Scriptures

2 Kings 8

Introduction

‘Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.’ The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years. At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, ‘Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.’ Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land. Gehazi said, ‘This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’ The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, ‘Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.’ 2 Kings 8:1-6

The Shunammite’s Land Restored

As we enter this chapter, it’s important to note that this account of Gehazi isn’t in chronological order. This incident would have taken place before the healing of Naaman, 2 Kings 5:1-17, because Gehazi hadn’t yet been struck with leprosy.

Elisha tells the woman whose son he had restored to back to life, 2 Kings 4:8-37, to go away for a while, he wants the Shunammite woman to go to another country, which she did. She went to Philistia for seven years, after the seven years had passed, she makes an appeal to the king, probably Jehoram, for her land.

It’s quite clear that someone else had taken possession of her land whilst she was away. After the king learned that Elisha had brought the Shunammite woman’s son back to life, he gave her case to an ‘official’, who was probably a eunuch, 1 Chronicles 28:1 / Isaiah 56:3-4, he then gave her back everything that was rightfully hers, along with the income, which was raised from her land, Esther 6:1-14 / Romans 8:28.

What happened here shows that Elisha’s previous offer to speak to the king for the Shunammite woman, 2 Kings 4:13, wants a waste of time.

Hazael Murders Ben-Hadad

‘Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Aram was ill. When the king was told, ‘The man of God has come all the way up here,’ he said to Hazael, ‘Take a gift with you and go to meet the man of God. Consult the LORD through him; ask him, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’ Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, ‘Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’ Elisha answered, ‘Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the LORD has revealed to me that he will in fact die.’ He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep. ‘Why is my lord weeping?’ asked Hazael. ‘Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,’ he answered. ‘You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.’ Hazael said, ‘How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?’ ‘The LORD has shown me that you will become king of Aram,’ answered Elisha. Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’ Hazael replied, ‘He told me that you would certainly recover.’ But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.’ 2 Kings 8:7-15

Some commentators suggest that because God had earlier commanded Elijah to anoint Hazael as king of Aram, 1 Kings 19:15, it’s here that we read that Elisha carried out this command, this is why he is in Damascus.

However, Coffman in his commentary offers the following objections.

‘A number of scholars suppose that Elisha anointed Hazael king over Syria on this trip, but there is nothing here to support such a view. God had commanded Elijah at Horeb to anoint Hazael, 1 Kings 19:15, and there are two ways of understanding what happened.

1. Either Elijah went to Damascus and anointed him without any Scriptural record of it being recorded, or

2. Elijah transferred the obligation to Elisha who anointed him without any record of it being placed in the Bible.’

We should also note that the Hazael here shouldn’t be confused with the father of Ben-Hadad, who was called the son of Hazael, 2 Kings 13:3. This Hazael was the son of a nobody, who murdered Ben-Hadad and seized his throne.

It was the practice of the day for someone to take a gift to God’s prophet as a kind of offering, if they didn’t take a gift it was seen as disrespectful. Because of the amount of gifts Ben-Hadad gave Elisha, this shows us just how much he respected Elisha and by default the God of Israel.

However, just because he showed Elisha and the God of Israel a lot of respect, doesn’t mean that Ben-Hadad was a convert to the God of Israel.

Because Ben-Hadad was ill, he wanted to find out if he would recover from his illness, when Hazael asks Elisha about Ben-Hadad, Elisha tells him that the king will certainly recover. The very fact that Elisha says he will recover, reinforces the murderous, suffocating act of Hazael, because under normal circumstances he would have recovered.

Hazael lied to the king and told him he would recover when Elisha told him he would certainly die. Elisha knew what kind of man Hazael was, he was a serious troublemaker, Elisha knew he would cause a lot of trouble for the Israelites.

The terrible crimes mentioned here, which Elisha stated that Hazael would commit, were in no sense offensive to that evil man who would murder his way into becoming king.

Notice after being told the horrendous things he will do to the Israelites, he asks Elisha, ‘how could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?’ Hazael compares himself to a dog, suggesting that a dog isn’t capable of doing such horrendous things. He’s telling Elisha he’s just a slave of Ben-Hadad and he possessed no power to do the horrendous things which Elisha mentioned.

Elisha doesn’t mess with his words here; he plainly tells him of the prophecy of his accession to the throne of Aram. After murdering Ben-Hadad, Hazael became king and reigned from 841 to 798 B.C.

Jehoram King Of Judah

‘In the fifth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat began his reign as king of Judah. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever. In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. So Jehoram went to Zair with all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he rose up and broke through by night; his army, however, fled back home. To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time. As for the other events of Jehoram’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Jehoram rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.’ 2 Kings 8:16-24

Whilst Hazael became king of Aram, Jehoram became king of Judah. Although it can be confusing at times, we must remember that the name Jehoram appears in the lists of kings of both Israel and Judah, but they are different people. Joram is a shortened version of the name Jehoram, 2 Kings 1:17.

Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king and reigned in Jerusalem for eight years, however, he followed in the ways of the kings of Israel and as the house of Ahab had done. This means that he committed idolatry and followed the gods of the Canaanites, like Ahab did, 1 Kings 16:29-19:18.

This possibly happened because he married the daughter of Ahab, her name was Athaliah, and so, it’s possible that she may have influenced him in some way. In some ways, she not only influenced him, but influenced the whole nation, because the idolatrous action of Israel were now happening in Judah.

Jehoram did evil in the eyes of God, he committed many acts of sins, one of them was the murdering of his six brothers, because he wanted their wealth, 2 Chronicles 21:5-10 / 2 Chronicles 21:20.

Make no mistake about it, God would have wiped them off the face of the earth because of their idolatry, if it wasn’t for David and the promise He made to David, 2 Samuel 7:13-16 / 2 Chronicles 21:12-19.

Coffman in his commentary says the following concerning these verses.

‘The Edomites had been subjected by David and remained under the dominion of Solomon, from whom they revolted for a time when the kingdom divided. However, they again came under the dominion of Judah during the reign of Jehoshaphat, but this revolt against Joram resulted in their independence.

What seems to be reported here is a disastrous route of Joram’s army and his being surrounded by the Edomite troops. Jehoram with his chariots was able to break through the surrounding Edomites and escape with his life, leaving the rest of his army to escape as best they could. This military disaster which stopped just short of being complete, was followed by the loss of Libnah a city to the southwest of Judah, probably in the area of the Philistines.’

We know that great nations are held together by their loyalty to their kings. God originally created Israel as one nation and they were to be loyal to Him as their king, sadly here we read about what happens when a nation is divided and are loyal to various kings.

Ahaziah King Of Judah

‘In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. He followed the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was related by marriage to Ahab’s family. Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram; so King Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram. Then Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Joram son of Ahab, because he had been wounded.’ 2 Kings 8:25-29

Ahaziah became king in 841 B.C. and only reigned for one year, 2 Chronicles 22:1-6. Some translations say that Athaliah was the ‘daughter’ of Omri, she would have been the granddaughter of Omri, because she was the daughter of Ahab. The word ‘daughter’ is often used to refer to one as a descendant.

Ahaziah, followed in the idolatrous ways of Ahab, 1 Kings 16:29-19:18, and done evil in the eyes of the Lord. War once again breaks out, Ahaziah and Joram, that is Jehoram king of Israel in the north, go out against Hazael at Ramoth Gilead. They were trying to reclaim the city that was under Aramean control, 1 Kings 22:29-36.

It appears at this point in history, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah have a good relationship with one another.

Notice that the house of Ahab was now on the thrones of both Israel and Judah, but God appears to use Joram’s illness in Jezreel to bring Ahaziah from Jerusalem, in doing so the two branches of Ahab’s house were brought together and brought to an end at the same time.

Coffman says the following in his commentary.

‘Appropriately, the final settlement of God’s account with the house of Ahab would take place at Jezreel, at that very vineyard of Naboth, where through Ahab’s murder of that righteous man, the dogs licked his blood, and, in the next chapter, we shall see how the dogs indeed licked the blood of Ahab in the person of his grandson Ahaziah in the very same place. None of God’s prophecies ever failed!’

Go To 2 Kings 9

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"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Hebrews 11:1

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