Verse 17. "And the people trode upon him" - This officer being appointed by the king to have the command of the gate, the people rushing out to get spoil, and in to carry it to their houses, he was borne down by the multitude and trodden to death. This also was foreseen by the spirit of prophecy. The literal and exact fulfillment of such predictions must have acquired the prophet a great deal of credit in Israel.
DR. Lightfoot remarks that, between the first and last year of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, there are very many occurrences mentioned which are not referred nor fixed to their proper year; and, therefore, they must be calculated in a gross sum, as coming to pass in one of these years. These are the stories contained in chapters 4., 5., 6., and 7., of this book; and in 2 Chron. xxi. 6-19. They may be calculated thus: In the first year of Jehoram, Elisha, returning out of Moab into the land of Israel, multiplies the widow's oil; he is lodged in Shunem, and assures his hostess of a child.
The seven years' famine was then begun, and he gives the Shunammite warning of its continuance.
The second year she bears her child in the land of the Philistines, chap. viii. 2. And Elisha resides among the disciples of the prophets at Gilgal, heals the poisoned pottage, and feeds one hundred men with twenty barley loaves and some ears of corn. That summer he cures Naaman of his leprosy, the only cure of this kind done till Christ came.
The third year he makes iron to swim, prevents the Syrians' ambushments, strikes those with blindness who were sent to seize him, and sends them back to their master.
The fourth year Jehoshaphat dies, and Edom rebels and shakes off the yoke laid upon them by David: Libnah also rebels.
The fifth year Samaria is besieged by Ben-hadad, the city is most grievously afflicted; and, after being nearly destroyed by famine, it is suddenly relieved by a miraculous interference of God, which had been distinctly foretold by Elisha.
The sixth year the Philistines and Arabians oppress Jehoram, king of Judah, and take captive his wives and children, leaving only one son behind.
The seventh year Jehoram falls into a grievous sickness, so that his bowels fall out, 2 Chron. xxi. 19. And in the same year the seven years' famine ends about the time of harvest; and at that harvest, the Shunammite's son dies, and is restored to life by Elisha, though the story of his birth and death is related together; and yet some years must have passed between them. Not long after this the Shunammite goes to the king to petition to be restored to her own land, which she had left in the time of the famine, and had sojourned in the land of the Philistines.
This year Elisha is at Damascus, Ben-hadad falls sick; Hazael stifles him with a wet cloth, and reigns in his stead. All these things Dr. Lightfoot supposes happened between A.M. 3110 and 3117. - See Lightfoot's Works, vol. i., p. 88. In examining the facts recorded in these books, we shall always find it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to ascertain the exact chronology. The difficulty is increased by a custom common among these annalists, the giving the whole of a story at once, though several incidents took place at the distance of some years from the commencement of the story: as they seem unwilling to have to recur to the same history in the chronological order of its facts.