2 Kings 6:24-33
Famine in besieged Samaria
Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilised his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels[a] of silver, and a quarter of a cab[b] of seed pods[c] for five shekels.[d]
As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, ‘Help me, my lord the king!’
The king replied, ‘If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?’ Then he asked her, ‘What’s the matter?’
She answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give up your son so that we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.” So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, “Give up your son so that we may eat him,” but she had hidden him.’
When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body. He said, ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!’
Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger ahead, but before he arrived, Elisha said to the elders, ‘Don’t you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?’ While he was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him.
The king said, ‘This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?’
- 2 Kings 6:25 That is, about 920 grams
- 2 Kings 6:25 That is, probably about 100 grams
- 2 Kings 6:25 Or of doves’ dung
- 2 Kings 6:25 That is, about 58 grams
2 Kings 7
Elisha replied, ‘Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: about this time tomorrow, a seah[a] of the finest flour will sell for a shekel[b] and two seahs[c] of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.’
The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, ‘Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?’
‘You will see it with your own eyes,’ answered Elisha, ‘but you will not eat any of it!’
The siege lifted
Now there were four men with leprosy[d] at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, ‘Why stay here until we die? If we say, “We’ll go into the city”– the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.’
At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’ So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.
Then they said to each other, ‘What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.’
So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, ‘We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there – not a sound of anyone – only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.’ The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.
The king got up in the night and said to his officers, ‘I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, “They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.”’
One of his officers answered, ‘Make some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here – yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.’
So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, ‘Go and find out what has happened.’ They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the Lord had said.
Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. It happened as the man of God had said to the king: ‘About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.’
The officer had said to the man of God, ‘Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?’ The man of God had replied, ‘You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!’ And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.
- 2 Kings 7:1 That is, probably about 5.5 kilograms of flour; also in verses 16 and 18
- 2 Kings 7:1 That is, about 12 grams; also in verses 16 and 18
- 2 Kings 7:1 That is, probably about 9 kilograms of barley; also in verses 16 and 18
- 2 Kings 7:3 The Hebrew for leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin; also in verse 8.
2 Kings 8:1-15
The Shunammite’s land restored
Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.’ The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines for seven years.
At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, ‘Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.’ Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.
Gehazi said, ‘This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’ The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.
Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, ‘Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.’
Hazael murders Ben-Hadad
Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Aram was ill. When the king was told, ‘The man of God has come all the way up here,’ he said to Hazael, ‘Take a gift with you and go to meet the man of God. Consult the Lord through him; ask him, “Will I recover from this illness?”’
Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, ‘Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, “Will I recover from this illness?”’
Elisha answered, ‘Go and say to him, “You will certainly recover.” Nevertheless,[a] the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.’ He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep.
‘Why is my lord weeping?’ asked Hazael.
‘Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,’ he answered. ‘You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.’
Hazael said, ‘How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?’
‘The Lord has shown me that you will become king of Aram,’ answered Elisha.
Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’ Hazael replied, ‘He told me that you would certainly recover.’ But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.
- 2 Kings 8:10 The Hebrew may also be read Go and say, ‘You will certainly not recover,’ for.