2 Kings 6-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Elisha Makes an Ax Head Float
6 One day the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we meet with you is too small. 2 Why don’t we build a new meeting place near the Jordan River? Each of us could get some wood, then we could build it.”
“That’s a good idea,” Elisha replied,”get started.”
3 “Aren’t you going with us?” one of the prophets asked.
“Yes, I’ll go,” Elisha answered, 4 and he left with them.
They went to the Jordan River and began chopping down trees. 5 While one of the prophets was working, his ax head fell off and dropped into the water. “Oh!” he shouted. “Sir, I borrowed this ax.”
6 “Where did it fall in?” Elisha asked. The prophet pointed to the place, and Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. The ax head floated to the top of the water.
7 “Now get it,” Elisha told him. And the prophet reached in and grabbed it.
Elisha Stops an Invasion of the Syrian Army
8 Time after time, when the king of Syria was at war against the Israelites, he met with his officers and announced, “I’ve decided where we will set up camp.”
9 Each time, Elisha[a] would send this warning to the king of Israel: “Don’t go near there. That’s where the Syrian troops have set up camp.”[b] 10 So the king would warn the Israelite troops in that place to be on guard.
11 The king of Syria was furious when he found out what was happening. He called in his officers and asked, “Which one of you has been telling the king of Israel our plans?”
12 “None of us, Your Majesty,” one of them answered. “It’s an Israelite named Elisha. He’s a prophet, so he can tell his king everything—even what you say in your own room.”
13 “Find out where he is!” the king ordered. “I’ll send soldiers to bring him here.”
They learned that Elisha was in the town of Dothan[c] and reported it to the king. 14 He ordered his best troops to go there with horses and chariots. They marched out during the night and surrounded the town.
15 When Elisha’s servant got up the next morning, he saw that Syrian troops had the town surrounded. “Sir, what are we going to do?” he asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha answered. “There are more troops on our side than on theirs.” 17 Then he prayed, “Lord, please help him to see.” And the Lord let the servant see that the hill[d] was covered with fiery horses and flaming chariots all around Elisha.
18 As the Syrian army came closer, Elisha prayed, “Lord, make those soldiers blind!” And the Lord blinded them with a bright light.
19 Elisha told the enemy troops, “You’ve taken the wrong road and are in the wrong town. Follow me. I’ll lead you to the man you’re looking for.” Elisha led them straight to the capital city of Samaria.
20 When all the soldiers were inside the city, Elisha prayed, “Lord, now let them see again.” The Lord let them see that they were standing in the middle of Samaria.
21 The king of Israel saw them and asked Elisha, “Should I kill them, sir?”
22 “No!” Elisha answered. “You didn’t capture these troops in battle, so you have no right to kill them. Instead, give them something to eat and drink and let them return to their leader.”
23 The king ordered a huge meal to be prepared for Syria’s army, and when they finished eating, he let them go.
For a while, the Syrian troops stopped invading Israel’s territory.
King Benhadad of Syria Attacks Samaria
24 Some time later, King Benhadad of Syria[e] called his entire army together, then they marched to Samaria and attacked. 25 They kept up the attack until there was nothing to eat in the city. In fact, a donkey’s head cost about two pounds of silver, and a small bowl of pigeon droppings[f] cost about two ounces of silver.
26 One day as the king of Israel[g] was walking along the top of the city wall, a woman shouted to him, “Please, Your Majesty, help me!”
27 “Let the Lord help you!” the king said. “Do you think I have grain or wine to give you?” 28 Then he asked, “What’s the matter anyway?”
The woman answered, “Another woman and I were so hungry that we agreed to eat our sons. She said if we ate my son one day, we could eat hers the next day. 29 So yesterday we cooked my son and ate him. But today when I went to her house to eat her son, she had hidden him.”
30 The king tore off his clothes in sorrow, and since he was on top of the city wall, the people saw that he was wearing sackcloth underneath. 31 He said, “I pray that God will punish me terribly, if Elisha’s head is still on his shoulders by this time tomorrow.” 32 Then he sent a messenger to Elisha.
Elisha was home at the time, and the important leaders of Israel were meeting with him. Even before the king’s messenger arrived, Elisha told the leaders, “That murderer[h] is sending someone to cut off my head. When you see him coming, shut the door and don’t let him in. I’m sure the king himself will be right behind him.”
33 Before Elisha finished talking, the messenger[i] came up and said, “The Lord has made all these terrible things happen to us. Why should I think he will help us now?”
7 Elisha answered, “I have a message for you. The Lord promises that tomorrow here in Samaria, you will be able to buy a large sack of flour or two large sacks of barley for almost nothing.”
2 The chief officer there with the king replied, “I don’t believe it! Even if the Lord sent a rainstorm, it couldn’t produce that much grain by tomorrow.”
“You will see it happen, but you won’t eat any of the food,” Elisha warned him.
The Syrian Army Stops Its Attack
3 About the same time, four men with leprosy[j] were just outside the gate of Samaria. They said to each other, “Why should we sit here, waiting to die? 4 There’s nothing to eat in the city, so we would starve if we went inside. But if we stay out here, we will die for sure. Let’s sneak over to the Syrian army camp and surrender. They might kill us, but they might not.” 5-8 That evening the four men got up and left for the Syrian camp.
As they walked toward the camp, the Lord caused the Syrian troops to hear what sounded like the roar of a huge cavalry. The soldiers said to each other, “Listen! The king of Israel must have hired Hittite and Egyptian troops to attack us. Let’s get out of here!” So they ran out of their camp that night, leaving their tents and horses and donkeys.
When the four men with leprosy reached the edge of the Syrian camp, no one was there. They walked into one of the tents, where they ate and drank, before carrying off clothes, as well as silver and gold. They hid all this, then walked into another tent; they took what they wanted and hid it too.
9 They said to each other, “This isn’t right. Today is a day to celebrate, and we haven’t told anyone else what has happened. If we wait until morning, we will be punished. Let’s go to the king’s palace right now and tell the good news.”
10 They went back to Samaria and shouted up to the guards at the gate, “We’ve just come from the Syrian army camp, and all the soldiers are gone! The tents are empty, and the horses and donkeys are still tied up. We didn’t see or hear anybody.”
11 The guards reported the news to the king’s palace. 12 The king got out of bed and said to his officers, “I know what those Syrians are doing. They know we’re starving, so they’re hiding in the fields, hoping we will go out to look for food. When we do, they can capture us and take over our city.”
13 One of his officers replied, “We have a few horses left—why don’t we let some men take five of them and go to the Syrian camp and see what’s happening? We’re going to die anyway like those who have already died.”[k] 14 They found two chariots, and the king commanded the men to find out what had happened to the Syrian troops.
15 The men rode as far as the Jordan River. All along the way they saw clothes and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away as they escaped. Then they went back to the king and told him what they had seen.
16 At once the people went to the Syrian camp and carried off what was left. They took so much that a large sack of flour and two large sacks of barley sold for almost nothing, just as the Lord had promised.
17 The king of Israel had put his chief officer in charge of the gate, but he died when the people trampled him as they rushed out of the city. 18 Earlier, when the king was at Elisha’s house, Elisha had told him that flour or barley would sell for almost nothing. 19 But the officer refused to believe that even the Lord could do that. So Elisha warned him that he would see it happen, but would not eat any of the food. 20 And that’s exactly what happened—the officer was trampled to death.
The Woman from Shunem Is Given Back Her Land
8 Elisha told the woman whose son he had brought back to life,[l] “The Lord has warned that there will be no food here for seven years. Take your family and go live somewhere else for a while.” 2 The woman did exactly what Elisha had said and went to live in Philistine territory.
She and her family lived there seven years. 3 Then she returned to Israel and immediately begged the king to give back her house and property.
4 Meanwhile, the king was asking Gehazi the servant of Elisha about the amazing things Elisha had been doing. 5 While Gehazi was telling him that Elisha had brought a dead boy back to life, the woman and her son arrived.
“Here’s the boy, Your Majesty,” Gehazi said. “And this is his mother.”
6 The king asked the woman to tell her story, and she told him everything that had happened. He then said to one of his officials, “I want you to make sure that this woman gets back everything that belonged to her, including the money her crops have made since the day she left Israel.”
Hazael Kills Benhadad
7 Some time later Elisha went to the capital city of Damascus to visit King Benhadad of Syria, who was sick. And when Benhadad was told he was there, 8 he said to Hazael,[m] “Go meet with Elisha the man of God and have him ask the Lord if I will get well. And take along a gift for him.”
9 Hazael left with forty camel loads of the best things made in Damascus as a gift for Elisha. He found the prophet and said, “Your servant, King Benhadad, wants to know if he will get well.”
10 “Tell him he will,” Elisha said to Hazael. “But the Lord has already told me that Benhadad will definitely die.” 11 Elisha stared at him until Hazael was embarrassed, then Elisha began crying.[n]
12 “Sir, why are you crying?” Hazael asked.
Elisha answered, “Because I know the terrible things you will do to the people of Israel. You will burn down their walled cities and slaughter their young men. You will even crush the heads of their babies and rip open their pregnant women.”
13 “How could I ever do anything like that?” Hazael replied. “I’m only a servant and don’t have that kind of power.”
“Hazael, the Lord has told me that you will be the next king of Syria.”
14 Hazael went back to Benhadad and told him, “Elisha said that you will get well.” 15 But the very next day, Hazael got a thick blanket; he soaked it in water and held it over Benhadad’s face until he died. Hazael then became king.
King Jehoram of Judah
16 Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat became king of Judah in Joram’s fifth year as king of Israel, while Jehoshaphat was still king of Judah.[o] 17 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he ruled eight years from Jerusalem.
18 Jehoram disobeyed the Lord by doing wrong. He married Ahab’s daughter and was as sinful as Ahab’s family and the kings of Israel. 19 But the Lord refused to destroy Judah, because he had promised his servant David that someone from his family would always rule in Judah.
20 While Jehoram was king, the people of Edom rebelled and chose their own king. 21 So Jehoram[p] and his cavalry marched to Zair, where the Edomite army surrounded him and his commanders. During the night he attacked the Edomites, but he was defeated, and his troops escaped to their homes.[q] 22 Judah was never able to regain control of Edom. Even the town of Libnah[r] rebelled at that time.
23 Everything else Jehoram did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 24 Jehoram died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem.[s] His son Ahaziah then became king.
King Ahaziah of Judah
25 Ahaziah son of Jehoram became king of Judah in the twelfth year of Joram’s rule in Israel. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he ruled from Jerusalem for only one year. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. 27 Since Ahaziah was related to Ahab’s family,[t] he acted just like them and disobeyed the Lord by doing wrong.
28 Ahaziah went with King Joram of Israel to attack King Hazael and the Syrian troops at Ramoth in Gilead. Joram was wounded in that battle, 29 so he went to the town of Jezreel to recover. Ahaziah went there to visit him.
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