Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Then spake Elisha unto the woman--rather "had spoken." The
repetition of Elisha's direction to the Shunammite is merely given as
an introduction to the following narrative; and it probably took place
before the events recorded in
chapters 5 and 6.
the Lord hath called for a famine--All such calamities are
chastisements inflicted by the hand of God; and this famine was to be
of double duration to that one which happened in the time of Elijah
--a just increase of severity, since the Israelites still continued
obdurate and incorrigible under the ministry and miracles of Elisha
(Le 26:21, 24, 28).
2. she . . . sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven
years--Their territory was recommended to her from its contiguity
to her usual residence; and now that this state had been so greatly
reduced, there was less risk than formerly from the seductions of
idolatry; and many of the Jews and Israelites were residing there.
Besides, an emigration thither was less offensive to the king of Israel
than going to sojourn in Judah.
3. she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her
land--In consequence of her long-continued absence from the country,
her possessions were occupied by her kindred, or had been confiscated
by the crown. No statute in the law of Moses ordained that alienation.
But the innovation seems to have been adopted in Israel.
4-6. the king talked with Gehazi--Ceremonial pollution being conveyed
by contact alone, there was nothing to prevent a conference being held
with this leper at a distance; and although he was excluded from the
town of Samaria, this reported conversation may have taken place at
the gate or in one of the royal gardens. The providence of God so
ordained that King Jehoram had been led to inquire, with great
interest, into the miraculous deeds of Elisha, and that the prophet's
servant was in the act of relating the marvellous incident of the
restoration of the Shunammite's son when she made her appearance to
prefer her request. The king was pleased to grant it; and a state
officer was charged to afford her every facility in the recovery of her
family possession out of the hands of the occupier.
7, 8. Elisha came to Damascus--He was directed thither by the Spirit
of God, in pursuance of the mission formerly given to his master in
to anoint Hazael king of Syria. On the arrival of the prophet being
known, Ben-hadad, who was sick, sent to inquire the issue of his
disease, and, according to the practice of the heathens in consulting
their soothsayers, ordered a liberal present in remuneration for the
9. forty camels' burden--The present, consisting of the rarest and
most valuable produce of the land, would be liberal and magnificent.
But it must not be supposed it was actually so large as to require
forty camels to carry it. The Orientals are fond of display, and would,
ostentatiously, lay upon forty beasts what might very easily have been
borne by four.
Thy son Ben-hadad--so called from the established usage of designating
the prophet "father." This was the same Syrian monarch who had formerly
persecuted him (see
2Ki 6:13, 14).
10. Go, say . . . Thou mayest certainly recover--There was no
contradiction in this message. This part was properly the answer to
The second part was intended for Hazael, who, like an artful and
ambitious courtier, reported only as much of the prophet's statement as
suited his own views (compare
11. he settled his countenance stedfastly until he was ashamed--that
is, Hazael. The steadfast, penetrating look of the prophet seemed to
have convinced Hazael that his secret designs were known. The deep
emotions of Elisha were justified by the horrible atrocities which, too
common in ancient warfare, that successful usurper committed in Israel
13:3, 4, 22).
15. took a thick cloth, &c.--a coverlet. In the East, this
article of bedding is generally a thick quilt of wool or cotton, so
that, with its great weight, when steeped in water, it would be a fit
instrument for accomplishing the murderous purpose, without leaving any
marks of violence. It has been supposed by many doubtful that Hazael
purposely murdered the king. But it is common for Eastern people to
sleep with their faces covered with a mosquito net; and, in some cases
of fever, they dampen the bedclothes. Hazael, aware of those chilling
remedies being usually resorted to, might have, with an honest
intention, spread a refreshing cover over him. The rapid occurrence of
the king's death and immediate burial were favorable to his instant
elevation to the throne.
16. Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat . . . began to
His father resigned the throne to him two years before his death.
18. daughter of Ahab--Athaliah, through whose influence Jehoram
introduced the worship of Baal and many other evils into the kingdom of
This apostasy would have led to the total extinction of the royal
family in that kingdom, had it not been for the divine promise to David
A national chastisement, however, was inflicted on Judah by the revolt
of Edom, which, being hitherto governed by a tributary ruler
erected the standard of independence
24. Ahaziah his son reigned in his