2 KINGS CHAPTER 8.
Hazael King of Syria, Jehoram and Ahaziah in Judah.
ELISHA’S POWERFUL INFLUENCE AT COURT. — V. 1. Then spake Elisha, more exactly, he had spoken, for this incident had happened some years before, unto the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn, journeying to any country where the famine would not be so severe; for the Lord hath called for a famine, and it shall also come upon the land seven years. V. 2. And the woman, apparently a widow at that time, arose, and did after the saying of the man of God; and she went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines, which was near, and whose fertile lands ‘vere usually not struck so heavily with scarcity, seven years. V. 3. And it came to pass at the seven years’ end that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines; and she went forth to cry unto the king, the chief judge, the highest court, for her house and for her land. Her property had either come into the possession of the crown, or some persons had illegally established themselves in the possession of her inheritance. V.4. And the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done, he was anxious to know more about the personal life of the great prophet. V. 5. And it came to pass, by the direction of God, as he was telling the king how he, Elisha, had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life cried to the king for her house and for her land, her plea was brought to the king’s attention at just this opportune moment. And Gehazi said, My lord, 0 king, this is the woman and this is her son, who had accompanied his mother, whom Elisha restored to life. V. 6. And when the king asked the woman, she told him, she made her complaint. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, giving the adjustment of her case into the hands of one of his eunuchs, saying, Restore all that was hers, all her property, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now; she was to receive an amount of grain and produce equal to the full crop borne by her fields during her absence. The king had been so impressed with the recital of Elisha’s deeds that he at least showed the woman the justice which she demanded. In a similar way even hardened sinners are occasionally stirred by evident works of God and try to do right for a time. But if one has become accustomed to sin and disobedience, it is only true repentance which is able to work a renewal of heart.
HAZAEL ANOINTED KING. — V.7. And Elisha came to Damascus, the capital of Syria; and Benhadad, the king of Syria, was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither, he had reached tile district in which the city was located. V. 8. And the king said unto Hazael, one of his high officers, perhaps even commander-in-chief of the army, Take a present in thine hand and go, meet the man of God, whose fame had been spread far and wide, and enquire of the Lord by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? The question was probably intended to convey the request as well that the prophet should pray for the restoration of his health. V. 9. So Hazael went to meet him and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, the choicest products which the city afforded, forty camels’ burden, thus making a very impressive display of tile proposed gift, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad, king of Syria, hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? V. 10. And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover, literally, “Not wilt thou live”; howbeit, the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die, not, indeed, of this disease, but by violence. V. 11. And he settled his countenance steadfastly until he was ashamed. If this is said of Elisha, it means that he fixed such a piercing look upon Hazael, showing that he knew of the ambition and treachery by which he intended to murder his master that Hazael shrank from the searching look. If Hazael is the subject, it means that he did not so much as move one muscle of his face, although he realized that Elisha knew his wickedness. And the man of God wept, since the prophetic Spirit revealed to him what would happen to his countrymen in the future. V. 12. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel, after his accession to the throne. Their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child, practicing all the cruelties of the most bitter wars. Cp. chap. 10, 32. 33; 13, 3. 4. 7. 22. V. 13. And Hazael, a hypocrite and actor, said, But what, is thy servant a dog, a lowly, contemptible person, that he should do this great thing, wield such a mighty power? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath showed me that thou shalt be king over Syria, a statement which revealed the secret, ambitious plans of Hazael. V. 14. So he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest surely recover, an answer which did not accord with the truth and was purposely framed to lull Benhadad into security. V. 15. And it came to pass on the morrow that he took a thick cloth, a heavy, woven coverlet, and dipped it in water, which increased its heaviness still more, and spread it on his face so that he died. And Hazael reigned in his stead, usurping the throne. Note: It is God who directs the affairs of this world, even when wickedness apparently is in power; for the punishments which strike the unrepentant sinners serve to emphasize the government of the one Lord on high.
THE REIGN OF JEHORAM AND OF AHAZIAH. — V. 16. And in the fifth year of Joram, the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign, being coregent with his father for two years. V. 17. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem, six of these alone. V. 18. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, in all the idolatrous wickedness which they practiced, as did the house of Ahab; for the daughter of Ahab was his wife, the evil of mixed marriages being apparent here also; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. V. 19. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David His servant’s sake, He did not want it to lose its existence as a nation, as He promised him to give him alway a light and to his children, namely, by keeping his descendants on the throne. Nevertheless, the country had to pay dearly for the sin of its king. V. 20. In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, regaining its independence, and made a king over themselves. V. 21. So Joram went over to Zair, a fortified city of Idumea, and all the chariots with him, the full strength of his army; and he rose by night and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, who were threatening to take him and his whole army captive, and the captains of the chariots. And the people, that is, the Judean soldiers, fled into their tents, to their homes, barely escaping an utter defeat. V. 22. Yet, and so it happened that, Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah, an ancient royal city of the Canaanites, in the Plain of Judah, near the frontier of Philistia, revolted at the same time. So Judah was losing in prestige and power right along. V. 23. And the rest of the acts of Joram and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? V. 24. And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers In the city of David, being given an honorable burial; and Ahaziah (or, Azariah), his son, reigned in his stead. V. 25. In the twelfth year of Joram, the son of Ahab, king of Israel, did Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, begin to reign. V. 26. Two and twenty years old was Ahaziali when he began to reign, he being the youngest son of Jehoram, 2 Chron. 21, 17; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter, that is, the granddaughter, of Omri, king of Israel, who is here mentioned because he was the founder of the royal house to which the queen-mother belonged. V. 27. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, in idolatrous wickedness, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the house of Ahab; for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab, and therefore under the influence of the unspeakable Jezebel. V. 28. And he went with Joram, the son of Ahab, to the war against Hazael, king of Syria, in Ramoth-gilead, the fortified city in the country east of Jordan, which Ahab had already tried to recover; and the Syrians wounded Joram, after, having taken possession of the city once more, chap. 9, 14. V. 29. And King Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel, his summer residence, of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, that is, the Ramoth in the country of Gilead, when he fought against Hazael, king of Syria. And Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, went down to see Joram, the son of Ahab, his brother-in-law, in Jezreel, because he was sick, suffering from the wounds which lie had received, the armies meanwhile remaining in the field. When men ignore and reject the blessings of God and despise His mercies, God shows them that He is very well able to punish them severely, to let justice take its course in their case.