2 Kings 4:40
So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O you man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(40) There is death in the pot.—The bitter taste, and perhaps incipient effect of the pottage, made them think of poison.

4:38-44 There was a famine of bread, but not of hearing the word of God, for Elisha had the sons of the prophets sitting before him, to hear his wisdom. Elisha made hurtful food to become safe and wholesome. If a mess of pottage be all our dinner, remember that this great prophet had no better for himself and his guests. The table often becomes a snare, and that which should be for our welfare, proves a trap: this is a good reason why we should not feed ourselves without fear. When we are receiving the supports and comforts of life, we must keep up an expectation of death, and a fear of sin. We must acknowledge God's goodness in making our food wholesome and nourishing; I am the Lord that healeth thee. Elisha also made a little food go a great way. Having freely received, he freely gave. God has promised his church, that he will abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread, Ps 132:15; whom he feeds, he fills; and what he blesses, comes to much. Christ's feeding his hearers was a miracle far beyond this, but both teach us that those who wait upon God in the way of duty, may hope to be supplied by Divine Providence.A wild vine - Not a real wild vine, the fruit of which, if not very palatable, is harmless; but some climbing plant with tendrils. The plant was probably either the Ecbalium elaterium, or "squirting cucumber," the fruit of which, egg-shaped, and of a very bitter taste, bursts at the slightest touch, when it is ripe, and squirts out sap and seed grains; or the Colocynthis, which belongs to the family of cucumbers, has a vine-shaped leaf, and bears a fruit as large as an orange, very bitter, from which is prepared the drug sold as colocynth. This latter plant grows abundantly in Palestine.

His lap full - literally, "his shawl full." The prophet brought the fruit home in his "shawl" or "outer garment."

39. went out into the field to gather herbs—Wild herbs are very extensively used by the people in the East, even by those who possess their own vegetable gardens. The fields are daily searched for mallow, asparagus, and other wild plants.

wild vine—literally, "the vine of the field," supposed to be the colocynth, a cucumber, which, in its leaves, tendrils, and fruit, bears a strong resemblance to the wild vine. The "gourds," or fruit, are of the color and size of an orange bitter to the taste, causing colic, and exciting the nerves, eaten freely they would occasion such a derangement of the stomach and bowels as to be followed by death. The meal which Elisha poured into the pot was a symbolic sign that the noxious quality of the herbs was removed.

lap full—The hyke, or large cloak, is thrown loosely over the left shoulder and fastened under the right arm, so as to form a lap or apron.

There is death in the pot, i.e. some deadly thing; which they gathered from its excessive bitterness, by which possibly some of them might discern what it was. So they poured out for the men to eat,.... When the pottage was boiled, they poured it out into dishes or basins, for the sons of the prophets to eat:

and it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot; poison, the cause of death; the pottage was so exceeding bitter, that they concluded there must be some poisonous herb in it; and coloquintida is so bitter, that it is called "the gall of the earth":

and they could not eat thereof: they stopped eating, it being so very disagreeable, and, as they supposed, dangerous.

So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is {u} death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.

(u) They feared that they were poisoned because of the bitterness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
40. they cried out] The bitter taste shewed them that something was wrong, and their thoughts at once suggested that what they had eaten was poisonous. The fruit of the colocynth would produce sickness very soon, but there is no reason to suppose that there was enough in the pottage to kill.

O thou man of God] The R.V. omits ‘thou’, and thus improves both rhythm and language.

they could not eat thereof] They had only just tasted the noxious dish and so no ill effects had followed.Verse 40. - So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. Either the bitter flavor alarmed them, or they began to feel ill effects from what they had swallowed, which, if it was colocynth, might very soon have produced stomachache or nausea. Rushing, therefore, at once to the worst possible supposition, they concluded that they were poisoned, and exclaimed, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" "If eaten in any large quantity," says Keil, "colocynths might really produce death." And they could not eat thereof; i.e. they could not continue to eat the pottage - all stopped eating. Elisha then entered the house, where the boy was lying dead upon his bed, and shut the door behind them both (i.e., himself and the dead child), and prayed to the Lord. He then lay down upon the boy, so that his mouth, his eyes, and his hands lay upon the mouth, eyes, and hands of the child, bowing down over him (גּהר; see at 1 Kings 18:42); and the flesh (the body) of the child became warm. He then turned round, i.e., turned away from the boy, went once up and down in the room, and bowed himself over him again; whereupon the boy sneezed seven times, and then opened his eyes. This raising of the dead boy to life does indeed resemble the raising of the dead by Elijah (1 Kings 17:20.); but it differs so obviously in the manner in which it was effected, that we may see at once from this that Elisha did not possess the double measure of the spirit of Elijah. It is true that Elijah stretched himself three times upon the dead child, but at his prayer the dead returned immediately to life, whereas in the case of Elisha the restoration to life was a gradual thing.

(Note: The raising of the dead by Elijah and Elisha, especially by the latter, has been explained by many persons as being merely a revivification by magnetic manipulations or by the force of animal magnetism (even Passavant and Ennemoser adopt this view). But no dead person was ever raised to life by animal magnetism; and the assumption that the two boys were only apparently dead is at variance with the distinct words of the text, in addition to which, both Elisha and Elijah accomplished the miracle through their prayer, as is stated as clearly as possible both here (2 Kings 4:33) and also at 1 Kings 17:21-22.)

And they both differ essentially from the raising of the dead by Christ, who recalled the dead to life by one word of His omnipotence (Mark 5:39-42; Luke 7:13-15; John 11:43-44), a sign that He was the only-begotten Son of God, to whom the Father gave to have life in Himself, even as the Father has life in Himself (John 5:25.), in whose name the Apostle Peter also was able through prayer to recall the dead Tabitha to life, whereas Elisha and Elijah had only to prophesy by word and deed of the future revelation of the glory of God.

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