Another very rich selection from a narrative perspective.
On a personal note, I’m contemplating how to better live out the mission that inspired this blog, prophetic progress. Progress meaning moving society toward right living. Prophetic meaning speaking truth to power.
In 2 Kings 5:8, when the Syrian/Armenian King asks the Israelite King to heal his servant the King becomes distraught. However, “When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’”
There is a prophet in Israel.
I reminded me of an earlier passage when the Kings of Israel & Judah were working together. The King of Judah (a good king) asked the King of Israel, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”
Is there a prophet in Israel?
The rest of the passage is full of fantastical tales like making an axe head float, and afflicting a deceitful official with leprosy. But this is one of the strangest, darkest passages of the bible, which rests along side the tale of the Levite’s concubine as horrifically unresolved by the authors.
As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”
The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body. He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”
I can not find any clue about how this is Elisha’s fault. I left the King’s reaction in because it demonstrates that there was no response to this. It’s just a vignette of awful.
Also there is a lot of stuff about market forces in describing the siege in Samaria including details of the response when supply is returned to the city. Elisha literally prophesizes about food prices returning to a specific lower level.