Melachim 2/Kings 2-Chapter 6: Elisha and his miracles to protect him from Aram

1.      The students of Elisha find a new area of learning near the Jordan and the miracle that was performed by him in that location:

  • The students of Elisha complain that there is not enough space in the study hall: The prophet students who were disciples of Elisha said to him that the area where they sit before him to learn [i.e. their study hall] is too narrow for all the students to fit in. [When Geichazi was a servant of Elisha, he made it difficult for students to come to Elisha and therefore there was always enough space for the few students who managed to stay. However, after Geichazi was banished from before Elisha, many students came and there was not enough room for all of them.[1]]
  • The Jordan is chosen as the new study location: The students thus suggested to Elisha that they travel to the Jordan and have every student take for himself from there a beam of wood in order to prepare for themselves a place to sit. Elisha acquiesced to the request of the students and let them go. One of the students then asked Elisha to come together with him to the Jordan, and Elisha agreed to this request as well.
  • The chopping of the trees by the Jordan: Elisha went with them, and they arrived to the Jordan, and cut down the trees [to make seats for them to sit on.
  • A student’s axe blade falls in the river: One of the students who was in the midst of chopping the beam from the tree lost the blade of his axe during one of his chops, and the blade fell into the water of the Jordan River. The student cried out in anguish to his master Elisha saying that he had borrowed the axe from another person [and does not have the money to pay him back[2]].
  • Elisha miraculously floats the axe blade from the bottom of the river: Elisha asked his student as to where the blade had fallen, and the student showed him the spot in the river where it fell. Elisha proceeded to cut off a piece of wood and he then threw it into that spot of the river. After the wood was thrown into the river the axe blade miraculously floated on top of the water. Elisha then instructed his student to take the blade from the river. And so, the student stretched out his hand and took it.

2.      The king of Aram tries to ambush the king of Israel:

  • The king of Aram sets up an ambush to kill the king of Israel and his soldiers: The king of Aram was in a state of war with the people of Israel, and he took council with his servants regarding encamping in a secret location from where they can ambush [the king of Israel, or his soldiers, when they travel to Aram to fight them[3], and so they went and set up ambush in a secret location].
  • Elisha prophetically reveals the location of the ambush to the king of Israel: Elisha sent a message to the king of Israel warning him not to pass the secret location where the Arameans were hiding awaiting to ambush. The king of Israel sent messengers to that location to see if the words of Elisha were true, and indeed he took precautions to avoid the area many times.

3.      The king of Aram attempts to capture Elisha:

  • The king of Aram inquires as to whom revealed his plot to the king of Israel: The king of Aram was greatly disturbed that his secret location was discovered by the king of Israel, and he summoned his servants and inquired from them as to who is responsible for leaking the information to the king of Israel [suspecting that it is one of his own servants who revealed this information]. One of his servants answered the king that he should not suspect any of them of doing so, as it is Elisha the prophet who is in Israel who is responsible for this, as “Elisha tells the king of Israel [through prophecy[4]] even the words that you, the king, speak in your bedroom.”
  • The king of Aram devises a plan to capture Elisha: The king of Aram then instructed his servants to find out where Elisha is located, in order so he can kidnap him. The king of Aram was told that Elisha is located in Dosan.
  • The king of Aram sends an army to capture Elisha: The king of Aram sent horses and chariots and a great army to the city of Dosan to capture Elisha. They arrived at night and surrounded the city. Elisha the prophet arose early in the morning and when he went outside, he noticed an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. Elisha’s servant exclaimed in a panic to Elisha, “Woe, alas, what shall we do?” Elisha told his servant not to worry, as they are far more numerous than the soldiers surrounding the city [as there are spiritual soldiers who will fight on their side].
  • Elisha shows his servant a vision of the angelic soldiers: Elisha prayed to Hashem asking Him to open the eyes of his servant [so that he can see the spiritual soldiers]. So, Hashem opened the lad’s eyes and he saw that the mountain was full with fiery horses and chariots, surrounding Elisha.
  • Elisha miraculously blinds the soldiers and leads them to Shomron: The Aramean soldiers came down to capture Elisha, and Elisha then prayed to Hashem requesting him to strike the soldiers with blindness, and so it was that Hashem struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Elisha then said to the blind soldiers that they are going the wrong direction to reach the city of Dosan where Elisha is located [as Elisha already left the city[5]], and that they should follow him, and he will lead them to the person whom they seek. So, Elisha led them to the city of Shomron.
  • Elisha leads the soldiers to the king of Israel: When they came to Shomron, Elisha asked God to remove their blindness and allow the soldiers to see once again. So, Hashem opened their eyes, and they saw, and behold they were inside the city of Shomron.
  • Elisha instructs the king not to kill the soldiers: The king of Israel asked Elisha when he saw the enemy soldiers brought before him in the city as to whether he should kill them. Elisha responded that he should not kill them, [as he only has the right to kill soldiers that he captured, and even captured soldier should not be killed[6]]. “Do you slay those whom you have captured with your sword and with your bow?” Rather, said Elisha, “Prepare for them food and water and let them eat and drink and go back home to their masters.”
  • The soldiers given to eat and drink: The king of Israel obeyed the instructions of the prophet Elisha and prepared for the soldiers a lavish feast, and the soldiers ate and drank, and he then sent them away back to their masters.
  • The land of Israel is freed of its Aramean troops: After the above event, the Aramean troops ceased to invade the land of Israel.

4.      Ben Hadad besieges the city of Shomron and causes a famine:

  • After the above event, Ben-Hadad the king of Aram, gathered all of his soldiers and went up to besiege the city of Shomron. This caused there to be a severe famine in the city.
  • The severity of the famine: The famine was so severe that the head of a donkey sold for eighty silver coins, and a quarter of a Kav of doves dung sold for five silver pieces.
  • The king discovers that people are eating their children in order to survive: The king of Israel was passing by the wall when a woman cried out to him, begging him for his help the, that he save her. The king, [thinking that she was requesting him to give her food[7]] responded to her that he has nothing to provide her with and “If Hashem will not save you, how shall I save you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?” The king then asked her as to what she wants, and she replied that she was offered by another woman a deal saying, “today you should cook your son and we will eat it together, and in exchange, tomorrow we will cook my son and eat him together.” I accepted the offer and cooked my son and ate him and the next day I asked of her to give up her son as we agreed so we can eat him, and instead of keeping her part of the deal, she hid her son [after he died, as she wants to eat alone[8]].
  • The king tears his garments and mourning after hearing the above: When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his garments [in anguish] to the extent to that while he would pass by the wall, the people saw through his torn garments and saw that he was wearing sackcloth on his flesh underneath.
  • The King of Israel seeks to kill Elisha: The king of Israel [was infuriated that the prophet Elisha refused to pray on their behalf to end the famine[9]] made an oath saying that he swears in the name of God that he shall be cursed by God if Elisha the son of Shaphat’s head remains on him today.
  • Elisha prophetically discovers the plot of the king of Israel and is saved: Elisha was sitting in his house [when the king of Israel made the above statement, and he was informed of it through prophetic vision[10]]. The elders were sitting together with him in the house [and Elisha informed them of the prophecy he had just received and of the ensuing danger[11]]. The king of Israel had already sent an assassin to ahead of him to kill Elisha. Prior to the arrival of this assassin, Elisha told the elders, “Have you seen that this son of a murderer has sent an assassin to remove my head? See to it that when the assassin arrives by the door that you close the door and hold it shut against him as surely, his master, the king of Israel will follow him.” While Elisha was still speaking with them, the messenger arrived by their door. [Being that they heard the footsteps of the king of Israel arriving behind them, they therefore aborted their plan to block the door and allowed the messenger and king to enter.[12]]
  • The king of Israel has remorse and decides against killing the prophet: The king of Israel said, “Behold, this evil is from Hashem. Can I hope for salvation [if I now go ahead and sin by killing the prophet[13]]?”

[1] Rashi 6:1

[2] Rashi 6:5

[3] Rashi 6:8

[4] Metzudos Dovid 6:12

[5] Rashi 6:19

[6] See Rashi and Radak and Metzudos Dovid on 6:22

[7] Rashi 6:26

[8] Rashi 6:29

[9] Rashi 6:31

[10] Rashi 6:32

[11] Rashi 6:32

[12] See Metzudos Dovid 6:33

[13] See Metzudos Dovid 6:33

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