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11. And he called the porters ; and they told it to the king's house within.
12. And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry ; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.
13. And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed :) and let us send and see.
14. They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
15. And they went after them unto Jordan ; and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste : and the messengers returned, and told the king.
16. And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD. collective force in the singular, like our “guard," and the meaning here is, not that the lepers called to any particular individual, but that they roused the body of men who were keeping guard at one of the gates. --- Cook. Horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. The uniform arrangement of encampments in the East is to place the tents in the centre, while the cattle are picketed all around, as an outer wall of defence; and hence the lepers describe the cattle as the first objects they saw.- 7., F. and B.
VI. The City Relieved ; the Famine Ended.- Vers. 12-16. 12. And the king arose in the night. He probably had been waking and watching, like Shakespeare's king, Henry IV. - Lewis. I will now shew you what the Syrians have done. Jehoram sees in the deserted camp a stratagem like that by which Cyrus is said to have gained a great victory over the Massagetæ (Herod. i., 211). He supposes that the enemy have only withdrawn a short distance, and are lying in wait in the neighborhood, ready to rise up against the Israelites as soon as they shall enter the camp and fall to eating and drinking, while at the same time they also seize the unprotected city (comp. the taking of Ai, Josh. 8: 3-19). "The suspicion was a very natural one, since the Israelites knew of no reason why the Syrians should have raised the siege. — Cook.
13. Behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel. However the expedition may turn out, those (horses and horsemen) who go will be no worse off than those who remain. They can but die of starvation if they remain, or if they are slain by the enemy, it will be no worse than to die of starvation with the rest at home. Or it may be that the phrase refers to the fact that the horses are in a starving condition like the men, and hardly fit for the service.
14. They took therefore two chariot horses. The proper rendering is, “ They took two horse-chariots.” They dispatched, that is, two war-chariots, with their proper comple. ment of horses and men, to see whether the retreat was a reality or only a feint. The " horses " sent would be either four, five, or six, since chariots were drawn by either two or three horses. — Cook. And if but four horses were sent, this would not contradict ver. 13; for that only states what was proposed, and this what was actually done.
15. They went after them unto Jordan. The Syrians had fled, probably, by the great road which led from Samaria to Damascus through Geba, Engannim, Bethshean, Aphek. It crosses the Jordan about thirty-five miles north-east of Samaria. - Cook. The way was full of garments. They were in too much of a panic to destroy anything before starting, and that which they had tried to carry with them they threw away as they grew tired in their flight.
16. And the people went out. As soon as they were satished by report of the scouts on their return of the reality of the retreat of the Syrians, the whole populace rushed from the gate to plunder the Syrian camp, in consequence of which the cheapness of provisions predicted by Elisha was realized. — Keil. And spoiled the tents. That is, gathered the spoil, or booty, out of the tents. So a measure, etc. See under ver. 1. According to
17. And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate : and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, l as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.
12 Kings 6:32.
the word of the Lord. Thus again the prophetic words of Elisha were fulfilled in the most public manner, in modes best adapted to fix the attention of the whole people, and to produce the best possible moral impression. It was a divine movement to recall the people of Israel from their Baal and calf-worship to a solid faith in their own Jehovah, and to save the nation from drifting utterly into idolatry and political ruin. — Smith.
VII. The Fate of Unbelief. – Ver. 17. 17. The king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned. The one who had contemptuously mocked at Elisha's prophecy of relief. To have the charge of the gate. The city gate was the place where customs were paid for everything that was carried into the city; and it was probably to the duty of collecting the tolls that he was appointed. This seems to be the meaning of the statement that the king appointed him to have charge of the gate. It is difficult to see what need there can have been of any particular charge of the gate when the enemy were gone, and it was broad daylight, unless there were government taxes to be collected. --- Todd. And the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died. This can hardly mean merely that he was accidentally crushed by the crowd. There was naturally a crowd, but there was no occasion for such crowding as to create danger of being crushed; and if there had been, a nobleman and officer of government would have been the last one likely to suffer. The expression seems to indicate intentional violence. Perhaps this lord, whose manner seems to have been haughty and scornful (ver. 2), gave offence by his treatment of the crowd. But the probability is that the people were enraged at him for attempting to collect a revenue on the things brought in from the Syrian camp. As a revenue officer he would be unpopular, and especially at such a time. The people would naturally be indignant at the attempt to tax the food which had come to them when they were starving. -- Todd. As the man of God said. The greatest sin of man in the eyes of God is want of faith, and this is as strongly set forth in the Old Testament as in the New. The common impression is the other way, namely, that works are the great idea in the old Scriptures, faith in the new. Throughout the Bible, however, the language sounds clear and unmistakable: “ Without faith it is impossible to please him ”; without it there are no human works that have any value in his sight. – Tayler Lewis. For real faith indicates the state of heart, and no deed can be acceptable unless prompted by a right heart.
LIBRARY REFERENCES. On lepers at the gate, see Thomson's Southern Palestine, pp. 529-535, and Wallace's Ben Hur; on the famine caused by the siege, see Josephus' Jewish Wars, 5: 10; on the Hittites, see Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies, 11:361; Sermons by Spurgeon, vol. 2, “The Sin of Unbelief,” and Talmage, vol. 2; The Sunday School Times, May 6, 1877.
PRACTICAL. 1. God tries the faith of his children, sometimes waiting long before he sends relief.
2. Men complain of the duration of God's judgments, but forget to cease from their sins. The judgments are continued only long enough to bring men into the right state of mind.
3. Bad men would slay the preachers of righteousness, when they should slay their own
4. Ver. 2. Not the doubt that inquires and seeks for the reason of things, but the mocking unbelief that grows out of a bad heart, and a life far from God, brings disaster and death.
5. Providence can, even without any miracle, supply the wants of his people at times and in ways the most unthought of. — Todd.
6. Vers. 6–8. It is only necessary that in the darkness a wind should blow, or that water should splash in free course, or that an echo should resound from the mountains, or that the wind should rustle the dry leaves, to terrify the godless, so that they flee as if pursued by a sword, and fall though no man pursues them; therefore we should cling fast to God in the persecution of our enemies, should trust him and earnestly cry to him for help; he has a thousand ways to help us. - Würtemb. Summary.
7. Ver. 9. Even the poorest and most unfortunate have opportunities of doing good.
8. No one can be truly prosperous and happy who enjoys the good things of life alone, and does not help his suffering neighbors.
9. Ver. 16. The good often inherit at last the riches of the wicked. The wealth of worldly men at last often goes to aid the cause of Christ and of education. The commerce and inventions of the world are used by God for the spread of his Gospel. The investigations of scientific men are made to explain and prove the Word of God.
10. Patient waiting upon God finds its reward at last, but unbelief inherits no promise. - Todd.
11. It is easy for our Lord and God to bring days of plenty close upon days of famine and want; therefore we should not despair, but trust in God, and await his blessing in hope and patience until he “ open the windows of heaven.” — Würtemb. Summary.
12. Ver. 17. God's word fails not; not a word of his ever fell upon the earth in vain; every one is fulfilled to the uttermost, both promise and threat. — Starke.
13. How uncertain life is and its enjoyment! Honor and power cannot secure men from sudden and inglorious deaths. He whom the king leaned on, the people trod on; he who fancied himself the stay and support of the government is trampled under foot as the mire in the streets; thus hath the pride of men's glory been often stained. — Henry.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. The INTERVENING History given in 2 Kings 6: 24-33 is an essential part of this lesson.
Note the facts briefly, - who were the kings of these nations; the date; the place on the map; the short interval of peace.
SUBJECT, — God's PROMISES FULFILLED.
II. THE TRIAL OF Faith. The famine was the result of the sins of the people (see Deut. 28:47–58), and hence, though God had often sent relief before, this continued till the punishment could produce its proper effect. Hence it was a trial of the faith of the king and people. Elisha's faith was tried in two ways: (1) by the long-continued famine, though doubtless he had prayed for its removal, and the king and the people were excited against him for not doing something for their relief. (2) The king threatened him with death.
Illustration. Parents continuing to punish a child when they desire to cease, but must see signs of repentance. The surgeon continuing to cut off the diseased limb to save the life of the patient, even while he is sorry for the pain he must inflict.
III. THE PROMISE OF RELIEF (vers. 1, 2).
Mark especially God's manifold ways of helping our need, often in the most unexpected ways. There is no limit to his resources, — he can see multitudes of ways of helping us when we can see none.
Illustrations. (1) The unseen guardians revealed in our last lesson. (2) The new and unexpected forces and powers men are finding continually in nature. Who would have suspected the powers of steam, of the telegraph, the telephone, an hundred years ago? But every power was there, though unknown.
V.' THE FATE OF UNBELIEF (ver. 17). Note the difference between the doubt of the king, which led him to search for the truth of the lepers' report, and the mocking, hardhearted unbelief of the lord. Show why such an unbelief is deadly, and worthy of punishment. The prophecy of Elisha was fulfilled, not by miracle, but by the people, as a natural result of his unbelieving and haughty disposition.
Illustration. This lesson suggests the folly of the sinner who perishes within sight and reach of the Gospel feast. A ship, after long buffetings with the storm, driven hither and thither, and making no port, was without water, and its crew, fainting with thirst, hailed a passing vessel with the cry, “Water, water!” The answer came back, “ Let down your buckets; you are surrounded with fresh water.” They were off the coast of Brazil, in the outflow of the Amazon, which pushes its tide of living waters away out into the Atlantic a hundred miles. — S. S. T'imes.
LESSON III. – Oct. 18. JEHU'S FALSE ZEAL. — 2 KINGS 10:15-31. GOLDEN TEXT. - Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. — Ps. 1:1.
TIME. - Jehu began to reign B.C. 884. The lesson begins with the commencement of his reign, seven or eight years after the last lesson.
PLACE. — Samaria and Jezreel, the capitals of Israel.
RULERS. — Jehu, king of Israel (B.C. 884-856); Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, usurper, on the throne of Judah (B.C. 884-878); Hazael, king of Syria (B.C. 885); Elisha, the prophet of Israel (B.C. 896-838).
INTERVENING HISTORY.--- 2 Chron., chaps. 21, 22; 2 Kings, chaps. 8, 9, 10.
PRONUNCIATIONS. — Athăli'áh; Jěhòn'ădăb; Jē'hū; Ne'băt; Rā'moth-Gil'ěăd; Rechåb (ch=k).
INTRODUCTION. Several years have passed away since the siege of Samaria, before we come to the events of to-day's lesson. They were terrible times, full of cruelty and bloodshed. Both kingdoms were under the influence of Ahab and his heathen queen, Jezebel. Jehoram, the king of Judah, had married Athaliah, their daughter, and that kingdom was defiled and heathenized by the influence. Jehoram, king of Israel, was their son, and, though he destroyed the image of Baal, yet he was a true son of his father. But the end of that wicked house now drew near. It was time now for Elisha to complete the work given to Elijah, for the punishment of the people and their deliverance from idolatry (1 Kings 19:15-17). . IIe accordingly went to Damascus and anointed Hazael, a Syrian officer, to be king in place of Benhadad, who was sick. Afterwards, he sent a son of the prophets to anoint Jehu, a general in the army of Israel, to be king in place of Jehoram, who had been wounded in a battle at Ramoth-Gilead, with Hazael, the new king of Syria. Jehoram returned to Jezreel to be healed of his wounds, and left Jehu in command at Ramoth-Gilead.
EXPLANATORY. I. The New Dynasty,-- the House of Jehu. (I.) History. Jehu, the tenth king of Israel, was the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 9:2), the son of Nimshi. The fact that he is commonly called simply " the son of Nimshi” would seem to imply that the latter was a man of some mark, but there is nothing further told us about him. The age of Jehu is nowhere mentioned, but he was plainly a soldier from his youth. — Bentham. He was in the train of Ahab when Elijah met him and announced his doom in the vineyard of Naboth (2 Kings 9:25). He was a general in the army of Jehoram in the victory at Ramoth-Gilead over the Syrians. He succeeded Jehoram as king of Israel, and reigned 28 years (B.C. 884856). Jehu is the first Israelitish monarch whom we find mentioned on the Assyrian tablets. They not only give the name but refer to events of his reign which put it beyond doubt. They represent him as a powerful monarch and a formidable foe. - Tayler Lewis.
(II.) CHARACTER. Jehu was a great soldier, a man of intense energy, of quick wit, of positive opinions, and decisive action. But he was cruel, impulsive, treacherous, ambitious, boastful, and self-seeking. “It is the driving of Jehu, for he driveth furiously"; this is the best memorial that will remain of him who has let his zeal become his master when it was meant to be his servant, and who has counted it a pleasure instead of a hard necessity to destroy. — Maurice. He is exactly one of those men whom we are compelled to recognize, not for what is good or great in themselves, but as instruments for destroying evil and preparing the way for good, such as Augustus Cæsar at Rome, Sultan Mahmoud II. in Turkey. He showed inscrutable secrecy and reserve in carrying out his plans, a union of cold, remorseless tenacity with occasional bursts of furious, wayward, almost fanatical zeal. — Stanley.
(III.) ENTERING UPON HIS REIGN. Jehu, at the time of his anointing by Elisha, was in charge of the fortress of Ramoth-Gilead. His brother officers at once recognized and proclaimed him king. Having the whole army on his side, Jehu now hastened to complete the revolution. Shutting the gates of Ramoth, so that no one could carry the news to the king of Israel, he summoned his guard, and drove furiously to Jezreel. As his coming was entirely unexpected, and his designs were unknown, the city was at his mercy. King Jehoram and Jezebel the old queen-mother, were at once slain, as was foretold, with
15. And when he was departed thence, he lighted on 'Jehonadab the son of 2 Rechab coming to meet him : and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, 3 give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.
16. And he said, Come with me, and see my 4 zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.
1 Jer. 35:6, etc. ? 1 Chron. 2:55. Ezra 10:19. ^ 1 Kings 19:10. all other members of the royal family that could be found. Jehu then sent his letters to the authorities at Samaria, the capital, defiantly bidding them set up some descendant of Ahab as their king, and fight for him. In mortal terror the authorities immediately replied that they were wholly at his service. Jehu at once sent word to them to give proof of their devotion by sending him the heads of all the principal members of the family of Ahab. They were immediately sent, to the number of seventy. Thus assured of a cordial reception at the capital, Jehu went to Samaria. - Todd.
II. The First Exhibition of Jehu's Zeal,- the Extinction of the House of Ahab, in Both Kingdoms. — Vers. 15-17. At Jezreel Jehu slew all that remained there of the relatives of Ahab. He pursued and killed Ahaziah, king of Judah, a grandson of Ahab, who was with Jehoram in the battle of Ramoth-Gilead.
15. And when he (Jehu) was departed. From the “ shearing-house," between Jezreel and Samaria. Here, on his way to Samaria, he found and slew 42 nephews of Ahaziah, belonging to the house of Ahab. He lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab. Or rather, a descendant of Rechab. It appears that Rechab belonged to a branch of the Kenites (I Chron. 2: 55), the Arabian tribe which entered Palestine with the Israelites, and maintained a distinct existence among them for centuries. These Kenites were even more rigid and faithful in the worship of Jehovah than were the Israelites themselves, and continued so to the end. They lived in communities under strict rules which were half Bedouin and half monastic (Jer. 35:6-10). Jehonadab belonged to the settlement at Jabez, in Judah, and was at the head of it, and re-enacted the rules of the community with great severity (Jer. 35:6, 8, 18).- Todd. Jonadab, the son of Rechab, seems to have been a man of integrity and influence among his own people in the days of Ahab. Seeing the danger that the utter dissoluteness of morals in Israel would affect the feeble tribe to which he belonged, he induced his people, or at least his own family, to make a solemn covenant that they would abide by the simple habits that had so long belonged to them. They bound themselves to live in tents and altogether by pasturage. This implied that they were not to sow any seed, not to build houses, not to plant vineyards, not to drink wine. This is a remarkable example of a voluntary agreement handed down to many generations to do things that were not naturally obligatory. Nearly three hundred years after this time, long after Ahab's house and kingdom were destroyed, we find the family of Jonadab keeping this covenant still in the days of Jeremiah. - Lowrie. They exist, and observe the same rules to the present day. Wolff. Coming to meet him. Jehonadab seems to have hoped that now there was a king who would destroy idolatry and build up the kingdom of God in Israel, and was coming to express his hopes, and perhaps with the expectation of assisting and guiding him. They were probably acquainted before. Is thine heart right? Are you in sympathy with me and my purpose? 'If it be, give me thine hand. In the Hebrew this is spoken by Jehonadab; in the Septuagint Jehu utters it. Giving the hand is considered as a pledge of friendship and fidelity, or a form of entering into a contract, among all nations. And he took him up ... into the chariot. This was a mark of high esteem; but Jehu was no doubt glad to have the countenance of Jehonadab on his public entrance into Samaria. The ascetic had a reputation for sanctity which could not fail to make his companionship an advantage to the but half-established monarch. — Cook. Jehu would now appear to the people as a reformer.
16. Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. This boastful desire to be seen of men shows the falseness of Jehu's zeal. He was selfish and ambitious in his good work, and no doubt he did this cruel work more zealously because it confirmed him in his king. dom. No heirs were left to contest the throne with him. So they made him ride in his chariot. Side by side with the king, the austere hermit sat in the royal chariot as he entered the capital of Samaria, “the warrior in his coat of mail, the ascetic in his hair-cloth.” - Stanley.