One day the guild of prophets came to Elisha and said, "You can see that this place where we're living under your leadership is getting cramped - we have no elbow room.
Give us permission to go down to the Jordan where each of us will get a log. We'll build a roomier place." Elisha said, "Go ahead."
One of them then said, "Please! Come along with us!" He said, "Certainly."
He went with them. They came to the Jordan and started chopping down trees.
As one of them was felling a timber, his axhead flew off and sank in the river. "Oh no, master!" he cried out. "And it was borrowed!"
The Holy Man said, "Where did it sink?" The man showed him the place. He cut off a branch and tossed it at the spot. The axhead floated up.
"Grab it," he said. The man reached out and took it.
One time when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, after consulting with his officers, he said, "At such and such a place I want an ambush set."
The Holy Man sent a message to the king of Israel: "Watch out when you're passing this place, because Aram has set an ambush there."
So the king of Israel sent word concerning the place of which the Holy Man had warned him. This kind of thing happened all the time.
The king of Aram was furious over all this. He called his officers together and said, "Tell me, who is leaking information to the king of Israel? Who is the spy in our ranks?"
But one of his men said, "No, my master, dear king. It's not any of us. It's Elisha the prophet in Israel. He tells the king of Israel everything you say, even what you whisper in your bedroom."
The king said, "Go and find out where he is. I'll send someone and capture him." The report came back, "He's in Dothan."
Then he dispatched horses and chariots, an impressive fighting force. They came by night and surrounded the city.
Early in the morning a servant of the Holy Man got up and went out. Surprise! Horses and chariots surrounding the city! The young man exclaimed, "Oh, master! What shall we do?"
He said, "Don't worry about it - there are more on our side than on their side."
Then Elisha prayed, "O God, open his eyes and let him see." The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!
When the Arameans attacked, Elisha prayed to God, "Strike these people blind!" And God struck them blind, just as Elisha said.
Then Elisha called out to them, "Not that way! Not this city! Follow me and I'll lead you to the man you're looking for." And he led them into Samaria.
As they entered the city, Elisha prayed, "O God, open their eyes so they can see where they are." God opened their eyes. They looked around - they were trapped in Samaria!
When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, "Father, shall I massacre the lot?"
"Not on your life!" said Elisha. "You didn't lift a hand to capture them, and now you're going to kill them? No sir, make a feast for them and send them back to their master."
So he prepared a huge feast for them. After they ate and drank their fill he dismissed them. Then they returned home to their master. The raiding bands of Aram didn't bother Israel anymore.
At a later time, this: Ben-Hadad king of Aram pulled together his troops and launched a siege on Samaria.
This brought on a terrible famine, so bad that food prices soared astronomically. Eighty shekels for a donkey's head! Five shekels for a bowl of field greens!
One day the king of Israel was walking along the city wall. A woman cried out, "Help! Your majesty!"
He answered, "If God won't help you, where on earth can I go for help? To the granary? To the dairy?"
The king continued, "Tell me your story."
So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I told her, 'Your turn - bring your son so we can have him for supper.' But she had hidden her son away."
When the king heard the woman's story he ripped apart his robe. Since he was walking on the city wall, everyone saw that next to his skin he was wearing coarse burlap.
And he called out, "God do his worst to me - and more - if Elisha son of Shaphat still has a head on his shoulders at this day's end."
Elisha was sitting at home, the elders sitting with him. The king had already dispatched an executioner, but before the man arrived Elisha spoke to the elders: "Do you know that this murderer has just now sent a man to take off my head? Look, when the executioner arrives, shut the door and lock it. Don't I even now hear the footsteps of his master behind him?"
While he was giving his instructions, the king showed up, accusing, "This trouble is directly from God! And what's next? I'm fed up with God!"
Elisha said, "Listen! God's word! The famine's over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful - a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel. The market at the city gate will be buzzing."
The attendant on whom the king leaned for support said to the Holy Man, "You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?" "You'll watch it with your own eyes," he said, "but you will not eat so much as a mouthful!"
It happened that four lepers were sitting just outside the city gate. They said to one another, "What are we doing sitting here at death's door?
If we enter the famine-struck city we'll die; if we stay here we'll die. So let's take our chances in the camp of Aram and throw ourselves on their mercy. If they receive us we'll live, if they kill us we'll die. We've got nothing to lose."
So after the sun went down they got up and went to the camp of Aram. When they got to the edge of the camp, surprise! Not a man in the camp!
The Master had made the army of Aram hear the sound of horses and a mighty army on the march. They told one another, "The king of Israel hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to attack us!"
Panicked, they ran for their lives through the darkness, abandoning tents, horses, donkeys - the whole camp just as it was - running for dear life.
These four lepers entered the camp and went into a tent. First they ate and drank. Then they grabbed silver, gold, and clothing, and went off and hid it. They came back, entered another tent, and looted it, again hiding their plunder.
Finally they said to one another, "We shouldn't be doing this! This is a day of good news and we're making it into a private party! If we wait around until morning we'll get caught and punished. Come on! Let's go tell the news to the king's palace!"
So they went and called out at the city gate, telling what had happened: "We went to the camp of Aram and, surprise! - the place was deserted. Not a soul, not a sound! Horses and donkeys left tethered and tents abandoned just as they were."
The gatekeepers got the word to the royal palace, giving them the whole story.
Roused in the middle of the night, the king told his servants, "Let me tell you what Aram has done. They knew that we were starving, so they left camp and have hid in the field, thinking, 'When they come out of the city, we'll capture them alive and take the city.'"
One of his advisors answered, "Let some men go and take five of the horses left behind. The worst that can happen is no worse than what could happen to the whole city. Let's send them and find out what's happened."
They took two chariots with horses. The king sent them after the army of Aram with the orders, "Scout them out; find out what happened."
They went after them all the way to the Jordan. The whole way was strewn with clothes and equipment that Aram had dumped in their panicked flight. The scouts came back and reported to the king.
The people then looted the camp of Aram. Food prices dropped overnight - a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel - God's word to the letter!
The king ordered his attendant, the one he leaned on for support, to be in charge of the city gate. The people, turned into a mob, poured through the gate, trampling him to death. It was exactly what the Holy Man had said when the king had come to see him.
Every word of the Holy Man to the king - "A handful of meal for a shekel, two handfuls of grain for a shekel this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria,"
with the attendant's sarcastic reply to the Holy Man, "You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?" followed by the response, "You'll watch it with your own eyes, but you won't eat so much as a mouthful" - proved true.
The final stroke came when the people trampled the man to death at the city gate.
Years before, Elisha had told the woman whose son he had brought to life, "Leave here and go, you and your family, and live someplace else. God has ordered a famine in the land; it will last for seven years."
The woman did what the Holy Man told her and left. She and her family lived as aliens in the country of Philistia for seven years.
Then, when the seven years were up, the woman and her family came back. She went directly to the king and asked for her home and farm.
The king was talking with Gehazi, servant to the Holy Man, saying, "Tell me some stories of the great things Elisha did."
It so happened that as he was telling the king the story of the dead person brought back to life, the woman whose son was brought to life showed up asking for her home and farm. Gehazi said, "My master the king, this is the woman! And this is her son whom Elisha brought back to life!"
The king wanted to know all about it, and so she told him the story. The king assigned an officer to take care of her, saying, "Make sure she gets everything back that's hers, plus all profits from the farm from the time she left until now."
Elisha traveled to Damascus. Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, was sick at the time. He was told, "The Holy Man is in town."
The king ordered Hazael, "Take a gift with you and go meet the Holy Man. Ask God through him, 'Am I going to recover from this sickness?'"
Hazael went and met with Elisha. He brought with him every choice thing he could think of from Damascus - forty camel-loads of items! When he arrived he stood before Elisha and said, "Your son Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, sent me here to ask you, 'Am I going to recover from this sickness?'"
Elisha answered, "Go and tell him, 'Don't worry; you'll live.' The fact is, though - God showed me - that he's doomed to die."
Elisha then stared hard at Hazael, reading his heart. Hazael felt exposed and dropped his eyes. Then the Holy Man wept.
Hazael said, "Why does my master weep?" "Because," said Elisha, "I know what you're going to do to the children of Israel: burn down their forts, murder their youth, smash their babies, rip open their pregnant women."
Hazael said, "Am I a mongrel dog that I'd do such a horrible thing?" "God showed me," said Elisha, "that you'll be king of Aram."
Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master, who asked, "So, what did Elisha tell you?" "He told me, 'Don't worry; you'll live.'"
But the very next day, someone took a heavy quilt, soaked it in water, covered the king's face, and suffocated him. Now Hazael was king.
In the fifth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king.
He was thirty-two years old when he began his rule, and was king for eight years in Jerusalem.
He copied the way of life of the kings of Israel, marrying into the Ahab family and continuing the Ahab line of sin - from God's point of view, an evil man living an evil life.
But despite that, because of his servant David, God was not ready to destroy Judah. He had, after all, promised to keep a lamp burning through David's descendants.
During Jehoram's reign, Edom revolted against Judah's rule and set up their own king.
Jehoram responded by taking his army of chariots to Zair. Edom surrounded him, but in the middle of the night he and his charioteers broke through the lines and hit Edom hard. But his infantry deserted him.
Edom continues in revolt against Judah right up to the present. Even little Libnah revolted at that time.
The rest of the life and times of Jehoram, the record of his rule, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.
Jehoram died and was buried in the family grave in the City of David. His son Ahaziah succeeded him as king.
In the twelfth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began his reign.
Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king; he ruled only a year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.
He lived and ruled just like the Ahab family had done, continuing the same evil-in-God's-sight line of sin, related by both marriage and sin to the Ahab clan.
He joined Joram son of Ahab king of Israel in a war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The archers wounded Joram.
Joram pulled back to Jezreel to convalesce from the injuries he had received in the fight with Hazael. Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah paid a visit to Joram son of Ahab on his sickbed in Jezreel.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)