|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-7 There is that pleasantness in the converse of servants of God, which can make those who listen to them forget the pain and the weariness of labour. Even the sons of the prophets must not be unwilling to labour. Let no man think an honest employment a burden or a disgrace. And labour of the head, is as hard, and very often harder, than labour with the hands. We ought to be careful of that which is borrowed, as of our own, because we must do as we would be done by. This man was so respecting the axe-head. And to those who have an honest mind, the sorest grievance of poverty is, not so much their own want and disgrace, as being rendered unable to pay just debts. But the Lord cares for his people in their smallest concerns. And God's grace can thus raise the stony iron heart, which is sunk into the mud of this world, and raise up affections, naturally earthly.
Verse 6. - And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Two natural explanations of this miracle have been attempted:
(1) that Elisha passed a piece of wood underneath the axe-head, which he could see lying at the bottom of the river, and then lifted it up to the surface (Von Gerlach);
(2) that he thrust a stick or bar of wood through the hole in the axe-head, made to receive the haft, and so pulled it out (Thenins). But both explanations do violence to the text; and we may be sure that, had either been true, the occurrence would not have been recorded. The sacred writers are not concerned to put on record mere acts of manual dexterity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the man of God said, where fell it?.... For though endowed with a spirit of prophecy, he did not know all things, and at all times; and if he did know where it fell, he might ask this question to lead on to the performance of the miracle:
and he showed him the place; the exact place in the river into which it fell:
and he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; he did not take the old helve and throw in, but a new stick he cut off of a tree; some think he made of this another helve or handle, of the same size and measure with the other, and that this being cast in was miraculously directed and fixed in the hole of the iron at the bottom of the water, and brought it up with it; but, as Abarbinel observes, there is no need to suppose this; the wood was cast into the precise place where the iron fell, and was sent as it were to call it up to it:
and the iron did swim; it came up and appeared, and was bore on the surface of the waters; or, "and made the iron to swim" (e); which some understand of the wood cast in, as if it had some peculiar virtue in it to draw up the iron; but it was not any particular chosen wood, but what first occurred to the prophet (f); and the meaning is, that Elisha caused it to float, contrary to the nature of iron.
(e) "fecit supernatare", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (f) Vid. Friese, Dissert. de Ferro Natante, sect. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. cut down a stick, and cast it in thither—Although this means was used, it had no natural adaptation to make the iron swim. Besides, the Jordan is at Jericho so deep and rapid that there were one thousand chances to one against the stick falling into the hole of the axe-head. All attempts to account for the recovery of the lost implement on such a theory must be rejected.
the iron did swim—only by the miraculous exertion of Elisha's power.
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