1:2 – "go ask Baalzebub" – likely he feared what the prophet would say.
2:1f – Elisha's work "touched life at a lower level of life than Elijah" – in his shadow somewhat
2:1 – farewell tour of three prophetic communities.
2:9f – a double portion of your spirit – the inheritance of an elder son – but prophetic spiritual gifts are only for those fit to receive them – between God and the person, even Elijah didn't know and was not able to give – "if you see the vision" – he saw and response was "Abba father" (cf. New Testament)
2:14 – "now where is God?". His first hit of the water didn't work (the translators hide this, but the verb tenses are the same). Then he calls the name of Elijah's God and the power "kicks in". Mantles without the Spirit of God behind them have no power of God in them – it's the God of Elijah that works, not the trappings and tools of his people. A passage for the institutional church today – what was a tool of power is now at an itchy mantle being flailed around the world by inheritors who have everything but the spirit of the Lord of "hosts".
2:16 – "go and seek your master" they always had been able to relate to Elijah on any plane but the one he was – spiritual therefore 2:18 – "I told you so!"
2:19 – heavy duty power finds its expression in life-giving work on the day to day plane (versus Elijah) – water no longer gives miscarriages.
2:23 – interesting insight into their parents' attitude. Kids do echo us – often our ugly side. The result may be 20:20 hindsight interpretation or explanation of the tragedy – perhaps due to a survivor's account of what they had been doing just prior to the attack – an impact nonetheless.
3:11 – Jehoshaphat the faithful King – versus King of Israel whom Elisha wouldn't give the time of day to (i.e. the King was a hypocritical fellow and insincere).
3:11 – who poured water on the hands of Elijah – women's work – humiliation part of training of a prophet – starting "at the bottom of that career" makes the other "low ends" looks pretty good!
3:15 – getting cranked up with music – older style of prophet.
3:23 – seeing what you want to see – it was red sandstone (Moab means read) and they saw bloody water.
3:27 – sacrificed son, a desperate measure, seemed to encourage the Moabites and spook the Israelites (territorial gods still) (a parallel in the Moabite stone story). The attacking coalition is made up of Edom – a long-term enemy – Against an even greater enemy. it seems there was a breaking point in it.
4:1 – it seems preacher's families have been destitute in many ages. Here, a preacher's kid's wife – perhaps a preacher's widow. He feared the Lord But had creditors nonetheless!
– power for use in assisting common people with common problems.
4:16 – "don't play with my head" – where have I heard that before? When one has been dealt with (badly) by a group of people before, one is gun-shy. Lots of bucks but what was the wound of her soul? Perhaps she'd been told this before by the church types.
4:23 – "It is well" – indeed it is – in the middle of a crisis (bad translation) while hubby is in a flap.
4:35 – a little pacing up and down to say the least! But persisted, high cost?
4:27 – "and the Lord has hidden it from me", why?
4:38 – "there is death in the pot" – on messing around with wild herbs (and antidote) when times are tough – better know what you're doing – Elisha had been well trained.
4:42f – note the parallel for Jesus feeding 5000 – "now it's your turn boys – you feed them".
5:7 – "he's just picking a fight" – past quarrels and fights color new initiatives.
5:10 – and Elisha sent a messenger... so he (Naaman) turned and went away in a rage – cf. recent social study shows that "the higher the perceived social loss a person would be, the better the health care by professionals in the society." He expected better treatment – but got only what was required to heal him. He was humbled by the reality of his cure by such a muddy river bath. How often pride gets in the way of our seeking help and having to be broken is a big part of the cure. [Note – this is exactly what I experienced myself when I inadvertently put myself on the track of patients who are poor, rather than the privileged – and experienced what it's like to receive healthcare which is designed for the poorer people in Canada. Once the little misunderstanding got cleared up, I started to receive a much superior level of cancer follow-up. But what of the people who never can escape from that strata of society, and the treatment that is handed out to them?].
– he stood before Elisha after the cure in appreciation and confession of faith.
5:16f – no gifts from him for Elisha or his servant (but he did accept hospitality freely offered by the woman... but gave in return of what he could). He asks them (astonished?) For two loads of "Yahweh turf" to take home to worship God on – and accept apology in advance for formal worship of Ramon which he knows he'll have to carry on with. An interesting insight into the local "ecumenism" (versus national cultural invasion by imported foreign gods by the Israelite king. Cf. Elijah as well – go in peace".)
"Where have you been, Gehezi?" He knew darned well, but the cruncher question gets us all! "Nowhere"!
"Did I not go with your spirit?" At stake here was the prophetic inheritance – Gehezi just bought out of it!
6:1 – the expansion of the prophetic community – (like today with the glut of ministers now that "real jobs" are in short supply? – and people flock to these jobs, the only ones available)
6:5 – "alas – it was a borrowed axe!" What of our loss of borrowed things? And of our attitude of responsibility. His wonderworker's ability seen in the service of common problems. (The "cured hemorrhoids" of today's cult TV healers?)
6:16 "fear not for those who are with us are more than those who are against us"... oh Lord, open his (his new servant's) eyes... and he saw the heavenly host.
– so those who "saw" became blind and vice versa. And he acted as their guide and led them into a trap! Okay God, now open their eyes!
6:23 – an act of justice and generosity resulted in a cessation of hostilities (for a time) – how about the hostilities of today?
6:26f – the horrors of siege "conventional warfare" – cannibalism – life at the extreme – seen today as "better than nuclear war" so let's have one... versus solve the problem in the first place.
6:33 – "this is from the Lord – why should I wait for the Lord any longer?". The jitters at the extremity "do you trust me, do you trust me?" He keeps asking... and we say no not really, but what else is there?
7:1 – but there are some who trust and see and hold that up for us and they say to us a date and time and a result – not necessarily how. But the extremities of life are not necessarily removed in the meantime.
7:6 – the sound of reinforcements – as Israel found at Moab – and sports teams find at halftime. Such a large part of life is spiritual – our assessments of the percentage vary!
7:9 – "we are not doing right... we're going to be punished" – sounds pretty human – especially from a group who had learned to live by their wits as outcasts.
7:3 – caught between a rock and a hard place! How does one respond?
7:17 – trampled under the rush of starving people going out after food – what was he doing there as a gatekeeper? Still taking his conservative attitude and trying to do things according "to the usual" and "two procedure" – forget [it] they said and trampled him, driven by deeper and more desperate needs – Elisha had his number, and knew that sort of thing happens to that sort of person.
8:4 – here's the "tricky Dickie" if I ever saw one – what's his angle this time in talking to Gehezi? (Before/after being a leper?).
8:7ff –Hazael (called "son of a nobody" in ANET) staged a coup when Elisha picked up a look or gesture which gave away his real ambitions for power – and articulated them to him. Whatever it was, caused Elisha to flip into a trance mode and see the detail – and share it.
8:13 – cf. grandpas sermon "what is your servant? A dog that he should do this great thing?... dog or no dog, he did it."
– he started within 24 hours with murder and then went on to the rest.
– our estimations of ourselves and our quality are grossly exaggerated and out of keeping with the reality that we are.
– we have attitudes and approaches in us that are incubating on the back burner – often these are apparent to others long before they are apparent to us, and in the end they surface.
– we are faced with choices when they do surface – to repent (before/after we act if the act precedes the realization), or to carry on.
– and that forgiveness is there, though consequences are not necessarily foregone.
– better to realize who we are (and are not!) And to ask for grace than to walk blind – and in the areas of blindness admit our state and lean on him for grace – yet live boldly, trusting that forgiveness is ours as well.
8:16 – "for the daughter of Ahab was his wife" – on being led astray by our spouses (and vice versa!) Cf. Paul on the subject – perhaps we lead our spouses aright!.
– but the "one flesh" concept is indeed a reality – even Paul says – hook into a hooker and you become one flesh there... and tear yourself apart!
– interpersonal influence is a reality – it's direction is mutual. How do you respond to that reality and within that reality? Now "Ahab's way" went into Judah as Jezebel had brought it into Israel.
9:3 – hit and run anointing – not good for his servant's health to stick around for "the reception"!
9:11 – "you know the fellow and his talk" tried to dismiss the public attention but it didn't wash! How would the guy look with oil all over his head, beard and clothes?!
9:13 and 14 – cf. Jesus entry into Jerusalem – they wanted political and social freedom here, not religious zeal based – so they lay out the coat-carpet as they did for Jesus. But for Jehu it was "and thus Jehu conspired..." but Jesus took a different tack. In both cases there was fierce hatred of the oppressive government. Cf. the ferocity of the revenge and outrage at Jezebel in this chapter. Contrast it to Jesus who chose not to buy into that "liberation theology" but rather into a different approach that's a deeper level – the latter had a far deeper and more lasting effect on the world. And we still buy into Jehu versus Jesus.
10:1f – like ________ (withheld) when we were kids – the bully wanted a fight but couldn't really hit my friend until my friend hit first – so the bully tried to provoke him, "hit me, go on, hit me" but my friend knew that he had better not do that. By refusing to fight he got out of the fight. Here, the city fathers are challenged to defy Jehu and refused to do so – but then Jehu pushes his blood lust in a vengeful coup to remove all opposition.
10:6 – "if you are on my side" how often such a "head rolling" goes on after a change of leadership in an institution/country – here literally – and also with any perceived friends.
10:18f – the slaughter was motivated by the cultural domination represented by the official Baal cult. Nationalistic, ethnocentric feelings are such that slaughters tend to repeat. The Germans and Jews later were another aspect of all this. Today you have Canada/USA, abortionists and pro-lifers, feminists and non-feminists. What seems to be central is a popular mythology that is the "spirit of the times" which one had better not attack or else that person will be destroyed. It's not so much a matter of right and wrong, as a matter of power, and a lust for power. We are, I fear, not much farther down the road than Jehu and his people, but we fancy that we are. If we don't think "our enemies are within our own household" we deceive ourselves. We are quite capable of doing such things to anyone – all of us are.
11:21 –Jehoash was seven years old – his first view of life was six years in hiding for fear of being murdered by the Queen – followed by witnessing the crowd to kill the Queen – and carrying him on their shoulders to the throne – with the coup-master as his Guardian for 40 more years!
12:8 – the priest strike – they agreed among themselves not to handle the finances or temple repairs! Stick that in your ear Jehoiada! Sounds like today where clergy's own resources are to be used to keep the institutional church going (hidden though it still is) and this will become even more evident as the old folks die off and the squeeze comes – no endowments and at some point you'll have the priest's rebellion again!
12:9-16 – note the scab labour, priests edged out! Honest scabs at that! (Verse 15).
12:18 and 20 – national crisis due to the rise of Syria and the fall of Gath results in a coup (as usual). Chronicles says that his son took over and he died in a coup as well.
13:7 – loss of young men for the army – military fodder!
13:18 – and he struck the ground and then stopped. There was little transfer of personal power (extension of personality belief) to the King who saw Elisha as the only real defence of the country. He knew he was a wimp and sought (through the arrow deal) to get some of his power before Elisha died. Elisha had pity on him and tried his best but the king just didn't have it. It was of interest to note that the folklore story shows Elisha is still having enough power after he was dead in the grave to result in the transfer of life to another dead man! The King must have been some wimp!
14:6 – note the change in sought of the family being the essential social unit. The kids of the assassins were spared! (And we still bemoan the same change – I wonder about that!)
14:10 – "Be content with your glory and stay home" Hitler's mistake the Germans now believe – he should have quit while he was ahead. Like Hitler, he got clobbered.
16:3 – child sacrifice was rampant in the last years of the northern kingdom – it had come back periodically before in times of crisis but he has brought it back as a regular routine.
16:7 – the context for Isaiah 7 (and he shall be called Immanuel, God with us)... fantastic!
17:1-6 – the fall of the North. – 1 out of 20 went into captivity (27,290 in ANET) likely one invasion with three incidents versus three invasions.
17:7-23 – the "Gibbon interpretation" of the Old Testament – reflections on the fall of the kingdom – quite a description!
17:24-41 – the origin of the Samaritans – no wonder they were and are despised by the Jews – (they are a neglected and hated subgroup today. Some commentators say they are fraught by mental deficiency due to inbreeding because they are cut off from social interaction in Israel). As with Northern Ireland Protestants they were placed there as conquering replacements for the exiles, complete with their own religion. They were taught the local religion (to keep the lions away!) But really didn't mix.
If the myth was that Abraham left the chaos of Babel and the "nations' way" to start again in relationship to Yahweh then to have these same people come in with what they had tried to leave would be intolerable... even though by their lifestyle they too had gone back to the ways of the nations which Abraham had left. It may be only after exile that this really gets accentuated (?). [But see also Rabbi Marcia Praeger comments on Abraham later]
17:34-41 – Israelites did the same blending jobs at home and in exile.
18:4 –Nehushtan(wd?) – perhaps the original Jerusalem sacred symbol before conquest (Jebusite) – a fertility symbol in Palestine.
18:17ff – an incredible tug-of-war and attempt to cajole, mock and threatened his way into Jerusalem – including a bit of scripture quoting. Isaiah backs Hezekiah to stand firm and wait it out, which he does.
19:30-31 – as with the recovery of seed for planting (it takes time to build up a supply) so to the country will stumble somewhat before it gets back on its feet. Remnant theology.
20:2-3 – Hezekiah's reaction to facing the reality of his own death – face to the wall – prayer – tears of bitterness results in 15 more years! Note Isaiah is the mouthpiece for news and the change.
20:19 – "why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?" Anything for peace in the Valley now. An astounding attitude for a king – cf. Britain in World War II. Cf. our attitude of life on the oasis today – so what if the next generation has a polluted environment and international tension.
20:15b – "there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show him) results in "Buddy, you just lost it" from Isaiah. America has the gall to beam its "way of life" into the parched land of the "desert" and the effect is about the same (see 20:19 as well).
20:20 – all the while preparing for siege – defensive weapons like the United States and the Cruise missile tests we are permitting again this weekend over Canadian soil.
21:1 –Manasseh is on (ANET) two lists of participants at their version of "Amway conventions" – Vassel's conventions with building projects the base!
21:12 – from a tickle to a tingle in the ears. In the New Testament that says we pick out speakers to make our ears tickle – here they'll tingle with what's ahead – just hearing about it.
21:13 – doing a little housekeeping in the land – doing up the dishes – wiping both sides and turning it upside down to do it – good image.
21:16 – purge of opposing prophetic voices likely, who, unlike Elijah and the hidden "50s", didn't get away.
22:1 – Josiah the eight-year-old – his father killed in a plot of servants, who in turn were slain – nice way to grow up! Five years after the call of Jeremiah.
22:8 – on being confronted afresh with "a book of the Law". How far we drift! Reform would be anti-Syria but was okay because Babylon causing problems back east and therefore they were left alone.
22:14 – Jeremiah was not yet a key prophet so not consulted – five years or so after his call.
22:19f – Josiah was penitent and this is recognized as different to the responses of other prior kings.
23:3 – the public assembly and covenant.
23:22 – Passover resumed after a gap dating back to just after the conquest... it didn't take them long to forget!
Chapter 24 and 25 – rapid collapse and a crushed revolt. A secondary uprising results in Gedeliah's family going to Egypt for asylum.