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2Ki 6:1-7. ELISHA CAUSES IRON TO SWIM.
1. the place where we dwell with thee--Margin, "sit before thee." The one points to a common residence--the other to a common place of meeting. The tenor of the narrative shows the humble condition of Elisha's pupils. The place was either Beth-el or Jericho, probably the latter. The ministry and miracles of Elisha brought great accessions to his schools.
5. it was borrowed--literally, "begged." The scholar's distress arose from the consideration that it had been presented to him; and that, owing to his poverty, he could not procure another.
6. cut down a stick, and cast it in thither--Although this means was
used, it had no natural adaptation to make the iron swim. Besides, the
Jordan is at Jericho so deep and rapid that there were one thousand
chances to one against the stick falling into the hole of the axe-head.
All attempts to account for the recovery of the lost implement on such
a theory must be rejected.
2Ki 6:8-17. DISCLOSES THE KING OF SYRIA'S COUNSEL.
8-12. the king of Syria warred against Israel--This seems to have been a sort of guerrilla warfare, carried on by predatory inroads on different parts of the country. Elisha apprised King Jehoram of the secret purpose of the enemy; so, by adopting precautionary measures, he was always enabled to anticipate and defeat their attacks. The frequency of his disappointments having led the Syrian king to suspect some of his servants of carrying on a treacherous correspondence with the enemy, he was informed about Elisha, whose apprehension he forthwith determined to effect. This resolution was, of course, grounded on the belief that however great the knowledge of Elisha might be, if seized and kept a prisoner, he could no longer give information to the king of Israel.
13. Dothan--or, "Dothaim," a little north of Samaria (see on Ge 37:17).
15. his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?--When the Syrian detachment surrounded the place by night, for the apprehension of the prophet, his servant was paralyzed with fear. This was a new servant, who had only been with him since Gehazi's dismissal and consequently had little or no experience of his master's powers. His faith was easily shaken by so unexpected an alarm.
17. Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see--The invisible guard of angels that encompass and defend us (Ps 34:7). The opening of the eyes, which Elisha prayed for, were those of the Spirit, not of the body--the eye of faith sees the reality of the divine presence and protection where all is vacancy or darkness to the ordinary eye. The horses and chariots were symbols of the divine power (see on 2Ki 2:12); and their fiery nature denoted their supernatural origin; for fire, the most ethereal of earthly elements, is the most appropriate symbol of the Godhead [KEIL].
2Ki 6:18-23. HIS ARMY SMITTEN WITH BLINDNESS.
18. Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness--not a total and material blindness, for then they could not have followed him, but a mental hallucination (see Ge 19:11) so that they did not perceive or recognize him to be the object of their search.
19-23. This is not the way, neither is this the city--This statement
is so far true that, as he had now left the place of his residence,
they would not have got him by that road. But the ambiguity of his
language was purposely framed to deceive them; and yet the deception
must be viewed in the light of a stratagem, which has always been
deemed lawful in war.
2Ki 6:24-33. BEN-HADAD BESIEGES SAMARIA.
25. an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver--Though the
ass was deemed unclean food, necessity might warrant their violation of
a positive law when mothers, in their extremity, were found violating
the law of nature. The head was the worst part of the animal. Eighty
pieces of silver, equal to £5 5s.
26. as the king was passing--to look at the defenses, or to give some necessary orders for manning the walls.
29. we boiled my son, and did eat him--(See on De 28:53).
30. had sackcloth within upon his flesh--The horrid recital of this domestic tragedy led the king soon after to rend his garment, in consequence of which it was discovered that he wore a penitential shirt of haircloth. It is more than doubtful, however, if he was truly humbled on account of his own and the nation's sins; otherwise he would not have vowed vengeance on the prophet's life. The true explanation seems to be, that Elisha having counselled him not to surrender, with the promise, on condition of deep humiliation, of being delivered, and he having assumed the signs of contrition without receiving the expected relief, regarded Elisha who had proved false and faithless as the cause of all the protracted distress.
32. But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him--The latter clause of 2Ki 6:33, which contains the king's impatient exclamation, enables us to account for the impetuous order he issued for the beheading of Elisha. Though Jehoram was a wicked king and most of his courtiers would resemble their master, many had been won over, through the prophet's influence, to the true religion. A meeting, probably a prayer-meeting, of those was held in the house where he lodged, for he had none of his own (1Ki 19:20, 21); and them he not only apprised of the king's design against himself, but disclosed to them the proof of a premeditated deliverance.