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Deeper Commentary

2Ki 7:1 Elisha said, Hear the word of Yahweh. Thus says Yahweh, ‘Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria’-
This follows straight on from the enigmatic 2 Kings 6:33, where either the king of Elisha have expressed frustration with waiting for Yahweh any longer. We would have expected God to consider that such an effective throwing off of patient waiting for Him meant that He would in turn give up with them. But instead, He gives His word of promise that six times as much food would be soon sold for a fifth of the price. This is typical of His grace, meeting human faithlessness with His response. Just as He had commanded Israel to not slay the Syrian captives but instead to give them a feast and let them return home. There is something senseless about grace, to the secular mind. And it is with that awareness that we are to live in this present world. Grace therefore makes us radically out of step with the world.

2Ki 7:2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, Behold, if Yahweh made windows in heaven, could this thing be? He said, You shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat of it-
Clearly the king relied upon a faithless man as his second in command, and not upon Elisha. We note that the same term is used of faithful Naaman, a Syrian (2 Kings 5:18). See on 2 Kings 5:9. It can be that we accept God's existence without really believing that He is, therefore, all powerful, and that all His attributes which the Bible reveals are actually functional and real for us today. The unfaithful captain forgot that there are windows in Heaven (Gen. 7:11; Mal. 3:10) through which blessing can be given. He believed in God's existence. But he didn't think this God could do much, and he doubted whether He would ever practically intervene in human affairs. We must be aware of this same tendency. The man is punished as Moses was, able to see the promised land with his eyes but not experience it. And this will be the same kind of judgment given to all the condemned at the last day. They will see the Kingdom of God established, but be unable to enter it. This will be the reason for their gnashing of teeth. 

We enquire whether Elisha had to curse Gehazi so severely, just as we wonder whether he had to call down the curse upon the youngsters who mocked his baldness. Likewise we wonder whether he had to bring death upon the officer who doubted whether Elisha could really restore food supply in the besieged city (2 Kings 7:2,17-20).  These curses all betray the spirit of Elijah, which the Lord Jesus condemned, in bringing down fire upon two groups of 50 men. In each case, it could be argued that Elisha felt mocked and so he used the power at his disposal in a very severe and judgmental way, justifying himself as having the spirit of Elijah. Yet it was for that spirit that Elijah had been removed from his office.

2Ki 7:3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate. They said one to another, Why do we sit here until we die?-
In 2 Kings 5:9, Elisha sat in his house and messengers from a powerful man, Naaman the leper, came to him; and displayed an amazing calm before them. This situation repeated in 2 Kings 6:32, where Elisha again sits in his house and the messengers of an aggressive King came to him. The theme of lepers recurs in this latter context also (2 Kings 7:3). And in 2 Kings 5:18 we read of Naaman as a man upon whose arm a King (of Syria) leaned; and we find one of those sent to Elisha the second time was likewise "a lord upon whose hand the King (of Israel) leaned (2 Kings 7:2).

2Ki 7:4 If we say, ‘We will enter into the city’, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. If we sit still here, we also die. Now therefore come, and let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they save us alive, we will live; and if they kill us, we will only die-
I suggested on 2 Kings 6:8 that the events of 2 Kings 6:1-23 may have happened before those of 2 Kings 5, which concludes with Gehazi becoming a leper. We are tempted to imagine that one of these lepers was Gehazi. And yet God was not done with him, despite his conscienceless behaviour with Naaman. He was still able to have a ministry of sorts, to be used by God significantly. But he had to be brought to this point of desperation and death in order for that to happen.

2Ki 7:5 They rose up in the twilight, to go to the camp of the Syrians. When they had come to the outermost part of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no man there-
As lepers, they had to dwell outside the gates (Lev. 13:46; Num. 5:2,3). They must have longed for the Mosaic restrictions upon them to be lifted, recalling how Naaman the leper was allowed a prominent place in Syrian society despite being a leper. But it was thanks to obedience to those regulations that they actually saved Israel. For nobody else ventured outside the city gates to apparent certain death at the hands of the Syrians.

2Ki 7:6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great army. They said one to another, Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come on us-
Elisha had been full of faith in the presence of the Angelic horses and chariots when the Syrians surrounded Dothan. And he was not lacking in such faith now, although one could read 2 Kings 6:33 as meaning that in fact his faith was at a very low ebb indeed. Yet despite that low level of faith, God still came through for him. The same horses and chariots of Angels which he had seen in the removal of Elijah, and which he had believed in during the siege of Dothan... were still present. The ears of the Syrians were opened to hear their noise, as Gehazi's eyes had been opened to see them. 

2Ki 7:7 Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their donkeys, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life-
This irrational flight of armies, or fighting amongst themselves because of some irrational fear, is typical of how God destroys His enemies. He prefers to work by His Spirit acting directly upon the minds of men, rather than by the swords of His people. For it seems therefore not His preferred will that His people should take the sword themselves, even though He does work through that sometimes. The Syrians had been made to believe such haste was required that they hadn't even fled upon horses, but had left the animals still tethered. See on :15.

2Ki 7:8 When these lepers came to the outermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and ate and drank, and carried from there silver, and gold, and clothing, and went and hid it. Then they came back and entered into another tent, and carried from there also, and went and hid it-
The desperate, starving lepers found great treasure and went and hid it. The Lord used this as the basis for His parable about the man who finds the Gospel, as the treasure in a field, and hides it. But surely He intended us to think of what those men did afterwards. “They said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace”. They even felt that woe would be unto them if they did not share the good news of what they had found. The same joyful urgency must be ours.

2Ki 7:9 Then they said one to another, We aren’t doing the right thing. This day is a day of good news, and we keep silent. If we wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king’s household-
We see here the sin of failing to share the Gospel. For those men were types of us (Mt. 13:44). Their position is so imaginable, and the Divine cameraman is focused in close up upon them. Their recorded conversation is absolutely credible and imaginable. 

2Ki 7:10 So they came and called to the porter of the city and said, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but the horses tied, and the donkeys tied, and the tents as they were-
The animals being still tied indicates the absolute sense of urgency which fell upon them, fleeing on foot because they had no time to untether their horses. This was the extent of the Divine hand upon their minds.

2Ki 7:11 He called the porters; and they told it to the king’s household within-
As lepers they were not allowed inside the city gates. The Israelites were forced to believe good news, the Gospel, from the mouths of the most wretched and desperate people on planet earth at that time. This clearly looks forward to our witness, for the Lord's parable of treasure hid in a field (Mt. 13:44) makes those men types of us.

2Ki 7:12 The king arose in the night and said to his servants, I‘ll tell you what the Syrians are doing to us. They know that we are 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 take them alive, and get into the city’-
Despite Elisha's prophetic word to him about a dramatic change in situation (:1), the king was not open to the possibility of it having any fulfilment. He wasn't looking for a fulfilment, and was skeptical of any hint that it might be forthcoming. And yet the word still came true, and the blessing of God's grace was given to the undeserving. Perhaps the whole incident was for the sake of the salvation of Elisha, Gehazi and the other three lepers. For God can involve huge numbers of people in situations which finally work out in the salvation of a minority.

2Ki 7:13 One of his servants answered, Please let some men take five of the horses that remain in the city. Behold, they are like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it. They would perish anyway, like all the many Israelites who have already died. Let us send and see-
This servant has the same mentality as the lepers- that death is now near, and so there is no harm in risking further loss or death, because it will come anyway. The lepers are thereby connected with those whom they were separated from. They had the same mentality. 

2Ki 7:14 They took therefore two chariots with horses; and the king sent after the army of the Syrians saying, Go and see-
We recall that the king of Israel was not to have chariots and horses (Dt. 17:17,18), and here we see how in any case, such human strength could not save them.

2Ki 7:15 They went after them to the Jordan; and behold, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. The messengers returned and told the king-
They had been so affected by the Spirit of God working directly upon their hearts that they had fled on foot, and not even untied their horses to flee upon them (:7). It seems the panic got even stronger, for they threw away even their own clothes and armour in order to run faster.

2Ki 7:16 The people went out, and plundered the camp 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 Yahweh-
The besieging army had their own supplies, which were now pillaged. In their desperation they would have not minded mixing with the four lepers who had saved them.

2Ki 7:17 The king appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to be in charge of the gate; and the people trod on him in the gate, and he died as the man of God had said when the king came down to him-
This means that in 2 Kings 6:33, the king himself and not just his messenger went down to Elisha's house, perhaps intending himself to have Elisha slain before his eyes.

2Ki 7:18 (It happened, as the man of God had spoken to the king saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria-
Perhaps this was the same open space where the false prophets had gathered and mocked Yahweh's words (1 Kings 22:10).

2Ki 7:19 and that captain answered the man of God and said, Now, behold, if Yahweh should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat of it-
The fulfilment of the prophecy over the mocking of the captain is laboriously stressed. The implication is that there was such an urgent stampede that the man literally didn't have time to eat of the food. Although he was apparently the second in command (:2), he had not himself gone out to the camp of the Syrians. He remained inside the city until the food and spoil had been brought into it. He just didn't want to see God's word come true, even though it meant blessing for starving people. This was all due to pride, and the related fear of being proven wrong before God. 

2Ki 7:20 It happened like that to him; for the people trod on him in the gate, and he died
Death by trampling underfoot was seen as seen as a death of shame. Perhaps the people intentionally did this to him because he was trying to limit their access to the food, desperate by all means to stop the fulfilment of the prophecies which he had mocked. He may well have been the same officer as in 2 Kings 8:6 (see note there and on 2 Kings 8:1), who had previously witnessed the accounts of the power of Elisha. He was therefore the more reprehensible and accountable for his mockery of Elisha's words.