2 Kings 3:15
But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came on him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Bring me a minstrel.—Mĕnaggēni.e., a harper, player on a stringed instrument (nĕgînāh). Elisha called for music as a natural means of calming his perturbed spirit (2Kings 3:13-14). Composure and serenity of soul were essential, if the prophet was to hear the voice of God within. Cicero tells us that the Pythagoreans were wont to tranquillise their minds after the strain of thought with’ harp music and singing (Tusc. Iv. 2). (Comp. 1Samuel 10:5; 1Chronicles 25:1, Note.) The incident is a striking mark of the historical truth of the narrative.

And it came to pass.—Perfect with weak waw: a later idiom. (Comp. 1Samuel 17:48.)

The hand of the Lord came upon him.—Targum and some MSS., “the Spirit of the Lord;” but comp. 1Kings 18:46.

2 Kings 3:15. Now bring me a minstrel — One that can sing and play well upon an instrument of music. This he requires, that his mind, which had been disturbed at the sight of idolatrous Jehoram, might be composed, and that he might be excited to more fervent prayer, and thereby be prepared to receive the prophetic inspiration. See on 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 16:16. Those that desire communion with God, must keep their spirits quiet and serene. All hurry of spirits, and all turbulent passions, make us unfit for divine visitations. The hand of the Lord came upon him — The spirit of prophecy, so called, to note that it was no natural or acquired virtue inherent in him, but a singular gift of God, given to whom and when he pleased. 3:6-19 The king of Israel laments their distress, and the danger they were in. He called these kings together, yet he charges it upon Providence. Thus the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and then his heart fretteth against the Lord, Pr 19:3. It was well that Jehoshaphat inquired of the Lord now, but it had been much better if he had done it before he engaged in this war. Good men sometimes neglect their duty, till necessity and affliction drive them to it. Wicked people often fare the better for the friendship and society of the godly. To try their faith and obedience, Elisha bids them make the valley full of pits to receive water. Those who expect God's blessings, must dig pools for the rain to fill, as in the valley of Baca, and thus make even that a well, Ps 84:6. We need not inquire whence the water came. God is not tied to second causes. They that sincerely seek for the dew of God's grace, shall have it, and by it be made more than conquerors.Music seems to have been a regular accompaniment of prophecy in the "schools of the prophets" (marginal reference), and an occasional accompaniment of it elsewhere Exodus 15:20. 15. bring me a minstrel—The effect of music in soothing the mind is much regarded in the East; and it appears that the ancient prophets, before entering their work, commonly resorted to it, as a preparative, by praise and prayer, to their receiving the prophetic afflatus.

the hand of the Lord—a phrase significantly implying that the gift of prophecy was not a natural or inherent gift, but conferred by the power and grace of God.

A minstrel; one that can sing and play upon a musical instrument. This he requires, that his mind, which had been disturbed and inflamed with holy anger at the sight of wicked Jehoram, might be composed, and cheered, and united within itself, and that he might be excited to the more fervent prayer to God, and joyfully praising him; whereby he was prepared to receive the prophetical inspiration. For although prophecy be the gift of God, yet men might do something either to hinder or further the reception of it; for which cause Paul bids Christians study to get the gift of prophecy, 1 Corinthians 14:1. And for this very end the colleges of the prophets were erected, wherein the sons of the prophets did use divers means to procure this gift, which also they did sometimes receive, as we see 2 Kings 2:3,5; and, amongst other means, they used instruments of music to exhilarate their spirits, &c., 1 Samuel 10:5. Of the great power of music upon the affections, See Poole "1 Samuel 16:16".

The hand of the Lord, i.e. the Spirit of prophecy; so called, to note that it was not from Elisha’s temper of body or mind; that it was no natural nor acquired virtue inherent in him; but a singular gift of God, given to whom and when he pleased. This phrase is used also Ezekiel 1:3 3:14,22 8:1. But now bring me a minstrel,.... A piper, a man that knows how to play upon the harp, as the Targum; according to Procopius Gazaeus, this was one of the Levites he ordered to be fetched, who was used to the spiritual melody of David, and could play on musical instruments as he directed. This he did to allay his passion, and compose his spirits, ruffled at the sight of Jehoram, and to fit him to receive prophetic inspiration, which sometimes came upon the Lord's prophets when thus employed, see 1 Samuel 10:5. Some think (h) the music the prophet called for is that sort the Greeks call "harmony", which is the gravest and saddest, and settles the affections:

and it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him; the spirit of prophecy, as the Targum, which came by the power of God, and as a gift from his hand.

(h) Weemse's Christ. Synagog. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. p. 143.

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel {l} played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

(l) He sang songs to God's glory, and so stirred up the prophets heart to prophecy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. But now bring me a minstrel] Of the power of music over the mind we have examples in the history of Saul (1 Samuel 16:23) and also of the use of music by the companies of prophets (1 Samuel 10:5). But neither of these instances illustrates the case of Elisha as here described. It was not employed to calm his own angry spirit, and he was alone, whereas the prophetic band in 1 Samuel 10:5 were marching in a body, and chanting some religious hymns or service. From the result described here, viz. that the hand (that is, the influence and spirit) of the Lord came upon him, we may conclude that this was what Elisha wished for, and we may suppose that while the music went on his thoughts took shape, and found vent in prayer, till at length he was prompted inwardly what to say. A striking instance of the power of music.

the hand of the Lord] The phrase is most frequently employed in the Pentateuch and the historical books to signify God’s power exerted in punishment. Cf. Exodus 9:3, ‘The hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle’. See also Deuteronomy 2:15; Joshua 22:31; Jdg 2:15. But it is also used of the divine power which strengthened and supported Elijah, 1 Kings 18:46, and several times in Ezekiel of the spirit by which the prophet was possessed (cf. Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 33:22; Ezekiel 37:1). The passage Ezekiel 33:22 may be best quoted in illustration of the case of Elisha: ‘The hand of the Lord was upon me in the evening … and had opened my mouth … and my mouth was opened and I was no more dumb.’ As to Ezekiel, so here to Elisha there was given what he should speak. Josephus says ‘he became inspired’.Verse 15. - But now bring me a minstrel. A player on the harp seems to be intended. Music was cultivated in the schools of the prophets (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1-3), and was employed to soothe and quiet the soul, to help it to forget things earthly and external, and bring it into that ecstatic condition in which it was most open to the reception of Divine influences. As David's harping refreshed Saul, and tranquillized his spirit (1 Samuel 16:23), so the playing of any skilled minstrel had a soothing effect on those possessing the prophetic gift generally, and enabled them to shut out the outer world, and concentrate their whole attention on the inward voice which communicated to them the Divine messages. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. By "the hand of the Lord" is meant the power of the Spirit of God, the Divine effluence, whatever it was, which acquainted the prophets with the Divine will, and enabled them to utter it. But however cleverly this plan may have been contrived, when the united army had been marching round for seven days and was passing through the deep rocky valley of the Ahsy,

(Note: The usual route from southern Judaea to the land of the Moabites, which even the Crusaders and more recent travellers took, runs round the Dead Sea up to the mouth of the Wady ed Deraah or Kerak, and then up this wady to Kerak (vid., Rob. ii. p. 231). The allied kings did not take this route however, but went through the Wady el Kurahy or es-Safieh, which opens into the southern end of the Dead Sea, and which is called the Wady el Ahsy farther up in the mountains, by Seetzen (R. ii. pp. 355,356) erroneously the Wady el Hssa (Rob. ii. p. 488), a ravine through which Burckhardt passed with the greatest difficulty (Syrien, ii. p. 673). That they advanced by this route is a necessary inference from the fact, that when they first suffered from want of water they were on the border of the Moabitish territory, of which this very wady forms the boundary (2 Kings 3:21; see Burckh. p. 674, and Rob. Pal. ii. p. 555), and the water came flowing from Edom (2 Kings 3:20). Neither of these circumstances is applicable to the Wady el Kerak. - Still less can we assume, with O. v. Gerlach, that they chose the route through the Arabah that they might approach Moab from the south, as the Israelites under Moses had done. For it would have been impossible for them to reach the border of Moab by this circuitous route. And why should they go so far round, with the way through Edom open to them?)

which divided the territories of Edom and Moab, it was in the greatest danger of perishing from want of water for men and cattle, as the river which flows through this valley, and in which they probably hoped to find a sufficient supply of water, since according to Robinson (Pal. ii. pp. 476 and 488) it is a stream which never fails, was at that time perfectly dry.

In this distress the hearts of the two kings were manifested. - 2 Kings 3:10-12. Joram cried out in his despair: "Woe, that Jehovah has called these three kings, to give them into the hand of Moab!" (כּי, that, serves to give emphasis to the assurance; see Ewald, 330, b.) Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, had confidence in the Lord, and inquired whether there was no prophet there, through whom they could seek counsel of the Lord (as in 1 Kings 22:7); whereupon one of the servants of the Israelitish king answered that Elisha was there, who had poured water upon the hands of Elijah, i.e., had been with him daily as his servant, and therefore could probably obtain and give a revelation from god. Elisha may perhaps have come to the neighbourhood of the army at the instigation of the Spirit of God, because the distress of the kings was to be one means in the hand of the Lord, not only of distinguishing the prophet in the eyes of Joram, but also of pointing Joram to the Lord as the only true God. The three kings, humbled by the calamity, went in person to Elisha, instead of sending for him.

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