2 Kings 8:7
And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7-15) Elisha’s visit to Damascus, and its consequences.

(7) And Elisha came to Damascus.—In the fragmentary condition of the narrative, why he came is not clear. Rashi suggests that it was to fetch back Gehazi, who had fled to the Syrians (!), an idea based upon 1Kings 2:39, seq. Keil and others think the prophet went with the intention of anointing Hazael, in accordance with a supposed charge of Elijah’s. (Comp. 1Kings 19:15, where Elijah himself is bidden to anoint Hazael). Ewald believes that Elisha retreated to Damascene territory, in consequence of the strained relations existing between him and Jehoram, owing to the latter’s toleration of idolatry. Obviously all this rests upon pure conjecture. It is clear from 2Kings 8:7 that Elisha’s visit was not expected in Damascus, and further, that there was peace at the time between Damascus and Samaria. We do not know how much of Elisha’s history has been omitted between 2Kings 7:20 and 2Kings 8:7; but we may fairly assume that a divine impulse led the prophet to Damascus. The revelation, of which he speaks in 2Kings 8:10; 2Kings 8:13, probably came to him at the time, and so was not the occasion of his journey.

Ben-hadad . . . was sick.—According to Josephus, on account of the failure of his expedition against Samaria (?).

The man of God.—As if Elisha were well known and highly esteemed in Syria.

Is come hither.—This certainly implies that Elisha had entered Damascus itself.

2 Kings 8:7. Elisha came to Damascus — Either to the city so called, or rather, as it seems from 2 Kings 8:9, to the kingdom of Damascus; as Samaria, which properly was the name of a city, sometimes means the kingdom of which that city was the capital. Some have thought that Elisha went thither to avoid the famine; but it is more probable that he was sent by God, on the errand following. Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, was sick — For neither honour, wealth, nor power will secure men from the common diseases and disasters of human life: palaces and thrones lie as open to the arrests of death as the meanest cottage. It was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither — Which doubtless had rarely, if ever, been the case before; and his having cured Naaman had raised a great opinion of his power with God in that country.

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.The hour had come for carrying out the command given by God to Elijah (marginal reference "e"), and by him probably passed on to his successor. Elisha, careless of his own safety, quitted the land of Israel, and proceeded into the enemy's country, thus putting into the power of the Syrian king that life which he had lately sought so eagerly 2 Kings 6:13-19.

The man of God - The Damascenes had perhaps known Elisha by this title from the time of his curing Naaman. Or the phrase may be used as equivalent to "prophet," which is the title commonly given to Elisha by the Syrians. See 2 Kings 6:12. Compare 2 Kings 5:13.

2Ki 8:7-15. Hazael Kills His Master, and Succeeds Him.

7, 8. Elisha came to Damascus—He was directed thither by the Spirit of God, in pursuance of the mission formerly given to his master in Horeb (1Ki 19:15), to anoint Hazael king of Syria. On the arrival of the prophet being known, Ben-hadad, who was sick, sent to inquire the issue of his disease, and, according to the practice of the heathens in consulting their soothsayers, ordered a liberal present in remuneration for the service.

To Damascus; either to the city, or rather to the kingdom, of Damascus, by comparing 2 Kings 8:9; as Samaria, which properly was the name of the city, is sometimes the name of the kingdom; of which See Poole "1 Kings 13:32". Hither he came by the special direction of the Spirit, and under God’s protection, upon the errand here following.

And Elisha came to Damascus,.... On what account, and when, is not certain, whether to convert Gehazi, as say the Jews (d); or to confirm Naaman in the true religion he professed, for which he might be dismissed from his office, since another man was made general of the Syrian army; or on account of the famine; or rather it may be to anoint, or, however, to declare that Hazael would be king of Syria; see 1 Kings 19:15,

and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; at the time he came thither, where his palace was, and now a Mahometan temple; a very extraordinary building, according to Benjamin the Jew (e):

and it was told him, saying, the man of God is come hither; the famous prophet in Israel, Elisha, through whom Naaman his general had been cured of his leprosy, of whom he had heard so much.

(d) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 47. 1.((e) Itinerar. p. 55.

And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7–15. Elisha visits Damascus. Benhadad, being sick, sends Hazael to enquire of Elisha. Benhadad is murdered by Hazael (Not in Chronicles)

7. And Elisha came to Damascus] Probably here ‘Damascus’ is used not for the city, but for the district. For Hazael (verse 9) has a journey to make to meet the prophet, and is sent from the royal city by the sick king with his enquiry. We need not suppose that Elisha went to fulfil the command which had been given to Elijah (1 Kings 19:15) to anoint Hazael king over Syria. For he does not anoint him, but merely says ‘The Lord hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria’. Elisha appears to have been in no peril when he went into Syria, for the sick king’s message is of the most peaceable kind, and the presents which Hazael brought with him are an indication of the honour in which the prophet was held. This may be accounted for by the cure of Naaman, and by the release of the Syrian soldiers whom the prophet had brought into Samaria (2 Kings 6:22-23).

The man of God is come hither] Benhadad had experienced in many ways the power of the God of Israel, and though Rimmon was the god of Damascus, yet, in common with other idolaters, the king thinks that it may be possible for him, through the prophet, to obtain help from the Israelites’ God. Josephus (Ant. IX. 4. 6) represents Benhadad as having sickened from despondency after his late flight from Samaria, and because the God of Israel was hostile to him.

Verses 7-15. - Elisha's visit to Damascus, and its consequences. It has been usual to connect this visit of Elisha's to Damascus with the commission given to Elijah many years previously, to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria (1 Kings 19:16). But it is certainly worthy of remark that neither is Elijah authorized to devolve his corn-mission on another, nor is he said to have done so, nor is there any statement in the present narrative or elsewhere that Elisha anointed Hazael. It is therefore quite possible that Elisha's journey was wholly unconnected with the command given to Elijah. It may, as Ewald imagines, have been the consequence of disorders and dangers in Samaria, growing out of the divergence of views between Jehoram and the queen-mother Jezebel, who still retained considerable influence over the government; and Elisha may have taken his journey, not so much for the sake of a visit, as of a prolonged sojourn. That he attracted the attention both of Benhadad and of his successor Hazael is not surprising. Verse 7. - And Elisha came to Damascus. It was a bold step, whatever the circumstances that led to it. Not very long previously the Syrian king had made extraordinary efforts to capture Elisha, intending either to kin him or to keep him confined as a prisoner (2 Kings 6:18-19). Elisha had subsequently helped to baffle his plans of conquest, and might be thought to have caused the disgraceful retreat of the Syrian army from the walls of Samaria, which he had certainly prophesied (2 Kings 7:1). But Elisha was not afraid. He was probably commissioned to take his journey, whether its purpose was the anointing of Hazael or no. And Benhadad the King of Syria was sick. Ewald supposes that this "sickness" was the result of the disgrace and discredit into which he had fallen since his ignominious retreat, without assignable reason, from before the walls of Samaria; but Ben-hadad must have been of an age When the infirmities of nature press in upon a man, and when illness has to be expected. He was a contemporary of Ahab (1 Kings 20:1), who had now been dead ten or twelve years. And it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. Elisha seems to have attempted no concealment of his presence. No sooner was he arrived than his coming was reported to Benhadad. The Syrians had by this time learnt to give him the name by which he was commonly known (2 Kings 4:7, 21, 40; 2 Kings 5:20; 2 Kings 6:6, 10; 2 Kings 7:2, 18) in Israel. 2 Kings 8:7Elisha Predicts to Hazael at Damascus the Possession of the Throne. - 2 Kings 8:7. Elisha then came to Damascus at the instigation of the Spirit of God, to carry out the commission which Elijah had received at Horeb with regard to Hazael (1 Kings 19:15). Benhadad king of Syria was sick at that time, and when Elisha's arrival was announced to him, sent Hazael with a considerable present to the man of God, to inquire of Jehovah through him concerning his illness. The form of the name חזהאל (here and 2 Kings 8:15) is etymologically correct; but afterwards it is always written without .ה דם וכל־טוּב ("and that all kinds of good of Damascus") follows with a more precise description of the minchah - "a burden of forty camels." The present consisted of produce or wares of the rich commercial city of Damascus, and was no doubt very considerable; at the same time, it was not so large that forty camels were required to carry it. The affair must be judged according to the Oriental custom, of making a grand display with the sending of presents, and employing as many men or beasts of burden as possible to carry them, every one carrying only a single article (cf. Harmar, Beobb. ii. p. 29, iii. p. 43, and Rosenmller, A. u. N. Morgenl. iii. p. 17).
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