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AND the sons of the prophets said to Eliseus: Behold the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. 2 Let us go as far as the Jordan and take out of the wood every man a piece of timber, that we may build us there a place to dwell in. And he said: Go.

Ver. 2.  Timber.  Heb. and Sept. "a beam."  Salien supposes that these prophets resided at Galgal.  M.




3 And one of them said: But come thou also with thy servants. He answered: I will come. 4 So he went with them. And when they were come to the Jordan they cut down wood.


5 And it happened, as one was felling some timber, that the head of the axe fell into the water: and he cried out, and said: Alas, alas, alas, my lord, for this same was borrowed.

Ver. 5.  Borrowed.  He was grieved because he could not repair the loss.  W.


6 And the man of God said: Where did it fall? and he shewed him the place. Then he cut off a piece of wood, and cast it in thither: and the iron swam.

Ver. 6.  Swam.  So; Demersam fluvio relevavit virga securim.  (Tert. c. Marc.)  The Fathers here remark a figure of the cross of Jesus Christ; the virtue of which, in baptism, reclaims the hardened sinner from the ways of vanity.  Tert. c. Judæos xiii.  C.

 

--- Those who would explain the reason of every miracle, may here inform the infidel why recourse was had to a supernatural interference, in a matter apparently of such a trifling nature.  They ask why God should cause the eyes of various pictures in Italy to move on a late occasion; and because they cannot assign a satisfactory reason, they boldly assert that all was an imposture.  But this mode of argumentation is very delusive, if not impious.  "Who hat been his (God's) counsellor?"  Rom. xi. 34.  All that we have to do is to believe, when the proofs are of such a nature as to require our rational assent.


7 And he said: Take it up. And he put out his hand and took it. 8 And the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying: In such and such a place let us lay ambushes.

Ver. 8.  And such, which the king would mention.  M.

 

--- The causes of this war are not known; but an ambitious prince always finds pretexts to cover his injustice.  C.




9 And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying: Beware that thou pass not to such a place: for the Syrians are there in ambush. 10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God had told him, and prevented him, and looked well to himself there not once nor twice.

Ver. 10.  Twice, but very frequently: so that the Syrian feared some treachery.  H.


11 And the heart of the king of Syria was troubled for this thing. And calling together his servants, he said: Why do you not tell me who it is that betrays me to the king of Israel?


12 And one of his servants said: No one, my lord O king: but Eliseus the prophet, that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel all the words, that thou speakest in thy privy chamber.

Ver. 12.  Chamber.  It is difficult therefore for the saints in heaven to hear our prayers? though they have not such long ears as Calvin ridicules.  H.


13 And he said to them: Go, and see where he is: that I may send, and take him. And they told him, saying: Behold he is in Dothan.

Ver. 13.  Take him.  Foolish attempt! as if the prophet could not foresee his own danger.  Salien.

 

--- Dothan or Dothain, (Gen. xxxvii. 17.) twelve miles north of Samaria.  (Eus.  C.) Andrichomius says, in the tribe of Zabulon.  M.




14 Therefore he sent thither horses and chariots, and the strength of an army: and they came by night, and beset the city.

Ver. 14.  Of an, or, "of the army."  To take one man was judged of such consequence; and Benadad feared lest the Israelites should rise up in his defence.  H.


15 And the servant of the man of God rising early, went out, and saw an army round about the city, and horses and chariots: and he told him, saying: Alas, alas, alas, my lord, what shall we do?

Ver. 15.  Servant, Giezi; as his leprosy is placed too soon.  Salien.  M.

16 But he answered: Fear not: for there are more with us than with them. 17 And Eliseus prayed, and said: Lord, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw: and behold the mountain was full of horses, and chariots of fire round about Eliseus.

Ver. 17.  Of fire.  The angels assumed such a glorious and terrible appearance.  One of them would have sufficed to destroy all the army of Syria; and thus the servant might be convinced how vain were all attempts against God's servants, Psalm cxliv. 19.  Salien, A.C. Christ 907.  Jacob beheld such camps of angels, (Gen. xxxii. 1, 2.) and our Saviour speaks of the legions which he could have brought forward, Mat. xxvi. 53.  C.


18 And the enemies came down to him, but Eliseus prayed to the Lord, saying: Strike, I beseech thee, this people with blindness. And the Lord struck them with blindness, according to the word of Eliseus.

Ver. 18.  Blindness.  The blindness here spoken of was of a particular kind, which hindered them from seeing the objects that were really before them; and represented other different object to their imagination; so that they no longer perceived the city of Dothan, nor were able to know the person of Eliseus; but were easily led by him, whom they took to be another man, to Samaria.  Sot that he truly told them; this is not the way, neither is this the city, &c. because he spoke with relation to the way, and to the city which was represented to them.  Ch.

 

--- Stratagems in war are lawful.  S. Chrys, &c.  Grot. Jur. iii. 1. 17.  The words of the prophet might be merely ironical.

 

--- Blindness, Sept. aorasia, "not seeing" certain objects, while they could perceive others; as was the case of the men who sought Lot's door at Sodom; (Gen. xix. 11.  C.) and the eyes of the disciples were held, that they might not know our Saviour.  Eliseus had left his house, going towards Samaria to meet the soldiers; and when they asked him where the prophet dwelt, he answered truly, This, &c.  For he was then near the royal city, and is above was at Dothan.  Salien.  H.

 

--- The reprobate will thus acknowledge their error, when it is too late, at the last day.


19 And Eliseus said to them: This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will shew you the man whom you seek. So he led them into Samaria.


20 And when they were come into Samaria, Eliseus said: Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw themselves to be in the midst of Samaria.


21 And the king of Israel said to Eliseus, when he saw them: My father, shall I kill them? 22 And he said: Thou shalt not kill them: for thou didst not take them with thy sword, or thy bow, that thou mayst kill them: but set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.

Ver. 22.  For thou.  Heb. "Dost thou kill, &c.?"  If those who have surrendered themselves in battle be often spared, though they might be slain by the strict laws of war, how much less ought these men to be treated with such severity?  C.

 

--- Sicut bellanti & resistenti violentia redditur: ita victo vel capto misericorida jam debetur.  S. Aug. ep. 1. ad Bonif.  Grot.

 

--- And water, all necessary provisions.  W.

 

--- These men were suffered to live that they might relate the wonders of God.  Theod. q. 20.


23 And a great provision of meats was set before them, and they ate and drank, and he let them go, and they went away to their master, and the robbers of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

Ver. 23.  Meats.  So the apostle orders us to treat our enemies, Rom. xii. 20.

 

--- The robbers, these soldiers, who were dismissed.  H.

 

--- No more, (ultra) or, "no farther." (H.) during this war, or in small troops; but, a little later, Benadad came with all his forces to besiege Samaria.  T.

 

--- He was enraged at Eliseus and Joram, as if they despised his power.  Salien.




24 And tit came to pass after these things, that Benadad king of Syria gathered together all his army, and went up, and besieged Samaria.


25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and so long did the siege continue, till the head of an ass was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cabe of pigeon's dung, for five pieces of silver.

Ver. 25.  In Samaria.  It had raged in all the country above three years, (Salien) and continued other four, C. viii. 1.  The continuance of the siege added fresh horrors.

 

--- Pieces is not expressed in Heb.: a sicle is understood.  H.

 

--- Lyran supposes that the whole ass was sold for about 38 crowns, (H.) or 130 livres; as we say commonly, "so much a head."  But interpreters generally assert that the price of the head alone is given; which shews more forcibly the greatness of the famine.  On other occasions the animal could not be eaten by the Jews.  Artaxerxes was forced to kill his beasts of burden; and an ass's head was then sold for 60 drachms, or 25 livres.  When Hannibal besieged Casilinum, a mouse (or rat) was sold for above 70, or for 200 denari.  Plin. viii. 57.  V. Max. vii. 6, 3.

 

--- Cabe.  Sufficient measure of corn for a  man's daily sustenance.  M.

 

--- The fourth part would be about a gill.  H.

 

--- Dung.  Bochart maintains that "chick-peas" are designated.  The Arab. usnen and kali, "pigeon or sparrows' dung," are real eatables.  Those who suppose that the Samaritans bought the dung of pigeons to use as salt or for food, or to burn, or to manure the earth, &c. produce not satisfactory reasons; no more than the Rabbins, who pretend that the corn which they had picked up was taken from their crop.  Tr. Megil. 3. and the Schol. History.  Junius and Fuller would translate "belly," which is refuted by Bochart, Anim. T. ii. B. i. 7.  Very disgusting things have often been used through extreme hunger, (Grot.) and some sort of birds' dung is said to fatten oxen and swine, Varro 38.  Pliny xvii. 9.

 

--- But what nutriment can there be in that of pigeons, that people should go to buy it?  C.

 

--- Houbigant understands a sort of peas is meant.  H.

 

--- The Hebrews called them kali when they were parched; and such food was very common.  2 K. xvii. 28.  Bellon. ii. 53, and 99.  C.



The Famine In Samaria

The Famine In Samaria

And there was a great famine in Samaria: and so long did the siege continue, till the head of an ass was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cabe of pigeon's dung, for five pieces of silver.



26 And as the king of Israel was passing by the wall, a certain woman cried out to him, saying: Save me, my lord O king. 27 And he said: If the Lord doth not save thee, how can I save thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? And the king said to her: What aileth thee? And she answered:

Ver. 27.  Save (salvat.)  Many ancient MSS. read salvet, conformably to the Heb. and Sept. as if the king cursed the woman: "Let not the Lord save thee," Joseph.  ix. 4.  Others place the stops differently: "He said, no: the Lord save thee."  C.

 

--- He is the author of life.  M.


28 This woman said to me: Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. 29 So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day: Give thy son that we may eat him. And she hath hid her son.

Ver. 29.  Eat him.  Strange cruelty! foretold Deut. xxviii. 53, and again verified at Jerusalem.  Ezec. v. 10.


30 When the king heard this, he rent his garments, and passed by upon the wall. And all the people saw the haircloth which he wore within next to his flesh.

Ver. 30.  Passed by, without punishing such a horrid crime, as he esteemed his own sins the occasion of it.  M.

 

--- Flesh.  Behold the advantage to be derived from afflictions!  They make the most hardened enter into sentiments of humility and penance.  C.

 

--- Abulensis thinks that God was pleased to cause the siege to be raised, to reward this act; as a similar one of Joram's father had merited a delay and mitigation of punishment, (H.) 3 K. xxi. 27.  Salien.


31 And the king said: May God do so and so to me, and may he add more, if the head of Eliseus the son of Saphat shall stand on him this day.

Ver. 31.  Day.  This was said in a fit of sudden passion, which may give us reason to conclude that the repentance was insincere, or of short duration.  H.

 

--- The king supposed that he Eliseus could remedy the evil: but God was not moved by his prayers to grant such a favour, till all were convinced that human aid was fruitless.  C.

 

--- The prophet might have answered Joram in the words of Elias, 3 K. xviii. 18.  M.

 

--- Probably he had dissuaded the king from making peace.  T.


32 But Eliseus sat in his house, and the ancients sat with him. So he sent a man before: and before that messenger came, he said to the ancients: Do you know that this son of a murderer hath sent to cut off my head? Look then, when the messenger shall come, shut the door, and suffer him not to come in: for behold the sound of his master's feet is behind him.

Ver. 32.  Murderer.  Achab had slain Naboth, and Jezabel had destroyed the prophets.  C.


33 While he was yet speaking to them, the messenger appeared who was coming to him. And he said: Behold, so great an evil is from the Lord: what shall I look for more from the Lord?

Ver. 33.  And he, Joram, (M. &c.) after (H.) his messenger.  E.  Pisc.

 

--- What, &c.  All is desperate; (C.) our miseries cannot increase.  M.

 

--- I have nothing now to fear or to hope for.  Salien.


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