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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

2 Kings 4

 

 

Introduction

2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23. Stories about Elisha as a Wonder-Worker.—The miracles of Elisha fill a considerable part of the early chapters of 2 K. They are mostly beneficent in character, and this prophet was evidently more in touch with the people than his stern predecessor. There is no reason to confine these tales to the reign of Jehoram, because the death of that king is recorded later in the book. The king of Israel is not mentioned by name, and was evidently on good terms with the prophet, which could hardly be expected of Jehoram. Probably some of the occurrences, especially in the Syrian wars, belong to the age of Jehu's dynasty. The biography of Elisha in 2 K. consists of 2 Kings 2:1-25, 2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23, 2 Kings 8:1-15, 2 Kings 13:14-21. In 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 10:31 Elisha is the leading prophet, but the source seems to be mainly some chronicle of the northern kingdom.


Verses 1-7

2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23. Stories about Elisha as a Wonder-Worker.—The miracles of Elisha fill a considerable part of the early chapters of 2 K. They are mostly beneficent in character, and this prophet was evidently more in touch with the people than his stern predecessor. There is no reason to confine these tales to the reign of Jehoram, because the death of that king is recorded later in the book. The king of Israel is not mentioned by name, and was evidently on good terms with the prophet, which could hardly be expected of Jehoram. Probably some of the occurrences, especially in the Syrian wars, belong to the age of Jehu's dynasty. The biography of Elisha in 2 K. consists of 2 Kings 2:1-25, 2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23, 2 Kings 8:1-15, 2 Kings 13:14-21. In 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 10:31 Elisha is the leading prophet, but the source seems to be mainly some chronicle of the northern kingdom.

2 Kings 4:1-7. Multiplication of the Widow's Oil to Pay a Debt.—This is like Elijah's miracle at Zarephath (1 Kings 18:8 ff.): The oil is sold, and the children of the prophet's widow are saved from being sold as slaves. The prophetic communities were not monastic in the sense of being celibate; such an idea was repugnant to the ancient Hebrew. Isaiah's wife is called "the prophetess" (Isaiah 8:3). Perhaps both Elijah and Elisha were unmarried, but there can be no proof of this.


Verses 8-37

2 Kings 4:8-37. Elisha and the Shunammite Woman.—This gives one of the most delightful pictures of rural life in ancient Israel. It describes the kindly hospitality of the great lady of Shunem, the accommodation provided—a "chamber with walls" (mg.) and furniture—no makeshift arrangement, but such as befitted an honoured guest; the description of the boy's death, her drive from Shunem to Carmel to the prophet, Elisha's behaviour, as revealing his naturally considerate demeanour, is vividly portrayed. More than one expression recalls the Elijah story (cf. 1 Kings 18:26 with 2 Kings 4:31, and 1 Kings 18:42 with 2 Kings 4:33). Shunem (2 Kings 4:8) is where the Philistines encamped opposite Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). It is about 5 miles from Jezreel, and 20 or more from Carmel (2 Kings 4:25), where Elisha usually abode. Elisha is evidently on friendly terms with the king (2 Kings 4:13), which shows that the incidents are later than the destruction of Ahab's sons. The independence of the lady may be compared with that of Nabal (1 Samuel 25:10) and Naboth (1 Kings 21). We have (2 Kings 4:23) one of the rare hints in this book of the religious observances of the time; "the new moon or the sabbath" (pp. 101f.) was considered a suitable occasion to go to a prophet, even though as long a journey ware necessary as from Shunem to Carmel (Amos 8:5, Hosea 2:11). There are some interesting illustrations of this chapter in the NT—e.g. the prohibition of a messenger on urgent business to salute anybody (2 Kings 4:29; cf. Luke 10:4), the furniture of the prophet's chamber, bed, and lampstand (Mark 4:21). Shunem was near to Nain, where our Lord raised the widows son (Luke 7:11).

2 Kings 4:31. The bones of the dead Elisha (2 Kings 13:21*) have more life-giving virtue than the prophet's staff in the hands of the living Gehazi.—A. S. P.]


Verses 38-44

2 Kings 4:38-44. Two Minor Miracles of Elisha.—The "death" (poison) in the pot healed and the feeding of a hundred prophets. The bread of the firstfruits (2 Kings 4:42) was by the Law the property of the priests (Numbers 18:13, Deuteronomy 18:4). Here the loaves and ears of corn are offered to prophets. In the Christian Teaching of the Twelve Apostles the prophets are to be given of the firstfruits, "for they are your priests." There is no similar instance in the OT.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 4:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-kings-4.html. 1919.

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