2 Kings 7:3
And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) And there were four leprous men.—Literally, And four men were lepers.

At the entering in of the gate.—And so outside of the city. (Comp. Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:2-3.) Rashi says they were Gehazi and his sons (!)

Why sit we?—Or, Why are we abiding? Nobody brought them food any longer, owing to the pressure of the famine.

2 Kings 7:3-5. There were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate — Namely, of the city, out of which they were shut by virtue of God’s law. They had either had their dwelling-place near the gate, or had come near it for fear of the Syrian army. They said one to another, Why sit we here till we die? — None passed through the gate to relieve them, and they were ready to perish with hunger. Should they go into the city, there was nothing to be had there, they must die in the streets; should they sit still, they must pine to death in their cottage: they therefore determine to go over to the enemy, and throw themselves upon their mercy; for death seemed unavoidable every other way. They rose up, therefore, in the twilight — In the evening twilight, as appears from 2 Kings 7:9; 2 Kings 7:12. To go to the camp of the Syrians — Which, to their great surprise and joy, they found wholly deserted, not a man being to be seen or heard in it.7:3-11 God can, when he pleases, make the stoutest heart to tremble; and as for those who will not fear God, he can make them fear at the shaking of a leaf. Providence ordered it, that the lepers came as soon as the Syrians were fled. Their consciences told them that mischief would befall them, if they took care of themselves only. Natural humanity, and fear of punishment, are powerful checks on the selfishness of the ungodly. These feelings tend to preserve order and kindness in the world; but they who have found the unsearchable riches of Christ, will not long delay to report the good tidings to others. From love to him, not from selfish feelings, they will gladly share their earthly good things with their brethren.The position of the lepers is in accordance with the Law of Moses (marginal references); and shows that the Law was still observed to some extent in the kingdom of Israel. 3. there were four leprous men—The account of the sudden raising of the siege and the unexpected supply given to the famishing inhabitants of Samaria, is introduced by a narrative of the visit and discovery, by these poor creatures, of the extraordinary flight of the Syrians.

leprous men at the entering in of the gate—living, perhaps, in some lazar house there (Le 13:4-6; Nu 5:3).

At the entering in of the gate, to wit, of the city, out of which they were shut by virtue of God’s law, Leviticus 13:46 14:3 either the the dwelling place of the lepers was near the gate, or they were come very near to the gate, for fear of the Syrians. And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate,.... Of the city of Samaria; lepers, according to the law, being obliged to be without the city and camp, Leviticus 13:46 these might have a dwelling assigned them near the gate; or they might get as near to it as they could, partly to obtain relief from the city, and partly for fear of the Syrians; these, the Jews say (x), were Gehazi and his three sons, see 2 Kings 5:27.

and they said one to another, why sit we here until we die? being ready to perish with hunger.

(x) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 47. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 107. 2.

And there were four leprous men at the {e} entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?

(e) For it was commanded in the law that they should dwell apart, and not among their brethren, Le 13:46.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3–11. Four lepers discover that the Syrian camp is deserted, and bring word unto the city (Not in Chronicles)

3. at the entering in of the gate] Lepers were not allowed to come into the city even in the time of war. On this regulation concerning them see Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:2-3.

until we die] As long as there had been enough, these lepers had their supply from friends in the city, but that had now come to an end. In such a dreadful famine the needs of the outcast lepers could be little regarded.Verses 3-16. - The mode in which Elisha's prophecy of relief and deliverance was fulfilled is now set forth. Four lepers, excluded from the city, and on the point of perishing of hunger, felt that they could be no worse off, and might better their condition, if they deserted to the Syrians. They therefore drew off from the city at nightfall, and made for the Syrian camp. On arriving, they found it deserted. The entire host, seized with a sudden panic, had fled, about the time that they began their journey. The lepers' first thought was to enrich themselves by plunder, but after a while it occurred to them that, unless they hastened to carry the good news to Samaria, inquiry would be made, their proceedings would be found out, and they would be severely punished. So they returned to the capital, and reported what they had discovered. Jehoram, on receiving the news, feared that the Syrians had prepared a trap for him, and declined to move. He consented, however, to send out scouts to reconnoiter. The scouts found evident proof that the entire army had actually fled and was gone, whereupon there was a general raid upon the camp and its stores, which were so abundant that Elisha's prophecy was fulfilled ere the day ended. Verse 3. - And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate; or, at the entrance to the gate-house. Lepers were forbidden by the Law to reside within cities (Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:3). They were thrust out when the disease developed itself, and forced to dwell without the walls. No doubt their friends within the city ordinarily supplied them with food; and hence they congregated about the city gates. And they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? In the extreme scarcity, it is probable that no food was brought to them, the inmates of the city having barely enough wherewith to sustain themselves (2 Kings 6:25). Thus they were on the point of perishing. The king, shuddering at this horrible account, in which the curses of the law in Leviticus 26:29 and Deuteronomy 28:53, Deuteronomy 28:57 had been literally fulfilled, rent his clothes; and the people then saw that he wore upon his body the hairy garment of penitence and mourning, מבּית, within, i.e., beneath the upper garment, as a sign of humiliation before God, though it was indeed more an opus operatum than a true bending of the heart before God and His judgment. This is proved by his conduct in 2 Kings 6:31. When, for example, the complaint of the woman brought the heart-breaking distress of the city before him, he exclaimed, "God do so to me ... if the head of Elisha remain upon him to-day." Elisha had probably advised that on no condition should the city be given up, and promised that God would deliver it, if they humbled themselves before Him in sincere humility and prayed for His assistance. The king thought that he had done his part by putting on the hairy garment; and as the anticipated help had nevertheless failed to come, he flew into a rage, for which the prophet was to pay the penalty. It is true that this rage only proceeded from a momentary ebullition of passion, and quickly gave place to a better movement of his conscience. The king hastened after the messenger whom he had sent to behead Elisha, for the purpose of preventing the execution of the murderous command which he had given in the hurry of his boiling wrath (2 Kings 6:32); but it proves, nevertheless, that the king was still wanting in that true repentance, which would have sprung from the recognition of the distress as a judgment inflicted by the Lord. the desperate deed, to which his violent wrath had impelled him, would have been accomplished, if the Lord had not protected His prophet and revealed to him the king's design, that he might adopt defensive measures.
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