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King Ben-Hadad

The Siege of the Dark Famine

You see, the thought of people, being left with buying these types of items for food, would seem like it couldn't get any worse for them. Needless-to-say, we find that it would indeed, get much worse. For we find, that the siege, that Ben-Hadad had brought against Samaria, was design to cause a famine, that would engulf the city to such a degree, the Scriptures would point out, how the famine, had brought out the darkest, and most vile actions, from within the Israelites.

Bible Study Article Covers :  2 Kings 6:24-33  / 2 Kings 7:1-3

Short Recap

In the last article, we'd learned that Ben-Hadad had decided to once again, go to war with the kingdom of Israel. Now it could have been, that since Ahab, his archenemy was now dead, that perhaps, the Syrian king now felt like the outcomes of his war efforts, would yield much better results, being that Ahab's son Jehoram, was now ruling over Israel. Nonetheless, whatever Ben-Hadad's reasons were, when it came to deciding to again attack Israel, we now find him putting in play, some military ambush strategies. For the Syrian king, wanted to be able to catch the Israel nation, completely off guard.

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But what Ben-Hadad would soon learn, is that even though the reign of one particular Israel king may have ended.

It doesn't mean, that the Lord will turn His back on the Israel nation, regardless of who may be sitting on the throne.

For you see, it didn't matter who the Israel king may have been at the time, when the Lord has a plan that needs to be played out; rest assured, no matter what, the plan will be played out.

And there's nothing that anybody can do, when it comes to stopping, or altering those plans. Be that as it may, here we find this time around, God using a different prophet, when it came during this point, from within His plan. So the Lord would use the prophet that was known as Elisha, when it came to alerting the Israel king, about Ben-Hadad's surprise ambushes. As a matter of fact, Elisha was so on point, when it came to foiling Ben-Hadad's plans, the Syrian king, actually thought he had a traitor in his midst. This is why we find him telling his officers: "Will you not tell me, which of us, is on the side of the king of Israel?"

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Ben-Hadad's Very Short Memory

Nevertheless, soon enough, Ben-Hadad would eventually find himself in the unfortunate position, of possibly losing a sizable number, when it came to his army. Here we find the Lord using Elisha, when it came to luring a large company of Ben-Hadad's men, into an ambush of His own. For this would be an ambush, that had placed a large part of Ben-Hadad's army, right into the hands of the Israel king Jehoram and his men.

As a matter of fact, after this had happened, Jehoram wanted to kill them all, right then and there. But Elisha instructed the Israel king to instead, feed the men, and after doing so, release them, so that they could go back to their homeland. And rest assured, thay did go back to their homeland, but first, they went and told Ben-Hadad, all that had happened to them. And after Ben-Hadad had heard these things, the Syrian king called off his war campaign, at this point in time, when it came to the Israel nation.

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The Dark Siege of Samaria

Be that as it may, after some time had passed, we now find that Ben-Hadad and the Syrians, have a very short memory, for here we are, once again, being told how the Syrian king, is once again, bringing affliction upon God's people. But this time around, the Syrians would come with a much different strategy. For it would seem, that instead of trying to attack the city of Samaria head on, like they've done in the past, they'd decided to enact some kind of war of attrition. And because of this, things would begin to get much worse for Israel:

"Some time later, however, King Ben–hadad of Aram mobilized his entire army and besieged Samaria. As a result there was a great famine in the city. After a while even a donkey’s head sold for two pounds of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung cost about two ounces of silver." -- 2 Kings 6:24,25

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Eating A Donkey's Head

Notice how the Sacred Record points out, how food was so scarce that the head of a donkey, which had very little meat on it, and considered ceremonially unclean, sold for eighty shekels of sliver. Now this comes out to about $50.00 in today's time. Nonetheless, the Israelites were also reduced to buying, what was known as "dove's dung" for about five shekels, which would be around $3.00 in today's time.

Now the ideal of eating the dung of doves, may seem to be unpleasing. But if we were to look at this situation in a positive way. We have to keep in mind, that when compared to the dung of other animals, dove's dung would be much more preferred, being that the dove's dung, is filled with corn and other good quality grains. If we were really trying to find a sliver lining in this whole ordeal.

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Things Will Get Worse

Be that as it may, just the mere thought, of people being left to buy these types of items for food, would seem like it couldn't get any worse for the nation of Israel. But however, we find that it would indeed... get much worse. For you see, the siege that Ben-Hadad had brought against Samaria, was design to cause a famine, that would engulf the city to such a degree, we find that the famine had brought out the darkest, and most vile actions, from within the Israelites.

For example: One day when the Israel king was passing by a wall from within the city, there was a lady who cried out to him: "Help me, my lord the king!" Now after hearing this, the king replied: "If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you, from the threshing floor, from the winepress?"  Now as the woman looked at him hopelessly, the king finally gave in and asked her: "What can I do for you?"

Then the woman replied: "A lady said to me, 'Give up your son, so that we may eat him today; and tomorrow, we will eat my son.' So we cooked my son and ate him. Then the next day I said to her: 'Give up your son, so that we may eat him.' But she had hidden him."

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Another Prophecy Coming To Pass

Now keep in mind that this prophecy had already been foretold, from out of the disobedience, that Israel was practicing against God at that time. Now we find that it is now being fulfilled, by the dark siege of Ben-Hadad:

"The siege will be so severe that you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you. The most tenderhearted man among you will have no compassion for his own brother, his beloved wife, and his surviving children. He will refuse to give them a share of the flesh he is devouring, which is the flesh of one of his own children, because he has nothing else to eat during the siege that your enemy will inflict on all your towns.

"The most tender and delicate woman among you, so delicate, she would not so much, as touch her feet to the ground; will be cruel to the husband she loves, and to her own son or daughter. She will hide from them the afterbirth and the new baby she has borne, so that she herself can secretly eat them. She will have nothing else to eat during the siege, and the terrible distress that your enemy will inflict on all your towns." -- Deuteronomy 28:53-57

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Elisha! What Have You Done!

Now after the Israel king had heard this from the woman, he tore his royal robe. And as he continued to walk pass the wall, the people could see that he was wearing sackcloth underneath his clothes. Now it's presumed that the king was wearing sackcloth, because of the suffering that this kingdom was now enduring at that time. But instead of the king, trying to continue to seek help from the Lord. We now find him, becoming even more angrier, as he begins to place blame against Elisha: "May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha, the son of Shaphat, remains on his shoulders today." Now after he had said this, he ordered his chief officer, to go down and do the deed.

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Jehoram Not Being Accountable

Now it's not clear, why the king would begin to make such claims, when it came to Elisha. But it's also presumed, the king was upset that the prophet didn't allow him to kill the large company of men, that Elisha had helped him captured. Remember when the Lord had used the prophet, when it came to leading Ben-Hadad's men into in an ambush instead. Also remember, that Israel was at a huge disadvantage, just a few short years before. So actually, the Israel king's mindset, is very well understandable.

However, what this Israel king fails to realize, is that his own father Ahab, had his chance to do away with Ben-Hadad, when he had actually captured the Syrian king. But instead of killing him, like the Lord had wanted Ahab to do, Ahab instead, disobeyed God, and let the Arameanian king go free.

And another thing, Jehoram fails to also realize, he was still having the Israelites sinning against God. For he had them still serving different gods, during this time as well. For you see, Jehoram still had them worshiping the false god that was known as Baal. And on top of this, they were still practicing what was known as the "golden calf religion." Keep in mind, the Israelites still had two major altars, that were totally dedicated to this religion; two altars that were still standing in the cities of Dan and Bethel.

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Second Thoughts

Nonetheless as we move forward, we now find that word had gotten back to Elisha, when it came to how the Israel king had planned on having him beheaded, before day's end. Now we're not exactly told, how word had gotten back to the prophet; but one can only assume that it was delivered by God Himself. Nevertheless, we find Elisha sitting in his house, with some of the elders saying: "Don't you see how this murderer is sending someone to come and cut off my head? Look, when his chief officer comes, shut the door, and do not let him in. What he doesn't know, is that the king is trying to catch up with him."

And once again, Elisha would be right. For we find that Jehoram had begun to wisely have second thoughts. So he set out to catch up with the chief official that he had sent to kill Elisha. And once the king had arrived at Elisha's house, he shouted out foolishly to the prophet:

"This disaster is from the Lord, why should I wait for Him any longer?" And after Elisha had heard this, he responded by reassuring the king: "Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, two gallons of flour will sell for a shekel (one dollar) and four gallons of barley will also sell for a shekel (one dollar) at the gate of Samaria." 

Now after hearing this, the chief officer asked Elisha: "Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this really happen?" And after Elisha had heard this, he responded by saying: "You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it."

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In The Next Upcoming Article :

So we find that Ben-Hadad's war of attrition, has been doing major damage, when it comes to afflicting the city of Samaria. Ben-Hadad's siege was so successful, it was beginning to cause the Israel king to turn against the very God, that had been protecting, and assisting him thus far, when it came to Ben-Hadad's continuous war campaigns. But in spite of all of this, God sends a reassuring word to Elisha, when it comes to Ben-Hadad's latest siege. But with no end in sight, how will the Lord be able to turn everything around from within 24 hours? And what about Jehoram? Will he too, pay a tremendous price, for threatening to kill one of the Lord's prophets? Will he pay a price, for doubting the very God, that has been looking out for him, in spite of his idolatrous and disobeying ways?   

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