2 Kings 8:7 MEANING

2 Kings 8:7
(7-15) Elisha's visit to Damascus, and its consequences.

(7) And Elisha came to Damascus.--In the fragmentary condition of the narrative, why he came is not clear. Rashi suggests that it was to fetch back Gehazi, who had fled to the Syrians (!), an idea based upon 1 Kings 2:39, seq. Keil and others think the prophet went with the intention of anointing Hazael, in accordance with a supposed charge of Elijah's. (Comp. 1 Kings 19:15, where Elijah himself is bidden to anoint Hazael). Ewald believes that Elisha retreated to Damascene territory, in consequence of the strained relations existing between him and Jehoram, owing to the latter's toleration of idolatry. Obviously all this rests upon pure conjecture. It is clear from 2 Kings 8:7 that Elisha's visit was not expected in Damascus, and further, that there was peace at the time between Damascus and Samaria. We do not know how much of Elisha's history has been omitted between 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 8:7; but we may fairly assume that a divine impulse led the prophet to Damascus. The revelation, of which he speaks in 2 Kings 8:10; 2 Kings 8:13, probably came to him at the time, and so was not the occasion of his journey.

Ben-hadad . . . was sick.--According to Josephus, on account of the failure of his expedition against Samaria (?).

The man of God.--As if Elisha were well known and highly esteemed in Syria.

Is come hither.--This certainly implies that Elisha had entered Damascus itself.

Verses 7-15. - Elisha's visit to Damascus, and its consequences. It has been usual to connect this visit of Elisha's to Damascus with the commission given to Elijah many years previously, to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria (1 Kings 19:16). But it is certainly worthy of remark that neither is Elijah authorized to devolve his corn-mission on another, nor is he said to have done so, nor is there any statement in the present narrative or elsewhere that Elisha anointed Hazael. It is therefore quite possible that Elisha's journey was wholly unconnected with the command given to Elijah. It may, as Ewald imagines, have been the consequence of disorders and dangers in Samaria, growing out of the divergence of views between Jehoram and the queen-mother Jezebel, who still retained considerable influence over the government; and Elisha may have taken his journey, not so much for the sake of a visit, as of a prolonged sojourn. That he attracted the attention both of Benhadad and of his successor Hazael is not surprising. Verse 7. - And Elisha came to Damascus. It was a bold step, whatever the circumstances that led to it. Not very long previously the Syrian king had made extraordinary efforts to capture Elisha, intending either to kin him or to keep him confined as a prisoner (2 Kings 6:18-19). Elisha had subsequently helped to baffle his plans of conquest, and might be thought to have caused the disgraceful retreat of the Syrian army from the walls of Samaria, which he had certainly prophesied (2 Kings 7:1). But Elisha was not afraid. He was probably commissioned to take his journey, whether its purpose was the anointing of Hazael or no. And Benhadad the King of Syria was sick. Ewald supposes that this "sickness" was the result of the disgrace and discredit into which he had fallen since his ignominious retreat, without assignable reason, from before the walls of Samaria; but Ben-hadad must have been of an age When the infirmities of nature press in upon a man, and when illness has to be expected. He was a contemporary of Ahab (1 Kings 20:1), who had now been dead ten or twelve years. And it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. Elisha seems to have attempted no concealment of his presence. No sooner was he arrived than his coming was reported to Benhadad. The Syrians had by this time learnt to give him the name by which he was commonly known (2 Kings 4:7, 21, 40; 2 Kings 5:20; 2 Kings 6:6, 10; 2 Kings 7:2, 18) in Israel.

8:7-15 Among other changes of men's minds by affliction, it often gives other thoughts of God's ministers, and teaches to value the counsels and prayers of those whom they have hated and despised. It was not in Hazael's countenance that Elisha read what he would do, but God revealed it to him, and it fetched tears from his eyes: the more foresight men have, the more grief they are liable to. It is possible for a man, under the convictions and restraints of natural conscience, to express great abhorrence of a sin, yet afterwards to be reconciled to it. Those that are little and low in the world, cannot imagine how strong the temptations of power and prosperity are, which, if ever they arrive at, they will find how deceitful their hearts are, how much worse than they suspected. The devil ruins men, by saying they shall certainly recover and do well, so rocking them asleep in security. Hazael's false account was an injury to the king, who lost the benefit of the prophet's warning to prepare for death, and an injury to Elisha, who would be counted a false prophet. It is not certain that Hazael murdered his master, or if he caused his death it may have been without any design. But he was a dissembler, and afterwards proved a persecutor to Israel.And Elisha came to Damascus,.... On what account, and when, is not certain, whether to convert Gehazi, as say the Jews (d); or to confirm Naaman in the true religion he professed, for which he might be dismissed from his office, since another man was made general of the Syrian army; or on account of the famine; or rather it may be to anoint, or, however, to declare that Hazael would be king of Syria; see 1 Kings 19:15,

and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; at the time he came thither, where his palace was, and now a Mahometan temple; a very extraordinary building, according to Benjamin the Jew (e):

and it was told him, saying, the man of God is come hither; the famous prophet in Israel, Elisha, through whom Naaman his general had been cured of his leprosy, of whom he had heard so much.

(d) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 47. 1.((e) Itinerar. p. 55.

Courtesy of Open Bible