2 Kings 6
Elisha’s strange miracles and adventures
Miracle of the floating iron ax head1The local community of prophets had a complaint about their meeting place, so they took it to their leader, Elisha. They said, “This building is too small now. You can see that for yourself. 2We would like to go to the Jordan River. We’ll find plenty of trees there, and we can cut some down and build a bigger place.” Elisha said, “Yes, go ahead and do that.”
3One of them said, “Would you please come with us?” Elisha said, “Yes, I will.” 4So he went with them to the Jordan River Valley. When they got there, they started cutting down the trees. Elisha was with them at the time.
5But while one prophet was cutting a tree, his iron ax head flew off into the river. “Oh no!” he said, “Master, I borrowed that ax!” 6Elisha said, “Where did it go under?” The prophet pointed to the area. Elisha cut a stick and threw it at that spot in the water. The iron ax head floated to the top. 7Elisha said, “Pick it up.” And the prophet pulled the ax head out of the river.
Elisha gives military intel to his king8One of the kings of Syria declared war on Israel. He ordered his military commanders to set up camp at a certain location. 9Elisha found out about it and he sent word to Israel’s king. Elisha warned him, “Stay away from there because the Syrians are waiting to ambush you there.”
10So, Israel’s king warned his people to avoid the area. Elisha passed along several warnings like this to Israel’s king.
11Syria’s king grew frustrated and angry. He told his commanders, “There’s a traitor among us, and I want to know who!” 12One of the officers said, “Master, it’s not a traitor. It’s a prophet. Elisha has been warning the king of Israel. That prophet knows everything you whisper, even in bed.”
13The king said, “Find out where he is. I’ll have him arrested.” Someone said Elisha was in Dothan.  14The king sent a large army of infantry, with an escort of cavalry and chariots. They surrounded Dothan at night.
Angel army of fire15One of Elisha’s servant stepped outside early the next morning and saw them everywhere. He ran back inside, told Elisha, and said, “Master, what are we going to do?” 16Elisha said, “Don’t worry. We outnumber them.”
17Elisha prayed, “LORD, please let him see what I see.” The LORD did. Suddenly, Elisha’s servant saw the mountains on fire—engulfed in an army of fire, with horses and chariots of fire.
18When the Syrians approached Elisha to arrest him, Elisha prayed, “LORD, please strike them with blindness.” So, the LORD blinded the Syrians.
Elisha captures an army19Elisha told the Syrians, “You came to the wrong town. Follow me. I’ll take you to the man you need to meet.” Elisha led them to Israel’s capital city of Samaria. 20As they walked into town, Elisha prayed, “LORD, let these men see where I’ve taken them.” The LORD let them see they were inside Samaria.
21When Israel’s king saw Syria’s army walk into town, he became frantic and said, “Father, should we kill them? Should we kill them?”
22Elisha said, “No! No! Don’t do that. Would you kill helpless captives you’ve already secured at the sharp end of a sword? Don’t kill them. Feed them. Give them something to eat and drink and then send them home.”  23The king ordered a huge meal for the Syrians. They ate and drank and went home to their king. That’s when Syria stopped sending raiding parties into Israel.
Ben-hadad’s army surrounds Samaria24Later, Syrian King Ben-hadad  marched his army deep into Israel and surrounded the capital city of Samaria, in a siege. 25People trapped inside the city started running out of food. So the food got expensive. A donkey’s head cost two pounds  of silver—which was 80 coins. And a two-ounce cup of dove droppings  cost five silver coins.
Children, cooked and eaten26The king took a walk on the city wall one day and a woman called out to him, “My king, please help me!” 27He said, “If the LORD can’t save you, what can I do? I can’t find grain on a bare threshing floor. I can’t give you a drink of wine from an empty winepress.”
28Then the king said, “What’s wrong?” She said, “See this woman. She told me, ‘Give up your son. We will eat him today and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said, ‘It’s time to give up your son so we can eat him.’ But she hid him.”
30When the king heard that, he ripped his robe right in front of them. After that people could see that he had been in mourning all along, wearing scratchy sackcloth beneath his outer robe.
31The king said, “If I don’t separate Elisha’s head from his shoulders before this day is over, may something even worse happen to me.
32He sent a man to take Elisha’s head. Elisha was sitting in his house, meeting with some men. He told them, “Did you know the murderous king has sent someone to cut off my head? When he gets here, shut the door and push against it so he can’t break in. The king will soon follow him.” 33Elisha was still talking when the king arrived. The king said, “The LORD is behind all this miserable business. How can we possibly trust him any longer.”
A ruin called Tell Dothan is about 10 miles (16 km) north of Samaria, capital of Israel—half a day’s walk. But it was about 100 miles (160 km) south of Damascus, capital of Syria. Dothan’s fame in the Bible comes from Joseph, the son of Jacob. Dothan is where all his big brothers sold him to slave-traders who took him to Egypt (Genesis 37:17).
It might seem odd for a king to release an enemy army, but who would want to argue with a prophet who had blinded them, captured them, and restored their sight? Besides, the army hadn’t come for anyone but Elisha.
King Ben-hadad’s army surrounded Samaria before, when Ahab was King of Israel; it’s reported in 1 Kings 20. But Syria had three kings named Ben-hadad. It’s unclear which Ben-hadad this was, but some scholars say this story fills in more detail about the same story in 1 Kings 20.
The donkey’s head cost 80 shekels in ancient Hebrew weight, which was about two pounds or almost one kilogram. The dove droppings would have filled about a third of a liter and they sold for five shekels, or 57 grams of silver.
Really? Dove poop? Bible scholars say it’s possible. But many say it’s more likely that “dove droppings” is a nickname for something else—perhaps seeds that doves like to eat. Or maybe it refers to beans or a wild vegetable, or anything but dove droppings. We still give demeaning nicknames to some foods. One that’s relevant to this was a World War II army nickname for lumpy hamburger gravy on a slice of bread. Some polite soldiers called it SOS. Others filled in the rest of the letters, to describe something unappetizing that starts with the letter “S” and sits “On a Shingle.” Afraid so.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.