Elisha Makes an Ax Head Float

1 Some of the prophets1 said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you2 is too cramped3 for us. 2 Let’s go to the Jordan. Each of us will get a log from there and we will build a meeting place for ourselves there.” He said, “Go.” 3 One of them said, “Please come along with your servants.” He replied, “All right, I’ll come.” 4 So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they started cutting down trees. 5 As one of them was felling a log, the ax head4 dropped into the water. He shouted, “Oh no,5 my master! It was borrowed! 6 The prophet6 asked, “Where did it drop in?” When he showed him the spot, Elisha7 cut off a branch, threw it in at that spot, and made the ax head float. 7 He said, “Lift it out.” So he reached out his hand and grabbed it.

Elisha Defeats an Army

8 Now the king of Syria was at war with Israel. He consulted his advisers, who said, “Invade8 at such and such9 a place.” 9 But the prophet sent this message to the king of Israel, “Make sure you don’t pass through this place because Syria is invading there.” 10 So the king of Israel sent a message to the place the prophet had pointed out, warning it10 to be on its guard. This happened on several occasions.11 11 This made the king of Syria upset.12 So he summoned his advisers13 and said to them, “One of us must be helping the king of Israel.”14 12 One of his advisers said, “No, my master, O king. The prophet Elisha who lives in Israel keeps telling the king of Israel the things you say in your bedroom.” 13 The king15 ordered, “Go, find out where he is, so I can send some men to capture him.”16 The king was told, “He is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent horses and chariots there, along with a good-sized army.17 They arrived during the night and surrounded the city.

15 The prophet’s18 attendant got up early in the morning. When he went outside there was an army surrounding the city, along with horses and chariots. He said to Elisha,19 “Oh no, my master! What will we do? 16 He replied, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.”20 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that21 the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As they approached him,22 Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike these people23 with blindness.”24 The Lord25 struck them with blindness as Elisha requested.26 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the right road or city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you’re looking for.” He led them to Samaria.27

20 When they had entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open their eyes, so they can see.” The Lord opened their eyes and they saw that they were in the middle of Samaria.28 21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Should I strike them down,29 my master?30 22 He replied, “Do not strike them down! You did not capture them with your sword or bow, so what gives you the right to strike them down?31 Give them some food and water, so they can eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he threw a big banquet32 for them and they ate and drank. Then he sent them back33 to their master. After that no Syrian raiding parties again invaded the land of Israel.

The Lord Saves Samaria

24 Later King Ben Hadad of Syria assembled his entire army and attacked34 and besieged Samaria.35 25 Samaria’s food supply ran out.36 They laid siege to it so long that37 a donkey’s head was selling for eighty shekels of silver38 and a quarter of a kab39 of dove’s droppings40 for five shekels of silver.41

26 While the king of Israel was passing by on the city wall, a woman shouted to him, “Help us, my master, O king! 27 He replied, “No, let the Lord help you. How can I help you? The threshing floor and winepress are empty.”42 28 Then the king asked her, “What’s your problem?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Hand over your son; we’ll eat him today and then eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son and ate him. Then I said to her the next day, ‘Hand over your son and we’ll eat him.’ But she hid her son! 30 When the king heard what the woman said, he tore his clothes. As he was passing by on the wall, the people could see he was wearing sackcloth under his clothes.43 31 Then he said, “May God judge me severely44 if Elisha son of Shaphat still has his head by the end of the day!45

32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house with the community leaders.46 The king47 sent a messenger on ahead, but before he arrived,48 Elisha49 said to the leaders,50Do you realize this assassin intends to cut off my head?”51 Look, when the messenger arrives, shut the door and lean against it. His master will certainly be right behind him.”52 33 He was still talking to them when53 the messenger approached54 and said, “Look, the Lord is responsible for this disaster!55 Why should I continue to wait for the Lord to help?

16:1tn Heb “the sons of the prophets.” 26:1tn Heb “sit before you.” 36:1tn Heb “narrow, tight.” 46:5tn Heb “iron.” 56:5tn Or “ah.” 66:6tn Heb “man of God” (also in v. 9). 76:6tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 86:8tc The verb form used here is difficult to analyze. On the basis of the form נְחִתִּים (nÿkhitim) in v. 9 from the root נָחַת (nakhat), it is probably best to emend the verb to תִּנְחְתוּ (tinkhÿtu; a Qal imperfect form from the same root). The verb נָחַת in at least two other instances carries the nuance “go down, descend” in a military context. For a defense of this view, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 72. 96:8sn The advisers would have mentioned a specific location, but the details are not significant to the narrator’s purpose, so he simply paraphrases here. 106:10tn The vav + perfect here indicates action contemporary with the preceding main verb (“sent”). See IBHS 533-34 §32.2.3e. 116:10tn Heb “and the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God spoke to him, and he warned it and he guarded himself there, not once and not twice.” 126:11tn Heb “and the heart of the king of Syria was stirred up over this thing.” 136:11tn Heb “servants.” 146:11tn Heb “Will you not tell me who among us [is] for the king of Israel?” The sarcastic rhetorical question expresses the king’s suspicion. 156:13tn Heb “he” (also a second time in this verse); the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 166:13tn Heb “Go and see where he [is] so I can send and take him.” 176:14tn Heb “heavy force.” 186:15tn Heb “man of God’s.” 196:15tn Heb “his young servant said to him.” 206:16tn Heb “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 216:17tn Heb “and he saw, and look.” 226:18tn Heb “and they came down to him.” 236:18tn Or “this nation,” perhaps emphasizing the strength of the Syrian army. 246:18tn On the basis of the Akkadian etymology of the word, M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 74) translate “blinding light.” HALOT 761 s.v. סַנְוֵרִים suggests the glosses “dazzling, deception.” 256:18tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 266:18tn Heb “according to the word of Elisha.” 276:19map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. 286:20tn Heb “and they saw, and look, [they were] in the middle of Samaria.” 296:21tn Heb “Should I strike them down? I will strike them down.” In the Hebrew text the first person imperfect form is repeated; the first form has the interrogative he prefixed to it; the second does not. It is likely that the second form should be omitted as dittographic or that the first should be emended to an infinitive absolute. 306:21tn Heb “my father.” The king addresses the prophet in this way to indicate his respect. See 2 Kgs 2:12. 316:22tn Heb “Are [they] ones you captured with your sword or your bow (that) you can strike (them) down?” 326:23tn Or “held a great feast.” 336:23tn Heb “they went back.” 346:24tn Heb “went up.” 356:24map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. 366:25tn Heb “and there was a great famine in Samaria.” 376:25tn Heb “and look, [they] were besieging it until.” 386:25tn Heb “eighty, silver.” The unit of measurement is omitted. 396:25sn A kab was a unit of dry measure, equivalent to approximately one quart. 406:25tn The consonantal text (Kethib) reads, “dove dung” (חֲרֵייוֹנִים, khareyonim), while the marginal reading (Qere) has “discharge” (דִּבְיוֹנִים, divyonim). Based on evidence from Akkadian, M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 79) suggest that “dove’s dung” was a popular name for the inedible husks of seeds. 416:25tn Heb “five, silver.” The unit of measurement is omitted. 426:27tn Heb “From where can I help you, from the threshing floor or the winepress?” The rhetorical question expresses the king’s frustration. He has no grain or wine to give to the masses. 436:30tn Heb “the people saw, and look, [there was] sackcloth against his skin underneath.” 446:31tn Heb “So may God do to me, and so may he add.” 456:31tn Heb “if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat stays on him today.” 466:32tn Heb “and the elders were sitting with him.” 476:32tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 486:32tn Heb “sent a man from before him, before the messenger came to him.” 496:32tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 506:32tn Heb “elders.” 516:32tn Heb “Do you see that this son of an assassin has sent to remove my head?” 526:32tn Heb “Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?” 536:33tn The Hebrew text also has “look” here. 546:33tn Heb “came down to him.” 556:33tn Heb “Look, this is a disaster from the Lord.”