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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 shal catch them alive, and get into the city.
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.
They took therefore two chariot horses, and the king sent after the host of the Syrians saying, Go, and see.
And they went after them into 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.
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, accord. ing to the word of the Lord.
And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate, and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.
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 tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria.
And that lord answered the man of Gor, a.id said, Now behold, if the Lord should make windows in hea
ven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS,
The inhabitants of Samaria were reduced to the utmost extremity of want, as we may judge from their paying the value of five pounds for an ass's head, and to the amount of twelve or fifteen shillings for about three English pints of a coarse kind of corn or pulse, known then by the name of dove's dung, which perhaps it resembled in appearance; but we may form a juster idea of the miserable state of the Samaritans, from the shocking circumstance of a woman's eating her own child. Jehoram, though he appears to have been moved with compassion by this incident, was not properly affected with the judgment which the LORD had caused to fall on his kingdom. He did indeed, in compliance with the usual custom, in times of public calainity, put sackcloth
his flesh; but he did not, as the good Jehoshaphat had done, endeavour to gain pardon from the SUPREME BEING, by a general fast and humiliation: neither did he destroy the idols which still remained in the land of Israel. So far from having recourse to the prophet for his intercession with the LORD, the king vehemently protested that he would immediately put Elisha to death, as the cause of all this distress, repenting that he had followed his advice the preceding year, in sparing the Syrian army, when he had them
that Elisha was in expectation of directions from the LORD, what to say to the king of Israel ; but as he did not receive any, and the case was perfectly clear to him, he thought he might venture,
in his power.
without immediate inspiration, to declare to the king's messenger, that he was not the author of the calamity, for the thing was from the LORD.
Elisha appears to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit immediately on the arrival of the king's messenger, for he addressed himself to him in that solemn form of words which prophets made use of as an introduction to their predictions when they spake by Divine authority: Hear ye the word of the LORD! Thus saith the LORD!
It is needless to enlarge on the miraculous deliverance which it pleased God to grant to the Samaritans, because we have had occasion to consider others of a similar nature. The terror of the Syrians was caused by some supernatural noise, which we cannot possibly describe; and therefore it is best not to indulge our minds in fruitless conjectures, on a point of no immediate concern to us. We must, however, remark the wonderful deliverance of the lepers, and the importance of their intelligence. They were cast out and left by their countrymen to perish, because they were considered as useless, and infectious; but the LORD, whose mercy is over all his works, took compassion on the miserable creatures, and made them instrumental to the relief of those who had despised them.
We may understand from the king's suspicions of a stratagem to betray the city, that he did not believe the prediction of the prophet, otherwise he would have acted as Jehoshaphat did, when the Moabites invaded Judah. It appears that the Samaritans had been under the necessity either of starving their horses for want of forage, or of eating them to satisfy their hunger; and that there were no more than five left in the city, two only of which were able to go out to the Syrian camp. It was not for the righteousness of the king, or the peo
ple in general, but for the sake of God's faithful servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in remembrance of his covenant that Israel was delivered. The proud nobleman, who disbelieved the word of the LORD, had reason to repent his infidelity. God's justice was glorified, and the prediction of Elisha was fulfilled, for the nobleman saw the plenty, but did not live to taste it.
Though the city of Samaria, which had been so particularly distressed, was plentifully relieved, there seems to have been a general scarcity in the land of Israel; for we are told of a famine which lasted seven years : and there is reason to suppose, that Ben-hadad was permitted of the Lord to besiege the capital city at this time, in order to humble Jehoram, and bring him to a sense of his crimes, that he might put away idols, and use his endeavours to reform his people from those sins for which the famine was inflicted. We have an account of several miracles performed through Elisha, most of which seem to have been wrought in this time of scarcity.
SECTION LXX. THE WIDOW'S OIL MULTIPLIED, AND OTHER MI
From 2 Kings, Chap. iv. vi, and viii. Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead: and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord; and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me: what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house save a pot of oil.
Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.
And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shall pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is
So she went from him, and shut the door
her and upon
her sons, who brought the vessels to her, and she poured out.
And it came to pass when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.
Then she came and told the man of God: and he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.
And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunam, where was a great woman: and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that, as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God which passeth by us continually.
Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick : and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
And it fell on a day that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.
And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunam. mite. And when he had called her, she stood before him.
And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king or to the captain of the host ? And he answered, I dwell among mine own people.