2 Kings 4:7
Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt, and live you and your children of the rest.
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(7) Then she came.And she went in.

He said.LXX., “Elisha said.”

Thy debt.—Right. Margin incorrect.

And live thou and thy children.—Heb., and thou—thy sons—thou mayest live. Clearly “and” has fallen out before the second word. Many MSS. and all the versions have it.

Thou.—’Attî, an archaism, perhaps retained in the dialect of northern Israel (1Kings 14:2).

Of the rest.On what is left over—i.e., of the price of the oil.

(8–37) The Shunammitess and her son.

2 Kings 4:7. He said, Go, sell the oil — She must not keep it for her own use. Those whom Providence has made poor, must be content with poor accommodations for themselves: they must know how to want, and must not think, when they get a little of that which is better than ordinary, to feed their own luxury therewith. And pay thy debt — Though her creditors were too rigorous with her, yet they must not therefore be deprived of what was due to them: her first care, now she has wherewithal to do it, must be to discharge that, even before she makes any provision for her children. We must first do justice, and then expect God’s blessing upon our endeavours to provide for ourselves and families.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. 6. the oil stayed—that is, ceased to multiply; the benevolent object for which the miracle had been wrought having been accomplished. First do justice to others, and then take care of thyself and children. Then she came and told the man of God,.... Elisha the prophet, what had been done, what a quantity of oil she had, and advised with him what was to be done with it:

and he said, go, sell thy oil, and pay thy debt; what was thus miraculously produced was no doubt very good and excellent, and would fetch a good price; and she is therefore bid to turn it into money, and pay her debts with it; she was not to keep it all for her own use, and indulge to luxury with it, but first pay her just debt, as everyone ought to do that is able:

and live thou and thy children of the rest; so that it seems there was enough to pay her debt with it, rid her of her troubles, and somewhat remaining for the support of herself and children.

Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the {g} rest.

(g) God here not only provided for his servant, that his debts should be paid and so kept his doctrine and profession without slander, but also for his wife and children.

7. she came and told the man of God] Feeling that the disposal of the oil should be made according to the direction of him who had told her what to do. It would seem to her that the unexpected supply could not be regarded as her own property.

pay thy debt] Like several of Elisha’s miracles, e.g. the curing the noxious water at Jericho (2 Kings 2:19-22), this multiplying of the widow’s oil was wrought for the help of those connected with the colleges of prophets. And as we read the frequent mention of these bodies, in the histories both of Elijah and Elisha, we cannot but wonder at the righteous zeal which shewed itself in this way in the northern kingdom. Most of the places we read of as seats of prophetic schools were in the ten tribes, and nearly all the work of the two great leaders was done among the northern people. It would seem therefore that in spite of the prevalence of the calf-worship there must have been a special manifestation of true religious feeling, just at the worst time of Israel’s history.

live thou and thy children [R.V. sons] of the rest] Not, that is, on the remaining oil, though the LXX. gives ἐν τῷ ἐπιλοίπῳ ἐλαίῳ. The oil was all to be sold, and the money that was over, when the debt was paid, would be a means of support till the sons, now no longer forced to labour as slaves, might find a way to earn a living.Verse 7. - Then she came and told the man of God; i.e. Elisha (comp. vers. 9,16, 21, 22, etc.). She did not feel entitled to make use of the oil which she had got by his instrumentality without first telling him and receiving his directions respecting it. The prophet gave them with all plainness and brevity. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest. The oil in the vessels was more than sufficient for the discharge of the debt. The prophet directs the woman to sell the whole, and, after satisfying the claim of her creditor with part of the money, to support herself and her children on the remainder. The Widow's Cruse of Oil. - A poor widow of the scholars of the prophets complained to Elisha of her distress, namely, that a creditor was about to take her two sons as servants (slaves). The Mosaic law gave a creditor the right to claim the person and children of a debtor who was unable to pay, and they were obliged to serve him as slaves till the year of jubilee, when they were once more set free (Leviticus 25:39-40). When the prophet learned, on inquiry that she had nothing in her house but a small flask of oil (אסוּך, from סוּך, means an anointing flask, a small vessel for the oil necessary for anointing the body), he told her to beg of all her neighbours empty vessels, not a few (אל־תּמעיטי, make not few, sc. to beg), and then to shut herself in with her sons, and to pour from her flask of oil into all these vessels till they were full, and then to sell this oil and pay her debt with the money, and use the rest for the maintenance of herself and her children. She was to close the house-door, that she might not be disturbed in her occupation by other people, and also generally to avoid all needless observation while the miracle was being performed. תּסּיאי המּלא, let that which is filled be put on one side, namely by the sons, who handed her the vessels, according to 2 Kings 4:5 and 2 Kings 4:6, so that she was able to pour without intermission. The form מיצקת is a participle Piel, and is quite appropriate as an emphatic form; the Keri השּׁקת (Hiphil) is an unnecessary alteration, especially as the Hiphil of יצק is הצּיּק. השׁמן ויּעמד, then the oil stood, i.e., it ceased to flow. The asyndeton בניך ואתּ is very harsh, and the Vav copul. has probably dropped out. With the alteration proposed by L. de Dieu, viz., of ואתּ into ואת, "live with thy sons," the verb תּחיי would necessarily stand first (Thenius).
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