2 Kings Chapter 8

Elisha was the prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the time of the king Jehoram. He had performed several miracles which have been recorded. One of those miracles was to bring a child back to life (see 2 Kings 4:18-37). His mother was a Shunammite woman who had provided a bed and food for Elisha out of the kindness of her heart. This chapter tells more of her, and begins:

1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
2 And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
3 And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land.
4 And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.
5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried 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.
6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.

Elisha told the Shunamite woman to take her family and leave the land to dwell anywhere else, because there was going to be a famine for seven-years. She heeded the prophet and took her family and all who lived in her house, to the land of the Philistines. They remained there for seven years and then she returned and desired of the king, to reclaim her home and land. The king asked Gehazi, who served with Elisha, to tell him the miracles and work of Elisha. Gehazi told him about the time when Elisha brought the woman’s son back to life. It was at this time, that the woman asked for her home and land to be restored to her. Gehazi told the king that this was the woman and her son, whom Elisha had raised. The king asked the woman about this, and when she told him, he had one of his officers restore all that was hers, including all the crops that had grown during her time in the land of the Philistines.

7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.
8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Ben-hadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the Lord hath shewed me that he shall surely die.
11 And he settled his countenance steadfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.
12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
13 And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.
14 So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest surely recover.
15 And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead.

Elisha traveled to Damascus. Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, was sick and heard that Elisha was in Damascus. He told his servant, Hazael, to take a gift to Elisha and to ask if the king would ever recover from his sickness. His servant obeyed and Elisha told him to return and tell the king that he would recover, but the Lord had revealed that he would die. Then Hazael had to compose himself, and Elisha cried. Hazael asked why he cried and Elisha told him that he knew the evil that the man would do to the people of Israel. He knew that he would destroy the protection of their cities with fire and kill their children and pregnant women. Hazael was taken back by this and asked how this would be, as he was a servant. Elisha told him that it had been revealed that he would become king of Syria. The revelation that he would become king, had been given to Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:15, 17) and Elisha had been made known of horrible things that would eventually come to his people by the work of Hazael. Hazael left and went to Ben-hadad. He told him that he would recover. Then the next day, Hazael covered the king’s face with a cloth dipped in water, and he died. Hazael became the king, just as Elisha had said.

16 And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.
17 Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.
19 Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children.

As Joram reigned in Israel, Jehoshaphat of Judah died and his son Jehoram reigned in Judah. He was king for 8 years. He ruled in wickedness, just a Ahab and his family, because he married Ahab’s daughter. However, the Lord did not destroy Judah, because of the covenant made with David.

20 In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.
21 So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents.
22 Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time.
23 And 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?
24 And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.

The land of Edom separated from Judah and raised their own king. This was the fulfillment of another revelation, which had been given through the patriarchal blessing of Esau (see Genesis 27:40). Joram took an army with him by night, and fought the Edomites. They fled to their homes, but there continued to be wars between them and Judah. In the Bible Dictionary, it says that the land of Edom had a great hatred for Israel and vice versa. Also at this time, Libnah revolted. Joram died and Ahaziah became king.

25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign.
26 Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.
27 And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab.

Ahaziah only reigned for one year over Judah, at the age of 22. He ruled in wickedness, just as Ahab had done, because he was married into the family of Ahab.

28 And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramoth-gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.
29 And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given 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.

Joram and Ahaziah gathered together, to go to war against the Syrians, but the Syrians wounded Joram. He left to heal from his wounds, and Ahaziah went to see him.

There does not seem to be much in the way of positive happenings in this portion of the story of Israel and Judah. There are lessons to be learned from the wars and contentions that wicked leadership brings upon a people. Both of these kingdoms were dwelling in unrighteousness and neither was at peace with other nations. In the past, those rulers who feared the Lord and served in righteousness, had been blessed with times of peace and prosperity. However at this point, Israel suffered from famine which would have been hard to bear. The famine was called by the Lord, or allowed to be something that was inflicted upon the people, possibly because of their wickedness and need for humbling and turning back to the Lord. The only positive thing, was the example of the Shunammite woman who continued to have faith in the words of the prophet. She had the blessing of being warned of life-changing difficulties, and heeded the warning. Through this choice, her family was preserved and eventually able to return to their land without suffering the ill effects of famine. We too can experience the blessings, such as with the Shunammite woman, or the difficulties of a contentious life, based on the choices we make to live righteously or unrighteously.

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