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2 Kings


2 Kings begins with the death of King Ahab and ends with the first exile of Israel and Judah.

2 Kings 1-2

The book begins with King Ahaziah, who falls out of a window and hurts himself. But notice the name of the god he seeks out to know whether he’ll recover: Baal Zebub. That should sound familiar. However, the Greek text calls Baal a goddess, the fly god of Akkaron, which is a likely meaning of the name rather than a different god.

But notice a different usage of the phrase angel of the Lord here: The text makes it clear that this is Elijah, which helps us remember that the primary meaning of the Greek word angelos is messenger, not always supernatural being. Scripture refers to the supernatural ones as sons of God, the angels of heaven, or the holy angels, and context always has the final say on word meaning.

The king sends fifty men to arrest Elijah, who calls down fire from heaven on them. For some reason, the king repeats this futile effort twice more, but the third time the fifty men plead with Elijah not to turn them into a large order of fries, and God tells Elijah to go with them. But 1:15 uses that phrase again, the Lord’s angelic messenger, and this time it’s either a supernatural angel or a theophany. So they go back to the king and Elijah tells him he will die because he sought help from a false god. When he does, he is succeeded by his brother Jehoram, since he had no son.

In ch. 2 we come to the departure of Elijah from this world, in a way very similar to that of Enoch long before. He is told to travel to Jericho and tells Elisha to stay behind, but he refuses to leave him. Several times along the way, local prophets say to Elisha, You know God is going to take your master from you today, right? Elisha is understandably irritated and tells them to shut up about it.

They arrive at their destination, and as fifty prophets stand and watch, Elijah does a Moses by rolling up his cloak and striking the river with it to part the waters. After they cross, a fiery chariot and horses pulls up between Elijah and Elisha, and it takes Elijah up to heaven while Elisha watches and cries out. In case you didn’t know, this is where we get the phrase chariots of fire. Then Elisha, to see if he did indeed get the prophetic gift Elijah had, repeats the parting of the waters with Elijah’s cloak. So now the prophets that witnesses all this pay respect to Elisha.

The next section is another favorite of the critics, because Elisha asks God to deal with a pack of young troublemakers, who are immediately attacked and killed by two female bears. These were not five or six little boys but a gang of over forty young men, who by scriptural convention could be as old as twenty or thirty. Even if we take the median age from various commentators, they were at least teenagers and old enough to be responsible for their actions. Even so, it is not Elisha but God who deems the gang worthy of death.

2 Kings 3-4

Now it’s back to the endless string of wars, and the kings of Israel and Edom call for Elisha to find out if God will help them. God grants them aid through miraculous provision, where he uses a sort of optical illusion to lure the enemy army to its death. Seeing that he was defeated, the king of Moab decides to try and please his god by making a human sacrifice of his own son who would have succeeded him to the throne. Now we know where the movie Avengers: Infinity War got the idea for Thanos to sacrifice the only one he loved.

This concept should not be a surprise to Christians, since John 3:16 says the same thing: God showed his love for the world by giving up his only and beloved Son. Now before the critics cackle that this makes the God of the Bible no better than Molech or Chemosh, ask them whether the children in those religions had a choice in the matter, because Jesus clearly did, per passages such as Phil. 2:5-11. Jesus volunteered.

Now in ch. 4 it’s time for Elisha to do a similar miracle to when Elijah helped that widow and her son. This time the widow is facing foreclosure and the taking of her sons as slaves to pay debts incurred after the death of her husband. So Elisha is able to miraculously provide her with enough olive oil to sell and pay the debts.

Like the widow’s boy who was deathly ill, Elisha comes to another place where a woman is barren, and he asks God to give her a son in her old age. But one day the boy seems to suffer some kind of cerebral hemmorage and he dies. So she goes to get Elisha, who goes back to her home, where he prays and God revives the boy.

The rest of ch. 4 gives several other instances of Elisha’s miracles, including one that foreshadows Jesus’ miracles of feeding thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and some grain.

2 Kings 5-7

Now to another familiar incident, the one where the Syrian general Naaman contracts a devastating skin disease. He had acquired a Hebrew slave girl for his wife, and she recommends that Naaman go to see Elisha for healing.

When he arrives, Elisha tells him to wash seven times in the Jordan river to be healed. But Naaman feels insulted by such a demeaning exercise, so he stomps off in anger, but his servants talk him into doing it anyway and he is healed. So he offers Elisha a gift, but he refuses to accept any payment. Then Naaman makes a very odd request: a jar of dirt. His reason is so that he can take the soil of Israel with him and worship Elisha’s God on it.

Notice also that he asks God’s forgiveness for having to pefrom the duty of helping his master worship the god Rimmon. The lesson for us is that sometimes circumstances force us into gray areas, but God knows our heart, and we don’t know other people’s hearts. We must be slow to judge and quick to forgive. However, as Christians we take our rules from the epistles, which teach that we should do everything possible to avoid the appearance of evil.

Now as Naaman leaves, Elisha’s servant Gehazi runs after him and lies to him that Elisha changed his mind about the gift, but he really just wanted it for himself. So Elisha curses Gehazi and all his descendants with the very skin disease that Naaman was cured of. Again we ask why anyone would think a prophet wouldn’t know about such a plot.

Skipping past a minor miracle of a dropped ax head floating to the surface of the river where it was dropped, we come to the time when Elisha defeats an entire army. Through a series of revelations of Syria’s military plans, the Syrian king begins to suspect that there is a mole among his advisors. But one of them tells him that it’s really Elisha who is getting intel from God.

So he sends a small army to arrest Elisha during the night. The next morning Elisha’s servant looks out to see they’re surrounded by this army, and Elisha says something totally nonsensical: that they outnumber the enemy. Then he prays, and God opens the servant’s eyes to see the hillside covered with the same kind of fiery horses and chariots as what took Elijah alive to heaven.

Now he prays that God would strike the enemy blind, and he tells them they’ve come to the wrong place. He offers to lead them another way, but they don’t realize where they had been until they find themselves in Samaria. So when the king of Israel sees them there, he asks Elisha if he should wipe them out, but instead Elisha tells him to throw a banquet and send them home. The result is that the Syrians would never again attempt to raid Israel.

However, they do invade Samaria, and the seige they put against it results in such hardship and starvation that the Samaritans decide it’s all Elisha’s fault. So they go after him, but he assures them that God will bring them food the next day. As it turns out, some poor diseased people decide to defect to the Syrian army, but when they get there it’s deserted, because God had caused them to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a large army during the night. Still, after the poor people had eaten, they feel bad about keeping it to themselve, so off they go to tell the king the good news. But he thinks it’s a trap, so he sends out scouts to make sure the report is true. And so Elisha’s prophecy was fulfilled.

2 Kings 8-10

Now it’s back to the woman whose son had died and Elisha raised to life. He warns her that a famine is coming and she should move to another place for seven years.

Skipping past some more accounts of kings and betrayal, we come to the annihilation of Ahab’s family and his widow Jezebel. An army assembles at Jezreel, where Naboth’s vineyard had been. King Jehoram is confronted by King Jehu over his tolerance of Jezebel’s idolatry, so he tries to get away but Jehu shoots an arrow and kills him. His body is thrown onto the field that belonged to Naboth, as God had prophesied.

Now when Jezebel hears about all this, she gets all dressed up and then leans out of a window to shout at Jehu, but he tells the eunuchs around her to throw her out the window. She hits the ground and her blood splatters all over the place, and then Jehu runs his chariot over her. That’s what you call payback. But when he finally orders that her body should be properly buried because she had been royalty, they find nothing but her skull, feet, and hands, because as prophesied she had been eaten by dogs. Again, people love to gloat over her demise, but when compared with just about anyone else at that time, they all should be equally gloated over. Her sin and punishment had exactly nothing to do with her gender.

Now Jehu proceeds to finish wiping out Ahab’s family, along with all the prophets and priests of Baal. But he fails to destroy the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, and by the time of his death, Israel’s territory has begun to shrink from conquest.

2 Kings 11-17

After accounts of restoring God’s temple, and more kings and political intrigue, we come to where Elisha knows his days are numbered. We’re often tempted to fault God when illness or disaster comes upon us, but in spite of being a loyal prophet of God, Elisha is stricken with a terminal illness and he dies. In 13:23 we are again reminded of God’s determination to keep his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so the Hebrews were never completely destroyed as a people. But the narrative goes on to show how God’s prophecies keep coming to pass in every detail.

Skipping past a long succession of kings, we come to where the narrative pauses to summarize this pathetic account of Israel and Judah, the end result of which was that Israel was deported to Assyria and Judah was decimated by robbers. In those days, a conquering king would populate the conquered land with his own people, and this happens in our day as well, though more slowly and stealthily. Under the pretense of compassion for refugees, foreigners are being flooded into western lands to be supported on the backs of the working class, in order to ruin and humiliate the most loyal and productive citizens. This is proof that the evil leaders funding this operation consider the west to be conquered people.

But in a vain effort to appease what the Assyrians thought was a regional god, they simply added the worship of the true God to their pantheon, as many have done up to the present day.

2 Kings 18-20

Now we come to king Hezekiah of Judah, and he turns out to be one of the few good kings in the list. One of his acts was to destroy the bronze serpent Moses had made, because people had turned it into an idol and named it Nehushtan. The lesson for us, as should be obvious, is that any good thing can become an idol, and when it does, we have to destroy it or remove it from our lives one way or another.

In time, Assyrian king Sennacherib invades Judah, and Hezekiah pays him off with gold from the doors of the temple. But Sennacherib tries to turn the people of Judah against Hezekiah, who seeks out the prophet Isaiah to speak to God on his behalf. God assures him that Syria will not prevail, and a long pronouncement is made against them.

But notice 19:28, where God says he’ll put a hook in Sennacherib’s nose and lead him back the way he came. This exactly matches the wording of another prophecy in Ezekiel 38:4 concerning the future war of Magog. Then notice in 19:34 where God states once again that the only reason a remnant of Judah will be preserved is because he keeps his promises, in this case the one to David. So God’s angel kills 185,000 Assyrian troops in their own camp.

Now it’s Hezekiah’s turn to have a terminal illness, and Isaiah comes to tell him he won’t recover. But when Hezekiah pleads with God to remember how he had served him faithfully, God grants him fifteen more years to live.

Yet notice the sign he had asked for to confirm the promise: The shadow of the sun, which moved along a set of stairs to mark the hours, would go backwards ten steps. Surely the entire world would have a record of this event and its severe effects on the earth, if the earth’s alleged rotation had reversed. As with Joshua’s long day, the simplest explanation is that it isn’t the earth that moves.

Now when the king of Babylon hears that Hezekiah had been ill, he sends gifts and a letter. So Hezekiah naively shows his representatives all the riches in his whole kingdom, to be hospitable and of course to boast. So God sends Isaiah to tell him that in time all the things he showed the Babylonians would be carried off to their land, along with some of his own descendants. But all Hezekiah cares about is that it won’t happen in his lifetime.

2 Kings 21-22

As soon as Hezekiah dies, his son quickly undoes all the good his father had accomplished. This of course is the last straw, and now God has to completely remove the remnant of Judah from the land. A few more short-lived kings later, we come to Josiah, who faithfully follows God.

In the process of restoration, Hilkiah the high priest finds the scroll of the law, and he has a scribe named Shaphan read it to the king. Upon hearing the words, Josiah is very distraught and orders his officials to find someone to interpret them properly. So they send for another of that half of the human race deemed by sinful men to be incompetent as witnesses, a woman named Huldah. She is a prophet, and her husband supervises the king’s wardrobe. That’s right, she’s the spiritual leader and he’s running the royal laundromat. This is not to demean him, but to give her the respect she deserves and has been robbed of by generations of Christian theologians.

Then she answers them by saying This is what the Lord says, with all the authority of any male prophet. She tells them that God has decreed disaster for them all, and that nothing can be done to prevent it. But because Josiah is a decent person who honors God, none of this will happen until after his death.

2 Kings 23-25

In the meantime, Josiah assembles the whole nation to make them hear the words of the law, and then he orders the destruction of all the implements of Baal worship, including worship of the heavenly luminaries. Again we see that such worship is forbidden by God, to answer the foolish critics’ claim that the Bible promotes sun worship since Jesus is the Son of God. Yes, there are actually people who make that claim.

Finally, the shrines at Bethel and Dan are destroyed. Then in 23: 22 we find out that the Passover had not been observed since the days of the judges, in either Israel or Judah.

Then Josiah is killed in battle, and his son Jehoahaz goes right back to the evil practices of the past. Likewise for the next king, and that’s when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacks and subdues the entire region. He also carts off all the riches from the temple of God and the royal palace, then uproots the people of Jerusalem and transplants them in Babylon. Then he appoints a succession of vassal kings to govern the area, the palace, and all the houses in Jerusalem, and the walls of the city are broken down as well. Even so, a few poor families are left there, likely to keep the land from becoming a wilderness or being overrun by wild animals.


The people to whom God had offered so much were completely removed from the Promised Land, because they couldn’t help themselves from cheating on him. Even God’s patience runs out eventually, but he never breaks his unilateral promises, even if almost all of his people have to be abandoned.

We sit here from our vantage point in time and think we wouldn’t be like them, but the truth is that we forget what God has done for us, and we live like he doesn’t matter, except as something like an elderly relative in a nursing home that we visit once a week. Like the Hebrews, we only run to God when we’re desperate, and then we wonder why he doesn’t seem to hear our prayers.

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