Elisha Makes an Ax Head Float
1One day the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we meet with you is too small. 2Why don't we build a new meeting place near the Jordan River? Each of us could get some wood, then we could build it.”
“That's a good idea,” Elisha replied, “get started.”
3“Aren't you going with us?” one of the prophets asked.
“Yes, I'll go,” Elisha answered, 4and he left with them.
They went to the Jordan River and began chopping down trees. 5While one of the prophets was working, his ax head fell off and dropped into the water. “Oh!” he shouted. “Sir, I borrowed this ax.”
6“Where did it fall in?” Elisha asked. The prophet pointed to the place, and Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. The ax head floated to the top of the water.
7“Now get it,” Elisha told him. And the prophet reached in and grabbed it.
Elisha Stops an Invasion of the Syrian Army
8Time after time, when the king of Syria was at war against the Israelites, he met with his officers and announced, “I've decided where we will set up camp.”
9Each time, Elisha#6.9 Elisha: Hebrew “the man of God.” would send this warning to the king of Israel: “Don't go near there. That's where the Syrian troops have set up camp.”#6.9 have set up camp: Or “are going.” 10So the king would warn the Israelite troops in that place to be on guard.
11The king of Syria was furious when he found out what was happening. He called in his officers and asked, “Which one of you has been telling the king of Israel our plans?”
12“None of us, Your Majesty,” one of them answered. “It's an Israelite named Elisha. He's a prophet, so he can tell his king everything—even what you say in your own room.”
13“Find out where he is!” the king ordered. “I'll send soldiers to bring him here.”
They learned that Elisha was in the town of Dothan#6.13 Dothan: About 15 kilometers north of Samaria. and reported it to the king. 14He ordered his best troops to go there with horses and chariots. They marched out during the night and surrounded the town.
15When Elisha's servant got up the next morning, he saw that Syrian troops had the town surrounded. “Sir, what are we going to do?” he asked.
16“Don't be afraid,” Elisha answered. “There are more troops on our side than on theirs.” 17Then he prayed, “Lord, please help him to see.” And the Lord let the servant see that the hill#6.17 the hill: The hill on which the town was built. was covered with fiery horses and flaming chariots all around Elisha.
18As the Syrian army came closer, Elisha prayed, “Lord, make those soldiers blind!” And the Lord blinded them with a bright light.
19Elisha told the enemy troops, “You've taken the wrong road and are in the wrong town. Follow me. I'll lead you to the man you're looking for.” Elisha led them straight to the capital city of Samaria.
20When all the soldiers were inside the city, Elisha prayed, “Lord, now let them see again.” The Lord let them see that they were standing in the middle of Samaria.
21The king of Israel saw them and asked Elisha, “Should I kill them, sir?”
22“No!” Elisha answered. “You didn't capture these troops in battle, so you have no right to kill them. Instead, give them something to eat and drink and let them return to their leader.”
23The king ordered a huge meal to be prepared for Syria's army, and when they finished eating, he let them go.
For a while, the Syrian troops stopped invading Israel's territory.
King Benhadad of Syria Attacks Samaria
24Some time later, King Benhadad of Syria#6.24 King Benhadad of Syria: This may or may not be the same Benhadad mentioned in 1 Kings 20.1. Several of the Syrian kings were named Benhadad. called his entire army together, then they marched to Samaria and attacked. 25They kept up the attack until there was nothing to eat in the city. In fact, a donkey's head cost 80 pieces of silver, and a small bowl of pigeon droppings#6.25 pigeon droppings: This may have been used for food or to burn for fuel. It also may have been a popular name for roasted beans or the shells of certain seeds. cost 5 pieces of silver.
26One day as the king of Israel#6.26 the king of Israel: Probably either Jehoahaz or Jehoash, but possibly even Joram. was walking along the top of the city wall, a woman shouted to him, “Please, Your Majesty, help me!”
27“Let the Lord help you!” the king said. “Do you think I have grain or wine to give you?” 28Then he asked, “What's the matter anyway?”
The woman answered, “Another woman and I were so hungry that we agreed to eat our sons. She said if we ate my son one day, we could eat hers the next day. 29#Dt 28.57; Lm 4.10. So yesterday we cooked my son and ate him. But today when I went to her house to eat her son, she had hidden him.”
30The king tore off his clothes in sorrow, and since he was on top of the city wall, the people saw that he was wearing sackcloth underneath. 31He said, “I pray that God will punish me terribly, if Elisha's head is still on his shoulders by this time tomorrow.” 32Then he sent a messenger to Elisha.
Elisha was home at the time, and the important leaders of Israel were meeting with him. Even before the king's messenger arrived, Elisha told the leaders, “That murderer#6.32 That murderer: Hebrew “That murderer's son.” is sending someone to cut off my head. When you see him coming, shut the door and don't let him in. I'm sure the king himself will be right behind him.”
33Before Elisha finished talking, the messenger#6.33 messenger: Or “king” (see 7.2,18); the two Hebrew words are very similar. came up and said, “The Lord has made all these terrible things happen to us. Why should I think he will help us now?”