《Peake’s Commentary on the Bible – 2 Kings》(Arthur Peake) Commentator



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Peake’s Commentary on the Bible – 2 Kings(Arthur Peake)
Commentator

Arthur Samuel Peake (1865-1929) was an English biblical scholar, born at Leek, Staffordshire, and educated at St John's College, Oxford. He was the first holder of the Rylands Chair of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester, from its establishment as an independent institution in 1904. He was thus the first non-Anglican to become a professor of divinity in an English university.

In 1890-92 he was a lecturer at Mansfield College, Oxford, and from 1890 to 1897 held a fellowship at Merton College.

In 1892, however, he was invited to become tutor at the Primitive Methodist Theological Institute in Manchester, which was renamed Hartley College in 1906.[1][4] He was largely responsible for broadening the curriculum which intending Primitive Methodist ministers were required to follow, and for raising the standards of the training.

In 1895-1912 he served as lecturer in the Lancashire Independent College, from 1904 to 1912 also in the United Methodist College at Manchester. In 1904 he was appointed Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis in the (Victoria) University of Manchester. (This chair was in the Faculty of Theology established in that year; it was renamed "Rylands Professor, etc." in 1909.)

Peake was also active as a layman in wider Methodist circles, and did a great deal to further the reunion of Methodism which took effect in 1932, three years after his death. In the wider ecumenical sphere Peake worked for the National Council of Evangelical Free Churches, serving as president in 1928, and was a member of the World Conference on Faith and Order held in Lausanne in 1927. He published and lectured extensively, but is best remembered for his one-volume commentary on the Bible (1919), which, in its revised form, is still in use.

The University of Aberdeen made him an honorary D. D. in 1907. He was a governor of the John Rylands Library.

First published in 1919, Peake's commentary of the bible was a one-volume commentary that gave special attention to Biblical archaeology and the then-recent discoveries of biblical manuscripts. Biblical quotations in this edition were from the Revised Version of the Bible.


00 Introduction
See the First Kings book comments.
01 Chapter 1
Introduction

2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 2:25. Last Days and Ascension of Elijah: Elisha Established as his Successor.—Here we have perhaps a third Elijah narrative, in which the prophet is represented as playing a part scarcely worthy of the Elijah of 1 Kings 17-19 or 21, who in the first section represents Yahweh against the Tyrian Baal, whereas in the latter he stands for righteousness opposed to legalised violence. Here the king's offence is that he sent to a Philistine oracle instead of inquiring of Yahweh, and his soldiers are punished by fire for summoning the prophet to surrender. The spelling of the prophet's name in Hebrew differs from that in the rest of the OT. The story is mentioned in the Gospel (Luke 9:54).

Verses 1-18



2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 2:25. Last Days and Ascension of Elijah: Elisha Established as his Successor.—Here we have perhaps a third Elijah narrative, in which the prophet is represented as playing a part scarcely worthy of the Elijah of 1 Kings 17-19 or 21, who in the first section represents Yahweh against the Tyrian Baal, whereas in the latter he stands for righteousness opposed to legalised violence. Here the king's offence is that he sent to a Philistine oracle instead of inquiring of Yahweh, and his soldiers are punished by fire for summoning the prophet to surrender. The spelling of the prophet's name in Hebrew differs from that in the rest of the OT. The story is mentioned in the Gospel (Luke 9:54).

2 Kings 1:2. Baal-zebub the God of Ekron.—Ekron is the most northern Philistine city, and therefore the nearest to Samaria. This is the only mention of the god in the OT. In the NT he is the prince of demons. The word means "lord of flies"; Beelzebul, the alternative reading in NT, would mean "lord of the house" (Mark 3:22*).

2 Kings 1:8. The description of Elijah as an hairy man, lit. "a possessor (baal) of hair," is repeated in Mark 1:6 of the Baptist. The hairy garment (cf. mg.) was the dress of the ancient prophet (Zechariah 13:4).

2 Kings 1:18 naturally stands before 2 Kings 1:17, and the date, the second year of Jehoram, is misleading. There have evidently been some sweeping editorial revisions at this point (see Cent. B.).
02 Chapter 2
Introduction

2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 2:25. Last Days and Ascension of Elijah: Elisha Established as his Successor.—Here we have perhaps a third Elijah narrative, in which the prophet is represented as playing a part scarcely worthy of the Elijah of 1 Kings 17-19 or 21, who in the first section represents Yahweh against the Tyrian Baal, whereas in the latter he stands for righteousness opposed to legalised violence. Here the king's offence is that he sent to a Philistine oracle instead of inquiring of Yahweh, and his soldiers are punished by fire for summoning the prophet to surrender. The spelling of the prophet's name in Hebrew differs from that in the rest of the OT. The story is mentioned in the Gospel (Luke 9:54).

Verses 1-25



2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 2:25. Last Days and Ascension of Elijah: Elisha Established as his Successor.—Here we have perhaps a third Elijah narrative, in which the prophet is represented as playing a part scarcely worthy of the Elijah of 1 Kings 17-19 or 21, who in the first section represents Yahweh against the Tyrian Baal, whereas in the latter he stands for righteousness opposed to legalised violence. Here the king's offence is that he sent to a Philistine oracle instead of inquiring of Yahweh, and his soldiers are punished by fire for summoning the prophet to surrender. The spelling of the prophet's name in Hebrew differs from that in the rest of the OT. The story is mentioned in the Gospel (Luke 9:54).

With ch. 2 we seem to enter upon a series of Elisha stories which occupy the greater part of the earlier chapters of 2 K. Elijah and Elisha lived, apparently, at "the Gilgal" (2 Kings 2:1), not the place of that name in the Jordan valley, or they could not have "gone down" from thence to Bethel. At Bethel and Jericho there were prophetic settlements (2 Kings 2:3) or companies (1 Samuel 10:5). These associations play an important part in the story of Elisha, who is in a sense their leader, whereas Elijah was a solitary prophet. "Son" simply means "disciple." Amos (Amos 7:14) denied that he himself was a professional prophet. By the doable portion of Elijah's spirit (2 Kings 2:9) is meant the share of the first-born. Elisha desires to be appointed his master's representative. Elijah's answer (2 Kings 2:10) shows how difficult it is to transmit a spiritual office. The chariots of fire were a sign of the Divine presence (2 Kings 6:17). When Elisha crossed the Jordan he could not have been seen from Jericho, which is not in sight of the river (2 Kings 2:15). He was recognised by the prophets as the successor of Elijah, whose spirit rested upon him. Two signs of Elisha's power are given, the healing of the spring at Jericho (2 Kings 2:19-22), which made the land miscarry, by casting in salt, the symbol of purification (Leviticus 21:3, Matthew 5:13, etc.), and the punishment of the children—not youths but "little boys," who mocked his baldness (2 Kings 2:23-25). Baldness is not an honourable sign of age in the East, but (a) of grief (voluntary baldness); (b) a discredit (see A. Macalister, Baldness, HDB). The bear (2 Kings 2:24) is rare in Western Palestine (but see 1 Samuel 17:34, Amos 5:19). The children were not necessarily punished by death, but were at least severely wounded.



2 Kings 2:12 a. Apparently describes Elijah as Israel's defence, her chariots and horsemen, cf. the application by Joash to Elisha of the same description in 2 Kings 13:14.—A. S. P.]
03 Chapter 3
Verses 1-27

2 Kings 3:1-27. Reign of Jehoram. War with Moab.—The only two kings of Israel on whom the censure pronounced is in any way qualified are Jehoram, the last of the house of Omri, and Hoshea (2 Kings 17:2), the last king of Israel. All the others are said to have done evil.

The war with Moab is the subject of the famous inscription of Mesha discovered in 1868 (pp. 34, 69). On this Mesha states that Omri occupied the land of Mehedebah (Medeba, Numbers 21:30, Joshua 13:9, Isaiah 15:2) his days, half his son's days, forty years. In Kings it is specially said that Mesha's rebellion was after the death of Ahab. Omri and Ahab together according to Kings reigned only thirty-four years; Ahaziah and Jehoram fourteen years, making only forty-eight years from the accession of Omri to the extinction of his dynasty. Mesha must not only have thrown off the yoke of Israel, but have engaged in considerable building operations after his victory, which makes it probable that the war to reduce him took place some time after his rebellion against the house of Omri. Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 3:7) used the same language to Jehoram as he did to Ahab (2 Kings 22:4). Judah and its dependent Mesha, a Noked (Amos 1:1*), state of Edom, were evidently vassals of the more powerful king of Israel. The king of Edom (1 Kings 22:47) may have been the "deputy" appointed by Jehoshaphat, but 2 Kings 3:26 may imply that he was a native king. The three kings did not directly attack Moab, which according to Mesha's inscription was strongly fortified, but approached it by a circuitous route. Elisha, unknown to the kings, was with the army, and was called the servant (2 Kings 3:11) "which poured water on the hands" (cf. Psalms 60:8) of Elijah. He was accustomed (2 Kings 3:15) to prophesy under the influence of music (1 Samuel 10:5*), and the formula (2 Kings 3:14) "As Yahweh liveth, before whom I stand" (cf. Jeremiah 35:19) is the same as that used by his master (1 Kings 17:1). The supplying of water by the digging of pits in the sand is a known expedient (see Cent.B). [R. H. Kennett suggests that the "Moabites took the ruddy light on the water for an omen of blood rather than for actual gore." (See J. G. Frazer, Adonis Attis Osiris, i. 53.)—A. S. P.] Elisha (2 Kings 3:19) foretells all the barbarous methods which Israel would employ in victory in the same manner as he does the atrocities Hazael would commit when he became king of Syria (2 Kings 8:12). The acts committed when Moab was defeated (2 Kings 3:25) were forbidden (Deuteronomy 20:19 f.). The war ended by the desperate act of the king of Moab offering his son as a burnt sacrifice (2 Kings 3:27) on the wall of Kir-hareseth (Isaiah 16:7, Jeremiah 48:31, the modern Kerak). Mesha attributes all his troubles to the wrath of his god Chemosh (Moabite Stone, 1. 5). Chemosh certainly delighted in human sacrifices. The great wrath which came forth against Israel was from the god of Moab who had accepted the supreme sacrifice of his worshipper.


04 Chapter 4
Introduction

2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23. Stories about Elisha as a Wonder-Worker.—The miracles of Elisha fill a considerable part of the early chapters of 2 K. They are mostly beneficent in character, and this prophet was evidently more in touch with the people than his stern predecessor. There is no reason to confine these tales to the reign of Jehoram, because the death of that king is recorded later in the book. The king of Israel is not mentioned by name, and was evidently on good terms with the prophet, which could hardly be expected of Jehoram. Probably some of the occurrences, especially in the Syrian wars, belong to the age of Jehu's dynasty. The biography of Elisha in 2 K. consists of 2 Kings 2:1-25, 2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23, 2 Kings 8:1-15, 2 Kings 13:14-21. In 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 10:31 Elisha is the leading prophet, but the source seems to be mainly some chronicle of the northern kingdom.

Verses 1-7



2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23. Stories about Elisha as a Wonder-Worker.—The miracles of Elisha fill a considerable part of the early chapters of 2 K. They are mostly beneficent in character, and this prophet was evidently more in touch with the people than his stern predecessor. There is no reason to confine these tales to the reign of Jehoram, because the death of that king is recorded later in the book. The king of Israel is not mentioned by name, and was evidently on good terms with the prophet, which could hardly be expected of Jehoram. Probably some of the occurrences, especially in the Syrian wars, belong to the age of Jehu's dynasty. The biography of Elisha in 2 K. consists of 2 Kings 2:1-25, 2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23, 2 Kings 8:1-15, 2 Kings 13:14-21. In 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 10:31 Elisha is the leading prophet, but the source seems to be mainly some chronicle of the northern kingdom.

2 Kings 4:1-7. Multiplication of the Widow's Oil to Pay a Debt.—This is like Elijah's miracle at Zarephath (1 Kings 18:8 ff.): The oil is sold, and the children of the prophet's widow are saved from being sold as slaves. The prophetic communities were not monastic in the sense of being celibate; such an idea was repugnant to the ancient Hebrew. Isaiah's wife is called "the prophetess" (Isaiah 8:3). Perhaps both Elijah and Elisha were unmarried, but there can be no proof of this.

Verses 8-37



2 Kings 4:8-37. Elisha and the Shunammite Woman.—This gives one of the most delightful pictures of rural life in ancient Israel. It describes the kindly hospitality of the great lady of Shunem, the accommodation provided—a "chamber with walls" (mg.) and furniture—no makeshift arrangement, but such as befitted an honoured guest; the description of the boy's death, her drive from Shunem to Carmel to the prophet, Elisha's behaviour, as revealing his naturally considerate demeanour, is vividly portrayed. More than one expression recalls the Elijah story (cf. 1 Kings 18:26 with 2 Kings 4:31, and 1 Kings 18:42 with 2 Kings 4:33). Shunem (2 Kings 4:8) is where the Philistines encamped opposite Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). It is about 5 miles from Jezreel, and 20 or more from Carmel (2 Kings 4:25), where Elisha usually abode. Elisha is evidently on friendly terms with the king (2 Kings 4:13), which shows that the incidents are later than the destruction of Ahab's sons. The independence of the lady may be compared with that of Nabal (1 Samuel 25:10) and Naboth (1 Kings 21). We have (2 Kings 4:23) one of the rare hints in this book of the religious observances of the time; "the new moon or the sabbath" (pp. 101f.) was considered a suitable occasion to go to a prophet, even though as long a journey ware necessary as from Shunem to Carmel (Amos 8:5, Hosea 2:11). There are some interesting illustrations of this chapter in the NT—e.g. the prohibition of a messenger on urgent business to salute anybody (2 Kings 4:29; cf. Luke 10:4), the furniture of the prophet's chamber, bed, and lampstand (Mark 4:21). Shunem was near to Nain, where our Lord raised the widows son (Luke 7:11).

2 Kings 4:31. The bones of the dead Elisha (2 Kings 13:21*) have more life-giving virtue than the prophet's staff in the hands of the living Gehazi.—A. S. P.]

Verses 38-44



2 Kings 4:38-44. Two Minor Miracles of Elisha.—The "death" (poison) in the pot healed and the feeding of a hundred prophets. The bread of the firstfruits (2 Kings 4:42) was by the Law the property of the priests (Numbers 18:13, Deuteronomy 18:4). Here the loaves and ears of corn are offered to prophets. In the Christian Teaching of the Twelve Apostles the prophets are to be given of the firstfruits, "for they are your priests." There is no similar instance in the OT.
05 Chapter 5
Introduction

2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23. Stories about Elisha as a Wonder-Worker.—The miracles of Elisha fill a considerable part of the early chapters of 2 K. They are mostly beneficent in character, and this prophet was evidently more in touch with the people than his stern predecessor. There is no reason to confine these tales to the reign of Jehoram, because the death of that king is recorded later in the book. The king of Israel is not mentioned by name, and was evidently on good terms with the prophet, which could hardly be expected of Jehoram. Probably some of the occurrences, especially in the Syrian wars, belong to the age of Jehu's dynasty. The biography of Elisha in 2 K. consists of 2 Kings 2:1-25, 2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23, 2 Kings 8:1-15, 2 Kings 13:14-21. In 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 10:31 Elisha is the leading prophet, but the source seems to be mainly some chronicle of the northern kingdom.

Verses 1-27



2 Kings 5:1-27. Naaman Healed of his Leprosy.—This story, familiar to all, presupposes a time of peace between Israel and Syria. As in 1 Kings 20, the king of Syria addresses the king of Israel (unnamed here) as his vassal (2 Kings 5:6 ff.). Elisha was living in Samaria, apparently in his own house. Naaman, on being healed, returned to Elisha, who refused to take any present, using Elijah's formula (1 Kings 17:1*). Naaman thereupon declared himself a worshipper of Yahweh (it is remarkable that 2 Kings 5:1 ascribes his victories to Yahweh), asking pardon if in his official capacity he bows himself before Rimmon (Ramman, the thunder-god of the Assyrians). Readers of Tom Brown's Schooldays will remember the not unnatural discussion amongst the boys as to why Elisha bade Naaman "go in peace," as though he approved his action. The phrase merely means "farewell." Gehazi pursued Naaman and returned to the hill (2 Kings 5:24); the word is Ophel, elsewhere in the Bible only applied to Jerusalem (p. 297), but also found on the Moabite Stone (1. 22; Driver, Samuel2, p. lxxxvii. renders "the Mound"). Elisha's rebuke (2 Kings 5:26 b) becomes in the LXX and Vulg. "and now thou hast received money . . . and the leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to thee." As though the infection of the disease clave to the present which Gehazi had received.

12. p. 33. 2 Kings 5:17. cf. 1 Samuel 26:19 f.


06 Chapter 6
Introduction

2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23. Stories about Elisha as a Wonder-Worker.—The miracles of Elisha fill a considerable part of the early chapters of 2 K. They are mostly beneficent in character, and this prophet was evidently more in touch with the people than his stern predecessor. There is no reason to confine these tales to the reign of Jehoram, because the death of that king is recorded later in the book. The king of Israel is not mentioned by name, and was evidently on good terms with the prophet, which could hardly be expected of Jehoram. Probably some of the occurrences, especially in the Syrian wars, belong to the age of Jehu's dynasty. The biography of Elisha in 2 K. consists of 2 Kings 2:1-25, 2 Kings 4:1 to 2 Kings 6:23, 2 Kings 8:1-15, 2 Kings 13:14-21. In 2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 and 2 Kings 9:1 to 2 Kings 10:31 Elisha is the leading prophet, but the source seems to be mainly some chronicle of the northern kingdom.

Verses 1-33



2 Kings 6:1-23. An Axehead Swims. Elisha and the Syrians at Dothan.—In several minor miracles Elisha is always represented as working them not by his word, but by some expedient. Thus he heals the miscarrying waters by salt, and the pot by meal, and recovers the axehead by casting a stick into the water.

The prophet appears in the second narrative as the moving spirit in the Syrian war. Whenever the king of Syria devised an ambush (2 Kings 6:8, with a slight alteration of reading), Elisha revealed the secret. Elisha was at Dothan (2 Kings 6:13), a city standing on a hill about 10 miles N. of Samaria, on the caravan road from Egypt to Damascus (Genesis 37:17, p. 30). Elisha was defended, as we are finely told, by horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:17). His blinded adversaries were led to Samaria, and Elisha ordered them not to be destroyed, but to be treated with kindness. Throughout the long war between Syria and Israel similar acts of chivalrous courtesy are manifested (cf. Ahab's sparing Ben-hadad as "his brother," 1 Kings 20, and Naaman the Syrian's conduct throughout 2 Kings 6:5).

Verses 24-33

2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20. The Siege of Samaria.—The date and source of this episode need discussion. The name of the king of Syria, as in 1 Kings 20, was Ben-hadad; the king of Israel is not named at all. Two Benhadads are possible, the king in 1 Kings 20 who was defeated by Ahab, and the son and successor of Hazael (2 Kings 13:24). If the first is meant, then Jehoram was king of Israel; if not, Jehoash, the grandson of Jehu. Elisha was called in the days of Ahab, and lived under Ahab and his two sons Ahaziah and Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash, dying under the last-named king. It is true that Elisha called the king "this son of a murderer," which may be applicable to a son of Ahab; but "son of" may be used as the common periphrasis, and the phrase simply mean "murderer." On the other hand, the scene seems better suited to the later stages of the Syrian war, and the king, despite his threat to kill Elisha, when distraught with misery at the tale of the two women, does not seem to have been on bad terms with the prophet. The event may therefore be placed late in Elisha's life (p. 69). The source is also uncertain. Elisha plays a conspicuous part, and therefore it may well belong to his biography. On the other hand, it bears some affinity to 1 Kings 20, 22, and may be from the same source—viz. a history or chronicle of the northern kingdom. The famine may have been in part caused by the scarcity mentioned in 2 Kings 8:1.

The famine was so severe that an ass's head was sold for eighty pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a kab (i.e. less than a pint) of dove's dung for five (2 Kings 6:25). A yet more terrible example was shown in the case of the two women (2 Kings 6:28 f.). The head of an ass, which would not be eaten in ordinary circumstances (Judges 6:4*), fetched an immense sum. What "dove's dung" means it is impossible to say; it may be some common vegetable. Josephus (Wars, vi. 3) relates that in the last siege of Jerusalem a woman devoured her own child. The king stood (not passed by) on the wall, and when he rent his clothes in horror, the people saw that he was secretly wearing, as Thomas Becket did, a garb of penitence (2 Kings 6:30). He attributed all the calamity to Elisha (2 Kings 6:31), probably for not having delivered him as on previous occasions (see 2 Kings 6:9). The words in Heb. for "messenger" and "king" are very similar, and perhaps it is not necessary to suppose that anyone came but the king, 2 Kings 6:32 having been amplified. Instead of fulfilling his oath to kill Elisha, the king gave way to despair (2 Kings 6:33). Elisha, however, foretold that provisions would soon be cheap, and four lepers at the city gate went into the Syrian camp, and found that the enemy had fled in a panic, believing that the king of Israel had hired Hittites and Egyptians to attack them (2 Kings 7:6). It seems unlikely that the Egyptians would at this time have combined with the Northern Hittites, whose home was in Asia Minor, and it is suggested that not Egyptians (Mizrim) but Muzrites should be read (see 1 Kings 10:28). The Muzrites (from Cappadocia, see Cent.B) were among the allies of Israel and Syria against Assyria in 854 B.C.




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