Elisha Makes an Ax Head Float
1 One day the prophets said to Elisha, The place where we meet with you is too small. 2 Why dont we build a new meeting place near the Jordan River? Each of us could get some wood, then we could build it.
Thats a good idea, Elisha replied, Get started.
3 Arent you going with us? one of the prophets asked.
Yes, Ill 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, Ive decided where we will set up camp.
9 Each time, Elisha would send this warning to the king of Israel: Dont go near there. Thats where the Syrian troops have set up camp. 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. Its an Israelite named Elisha. Hes a prophet, so he can tell his king everythingeven what you say in your own room.
13 Find out where he is! the king ordered. Ill send soldiers to bring him here.
They learned that Elisha was in the town of Dothan 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 Elishas 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 Dont 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 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, Youve taken the wrong road and are in the wrong town. Follow me. Ill lead you to the man youre 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 didnt 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 Syrias army, and when they finished eating, he let them go.
For a while, the Syrian troops stopped invading Israels territory.
King Benhadad of Syria Attacks Samaria
24 Some time later, King Benhadad of Syria 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 donkeys head cost about two pounds of silver, and a small bowl of pigeon droppings cost about two ounces of silver.
26 One day as the king of Israel 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, Whats 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 Elishas 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 kings messenger arrived, Elisha told the leaders, That murderer is sending someone to cut off my head. When you see him coming, shut the door and dont let him in. Im sure the king himself will be right behind him.
33 Before Elisha finished talking, the messenger came up and said, The Lord has made all these terrible things happen to us. Why should I think he will help us now?
The Contemporary English Version c1995 by the American Bible Society.
Selected texts provided for use with the Hypertext Bible Commentary