2 Kings 3
Jehoram Meets Moab Rebellion
Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the [a]eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not like his father and mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless, he continued in the [idolatrous] sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.
[b]Mesha the king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he used to pay [an annual tribute] to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Jehoram left Samaria at that time and assembled all [the fighting men of] Israel. Then he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?” And he replied, “I will go; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” Jehoram said, “Which way shall we go up?” Jehoshaphat answered, “The way through the Wilderness of Edom.”
So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. They made a circuit of seven days’ journey, but there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them. Then the king of Israel said, “We are doomed, for the Lord has called these three kings to be handed over to Moab.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here from whom we may inquire of the Lord?” One of the servants of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who [c]used to pour water over Elijah’s hands.” Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to Elisha.
Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What business do you have with me? Go to the prophets of your [wicked] father [Ahab] and to the prophets of your [pagan] mother [Jezebel].” But the king of Israel said to him, “No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to be handed over to Moab.” Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts (armies) lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you [king of Israel]. But now bring me a musician.” And it came about while the musician played, that the hand (power) of the Lord came upon Elisha. He said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley (the Arabah) full of trenches.’ For thus says the Lord, ‘You will not see wind or rain, yet that valley will be filled with water, so you and your cattle and your other animals may drink. This is but a simple thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also hand over the Moabites to you. You shall strike every fortified city and every choice (principal) city, and cut down every good tree and stop up all sources of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.’” It happened in the morning, when the sacrifice was offered, that suddenly water came [miraculously] from the area of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
Now all the Moabites heard that the [three] kings had come up to fight against them, and all [d]who were able to put on armor, as well as those who were older, were summoned and stood [together in battle formation] at the border. When they got up early the next morning, the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water across from them as red as blood. And they said, “This is blood! Clearly the kings have fought together, and have killed one another. Now then, Moab, to the spoil [and the plunder of the dead soldiers]!” But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, killing the Moabites [as they went]. They destroyed the [walls of the] cities, and each man threw a stone on every piece of good land, covering it [with stones]. And they stopped up all the springs of water and cut down all the good trees, until they left nothing in Kir-hareseth [Moab’s capital city] but its stones. Then the [stone] slingers surrounded the city and destroyed it. When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom; but they could not. Then the king of Moab took his [e]eldest son, who was to reign in his place, and [f]offered him [publicly] as a burnt offering [to Chemosh] on the [city] wall [horrifying everyone]. And there was great wrath against Israel, and Israel’s allies [Judah and Edom] withdrew from King Jehoram and returned to their own land.
- 2 Kings 3:1 See note 1:17.
- 2 Kings 3:4 This name of the king of Moab occurs in the first line of the Moabite Stone. In that inscription the Moabite king mentions his successes against Omri and Omri’s successor (1 Kin 16:23).
- 2 Kings 3:11 A Hebrew idiom meaning that one person personally served another.
- 2 Kings 3:21 I.e. the young and able.
- 2 Kings 3:27 I.e. the crown prince.
- 2 Kings 3:27 This terrible act of human sacrifice did nothing to mitigate or reverse Israel’s victory over Mesha and the Moabites.
2 Kings 4:1-37
The Widow’s Oil
Now one of the wives of a man of the [a]sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha [for help], saying “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant [reverently] feared the Lord; but the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves [in payment for a loan].” Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have [of value] in the house?” She said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a [small] jar of [olive] oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow containers from all your neighbors, empty containers—and not just a few. Then you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out [the oil you have] into all these containers, and you shall set aside each one when it is full.” So she left him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing her the containers as she poured [the oil]. When the containers were all full, she said to her son, “Bring me another container.” And he said to her, “There is not a one left.” Then the oil stopped [multiplying]. Then she came and told the man of God. He said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”
The Shunammite Woman
Now there came a day when Elisha went over to Shunem, where there was a prominent and influential woman, and she persuaded him to eat a meal. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he stopped there for a meal. She said to her husband, “Behold, I sense that this is a holy man of God who frequently passes our way. Please, let us make a small, fully-walled upper room [on the housetop] and put a bed there for him, with a table, a chair, and a lampstand. Then whenever he comes to visit us, he can turn in there.”
One day he came there and turned in to the upper room and lay down to rest. And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her and she stood before him. Now he said to Gehazi, “Say to her now, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us; what can I do for you? Would you like to be mentioned to the king or to the captain of the army?’” She answered, “I live among my own people [in peace and security and need no special favors].” Later Elisha said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old.” He said, “Call her.” So Gehazi called her, and she [came and] stood in the doorway. Elisha said, “At this season next year, you will embrace a son.” She said, “No, my lord. O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”
But the woman conceived and gave birth to a son at that season the next year, just as Elisha had said to her.
The Shunammite’s Son
When the child was grown, the day came that he went out to his father, to the reapers. But he said to his father, “My head, my head.” The man said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” When he had carried and brought him to his mother, he sat on her lap until noon, and then he [b]died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door [of the small upper room] behind him and left. Then she called to her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may run to the man of God and return.” He said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It will be all right.” Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Drive [the animal] fast; do not slow down the pace for me unless I tell you.” So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman. Please run now to meet her and ask her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’” And she answered, “It is well.” When she came to the mountain to the man of God, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away; but the man of God said, “Let her alone, for her soul is desperate and troubled within her; and the Lord has hidden the reason from me and has not told me.” Then she said, “Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not give me false hope’?”
Then he said to Gehazi, “[c]Gird up your loins (prepare now!) and take my staff in your hand, and go [to the woman’s house]; if you meet any man [along the way], do not greet him and if a man greets you, do not [stop to] answer him; and lay my staff on the face of the boy [as soon as you reach the house].” The mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So Elisha arose and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead of them and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response [from the boy]. So he turned back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened (revived).”
When Elisha came into the house, the child was dead and lying on his bed. So he went in, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he went up and lay on the child and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself out on him and held him, the boy’s skin became warm. Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up [again] and stretched himself out on him; and the boy sneezed seven times and he opened his eyes. Then Elisha called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing herself to the ground [in respect and gratitude]. Then she picked up her son and left.
- 2 Kings 4:1 I.e. a group or association of prophets.
- 2 Kings 4:20 Because her faith in God led her to expect a miracle from Elisha, the woman apparently kept the death secret from her husband and the entire household.
- 2 Kings 4:29 “Gird up your loins,” a phrase often found in the Bible, is an urgent call to get ready for immediate action, or it may be a call to prepare for a coming action or event. The phrase is related to the type of clothing worn in ancient times. To keep from impeding the wearer during any vigorous activity, e.g. battle, exercise, strenuous work, etc., the loose ends of garments (tunics, cloaks, mantles, etc.) had to be gathered up and tucked into the girdle. The girdle was a band about six inches wide that had fasteners in front. It was worn around the loins (the midsection of the body between the lower ribs and the hips) and was normally made of leather. Expensive or embroidered girdles were also worn and were made of cotton, flax or silk. The girdle also served as a kind of pocket or pouch and was used to carry personal items such as a dagger, money or other necessary things.