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Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer ?' Then Elisha said to the king : “Hear ye the word of the Lord ; thus says the Lord, To-morrow 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.' One of Jehoram's officers, the charioteer upon whose hand he leaned, derided the prophecy, and said, “Indeed, the Lord will make windows in heaven !' Elisha replied, • Behold, thou shalt see it with thy eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
At the gate of Samaria sat four leprous men excluded from the town and shunned by their Hebrew brethren. Tormented by hunger, they resolved to throw themselves upon the mercy of the Syrian army; for whether they ventured into the city or stayed without, they had no hope of escaping the fearful death of starvation. They rose early in the twilight, and crept to the Syrian camp. When they came close up to it, they were astonished to find that it was deserted. The vast host of Syria had fled, alarmed by a sudden panic; for they believed that they were about to be attacked by the united troops of Canaan and Egypt, with whom they supposed the Israelites had made an alliance. They had fled, but they had left behind them all their wealth-their flocks and herds, and their tents filled with vessels of silver and gold, and with those numberless objects usually accompanying so large and so splendid an army. The lepers entered one tent and then another, feasted upon the food and wine, and commenced hiding for themselves the valuable articles which they found in abundance. But partly prudence and partly pity made them think of their starving brethren in Samaria, and they hastened back to the gates, where they made a report of all they had seen to the soldiers who kept the watch. The king's household was aroused; the king himself heard the strange tale distrustfully, for he argued that it must be a snare of the Syrians
to tempt the hungry people out of their city to the rich provisions of the camp, and then to seize them and their town as an easy prey.
He sent out some of his servants upon the few horses that were left to him, and bid them examine the ground carefully. The account of the flight of the Syrians proved true, and the way which they had taken was strewn with heavy vessels and with garments, which they had thrown from them in their haste. Then the whole town rushed forth joyously, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians, and plenty and ease were suddenly restored, so that the words of Elisha were literally fulfilled. But Jehoram's charioteer who had mocked the prophecy stood in the gate and was trodden to death by the people.
Before the beginning of the famine Elisha had advised the Shunamite woman who had so hospitably received him, and whose son he had restored to life, to leave Samaria with her household, and to take up her abode in some other place until the return of better times. She had followed his advice, and had gone to dwell in the land of the Philistines. When she came back after seven years, she learnt with dismay that her house and her fields had in her absence been seized by the king's officers. She went to the king to lay before him her complaint. Jehoram was then just speaking with Gehazi, who was relating to him all the miraculous deeds of his master, and especially how he had saved the Shunamite's son. Thus she arrived opportunely, and the king at once ordered that all her property should be given back to her, together with the value of the produce of her lands from the time of her departure.
Elisha did not confine his prophecies to his own people, but we hear of him in the land of Syria, in the city of Damascus, where the king Benhadad lay ill. The monarch, informed of the prophet's presence, commanded Hazael, one of his officers, to take large presents, and to go to Elisha to enquire of him, whether he would recover from
his disease. With a train of forty laden camels, Hazael came to Elisha and gave his master's message.
prophet answered firmly, 'Go say to him, Thou wilt certainly recover : yet the Lord has shown me that he shall surely die.' Having uttered these strange words, he wept. "Why weeps my lord ?' asked Hazael, surprised. “Because I know the evil that thou wilt do to the children of Israel,' answered Elisha ; 'their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children to pieces. Hazael cunningly asked, in apparent amazement, ‘But what is thy servant, a dog, that he should do these great things ?' Then Elisha answered, The Lord has shown me that thou shalt be king of Syria. Hazael returned to his master, told him that he would surely recover, and suffocated him the next day with a wet cloth. The murderer then seized the crown and became king of Syria.
122. JEHU MADE KING OVER ISRAEL.
[2 KINGS IX.) Hazael at once commenced warfare both against Judah and Israel. He advanced to besiege Ramoth in Gilead. The two kings Ahaziah and Jehoram had united their forces to oppose the invader; but Jehoram was wounded during the siege, and was compelled to return to Jezreel, leaving the leadership of the war in the hands of his generals. Among these captains was a valiant and impetuous man of the name of Jehu, celebrated for his swift and furious driving, and to him the prophet Elisha sent one of his disciples with important tidings. When the messenger arrived in Ramoth, the captains of the Hebrew host were all seated together in the camp; he appeared suddenly among them and said, I have an errand to thee, O captain !' Jehu asked, “To which of all of us ?' And he said, “To thee, O captain.' Then the two retired
to a secluded place, and the young prophet drawing a vial of sacred oil from his girdle, poured it over the head of the warrior, proclaiming him in the name of the Lord king over Israel, and commanding him to smite the entire house of Ahab, in order to avenge the prophets of the Lord who had been so cruelly murdered.
Having said these words, the messenger hastened away as mysteriously as he had come.
But Jehu, re-entering the assembly of the captains, told them that he had been anointed king over Israel. The announcement was joyously received; the generals took off their mantles, and placing them under the feet of Jehu, in token of submission, proclaimed by the blast of the trumpet the accession of the new king. Jehu was a crafty as well as a bold man; he knew that he could hold the army in subjection, but that it might be more difficult to assure himself of the loyalty of the cities; so he bade no one leave Ramoth Gilead to carry the news to Jezreel. But he himself sprang into his chariot, and drove off at a wild pace towards the royal residence, whither Ahaziah the king of Judah had just gone to see the sick king. A watchman on the tower saw from afar the fleet horses approaching and gave the alarm. A messenger was despatched to meet the charioteer; as he approached, he said, “Thus says the king, Is it peace ?' But Jehu never paused on his way, and cried out, “What hast thou to do with peace ? turn thou behind me!' Soon afterwards a second messenger was sent with the same question, and he received the same answer, Jehu advancing all the while upon Jezreel. As he came near the walls of the city, the watchman recognised him, and exclaimed, “The driving is like the driving of Jehu, the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously. The two kings of Israel and Judah, mounting their chariots, went out of the city, to oppose the audacious Jehu; they met in the notorious vineyard of Naboth. "Is it peace, Jehu?' asked Jehoram,
Jehu answered, 'What peace, so long as the iniquities of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?' Jehoram fled alarmed, exclaiming, “There is treachery, 0 Ahaziah!' But Jehu, quick and resolute, drew his mighty bow, and as he saw the king turn to flee, he shot an arrow that pierced his heart, so that Jehoram sank down dead in his chariot. “Take him up, and cast him into the field of Naboth!' Jehu sternly commanded, and then started off in pursuit of Ahaziah. This unfortunate monarch was also slain in his flight, but his body was carried to Jerusalem by his servants and there buried.
Then Jehu entered the city of Jezreel, and his chariot drove under the windows of queen Jezebel's palace. She had heard of his approach, and in her own manner had made preparations to receive him. With painted face and gaily decked head she looked forth from the window and called out to Jehu, 'Had Zimri peace who slew his master?' Then he lifted up his face and saw the aged queen, and he exclaimed, “Who is on my side, who ?' Three of her servants, anxious to gain the conqueror's favour, appeared at the window. Throw her down!' cried Jehu. The order was instantly obeyed, Jezebel was dashed out of the window, and her blood was spilt upon the wall, and upon the horses as they trampled her under their hoofs. There Jehu left her, as he went triumphantly into the city to a banquet which had been prepared for him by the citizens to inaugurate his new rank. In the midst of this feast, he bethought himself of Jezebel, and sent out some men to bury her, 'for she was a king's daughter.' But it was too late; the hungry dogs had devoured the body of the queen, and there was nothing left of her but her skull and her feet and the palms of her hands. When the men returned and reported to Jehu what they had seen, he said, “This is the word of the Lord which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saving, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh