2 Kings 6:28
And the king said to her, What ails you? And she answered, This woman said to me, Give your son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) And the king said.—When she had explained what she wanted. With the hideous facts here recorded, comp. Deuteronomy 28:56, seq. Similar things were done during the sieges of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (1Samuel 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10), and by Vespasian and Titus (Josephus, Bell. Jud. vi. 3, 4).

2 Kings 6:28-29. The king said, What aileth thee? — Is there any thing singular in thy case? Dost thou fare worse than thy neighbours? Truly, yes: she and one of her neighbours had made a barbarous agreement, that, all provisions failing, they should boil and eat her son first, and then her neighbour’s: hers was eaten, (who can think on it without horror?) and now her neighbour hid hers. This shocking story is a terrible effect of the divine vengeance, which Moses, about six hundred years before, had warned the Israelites would fall upon them in case of their apostacy from, and rebellion against, God; as the reader may see in the passages referred to in the margin. The same dreadful calamity befell them at two other times besides this; at the siege of Jerusalem, under Nebuchadnezzar, Lamentations 2:20; Ezekiel 5:10; and that under Titus. See Joseph., Jewish War, lib. 7, c. 10.6:24-33 Learn to value plenty, and to be thankful for it; see how contemptible money is, when in time of famine it is so freely parted with for any thing that is eatable! The language of Jehoram to the woman may be the language of despair. See the word of God fulfilled; among the threatenings of God's judgments upon Israel for their sins, this was one, that they should eat the flesh of their own children, De 28:53-57. The truth and the awful justice of God were displayed in this horrible transaction. Alas! what miseries sin has brought upon the world! But the foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord. The king swears the death of Elisha. Wicked men will blame any one as the cause of their troubles, rather than themselves, and will not leave their sins. If rending the clothes, without a broken and contrite heart, would avail, if wearing sackcloth, without being renewed in the spirit of their mind, would serve, they would not stand out against the Lord. May the whole word of God increase in us reverent fear and holy hope, that we may be stedfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.The king had assumed that the cry of the woman was for food. Her manner indicated that it was not so. He therefore proceeded to inquire what she wanted of him.

This woman - Both women, it would seem, were present; and the aggrieved one pointed to the other.

26. as the king was passing—to look at the defenses, or to give some necessary orders for manning the walls. No text from Poole on this verse. And the king said unto her, what aileth thee?.... His passion subsiding, or pitying her as in distress, and supposing that there might be something particular and pressing in her case:

and she answered:

this woman said unto me; who was now with her, and to whom she pointed:

give thy son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow; and this was agreed to between them, that first one should be eaten, and then the other, and that they should feed upon one as long as it would last, and then on the other; for it is not to be limited precisely to a day and tomorrow.

And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. What aileth thee?] The woman’s cry is not stopped by his answer. She has more to speak about than to ask him for food.

This woman said unto me] It would appear as if she had brought her neighbour along with her, that what she deemed justice might be done her at once. That they should be brought to such hardships and horrors as are here described had been foretold to Israel in early times (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57); cf. also Lament. 2 Kings 2:20; 2 Kings 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10. Josephus relates the like dreadful sufferings in the siege of Jerusalem by Titus (B. J. 6:3. 4).

my son] According to the history the children were both sons. Josephus represents only one of them as a boy.Verse 28. - And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? Probably, as Bahr suggests, the woman explained to the king that she did not appear before him to beg food, but to claim his interposition as judge, in a case in which she considered herself to be wronged. Such an appeal the king was bound to hear; and he therefore asks," What aileth thee?" i.e. "What is thy ground of complaint?" Then she tells her story. And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. Compare the prophecy in Deuteronomy, "The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil towards the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates" (Deuteronomy 28:56, 57). There is historical testimony that the prophecy was three times fulfilled; viz.

(1) in Samaria on the present occasion;

(2) in Jerusalem during the last siege by Nebuchadnezzar (Lamentations 4:10); and

(3) in Jerusalem during the last siege by Titus (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 6:03. § 4). In modern sieges surrender is made before the population is driven to such straits. Elisha forbade king Joram to slay the enemy that he had brought to him, because he had not taken them prisoners in war, and recommended him to treat them hospitably and then let them return to their lord. The object of the miracle would have been frustrated if the Syrians had been slain. For the intention was to show the Syrians that they had to do with a prophet of the true God, against whom no human power could be of any avail, that they might learn to fear the almighty God. Even when regarded from a political point of view, the prophet's advice was more likely to ensure peace than the king's proposal, as the result of 2 Kings 6:23 clearly shows. The Syrians did not venture any more to invade the land of Israel with flying parties, from fear of the obvious protection of Israel by its God; though this did not preclude a regular war, like that related in the following account. For אבי see the Comm. on 2 Kings 5:13. וגו שׁבית האשׁר: "art thou accustomed to slay that which thou hast taken captive with sword and bow?" i.e., since thou dost not even slay those whom thou hast made prisoners in open battle, how wouldst thou venture to put these to death? כּרה להם יכרה, he prepared them a meal. כּרה is a denom. from כּרה, a meal, so called from the union of several persons, like coena from κοινή (vid., Dietr. on Ges. Lex. s. v. כרה).
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