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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

2 Kings 4

 

 

Verses 1-44


Various Miracles of Elisha

The miracles related of Elisha in this and the following chapters resemble many of those previously recounted of Elijah. Thus both prophets multiplied the sustenance of a woman in need (2 Kings 4:1-7; 1 Kings 17:8-16); both restored a dead child to life (2 Kings 4:8-27; 1 Kings 17:17-24); both came into conflict with their king on the occasion of a famine (2 Kings 6:24-33; 1 Kings 18); and both brought a violent death upon certain individuals who offended them (2 Kings 2:23-24; 2 Kings 1). But the habits of Elisha were seemingly more social, and his disposition less stern, than were those of his great predecessor: he was a frequenter of cities, was closely associated with the 'sons of the prophets,' and many of the miracles recorded of him are connected with private individuals and incidents of common life. The contrast in this respect which Elisha offered to the ascetic Elijah resembles that which subsisted between our Lord and St. John the Baptist: cp. Matthew 11:18, Matthew 11:19.

The several stories here told of Elisha are somewhat disconnected, the indications of time that occur in them are vague (see 2 Kings 4:8, 2 Kings 4:11, 2 Kings 4:18), and there are a few inconsistencies which are left unexplained by the historian: contrast 2 Kings 6:23 with 2 Kings 6:24 and 2 Kings 5:27 with 2 Kings 8:1-6.

1. To be bondmen] For the sale of an insolvent debtor and his family see Leviticus 25:39, and cp. Nehemiah 5:5.

8. A great woman] i.e. wealthy and influential: cp. 1 Samuel 25:2; 2 Samuel 19:32.

10. A.. chamber.. on the wall] probably an upper chamber, above the ordinary roof. A stool] better, a 'chair'or'seat' (the same word being used of a royal throne). Candlestick] better, 'lampstand': cp. Exodus 25:31.

13. He said unto him, etc.] in the East women were (and are) lightly esteemed, and direct communications were rarely held with them by persons who had a character for sanctity (cp. John 4:27): see 2 Kings 4:27 and 2 Kings 5:10. What is to be done for thee?] Elisha, who, unlike Elijah, seems to have attended the royal court (2 Kings 5:3), offers to use his influence on her behalf.

I dwell.. people] i.e. I live among friends, and therefore do not need special protection against oppression.

16. According to the time of life] RV 'when the time cometh round,' i.e. in the spring of the following year.

19. My head] He had perhaps sustained a sunstroke.

23. Neither new moon, nor sabbath] The Shunammite's husband did not connect his wife's proposed visit to the prophet with the death of his child, but with some religious duty. The new moon (i.e. the first day of the month) and the sabbath were feasts at which the prophets might be asked to preside, as Samuel did at the feast held at the high place of Ramah (1 Samuel 9:12-13).

24. Slack not thy riding] RV 'slacken me not the riding': the servant probably ran on foot beside his mistress.

26. It is well] The purpose of the answer was obviously not to deceive but to dismiss the questioner.

29. Gird up thy loins] The direction was necessary, for the garments were usually worn loose and flowing. Salute him not] To do so would waste time.

Lay my staff] Elisha seems to have thought that as Elijah's mantle had been powerful in his own hand (2 Kings 2:14), so his own staff would be equally potent in the hands of another. But the secret of miracles must be looked for in personalities, not in inanimate things.

35. He returned, etc.] The prophet showed the importunity which should mark all effort to obtain a divine blessing.

38. A dearth] Perhaps the famine related in 2 Kings 8:1-6.

39. A wild vine] not a real vine, but a vine-like plant, usually identified with the bitter cucumber or colocynth, bearing a fruit resembling an orange, which is very bitter in taste.

42. Baal-shalisha] Perhaps the same as the 'land of Shalisha' (1 Samuel 9:4) in the hill-country of Ephraim. The firstfruits] Elisha probably dwelt at a sanctuary (perhaps Gilgal) where firstfruits were required to be presented (Exodus 23:19;). In the husk thereof] RV 'in his sack.'

43. What, should.. men?] cp. the like doubt raised by the disciples of our Lord (John 6:9), and the similar, but even more impressive, sequel.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 4:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/2-kings-4.html. 1909.

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