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Thursday, June 12 2014

2 Kings 7: The Syrian Siege Of Samaria

"Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria"

When the LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ - see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) divided the united kingdom of Israel into "Israel" and "Judah" after the corrupted reign of King Solomon (see What Caused Solomon's Idolatry?), the Kingdom of Israel was established in the northern section of the Promised Land (i.e. Samaria in central Israel and Galilee in northern Israel), in accordance with the lands allotted to the 10 breakaway tribes in that area (see Ephraim's Inheritance, West Manasseh, The Israel Lottery and Cities and Suburbs Of The Levite Clans).

Shechem was the original capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, until King Jeroboam, the first king of the Kingdom of Israel (see The First Kings Of Israel and Judah) moved it to Tirzah (see the Fact Finder question below). Later, by about 880 B.C., Omri, the sixth king of Israel (see Omri Of Israel), established his capital at Samaria - a new city in Samaria that was built on a hilltop about 7 miles / 11 kilometers northwest of Shechem. "Samaria" thereafter came to be used interchangeably for both the city and the region.

Benhadad, the king of Syria (see Benhadad of Syria) had been a troublesome neighbor for the northern kingdom of Israel for years. "And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria."

Samaria

"6:24 And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. 6:25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.

6:26 And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.

6:27 And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? 6:28 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee?

And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. 6:29 So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.

6:30 And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. 6:31 Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

6:32 But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?

6:33 And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?" (2 Kings 6:24-33 KJV)

By that time, the prophet Elisha grown into full service to the LORD (see The Beginning Of Elisha's Miracles).

"7:1 Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. 7:2 Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof." (2 Kings 7:1-2 KJV)

Leprosy was common in that time (see also Leviticus 13: Bacteria). Lepers were feared, dead or alive - they alone could have emptied a city or the Syrian military camp just by their entering it. The LORD however had already driven out the Syrian invaders with another kind of fear - the noise of a great army approaching ("For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host"). The sound was not merely a bluff (see Did Elisha Have Chariots of Fire Too?).

"7:3 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? 7:4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.

7:5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. 7:6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. 7:7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life." (2 Kings 7:3-7 KJV)

The lepers happened to enter the camp just after the LORD had emptied it - so they "did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment." The lepers then reported the Syrian military departure to the holed-up citizens of Samaria. "So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were."

The Hills Of Samaria

"7:8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it.

7:9 Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.

7:10 So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. 7:11 And he called the porters; and they told it to the king's house within." (2 Kings 7:8-11 KJV)

In the meantime, the panicked Syrian army had broken into disarray and ran for home. Those who then pursued them found "all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste."

"7:12 And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.

7:13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.

7:14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see. 7:15 And they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king. 7:16 And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.

7:17 And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him. 7:18 And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria:

7:19 And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. 7:20 And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died." (2 Kings 7;12-20 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) What were the various capitals of Israel? (b) How long was Jerusalem the capital of all of the tribes of Israel?
(a) See The Capitals Of Israel
(b) See How Long Was Jerusalem The Capital Of Israel?; also A History Of Jerusalem: In The Beginning


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This Day In History, June 12

918: Aethelflaed (or Ethelfleda), a rare female Anglo-Saxon ruler of Mercia in England, died. The daughter of Alfred The Great, she helped her brother Edward The Elder, king of the West Saxons, conquer the Danish armies occupying eastern England.

1346: Charles IV of Luxembourg was elected Holy Roman Emperor in Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

1381: During the Peasants' Revolt (also called Wat Tyler's Rebellion) in England, the rebels arrived at Blackheath where they looted the town and burned libraries. The rampage was inspired by the "sermons" of the communist preacher John Ball and led by the anarchist Wat Tyler (a former roofer, using tiles as was common in the day - hence the origin of the family name Tyler).

Wat Tyler's Rebellion 1418: An insurrection put Paris under the control of the Burgundians.

1442: Alfonso V of Aragon was crowned King of Naples.

1653: The Battle of the Gabbard began during the First Anglo-Dutch War.

1665: England established the first municipal government for New York City. After the departure of the Dutch, the English renamed the city of "New Amsterdam" as "New York." The entire area was transformed from "New Netherlands" to "New England."

1667: The first blood transfusion was carried out by Jean-Baptiste Denys, personal physician to King Louis XIV of France, on a 15-year-old boy using blood from a sheep.

1811: The Earl of Selkirk was granted a vast area of territory in what is now Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota. Selkirk paid 10 shillings ($2.50) a year in rent on the land, which covered an area 5 times bigger than his native Scotland. As part of the rental agreement, Selkirk had to provide the Hudson's Bay Company with 200 servants a year and develop an agricultural colony.

1812: Napoleon invaded Russia.

1849: The gas mask was patented.

1860: The State Bank of the Russian Empire was established (Russia didn't begin its experiment with communism until the early 1900s; it lasted for about 70 years before socialism bankrupted Russia).

1867: The Austro-Hungarian Empire was formed.

1897: Swiss cutlery maker Carl Elsener patented his penknife, later to become known as the Swiss army knife.

1898: During the Spanish-U.S. War, the independence of the Philippines was declared by General Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the revolutionary movement. The Philippines thereafter became an imperial colony of the U.S. rather than Spain.

1900: The Reichstag approved a second new law allowing the expansion of the German navy, making it one of the world's largest.

1917: King Constantine of Greece stepped down in favor of his son, Prince Alexander.

1944: Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung announced that he would support Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in the war against Japan.

1967: The U.S. Supreme Court declared all U.S. state laws against interracial marriage to be unconstitutional.

1967: Russia launched Venera 4. Upon arriving at Venus (the pagan name that humans have given to the planet), it will became the first space probe to enter another planet's atmosphere and return data.

1978: David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" killer in New York City, was sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings.

1991: Mount Pinatubo began erupting in the Philippines after 4 centuries of dormancy.

1994: Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered at her home in Los Angeles. O.J. Simpson was later acquitted of the murders by a jury of his "peers."


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