Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. A stater. It is the same as a sicle or shekel. (Challoner) — As it is in Hebrew and Septuagint. — Bushel, or “measure,” (Haydock) above 9 pints. — Gate, where the market place commonly was. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Lords. Hebrew shalish, “an officer” of the first rank, Exodus xiv. 7. Septuagint tristates, which Josephus explains of one who “commanded a third part of the army.” (Calmet) — Flood-gates. If corn should fall with the same abundance as water does from the cataracts of the Nile; or, Hebrew, “if the Lord should make windows,” &c., to pour it down, (Calmet) could it possibly be so cheap? (Menochius) — Thereof. Thus his incredulity was punished, ver. 17. (Salien) — Reason must not pretend to reach the power of God, but ought to believe what he says. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Lepers. They were excluded from society, though the laws of religion were ill observed in Israel. The Rabbins say, these four were Giezi and his three sons. (Calmet) — But this is without foundation, (Haydock) as Giezi was not yet a leper, chap. viii. 5. — Salien places that judgment two years later. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Evening. Hebrew, “twilight.” — First part, where the advanced guard should be, or the nearest tents.
Ver. 6. Hethites. Septuagint, “Chetteans.” Josephus, “the islands” of Cyprus, &c. He seems to have read Cethim in the text, as they peopled Cyprus. (Calmet) — See Jeremias ii. 10. (Menochius) — These Hethites seem to have dwelt in the stony Arabia, (Judges i. 26.) or in Syria. (Haydock) — Solomon had connexions with them, 3 Kings x. 29. (Calmet) — Angels made the noise of a mighty army, and probably appeared, as they had done to Giezi, chap. vi. 17. (Tirinus)
Ver. 9. Crime, and punished. Hebrew, “iniquity shall find us.” Citizens are bound to give notice of what may tend to the common good. (Calmet) — Court. Not in person, but by means of others. (Menochius)
Ver. 10. Tied to the mangers, or rather by the hind-legs, as it is still the custom in the East. (Xenophon. Anab. iii. Martyr legat. Babyl.)
Ver. 13. Consumed, for food. (Menochius) — Septuagint, “Let them take five of the horses left. Those which are left here, behold they are to all the remaining multitude of Israel, and let us send them.” They have read in a different manner from the present Hebrew, which has, “Let them take five of the horses there remaining; behold they are like all the multitude of Israel which is left; they are like all the multitude of Israel who are lost; let us send them.” Arabic, “Let us send thither five horsemen who remain; if they escape, we shall look upon them as those Israelites who continue alive; if they perish, they well be numbered with the other Israelites who are dead.” Both horses and horsemen were dreadfully lean, and they could not expect a better fate than those already consumed by famine. (Calmet) — The truth of the report ought at least to be fully ascertained. By following the timid advice of the king no prospect of redress appeared. At last the king consented to send two horsemen. (Haydock) (Septuagint, ver. 14.) (Junius, &c.)
Ver. 14. Horses. Hebrew, “chariot horses,” or two chariots with (each) two horses, as it was customary to go to war, and to travel on chariots. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Gate, to prevent confusion and accidents, (Josephus) or to guard against any return of the enemy. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Eliseus prophesieth a great plenty, which presently ensueth upon the sudden flight of the Syrians; of which four lepers bring the news to the city. The incredulous nobleman is trod to death.
1 And *Eliseus said: Hear ye the word of the Lord: Thus saith the Lord: To-morrow, about this time, a bushel of fine hour shall be sold for a stater, and two bushels of barley for a stater, in the gate of Samaria.
2 Then one of the lords, upon whose hand the king leaned, answering the man of God, said: If the Lord should make flood-gates in heaven, can that possibly be, which thou sayest? And he said: Thou shalt see it with thy eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
3 Now there were four lepers, at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another: What mean we, to stay here, till we die?
4 If we will enter into the city, we shall die with the famine: and if we will remain here, we must also die: come therefore, and let us run over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare us, we shall live: but if they kill us, we shall but die.
5 So they arose in the evening, to go to the Syrian camp. And when they were come to the first part of the camp of the Syrians, they found no man there.
6 For the Lord had made them hear, in the camp of Syria, the noise of chariots, and of horses, and of a very great army: and they said one to another: Behold, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hethites, and of the Egyptians; and they are come upon us.
7 Wherefore they arose, and fled away in the dark, and left their tents, and their horses and asses in the camp, and fled, desiring to save their lives.
8 So when these lepers were come to the beginning of the camp, they went into one tent, and ate and drank: and they took from thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went, and hid it: and they came again, and went into another tent, and carried from thence in like manner, and hid it.
9 Then they said one to another: We do not well: for this is a day of good tidings. If we hold our peace, and do not tell it till the morning, we shall be charged with a crime: come, let us go, and tell it in the king’s court.
10 So they came to the gate of the city, and told them, saying: We went to the camp of the Syrians, and we found no man there, but horses, and asses tied, and the tents standing.
11 Then the guards of the gate went, and told it within in the king’s palace.
12 And he arose in the night, and said to his servants: I tell you what the Syrians have done to us: They know that we suffer great famine, and therefore they are gone out of the camp, and lie hid in the fields, saying: When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive, and then we may get into the city.
13 And one of his servants answered: Let us take the five horses that are remaining in the city (because there are no more in the whole multitude of Israel, for the rest are consumed), and let us send and see.
14 They brought therefore two horses, and the king sent into the camp of the Syrians, saying: Go, and see.
15 And they went after them, as far as the Jordan: and behold, all the way was full of garments, and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away, in their fright, and the messengers returned, and told the king.
16 And the people going out, pillaged the camp of the Syrians: and a bushel of fine flour was sold for a stater, and two bushels of barley for a stater, according to the word of the Lord.
17 And the king appointed that lord on whose hand he leaned, to stand at the gate: and the people trod upon him in the entrance of the gate; and he died, as the man of God had said, when the king came down to him.
18 And it came to pass, according to the word of the man of God, which he spoke to the king, when he said: Two bushels of barley shall be for a stater, and a bushel of fine flour for a stater, at this very time to-morrow, in the gate of Samaria.
19 When that lord answered the man of God, and said: Although the Lord should make flood-gates in heaven, could this come to pass which thou sayest? And he said to him: Thou shalt see it with thy eyes, and shalt not eat thereof.
20 And so it fell out to him, as it was foretold: and the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died.
1: Year of the World 3119.