We left off yesterday with Samaria under siege by Syria, and Israel blaming YHWH. Today we pick up where we left off. Let’s set the scene: the Syrian army had been outside the city, knowing that victory is getting close. There are four lepers also sitting just outside the city (7:3). They know they are about to die, so what do they have to lose? They decide to go to the Syrians to find food (v. 4). When they get to the Syrian camp, no one is there (v. 5). Why? Because what Elisha prophesied came to pass (7:1). God allowed Syria to hear the army of God, and they fled (v. 6 – see 6:17). The king of Israel doesn’t believe it, though (v. 12), but what Elisha said had come true (v. 16), including the death of the servant of the king (v. 17).
Chapter 8 begins with Elisha prophesying of a famine to the Shunammite woman he had stayed with (8:1). Note that she goes only to the land of the Philistines to ride out the famine (v. 2). This shows that this famine is a punishment specifically for Israel. Note also that this king does not know much of Elisha’s ministry, and considers what he does “great” (v. 4). He also gladly restores the woman’s land (v. 6). This doesn’t sound like Jehoram. This is possibly Jehu and this story is out of order in the book. In verses 7-15, we see the rise to power of Hazael. Elisha is fulfilling what God told Elijah to do back in 1 Kings 19:15. Even though Elisha knows what this means for Israel, he obeys God (vv. 12-13). The character of Hazael is shown by his impatience and willingness to murder Ben-hadad (v. 15).
In verses 16 we see either the anointing of Jehoram of Judah to be co-regent with Jehoshaphat, or the passing on of power completely from Jehoshaphat. We see in verse 18 that he was married to Ahab’s daughter, and was evil like his in-laws. Yet God patiently kept His promise to David (v. 19). We see, however, that during his reign, the kingdom of Judah contracted (v. 22). We see in verse 26 that the next king, Ahaziah, had even more intermarrying with Israel in his family tree. In verse 27, we see that the difference between Israel and Judah was not much. The only difference is God’s covenant with David.
In chapter 9, we see one of the sons of the prophets fulfill what God told Elijah to do in 1 Kings 19:16. He instructs Jehu to carry out God’s punishment of Ahab (9:7-9 – see 1 Kings 21:21-22). He will also carry out God’s punishment on Jezebel (v. 10 – see 1 Kings 21:23) for, among other things, her persecution of the prophets (v. 7 – see 1 Kings 17:4). Note that Jehu is the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi (9:2), not Jehoshaphat the son of Asa (1 Kings 22:41) who was king of Judah. Note in verse 13 how willing the commanders of the army of Israel (see v. 4) are to follow Jehu instead of Jehoram.
Jehu then fulfills what God told Elijah would happen (1 Kings 19:17). As we know that Ahaziah king of Judah is also a male of the house of Ahab (8:26), he also needed to die. Jehoram meets justice on the plot of land Ahab stole from Naboth (v. 21, 25-26 – see 1 Kings 21:19). The evil Ahaziah is also killed (v. 27). He is given a proper burial because he is the grandson of the righteous king Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chron 22:9) But Jehu is not done. He now goes after Jezebel, who dies according to the word of God (v. 36).