The Second Book of Kings
Chapter Seven

2-Kings. Chapter 7. The Syrian Army Flees Miraculously.
Four Lepers due to the Famine in Samaria decide to turn themselves over to the enemy. They find the Armaians had been seized with panic and fled leaving everything behind them. The Israelite official is trampled in the gate, as prophesied.


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2 Kings 7

[2 Kings 7:1] Then Elisha said, Hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the LORD: Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.
Fine Flour is flour from wheat that has been sieved and worked on more than barley.

[2 Kings 7:2] So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?
And he said, In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.
Windows. In Hebrew "arubot". In the singular this word is "Arubah" and in Modern Hebrew means chimney. The Biblical meaning is close to this and connotes apertures or funnels. The same word is found in Malachi 3:10 where too it is translated as "windows".
Malachi 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
      That there may be food in My house,
      And try Me now in this,
      Says the LORD of hosts,
      If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
      And pour out for you such blessing
      That there will not be room enough to receive it.

[2 Kings 7:3]  Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, Why are we sitting here until we die?
We are not learned in Literature or in the various devices employed by Narrators. Nevertheless it is worth noting from time to time the way the Bible lets certain events unfold before us. Here Scripture does not tell us straight away exactly what happened to the Aramaian (Syrian) army but rather maintains the tension and relates how the event became known and who the discovery involved.
Leprosy is identified nowadays with Hansen's Disease. In Biblical Times the term may have applied to several different maladies. Some variations of these as well as Hansen's Disease were contagious but the degree of danger to the uninfected varied greatly from one case to another.
Strictly speaking Leprosy in Biblical Terms referred to a specific affliction whose symptoms were similar to a physical sickness also known as Leprosy. In the same way as a type of quarantine existed for the spiritual affliction so too was it applied to the physical one with whose symptoms it was similar.
Leviticus 13:46
Numbers 5:1-4
The Sages said that the lepers in question were Gehazi and his three sons. Gehazi had been stricken with leprosy after misrepresenting Elisha and taking a reward from Naaman under false pretences.
Not only Gehazi but also his children had been cursed:
[2-Kings 5:27] Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever. And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.
[2 Kings 7:4]   If we say, We will enter the city, the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.

[2 Kings 7:5]    And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there.

[2 Kings 7:6]     For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!

[2 Kings 7:7]     Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact their tents, their horses, and their donkeys and they fled for their lives.

This panic though it has a natural explanation it has supernatural causes. They were so afraid that they did not even risk taken the time to untie and saddle their equines even though by doing so they would have then been able to make their escape faster. The Almighty wanted to impress upon the Israelites His Providence over them. The camp was left in perfect military order, everything arranged as it should be.  

[2 Kings 7:8]     And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it.
In those days clothing was of a very high quality but apparently very expensive. We often find gifts of clothing etc being emphasized as something of great value.

[2 Kings 7:9]      Then they said to one another, We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the kings household.
First they alleviate their hunger and thirst, then they take gold, silver, and clothing, and only after that they worry about their fellow Israelites! Even then, they seem to worry not so much for the sake of their fellow citizens but for themselves not wanting to be blamed for holding back valuable information. This sounds extremely callous and it is but it also reflects a darker side of human nature that to some degree we all possess. We have an instinct of survival. We also have a sense of communal responsibility. It is however a know phenomenon that people who are outcasts (such as the lepers were) feel less loyalty to their community. This is natural. In the Holocaust there were Jews who helped the Germans kill their fellow Jews. These usually fell into three classes: Intellectuals, apostates, members of the Underworld. Eli Wiesel pointed out that from thousands of known cases of Jews serving officially with the Nazis not one of them was a Rabbi! This does not mean that all the Rabbis acted as they should have but it does say that relatively speaking they were better than the others. There are however cases today of Rabbis who go bad just as there are priests, ministers, doctors, educationalists, etc, who do so as well. We are all human but matters need to be seen in perspective. 

[2 Kings 7:10]  So they went and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, saying, We went to the Syrian camp, and surprisingly no one was there, not a human sound only horses and donkeys tied, and the tents intact.
The four lepers went and told the Guards at the Gate what they had found.

[2 Kings 7:11] And the gatekeepers called out, and they told it to the kings household inside.

[2 Kings 7:12]   So the king arose in the night and said to his servants, Let me now tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.
The King suspected a trap, an ambush. Indeed we find that tricks like this had been used in the past with great success. The Book of Joshua (ch.8) relates how the Israelites pretended to be fleeing from the men of Ai in order to draw them out of the city.

[2 Kings 7:13]   And one of his servants answered and said, Please, let several men take five of the remaining horses which are left in the city. Look, they may either become like all the multitude of Israel that are left in it; or indeed, I say, they may become like all the multitude of Israel left from those who are consumed; so let us send them and see.
Yehudah Kiel (Daat Mikra) suggest that here the narrative may be relating that one of the most important officials spoke and while he was speaking some of the other Advisors also voiced their opinion to strengthen what he was saying. That is why it sounds confused.
Here is how Yehudah Kiel explains what was said:
# Take five of the horses that are left: We should not worry about losing them since they are liable to die of hunger anyway like everybody else.
We also do not have to worry about the riders on the horses since they too are dying of hunger anyway like everyone else is.
[2 Kings 7:14] Therefore they took two chariots with horses; and the king sent them in the direction of the Syrian army, saying, Go and see.
# two chariots with horses # in Hebrew "Recev Susim" which Yehudah Kiel explains to mean here Riders of Horses. This makes more sense. Why two were sent instead of five as suggested or why five were suggested instead of two (that were sufficient) is another matter.

[2 Kings 7:15]  And they went after them to the Jordan; and indeed all the road was full of garments and weapons which the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. So the messengers returned and told the king.

[2 Kings 7:16]   Then the people went out and plundered the tents of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.
This was what Prophet had predicted the day before. The people went to the camp and took food to appease their hunger and goods to meet their needs. Enterprising Capitalist types (such as we found everywhere) took more than they needed and tried to sell their surplus in the market. Since the merchandise was so plentiful and it was free for the taking the only people who would buy anything were those who had already eaten what they took and did not want to walk to far outside the city walls. Produce was therefore suddenly being sold at give-away prices.

[2 Kings 7:17]    Now the king had appointed the officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. But the people trampled him in the gate, and he died, just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him.
The King had sent the official out to make the whole matter a little more regulated and ordered. Many of the people had still not eaten. They were crazed with hunger and rushed through the gate crushing the official to death in the process.
A person should know themself. It happens that when we are thirsty and hungry we get irritable and lack concentration. Our consideration for others is liable to suffer. This is unnecessary. Even if one is on a severe diet you should still eat or drink enough to function normally. So too, if you are overworked, flustered and enormously busy you should still maintain liquid intake and also grab a bite to eat.

[2 Kings 7:18]  So it happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two seahs of barley for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, shall be sold tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria.

[2 Kings 7:19]  Then that officer had answered the man of God, and said, Now look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?
And he had said, In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.

[2 Kings 7:20]  And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate, and he died.
Yehudah Kiel opines that the official in question expressed a "secular" attitude and had denied the workings of Divine Providence. We should realize that miracles happen and that Divine Providence intervenes in the affairs of men and especially those of Israel.

After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
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2-Kings ch.6
2-Kings Contents
2-Kings ch.8