Study Notes

2Kings 8:1-29


As you may recall from our previous studies, Elisha the prophet has had a pretty intense history of ministry through miracles. While living in the house of a Shunammite woman and her husband, he prophesied that they would give birth to a boy within the year. But later, after the child was grown, he grabbed his head and died shortly thereafter. The woman showed great faith and trust, and God used Elisha to raise him from the dead.

Although we haven't heard from her since chapter four, as we pick up the narrative this evening in chapter eight, the Shunammite woman again becomes a key player in our story.

8:1-2 Advance Warning

Elisha knew that a famine was coming, and he told the Shunammite woman to find a place to move to for the next seven years.

One of the patterns we've seen in the Scriptures is that God always give the righteous advance warning before judgment. He said to Noah,

Gen. 6:13 ..."The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth."

He then gave Noah the way of escape: "Build for yourself an ark of gopher wood."

Later, when God was going to bring judgment upon the cities of the plain, he sent angels in to tell Lot.

Gen. 19:12-13 "...whomever you have in the city, bring {them} out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it."

Even in the New Testament, the judgments of God were forewarned to the righteous. The worldwide famine that would take place during the reign of Claudius was told to the prophet Agabus, and he warned the church (Acts 11:28).

In the future, those who are righteous will heed the warning of Jesus. He warned that when those believers in the Great Tribulation see the antichrist commit the abomination of desolation, they should "flee to the mountains" (Mark 13:14).

The Shunammite woman packed up and moved with her family to the land of the Philistines for seven years.

8:3-6 The Woman's Land Restored

It appears that during the seven years she was gone, someone had seized her house and land as if it had been abandoned. When they wouldn't give it back, she went to make an appeal to the king.

"Coincidentally," at that same moment, the king happened to be having a conversation with the servant of Elisha about this very woman. Gehazi was telling him the story of her son being raised from the dead when she walked in.

I have become more and more convinced over the years that there is no such thing as luck or coincidence. God has demonstrated to me so many times how perfect His timing is, and making the impossible happen. I wonder if it grieves Him when we say, "I sure was lucky," instead of giving glory to God. I do know that the words "luck," "lucky," and "coincidence" are nowhere to be found in the Bible.

So God had made the timing perfect, and the result was that the woman had great credibility in the eyes of the king. Her land and house were restored, plus she was granted all the produce that her field had grown in the last seven years.

8:7-8 The King Of Aram Is Sick

The king of Aram was sick, and he wanted to know if he was going to recover. He sent a messenger to Elisha to get a prophetic word. But there is a something strange going on here behind the scenes. You see, the messenger he sent was Khaz-aw-ALE. This man has already been anointed to replace Ben-Hadad as the next king of Aram. We read in 1Kings 19 that the Lord told Elijah,

1Kgs. 19:15-17 ..."Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Khaz-aw-ALE king over Aram; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. And it shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Khaz-aw-ALE, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death..."

And so here is the man that Elisha's predecessor had anointed as king of Aram, coming to Elisha to see if the current king of Aram will recover from his sickness.

8:9-13 Khaz-aw-ALE And Elisha

When Khaz-aw-ALE asks if Ben-Hadad will recover, Elisha tells him that he will not live. However, his statement is confusing - why does Elisha say,

2Kgs. 8:10 ..."Go, say to him, ‘You shall surely recover'"...

Elisha was not telling Khaz-aw-ALE to lie, he was simply saying what Khaz-aw-ALE had already purposed in his own heart to do.

Elisha then stared deeply into the eyes of Khaz-aw-ALE, reading his soul, seeing his future. He began to weep. He wept because the Lord had allowed Elisha to see the judgment that would befall Israel at the hands of the new king of Aram.

Although many people wish that they could see the future, not everything the Lord shows to the prophets is pleasant. Many times they are broken by the horrifying future God allows them to see, by the blackness of people's hearts, by the wickedness of a nation.

Elisha was grieved to the point of tears by what God allowed him to see in Khaz-aw-ALE's heart and future.

Hazael And Yassir Arafat

What Elisha saw was,

2Kgs. 8:12 ...their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up."

I cannot pass this verse by without pointing out yet another leader who has done this against Israel in our times - a leader who is meeting with the President of the United States in the White House this very day: Yassir Arafat.

Although the United States governmnet has recognized Arafat as a senior statesman, a partner in peace, and the leader of the soon-to-be recognized Palestinian state, he is in reality a criminal and a murderer. He has committed many crimes against humanity, including the murder of Israeli civilians. He has ordered the slaughter of Jewish schoolchildren, the bombing of buses, the killing of Israeli women, and has publicly given his "thumbs up" to all "Palestinian martyrs" who commit these terrorist murders.

You may also not be aware of the fact that he both endorsed and embraced Sadaam Hussein during the Gulf War, his Palestinian Liberation Army serving with Hussein's army in occupied Kuwait, committing horrible atrocities against civilians.

This is the man who walks the floors of the White House today. Elisha certainly would have wept over this man - and our nation - as well.

8:14-15 Hazael Murders Ben-Hadad

Khaz-aw-ALE returns to the king and lies to Ben-Hadad, saying that Elisha reported he would live. But the next day, he suffocated Ben-hadad in his bed. Now he has become king.

8:16-18 Jehoram, King Of Judah

Now the scene switches from Aram to the kingdom of Judah, where Yeh-ho-RAWM, the son of Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT becomes king.

The story told so briefly here is told more completely in the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, in the part that we would call 2Chronicles 21.

Yeh-ho-RAWM had six other brothers, but when he became king, he had them killed, in addition to some other key leaders (2Chron. 21:4).

He was completely wicked - you really would have expected him to be a king of Israel, not Judah. But we find out that he had married the daughter of Ahab, the king of Israel. 2Chronicles tells us that it was this marriage that caused him to fall into the same pattern of wickedness and sin that the kings up in Israel were guilty of (2Chron. 21:6).

Paul the apostle warns us in 1Corinthians,

1Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

Later, he issued a command to them along the same lines, saying,

2Cor. 6:14-15 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

We cannot say it enough times, for Christians continue to make the same mistake: don't date unbelievers. Don't marry them. Don't fall in love with them. The Biblical and historical examples are clear: your odds are much better of becoming like your unsaved spouse or partner than them becoming more like you. At best, you are setting yourself up for misery and difficulty. At worst, you will become as wicked and faithless as they are. For Yeh-ho-RAWM, it was the latter.

8:19 The Lord's Promise Preserves Judah

Even though it is the Lord's practice to judge sin, it is also His practice to keep His promises. And He had promised David many years before that He would preserve his throne forever. Since Yeh-ho-RAWM had killed all his brothers, smiting Yeh-ho-RAWM would have ended David's royal bloodline.

It is interesting to me that later, God will put a blood curse on this kingly line, because of the excessive wickedness of Jeconiah, who we will be introduced to in chapter 24. God spoke though Jeremiah regarding him,

Jer. 22:30 "Thus says the LORD, Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'"

Oh no! That seems to have really ruined the promise God made, doesn't it? But not quite. Remember that God is always in control.

Since Jeconiah's descendants could never rule in Judah again, but the king had to be a descendant of David, then how could the Messiah ever take his place on David's throne? Matthew and Luke tell us how. You see, Jesus was the son physically of the virgin Mary, and the son legally of Joseph. Both were descendants of David. Mary, through the line of David's son Nathan, was not subject to the blood curse placed upon Jechoniah. But Joseph was a descendant of the the kingly line. He carried the blood curse. Had Jesus been born of Joseph, he would not have been eligible for the throne, because of the curse. But since he was the son of Joseph without having the blood of Joseph, He was legally entitled to inherit the throne of David. It is amazing how God works these things out, isn't it?

Joram Confusion

Now, in these rest of the chapter, some confusion can set in if you're not prepared. The king of Judah that we've been talking about is Yeh-ho-RAWM. The shortened form of this name is Yo-RAWM. Unfortunately, Yo-RAWM also happens to be the name of the current king of Israel. So here we have Yo-RAWM, the son-in-law of Ahab, ruling in Judah, and Yo-RAWM the son of Ahab, ruling in Israel.

8:20-24 Edom's Revolt

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:9), and enemies of Israel, even though they should have considered themselves brothers. In the days of King David, the Edomites were conquered and made servants of Israel. They had a deputy appointed to rule over them, but no king (1Kings 22:47). But now they are rebelling and have raised up a king.

Libnah's Revolt

At this same time, the city of Libnah also revolted. This city had been captured under Joshua (Josh. 10:29-32), and given to the tribe of Judah (Josh. 15:42). Judah, in turn, gave it as one of their obligations to the Levites, who were given several cities from each of the other tribes. Thus, Libnah was a city of priests' families.

We read in 2Chronicles why they revolted:

2Chr. 21:10 ...Then Libnah revolted at the same time against his rule, because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.

As godly people, they would not stand idly by and approve of the sin of their king.

8:25-29 Ahaziah's Rein

Probably just to add to the confusion, Yeh-ho-RAWM of Judah, also called Yo-RAWM, had a son he named Akh-az-YAW, after his brother-in-law, King Akh-az-YAW, son of Ahab. Now this Akh-az-YAW becomes king of Judah. The final story in our chapter is about as confusing as it gets, since Yo-RAWM's son, Akh-az-YAW, king of Judah, forms an alliance with Yo-RAWM, the king of Israel, the son of Akh-az-YAW, king of Israel, who had died falling through the lattice. Confused yet? You can't know the players without a program, can you?

To put it more simply: in Israel, Yo-RAWM, son of Akh-az-YAW is king. In Judah, Akh-az-YAW, son of Yo-RAWM is king. Whew!

The wounds that Akh-az-YAW sustained in the Israel and Judah's united war against Aram were deadly serious, and lead up to our next study in chapter nine.

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