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The Siege of Samaria—Cannibalism

24 But it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram (Syria) gathered his whole army together and went up and besieged Samaria. 25 Now there was a great famine in Samaria; and they [a]besieged it until a [b]donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a [c]kab of [d]dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. 26 As the king of Israel (Jehoram) was passing by on the [city] wall a woman cried out to him, “Help, my lord, O king!” 27 He said, “If the Lord does not help you, from where shall I get you help? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?” 28 And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son so we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give your son so that we may eat him’; but she had hidden her son.”

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Footnotes

  1. 2 Kings 6:25 The purpose of a siege was to starve out or weaken the inhabitants of a fortified city, minimizing risk to the attacking army. The success of the siege depended on whether the city was sufficiently stocked with food and water. Here, with a famine, not only does the city fall well short of adequate provisions, but those inhabitants who have a surplus of anything edible or useful make the situation even worse by engaging in price-gouging.
  2. 2 Kings 6:25 Apparently the famine was so severe that the inhabitants were purchasing products that were barely edible as well as being ceremonially unclean.
  3. 2 Kings 6:25 One kab is about two quarts.
  4. 2 Kings 6:25 Normally dung was used as fertilizer or for fuel; however, in this verse “dove’s dung” may be a nickname for a wild pealike vegetable.

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