2 Kings 6 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 2 Kings 6)

Verse 2

[2] Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

Jordan — To the woods near Jordan.

A beam — A piece of timber for the building. Hence it may be gathered, that although the sons of the prophets principally devoted themselves to religious exercises, yet they sometimes employed themselves about manual arts.

Verse 10

[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.

Sent — Soldiers to secure the place and passage designed.

Verse 16

[16] And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

They — Angels, unspeakably more numerous, God, infinitely more powerful.

Verse 17

[17] And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

He saw, … — Fire is both dreadful and devouring: that power which was engaged for Elisha, could both terrify and consume the assailants. Elijah gave a specimen of Divine justice, when he called for flames of fire on the heads of his persecutors to consume them. Elisha gives a specimen of Divine mercy, in heaping coals of fire on the heads of his persecutors to melt them.

Verse 22

[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? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.

Wouldest thou smite — It is against the laws of humanity, to kill captives, though thou thyself hast taken them with thy own sword and bow; which might seem to give thee some colour to destroy them; but much more unworthy will it be in cold blood to kill these, whom not thy arms, but God's providence hath put into thy hands.

Set bread — Give them meat and drink, which may refresh and strengthen them for their journey. This was an action of singular piety and charity, in doing good to their enemies, which was much to the honour of the true religion; and of no less prudence, that hereby the hearts of the Syrians might be mollified towards the Israelites.

Verse 23

[23] And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

No more — For some considerable time.

Verse 24

[24] And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.

Ben-hadad — He whom Ahab wickedly spared, now comes to requite his kindness, and to fulfil that Divine prediction. Ben-hadad was a name very frequent among the kings of Syria, if not common to them all.

Verse 25

[25] And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.

Famine in Samaria — Probably the siege was so sudden, that they had no time to lay in provisions.

Pieces — Supposed to be shekels; and the common shekel being valued at fifteen pence of English money, this amounts to five pounds. A vast price, especially for that which had on it so little meat, and that unwholesome and unclean.

A kab — A measure containing twenty-four eggs.

Dung — This Hebrew word is of a doubtful signification, and no where else used, probably it means a sort of pease, which in the Arabick language (near a-kin to the Hebrew) is called doves dung: for this was a food much in use amongst the poorer Israelites, and was a very coarse food, and therefore fit to be joined with the asses head: and a kab was the usual measure of all sorts of grains and fruits of that sort.

Verse 27

[27] And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?

Whence shall I help thee — Dost thou ask of me corn or wine, which I want for myself? If God does not, I cannot help thee. Creatures are helpless things without God. Every creature is all that, and only that which God makes it to be.

Verse 29

[29] So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.

We boiled — A dreadful judgment threatened to them in case of their apostacy, Deuteronomy 28:56,57, in which they were now deeply plunged.

Verse 31

[31] Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

God do so, … — Because he had encouraged them to withstand the Syrians, by promising them help from God.

Verse 32

[32] But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?

He said — Being admonished by God of his danger.

This son — The genuine son of that wicked Ahab the murderer of the Lord's prophets. This expression may seem very harsh and unfit; nor is it to be drawn into imitation by others: but it must be considered, that he was an extraordinary prophet, intrusted with a power in some sort superior to that of Joram, and had authority to control and rebuke him in the name of the king of kings.

Hold him — That he may not break in upon me, and take away my life, before the king comes.

Verse 33

[33] And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?

He said — Or, the king, who, though not here named, may be presumed to be present, both by the prophet's prediction of his speedy coming, and by the presence of the lord, on whose hand the king leaned, chap. 7:2.

This evil — This dreadful famine, which is now so extreme, that women are forced to eat their own children.

The Lord — Hath inflicted it, and (for ought I see) he will not remove it. All penal evil is of the Lord, as the first cause and sovereign judge. And this we ought to apply to particular cases: if all evil, then this evil which we are groaning under. Whoever are the instruments, God is the principal agent.

What should I, … — Thou bidst me wait upon God for help: but I perceive I may wait long enough before deliverance comes: I am weary with waiting, I can wait no longer.