Elisha and the Ax Head
1 The group of prophets said to Elisha, “We are staying in that place over there, but it is too small for us. 2 Let’s go to the Jordan River and cut some wood. Each of us will get a log and we will build us a place to live there.”
Elisha answered, “Go and do it.”
3 One of them said, “Please go with us.”
Elisha said, “Yes, I will go with you.”
4 So Elisha went with the group of prophets. When they arrived at the Jordan River, they began to cut down some trees. 5 But when one man was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head slipped from the handle and fell into the water. He shouted, “Oh, master! I borrowed that ax!”
6 The man of God said, “Where did it fall?”
The man showed Elisha the place where the ax head fell. Then Elisha cut a stick and threw the stick into the water. The stick made the iron ax head float. 7 Elisha said, “So pick up the ax head.” Then the man reached out and took the ax head.
Aram Tries to Trap Israel
8 The king of Aram was making war against Israel. He had a council meeting with his army officers. He said, “Go to such and such a place and prepare to attack the Israelites when they come by.”
9 But the man of God sent a message to the king of Israel. Elisha said, “Be careful! Don’t go by that place, because the Aramean soldiers are hiding there!”
10 The king of Israel sent a message to his men at the place that the man of God warned him about. And the king of Israel saved quite a few men.* quite a few men Literally, “not one or two.”
11 The king of Aram was very upset about this. He called his army officers and said to them, “Tell me who is spying for the king of Israel.”
12 One of the officers of the king of Aram said, “My lord and king, not one of us is a spy. Elisha, the prophet from Israel, can tell the king of Israel many secret things—even the words that you speak in your bedroom!”
13 The king of Aram said, “Find Elisha, and I will send men to catch him.”
The servants told the king of Aram, “Elisha is in Dothan.”
14 Then the king of Aram sent horses, chariots, and a large army to Dothan. They arrived at night and surrounded the city. 15 Elisha’s servant got up early that morning. When he went outside, he saw an army with horses and chariots all around the city.
The servant said to Elisha, “Oh, my master, what can we do?”
16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. The army that fights for us is larger than the army that fights for Aram.”
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “LORD, I ask you, open my servant’s eyes so that he can see.”
The LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and the servant saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire. They were all around Elisha.
18 These horses and chariots of fire came down to Elisha. He prayed to the LORD and said, “I pray that you will cause these people to become blind.”
So God did what Elisha asked. He caused the Aramean army to become blind. 19 Elisha said to the Aramean army, “This is not the right way. This is not the right city. Follow me. I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” Then Elisha led them to Samaria.† Samaria This was the capital city of Israel—the enemy of Aram.
20 When they arrived at Samaria, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so that they can see.”
Then the LORD opened their eyes, and the Aramean army saw they were in the city of Samaria! 21 The king of Israel saw the Aramean army and said to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”
22 Elisha answered, “No, don’t kill them. They are not soldiers you captured in battle. Give them some bread and water. Let them eat and drink. Then let them go home to their leader.”
23 So the king prepared a big meal for the Aramean army. After they ate and drank, he sent them back home to their leader. The Arameans did not send any more soldiers into the land of Israel to make raids.
A Time of Terrible Hunger Hits Samaria
24 After this happened, King Ben-Hadad of Aram gathered all his army and went to surround and attack the city of Samaria. 25 The soldiers would not let people bring food into the city, so there was a time of terrible hunger in Samaria. It was so bad in Samaria that a donkey’s head was sold for 80 pieces of silver and one pint‡ one pint Literally, “1/4 cab” (about .3 l). of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver.
26 The king of Israel was walking on the wall around the city. A woman shouted out to him. She said, “My lord and king, please help me!”
27 The king of Israel said, “If the LORD does not help you, how can I help you? I cannot give you grain from the threshing floor or wine from the winepress.” 28 Then he said to her, “What is your trouble?”
She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give me your son so that we can eat him today. Then we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son and ate him. Then the next day, I said to this woman, ‘Give me your son so that we can eat him.’ But she has hidden her son!”
30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his clothes to show he was upset. As he passed by on the wall, the people saw the king was wearing the rough cloth under his clothes to show he was sad and upset.
31 The king said, “May God punish me if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat is still on his body at the end of this day!”
32 The king sent a messenger to Elisha. Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Look, that son of a murderer is sending men to cut off my head. When the messenger arrives, shut the door. Hold the door and don’t let him in. I hear the sound of his master’s feet coming behind him.”
33 While Elisha was still talking with the elders, the messenger§ messenger Or possibly, “king.” came to him. This was the message: “This trouble has come from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”
*6:10 quite a few men Literally, “not one or two.”
†6:19 Samaria This was the capital city of Israel—the enemy of Aram.
‡6:25 one pint Literally, “1/4 cab” (about .3 l).
§6:33 messenger Or possibly, “king.”