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2 Kings 6:24-33

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?”

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.”

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