Elisha advises the Shunamitess to avoid the famine. Mini-Article: "Who Were the Philistines?" The Shunamitess comes before the king just as Gehazi spoke of her.
Elisha in Damascus. Assassination of Ben-Hadad and ascension of Hazael. Joram of Judah defeats the Edomites. Ahaziah becomes King of Judah. Joram-Jehoram reigns over Israel and is defeated by Aram."> 2-Kings. Chapter 8. The Syrian Army is Flees Miraculously

The Second Book of Kings
Chapter Eight

2-Kings. Chapter 8.
Elisha advises the Shunamitess to avoid the famine.

"Who Were the Philistines?"

The Shunamitess comes before the king just as Gehazi spoke of her.
Elisha in Damascus. Assassination of Ben-Hadad and ascension of Hazael. Joram of Judah defeats the Edomites. Ahaziah becomes King of Judah. Joram-Jehoram reigns over Israel and is defeated by Aram.


Discussion Group
Contents by Subject Research

Site Map
Contents in Alphabetical Order
This Site


2 Kings 8

 [2-Kings 8:1] Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, 'Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the LORD has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.'

"No friends like old friends", they say.
The lady in question consulted with her husband and then provided Elisha with a furnished room of his own in some type of attic.
In return Elisha prayed that she should conceive and she did. When her son got sick and died, Elisha saved him. Now, in time of famine Elisha warns her beforehand and so she moves away in time. We were told at the beginning (when she first spoke about helping Elisha) that her husband was already old.
She is now not spoken of together with her husband. Perhaps he had passed away in the meantime even though she is not referred to as a widow.
The Commentary Me-am Lo'ez says that the famine spoken of here is the same one that Samaria suffered from when  it was under siege in the previous chapter.
This possibility actually adds to the possibilities of the previous chapter. Perhaps there had been famine in Israel and the Aramaeans (Syrians) took advantage of it by laying siege to Samaria? Perhaps they had brought extra food with them from Aram in order to entice the starving Israelites into surrendering?

[2-Kings 8:2]  So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years.

[2-Kings 8:3] It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.

Apparently squatters had taken possession of her house and land and she need help to get them out.

Who Were the Philistines?

The Shunamite woman had gone to live in the Land of the Philistines. Samson had also been very friendly with the Philistines. The Philistines were ultimately assist the Assyrians in transferring Israelites overseas.
See our article:
Exile of Ten Tribes of Israel to the West by Sea
The Philistines were mainly of Canaanite culture but they also show Minoan and Mycenean (Greek-type) infusions.

Nachmanides (Deuteronomy 2:10) speaks at length concerning the Philistines.
The Caphtorim (ancestors of the Philstines) were related to the Egyptians [Egypt=Mitsraim]. The Caphtorim came from Caphtor (Cyprus? ) and exterminated (Deuteronomy 2: 23) part of the Avim or Avites while intermixing with those who mremained.
Nachmanides says that the Avites were the same as or closely associated with the Hivites and Horites and Rephaim who were all Canaanites. He suggests that the names for these different peoples could sometimes interchange with each other.

[Deuteronomy 2: 23] And the Avim [Avites], who dwelt in villages as far as Gaza ?the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and dwelt in their place.
The Caphtorim killed off some of the Avites but later intermixed with those that remained to form the Philstines.

[Joshua 13:3]...the five lords of the Philistines, the Gazites, the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites;
This shows the Avites included amongst the Philistines.

[Genesis 10:13] Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim,

[Genesis 10:14]  Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim).
[Genesis 10:15] Canaan begot
Sidon his firstborn, and Heth;

[Genesis 10:16] the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite;

[Genesis 10:17] the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite;

[Genesis 10:18] the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed.

[Genesis 10:19] And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

Thus shows the interrelationship of Pathrusim, Casluhim, Philistines and Caphtorim and all of them traceable to the ancestor of Mitsraim (Egypt).

There was also a certain overlaps between the Philistines and the Canaanite-Phoenicians of Tyre, cf.
[Joel 3:4] Indeed, what have you to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia?

See also:
[Jeremiah 47: 4] Because of the day that comes to plunder all the Philistines,  To cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains; For the LORD shall plunder the Philistines, The remnant of the country of Caphtor.
This shows a connection between the Philistines and the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon. It also connects the Philistines with Caphtor meaning Crete, Cyprus, and areas on the Syrian coast.
[Amos 9:7] Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, The Philistines from Caphtor...?

The Shunamite woman went to live for seven years amongst the Philistines.
Both the Philistines and Phoenicians were sea-going peoples.
Abarbanel claimed to have seen ancient records that identified the Philistines with the Genoans and Venetians of Italy.

[2-Kings 8:4] Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, 'Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done.'

[2-Kings 8:5] Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And
Gehazi said, 'My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.'

This often happens.
We all know the expression, "Speak of the devil [and he doth appear!]"
In Yiddish they say:
"We should have talked about the Messiah,"
There is even a Wikipedia entry about it with a list of languages in which well-known expressions recall the phenomenon.

We have all experienced this at some time or other. The conversation turns to someone you may not have thought of for years and then the person suddenly appears!

[2-Kings 8:6]  And when the king asked the woman, she told him.
So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, 'Restore all that was hers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now.'

[2-Kings 8:7] Then Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, 'The man of God has come here.'

Elisha went to Damascus. By "Damascus" we mean a city in North-east Syria near the present border with Iraq and not the present day Damascus though the the term "Damascus" may have been applied to both of them.

See the region of Al-Hasakah and the Khabur River on the accompanying maps.
All the present-day region now known as Syria was once ruled over by Israelites and is destined to be settled by Israelites. The Return of Ephraim will be instrumental in bringing this about, see: Zechariah 10:10, Micah 7:14.

We will see that Elisha  was about to anoint Hazael as King of Aram (Syria).
This is interesting. Elijah had been commanded to anoint Hazael over Syria, Jehu over Israel, and Elisha as prophet.

# Then the LORD said to him: Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria [1-Kings 19:15] 
 # Also you shall anoint
Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place [1-Kings 19:16] .

In practice Elijah had only appointed Elisha. In his turn Elisha did not exactly anoint Hazael: He only told him that he was to be king and this apparently was inspiration enough for Hazael to take the kingship for himself. Soo too, Elisha was not to anoint Jehu but rather sent one of the Sons of the Prophets to do so (2-Kings 9:1).

Different explanations have been offered for the apparent lack of consistency in this episode. Radak [1-Kings 19:16] says that at first it would seem that the commandment was in order of procedure: First go to the Wilderness of Damascus [1-Kings 19:15], than anoint Hazael over Syria; then anoint Jehu over Israel; then make Elisha your replacement. Elijah indeed set out via the Wilderness of Damascus but felt inspired to make a detour and the first person he encountered was Elisha. Consequently he understood that Elisha must be appointed first and he would carry out or cause to be carried out the remaining commands.

[2-Kings 8:8]  And the king said to Hazael, 'Take a present in your hand, and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, ''Shall I recover from this disease?''

We see that Elisha was well-known in Damascus and through him the name of God Almighty was respected and feared.

[2-Kings 8:9]   So Hazael went to meet him and took a present with him, of every good thing of Damascus, forty camel-loads; and he came and stood before him, and said, 'Your son Ben-Hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, "Shall I recover from this disease?"'

Elisha say the Sages had arrived accompanied by his students, the Sons of the Prophets. They were tired and hungry from the journey so Elisha accepted the gift. He had not taken anything from Naaman (2-Kings 5:16) when he cured him of leprosy since this had been done directly from Heaven. Now however , the situation was more down to earth and could be related to accordingly. The pupils of Elisha were hungry and Hazael brought them food. The very reason for his coming to that place was for the sake of Hazael so it was only fair that he allow Hazael to bear the cost.

[2-Kings 8:10]    And Elisha said to him, 'Go, say to him, "You shall certainly recover." However the LORD has shown me that he will really die.'

The question of Ben Hadad was, "Shall I recover from this disease?"' The word translated as " Shall I recover" in Hebrew is "Ha-achyeh" or literally "shall I live?"

The answer was literally, ", 'Go, say [Read as "to him"][Written as: "No"], "You shall live." In the Hebrew original the word translated as "to him" is written as LO [with an aleph] i.e. NO but read as "lo" [with a vav] meaning "to him". There are many cases of this in the Hebrew Bible and usually the intention is that BOTH possible meanings are applicable at one and the same time.

In short, the Hebrew here may be read as saying:
# Say to him: No, [you will not die from this sickness], you will surely live. But God has shown me he will die. #
In other words,
Give him an ambiguous answer from  which he may understand that he will live whereas in fact he will die but not from the sickness. 

[2-Kings 8:11]   Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept.

Elisha was a man of God, a prophet. He cried for the Israelite nation. Concern for the Israelite Nations including Judah should be a mark of all they who fear the Almighty.

By "fear of the Almighty" we mean wishing to do the will of God and fearing not succeeding in doing so.

[2-Kings 8:12]    And Hazael said, 'Why is my lord weeping?'
He answered, 'Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.'

[2-Kings 8:13]     So Hazael said, 'But what is your servant; a dog, that he should do this gross thing?'
Elisha answered, 'The LORD has shown me that you will become king over Syria.'

This verse as rendered in the NKJV is badly translated in my opinion.

It should preferably be rendered:

[2-Kings 8:13]    So Hazael said, 'But your servant is only a dog! How will he be able to do such a great thing?'
Elisha answered, 'The LORD has shown me you, king over Syria.'

In other words Hazael despite his obvious respect for Elisha and the God of Israel still considered Israel his enemy. The concept of destroying Israel was not strange to him. He had evidently had day-dreams of it. He considered it a great and might thing to accomplish. His surprise emanated from he himself being considered "worthy" to carry it out.

There are Jew-haters and anti-Israelites like that. They admire us, identify with us, think like us, yet deep within their heart they would like to destroy us.

Jewish History knows cases of religious leaders, scholars, and politicians who were once very pro-Jewish but when they obtained positions of influence turned against Judah.

Cases in the opposite direction are also known of, i.e. anti-Jewish individuals who changed their mind and became champions of the Jewish People.

[2-Kings 8:14] Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, 'What did Elisha say to you?' And he answered, 'He told me you would surely recover.'

Elisha had said in effect that the King of Aram (Syria) would not die from his sickness but from other causes.

[2-Kings 8:15]  But it happened on the next day that he took a thick cloth and dipped it in water, and spread it over his face so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place.

He assassinated the monarch by means of suffocation.
[2-Kings 8:16]   Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat having been king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign as king of Judah.

Jehoram and Joram are different forms of the same name and used interchangeably. We thus have a king of Israel named Joram reigning at the same time as a king of Judah with the same name. This is a recurring pattern in the history of the two kingdoms and we have spoken of it elsewhere. It is in fact not so uncommon in the history of Kingdoms. In Europe there was Queen Mary of England reigning at about the same time as Mary Queen of Scots and Mary of Guise in France.

We also had Stalin in Russia paralleled by President Eisenhower (Steel-cutter?) in the USA!

[2-Kings 8:17]    He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.

[2-Kings 8:18]    And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.

Here we have the Kingdom of Israel being a bad influence on the Kingdom of Judah. The prophets warn against this.

We in the Brit-Am, Movement are all for closer relations between the Jews, the State of Israel, and Israelite nations. Not only us, but others often say that the State of Israel could learn from Anglo-Saxon practices and attitudes. It is not uncommon for Israeli to say that it is a pity we are not more like the Scandinavians and Swiss, etc. The Israelite Nations could and should also learn much from the Jews.

Nevertheless we all should learn only the good things from and about each other. Unfortunately negative qualities are not lacking.

In the above case the evil influence on the King of Judah was his wife. Women can make or break a man.

The Sages spoke of this at length and have much to say about it. Even though a bad wife can easily corrupt her husband on the whole they said that even a nasty spouse is better than none at all.  This is only a general ruling and there are exceptions.

They also pointed to case where bad men became good ones due to the influence of their wives.

[2-Kings 8:19]     Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of His servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever.

There is a message here beyond d the simple meaning. Judah had sinned and perhaps should have suffered the same fate as was to happen to Israel. Judah however was sparred due to the House of David and the task allotted to it. Members of the House of David may well now be rulers in many of the Israelite nations but it would seem that only through Judah may Descendants David reach their destined potential.

Sons of David as Rulers

cf. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me (Jeremiah 33:22).

[2-Kings 8:20] In his days Edom revolted against Judah's authority, and made a king over themselves.
The word translated here as "revolted" in Hebrew is "pasha" meaning sinned. Edom had a certain obligation to remain faithful to Judah and had rebelled against her.

Yehudah Kiel (Daat Mikra) points out that Edom had been subject to Judah from the time of David (2-Samuel 8:14) and according to the Sages Edon had been ruled by Israel from the time of Saul. The Kingdom of Edom included not only Edomites but other peoples as well such as the Maonites (Amonim), Amalekites , and others. It should also be realized that the terms Edom and Mount Seir though usually applied to an area to the southeast of Judah ALSO were applicable to regions in the north.

The Edomites were a great people. They had a great potential to do good and make a positive contribution as long as they remained subservient to Judah and Israel.

 [2-Kings 8:21]  So Joram went to Zair, and all his chariots with him. Then he rose by night and attacked the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; and the troops fled to their tents.

What exactly happened here is not clear. I would interpret the verse as saying that Joram gained a victory but other opinions exist.

[2-Kings 8:22]  Thus Edom has been in revolt against Judah's authority to this day. And Libnah revolted at that time.

Libnah was an Israelite Settlement near the border with Edom. It was populated by Cohanim (Priests, Joshua 1:29) and Judaeans. Yehudah Kiel suggests that the reason for their rebellion was dissatisfaction with the pagan practices Joram was introducing into Judah.

[2-Kings 8:23] Now 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?

These "Chronicles of the kings of Judah" is not identical the Book of Chronicles that we are familiar with from our Bibles though some of the content may be the same.

[2-Kings 8:24] So Joram rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
[2-Kings 8:25] In the twelfth year of
Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign.

[2-Kings 8:26]
Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, king of Israel.

[2-Kings 8:27] And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab.

[2-Kings 8:28] Now he went with
Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.

[2-Kings 8:29] Then King
Joram went back to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him at Ramah, 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 in Jezreel, because he was sick.

Here we see that Hazael king of Aram (Syria) had already began to war against Israel as predicted by Elisha.


After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
Source of Map:

2-Kings ch.7
2-Kings Contents
2-Kings ch.9