2 Kings 4:42
And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(42) Baal-shalisha.—Probably the same as Bethshalisha, mentioned by Jerome and Eusebius, fifteen Roman miles north of Lydda-Diospolis, and not far west of Gilgal and Bethel. (Comp. “the land of Shalisha,” 1Samuel 9:4. Its name, Shalisha—as if Three-land—seems to allude to the three wadies, which there meet in the Wâdy Qurâwâ.)

Bread of the firstfruits.—Comp. Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 18:4, according to which all firstfruits of grain were to be given to the priests and Levites. Such presents to prophets appear to have been usual in ordinary times. On the present occasion, which was “a time of dearth” (2Kings 4:42 is connected by the construction with the preceding narrative), one pious person brought his opportune gift to Elisha.

And full ears of corn in the husk thereof.—Heb., and karmel in his wallet. The word karmel occurs besides in Leviticus 2:14; Leviticus 23:14. The Targum and Syriac render “bruised grain;” the Jewish expositors “tender and fresh ears of corn.” In some parts of England unripe corn is made into a dish called “frumenty.” The word çiqlôn only occurs in this place. The Vulg. renders it by pera (“wallet”). The LXX. (Alex.) repeats the Hebrew in Greek letters. The Vatican omits the word. It reads: “twenty barley loaves and cakes of pressed fruit” (παλάθας). The Syriac gives “garment.”

And he saidi.e., Elisha said.

Give unto the people.—Comp. Matthew 14:16.

2 Kings 4:42. A man — brought — bread of the first fruits, &c. — This was a seasonable present, it being a time of dearth, when bread was very scarce. The first-fruits were due to the priests, but these, and probably the rest of the priests’ dues, were usually brought by the pious Israelites, according to their ability and opportunity, to the Lord’s prophets, because they were not permitted to carry them to Jerusalem. Twenty loaves of barley — Of what weight is not said, but it is likely they were but small, being intended only for the prophet’s own eating. And full ears of corn in the husk thereof — Which, being parched, they were wont to eat, Ruth 2:15. But Dr. Hammond thinks these words should be rendered, They brought ears of corn in a satchel, or scrip. Give unto the people that they may eat — That is, to the sons of the prophets, with whom he then was, when this present was brought to him.

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.Baal-shalisha - Fifteen Roman miles north of Lydda, in the Sharon plain to the west of the highlands of Ephraim. It was, apparently, the chief city of the "land of Shalisha" (marginal reference).

Bread of the first fruits - It appears by this that the Levitical priests having withdrawn from the land of Israel (see 2 Chronicles 11:13-14), pious Israelites transferred to the prophets, whom God raised up, the offerings required by the Law to be given to the priests Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 18:4.

In the husk thereof - "In his bag." The word does not occur elsewhere in Scripture.

2Ki 4:42-44. Satisfies a Hundred Men with Twenty Loaves. Bread of the first-fruits, which were the priest’s due, Numbers 18:12; but these, and probably the rest of the priest’s dues, were usually brought by the pious Israelites, according to their ability and opportunity, to the Lord’s prophets; partly because they did a great part of the priest’s office, and partly because they were not permitted to carry them to Jerusalem; and they might reasonably think that their circumstances, being extraordinary, would warrant their giving of them to extraordinary persons; and that those ceremonial institutions ought to give place to the greater laws of necessity and mercy to the Lord’s prophets. And this passage seems to be noted here, not only on occasion of the following miracle; but also that by this one instance we might understand how so many schools of the prophets were supported.

Twenty loaves; small loaves, as appears, both because one man brought them all so far, and because otherwise there had been no miracle here. Give unto the people, to wit, the sons of the prophets, who were then present with him, 2 Kings 4:38.

And there came a man from Baalshalisha,.... Of which place See Gill on 1 Samuel 9:4, the Targum is, from the south country:

and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley; so that it was now barley harvest, and this the first fruits of it, which, according to the law, Leviticus 23:10, was to be brought to the priest; but being forbid in the land of Israel going up to Jerusalem, religious men brought their firstfruits to the prophets, and here to Elisha, the father of them; believing it would be dispensed with, and acceptable, since they were not allowed to carry them to the proper person; and in this time of famine was very agreeable to the man of God, supposing it only a present:

and full ears of corn in the husk thereof; these were green ears of corn, which they used to parch; but might not be eaten until the firstfruits were offered, and then they might, Leviticus 23:14, the Targum renders it, "in his garment", in the skirt of his clothes; and to the same purpose are the Syriac and Arabic versions; and so Jarchi interprets it; and Ben Gersom says, it signifies some vessel in which he brought them:

and he said, give unto the people, that they may eat; Elisha did not reserve this offering or present for himself, but, as he had freely received, he freely gave.

And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 42-44. - 4. The feeding of a hundred men on twenty loaves. Verse 42. - And there came a man from Baal-shalisha. "Baal-shalisha" is reasonably identified with the "Beth-shalisha" of Eusebius and Jerome, which they place twelve Roman miles north of Diospolis, or Lydda (now Ludd). By "north" we must probably understand "northeast," since the "land of Shalisha" lay between the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:4). The position thus indicated would not be very far from the Gilgal (Jiljileh) of 2 Kings 2. and 2 Kings 4:38. And brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits. It is clear that the more pious among the Israelites not only looked to the prophets for religious instruction (ver. 23), but regarded them as having inherited the position of the Levitical priests whom Jeroboam's innovations had driven from the country. The firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil were assigned by the Law (Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 18:4, 5) to the priests. Twenty loaves of barley. The "loaves" of the Israelites were cakes or rolls, rather than "loaves" in the modern sense of the word. Each partaker of a meal usually had one for himself. Naturally, twenty "loaves" would be barely sufficient for twenty men. And full ears of corn; i.e. a few ripe ears of the same corn as that whereof the bread was made. Ears of corn were offered as firstfruits at the Passover (Leviticus 23:10), and were regarded as the most natural and becoming tokens of gratitude for God's harvest mercies. In the husk thereof; rather, in his bag, or in his sack (see the Revised Version). And he said, Give unto the people - i.e., to the sons of the prophets who dwelt at Gilgal - that they may eat. 2 Kings 4:42Feeding of a Hundred Pupils of the Prophets with Twenty Barley Loaves. - A man of Baal-Shalisha (a place in the land of Shalisha, the country to the west of Gilgal, Jiljilia; see at 1 Samuel 9:4) brought the prophet as first-fruits twenty barley loaves and כּרמל equals כּרמל גּרשׂ, i.e., roasted ears of corn (see the Comm. on Leviticus 2:14), in his sack (צקלון, ἁπ. λεγ., sack or pocket). Elisha ordered this present to be given to the people, i.e., to the pupils of the prophets who dwelt in one common home, for them to eat; and when his servant made this objection: "How shall I set this (this little) before a hundred men?" he repeated his command, "Give it to the people, that they may eat; for thus hath the Lord spoken: They will eat and leave" (והותר אכול, infin. absol.; see Ewald, 328, a.); which actually was the case. That twenty barley loaves and a portion of roasted grains of corn were not a sufficient quantity to satisfy a hundred men, is evident from the fact that one man was able to carry the whole of this gift in a sack, and still more so from the remark of the servant, which shows that there was no proportion between the whole of this quantity and the food required by a hundred persons. In this respect the food, which was so blessed by the word of the Lord that a hundred men were satisfied by so small a quantity and left some over, forms a type of the miraculous feeding of the people by Christ (Matthew 14:16., 2 Kings 15:36-37; John 6:11-12); though there was this distinction between them, that the prophet Elisha did not produce the miraculous increase of the food, but merely predicted it. The object, therefore, in communicating this account is not to relate another miracle of Elisha, but to show how the Lord cared for His servants, and assigned to them that which had been appropriated in the law to the Levitical priests, who were to receive, according to Deuteronomy 18:4-5, and Numbers 18:13, the first-fruits of corn, new wine, and oil. This account therefore furnishes fresh evidence that the godly men in Israel did not regard the worship introduced by Jeroboam (his state-church) as legitimate worship, but sought and found in the schools of the prophets a substitute for the lawful worship of God (vid., Hengstenberg, Beitrr. ii. S. 136f.).
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