2 Kings 1
New English Translation
Elijah Confronts the King and His Commanders
1 After Ahab died, Moab rebelled against Israel.[a] 2 Ahaziah fell through a window lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria and was injured. He sent messengers with these orders,[b] “Go, ask[c] Baal Zebub,[d] the god of Ekron, if I will survive this injury.”
3 But the angel of the Lord told Elijah the Tishbite, “Get up; go to meet the messengers from the king of Samaria. Say this to them: ‘You must think there is no God in Israel! That explains why you are on your way to seek an oracle from Baal Zebub the god of Ekron.[e] 4 Therefore this is what the Lord has said, “You will not leave the bed you lie on, for you will certainly die!”’” So Elijah went on his way.
5 When the messengers returned to the king,[f] he asked them, “Why have you returned?” 6 They replied,[g] “A man came up to meet us. He told us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘You must think there is no God in Israel! That explains why you are sending for an oracle from Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron.[h] Therefore you will not leave the bed you lie on, for you will certainly die.’”’” 7 The king[i] asked them, “Describe the appearance[j] of this man who came up to meet you and told you these things.” 8 They replied,[k] “He was a hairy[l] man and had a leather belt[m] tied around his waist.” The king[n] said, “He is Elijah the Tishbite.”
9 The king[o] sent a captain and his fifty soldiers[p] to retrieve Elijah.[q] The captain[r] went up to him while he was sitting on the top of a hill.[s] He told him, “Prophet,[t] the king says, ‘Come down!’” 10 Elijah replied to the captain,[u] “If I am indeed a prophet, may fire come down from the sky and consume you and your fifty soldiers!” Fire then came down[v] from the sky and consumed him and his fifty soldiers.
11 The king[w] sent another captain and his fifty soldiers to retrieve Elijah. He went up and told him,[x] “Prophet, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’”[y] 12 Elijah replied to them,[z] “If I am indeed a prophet, may fire come down from the sky and consume you and your fifty soldiers!” Fire from God[aa] came down from the sky and consumed him and his fifty soldiers.
13 The king[ab] sent a third captain and his fifty soldiers. This third captain went up and fell[ac] on his knees before Elijah. He begged for mercy, “Prophet, please have respect for my life and for the lives of these fifty servants of yours. 14 Indeed,[ad] fire came down from the sky and consumed the two captains who came before me, along with their men.[ae] So now, please have respect for my life.” 15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him. Don’t be afraid of him.” So he got up and went down[af] with him to the king.
16 Elijah said to the king,[ag] “This is what the Lord has said, ‘You sent messengers to seek an oracle from Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron. Is it because there is no God in Israel from whom you can seek a message? Therefore[ah] you will not leave the bed you lie on, for you will certainly die.’”[ai]
17 And he did die in keeping with the Lord’s message that he had spoken through Elijah. In the second year of the reign of King Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat over Judah, Ahaziah’s brother Jehoram replaced him as king of Israel, because he had no son.[aj] 18 The rest of the events of Ahaziah’s reign, including his accomplishments, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Israel.[ak]
- 2 Kings 1:1 sn This statement may fit better with the final paragraph of 1 Kgs 22.
- 2 Kings 1:2 tn Heb “and he sent messengers and said to them.”
- 2 Kings 1:2 tn That is, “seek an oracle from.”
- 2 Kings 1:2 sn Apparently Baal Zebub refers to a local manifestation of the god Baal at the Philistine city of Ekron. The name appears to mean “Lord of the Flies,” but it may be a deliberate scribal change of Baal Zebul, “Baal, the Prince,” a title known from the Ugaritic texts. For further discussion and bibliography, see HALOT 261 s.v. זְבוּב בַּעַל and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 25.
- 2 Kings 1:3 tn Heb “Is it because there is no God in Israel [that] you are going to inquire of Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron?” The translation seeks to bring out the sarcastic tone of the rhetorical question.
- 2 Kings 1:5 tn Heb “to him.”sn The narrative is elliptical and telescoped here. The account of Elijah encountering the messengers and delivering the Lord’s message is omitted; we only hear of it as the messengers report what happened to the king.
- 2 Kings 1:6 tn Heb “said to him.”
- 2 Kings 1:6 tn Heb “Is it because there is no God in Israel [that] you are sending to inquire of Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron?” The translation seeks to bring out the sarcastic tone of the rhetorical question. In v. 3 the messengers are addressed (in the phrase “you are on your way” the second person plural pronoun is used in Hebrew), but here the king is addressed (in the phrase “you are sending” the second person singular pronoun is used).
- 2 Kings 1:7 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 1:7 tn Heb “What was the manner…?”
- 2 Kings 1:8 tn Heb “said to him.”
- 2 Kings 1:8 tn Heb “an owner of hair.” This idiomatic expression indicates that Elijah was very hairy. For other examples where the idiom “owner of” is used to describe a characteristic of someone, see HALOT 143 s.v. בַּעַל. For example, an “owner of dreams” is one who frequently has dreams (Gen 37:19) and an “owner of anger” is a hot-tempered individual (Prov 22:24).
- 2 Kings 1:8 tn Heb “belt of skin” (i.e., one made from animal hide).
- 2 Kings 1:8 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 1:9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 1:9 tn Heb “officer of fifty and his fifty.”
- 2 Kings 1:9 tn Heb “to him.”
- 2 Kings 1:9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the captain) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 1:9 sn The prophet Elijah’s position on the top of the hill symbolizes his superiority to the king and his messengers.
- 2 Kings 1:9 tn Heb “man of God” (also in vv. 10, 11, 12, 13).
- 2 Kings 1:10 tn Heb “answered and said to the officer of fifty.”
- 2 Kings 1:10 tn Wordplay contributes to the irony here. The king tells Elijah to “come down” (Hebrew יָרַד, yarad), but Elijah calls fire down (יָרַד) on the arrogant king’s officer.
- 2 Kings 1:11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 1:11 tc The MT reads, “he answered and said to him.” The verb “he answered” (וַיַּעַן, vayyaʿan) probably should be emended to “he went up” (וַיַּעַל, vayyaʿal). See v. 9. One Hebrew ms, the LXX, and Vulgate support וַיַּעַל (vayyaʿal, “he went up”).
- 2 Kings 1:11 sn In this second panel of the three-paneled narrative, the king and his captain are more arrogant than before. The captain uses a more official sounding introduction (“this is what the king says”) and the king adds “at once” to the command.
- 2 Kings 1:12 tc Two medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, and the Syriac Peshitta have the singular “to him.”
- 2 Kings 1:12 tn Or “intense fire.” The divine name may be used idiomatically to emphasize the intensity of the fire. Whether one translates אֱלֹהִים (ʾelohim) here as a proper name or idiomatically, this addition to the narrative (the name is omitted in the first panel, v. 10b) emphasizes the severity of the judgment and is appropriate given the more intense command delivered by the king to the prophet in this panel.
- 2 Kings 1:13 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 1:13 tn Heb “went up and approached and kneeled.”
- 2 Kings 1:14 tn Heb “look.”
- 2 Kings 1:14 tn Heb “their fifty.”
- 2 Kings 1:15 sn In this third panel the verb “come down” (יָרַד, yarad) occurs again, this time describing Elijah’s descent from the hill at the Lord’s command. The moral of the story seems clear: Those who act as if they have authority over God and his servants just may pay for their arrogance with their lives; those who, like the third commander, humble themselves and show the proper respect for God’s authority and for his servants will be spared and find God quite cooperative.
- 2 Kings 1:16 tn Heb “he spoke to him,”
- 2 Kings 1:16 tn Heb “Because you sent… therefore you will not leave.” The rhetorical question is a parenthetical remark inserted into the proposition for dramatic effect.
- 2 Kings 1:16 sn For the third time in this chapter we read the Lord’s sarcastic question to the king and the accompanying announcement of judgment. The repetition emphasizes one of the chapter’s main themes. Israel’s leaders should seek guidance from their own God, not a pagan deity, for Israel’s sovereign God is the one who controls life and death.
- 2 Kings 1:17 tn Heb “Jehoram replaced him as king…because he had no son.” Some ancient textual witnesses add “his brother,” perhaps to clarify that it is not the contemporary Jehoram of Judah.
- 2 Kings 1:18 tn Heb “As for the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not recorded in the scroll of the events of the days of the kings of Israel?”