Jul. 9. Skirmishes Between Israel/Elisha and Syria

II Kin. 6:8-8:15

In making war against Israel, the king of Syria, encountered problems with the man of God, Elisha. He was warning Israel’s king of the dangers of entering various places because of the presence of Syrian soldiers.

The Syrian king sent some of his men to capture the prophet and bring him to the king. Elisha called upon the Lord to smite the army with blindness. With his enemy being blind, Elisha led them to Samaria where he was revealed to them. Instead of killing the Syrians as the king of Israel suggested, the raiders were treated to a great feast and released to return home. After that, the raids ceased. However, that did not stop their king.

A highly effective tool of war is to cut off outside access to one’s enemy. Ben-Hadad, the Syrian king besieged Samaria and caused a great famine in the land. The famine was so severe that people resorted to eating their own children for survival. King Jehoram blamed Elisha and God for their calamity and vowed to take Elisha’s head.

When the king’s messenger arrived to take Elisha, the messenger instead was detained. The prophet revealed that the next day the siege would end and the famine would be over. Again, God’s hand provided the relief. He caused the Syrians to hear the noise of horses, chariots and armies coming toward them. In their haste to escape, they left their tents fully stocked with provisions that the Israelites were able to use.

Natural famines also occurred. Elisha informed the Shunammite woman who had been so kind to him over the years that a famine lasting seven years was coming. He advised her to go away into another country until it was over. After having spent the seven years in Philistine country, she was ready to return home. During her absence, her property had become the king’s property. Elisha intervened and was able to restore her to her home.

Sometimes being able to see into the future caused Elisha to weep because of what he could see. Years earlier, Hazael had been anointed by Elijah to be king of Syria. Elisha wept as he informed Hazael of the events that would follow after he had become king. Even though Ben-Hadad was sick, Hazael murdered him and did become the next Syrian king.