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Elisha Defeats an Army

Now the king of Syria was at war with Israel. He consulted his advisers, who said, “Invade[a] at such and such[b] a place.” But the prophet sent this message to the king of Israel, “Make sure you don’t pass through this place because Syria is invading there.” 10 So the king of Israel sent a message to the place the prophet had pointed out, warning it[c] to be on its guard. This happened on several occasions.[d] 11 This made the king of Syria upset.[e] So he summoned his advisers[f] and said to them, “One of us must be helping the king of Israel.”[g] 12 One of his advisers said, “No, my master, O king. The prophet Elisha who lives in Israel keeps telling the king of Israel the things you say in your bedroom.” 13 The king[h] ordered, “Go, find out where he is, so I can send some men to capture him.”[i] The king was told, “He is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent horses and chariots there, along with a good-sized army.[j] They arrived during the night and surrounded the city.

15 The prophet’s[k] attendant got up early in the morning. When he went outside there was an army surrounding the city, along with horses and chariots. He said to Elisha,[l] “Oh no, my master! What will we do?” 16 He replied, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.”[m] 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that[n] the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As the army approached him,[o] Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike these people[p] with blindness.”[q] The Lord[r] struck them with blindness as Elisha requested.[s] 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the right road or city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you’re looking for.” He led them to Samaria.

20 When they had entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open their eyes, so they can see.” The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were in the middle of Samaria.[t] 21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Should I strike them down,[u] my master?”[v] 22 He replied, “Do not strike them down! You did not capture them with your sword or bow, so what gives you the right to strike them down?[w] Give them some food and water, so they can eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he threw a big banquet[x] for them and they ate and drank. Then he sent them back[y] to their master. After that no Syrian raiding parties again invaded the land of Israel.

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  1. 2 Kings 6:8 tc The verb form used here is difficult to analyze. On the basis of the form נְחִתִּים (nekhittim) in v. 9 from the root נָחַת (nakhat), it is probably best to emend the verb to תִּנְחְתוּ (tinkhetu; a Qal imperfect form from the same root). The verb נָחַת in at least two other instances carries the nuance “go down, descend” in a military context. For a defense of this view, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 72.
  2. 2 Kings 6:8 sn The advisers would have mentioned a specific location, but the details are not significant to the narrator’s purpose, so he simply paraphrases here.
  3. 2 Kings 6:10 tn The vav + perfect here indicates action contemporary with the preceding main verb (“sent”). See IBHS 533-34 §32.2.3e.
  4. 2 Kings 6:10 tn Heb “and the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God spoke to him, and he warned it and he guarded himself there, not once and not twice.”
  5. 2 Kings 6:11 tn Heb “and the heart of the king of Syria was stirred up over this thing.”
  6. 2 Kings 6:11 tn Heb “servants.”
  7. 2 Kings 6:11 tn Heb “Will you not tell me who among us [is] for the king of Israel?” The sarcastic rhetorical question expresses the king’s suspicion.
  8. 2 Kings 6:13 tn Heb “he” (also a second time in this verse); the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  9. 2 Kings 6:13 tn Heb “Go and see where he [is] so I can send and take him.”
  10. 2 Kings 6:14 tn Heb “heavy force.”
  11. 2 Kings 6:15 tn Heb “man of God’s.”
  12. 2 Kings 6:15 tn Heb “his young servant said to him.”
  13. 2 Kings 6:16 tn Heb “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
  14. 2 Kings 6:17 tn Heb “and he saw, and look.”
  15. 2 Kings 6:18 tn Heb “and they came down to him.”
  16. 2 Kings 6:18 tn Or “this nation,” perhaps emphasizing the strength of the Syrian army.
  17. 2 Kings 6:18 tn On the basis of the Akkadian etymology of the word, M. Cogan and H. Tadmor (II Kings [AB], 74) translate “blinding light.” HALOT 761 s.v. סַנְוֵרִים suggests the glosses “dazzling, deception.”
  18. 2 Kings 6:18 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  19. 2 Kings 6:18 tn Heb “according to the word of Elisha.”
  20. 2 Kings 6:20 tn Heb “and they saw, and look, [they were] in the middle of Samaria.”
  21. 2 Kings 6:21 tn Heb “Should I strike them down? I will strike them down.” In the Hebrew text the first person imperfect form is repeated; the first form has the interrogative he prefixed to it; the second does not. It is likely that the second form should be omitted as dittographic or that the first should be emended to an infinitive absolute.
  22. 2 Kings 6:21 tn Heb “my father.” The king addresses the prophet in this way to indicate his respect. See 2 Kgs 2:12.
  23. 2 Kings 6:22 tn Heb “Are [they] ones you captured with your sword or your bow (that) you can strike (them) down?”
  24. 2 Kings 6:23 tn Or “held a great feast.”
  25. 2 Kings 6:23 tn Heb “they went back.”