2 Kings 8:8
And the king said to Hazael, Take a present in your hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
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(8) Hazael.—See Note on 2Kings 8:15. In 1Kings 19:15; 1Kings 19:17 the name is written Hăzāh’êl; here it is spelt with an etymological allusion, Hăzāh’êl, i.e., “El hath seen” (foreseen). Hazael appears to have been the highest officer in Ben-hadad s court; Josephus says, “the trustiest of his domestics.”

Take a present in thine hand.—Comp. Numbers 22:7; 1Samuel 9:7; 2Kings 5:5; 1Kings 14:3.

Go, meet the man of God.—Literally, go to meet him. This does not imply, as some have supposed, that Elisha was still on the road to Damascus, nor even that he happened to be at the time on his way to the palace, for how could Ben-hadad know that? What is meant is “Go to the place where the prophet is to be found; seek an interview with him.”

Enquire of the Lord by him.—A different construction is used in 2 Kings 1, 2.

By him.—Literally, from with him. (Comp. Note on 2Kings 1:15.)

Shall I recover of this disease?—Comp. 2Kings 1:2.

2 Kings 8:8. The king said, Go, meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord, &c. — In his health he bowed down in the house of Rimmon, but now he sends to inquire of the God of Israel. It is not long since he sent a great force to seize and treat Elisha as an enemy; yet now he courts and inquires of him as a prophet: thus affliction brings those to God, who, in their prosperity, made light of him: it opens men’s eyes, and rectifies their mistakes: and among other instances of the change it produces in their minds, this is one, and not the least considerable, that it often gives them other thoughts of God’s ministers, and teaches them to value those whom they before hated and despised. Affliction, however, has not this good effect upon all: it only blinds and hardens some. We lately saw even a king of Israel sending, in his sickness, to inquire of the god of Ekron, as if there had been no God in Israel. How does the conduct of this heathen, in similar circumstances, reprove and condemn the idolatrous and incorrigible Israelite! Thus does God sometimes fetch that honour to himself from strangers, which is denied him, and alienated from him, by his own professing people.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.Hazael was no doubt a high officer of the court. The names of Hazael and Benhadad occur in the Assyrian inscription on the Black Obelisk now in the British Museum. Both are mentioned as kings of Damascus, who contended with a certain Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, and suffered defeat at his hands. In one of the battles between this king and Benhadad, "Allah of Jezreel" is mentioned among the allies of the latter. This same Shalmaneser took tribute from Jehu. This is the point at which the Assyrian records first come in direct contact with those of the Jews. 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.

Take a present in thine hand; by which he thought to purchase his favour, and the healing of his disease. And the king said to Hazael,.... The captain general of his army:

take a present in thine hand, and go and meet the man of God, who, perhaps, was not as yet come into the city, only into the region of Damascus: or rather "with thee"; so the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions; and which Noldius (f) approves of, since a burden of forty camels, 2 Kings 8:9 could not be carried in the hand:

and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, shall I recover of this disease? he did not desire him to pray the Lord that he might recover, only was curious to know whether he should or not, see 2 Kings 1:2.

(f) Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 189. No. 362.

And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
8. the king said unto Hazael] Josephus says Hazael was the most trusted of Benhadad’s household. He was evidently one of his chief ministers, and must have been in some prominent position at the time when God’s message came to Elijah to anoint him as future king.

in thine hand] The Hebrew expression for ‘with thee’. So in the next verse the literal ‘in his hand’ (see margin) is rendered ‘with him’. The Oriental notion of sending a present is to make it seem as grand as possible, by committing each portion to a separate servant, or placing it on a separate beast of burden.

inquire of the Lord] It was not for information only that Benhadad sent, but with the hope that for such a gorgeous present the prophet might intercede with the God of Israel for his recovery.Verse 8. - And the king said unto Hazael. It is implied that Hazael was in attendance on Benhadad in his sick-room, either permanently as a chamberlain, or occasionally as a minister. According to Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 9:4. § 6), he was "the most faithful of the king's domestics" (ὁ πιστότατος τῶν οἱκετῶν). We cannot presume from ver. 12 that he had as yet distinguished himself as a warrior. Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God. It was usual, both among the heathen and among the Israelites, for those who consulted a prophet to bring him a present (see 1 Samuel 9:7; 1 Kings 14:3). Hence, mainly, the great wealth of the Delphic and other oracles. Naaman (2 Kings 5:5) had brought with him a rich present when he went to consult Elisha in Samaria. And inquire of the Lord by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease! The miracles of Elisha had had at any rate this effect - they had convinced the Syrians that Jehovah was a great and powerful God, and made them regard Elisha himself as a true prophet. Their faith in their own superstitions must have been at least partially shaken by these convictions. It was by these and similar weakenings of established errors that the world was gradually educated, and the way prepared for the introduction of Christianity. There was very early among the Syrians a flourishing Christian Church. Elisha's Influence Helps the Shunammite to the Possession of her House and Field. - 2 Kings 8:1, 2 Kings 8:2. By the advice of Elisha, the woman whose son the prophet had restored to life (2 Kings 4:33) had gone with her family into the land of the Philistines during a seven years' famine, and had remained there seven years. The two verses are rendered by most commentators in the pluperfect, and that with perfect correctness, for they are circumstantial clauses, and ותּקם is merely a continuation of דּבּר, the two together preparing the way for, and introducing the following event. The object is not to relate a prophecy of Elisha of the seven years' famine, but what afterwards occurred, namely, how king Joram was induced by the account of Elisha's miraculous works to have the property of the Shunammite restored to her upon her application. The seven years' famine occurred in the middle of Joram's reign, and the event related here took place before the curing of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5), as is evident from the fact that Gehazi talked with the king (2 Kings 8:4), and therefore had not yet been punished with leprosy. But it cannot have originally stood between 2 Kings 4:37 and 2 Kings 4:38, as Thenius supposes, because the incidents related in 2 Kings 4:38-44 belong to the time of this famine (cf. 2 Kings 4:38), and therefore precede the occurrence mentioned here. By the words, "the Lord called the famine, and it came seven years" (sc., lasting that time), the famine is described as a divine judgment for the idolatry of the nation.
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