2 Kings 13:17
And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
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(17) The window.—Or, lattice. Probably a lattice opening outwards.

Eastward.—In the direction of Gilead, which was occupied by the Syrians (2Kings 10:33).

Shoot.—The old illustration of declaring war by shooting an arrow into the enemy’s country (Æn. ix. 57) is not without bearing on this case, though it obviously does not exhaust the meaning of the act.

(17) And he said—i.e., Elisha said.

The arrow of the Lord’s . . . Syria.—Literally, An arrow of victory for Jehovah, and an arrow of victory over Aram!

In Aphek.Joshua 13:4; 1Kings 20:26. The scene of former defeats was to become that of triumph.

Till thou have consumed them.—Literally, unto finishing. The annihilation of the opposing army at Aphek, not of the entire forces of Syria, is predicted. (See 2Kings 13:19.)

13:10-19 Jehoash, the king, came to Elisha, to receive his dying counsel and blessing. It may turn much to our spiritual advantage, to attend the sick-beds and death-beds of good men, that we may be encouraged in religion by the living comforts they have from it in a dying hour. Elisha assured the king of his success; yet he must look up to God for direction and strength; must reckon his own hands not enough, but go on, in dependence upon Divine aid. The trembling hands of the dying prophet, as they signified the power of God, gave this arrow more force than the hands of the king in his full strength. By contemning the sign, the king lost the thing signified, to the grief of the dying prophet. It is a trouble to good men, to see those to whom they wish well, forsake their own mercies, and to see them lose advantages against spiritual enemies.Eastward - Syria of Damascus lay partly east, but still more north, of the holy land. The arrow was to be shot, eastward, not so much against Syria itself as against the scene of the recent Syrian successes, Gilead 2 Kings 10:33, which was also to be the scene of Joash's victories over them. Aphek is almost due east from Shunem, where it is not unlikely that Elisha now was.

The arrow ... - literally, "An arrow of deliverance from the Lord, and an arrow of deliverance against Syria; and thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, even to consuming."

15-18. Take bow and arrows—Hostilities were usually proclaimed by a herald, sometimes by a king or general making a public and formal discharge of an arrow into the enemy's country. Elisha directed Joash to do this, as a symbolical act, designed to intimate more fully and significantly the victories promised to the king of Israel over the Syrians. His laying his hands upon the king's hands was to represent the power imparted to the bow shot as coming from the Lord through the medium of the prophet. His shooting the first arrow eastward—to that part of his kingdom which the Syrians had taken and which was east of Samaria—was a declaration of war against them for the invasion. His shooting the other arrows into the ground was in token of the number of victories he was taken to gain; but his stopping at the third betrayed the weakness of his faith; for, as the discharged arrow signified a victory over the Syrians, it is evident that the more arrows he shot the more victories he would gain. As he stopped so soon, his conquests would be incomplete. Eastward; either towards Syria, which lay north-eastward from the land of Israel; or towards the Israelites’ land beyond Jordan, which lay eastward from Canaan, and which was now possessed by the Syrians. Either way this arrow is shot against the Syrians, as a token what God intended to do against them.

In Aphek; not in the city, but in the territory of it, where it seems there was a great battle to be fought between the Israelites and Syrians. Of Aphek, see 1 Samuel 4:1 29:1 1 Kings 20:30, though it is possible there might be several cities of that name. Or, as in Aphek, i.e. thou shalt smite them as they were smitten in the city and territory of Aphek, i.e. utterly destroy them; see 1 Kings 20:26,29,30; the particle as being oft understood, as hath been formerly and frequently proved.

Till thou have consumed them, i.e. the Syrians; not all that people, but their armies, or at least that which was to be at Aphek, where a dreadful battle was to be fought. Or if this be meant of all the Syrian armies, this is to be understood conditionally, if he did not hinder it by his unbelief or neglect, signified in the following verses.

And he said, open the window eastward,.... Syria lying east of the land of Israel, as the Jewish commentators in general observe, and for which they quote Isaiah 9:12, but it lay northeast, or rather more to the north; wherefore this may respect the eastward part of the land of Israel, which the Syrians had got possession of, and should be recovered, as this sign showed, see 2 Kings 10:33,

and he opened it: then Elisha said, shoot, and he shot; the arrow, out of the window, being opened:

and he said, the arrow of the Lord's deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; meaning, that that arrow was a sign of the Lord's deliverance of Israel from the Syrians, by whom they had been sadly oppressed, and reduced very low:

for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek till thou hast consumed them; not the whole nation, but that army they should bring thither; which was a city in the land of Israel, where the Syrians were routed in Ahab's time; 100,000 were slain near it on one day, and 27,000 by the fall of the wall of it, 1 Kings 20:26 hence some read the words here, "as in Aphek."

And he said, Open the window {i} eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.

(i) That is, toward Syria: so that he not only prophesied with words but also confirmed him by these signs that he would have the victory.

17. And he said, Open the window] That there might be a free space for the arrow to be shot through. The command must be directed to some attendant, as the king was holding the bow ready to shoot when he was bidden. The windows of this time were merely open gratings, not filled with anything transparent.

eastward] Because eastward from Samaria lay the land of Gilead, the country on which the Syrians were so constantly making their attacks, and which they now had to a great degree in their possession.

The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance] R.V. The Lord’s arrow of victory. The R.V. represents more exactly the force of the Hebrew, which describes this arrow of victory as belonging to the Lord, i.e. as being specially directed by Him, and so assured of its result.

and the arrow of deliverance from Syria] R.V. even the arrow of victory over Syria. The sentence is in apposition with the previous clause. The former looks to the prompter of the battle, the latter clause to the result.

in Aphek] This is probably the place of that name which was on the east of the sea of Galilee. See note on 1 Kings 20:26. The region east of the Jordan was the constant battle-ground between Israel and Syria. See above on 2 Kings 10:32-33.

till thou have consumed them] This was the prophet’s thought and the purport of his message. The lack of zeal in Joash by the giving of only three strokes when Elisha hoped for five or six, diminished the completeness of the victory which God had promised.

Verse 17. - And he said, Open the window. Though glass was unknown, or at any rate not applied to windows, yet the windows of sitting-rooms, and still more of bedrooms, had latticed shutters, which partially excluded the light and the air, and could be opened and closed at pleasure (see the comment on 2 Kings 1:2). The prophet ordered the shutter to be opened, that the king might shoot from the window. He addressed, not the king, whose hands were both engaged, but his own servant, or one of the royal attendants. Eastward. Not so much in the direction of Syria, which was north-east of the Israelite territory, as in the direction of Gilead and Bashan, which had been the scene of Hazael's victories (2 Kings 10:33), and was now to be the scene of his reverses. Aphek lay almost duo east of Shunem, where it is probable that Elisha was. And he opened it; or, and one opened it, or they opened it. The Hebrew idiom allows of this indefinite use of the third person singular. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he - i.e. Elisha - said, The arrow of the Lord's deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; rather, an arrow. "This is," the prophet meant to say, "an arrow symbolical of deliverance about to come from Jehovah, of deliverance from the cruel oppression of the Syrians" - and not merely of deliverance, but of victory. For thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek. The Aphek intended is probably that which lay east of the Sea of Galilee, at the distance of about three miles, in lat. 32° 49' nearly. This place was on the direct route between Samaria and Damascus, and had already been the scene of one great victory gained by Israel over Syria (1 Kings 20:26-30). The site is marked by the modern village of Fik. Till thou have consumed them; literally, till consuming - i.e., till the army which thou shalt defeat at that place is destroyed utterly. We have no account of the fulfillment of this prophecy, but may regard the defeat as one of those touched on in ver. 25. 2 Kings 13:17"Take-said Elisha to Joash-bow and arrows, ... and let thy hand pass over the bow" (הרכּב), i.e., stretch the bow. He then placed his hands upon the king's hands, as a sign that the power which was to be given to the bow-shot came from the Lord through the mediation of the prophet. He then directed him to open the window towards the east and shoot, adding as he shot off the arrow: "An arrow of salvation from the Lord, and an arrow of salvation against the Syrians; and thou wilt smite the Syrians at Aphek (see at 1 Kings 20:26) to destruction." The arrow that was shot off was to be a symbol of the help of the Lord against the Syrians to their destruction. This promise the king was then to appropriate to himself through an act of his own. Elisha therefore directed him (2 Kings 13:18) to "take the arrows;" and when he had taken them, said: ארצה הך, "strike to the earth," i.e., shoot the arrows to the ground, not "smite the earth with the bundle of arrows" (Thenius), which neither agrees with the shooting of the first arrow, nor admits of a grammatical vindication; for הכּה, when used of an arrow, signifies to shoot and to strike with the arrow shot off, i.e., to wound or to kill (cf. 2 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 22:34). The shooting of the arrows to the earth was intended to symbolize the overthrow of the Syrians. "And the king shot three times, and then stood (still)," i.e., left off shooting.
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