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And he said, which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Édom.
So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom : and they fetched a compass * of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.
And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!
But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands t of Elijah.
And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the LORD is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.
And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.
But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him."
And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches.
For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.
And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord : he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.
And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.
And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat-offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border.
* And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood.
And they said, This is blood : the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another : now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.
And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up, and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them : but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.
And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and fe led all the good trees : only in Kir-haraseth & left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.
* Went a round,
† Ministered to.
And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom : but they could not.
Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel : and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.
COMMENT.-Here is another alliance between Jehoshaphat and a king of Israel, but for this the king of Judah is not blamed, perhaps because at this time Jehoram showed signs of improvement, having forsaken Baal, and evidently having far more regard to the Lord and His prophets than his father had displayed. He was a younger man, whom Jehoshaphat might hope to influence, and during this his time of trial he had everything to lead him to put his whole trust in the true God of Israel. During the reign of Ahab, the Moabite king Mesha had paid tribute out of the huge flocks that roamed the fertile hills and vales to the eastward of the Dead Sea; but on Ahab's death he rebelled, and Jehoram entreated the aid of Jehoshaphat to subdue him. The two kings marched through Edom, in order to obtain the aid of the king or viceroy of that country, which was in subjection to Judah, but in the long march through the bare rocky ravines water failed, the three armies were reduced to great distress, and Jehoram began to lament in despair. Jehoshaphat, who had learnt how sure might be his trust in the Lord, inquired for a prophet, and Elisha was brought to him as the attendant and disciple of Elijah. The three kings went to the prophet, but he began by sternly lifting up his witness against the still idolatrous Jehoram, who, however, behaved very differently from his father towards Micaiah, for he threatened not, only again lamented the danger. For the sake of Jehoshaphat alone did Elisha consent to call, as it were, for inspiration by the sound of music. It came, that Spirit of Prophecy, but the command required faith. The thirsty armies were to dig ditches all along the dry, stony valley; and they were promised that without wind or rain they should have water in plenty, and, far more, the enemy be delivered into their hands.
The command was fulfilled, and in the morning at nine o'clock, the hour of the daily sacrifice at the Temple, there was “water in the wilderness, and pools in the desert.” The ditches were filled with
the clear, welcome water, so longed for. It was water to the Israelites, and cheered their thirsty camp ; but as the Moabites advanced to the attack, it shone in the sun as red as blood, and the valley seemed crimson with gore. The Moabites thought it had been as with the great confederation against Jehoshaphat, that the allies had quarrelled and slaughtered one another, and that they had only to spoil the tents and carry home the plunder as Judah had then done; so they rushed unguardedly upon the camp, and were utterly routed and pursued into their own country. There a complete devastation was made, the city of Kir-haraseth on a high hill above the Dead Sea alone remaining Mesha of Moab fought desperately, and at last, when reduced to extremity by Jehoram's savage warfare—felling the fruit-trees, stopping the wells, and making an utter destruction—he tried to win the favour of his god Chemosh, by the sacrifice of his own eldest son. “There was great indignation” is always used to mean God's displeasure; and as Moab was not accursed, but, as a son of Lot, was of kin to Israel, the war ought to have been less deadly and more merciful, and therefore it seems that the dreadful sacrifice lay as a burthen on Israel. Mesha had strong belief in Chemosh. He recorded his revolt from Israel and his recovery of freedom, by favour, as he thought, of Chemosh, the cities he had built, and the battles he had fought, in ancient Hebrew, on a great tablet at his city of Dibon. In 1868 this stone was found by some travellers in perfect preservation, but it was destroyed by the Arabs as soon as they found it was valuable to Europeans. Fragments have been recovered and put together, so as to be most valuable to all who rejoice in one of these ancient witnesses to Scripture history. Almost all the cities whose names have been read are frequently mentioned by the prophets, and the inscription itself shows both the language and the manner of writing used in Palestine when Jehoshaphat was reigning in Judah.
And let us not pass from this wonderful history without remembering that if the Water of Life be not accepted, it brings on us blood-guiltiness.
THE MIRACLES OF THE OIL, THE GOURD, THE BREAD,
AND THE AXE. 2 Kings iv. 1–7, 38—44 ; vi. 1—7. The order of Elisha's miracles as they stand in the Book of Kings has been a little displaced here, in order to keep the longer histories of the Shunammite and of Naaman unbroken. The date is unfixed; it is only clear that they took place in the reign of Jehoram of Samaria, which lasted from 896 to 883.
Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead ; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.
Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels ; borrow not a few.
And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.
So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.
And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.
Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.
And Elisha came again to Gilgal : and there was a dearth in the land ; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage* for the sons of the prophets.
And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred + them into the pot of pottage : for they knew them not.
So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot. * Broth,
And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first-fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.
And his servitor* said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat : for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof.
Só he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.
And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too straitt for us.
Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.
And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.
So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.
But as one was felling a beam, the axe-head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.
And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.
COMMENT.—Some of the Jews say that the widow who cried to Elisha had been the wife of the good Obadiah, who had hid the prophets by fifties in caves during Jezebel's great persecution. At any rate she experienced the truth of the Psalm that declares that the seed of the righteous are never forsaken; though she was almost despairing when she cried out to Elisha. The custom of the whole world, where there was bond-service or slavery, permitted the man who could not pay his debts to be sold, so that his price might be the payment ; and this was not unjust; therefore the law of Moses only modified the custom by enacting
And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold 'unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile :
And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. So that the poor debtor was to be treated as a servant, not a slave, and was necessarily set free and restored to his land at the year of jubilee ; but even thus the misfortune was great, and the poor * Servant.