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Elisha and the Invasion

In this story, a king blames God for problems he brought on himself, and a royal official scoffs at God's word through Elisha.

And it came to pass after this that Benhadad, king of Syria, gathered all his host and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, and, behold, they besieged it until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.

And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king.”

And he said, “If the LORD do not help you, whence shall I help you? Out of the barn floor, or out of the winepress?” And the king said to her, “What ails you?”

And she answered, “This woman said to me, 'Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' So we boiled my son and did eat him, and I said to her on the next day, 'Give your son that we may eat him.' And she has hid her son.”

And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes. And he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked; and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. Then he said, “God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.”

But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him. And the king sent a man from before him; but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, “See you how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?”

And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down to him, and he said, “Behold, this evil is of the LORD. What should I wait for the LORD any longer?”

Then Elisha said, “Hear you the word of the LORD. 'Thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel in the gate of Samaria.'”

Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, “Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?”

And he said, “Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat thereof.”

And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate. And they said one to another, “Why sit we here until we die? If we say, 'We will enter into the city,' then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall to the host of the Syrians. If they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.” And they rose up in the twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians, and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there.

For the LORD had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host. And they said one to another, “Lo, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us.” Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight and left their tents and their horses and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.

And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent and did eat and drink and carried thence silver and gold and raiment and went and hid it; and came again and entered into another tent and carried thence also, and went and hid it.

Then they said one to another, “We do not well. This day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace. If we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us. Now therefore come that we may go and tell the king's household.”

So they came and called to the porter of the city; and they told them, saying, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied and asses tied and the tents as they were.”

And he called the porters; and they told it to the king's house within.

And the king arose in the night and said to his servants, “I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore are they 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.'”

And one of his servants answered and said, “Let some take, I pray you, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it; behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed) and let us send and see. They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, “Go and see.”

And they went after them to Jordan, and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king.

And the people went out and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.

And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate. And the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him.

And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, “Two measures of barley for a shekel and a measure of fine flour for a shekel shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria.”

And that lord answered the man of God and said, “Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be?” And he said, “Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat thereof.

And so it fell out to him, for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.

(2 Kings 6:24-7:20)

Words that May be New:
Ail: to trouble.
Appoint: to place someone in a job.
Ass: a donkey.
Besiege: to place an army all around a city. The attacking army keeps food and military help from coming into the city until the city gives up.
Cab: an old unit of measurement.
Consume: to eat up or completely destroy.
Chariot: a small, two-wheeled cart pulled by horses. Chariots were often used in war.
Famine: a time when there is not enough food.
Fourscore: an old way of saying the number 80. Each “score” is 20.
Garment: a piece of clothing.
Dung: solid animal wastes.
Elder: a wise, older person. These men would have been the leaders of the city.
Ere: before.
Haste: hurry.
Host: an army.
Leper: One who has leprosy. Leprosy was any of several skin diseases.
Leprous: having leprosy.
Measure: this is a specific unit of measurement from many years ago.
Messenger: One who carries news or information for someone else.
Multitude: a large group of people.
Rend (rent): to tear.
Sackcloth: a course fabric. People wore it as a sign of sadness.
Shekel: An old unit of measurement.
Trode: an old word meaning “walked on.”
Twilight: the time in the morning or evening when it is only partly light.
Uttermost: the place that is farthest away.
Vessel: a dish or container.

People with leprosy were not allowed to stay inside of a town or an army camp. The reason for this law was to keep others from catching the disease. The four men with leprosy were living outside the city wall. They could only come back inside once they became well. Today we use the word leprosy to describe one disease, Hansen's disease, which can only be treated with powerful modern medicines. In Bible times the word leprosy was used for several bad skin diseases. People sometimes got over some of these diseases. There were laws about how to know when they were well.

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