Melachim II Eight: Repetition

A few chapters back, Elisha resurrected a man after his grieving mother approached him. “Now Elisha had spoken to the woman whose son he had revived, saying, ‘Get up and go, you and your household, and sojourn in a place suitable for you to sojourn, for the Lord has decreed a famine, and it is destined to come upon the land for seven years (Kings II 8:1).'” The woman listened to Elisha, because frankly after all of that, who wouldn’t? She and her family go to the land of the Philistines. After the seven year period, she returns home, but she has some complaints about her house and property.

“Now the king was speaking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, ‘Please tell me all the great things that Elisha performed (Kings II 8:4).'” There’s no update as to why this query is being made, but the king is reminded of the revival, and the woman is brought before him. It appears that others took advantage of her property while she was in the land of the Philistines, so the king orders that they be returned to her in full.

This interlude closes, and now Elisha is in Damascus, where Ben-Hadad is sick. “And the king said to Hazael, ‘Take a gift in your hand and go toward the man of God, and inquire of the Lord from him, saying, ‘Will I recover from this illness (Kings II 8:8)?'” Does this mean that Ben-Hadad and Hazael are the same person? Or that Ben-Hadad is the king? From my memory of previous chapters, I believe he’s the king, but then who is Hazael? Anyway, whoever he is, he goes to Elisha. It’s clarified that Ben-Hadad is the king of Aram, on his behalf, Hazael brings tribute. “And Elisha said to him, ‘Go say to him, ‘You will live,’ but the Lord has shown me that he will die (Kings II 8:10).'” This brings about several questions. Why is Elisha giving a false prophecy? And why does he feel the need to explicitly state that it’s false to the messenger?

Hazael transmits the false prophecy. The king dies almost immediately, and Hazael becomes his successor to the throne. There’s a change in the leadership of Israel and Judah as well. This book seems completely non-linear in its narrative, because I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time that Joram and Jehoram take the thrones. The new king of Judah marries a daughter of Ahab, and quickly takes after his father-in-law in terms of his bad actions. “Now the Lord was unwilling to destroy Judah, for the sake of His servant David, as he said to him to give him a kingdom for his children for all times (Kings II 8:19).” Joram eventually dies, and Ahaziah takes the throne. He’s a young king, but ends up also going the way of Ahab. The cyclical nature of this book brings these events around again and again, often with the same players being mentioned. Why do the stories keep coming back around, instead of the more linear nature of the earlier books?


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