Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Timber. Hebrew and Septuagint, "a beam." Salien supposes that these prophets resided at Galgal. (Menochius)
Borrowed. He was grieved because he could not repair the loss. (Worthington)
Swam. So; Demersam fluvio relevavit virga securim. (Tertullian, contra Marc.) The Fathers here remark a figure of the cross of Jesus Christ; the virtue of which, in baptism, reclaims the hardened sinner from the ways of vanity. (Tertullian, contra Judæos xiii.) (Calmet) --- Those who would explain the reason of every miracle, may here inform the infidel why recourse was had to a supernatural interference, in a matter apparently of such a trifling nature. They ask why God should cause the eyes of various pictures in Italy to move on a late occasion; and because they cannot assign a satisfactory reason, they boldly assert that all was an imposture. But this mode of argumentation is very delusive, if not impious. "Who hat been his (God's) counsellor?" (Romans xi. 34.) All that we have to do is to believe, when the proofs are of such a nature as to require our rational assent.
And such, which the king would mention. (Menochius) --- The causes of this war are not known; but an ambitious prince always finds pretexts to cover his injustice. (Calmet)
Twice, but very frequently: so that the Syrian feared some treachery. (Haydock)
Chamber. It is difficult therefore for the saints in heaven to hear our prayers? though they have not such long ears as Calvin ridicules. (Haydock)
Take him. Foolish attempt! as if the prophet could not foresee his own danger. (Salien) --- Dothan or Dothain, (Genesis xxxvii. 17.) twelve miles north of Samaria. (Eusebius; Calmet) Adrichomius says, in the tribe of Zabulon. (Menochius)
Of an, or, "of the army." To take one man was judged of such consequence; and Benadad feared lest the Israelites should rise up in his defence. (Haydock)
Servant, Giezi; as his leprosy is placed too soon. (Salien) (Menochius)
Of fire. The angels assumed such a glorious and terrible appearance. One of them would have sufficed to destroy all the army of Syria; and thus the servant might be convinced how vain were all attempts against God's servants, Psalm cxliv. 19. (Salien, the year before Christ 907.) Jacob beheld such camps of angels, (Genesis xxxii. 1, 2.) and our Saviour speaks of the legions which he could have brought forward, Matthew xxvi. 53. (Calmet)
Blindness. The blindness here spoken of was of a particular kind, which hindered them from seeing the objects that were really before them; and represented other different object to their imagination; so that they no longer perceived the city of Dothan, nor were able to know the person of Eliseus; but were easily led by him, whom they took to be another man, to Samaria. Sot that he truly told them; this is not the way, neither is this the city, &c., because he spoke with relation to the way, and to the city which was represented to them. (Challoner) --- Stratagems in war are lawful. (St. Chrysostom, &c.) (Grotius, Jur. iii. 1, 17.) The words of the prophet might be merely ironical. --- Blindness, Septuagint Greek: aorasia, "not seeing" certain objects, while they could perceive others; as was the case of the men who sought Lot's door at Sodom; (Genesis xix. 11.; Calmet) and the eyes of the disciples were held, that they might not know our Saviour. Eliseus had left his house, going towards Samaria to meet the soldiers; and when they asked him where the prophet dwelt, he answered truly, This, &c. For he was then near the royal city, and is above was at Dothan. (Salien) (Haydock) --- The reprobate will thus acknowledge their error, when it is too late, at the last day.
For thou. Hebrew, "Dost thou kill, &c.?" If those who have surrendered themselves in battle be often spared, though they might be slain by the strict laws of war, how much less ought these men to be treated with such severity? (Calmet) --- Sicut bellanti & resistenti violentia redditur: ita victo vel capto misericorida jam debetur. (St. Augustine, ep. 1. ad Bonif.) (Grotius) --- And water, all necessary provisions. (Worthington) --- These men were suffered to live that they might relate the wonders of God. (Theodoret, q. 20.)
Meats. So the apostle orders us to treat our enemies, Romans xii. 20. --- The robbers, these soldiers, who were dismissed. (Haydock) --- No more, (ultra) or, "no farther." (Haydock) during this war, or in small troops; but, a little later, Benadad came with all his forces to besiege Samaria. (Tirinus) --- He was enraged at Eliseus and Joram, as if they despised his power. (Salien)
In Samaria. It had raged in all the country above three years, (Salien) and continued other four, chap. viii. 1. The continuance of the siege added fresh horrors. --- Pieces is not expressed in Hebrew: a sicle is understood. (Haydock) --- Lyranus supposes that the whole ass was sold for about 38 crowns, (Haydock) or 130 livres; as we say commonly, "so much a head." But interpreters generally assert that the price of the head alone is given; which shews more forcibly the greatness of the famine. On other occasions the animal could not be eaten by the Jews. Artaxerxes was forced to kill his beasts of burden; and an ass's head was then sold for 60 drachms, or 25 livres. When Hannibal besieged Casilinum, a mouse (or rat) was sold for above 70, or for 200 denari. (Pliny, [Natural History?] viii. 57.) (V. Max. vii. 6, 3.) --- Cabe. Sufficient measure of corn for a man's daily sustenance. (Menochius) --- The fourth part would be about a gill. (Haydock) --- Dung. Bochart maintains that "chick-peas" are designated. The Arabic usnen and kali, "pigeon or sparrows' dung," are real eatables. Those who suppose that the Samaritans bought the dung of pigeons to use as salt or for food, or to burn, or to manure the earth, &c., produce not satisfactory reasons; no more than the Rabbins, who pretend that the corn which they had picked up was taken from their crop. (Tr. Megil. 3., and the Scholastic History.) Junius and Fuller would translate "belly," which is refuted by Bochart. (Anim. T. ii. B. i. 7.) Very disgusting things have often been used through extreme hunger, (Grotius) and some sort of birds' dung is said to fatten oxen and swine. (Varro 38.; Pliny xvii. 9.) --- But what nutriment can there be in that of pigeons, that people should go to buy it? (Calmet) --- Houbigant understands a sort of peas is meant. (Haydock) --- The Hebrews called them kali when they were parched; and such food was very common, 2 Kings xvii. 28. (Bellon. ii. 53, and 99.) (Calmet)
Save (salvat.) Many ancient manuscripts read salvet, conformably to the Hebrew and Septuagint, as if the king cursed the woman: "Let not the Lord save thee," Josephus [Antiquities?] ix. 4. Others place the stops differently: "He said, no: the Lord save thee." (Calmet) --- He is the author of life. (Menochius)
Eat him. Strange cruelty! foretold [in] Deuteronomy xxviii. 53, and again verified at Jerusalem, Ezechiel v. 10.
Passed by, without punishing such a horrid crime, as he esteemed his own sins the occasion of it. (Menochius) --- Flesh. Behold the advantage to be derived from afflictions! They make the most hardened enter into sentiments of humility and penance. (Calmet) --- Abulensis thinks that God was pleased to cause the siege to be raised, to reward this act; as a similar one of Joram's father had merited a delay and mitigation of punishment, (Haydock) 3 Kings xxi. 27. (Salien)
Day. This was said in a fit of sudden passion, which may give us reason to conclude that the repentance was insincere, or of short duration. (Haydock) --- The king supposed that he Eliseus could remedy the evil: but God was not moved by his prayers to grant such a favour, till all were convinced that human aid was fruitless. (Calmet) --- The prophet might have answered Joram in the words of Elias, 3 Kings xviii. 18. (Menochius) --- Probably he had dissuaded the king from making peace. (Tirinus)
Murderer. Achab had slain Naboth, and Jezabel had destroyed the prophets. (Calmet)
And he, Joram, (Menochius, &c.) after (Haydock) his messenger. (Estius) (Piscator) --- What, &c. All is desperate; (Calmet) our miseries cannot increase. (Menochius) --- I have nothing now to fear or to hope for. (Salien)