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2 Kings 3-5

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

2 Kings Chapter 3

Jehoram (also rendered as Joram) was the son of Ahab and Jezebel. He succeeded his brother Ahaziah as king of Israel (see Kings of Israel and Judah). When the Moabites rebelled against foreign domination by Israel, Jehoram allied himself with King Jehoshaphat of Judah to force Moab back under their control.

Moab and Edom

"In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twelve years. He did what was evil in the sight of The Lord, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal [see Baal-zebub and Beelzebub] which his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it."

"Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder; and he had to deliver annually to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs, and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "The king of Moab has rebelled against me; will you go with me to battle against Moab?"

And he said, "I will go; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." 3:8 Then he said, "By which way shall we march?"

Jehoram answered, "By the way of the wilderness of Edom."

So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the beasts which followed them. (2 Kings 3:1-9 RSV)

Jehoram's choice of route, or the planning for it, was faulty. His army ran out of water, so he sent word to Elisha to miraculously provide water for them.

"And Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother."

But the king of Israel said to him, "No; it is The Lord who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab."

And Elisha said, "As The Lord of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you, nor see you. But now bring me a minstrel." And when the minstrel played, the power of The Lord came upon him. And he said, "Thus says The Lord, 'I will make this dry stream-bed full of pools.'" (2 Kings 3:13-16 RSV)

The Israelite army then defeated the Moabites. The king of Moab stopped the Israelite pursuit after him by offering his royal heir as a burnt offering.

"But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and attacked the Moabites, till they fled before them; and they went forward, slaughtering the Moabites as they went." (2 Kings 3:24 RSV)

"When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom; but they could not. Then he took his eldest son who was to reign in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they withdrew from him and returned to their own land." (2 Kings 3:26-27 RSV)

2 Kings Chapter 4

Elisha had succeeded Elijah, including the miraculous power that Elijah was given in service to The Lord (see The Spirit and Power of Elijah). Some of the miracles were discretionary, such as Elisha's helping a poor widow of a prophet to pay off her debts.


"Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared The Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves."

And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?"

And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil."

"Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels of all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in, and shut the door upon yourself and your sons, and pour into all these vessels; and when one is full, set it aside."

So she went from him and shut the door upon herself and her sons; and as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel."

And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing.

She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest." (2 Kings 4:1-7 RSV)

When a wealthy couple helped Elijah, he miraculously helped them to have a child. When the child became sick and died, Elisha was instrumental in the child's resurrection (see Resurrections).

"One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. And she said to her husband, "Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, who is continually passing our way. Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there." (2 Kings 4:8-10 RSV)

"When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and shut the door upon the two of them, and prayed to The Lord. Then he went up and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. Then he got up again, and walked once to and fro in the house, and went up, and stretched himself upon him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Then he summoned Gehazi and said, "Call this Shunammite." So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, "Take up your son." (2 Kings 4:32-36 RSV)

Elisha's miracle of making poisonous stew safe to eat:

"And they poured out for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the pottage, they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it. He said, "Then bring meal." And he threw it into the pot, and said, "Pour out for the men, that they may eat." And there was no harm in the pot." (2 Kings 4:40-41 RSV)

Elisha's miraculous multiplication of food:

"A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, "Give to the men, that they may eat." But his servant said, "How am I to set this before a hundred men?" So he repeated, "Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says The Lord, 'They shall eat and have some left.'" So he set it before them. And they ate, and had some left, according to the word of The Lord." (2 Kings 4:42-44 RSV)

2 Kings Chapter 5

Naaman was a high-ranking Syrian military commander who was suffering from one of the most terrible and feared diseases - leprosy. A captive Israelite girl, who became a slave to Naaman's wife, told her mistress that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure Naaman. The matter came to the attention of the king of Syria who sent a letter, along with a great amount of silver and gold, to the king of Israel for a cure for Naaman.

The River

"Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him The Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little maid from the land of Israel, and she waited on Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy."

So Naaman went in and told his lord, "Thus and so spoke the maiden from the land of Israel." And the king of Syria said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel." So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten festal garments." (2 Kings 5:1-5 RSV)

The Syrian king's letter was delivered to the king of Israel, who became very much dismayed at the official request because the king himself had no God-given power to heal. The prophet Elisha, who, by means of the Holy Spirit, did have the power to heal those who had faith (as shown in the examples above), heard of it and went to the king to offer assistance. Elisha sent a message to Naaman to "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean."

"And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy." And when the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me."

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, "Why have you rent your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel." So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the door of Elisha's house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." (2 Kings 5:6-10 RSV)

Rather than receiving Elisha's message with thanks, Naaman instead flew off into a nationalistic rage. Why, he asked, should he go to the waters of the Jordan, when the rivers of his hometown Damascus were far greater in size and beauty? The answer: because what Elisha told him to do was a matter of faith and obedience to God, not of water. It wasn't about the Jordan being "better," it was about faith and obedience being necessary (Naaman's experience was actually just one of a number of the recorded Old Testament Baptisms).

"But Naaman was angry, and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of The Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. " (2 Kings 5:11-12 RSV)

Naaman's servants did not have their master's arrogance, and fortunately for Naaman, he listened to their plea to simply and humbly do what the man of God told him to do to be healed. The healing was not about a matter of "our rivers are better than your river," it was about faith and obedience to the God who has the power to heal. Naaman finally realized what he must do if he was to be healed.

"But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. " (2 Kings 5:13-14 RSV)

Elisha's servant Gehazi paid for his greed; when he tried to get Naaman to pay for the miracle done by Elisha, Naaman's leprosy was given to Gehazi.

"But he said to him, "Did I not go with you in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to you, and to your descendants for ever." So he went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow." (2 Kings 5:26-27 RSV)

Fact Finder: (a) As described above, by means of the power of the Holy Spirit of God, Elisha miraculously multiplied a few barley loaves into more than enough to feed many people. Did Jesus Christ do the same sort of miracle? (b) Did Jesus Christ refer to the healing of Naaman, as described above, in a lesson about "no prophet is acceptable in his own country"?
(a) See The Feeding Of The Five Thousand
(b) Luke 4:24-27; see also Prophets

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Copyright © Wayne Blank