Ben-Hadad’s Siege of Samaria

Jim Cymbala began at the Brooklyn Tabernacle as an under-educated, time-strapped preacher who led a second congregation in New Jersey. The church had no money to pay him, a ramshackle building, and barely enough attendance to bother with weekly meetings. Today, the Tabernacle h … More




Some time after the events just related, Ben-Hadad tried again to defeat Israel. This time he mobilized his entire army and besieged Samaria (v. 24). This kept up until there was nothing to eat in the city (v. 25) It was so severe that one donkey’s head, unclean to the Israelites, became a highly valued commodity. One day as Joram (the king of Israel) was walking along the top of the city wall a woman shouted to him, “your Majesty, can you please help me” (v. 26)? Sarcastically he told the woman that he could not provide  bread or wine; he was not greater than God (v. 27).


The woman then told the king, “Another woman and I were so hungry, that in desperation, we agreed to eat our sons (v. 28). She said that her friend had persuaded her to cook her son first but the next day, when the friend was to cook her son she had hidden him (v. 29). Learning the desperate extent to which the siege had driven his people, the king angrily tore his robes, an expression of deep distress and sorrow (v. 30). But Joram’s repentance seems to have been rather shallow in view of his attitude toward God’s servant Elisha (v. 31). Rather than dealing with the real cause of God’s discipline and his own apostasy, Joram blamed Elisha and swore to put him to death that very day.


Elisha was home and the important leaders of Israel were meeting with him (v.  32).Warned by God, Elisha announced that the king was sending someone to kill him. The prophet’s instruction to the elders was to bar the door against the executioner. The messenger arrived and said, “The king has concluded the Lord has caused all these things to happen, so why should He help us now” (v. 33)?





The king blamed Elisha for the desperate situation instead of assuming any blame himself. Instead of blaming others for situations that come in my life I need to make sure my sins are confessed.


II Kings 6:24-33 (English Standard Version)

Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver. Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, "Help, my lord, O king!" And he said, "If the LORD will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?" And the king asked her, "What is your trouble?" She answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, 'Give your son, that we may eat him.' But she has hidden her son." When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes--now he was passing by on the wall--and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body-- and he said, "May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today." Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Now the king had dispatched a man from his presence, but before the messenger arrived Elisha said to the elders, "Do you see how this murderer has sent to take off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door fast against him. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?" And while he was still speaking with them, the messenger came down to him and said, "This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?"

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