- Elisha causes iron to swim, verse 1-7.
- Discloses to the king of Israel the secret counsels of the king of Syria, verse 8-12.
- Saves himself out of the hands of those who were sent to apprehend him, verse 13-23.
- Samaria is besieged by the Syrians, and reduced to extremity, verse 24-33.
Jordan - To the woods near Jordan. A beam - A piece of timber for the building. Hence it may be gathered, that although the sons of the prophets principally devoted themselves to religious exercises, yet they sometimes employed themselves about manual arts.
Sent - Soldiers to secure the place and passage designed.
They - Angels, unspeakably more numerous, God, infinitely more powerful.
He saw, &c. - Fire is both dreadful and devouring: that power which was engaged for Elisha, could both terrify and consume the assailants. Elijah gave a specimen of Divine justice, when he called for flames of fire on the heads of his persecutors to consume them. Elisha gives a specimen of Divine mercy, in heaping coals of fire on the heads of his persecutors to melt them.
Wouldest thou smite - It is against the laws of humanity, to kill captives, though thou thyself hast taken them with thy own sword and bow; which might seem to give thee some colour to destroy them; but much more unworthy will it be in cold blood to kill these, whom not thy arms, but God's providence hath put into thy hands. Set bread - Give them meat and drink, which may refresh and strengthen them for their journey. This was an action of singular piety and charity, in doing good to their enemies, which was much to the honour of the true religion; and of no less prudence, that hereby the hearts of the Syrians might be mollified towards the Israelites.
No more - For some considerable time.
Ben-hadad - He whom Ahab wickedly spared, now comes to requite his kindness, and to fulfil that Divine prediction. Ben-hadad was a name very frequent among the kings of Syria, if not common to them all.
Famine in Samaria - Probably the siege was so sudden, that they had no time to lay in provisions. Pieces - Supposed to be shekels; and the common shekel being valued at fifteen pence of English money, this amounts to five pounds. A vast price, especially for that which had on it so little meat, and that unwholesome and unclean. A kab - A measure containing twenty-four eggs. Dung - This Hebrew word is of a doubtful signification, and no where else used, probably it means a sort of pease, which in the Arabick language (near a-kin to the Hebrew) is called doves dung: for this was a food much in use amongst the poorer Israelites, and was a very coarse food, and therefore fit to be joined with the asses head: and a kab was the usual measure of all sorts of grains and fruits of that sort.
Whence shall I help thee - Dost thou ask of me corn or wine, which I want for myself? If God does not, I cannot help thee. Creatures are helpless things without God. Every creature is all that, and only that which God makes it to be.
We boiled - A dreadful judgment threatened to them in case of their apostacy, Deuteronomy 28:56,57, in which they were now deeply plunged.
God do so, &c. - Because he had encouraged them to withstand the Syrians, by promising them help from God.
He said - Being admonished by God of his danger. This son - The genuine son of that wicked Ahab the murderer of the Lord's prophets. This expression may seem very harsh and unfit; nor is it to be drawn into imitation by others: but it must be considered, that he was an extraordinary prophet, intrusted with a power in some sort superior to that of Joram, and had authority to control and rebuke him in the name of the king of kings. Hold him - That he may not break in upon me, and take away my life, before the king comes.
He said - Or, the king, who, though not here named, may be presumed to be present, both by the prophet's prediction of his speedy coming, and by the presence of the lord, on whose hand the king leaned, chap. 7:2. This evil - This dreadful famine, which is now so extreme, that women are forced to eat their own children. The Lord - Hath inflicted it, and (for ought I see) he will not remove it. All penal evil is of the Lord, as the first cause and sovereign judge. And this we ought to apply to particular cases: if all evil, then this evil which we are groaning under. Whoever are the instruments, God is the principal agent. What should I, &c. - Thou bidst me wait upon God for help: but I perceive I may wait long enough before deliverance comes: I am weary with waiting, I can wait no longer.