1 Kings 19:17
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
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(17) Him that escapeth the sword of Hazael.—The vengeance wrought by Hazael and Jehu on the faithlessness of Israel speaks for itself; it is marked in bloody letters on the history (2 Kings 10). But Elisha’s mission was obviously not one of such vengeance. He had to destroy enmity, but not to slay the enemies of God. The difficulty, such as it is, is one of the many marks of historic accuracy in the whole passage. Probably Elisha’s mission is here described in the terms in which Elijah would best understand it. His spirit was for war; he could hardly have conceived how the completion of his mission was to be wrought out by the weapons of peace in the hand of his successor. (Comp. 2Corinthians 10:3-6.)

1 Kings 19:17. Him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay — This is not to be understood, as if the sword of Hazael should do execution before the sword of Jehu, and the sword of Jehu before that of Elisha: it only signifies, that God had appointed these three persons to punish the apostate Israelites for their idolatries, and that one or other of them should infallibly execute his judgments upon them: Hazael, however, began to slay them before Jehu was king, 2 Kings 8:28-29; though his cruelty was much increased afterward. Jehu destroyed those, whom Hazael did not, as King Joram himself, and Ahaziah, and all the near relations of Ahab. Elisha is said to slay them, either because he brought down, by his prayers, destruction upon the forty-two children of Beth-el, that idolatrous city, 2 Kings 2:24; or because by God’s appointment he inflicted the famine, 2 Kings 8:1; or rather, as the prophets are said to pull down and destroy, what they foretel and declare shall be pulled down, because he threatened and predicted destructive judgments to come upon them. He slew them with the sword that came out of his month, the word of God: like the Branch from the stem of Jesse, he smote them with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he slew the wicked, Isaiah 11:4.

19:14-18 God repeated the question, What doest thou here? Then he complained of his discouragement; and whither should God's prophets go with their complaints of that kind, but to their Master? The Lord gave him an answer. He declares that the wicked house of Ahab shall be rooted out, that the people of Israel shall be punished for their sins; and he shows that Elijah was not left alone as he had supposed, and also that a helper should at once be raised up for him. Thus all his complaints are answered and provided for. God's faithful ones are often his hidden ones, Ps 83:3, and the visible church is scarcely to be seen: the wheat is lost in chaff, and the gold in dross, till the sifting, refining, separating day comes. The Lord knows them that are his, though we do not; he sees in secret. When we come to heaven we shall miss many whom we thought to have met there; we shall meet many whom we little thought to have met there. God's love often proves larger than man's charity, and far more extended.Compare the marginal references.

Shall Elisha slay - i. e., With a spiritual slaying by the "word of the Lord," which is "sharper than any two-edged sword," and may be said to slay those whose doom it pronounces (compare the marginal reference; Jeremiah 1:10). Elisha does not seem, like Elijah, to have executed God's judgments on the guilty.

16. Abel-meholah—that is, "the meadow of dancing," in the valley of the Jordan. Here the order of times seems to be perverted; for Elisha was prophet before Jehu or Hazael were kings, and Hazael was king before Jehu. But that is of no moment as to the substance of the thing threatened, which is only this, that one or other of these should infallibly execute God’s judgments upon the apostatical Israelites. Elisha is said to slay them, either because he slew those forty-two children, 2 Kings 2:24, besides others whom upon like occasions he might destroy; or because he by God’s appointment inflicted the famine, 2 Kings 6:31; or rather, by the sword which came out of his mouth, as Isaiah 49:2 Revelation 1:16 19:15,21, by his cutting prophecies and threatenings of God’s judgments; the prophets being said to pull down and to destroy what they only declare and foretell shall be pulled down, &c. Hazael began to slay them before Jehu was king, 2 Kings 8:28, though his cruelty was much increased afterward, 2 Kings 10:32 13:1-3; and Jehu destroyed those whom Hazael did not, king Joram himself, and Ahaziah, and his forty-two brethren, 2 Kings 9:24,27 10:14, all the near relations of wicked Ahab.

And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay,.... Which suggests that many should be slain in Israel by them both, as were by Hazael, 2 Kings 10:32 and by Jehu, 2 Kings 9:24,

and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay; which may be understood either literally of the forty two children cursed by him, in consequence of which they were destroyed by bears, 2 Kings 2:24 or rather figuratively by his prophecies, see Hosea 6:5 who foretold the slaughters made by Hazael and Jehu, as well as others, see 2 Kings 8:12, these several things were not done in the order in which they are here put; for what Elisha did was before Hazael and Jehu, and Jehu before Hazael; these words therefore do not respect the exact order of time in which they should be done, only that each should do the part appointed and assigned unto him, and what could not be so well done by the other; thus Hazael was to destroy those that came out to war; and Jehu Ahab's family that did not; and Elisha the children of idolatrous parents at Bethel, that came not within the reach of either; though it may be observed, that Hazael began to distress Israel before Jehu appeared, 2 Kings 8:28 and the prophecies of Elisha might not have their full accomplishment until after Hazael and Jehu had done what was appointed for them.

And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
17. shall Elisha slay] Here we come upon evidence that the language of these verses (15–18) is not to be pressed into a literal interpretation. In the second book of Kings the compiler gives us all that he thought needful of the life of Elisha, and there is nothing in it which accords with a literal acceptance of this verse. We read of none that were slain by the hand of Elijah’s successor. But his voice and his labours for the overthrow of false worship, and for making known, both to Israel and to the nations round about, that there was ‘no God in all the earth but in Israel’ (2 Kings 6:15) were constant, and by this ‘sword of his mouth’ he overthrew the foes of Jehovah. In this sense he fulfilled the declaration in the text, his work coming in and being effectual in places and ways where Hazael and Jehu wrought no deliverance.

Verse 17. - And it Shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael [See 2 Kings 8:12, 28; 2 Kings 10:32; 2 Kings 13:3, 22] shall Jehu slay [2 Kings 9:24-33; 2 Kings 10. passim. Cf. Isaiah 66:16]: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. [Elijah might reasonably interpret the commission to "anoint" Hazael, etc., as a figure, seeing there is an undoubted figure of speech here. Elisha was a man of peace. His sword was the "sword of the Spirit, the word of God." It was by "the breath of his lips he slew the wicked" (Isaiah 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hosea 6:5). Not only are vers. 16, 17 an interpretation, in some sort, of the vision, but they are an answer to Elijah's complaint (vers. 10, 14). The "children of Israel" who had forsaken the covenant should be punished by Hazael (cf. 2 Kings 8:12, "I know what thou wilt do unto the children of Israel," and cf. 1 Kings:32); the king and queen who had thrown down the altars and slain the prophets should be slain, one by the sword of Syria, the other at the command of Jehu; while to his allegation that the prophets were extinct and he was left alone is opposed the ordination of a successor, and the mention of the "seven thousand" in ver. 18.] 1 Kings 19:17When Elijah heard this, he covered up his face in his cloak (אדּרת; see at 2 Kings 1:8) and went out to the entrance to the cave. And behold he heard the question a second time, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" and answered with a repetition of his complain (see 1 Kings 19:9, 1 Kings 19:10). - While the appearance of God, not in the tempest, the earthquake, and the fire, but in a gentle rustling, revealed the Lord to him as a merciful and gracious God, long-suffering, and of great goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6), the answer to his complaint showed him that He did not leave guilt unpunished (Exodus 34:7), since the Lord gave him the following command, 1 Kings 19:15.: "Go back in thy way to the desert of Damascus, and anoint Hazael king over Aram (see 2 Kings 8:12-13), and Jehu the son of Nimshi king over Israel (see 2 Kings 9:2), and Elisha the son of Shaphat prophet in thy stead" (see 1 Kings 19:19); and then added this promise, which must have quieted his zeal, that was praiseworthy in the feelings from which it sprang, although it had assumed too passionate a form, and have given him courage to continue his prophetic work: "And it will come to pass, that however escapeth the sword of Hazael, him will Jehu slay, and whoever escapeth the sword of Jehu, him will Elisha slay."
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