2 Kings 8:10
And Elisha said to him, Go, say to him, You may certainly recover: however, the LORD has showed me that he shall surely die.
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(10) Unto him.—The reading of some Hebrew MSS., of the Hebrew margin, and of all the versions, as well as of Josephus.

The ordinary Hebrew text has “not” (’, instead of ), so that the meaning would be, “Thou shalt not recover.” But (1) the position of the negative before the adverbial infinitive is anomalous; and (2) Hazaeľs report of Elisha’s words, in 2Kings 8:14, is without the negative particle. (See the Note there.) The Authorised Version is, therefore, right.

Thou mayest certainly recover.—Rather. Thou wilt certainly live. Elisha sees through Hazaeľs character and designs, and answers him in the tone of irony which he used to Gehazi in 2Kings 5:26, “Go, tell thy lord—as thou, the supple and unscrupulous courtier wilt be sure to do—he will certainly recover. I know, however, that he will assuredly die, and by thy hand.” Others interpret, “Thou mightest recover” (i.e., thy disease is not mortal); and make the rest of the propheťs reply a confidential communication to Hazael. But this is to represent the prophet as deceiving Benhadad, and guilty of complicity with Hazael, which agrees neither with Elisha’s character nor with what follows in 2Kings 8:11-12. The Syriac and Arabic, with some MSS., read, “thou wilt die” for “he will die.”

2 Kings 8:10. Say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit, &c. — Here is no contradiction: for the first words contain an answer to Ben- hadad’s question, Shall I recover? To which the answer is, Thou mayest, notwithstanding thy disease, which is not mortal. The latter words contain the prophet’s addition to that answer, which is, that he should die, not by the power of his disease, but by some other cause. But it must be observed, that this is according, not to the Hebrew text, but the marginal reading of the Jewish rabbins, who have substituted the pronoun לו, lo, to him, for the adverb לא, lo, not. In the text it is, Go say, Thou shalt not recover; or, as Dr. Waterland renders it, Thou shalt certainly not live; for the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. Dr. Kennicott is clearly of opinion that this is the true reading and sense of the passage. See his first Dissert., p. 163. Houbigant, however, prefers our translation, and thinks that the words contain a silent reproof from Elisha, who well knew that a courtier, like Hazael, would certainly flatter his king: he therefore understands the meaning to be, “Go thou, and, courtier-like, say to him, Thou wilt certainly recover; howbeit, the Lord hath, shown me very much the contrary; he will surely die, and die by thy traitorous hand.”8:7-15 Among other changes of men's minds by affliction, it often gives other thoughts of God's ministers, and teaches to value the counsels and prayers of those whom they have hated and despised. It was not in Hazael's countenance that Elisha read what he would do, but God revealed it to him, and it fetched tears from his eyes: the more foresight men have, the more grief they are liable to. It is possible for a man, under the convictions and restraints of natural conscience, to express great abhorrence of a sin, yet afterwards to be reconciled to it. Those that are little and low in the world, cannot imagine how strong the temptations of power and prosperity are, which, if ever they arrive at, they will find how deceitful their hearts are, how much worse than they suspected. The devil ruins men, by saying they shall certainly recover and do well, so rocking them asleep in security. Hazael's false account was an injury to the king, who lost the benefit of the prophet's warning to prepare for death, and an injury to Elisha, who would be counted a false prophet. It is not certain that Hazael murdered his master, or if he caused his death it may have been without any design. But he was a dissembler, and afterwards proved a persecutor to Israel.Translate - "Go, say unto him, Thou shalt certainly live: howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall certainly die." i. e.," Say to him, what thou hast already determined to say, what a courtier is sure to say (compare 1 Kings 22:15), but know that the fact will be otherwise." 10. Go, say … Thou mayest certainly recover—There was no contradiction in this message. This part was properly the answer to Ben-hadad's inquiry [2Ki 8:9]. The second part was intended for Hazael, who, like an artful and ambitious courtier, reported only as much of the prophet's statement as suited his own views (compare 2Ki 8:14). Here is no contradiction; for the first words contain an answer to Ben-hadad’s question, 2 Kings 8:8,

Shall I recover of this disease? To which the answer is, Thou mayest or shalt recover, i.e. notwithstanding thy disease, which is not mortal, and shall not take away thy life. The latter words contain the prophet’s explication of or addition to that answer, which is, that he should die, not by the power of his disease, but by some other cause. But it is observable, that in the Hebrew text it is lo, the adverb, which signifies not; which though most affirm to be put for to, the pronoun, signifying to him; yet others take it as it lies, and translate the words thus, Say, Thou shalt not recover; for the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. Or, according to the former reading, the first words may be taken interrogatively, Say unto him, Shalt thou indeed recover? (as thou dost flatter thyself:) no; (which negation is implied in the very question, and gathered from the following words;) for the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. And Elisha said unto him, go, say unto him, thou mayest certainly recover,.... That is, of the disease; and there was not only a probability that he might recover of it, it not being a mortal one, but a certainty that he should not die of it, as he did not, but die a violent death, which the prophet predicts in the next clause; though some take these words not as a command, what he should say, but as a prediction of what he would say; that he would go and tell him he should certainly recover, because he would not discourage him, though the prophet assures him in the next clause that he should die: there is a various reading of these words; we follow the marginal reading, but the textual reading is, "say, thou shall not certainly recover", or "in living live"; which agrees with what follows:

howbeit or "for"

the Lord hath showed me, that he shall surely die; though not of that sickness, nor a natural death, but a violent one, and that by the hand of this his servant, though he does not express it.

And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly {f} recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die.

(f) Meaning that he would recover of this disease: but he knew that this messenger Hazael would slay him to obtain the kingdom.

10. Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly [R.V. shalt surely] recover] This is not the translation of the Hebrew text (Kethib) but of the marginal reading [Keri]. The variation is between לא the negative and לו the pronoun and preposition. The text would be rendered ‘Go say; Thou shalt not recover’. This does not suit with what follows, ‘Howbeit the Lord hath shewed me that he shall surely die’. We should expect ‘For the Lord &c.’ The meaning of the prophet’s words is, ‘Go and carry him such a message as a courtier is likely to carry, a message of good promise, for this I know you are likely to do, yet the Lord has made known to me that he will die’. The R.V. has given the translation of the Kethib on the margin, but as that is so little in harmony with the context, has translated the Keri in the text, though this is contrary to the usual rule of the Revisers.

Another way of explaining the language of Elisha has been adopted by some. It is pointed out that the king’s question was ‘Shall I recover of this disease?’ Elisha, forewarned of the events that were coming, gives as answer to that enquiry ‘Thou shalt surely recover’, meaning thereby that the disease would not kill Benhadad, but suppresses that other source whence danger and death threatened, viz., the murderous hands of Hazael, which he knew would soon slay his master. This seems very unlike the manner of a prophet of the Lord. The explanation previously given is therefore to be preferred. Bp Hall takes the later explanation, ‘The Lord hath shewed me that he shall surely die, by another means, though not by the disease’.Verse 10. - And Elisha said unto him; Go, say unto him; Thou mayest certainly recover. The existing Masoretic text (חָיִה תִחְיָה ךאמָר־לא) is untranslatable, since emar-lo cannot mean, "say not," on account of the order of the words; and lo cannot he joined with khayiah thikhyah, first on account of the makkeph whick attaches it to emar, and secondly because the emphatic infinitive is in itself affirmative, and does not admit of a negative prefix. The emendation in the Hebrew margin (לו for לא), accepted by all the versions, and by almost all commentators, is thus certain. Our translators are therefore, so far, in the right; but they were not entitled to tone down the strong affirmative, khayih thikhyah, "living thou shalt live," or "thou shalt surely live," into the weak potential, "thou mayest certainly recover." What Elisha says to Hazael is, "Go, say unto him, Thou shalt surely live;" i.e. "Go, say unto him, what thou hast already made up thy mind to say, what a courtier is sure to say, Thou shalt recover." Howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. If Hazael had reported the whole answer to Benhadad, he would have told no lie, and thus Elisha is not responsible for his lie. And just at that time the king was asking Gehazi to relate to him the great things that Elisha had done; and among these he was giving an account of the restoration of the Shunammite's son to life.
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