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9. And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place ; for thither the Syrians are come down.
10. And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.
11. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing ; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?
12. And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king :' but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber.
undertake any sieges or engage in any pitched battles. Their object was plunder, and, if possible, to obtain possession by stratagem of the person of the king of Israel. -Todd. Among neighboring nations like these, without any very definite boundaries, there would continually arise some occasion for disagreement and war.
II. The Syrians Defeated by the Aid of the Prophet Elisha. - Vers. 8–12. 8. In such and such a place. Of course the place was named each time; but the sacred historian, not caring to enter into details, and treating of several occasions at once, uses a vague term. — Todd. Shall be my camp. The word here rendered camp seems to contain an idea of an ambuscade, which the story also requires. Accordingly Ewald, making a slight change in the Hebrew letters, translates here, “in such and such a place shall ye make an ambuscade," and in the next verse, “there the Syrians are in ambuscade.” – Todd.
g. And the man of God. Elisha; so called because he was God's special servant and messenger, through whom God revealed his will. Sent unto the king of Israel. Neither Elisha nor the king was at this time in Samaria, where both usually dwelt. The prophet was at Dothan (ver. 13), and the king seems to have been moving from place to place, as the defence of the country required. — Todd. Beware that thou pass not such a place. At a time when the Syrians were intending to encamp at a particular spot, and to attack the Israelites when they should pass by, the prophet gave warning to the king; the latter anticipated them, stationed troops in the threatened position, and so frustrated their plan. — Lange.
Note the difference between Elisha's method of dealing and Elijah's. Jehoram was a bad king. “He wrought evil in the sight of the Lord; but not like his father and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made” (2 Kings 3:2). Elisha seems to have lived in Samaria, the capital (2 Kings 6: 32), and to have aided and encouraged the king as a reward for destroying the image of Baal, as a means of strengthening his belief in God, and as an inducement to do better. He was not so much the reprover as the adviser of kings. - P.
10. The king of Israel sent to the place ... and saved himself there; i.e., he took care there. He sent spies to the place in order to ascertain if Elisha had given correct information and wise counsel, and he saved himself by observing the counsel of the prophet and not passing through that locality:- Whedon. Or, he sent troops and occupied the place, and so defeated the plans of the Syrians, and prevented their invasion. - Keil. No one has ever regretted that he followed the divine advice of a man of God; on the contrary, many have thus been saved from ruin. -- Lange. Not once nor twice. That is, several times.
11. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore (greatly) troubled. He was angry because his schemes were defeated, and perplexed to account for it. Which of us is for the king of Israel? As the plans for ambuscade were laid in the council of officers under obligation of secrecy, the king naturally thought that one of his officers must have betrayed these plans to the enemy. - Todd.
12. And one of his servants said. This is supposed by some to have been Naaman, the healed leper, whose marvellous cure had made him regard the prophet as almost omniscient. — Tayler Lewis. The king of Syria was not in Damascus at this time, but was personally conducting the operations in the land of Israel (ver. 8). Being in constant communication with the people, his soldiers could hardly fail to hear the explanation of the failure of the ambuscades. - Todd. Elisha ... telleth ... the words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber. Literally, " in the secret place of thy bed-chamber.” That is to say, " in the greatest possible secrecy.” The seclusion of the harem must be taken into account
13. And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold he is in "Dothan.
14. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host : and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, a host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master ! how shall we do?
16. And he answered, Fear not: for 2 they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he
1 Gen. 37: 17. 2 Chron. 32:7. Ps. 55:18. Rom. 8:31. for the full appreciation of the force of the phrase. — Cook. This gift of secret sight, while one is in clear possession of all the faculties of consciousness, is similar to that of prophecy. The prophet only sees what others do not see when Jehovah grants it to him, and his sight does not apply to all things whatsoever, nor to all events as its legitimate objects, but only to those things which pertain directly or indirectly to the relation to Jehovah and to the guidance of the people of Israel as a nation, or as individuals. Moreover, it is not in the power of the prophet, by any physical and ever-available means, to bring about this state of the soul at will. This sight is therefore something entirely different from so-called clairvoyancy, which has nothing in common with divine revelation. — Lange. Tremble with fear, ye obstinate sinners, because all is bare and discovered before his eyes, and shudder at the thought that the veil behind which ye carry on your works does not exist for him! All which ye plot in your secret corners to-day ye will find to-morrow inscribed upon his book, and however secretly and cunningly ye spin your web, not a single thread of it shall escape his eye! - Krummacher.
III. The Attack on Elisha at Dothan. — Vers. 13-15. 13. Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. If the prophet were in the keeping of the king of Syria, he would be unable to communicate with the king of Israel, and then the ambuscade might succeed. It is not probable that the king of Syria wished to avail himself of the prophet's supernatural powers, or to punish him for his interference. He merely wished to prevent him from communicating with the king of Israel. – Todd. Behold he is in Dothan. A small town on a hill, about eleven miles north of Samaria, and a little south of the great plain of Esdraelon. — Todd.
14. And a great host. Great, comparatively, for the purpose. The horses and chariots were accompanied by a large body of infantry. Benhadad sends out an entire army against one, but finds out the truth of the words in Ps. 33:18 sq. - Lange. They came by night. So as to take the city by surprise, and Elisha in it, without any warning or opportunity for escape.
15. And when the servant of the man of God. Not Gehazi, who had been dismissed, but perhaps some one of the sons of the prophets who had accompanied Elisha to Dothan.-- Lange. Was risen early. As is common in hot countries. Something unusual on the part of the servant is implied in these words. Some of the neighboring people had brought word, or the noise of his army had been heard during the night. In one way or another Elisha's servant was alarmed, and he consequently rose earlier than usual to reconnoitre. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 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. – 7., F. and B.
IV. Elisha's Defenders. - Vers. 16, 17, 16. And he answered, Fear not. He comforts him in two ways: (1) by his own faith and experience; (2) by a vision of those who defended him. They that be with us are more than they that be with them. We need not suppose that Elisha saw the angelic host of which he here spake. He only gave utterance to the conviction of all God's saints when the world persecutes them (comp. Ps. 34: 7; 55:18; 91:11; 2 Chron. 32: 7, etc.). God, they know, is on their side; they need not fear what flesh can do unto them. His angels, an innumerable host, are ever guarding those who love him. — Cook. The prophet speaks not of a casual event, but of something continued and always true in the providence of God. — Lewis. 17. Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes. The opening of the eyes signifies elevation
may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw : and, behold, the mountain was full of 1 horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
18. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
12 Kings 2:11. Ps. 34:7; 68: 17. Zech. 1; 8; 6:1-7. 2 Gen. 19:11.
into an ecstatic state, in which the soul sees things which the bodily eye can never see. — Keil. Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire. The fiery horses and chariots were symbols of the protecting powers of heaven, which surrounded the prophet. The fiery form indicated the super-terrestrial origin of this host. Fire, as the most etherial of all earthly elements, was the most appropriate substratum for making the spirit world visible. — Keil. The mountain was the hill on which Dothan was situated. The Syrian army surrounded the hill at its base, so that escape seemed impossible. But between the surrounding army and the prophet the whole space was filled with these fiery symbols of God's protecting hosts. They encompassed the prophet as a body-guard, and of course protected him from the enemy on every side. So Christ spoke to Peter in his anxiety of 12 legions of angels he could have for a guard (Matt. 26:53).
THE CHRISTIAN'S DEFENDERS. We have here listed for us for a moment a corner of the curtain that hides from us the invisible world. The miracle is not in the scene disclosed, but in the supernatural opening of the eye to behold it. This invisible world, lying all above us and around us, and full of the evidences of God's providence beyond all that visible nature ever furnishes, is a truth too little taught by our best modern theology, and wholly ignored by our most pretentious science; and yet what has the latter to say against it? A careful study of the Scriptures shows that the world has a larger population than our ordinary means of knowledge would lead us to suppose. Invisible beings, superhuman if not angelic, having ethereal vehicles of motion, and of vast force, may occupy, not merely the surfaces of the earth, and of other bodies which we suppose to be inhabited, but fill the air, the ether lying above the air, and all the intervening resisting space between the remotest parts of the earth, visible to our telescope. There is nothing incredible, irrational, or unscientific in the idea. The consoling doctrine of mighty invisible agencies forming vast hosts under God's direction, working in nature, perhaps in its most interior depths, and all for the carrying on of his moral kingdom, is too clearly presented on the face of the Bible to be denied. It is mentioned by the prophet here, not as a casual circumstance, but as having a constancy and a commonness equal to anything in what we call the visible sphere. He prays that the young man's eyes may be opened, that is, that his inner sight may be supernaturally quickened to discern the mighty fact. This tradition of guardian angels, and of guardian genii, and of an all-surrounding and invisible world, has ever been in the human mind. We find it strikingly set forth by the old poet Hesiod : “ Thrice ten thousand watchers of mortal men walk the broad life-feeding earth. Clothed in air, they scan the just and evil deeds of men” (“ Works and Days," line 256). Milton doubtless had reference to this passage when he makes it part of Adam's address to Eve in their evening worship:
... "Nor think, tho' men were none,
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep." This is a rational as well as a glorious belief. Well says an author of note, "To insist that nothing exists but what the human eye can see is more worthy the intellect of a Calaban than that of a Milton or a Newton. — Tayler Lewis, in S. S. Times. One soul in panoply of heaven
Brighter than flaming chariot,
Stronger than fiery horse,
All heaven is marshalled on your side,
God and the Universe.
Homer N. Dunning. V. Elisha's Victory over the Syrians. — Vers. 18–23. 18. And when they (the Syrian army) came down (from the surrounding hills on which they were encamped) to him. To Elisha, to capture him, which was their object in coming to Dothan. — So Lewis, Keil. Elisha prayed unto the Lord. Elisha's act was not merely a piece of good-nature and magnanimity; it was rather a prophetical act, in the strict sense of the words, which had no other aim than to glorify the God of Israel. Not for his own sake did
19. And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city : follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.
20. And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.
21. And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them ? shall I smite them ?
22. And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them : wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow ? 1 set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.
1 Rom. 12: 20.
Elisha pray Jehovah to smite the Syrians with blindness, but in order that he might lead them to Samaria. The thanks for their surrender into the hands of the king were due, not to him, but to Jehovah. Tehoram was to learn once more to recognize the faithfulness and might of Jehovah, and to be convinced that there was a prophet in Israel (chap. 5:8), from the fact that these dangerous enemies were delivered into his hands without a blow. On the other hand, Benhadad and the Syrians were to learn that they could not accomplish anything, with all their cunning plots, against the “prophet that is in Israel” (ver. 12), and much less, against him whose servant and witness this prophet was. - Lange. And he smote them with blindness. This is not the usual Hebrew word for “blindness,” but is a compound word, a thing not very common in Hebrew. One part resembles the ordinary word to blind; the other is from a quite different root, meaning to shine. The resulting idea would be that of coruscation or dazzling; and the whole would denote visual bewilderment, hallucination, rather than total loss of sight. The Syriac renders it by a word denoting spectres, swimming vision, full of false images; and this would seem to suit the place exactly. — Tayler Lewis. It would have been a difficult matter for Elisha to have conducted a large force of blind men, with their horses and chariots, by the rough and hilly roads of that country, eleven miles, to Samaria. The blindness was a mental bewilderment which disabled them from recognizing Elisha, or understanding where they were or what they were about, and put them wholly in the prophet's power. — Todd.
19. And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city. There is no untruth in the words of Elisha; for his home was not in Dothan, where he was only residing temporarily, but in Samaria; and the words "to the man" may well mean, to his house. — Thenius. The whole matter depends upon what the question was to which Elisha's words were a reply. If they asked, Where shall we find Elisha? the prophet, though he stood before them, could truly answer, Not this way, and not this city; for he intended to let them see him only at Samaria. They were deceived, indeed, by these words, but the law of truth does not require a man to correct the false conceptions of his enemies. Elisha led these hosts to Samaria. There their eyes were opened, and there they found the man they were seeking. — Lowrie.
20. When they were come into Samaria. The capital of Israel and the home of Elisha (see under ver. 18).
21. My father. The prophet-disciples called their master “father," and this because it was the ordinary title of the chief of the prophets, somewhat as the same word is occasionally used now-a-days. -- Lange. Shall I smite them ? As Elisha had brought them into his power, it was natural that the king should ask him what he should do with the captives. The king seemed to know no better or other way of treating enemies except to kill them.
22. Thou shalt not smite them. Jehoram is forbidden to smite these captives, since the special object of the miracle was to make the Syrians aware that it was in vain to attempt anything against the prophet, and that the God of the Jews was the one true and mighty God, and unless they had returned and told their countrymen what had happened, this object would have been defeated. — Cook. It would also give a hint of the power of forgiveness and kindness, and teach both nations that there was a better way of treating one another than to be continually fighting. Wouldest thou smite, etc.? If thou dost not