2 Kings 7:13
And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray you, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Let some take.—Literally, And (i.e., then) let them take. (Comp. 2Kings 2:9; 2Kings 4:41.)

Five.—Used as an indefinite small number, like our “half a dozen.” (Comp. Leviticus 26:8; Isaiah 30:17.) The actual number taken was two pairs (2Kings 7:14).

The horses that remain, which are left in the city.—Literally, the remaining horses that remain in it. The repetition dwells pathetically on the fewness of those that survive. Instead of “in it,” the LXX. and Arabic read “here,” which may be right, as the two Hebrew terms closely resemble each other.

Behold, they are as all . . . consumed.—The king’s adviser supposes two contingencies: the horses (and their drivers) may return safe, in which case they share the fortune of “all the multitude of Israel that are left” (i.e., have survived the famine, but are likely to die of it); or they may be taken and slain by the enemy, in which case they will be “even as all the multitude that are consumed” (i.e., by the famine and fighting). The sense is thus the same as in 2Kings 7:4. The servant is not much more sanguine than the king: he says, “They have to perish in any case; whether here by famine, or there by the sword, makes little difference.” “However it may turn out, nothing worse can happen to the men we send out than has already happened to many others, or than will yet happen to the rest.” But perhaps Reuss is right in seeing here simply a reference to the wretched condition of the horses. “Qu’attendre de chevaux qui sont exténues de faim?” A natural doubt whether the starving animals are adequate to the service required of them. “Consumed,” then, means spent, exhausted.

The multitude of Israel.—The article with the first word in the Hebrew is the error of a transcriber, who, as often occurs, wrote the same letter twice.

The Israelites.Israel. Syriac: “Let them bring five of the horsemen who are left: if they are taken, they are accounted of as all the people of Israel who have perished; and let us send and see.”

2 Kings 7:13. Let some, I pray thee, take five of the horses, &c. — The sense seems to be, We may well venture these five horses, though we have no more, because both they and we are ready to perish with hunger: let us, therefore, use them while we may, for our common good, or to make the discovery. Behold, they are as the multitude of Israel — The words may be rendered, Behold, they are of a truth (the Hebrew prefix, Caph, being not here a note of similitude, but an affirmation of the truth and certainty of the things, as it is taken Numbers 11:1; Deuteronomy 9:10) all the multitude of the horses of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even all the multitude of the horses of the Israelites, which (which multitude) are consumed, reduced to this small number, all consumed except these five. And this was indeed worthy of a double behold, to show what mischief the famine had done both upon men and beasts, and to what a low ebb the king of Israel was come, that all his troops of horses, to which he had trusted, were shrunk to so small a number.7:12-20 Here see the wants of Israel supplied in a way they little thought of, which should encourage us to depend upon the power and goodness of God in our greatest straits. God's promise may be safely relied on, for no word of his shall fall to the ground. The nobleman that questioned the truth of Elisha's word, saw the plenty, to silence and shame his unbelief, and therein saw his own folly; but he did not eat of the plenty he saw. Justly do those find the world's promises fail them, who think that the promises of God will disappoint them. Learn how deeply God resents distrust of his power, providence, and promise: how uncertain life is, and the enjoyments of it: how certain God's threatenings are, and how sure to come on the guilty. May God help us to inquire whether we are exposed to his threatenings, or interested in his promises.Behold ... - The Septuagint and a large number of the Hebrew MSS. omit the clause, "behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it." But the text followed by our translators, which is that of the best maunscripts, is intelligible and needs no alteration. It is merely a prolix way of stating that the horsemen will incur no greater danger by going to reconnoitre than the rest of their countrymen by remaining in the city, since the whole multitude is perishing. 12-15. the king … said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done—Similar stratagems have been so often resorted to in the ancient and modern wars of the East that there is no wonder Jehoram's suspicions were awakened. But the scouts, whom he despatched, soon found unmistakable signs of the panic that had struck the enemy and led to a most precipitate flight. So the sense is, We may well venture these horses, though we have no more, because both they and we are ready to perish through hunger; and therefore let us use them whilst we may for our common good, or to make the discovery. But the repetition of the phrase seems to imply something more emphatical and significant than the saving of four or five horses, for which it is not probable they would be so much concerned in their circumstances. The words therefore may be reordered otherwise, Behold, they are of a truth (the Hebrew prefix caph being not here a note of similitude, as the other translations make it, and as it is commonly used; but an affirmation of the truth and certainty of the things, as it is taken Numbers 11:1 Deu 9:10 Hosea 4:4 5:10 John 1:14)

all the multitude of the horses of Israel that are left in it (to wit, in the city); behold, I say, they are even all the multitude of the horses of the Israelites which (i.e. which multitude) are consumed, i.e. reduced to this small number, all consumed except these five. And thus the vulgar Latin, and some others, understand it. And this was indeed a memorable passage, and worthy of a double

behold, to show what mischief the famine had done both upon men and beasts, and to what a low ebb the king of Israel was come, that all his troops of horses, to which he had trusted, were shrunk to so small a number. And one of his servants answered and said, let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city,.... Not having died through the famine as the rest:

behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it; behold, I say, they are even as the multitude of Israel that are consumed; signifying, there was a like consumption among the horses as among the people, and they that remained were starving as they were; so that should those horses, and the men, fall into the hands of the Syrians, and perish, it would be no great matter; the loss would not be much, since they must perish if they continue in the city: according to the Vulgate Latin version, these five horses were all that were left:

and let us send and see; whether the report of the lepers is true or not.

And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the {i} multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.

(i) There are no more left, but they, or the rest are consumed by the famine, as the rest of the people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. five of the horses] ‘Five’ is probably used indefinitely to mean some small number. That ‘five’ may be thus used seems likely from Genesis 43:34; Numbers 11:19.

behold, they are as all the multitude] The sense of the speaker seems to be: the men sent out as spies, if they be taken and slain, will be no worse off than those that remain behind, for these are consumed with famine and will soon be dead. And if they find the news true they are enough to make sure of the matter, and to bring word into the city.Verse 13. - And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain. One of Jehoram's "servants," i.e. of the officers attached to his person, suggested that a small body of horse (four or five) should be sent out to reconnoiter. The besieged had still some horses left, though apparently not many. Note the phrase, "five of the horses that remain." The majority had died of want, or been killed to furnish food to the garrison. (Behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it - i.e. in Samaria - behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed); i.e. they will run no more risk than the other troops who remain in the city, for these, too, "are consumed," i.e. are on the point of perishing. Supposing that they fall into the enemy's hands, it will go no harder with them than with the "multitude" which is on the point of starvation. And let us send and see. We can do nothing until we know whether the siege is really raised, or whether the pretended withdrawal is a mere ruse. We must send and have this matter made clear. "Four men were before the gate as lepers," or at the gateway, separated from human society, according to the law in Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:3, probably in a building erected for the purpose (cf. 2 Kings 15:5), just as at the present day the lepers at Jerusalem have their huts by the side of the Zion gate (vid., Strauss, Sinai u. Golgatha, p. 205, and Tobler, Denkbltter aus Jerus. p. 411ff.). These men being on the point of starvation, resolved to invade the camp of the Syrians, and carried out this resolution בּנּשׁף, in the evening twilight, not the morning twilight (Seb. Schm., Cler., etc.), on account of 2 Kings 7:12, where the king is said to have received the news of the flight of the Syrians during the night. Coming to "the end of the Syrian camp," i.e., to the outskirts of it on the city side, they found no one there. For (2 Kings 7:6, 2 Kings 7:7) "the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and horses, a noise of a great army," so that, believing the king of Israel to have hired the kings of the Hittites and Egyptians to fall upon them, they fled from the camp in the twilight אל־נפשׁם, with regard to their life, i.e., to save their life only, leaving behind them their tents, horses, and asses, and the camp as it was. - The miracle, by which God delivered Samaria from the famine or from surrendering to the foe, consisted in an oral delusion, namely, in the fact that the besiegers thought they heard the march of hostile armies from the north and south, and were seized with such panic terror that they fled in the greatest haste, leaving behind them their baggage, and their beasts of draught and burden. It is impossible to decide whether the noise which they heard had any objective reality, say a miraculous buzzing in the air, or whether it was merely a deception of the senses produced in their ears by God; and this is a matter of no importance, since in either case it was produced miraculously by God. The kings of the Hittites are kings of northern Canaan, upon Lebanon and towards Phoenicia; חתּים in the broader sense for Canaanites, as in 1 Kings 10:29. The plural, "kings of the Egyptians," is probably only occasioned by the parallel expression "kings of the Hittites," and is not to be pressed.
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