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2Ki 13:1-7. JEHOAHAZ'S WICKED REIGN OVER ISRAEL.
1-3. Jehoahaz . . . reigned seventeen years--Under his government, which pursued the policy of his predecessors regarding the support of the calf-worship, Israel's apostasy from the true God became greater and more confirmed than in the time of his father Jehu. The national chastisement, when it came, was consequently the more severe and the instruments employed by the Lord in scourging the revolted nation were Hazael and his son and general Ben-hadad, in resisting whose successive invasions the Israelitish army was sadly reduced and weakened. In the extremity of his distress, Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and was heard, not on his own account (Ps 66:18; Pr 1:28; 15:8), but that of the ancient covenant with the patriarchs (2Ki 13:23).
4. he saw the oppression of Israel--that is, commiserated the fallen condition of His chosen people. The divine honor and the interests of true religion required that deliverance should be granted them to check the triumph of the idolatrous enemy and put an end to their blasphemous taunts that God had forsaken Israel (De 32:27; Ps 12:4).
5. a saviour--This refers neither to some patriotic defender nor some signal victory, but to the deliverance obtained for Israel by the two successors of Jehoahaz, namely, Joash, who regained all the cities which the Syrians had taken from his father (2Ki 13:25); and Jeroboam, who restored the former boundaries of Israel (2Ki 14:25).
7. made them like the dust in threshing--Threshing in the East is performed in the open air upon a level plot of ground, daubed over with a covering to prevent, as much as possible, the earth, sand, or gravel from rising; a great quantity of them all, notwithstanding this precaution, must unavoidably be taken up with the grain; at the same time the straw is shattered to pieces. Hence it is a most significant figure, frequently employed by Orientals to describe a state of national suffering, little short of extermination (Isa 21:10; Mic 4:12; Jer 51:33). The figure originated in a barbarous war custom, which Hazael literally followed (Am 1:3, 4; compare 2Sa 18:31; Jud 8:7).
2Ki 13:8-25. JOASH SUCCEEDS HIM.
8. his might--This is particularly noticed in order to show that the grievous oppression from foreign enemies, by which the Israelites were ground down, was not owing to the cowardice or imbecility of their king, but solely to the righteous and terrible judgment of God for their foul apostasy.
12, 13. his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah--(See on 2Ki 14:8-14). The usual summary of his life and reign occurs rather early, and is again repeated in the account given of the reign of the king of Judah (2Ki 14:15).
14-19. Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died--Every
man's death is occasioned by some disease, and so was Elisha's. But in
intimating it, there seems a contrast tacitly made between him and his
prophetic predecessor, who did not die.
15-18. Take bow and arrows--Hostilities were usually proclaimed by a herald, sometimes by a king or general making a public and formal discharge of an arrow into the enemy's country. Elisha directed Joash to do this, as a symbolical act, designed to intimate more fully and significantly the victories promised to the king of Israel over the Syrians. His laying his hands upon the king's hands was to represent the power imparted to the bow shot as coming from the Lord through the medium of the prophet. His shooting the first arrow eastward--to that part of his kingdom which the Syrians had taken and which was east of Samaria--was a declaration of war against them for the invasion. His shooting the other arrows into the ground was in token of the number of victories he was taken to gain; but his stopping at the third betrayed the weakness of his faith; for, as the discharged arrow signified a victory over the Syrians, it is evident that the more arrows he shot the more victories he would gain. As he stopped so soon, his conquests would be incomplete.
20, 21. Elisha died--He had enjoyed a happier life than Elijah, as he
possessed a milder character, and bore a less hard commission. His
rough garment was honored even at the court.