2 Kings 3:1-9:13
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
VII. Stories of Elisha and Joram[a]
Reign of Joram of Israel. 1 Joram, son of Ahab, became king over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years.[b]
2 (A)He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, though not like his father and mother. He did away with the pillar of Baal that his father had made, 3 but he still held fast unceasingly to the sins which Jeroboam, son of Nebat, caused Israel to commit.
War Against Moab: Drought. 4 [c]Now Mesha, king of Moab, who raised sheep, used to pay the king of Israel as tribute a hundred thousand lambs and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. 5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 King Joram set out from Samaria and mustered all Israel. 7 (B)Then he sent Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, the message: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you come with me to Moab to fight?” He replied, “I will. You and I are as one, your people and my people, and your horses and my horses as well.” 8 He said, “By what route shall we attack?” and the other said, “By way of the wilderness of Edom.”
9 So the king of Israel set out, accompanied by the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout journey of seven days the water gave out for the army and for the animals with them. 10 The king of Israel exclaimed, “Alas! The Lord has called three kings together only to deliver us into the power of Moab.” 11 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” One of the servants of the king of Israel replied, “Elisha, son of Shaphat, who poured water on the hands of Elijah,[d] is here.” 12 Jehoshaphat agreed, “He has the word of the Lord.” So the king of Israel, along with Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom, went down to Elisha. 13 Elisha asked the king of Israel, “What do you want with me? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” The king of Israel replied, “No, the Lord has called these three kings together only to deliver us into the power of Moab.” 14 Then Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I respect Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, I should neither look at you nor notice you at all. 15 Now get me a minstrel.” When the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha, 16 and he announced: “Thus says the Lord: Provide many catch basins in this wadi. 17 For the Lord says: Though you will see neither wind nor rain, yet this wadi will be filled with water for you to drink, and for your livestock and pack animals. 18 And since the Lord does not consider this enough, he will also deliver Moab into your power. 19 You shall destroy every fortified city and every choice city, fell every fruit tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every fertile field with stones.”(C)
20 In the morning, at the time of the sacrifice, water came from the direction of Edom and filled the land.
21 Meanwhile, all Moab had heard that the kings had come to war against them; troops from the youngest on up were mobilized and stationed at the border. 22 When they rose early that morning, the sun was shining across the water. The Moabites saw the water as red as blood, 23 and said, “This is blood! The kings have fought among themselves and killed one another. Quick! To the spoils, Moab!” 24 But when they reached the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and attacked the Moabites, who fled from them. They ranged through the countryside destroying Moab— 25 leveling the cities, each one casting the stones onto every fertile field and filling it, stopping up every spring, felling every fruit tree, until only the stones of Kir-hareseth[e] remained. Then the slingers surrounded and attacked it. 26 When he saw that the battle was going against him, the king of Moab took seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but he failed. 27 So he took his firstborn, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a burnt offering upon the wall. The wrath against Israel[f] was so great that they gave up the siege and returned to their own land.(D)
The Widow’s Oil. 1 (E)A certain woman, the widow of one of the guild prophets, cried out to Elisha: “My husband, your servant, is dead. You know that he revered the Lord, yet now his creditor has come to take my two children into servitude.”[g] 2 Elisha answered her, “What am I to do for you? Tell me what you have in the house.” She replied, “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil.” 3 He said, “Go out, borrow vessels from all your neighbors—as many empty vessels as you can. 4 Then come back and close the door on yourself and your children; pour the oil into all the vessels, and as each is filled, set it aside.” 5 So she went out. She closed the door on herself and her children and, as they handed her the vessels, she would pour in oil. 6 When all the vessels were filled, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” He answered, “There is none left.” And then the oil stopped. 7 She went and told the man of God, who said, “Go sell the oil to pay off your creditor; with what remains, you and your children can live.”
Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son. 8 One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who pressed him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he would stop there to dine. 9 So she said to her husband, “I know that he is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, 10 let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.”(F)
11 One day Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. 12 Then he said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite woman.” He did so, and when she stood before Elisha, 13 he told Gehazi, “Say to her, ‘You have troubled yourself greatly for us; what can we do for you? Can we say a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I am living among my own people.”[h] 14 Later Elisha asked, “What can we do for her?” Gehazi answered, “She has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 Elisha said, “Call her.” He did so, and when she stood at the door, 16 Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be cradling a baby son.” She said, “My lord, you are a man of God; do not deceive your servant.”(G) 17 Yet the woman conceived, and by the same time the following year she had given birth to a son, as Elisha had promised; 18 and the child grew up healthy.(H)
One day the boy went out to his father among the reapers. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!” And his father said to the servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 The servant picked him up and carried him to his mother; he sat in her lap until noon, and then died. 21 She went upstairs and laid him on the bed of the man of God. Closing the door on him, she went out 22 and called to her husband, “Let me have one of the servants and a donkey. I must go quickly to the man of God, and I will be back.” 23 He asked, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the new moon nor the sabbath.” But she said, “It is all right.” 24 When the donkey was saddled, she said to her servant, “Lead on! Do not stop my donkey unless I tell you.” 25 She kept going till she reached the man of God on Mount Carmel. When he saw her at a distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi: “There is the Shunammite! 26 Hurry to meet her, and ask if everything is all right with her, with her husband, and with the boy.” “Everything is all right,” she replied. 27 But when she reached the man of God on the mountain, she clasped his feet. Gehazi came near to push her away, but the man of God said: “Let her alone, she is in bitter anguish; the Lord hid it from me and did not let me know.” 28 She said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not mislead me’?” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Get ready for a journey. Take my staff with you and be off; if you meet anyone, give no greeting,[i] and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff upon the boy.” 30 But the boy’s mother cried out: “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not release you.” So he started back with her.
31 Meanwhile, Gehazi had gone on ahead and had laid the staff upon the boy, but there was no sound, no response. He returned to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.” 32 When Elisha reached the house, he found the boy dead, lying on the bed. 33 He went in, closed the door on them both, and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he lay upon the child on the bed, placing his mouth upon the child’s mouth, his eyes upon the eyes, and his hands upon the hands. As Elisha stretched himself over the child, the boy’s flesh became warm.(I) 35 He arose, paced up and down the room, and then once more stretched himself over him, and the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.(J) 36 Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” He called her, and she came to him, and Elisha said to her, “Take your son.” 37 She came in and fell at his feet in homage; then she took her son and left.
The Poisoned Stew. 38 (K)When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. Once, when the guild prophets were seated before him, he said to his servant, “Put the large pot on, and make some vegetable stew for the guild prophets.” 39 Someone went out into the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine, from which he picked a sackful of poisonous wild gourds. On his return he cut them up into the pot of vegetable stew without anybody’s knowing it. 40 The stew was served, but when they began to eat it, they cried, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41 He said, “Bring some meal.” He threw it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was no longer anything harmful in the pot.
The Barley Loaves. 42 (L)A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” 43 But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred?” Elisha again said, “Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the Lord: You will eat and have some left over.” 44 He set it before them, and when they had eaten, they had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
Elisha Cures Naaman’s Leprosy. 1 Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the Lord had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.[j] 2 Now the Arameans had captured from the land of Israel in a raid a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went and told his master, “This is what the girl from the land of Israel said.” 5 The king of Aram said, “Go. I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
6 He brought the king of Israel the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone for me to cure him of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”(M) 8 When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.”
9 Naaman came with his horses and chariot and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”(N) 11 But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand there to call on the name of the Lord his God, and would move his hand over the place, and thus cure the leprous spot. 12 Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”[k] With this, he turned about in anger and left.
13 But his servants came up and reasoned with him: “My father, if the prophet told you to do something extraordinary, would you not do it? All the more since he told you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.(O)
15 He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant.”(P) 16 Elisha replied, “As the Lord lives whom I serve, I will not take it.” And despite Naaman’s urging, he still refused. 17 Naaman said: “If you will not accept, please let me, your servant, have two mule-loads of earth,[l] for your servant will no longer make burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other god except the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant this: when my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down there, as he leans upon my arm, I too must bow down in the temple of Rimmon. When I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord please forgive your servant this.” 19 Elisha said to him, “Go in peace.”[m]
Naaman had gone some distance 20 when Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, the man of God, thought to himself: “My master was too easy on this Aramean Naaman, not accepting what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something out of him.” 21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. Seeing that someone was running after him, Naaman alighted from his chariot to wait for him. He asked, “Is everything all right?” 22 Gehazi replied, “Yes, but my master sent me to say, ‘Two young men have just come to me, guild prophets from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two festal garments.’” 23 Naaman said, “I insist! Take two talents,” and he pressed him. He tied up two silver talents in bags and gave them, with two festal garments, to two of his servants, who carried them before Gehazi. 24 When he reached the hill, Gehazi received these things, appropriated them for his house, and sent the men on their way.
25 He went in and stood by Elisha his master, who asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” He answered, “Your servant has not gone anywhere.” 26 But Elisha said to him: “Was I not present in spirit when someone got down from his chariot to wait for you? Is this a time to take money or to take garments, olive orchards or vineyards, sheep or cattle, male or female servants? 27 The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” And Gehazi went out, a leper with skin like snow.[n]
The Lost Ax. 1 The guild prophets once said to Elisha: “This place where we live with you is too cramped for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where by getting one beam apiece we can build ourselves a place to live.” Elisha said, “Go.” 3 One of them requested, “Please agree to accompany your servants.” He replied, “Yes, I will come.”
4 So he went with them, and when they arrived at the Jordan they began to cut down trees. 5 While one of them was felling a tree trunk, the iron ax blade slipped into the water. He cried out, “Oh, no, master! It was borrowed!” 6 “Where did it fall?” asked the man of God. When he pointed out the spot, Elisha cut off a stick, threw it into the water, and brought the iron to the surface. 7 He said, “Pick it up.” And the man stretched out his hand and grasped it.
The Aramean Ambush. 8 When the king of Aram was waging war on Israel, he would make plans with his servants: “I will bivouac at such and such a place.” 9 But the man of God would send word to the king of Israel, “Be careful! Do not pass by this place, for Aram will attack there.” 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place which the man of God had indicated, and alert it; then they would be on guard. This happened several times.
11 Greatly disturbed over this, the king of Aram called together his officers and asked them, “Will you not tell me who among us is for the king of Israel?” 12 “No one, my lord king,” answered one of the officers. “The Israelite prophet Elisha can tell the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” 13 He said, “Go, find out where he is, so that I may take him captive.”
Informed that Elisha was in Dothan, 14 he sent there a strong force with horses and chariots. They arrived by night and encircled the city. 15 Early the next morning, when the servant of the man of God arose and went out, he saw the force with its horses and chariots surrounding the city. “Alas!” he said to Elisha. “What shall we do, my lord?” 16 Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid. Our side outnumbers theirs.” 17 Then he prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes, that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw that the mountainside was filled with fiery chariots and horses around Elisha.(Q)
18 When the Arameans came down to get him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this people blind, I pray you.” And the Lord struck them blind, according to Elisha’s word. 19 Then Elisha said to them: “This is the wrong road, and this is the wrong city. Follow me! I will take you to the man you want.” And he led them to Samaria. 20 When they entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open their eyes that they may see.” The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. 21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” 22 Elisha replied, “You must not kill them. Do you slay those whom you have taken captive with your sword or bow?[o] Serve them a meal. Let them eat and drink, and then go back to their master.” 23 The king spread a great feast for them. When they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went back to their master. No more Aramean raiders came into the land of Israel.
War Against Aram: Famine. 24 After this, Ben-hadad, king of Aram, mustered his whole army and laid siege to Samaria. 25 Because of the siege the famine in Samaria was so severe that a donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, and a fourth of a kab of “dove droppings”[p] for five pieces of silver.
26 (R)One day, as the king of Israel was walking on the city wall, a woman cried out to him, “Save us, my lord king!” 27 He replied, “If the Lord does not save you, where could I find means to save you? On the threshing floor? In the wine press?” 28 Then the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She replied: “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son that we may eat him today; then tomorrow we will eat my son.’ 29 So we boiled my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Now give up your son that we may eat him.’ But she hid her son.” 30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his garments. And as he was walking on the wall, the people saw that he was wearing sackcloth underneath, next to his skin.
31 The king exclaimed, “May God do thus to me, and more, if the head of Elisha, son of Shaphat, stays on him today!”
32 Meanwhile, Elisha was sitting in his house in conference with the elders. The king had sent one of his courtiers; but before the messenger reached him, Elisha said to the elders: “Do you know that this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? When the messenger comes, see that you close the door and hold it fast against him. His master’s footsteps are echoing behind him.” 33 While Elisha was still speaking, the messenger came down to him and said, “This evil is from the Lord. Why should I trust in the Lord any longer?”[q]
1 Elisha replied: “Hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord: At this time tomorrow a seah of fine flour will sell for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, in the market[r] of Samaria.” 2 But the adjutant, upon whose arm the king leaned, answered the man of God, “Even if the Lord were to make windows in heaven, how could this happen?” Elisha said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
3 At the city gate four lepers were asking one another, “Why should we sit here until we die?(S) 4 If we decide to go into the city, we shall die there, for there is famine in the city. If we remain here, we shall die too. So come, let us desert to the camp of the Arameans. If they let us live, we live; if they kill us, we die.” 5 At twilight they left for the Arameans; but when they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there. 6 (T)The Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses, the sound of a large army, and they had reasoned among themselves, “The king of Israel has hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to fight us.” 7 Then in the twilight they had fled, abandoning their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, the whole camp just as it was, and fleeing for their lives.
8 After the lepers reached the edge of the camp, they went first into one tent, ate and drank, and took silver, gold, and clothing from it, and went out and hid them. Back they came into another tent, took things from it, and again went out and hid them. 9 Then they said to one another: “We are not doing right. This is a day of good news, and we are keeping silent. If we wait until morning breaks, we will be blamed. So come, let us go and inform the palace.” 10 They came and summoned the city gatekeepers. They said, “We went to the camp of the Arameans, but no one was there—not a human voice, only the horses and donkeys tethered, and the tents just as they were left.” 11 The gatekeepers announced this and it was reported within the palace.
12 Though it was night, the king got up; he said to his servants, “Let me tell you what the Arameans have done to us. Knowing that we are starving, they have left their camp to hide in the field. They are thinking, ‘The Israelites will leave the city and we will take them alive and enter it.’” 13 [s]One of his servants, however, suggested: “Let some of us take five of the horses remaining in the city—they are just like the whole throng of Israel that has reached its limit—and let us send scouts to investigate.” 14 They took two chariots, and horses, and the king sent them to reconnoiter the Aramean army with the order, “Go and find out.” 15 They followed the Arameans as far as the Jordan, and the whole route was strewn with garments and other objects that the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. The messengers returned and told the king. 16 The people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans.
Then a seah of fine flour sold for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. 17 The king had put in charge of the gate the officer upon whose arm he leaned; but the people trampled him to death at the gate, just as the man of God had predicted when the messenger came down to him. 18 This was in accordance with the word the man of God spoke to the king: “Two seahs of barley will sell for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel at this time tomorrow in the market of Samaria.” 19 The adjutant had answered the man of God, “Even if the Lord were to make windows in heaven, how could this happen?” And Elisha had replied, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” 20 And that is what happened to him, for the people trampled him to death at the gate.
The Shunammite’s Return. 1 Elisha once said to the woman whose son he had restored to life: “Get ready! Leave with your household and live wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a seven-year famine which is coming upon the land.”(U) 2 The woman got ready and did as the man of God said, setting out with her household, and living in the land of the Philistines for seven years.
3 At the end of the seven years, the woman returned from the land of the Philistines and went out to the king to appeal for her house and her field. 4 The king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God: “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.” 5 Just as he was telling the king how his master had restored a dead person to life, the very woman whose son Elisha had restored to life came to the king appealing for her house and field. Gehazi said, “My lord king, this is the woman, and this is that son of hers whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 The king questioned the woman, and she told him her story. With that the king placed an official[t] at her disposal, saying, “Restore all her property to her, with all that the field produced from the day she left the land until now.”
Elisha and Hazael of Aram.[u] 7 (V)Elisha came to Damascus at a time when Ben-hadad, king of Aram, lay sick. When he was told, “The man of God has come here,” 8 the king said to Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go call on the man of God. Consult the Lord through him, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’”(W) 9 Hazael went to visit him, carrying a present, and with forty camel loads of the best goods of Damascus. On his arrival, he stood before Elisha and said, “Your son Ben-hadad, king of Aram, has sent me to you to ask, ‘Will I recover from my sickness?’” 10 Elisha answered, “Go and tell him, ‘You will surely recover.’ But the Lord has showed me that he will surely die.” 11 Then he stared him down until he became ill at ease. The man of God wept, 12 and Hazael asked, “Why are you weeping, my lord?” Elisha replied, “Because I know the evil that you will inflict upon the Israelites. You will burn their fortresses, you will slay their youth with the sword, you will dash their little children to pieces, you will rip open their pregnant women.”(X) 13 Hazael exclaimed, “How can your servant, a dog[v] like me, do anything so important?” Elisha replied, “The Lord has showed you to me as king over Aram.”
14 Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master, who asked, “What did Elisha tell you?” Hazael replied, “He said, ‘You will surely recover.’” 15 The next day, however, Hazael took a cloth, dipped it in water, and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. And Hazael succeeded him as king.
Reign of Joram of Judah. 16 [w]In the fifth year of Joram, son of Ahab, king of Israel, Joram, son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, became king. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
18 He walked in the way of the kings of Israel as the house of Ahab had done, since the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. 19 Even so, the Lord was unwilling to destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David. For he had promised David that he would leave him a holding in the Lord’s presence for all time.(Y) 20 During Joram’s reign, Edom revolted against the rule of Judah and installed a king of its own. 21 Thereupon Joram with all his chariots crossed over to Zair. He arose by night and broke through the Edomites when they had surrounded him and the commanders of his chariots. Then his army fled homeward. 22 To this day Edom has been in revolt against the rule of Judah. Libnah also revolted at that time.(Z)
23 The rest of the acts of Joram, with all that he did, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. 24 Joram rested with his ancestors; he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David, and his son Ahaziah succeeded him as king.
Reign of Ahaziah of Judah.[x] 25 In the twelfth year of Joram, son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah, son of Joram, king of Judah, became king. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, daughter of Omri, king of Israel.[y]
27 He walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the Lord’s sight like the house of Ahab, since he was related to them by marriage. 28 He joined Joram, son of Ahab, in battle against Hazael, king of Aram, at Ramoth-gilead, where the Arameans wounded Joram.(AA) 29 King Joram returned to Jezreel to be healed of the wounds which the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramah in his battle against Hazael, king of Aram. Then Ahaziah, son of Joram, king of Judah, went down to Jezreel to visit Joram, son of Ahab, for he was sick.
Elisha and Jehu of Israel.[z] 1 (AB)Elisha the prophet called one of the guild prophets and said to him: “Get ready for a journey. Take this flask of oil with you, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 When you get there, look for Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Enter and take him away from his companions and bring him into an inner chamber. 3 From the flask you have, pour oil on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee without delay.”
4 The aide (the prophet’s aide) went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 When he arrived, the commanders of the army were in session. He said, “I have a message for you, commander.” Jehu asked, “For which one of us?” “For you, commander,” he answered. 6 Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet’s aide poured the oil on his head and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. 7 [aa]You shall destroy the house of Ahab your master; thus will I avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the other servants of the Lord shed by Jezebel. 8 (AC)The whole house of Ahab shall perish:
I will cut off from Ahab’s line every male,
whether bond or free in Israel.
9 I will make the house of Ahab like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah. 10 In the confines of Jezreel, the dogs shall devour Jezebel so that no one can bury her.” Then he opened the door and fled.
11 When Jehu rejoined his master’s servants, they asked him, “Is all well? Why did that madman come to you?” He replied, “You know that kind of man and his talk.” 12 But they said, “Tell us another lie!” So he told them, “This is what the prophet’s aide said to me, ‘Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.’” 13 At once each took his garment, spread it under Jehu on the bare steps, blew the horn, and cried out, “Jehu is king!”
- 3:1–9:13 After the formulaic introduction to the reign of Joram of Israel, this section falls into two parts. The first contains several stories about the prophet Elisha, both in private and in public life. There are four longer stories, arranged in an ABBA pattern: drought during war with Moab (vv. 4–27), restoration of the Shunammite’s son (4:8–37), healing of Naaman (5:1–27), famine during war with Aram (6:24–7:20). The last three of these stories are each preceded and followed by short anecdotal tales about Elisha. The second part of this section turns to the political realm. Elisha carries out the Lord’s commissions to Elijah (1 Kgs 19:15–17) to anoint Hazael king of Aram (2 Kgs 8:7–15) and Jehu king of Israel (9:1–13). To prepare for the story of Jehu’s insurrection (9:14–11:20), the narrator places between those two narratives notices about the royal succession in Judah (8:16–24, 25–29). The formulaic conclusions to the reigns of Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah (8:25–29) are missing, since the deaths of both will be recounted in the story of Jehu’s insurrection.
- 3:1 The contradiction between 1:17 and v. 1 regarding the year when Joram succeeded Ahaziah of Israel makes any reconstruction of the chronology of Israel’s and Judah’s kings uncertain. Some scholars think that one or the other notice is simply incorrect. Others propose to explain the discrepancy by a co-regency: Jehoshaphat of Judah would have shared the throne with his son Joram from Jehoshaphat’s seventeenth year until he died in the twenty-fifth year of his reign (1 Kgs 22:42; see also 2 Kgs 8:16). The issue is further complicated by the speculation of some historians that “Joram of Israel” (“son” of Ahab of Israel: v. 1) and “Joram of Judah” (“son-in-law” of Ahab of Israel: 8:18) were in fact the same person, in whom the royal houses and separate realms of Israel and Judah were briefly reunited.
- 3:4 In the period of oral tradition, it seems that stories of kings were often told without identifying the kings by name. (Vestiges of this anonymity are still visible in 1 Kgs 3:16–28; 20:4–43; 22:1–38; 2 Kgs 6:8–7:20.) Names (such as “Ahab” in 1 Kgs 20:13–14; 22:20) were added later. As a consequence, the historical attachment of such stories to the kings about whom they are told is open to question. (See note on 1 Kgs 20:1–22:54.) The present story about a campaign against Moab by Joram and Jehoshaphat has several striking similarities to the campaign against Ramoth-gilead by Ahab and Jehoshaphat in 1 Kgs 22:1–38. There exists a Moabite inscription that contains Mesha’s self-aggrandizing account of his successful rebellion against Israel, but the times and places it mentions are different from those implied in vv. 4–27.
- 3:11 Poured water on the hands of Elijah: possibly a metaphor for “was Elijah’s servant.” But the phrase occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament and its meaning is not certain.
- 3:25 Kir-hareseth: a major city of Moab, identified with modern Kerak, east of the Dead Sea; cf. Is 16:7, 11; Jer 48:31, 36.
- 3:27 The wrath against Israel: probably the wrath of Chemosh, the Moabite god to whom the child was offered. The Israelites, intimidated by this wrath, retreat.
- 4:1 His creditor…into servitude: Israelite law permitted the selling of wife and children into slavery for debt; cf. Ex 21:7; Am 2:6; 8:6; Is 50:1.
- 4:13 I am living among my own people: the Shunammite woman declines Elisha’s offer. Surrounded by the support of her family and her clan, she is secure. Ironically, at some point in the future Elisha’s advice will send her to live among foreigners (see 8:1–2).
- 4:29 Give no greeting: a profuse exchange of greetings and compliments would normally surround the chance encounter of acquaintances on the road. This would, however, take time, and Gehazi’s mission was urgent. Compare Lk 10:4.
- 5:1 Leper: the terms traditionally translated “leper” and “leprosy” covered a wide variety of skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema, and seborrhea, but probably not Hansen’s disease (modern “leprosy”); there is no clear evidence of its existence in biblical times.
- 5:12 Wash in them and be cleansed: typical of the ambiguity in ritual healing or cleanliness. The muddy waters of the Jordan are no match hygienically for the mountain spring waters of Damascus; ritually, it is the other way around.
- 5:17 Two mule-loads of earth: worship of the Lord is associated with the soil of the Holy Land, where he is present.
- 5:19 Go in peace: Elisha understands and approves the situation of Naaman who, though now a worshiper of the God of Israel, is required by his courtly office to assist his master, the king (“leans upon my arm,” v. 18), worshiping in the temple of the Canaanite god Baal-Rimmon.
- 5:27 With skin like snow: “snow” is often used to describe the skin conditions covered by the term “leprosy” (Ex 4:6; Nm 12:10; see note on 5:1). It is unclear whether the comparison is with the white color, dry flakes, or moist shine, any of which can occur in the relevant skin diseases.
- 6:22 With your sword or bow: since the king would not slay prisoners who had surrendered to his power, much less should he slay prisoners captured by God’s power. This wartime practice stands in contrast to that of holy war, where prisoners were placed under the ban and so devoted to destruction (see 1 Kgs 20:35–43).
- 6:25 “Dove droppings”: it is unclear whether this phrase is to be read literally (e.g., dung used as fuel) or as the nickname of a type of edible plant, as attested in Arabic. A kab was probably around a quart.
- 6:33 The messenger speaks in the king’s name. Similarly, Elisha’s response in the next verse can be spoken of as delivered to the king (7:18).
- 7:1 Market: lit., “gate,” the principal place of trading in ancient walled cities in time of peace.
- 7:13 The Hebrew of this verse is difficult and its meaning is uncertain.
- 8:6 An official: lit., “eunuch,” and perhaps actually so in this instance.
- 8:7–15 Elisha carries out the commission the Lord gave Elijah in 1 Kgs 19:15. See note on 2 Kgs 3:1–9:13.
- 8:13 To call oneself a “dog” is to admit one’s insignificance (1 Sm 24:15; 2 Sm 9:8); it is not necessarily a term of contempt, as in English. Hazael focuses on the question of his power, making no comment on the atrocities Elisha predicts he will commit.
- 8:16 On the apparent contradictions among 1:17, 3:1, and this verse, see note on 3:1.
- 8:25–29 The narrative of Ahaziah’s reign, like that of Joram of Israel, lacks the standard formulaic conclusion. The deaths of both kings, and indeed the obliteration of the whole house of Omri, will be recounted in the story of Jehu’s insurrection.
- 8:26 It is unclear whether Athaliah was Omri’s daughter (v. 26) or his granddaughter (v. 18). Perhaps “daughter” here is being used loosely for “female descendant.”
- 9:1–13 Elisha carries out the commission the Lord gave Elijah in 1 Kgs 19:16. See note on 2 Kgs 3:1–9:13.
- 9:7–10 The author has Elisha’s emissary expand considerably the speech Elisha told him to deliver by adding the same type of prophetic indictments and sanctions as were invoked on previous occasions against the dynasties of Jeroboam (1 Kgs 14:10–11), of Baasha (1 Kgs 16:3–4), and of Ahab himself (1 Kgs 21:21–24).