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2 Kings 6:24--7:20

Context
The Lord Saves Samaria

6:24 Later King Ben Hadad of Syria assembled his entire army and attacked 1  and besieged Samaria. 2  6:25 Samaria’s food supply ran out. 3  They laid siege to it so long that 4  a donkey’s head was selling for eighty shekels of silver 5  and a quarter of a kab 6  of dove’s droppings 7  for five shekels of silver. 8 

6:26 While the king of Israel was passing by on the city wall, a woman shouted to him, “Help us, my master, O king!” 6:27 He replied, “No, let the Lord help you. How can I help you? The threshing floor and winepress are empty.” 9  6:28 Then the king asked her, “What’s your problem?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Hand over your son; we’ll eat him today and then eat my son tomorrow.’ 6:29 So we boiled my son and ate him. Then I said to her the next day, ‘Hand over your son and we’ll eat him.’ But she hid her son!” 6:30 When the king heard what the woman said, he tore his clothes. As he was passing by on the wall, the people could see he was wearing sackcloth under his clothes. 10  6:31 Then he said, “May God judge me severely 11  if Elisha son of Shaphat still has his head by the end of the day!” 12 

6:32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house with the community leaders. 13  The king 14  sent a messenger on ahead, but before he arrived, 15  Elisha 16  said to the leaders, 17  “Do you realize this assassin intends to cut off my head?” 18  Look, when the messenger arrives, shut the door and lean against it. His master will certainly be right behind him.” 19  6:33 He was still talking to them when 20  the messenger approached 21  and said, “Look, the Lord is responsible for this disaster! 22  Why should I continue to wait for the Lord to help?” 7:1 Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord says, ‘About this time tomorrow a seah 23  of finely milled flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.’” 7:2 An officer who was the king’s right-hand man 24  responded to the prophet, 25  “Look, even if the Lord made it rain by opening holes in the sky, could this happen so soon?” 26  Elisha 27  said, “Look, you will see it happen with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of the food!” 28 

7:3 Now four men with a skin disease 29  were sitting at the entrance of the city gate. They said to one another, “Why are we just sitting here waiting to die? 30  7:4 If we go into the city, we’ll die of starvation, 31  and if we stay here we’ll die! So come on, let’s defect 32  to the Syrian camp! If they spare us, 33  we’ll live; if they kill us – well, we were going to die anyway.” 34  7:5 So they started toward 35  the Syrian camp at dusk. When they reached the edge of the Syrian camp, there was no one there. 7:6 The Lord had caused the Syrian camp to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a large army. Then they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has paid the kings of the Hittites and Egypt to attack us!” 7:7 So they got up and fled at dusk, leaving behind their tents, horses, and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 7:8 When the men with a skin disease reached the edge of the camp, they entered a tent and had a meal. 36  They also took some silver, gold, and clothes and went and hid it all. 37  Then they went back and entered another tent. They looted it 38  and went and hid what they had taken. 7:9 Then they said to one another, “It’s not right what we’re doing! This is a day to celebrate, but we haven’t told anyone. 39  If we wait until dawn, 40  we’ll be punished. 41  So come on, let’s go and inform the royal palace.” 7:10 So they went and called out to the gatekeepers 42  of the city. They told them, “We entered the Syrian camp and there was no one there. We didn’t even hear a man’s voice. 43  But the horses and donkeys are still tied up, and the tents remain up.” 44  7:11 The gatekeepers relayed the news to the royal palace. 45 

7:12 The king got up in the night and said to his advisers, 46  “I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know we are starving, so they left the camp and hid in the field, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we will capture them alive and enter the city.’” 7:13 One of his advisers replied, “Pick some men and have them take five of the horses that are left in the city. (Even if they are killed, their fate will be no different than that of all the Israelite people – we’re all going to die!) 47  Let’s send them out so we can know for sure what’s going on.” 48  7:14 So they picked two horsemen and the king sent them out to track the Syrian army. 49  He ordered them, “Go and find out what’s going on.” 50  7:15 So they tracked them 51  as far as the Jordan. The road was filled with clothes and equipment that the Syrians had discarded in their haste. 52  The scouts 53  went back and told the king. 7:16 Then the people went out and looted the Syrian camp. A seah 54  of finely milled flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, just as the Lord had said they would. 55 

7:17 Now the king had placed the officer who was his right-hand man 56  at the city gate. When the people rushed out, they trampled him to death in the gate. 57  This fulfilled the prophet’s word which he had spoken when the king tried to arrest him. 58  7:18 The prophet told the king, “Two seahs of barley will sell for a shekel, and a seah of finely milled flour for a shekel; this will happen about this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria.” 7:19 But the officer replied to the prophet, “Look, even if the Lord made it rain by opening holes in the sky, could this happen so soon?” 59  Elisha 60  said, “Look, you will see it happen with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of the food!” 61  7:20 This is exactly what happened to him. The people trampled him to death in the city gate.

1 tn Heb “went up.”

2 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

3 tn Heb “and there was a great famine in Samaria.”

4 tn Heb “and look, [they] were besieging it until.”

5 tn Heb “eighty, silver.” The unit of measurement is omitted.

6 sn A kab was a unit of dry measure, equivalent to approximately one quart.

7 tn The consonantal text (Kethib) reads, “dove dung” (חֲרֵייוֹנִים, khareyonim), while the marginal reading (Qere) has “discharge” (דִּבְיוֹנִים, divyonim). Based on evidence from Akkadian, M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 79) suggest that “dove’s dung” was a popular name for the inedible husks of seeds.

8 tn Heb “five, silver.” The unit of measurement is omitted.

9 tn Heb “From where can I help you, from the threshing floor or the winepress?” The rhetorical question expresses the king’s frustration. He has no grain or wine to give to the masses.

10 tn Heb “the people saw, and look, [there was] sackcloth against his skin underneath.”

11 tn Heb “So may God do to me, and so may he add.”

12 tn Heb “if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat stays on him today.”

13 tn Heb “and the elders were sitting with him.”

14 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

15 tn Heb “sent a man from before him, before the messenger came to him.”

16 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Heb “elders.”

18 tn Heb “Do you see that this son of an assassin has sent to remove my head?”

19 tn Heb “Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?”

20 tn The Hebrew text also has “look” here.

21 tn Heb “came down to him.”

22 tn Heb “Look, this is a disaster from the Lord.”

23 sn A seah was a dry measure equivalent to about 7 quarts.

24 tn Heb “the officer on whose hand the king leans.”

25 tn Heb “man of God.”

26 tn Heb “the Lord was making holes in the sky, could this thing be?” Opening holes in the sky would allow the waters stored up there to pour to the earth and assure a good crop. But, the officer argues, even if this were to happen, it would take a long time to grow and harvest the crop.

27 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

28 tn Heb “you will not eat from there.”

29 sn See the note at 2 Kgs 5:1.

30 tn Heb “until we die.”

31 tn Heb “If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city and we will die there.”

32 tn Heb “fall.”

33 tn Heb “keep us alive.”

34 tn Heb “we will die.” The paraphrastic translation attempts to bring out the logical force of their reasoning.

35 tn Heb “they arose to go to.”

36 tn Heb “they ate and drank.”

37 tn Heb “and they hid [it].”

38 tn Heb “and they took from there.”

39 tn Heb “this day is a day of good news and we are keeping silent.”

40 tn Heb “the light of the morning.”

41 tn Heb “punishment will find us.”

42 tn The MT has a singular form (“gatekeeper”), but the context suggests a plural. The pronoun that follows (“them”) is plural and a plural noun appears in v. 11. The Syriac Peshitta and the Targum have the plural here.

43 tn Heb “and, look, there was no man or voice of a man there.”

44 tn Heb “but the horses are tied up and the donkeys are tied up and the tents are as they were.”

45 tn Heb “and the gatekeepers called out and they told [it] to the house of the king.”

46 tn Heb “servants” (also in v. 13).

47 tn Heb “Let them take five of the remaining horses that remain in it. Look, they are like all the people of Israel that remain in it. Look, they are like all the people of Israel that have come to an end.” The MT is dittographic here; the words “that remain in it. Look they are like all the people of Israel” have been accidentally repeated. The original text read, “Let them take five of the remaining horses that remain in it. Look, they are like all the people of Israel that have come to an end.”

48 tn Heb “and let us send so we might see.”

49 tn Heb “and the king sent [them] after the Syrian camp.”

50 tn Heb “Go and see.”

51 tn Heb “went after.”

52 tn Heb “and look, all the road was full of clothes and equipment that Syria had thrown away in their haste.”

53 tn Or “messengers.”

54 sn A seah was a dry measure equivalent to about 7 quarts.

55 tn Heb “according to the word of the Lord.”

56 tn Heb “the officer on whose hand he leans.”

57 tn Heb “and the people trampled him in the gate and he died.”

58 tn Heb “just as the man of God had spoken, [the word] which he spoke when the king came down to him.”

59 tn Heb “the Lord was making holes in the sky, could this thing be?” See the note at 7:2.

60 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

61 tn Heb “you will not eat from there.”

tn In the Hebrew text vv. 18-19a are one lengthy sentence, “When the man of God spoke to the king…, the officer replied to the man of God, ‘Look…so soon?’” The translation divides this sentence up for stylistic reasons.



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