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tence upon his covetousness and falsehood. “The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave unto thee and unto thy seed for ever.” And Gehazi went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
THE SIEGE OF SAMARIA.
Fresh wars arose between the kings of Israel and Syria. God constantly sent warning to the Israelites by Elisha as to their enemies' movements, so that they were saved. Benhadad could not understand this, and thought he must have traitors in his camp. But his servants, who knew Elisha's fame well, told him that it was “ Elisha the Prophet that is in Israel, who telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.” Then Benhadad thought to seize Elisha, and hearing that he was in Dothan, the king sent a great host with chariots and horses by night. The next morning, when Elisha's servant went out early, he found the city quite surrounded by the Syrian host. He went to his master in great alarm, crying out, “Alas ! my master! what shall we do ?” But Elisha was calm and fearless, and he answered saying, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Then Elisha prayed, saying, “ LORD, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he
And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. It was even as David had said, “He shall give His angels charge over thee.” And surely, though it be not given to us to see His angels round us, we know from almost every page of His Sacred Word, that they are round us, and ready to help and strengthen the weakest and feeblest, and to fight with us against every temptation and trial, even though these should press upon us, like the Syrian chariots and horses that seemed to close entirely round Dothan.
It is a remarkable part of this story, that although at the Prophet's prayer God permitted his servant to see the fiery chariots and horses, and the heavenly host which encompassed them, it was not by means of these that Elisha was delivered. As though to teach us that while our Heavenly Father has legions of angels waiting to do His pleasure, He often works His Will by simple, and what we call common means. It was by a miracle, however, that Elisha was set free. He prayed that God would smite the Syrians with blindness, and then Elisha himself led them all to Samaria, and they found themselves in the hands of their enemies. King Joram would have slain them, but Elisha forbade this, and having fed the soldiers, he sent them back to their master.
But soon afterwards the Syrians laid siege to Samaria, and the inhabitants were in very great suffering for want of food, so that even the most disgusting food was sold at very high prices. One day as the king passed by, a woman cried out to him for help, and when he inquired what she wanted, he heard how she and another woman had agreed in their maddening hunger to eat their own children. This woman's child had been taken first, and now the other had hidden her child, and would not give him up. When the king heard this dreadful story, he was horror-struck, he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth. The king did not look to God as having brought this trouble upon him, he laid it all on Elisha, and sent a messenger to kill him.
to kill him. But the LORD warned Elisha, and while as yet no man had appeared, the Prophet said to the elders who sat with him in the house, “See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away my head ? Look when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?” And almost directly the messenger came.
Then Elisha rose up and went to the king, and told him that by the same hour on the morrow there should be plenty in Samaria. One of the king's lords, on whose arm Joram leant, mocked Elisha, saying, “Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?” Then Elisha told him, “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not eat thereof."
The deliverance was indeed close at hand, but it came in a way that no one could possibly have foreseen. Four lepers who sat in the gate, (because people afflicted with leprosy were not allowed to mix with others,) talked together, and proposed going to the Syrian host. “If they save us alive, we shall live,' they said, “and if they kill us, we shall but
So they went to the Syrian camp in the morning twilight, and to their amazement found no one there. During the night the LORD had caused the Syrians to hear very fearful noises as of a mighty host of chariots and horses, and they were seized with a panic, and fled, leaving behind all their tents and properties. Then the four lepers went all about the camp, eating and drinking, and hiding great spoil of gold, and silver, and raiment as long as they dared. But after a while they returned to the city, and gave notice of what had happened. The king of Israel thought at first that the Syrians were only hiding, in hopes of surprising him if he left the city, but on sending out messengers, it was plain that they had really taken their flight. Then all the people fell upon the forsaken camp, and spoiled it. And Elisha's prophecies about the low prices of food were fulfilled by the time he spoke of. His words about the Samaritan lord who had mocked him were fulfilled also. This man was appointed to have charge of the gate, and the people, in their eager pressing, trod upon him, and killed him, so that he did indeed see the plenty, but he did not share in it.