The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Kings

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2 Kings 6

2Ki 6:1

Vv 1-7: The floating ax-head is perhaps related to Canaanite mythology: El, father of the gods, yields rulership of the gods to Yamm (the god of the sea) -- who is sometimes interchanged with Nahar (the god of the river). Baal is jealous and goes about to kill Yamm/Nahar, after which he succeeds and becomes the ruler. Baal kills Yamm/Nahar by means of two axes -- which fly from the hands of Baal.

Because of this the ax became a cultic symbol to Baal worshippers. Idols have been found of Baal brandishing an ax, and Baal worshipers (rulers/priests/soldiers) would often walk into the river (nahar) holding the ax of Baal to illustrate the supremacy of Baal over Nahar. As the Baal versus Yamm myth was supposed to be a cycle, often these people would stand in the river to associate themselves with the regeneration of Yamm/Nahar (ie, his coming back to life to start the cycle all over again: cp Naaman and the Syrian rivers in 2Ki 5:12).

Here, the ax-head flies into the river... just like Yamm/Nahar (Sea/River god) was killed by Baal's ax. But, even with 'Baal's weapon' in the river god's body, the servant of Yahweh has power over both of them. That is, Yahweh is greater than Yam/Nahar, and greater than Baal. Elisha exercised power over the river by having a stick thrown in the water, causing the ax to float.

Compare, incidentally, the related features of Exo 15: where the iron of Pharaoh's chariots could not part the sea, but the wooden rod of Moses does; and where it is the tree -- of wood -- that makes the bitter waters sweet.

THE COMPANY OF THE PROPHETS: This is the last reference to the "sons of the prophets". These individuals are the remnant of the good work which Samuel established during his long period as judge and prophet in Israel. He established the schools of the prophets, one of which is mentioned in Naioth (1Sa 19:18). Other schools were in Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpeh, and Ramah. The good work of Samuel carried on well after his death. Whilst the historical record hardly mentions Samuel's work in the connection, it is clear that he did a great deal of good. In like manner we may do a great work by careful and diligent effort, but it may well not be seen easily and quickly.

2Ki 6:5

IT WAS BORROWED: That is, "we asked for it". Or poss "we searched for it (and couldn't find it)."

2Ki 6:6

STICK: The word "stick" here is normally translated "tree". It is possible that there was quite a lot of effort involved therefore in retrieving this ax. Maybe a tree was put across the river for the man to go out on to retrieve it. It is a different picture altogether from throwing a stick into the water and then the iron floating near the river bank. Just a thought, and of a little significance, as it suggests that effort is needed on our part before God will bring about blessings in our life.

2Ki 6:12

In this incident, cp with Christ and Nathanael: Joh 1:50,51. Elisha sees and hears by Holy Spirit, even as Jesus sees Nathanael a great way off. Cp here esp with v 17.

2Ki 6:13

Vv 13-23: Cp types of Paul's conversion (Act 9): persecution, vision of glory, blindness, led into city, sight restored, food and drink, enmity ceases. // Rom 8:31; 12:20,21.

DOTHAN: Where Joseph found his brothers (Gen 37:17). Suggestion: did Joseph see God's chariots there also?

2Ki 6:16

THOSE WHO ARE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THOSE WHO ARE WITH THEM: As true today as it was then. Faith can open our eyes to see what is otherwise unseen (2Co 4:17,18; Psa 34:7; Rom 10:17; Heb 11:16). Let us practice continually that these things might also be in our vision and remain there.

2Ki 6:17

Cp Christ's promise that Nathanael's eyes would be opened to see a great host (Joh 1:51).

HORSES AND CHARIOTS: The cherubim of God: Psa 68:17; Dan 6:22; Heb 1:14.

2Ki 6:23

SO THE BANDS FROM ARAM STOPPED RAIDING...: At least for that year (cp v 24).

2Ki 6:25

SEED PODS: Or, lit, "dove's dung" (NIV mg; KJV): "What have you to say about that extraordinary article of food called 'dove's dung', which was sold at a high price during that terrible siege of Benhadad? I believe that the Hebrew 'chiriyonim', or 'khir yonim', was a name for a coarse and cheap sort of food, a kind of bean, as some think, to which this whimsical title was given on account of some fancied resemblance between the two. Nor am I at all surprised at it, for the Arabs give the most quaint, obscure, and ridiculous names to their extraordinary edible mixtures" (LB 470). This term cannot be literal, because in such a severe famine all doves would have been long since killed and eaten (WEnj 85).

2Ki 6:28

// Deu 28:53,57.

2Ki 6:31

...As if the prophet were to blame for the sufferings in the city! See Lesson, Covenant-victim, the.

2Ki 6:32

THIS MURDERER: NIV inexplicably leaves out "son of" here. The ref is prob to Joram being the grandson of Ahab, who murdered Naboth.

2Ki 6:33

WHILE HE WAS STILL TALKING TO THEM: The king of Israel's message to Elisha.

THIS DISASTER IS FROM THE LORD. WHY SHOULD I WAIT FOR THE LORD ANY LONGER?: 'Seeing God brings such evil upon us, why should I serve Him any longer?'

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