her mothers advice
9. Ahab swore to cut off his head
Herod swore to give her wish
10. Ahab rent his cloths
Herod was exceedingly sorry
11. The oath was to be fulfilled that day
Herod sent the executioner immediately
12. The other woman expected to kill the child and eat it
The daughter asked for the head
13. The woman was related to the murdered
Herodius was related to the murderer
14. Disappointment is expressed by the woman
John expressed concern from prison
15. It was at Samaria
It happened at Jerusalem

Jesus when told Herod would kill him said prophets do not die when they are out of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the place where they die. You may say there is no way anyone in this world could make those connections until after the events, and even then they only stick because of their position in a series of similar parables. The information was intended for one only, and that was Messiah. It is obvious the Lord was aware of these things in advance and so it is not unreasonable to assume they served their purpose then, and are a remarkable testimony today.

Sent to take away mine head

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31 Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day. The only thing to do is blame God and his prophet. The thing to note is he planned to chop off his head.

32 But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and [the king] sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: [is] not the sound of his master’s feet behind him? Elisha was in his own house at Dothan and the elders were around him. The king sent one to take him. But he was aware of it before it happened. He told the elders what the king was planning to do and called him the son of a murderer. So Hadad was the murderer and Ben-hadad was going to do the same. The elders were told to imprison the messenger because the king himself will come soon.

33 And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil [is] of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer? So Elisha was talking to the elders and the messenger arrived. Elisha said the evil was of God and then something about waiting no longer for God.

There were no more Paul’s to take the battle to the brethren and there was a measure of peace for a time. Of all the parables considered so far this is the most difficult to place. Once however you discover the subject, the pieces fall into place. It is not about the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70 as you might first think, but the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist. Samaria is Jerusalem as we have discovered. Ben-Hadad is Herod who was not a resident of Jerusalem but besieged it in his usual manner. But let us not get too far ahead of the text.
The famine is the same as before, one of hearing the word of God, but in this period it was particularly severe. So it is described in this graphic way. The connections in this parable are strange and all the more powerful because of this.

Let me list some of them so you understand how the information is conveyed. The matter concerned two women, the kings determination to cut off the head of the prophet of Israel, his regret, the imprisonment of the messenger, a gathering of notable men, an oath, the kings request, the promise to act that day. It is clear that Herod’s major offense was imprisoning John. Luke 3:20 mentions all the evil he had done and tells us that his greatest evil was this crime against the innocent.

The king asked the woman what she wanted. The exchange in this story does not match with that of Herod and the daughter of Herodius, but she did make her request, after he offered to grant her wish. His offer was restricted to that which he was empowered to give. Herod said to the half of my kingdom, that is, if he gave more he would be no longer king. Ahab could only give what was available in his kingdom given the circumstance. The king makes his offer and the woman outlines her outrageous request.

The one who outlines her complaint to the king was the daughter of Herodius. Herodius was the one who planned the death of the innocent but she was not the one who made it happen, it was the other woman who gave her son. Both women were guilty of this shocking crime against one who could do nothing to prevent them. Herodius could conceal her guilt in the matter. She could not make the request on her own behalf so her direct involvement is concealed behind her daughters request.

The king regretted his offer. Details of this event are recorded in Mark 6:14-29. It tells us the king was exceeding sorry and all who were present knew of his regret, but for the oaths sake he granted her the request.

Ahab binds himself with an oath to chop off the prophets head. Now, as often happens in these parables, the opposite becomes the main point. Elisha is said to be the one entertaining the eminent men. The messenger is sent from Ahab and Elisha holds him captive. Shut the door on the messenger and hold him fast, his masters feet can be heard coming down the pavement. Christ would follow shortly. And indeed Christ did shortly follow when Herod was consumed of worms while he was alive.

It was from prison that John the Baptist sent a message to the Lord asking him to confirm that he was the one. Jesus sent the word back to John quoting Isaac concerning blessings that would come with Messiah and finished with the words in Matt 11:6 blessed is everyone who is not offended in me. John, like others in Israel expected one who would deal with the guilty and protect the innocent. When this did not happen they were offended and said if this is the work of God why do I bother to wait for relief from him any more?

Shall not smite

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22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite [them]: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. They are no longer a threatening army. They are more like prisoners taken in battle. Treat them as you would those who have yielded to you. Feed them and look after them for this is your duty.

23 And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel. So he made provisions for them and they were filled and satisfied. He then informed them of the way to go home and they left and returned to their own country. They did not bother Israel again.

Elisha’s prayer was for the fear to be removed from his companions by the knowledge that nothing could happen to them that God would not allow. It was not the people who were smitten with blindness and led into the city but Paul. We have another example of the opposite making the connection. There are too many examples of this to dismiss the point. He was however the enemy of the truth and had pursued the brethren to Damascus to seize them. They were the ones to catch him.

It was the Lord who said to Paul this is not the way, follow me. He was led into Damascus to the house of a man called Ananias. This man protested that Paul was the enemy of the truth just as the king asked if they should slay the soldiers.

After three days Paul’s eyes were opened and they set food and drink before him calling him brother. Paul was God’s prisoner from that time forward.

They sent the captives back to Damascus and this was the place where Paul was made blind. I know it does not fit exactly. But by this time we should not expect it to fit exactly. We only need the information however it comes. Once you have a context into which to apply it is easy to sort it all-out.
We have just been told he came no more into Israel and here he is again. He does not come to Dothan but Samaria the city of the king.

24 And it came to pass after this, that Ben-hadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. This is a serious assault. His plan was to subdue Israel and make them pay his levy.

25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was [sold] for fourscore [pieces] of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five [pieces] of silver. They were already under siege from the drought. It could not come at a worse time for Israel. The affect of the drought and the siege was rampant inflation and a starving nation.

26 And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. The woman expected the king to do something.

27 And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barn floor, or out of the winepress? Any requests now were to be directed to God because he was the only one to help now. There was nothing in the barn floor or the winepress. It was all gone.

28 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. She made this agreement with her neighbor and the neighbor had reneged, and she thought the king could force her to keep her part of the bargain.

29 So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son. It was a most unworthy deal. She should have been ashamed to report such a thing let alone agree to it. That she had been tricked by this person was simply what happens when corrupt people work their work.

30 And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, [he had] sackcloth within upon his flesh. Everyone was aware the king was shocked and alarmed at the state of things. How did things get so far? When you are a corrupt king your people will do corrupt things.

God reveals secrets

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The advantages the disciples had over their enemies were many, not the least of which is the one mentioned here.

The Jewish leaders needed to stop the progress of this new religion so Paul became the target. The king of Syria in the parable is the Jewish authorities, and Paul is the king of Israel or the one who escapes. They intended to kill him in Damascus and he found out about their plans. He was let down the outside the city in a basket. On another occasion his nephew told the Roman Centurion that forty men had bound themselves by an oath not to eat until Paul was dead. The Romans escorted him away at night and thwarted their plans.

Paul anticipated the army of Jews who were his enemy. He was not phased when they accosted him in every city. Even when Agabus warned him of bonds and imprisonment it deterred him not. He could see the host that encamped around him so another host did not create fear. His companions however were much more apprehensive. The Jewish leaders were clearly frustrated by their inability to stop the progress of the followers of Jesus.

13 And he said, Go and spy where he [is], that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, [he is] in Dothan. You can say this story is not finished therefore you should not tell the parable just yet, and you could be right. However you can still join them in your mind and see if they yield any more information.

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. Here was an army intent this time on arresting Elisha. They came by night to avoid detection. It is a wonder how they thought it would help the secrecy since it was God who was telling all their plans. They compassed the whole city, not simply his house.

15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? Nothing was known until the morning. It was the result of the servant waking early and seeing the host. His question to Elisha of how we should fare suggests he knew they were here for Elisha.

16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us [are] more than they that [be] with them. Elisha was already confident they would fare well. His confidence was based on the knowledge that when God is on your side and they are working against God there are forces at work the enemy knows nothing about.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain [was] full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. The prayer is the servant become aware of those forces so he has more confidence of the importance of the work he is involved in. The servant realized there was a host of greater strength than the enemy forces ready to protect Elisha from them.

18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Elisha had a solution of his own. If God were to make them blind they would surrender without a violent act by either side. He prayed to God that this would be employed, and God granted his request.

19 And Elisha said unto them, This [is] not the way, neither [is] this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria. They were at a disadvantage and needed help. Elisha provided help and they accepted it. He was leading them astray or at least taking them in a direction they did not originally intend to go. It was into the stronghold of the nation of Israel. Now it was a long way from Dothan to Samaria. But they were in their hands and could not complain.

20 And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD, open the eyes of these [men], that they may see. And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, [they were] amid Samaria. When their eyes were opened they realized they had been led into a trap. God was the one to close their eyes and He was the one to open them. Their reaction to the trick was not hostile or violent but calm and resignation.

21 And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite [them]? shall I smite [them]? It is not an unreasonable question. This is what they had in mind to do to Elisha when they caught him.

2nd Kings 6

The image is of a lady using sign language to get her message across

Soothsayer during a Seance or session with Crystal ball

We move on now to another matter. It concerns what happened in the land after Elijah was gone.

1 And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. There was not enough room for these people to perform effectively. It was too cramped. They needed more space.

2 Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye. They wanted to be employed in their role as teacher and leader and the work there was covered by others. They knew what they had to do, they just needed a place to do it. Elisha agreed it was a good idea to go.

3 And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. It was no mean feat to start in another place. You had to prove your credentials so the people there accepted you in the role of prophet. They wanted Elisha to go and help them start up. Elisha recognized the problem and was willing to go with them for that purpose. It was a short-term thing.

4 So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. The timber was needed to make a building to house themselves while they were settled there.

5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed. The axe head was gone. There was no prospect of recovery. They were obliged to give it back or purchase another. It was a major setback.

6 And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast [it] in thither; and the iron did swim. This is a miracle and these miracles helped set up the prophets in their role. Iron does not swim of its own accord, everyone knows that. It was just as well that Elisha was there.

7 Therefore said he, Take [it] up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it. They reported the miracle of how the axe was recovered and all marvelled.

A new story and a new parable. The believers in the first century were learning how to live the truth on their own with Elisha in their midst, and they ask his advice on what they should do. The truth was beginning to spread, and there was apprehension about the thing to do and the place to go. They proposed a place and asked if it was a good idea. Elisha gave consent and so they started doing the work. Something like the question asked by Paul when he was told not to go into Asia but to go to Greece. They were concerned to go alone and so asked Elisha to come with them. He agreed and went.

We are dealing with things that happened while they were trying to build a building for God in various places in Palestine. Most of the things they were using to do this work were borrowed from their Jewish neighbors. The ax head fell into the water. Well what is the connection?

Timber floats, so casting in a stick and seeing it float is not remarkable, but when the ax head floated to the surface, they knew they had seen something special. And so it was when the iron shackles on the arms and legs of Peter, and the iron gates of the prison fell off and opened of their own accord, the disciples and the brethren knew they were seeing the power of God supporting the work.

They had no hesitation in taking up the advantage. Peter walked free and regarded not his captors continuing with the work as if nothing happened. Paul and Silas walked free and continued doing the things they were imprisoned for doing. And this story in the kings told them to expect remarkable things to occur in support of their work.

8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place [shall be] my camp. The stories are an odd mixture. We go to the court of the king of Syria and are made aware of his dilemma.

9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down. Elisha could tell the king of Israel of the whereabouts of his enemy. So any plans they had of setting a trap was thwarted. The king of Syria got a bit sick of this after a while and suspected a conspiracy against him.

10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice. They had an ambush in mind. But the king of Israel managed to avoid it at least three times.

11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us [is] for the king of Israel? There has to be a leak in the inner cabinet of the strategy meeting conducted by our armed forces. Someone who is privy to this information is telling the enemy.

12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that [is] in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber. The strategy meetings were private and only trusted and dedicated men were allowed to be present when they spoke of their plans. But Elisha knows what goes on in your bed chamber when there are only you and the queen present. No one would suspect the loyalty of the queen. He was treading on thin ice here, but he managed to make his point.

Shame

The image is of a lady using sign language to get her message across

African American man in sweatshirt covering face with hands

27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow. The sentence attaching to Naamam became Gehazi’s. He had the reward but he paid a heavy price.

What does it all mean? Gehazi thought there ought to be more to it than receiving blessings from God and walking away. There ought to be a payment of some kind made. You cannot expect to get away without some cost to yourself. This agrees to the Jewish believers who insisted the Gentiles pay the price of keeping the law in the same way they were obliged to do. He felt it was a reasonable thing for this man to do. He had never done anything for God.
The Gentiles were so overjoyed at the blessing they did not imaging would be theirs, they would do whatever they were asked. Naaman welcomed his new brother and the deed was done. The Circumcision implied it was with the authority of the Apostles, and quickly countered any conflict with Paul by declaring him a fake Apostle.

It seemed quite reasonable that they keep the law as the Jews had done. They were even prepared in their zeal to do more. Notice there are two bags with two changes of garments on two servants, and they had to bare the burden. I suggest the two servants were Paul and his companion who traveled the length of the ecclesial world on two missionary journeys trying to sort out the mess created by the Gehazi class. The men had nothing to do with the problem. They just had the burden of it. Gehazi was the one to benefit. He knew he had done something for which he should be ashamed. When they returned to Jerusalem they were careful not to mention what they had been saying to the Gentiles, but Elisha knew, and Peter and the others found out.

It was power, and privilege, and position, and Gentile wealth, particularly their tithe that appealed to the Circumcision. These gifts were given by the Gentiles voluntarily in the end, but the Jews wanted it as a duty. There condemnation was recorded a long time before the offense was committed as Jude told us. It was recorded in this parable.

The problem the Jews had with Gentiles was not that they are allowed in but that they had not paid the price. It was all about money. Peter made them have all things common. No one claimed what he had as his own. Baal was not the God of these people.