And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come to you, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may recover him of his leprosy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Now.—Heb., And now, continuing an omitted passage. Only the principal sentence of the letter is given. The message pre-supposes a not altogether hostile relation between the two kings; and the words of the next verse, “He seeketh a quarrel against me,” point to the time of comparative lull which ensued after the luckless expedition to Ramoth-gilead (1. Kings 22), and the short reign of the invalid Ahaziah; i.e., to the reign of Jehoram, not to that of Jehoahaz, in which Israel was wholly crushed by Syria (2Kings 13:3-7). Schenkel thinks the Syrian inroads (2Kings 5:2) indicate the reign of Jehu, and that Hazael was the king who wrote the letter, as he was personally acquainted with Elisha (2Kings 5:5, seq.). But, as Thenius remarks, he forgets that the relations between Jehu and Syria were throughout strained to the last degree, so that such a friendly passage between the two kings as is here described is not to be thought of.2 Kings 5:6. Now when this letter is come unto thee, &c. — The beginning of the letter, which, it is likely, contained the usual compliments, is omitted, as not pertinent to the matter in hand. That thou mayest recover him of his leprosy — Or, That, by thy command, the prophet that is with thee may cleanse him; for kings are often said to do those things which they command to be done: in which view, there is no ambiguity in this letter of the king of Syria. But this not being plainly expressed, the king of Israel apprehended that the intention of this demand was only to pick a quarrel with him, and seek an occasion, or rather a pretence, for a war with him.
ten changes of raiment—splendid dresses, for festive occasions—the honor being thought to consist not only in the beauty and fineness of the material, but on having a variety to put on one after another, in the same night.2 Kings 5:3,4, whom thou mayest command to use his utmost skill and power herein.
now when this letter is come unto thee; was received by him:
behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant unto thee; the bearer of it:
that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy; meaning not he himself, but that he would recommend him to the care of a proper person, his prophet, and enjoin him to do the best he could for him; but the king of Israel mistook his meaning, as appears by what follows.And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. he brought the letter to the king of Israel] The Syrian king would conclude that the prophet was at the king’s command, and so he had only to write to the king, and all would be done that could be done.
Now [R.V. And now] when this letter] This is not the commencement of the letter. The writer only extracts from it the sentence which contains the request. The insertion of the copula ‘And’ by R.V. shews this, and so represents the Hebrew more exactly.
that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy] The Syrian king speaks as though the cure were to be Jehoram’s work. But of course he only required of the king that he should use his power with the mighty prophet. This however can hardly have been made plain in the body of the letter, or Jehoram’s thoughts would have turned to Elisha.Verse 6. - And he brought the letter to the King of Israel, saying. The hostile relations between Syria and Israel would not interfere with the coming and going of a messenger from either king to the other, who would be invested with an ambassadorial character. Now when this letter is come unto thee. We must not suppose that we have here the whole letter, which, no doubt, began with the customary Eastern formalities and elaborate compliments. The historian omits these, and hastens to, communicate to us the main point of the epistle, or rather, perhaps, its main drift, which he states somewhat baldly and bluntly. Behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him - literally, and thou shalt recover him - of his leprosy. The letter made no mention of Elisha. Ben-hadad assumed that, if the King of Israel had in his dominions a person able to cure leprosy, he would be fully cognizant of the fact, and would at once send for him, and call upon him for an exertion of his gift or art. He is not likely to have comprehended the relations in which Kings of Israel stood towards the Jehovistic prophets, but may probably have thought of Elisha "as a sort of chief magus, or as the Israelitish high priest" (Menken), whom the king would have at his beck and call, and whose services would be completely at his disposal. 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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