2 Kings 4:2
And Elisha said to her, What shall I do for you? tell me, what have you in the house? And she said, Your handmaid has not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) What hast thou?—The form of the pronoun here, and in 2Kings 4:3; 2Kings 4:7; 2Kings 4:16; 2Kings 4:23 infra, is peculiar, and points, as the present writer believes, to the northern origin of the narrative, rather than to later composition.

A pot of oil.—Usually explained, vas unguentarium, an “oil-flask.” Keil says that ’āsûk rather denotes “anointing,” unctio, and ’āsûk shèmen, “an anointing in (or with) oil,” i.e., oil enough for an anointing. But it seems better to take the word as a verb: “save (whereby) I may anoint myself with oil” (Micah 6:15). Vulgate, “parum olei, quo ungar.” The Jews, like the Greeks and Romans, anointed themselves after the bath (2Samuel 12:20).

2 Kings 4:2. Elisha said, What shall I do for thee? — How shall I relieve thee, who am myself poor? Tell me, what hast thou in the house? — Toward the discharge of thy husband’s debts.4:1-7 Elisha's miracles were acts of real charity: Christ's were so; not only great wonders, but great favours to those for whom they were wrought. God magnifies his goodness with his power. Elisha readily received a poor widow's complaint. Those that leave their families under a load of debt, know not what trouble they cause. It is the duty of all who profess to follow the Lord, while they trust to God for daily bread, not to tempt him by carelessness or extravagance, nor to contract debts; for nothing tends more to bring reproach upon the gospel, or distresses their families more when they are gone. Elisha put the widow in a way to pay her debt, and to maintain herself and her family. This was done by miracle, but so as to show what is the best method to assist those who are in distress, which is, to help them to improve by their own industry what little they have. The oil, sent by miracle, continued flowing as long as she had empty vessels to receive it. We are never straitened in God, or in the riches of his grace; all our straitness is in ourselves. It is our faith that fails, not his promise. He gives more than we ask: were there more vessels, there is enough in God to fill them; enough for all, enough for each; and the Redeemer's all-sufficiency will only be stayed from the supplying the wants of sinners and saving their souls, when no more apply to him for salvation. The widow must pay her debt with the money she received for her oil. Though her creditors were too hard with her, yet they must be paid, even before she made any provision for her children. It is one of the main laws of the Christian religion, that we pay every just debt, and give every one his own, though we leave ever so little for ourselves; and this, not of constraint, but for conscience' sake. Those who bear an honest mind, cannot with pleasure eat their daily bread, unless it be their own bread. She and her children must live upon the rest; that is, upon the money received for the oil, with which they must put themselves into a way to get an honest livelihood. We cannot now expect miracles, yet we may expect mercies, if we wait on God, and seek to him. Let widows in particular depend upon him. He that has all hearts in his hand, can, without a miracle, send as effectual a supply.A pot of oil - Or, "an anointing of oil" - so much oil, i. e., as would serve me for one anointing of my person. The word used occurs only in this passage. 2-4. a pot—or cruet of oil. This comprising her whole stock of domestic utensils, he directs her to borrow empty vessels not a few; then, secluding herself with her children, [the widow] was to pour oil from her cruse into the borrowed vessels, and, selling the oil, discharge the debt, and then maintain herself and family with the remainder. What shall I do for thee? how shall I relieve thee, who am myself poor?

What hast thou in the house, which may contribute to the payment of thy debts, or, at least, to the satisfaction of thy creditors, who may perchance deal favourably with thee through my persuasion?

Save a pot of oil; which was useful for divers things about the service of God, and health, or delight, or ornament, and other uses of men. See Judges 9:9. And Elisha said unto her, what shall I do for thee?.... Or can I do, being poor himself, and unable to relieve her out of his substance, and not knowing where to get anything for her; and so what could she expect from him? signifying, that he pitied her case, but all that he could do was to give her his best advice, and pray for her:

tell me what thou hast in thy house? that she could part with and dispose of, in order to pay her debt; and satisfy her creditor:

and she said, thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil; that is, nothing of any value; she might have some things, some sort of household goods, though perhaps she had parted with most of them in her poverty; this was the most valuable thing she had.

And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a {d} pot of oil.

(d) Thus God permits his to be brought many times to extreme necessity, before he helps them, that afterward they may praise his mercy even more.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. save a pot of oil] The word rendered ‘pot’ is from a root meaning ‘to anoint’ and the LXX. has here ‘save the oil with which I shall anoint myself’. The word may be noticed because it indicates the poverty of the widow. It was not the finest oil, such as would be used for cooking food, that she had, but the more common kind which every Oriental makes use of after a bath.Verse 2. - And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? Elisha acknowledges at once the call upon him to do something for the woman. This is, no doubt, in part, because she is a widow. Widows were, in the Law, especially commended to the attention and care of the faithful. As Bahr says, "It is a well-known feature of the Mosaic Law, one which is distinctly prominent, that it often and urgently commands to succor the widows and the fatherless, and to care for them (Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 24:17, 19; Deuteronomy 26:12; Deuteronomy 27:19). They are mentioned as representatives of the forsaken, the oppressed, and the necessitous as a class (Isaiah 10:2; Jeremiah 6:6; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Matthew 3:5; Baruch 6:37). It is especially emphasized and praised in Jehovah, that he is the Father and Judge (i.e. Protector of the rights) of the widows and the fatherless (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 68:5; Psalm 146:9; Isaiah 9:17, etc.). Neglect and contempt of them are counted among the heaviest offences (Psalm 94:6; Job 22:9; Ezekiel 22:7); just as, on the other hand, compassion and care for them is a sign of the true fear of God, and of true piety. (Job 29:12; Job 31:16; Tobit 1:7; James 1:27). Elisha could also gather from the tone of the woman's address that she, like her late husband, was God-fearing. Tell me, what hast thou in the house? Hast thou anything, that is, which thou canst soil, and so pay the debt? And she said, Thins handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil; literally, save an anointing of oil; i.e. so much oil as will suffice for one anointing of my person. The water came in the morning at the time of the morning sacrifice (see 1 Kings 18:36), to indicate that the Lord was once more restoring His favour to the people on account of the sacrifice presented to Him in His temple.

The help of God, which preserved the Israelitish army from destruction, also prepared destruction for the Moabites. 2 Kings 3:21-23. On hearing the report of the march of the allied kings, Moab had raised all the men that were capable of bearing arms, and stationed them on the frontier. In the morning, when the sun had risen above the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite to them like blood, and said: "That is blood: the (allied) kings have destroyed themselves and smitten one another; and now to the spoil, Moab!" Coming with this expectation to the Israelitish camp, they were received by the allies, who were ready for battle, and put to flight. The divine help consisted, therefore, not in a miracle which surpassed the laws of nature, but simply in the fact that the Lord God, as He had predicted through His prophet, caused the forces of nature ordained by Him to work in the predetermined manner. As the sudden supply of an abundance of water was caused in a natural way by a heavy fall of rain, so the illusion, which was so fatal to the Moabites, is also to be explained in the natural manner indicated in the text. From the reddish earth of the freshly dug trenches the water collected in them had acquired a reddish colour, which was considerably intensified by the rays of the rising sun, so that when seen from a distance it resembled blood. The Moabites, however, were the less likely to entertain the thought of an optical delusion, from the fact that with their accurate acquaintance with the country they knew very well that there was no water in the wady at that time, and they had neither seen nor heard anything of the rain which had fallen at a great distance off in the Edomitish mountains. The thought was therefore a natural one, that the water was blood, and that the cause of the blood could only have been that their enemies had massacred one another, more especially as the jealousy between Israel and Judah was not unknown to them, and they could have no doubt that Edom had only come with them as a forced ally after the unsuccessful attempt at rebellion which it had made a short time before; and, lastly, they cannot quite have forgotten their own last expedition against Judah in alliance with the Edomites and Ammonites, which had completely failed, because the men composing their own army had destroyed one another. But if they came into collision with the allied army of the Israelites under such a delusion as this, the battle could only end in defeat and in a general flight so far as they were concerned.

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