April 22 Reading: II Kings 5-8 Commentary

Below is our II Kings 5-8 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

“My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (II Kings 5:13)

II Kings 5 – Naaman’s Leprosy

commentaryII Kings 5 introduces us to an interesting character – the commander of the army of the king of Syria named Naaman. He’s described as being “great and honorable man in the eyes of his master” and a mighty man of valor. Only one problem though – he had leprosy, a skin disease that could prove fatal (see Lev. 13:1-46; Num. 5:1-4; Matt. 8:1-4).

Because of Syria’s ongoing conflict with Israel, they’d often brought back captives from their engagements. One such captive, a young Jewish girl, was a servant to Naaman’s wife (v. 2). One day she told her mistress about “the prophet from Samaria” (v. 3). She believed the prophet could heal Naaman.

When Naaman heard about “the prophet”, he made a request to his king, Ben-Hadad, to leave and seek out the prophet. Only problem was that they both thought the prophet was the king of Israel. So when the king of Israel read the letter that Ben-Hadad wrote asking him to heal his servant Naaman, he tore his clothes and exclaimed, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?” (v. 7).

When Elisha heard the king had torn his clothes, he sent word to have Naaman come to him (v. 8).

Elisha’s Unusual Request

Naaman went to present himself to Elisha. He stood at Elisha’s front door and was told by Elisha’s messengers, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (v. 10).

Naaman can’t believe this request. He thought Elisha would do something dramatic to cure him. Besides, the waters of the Jordan were not as nice as the waters in his homeland. He left the house in fit of rage (vv. 11-12).

Naaman’s servants had a different take though. They came to their master and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (v. 13). It’s wise advice which Naaman recognized. So he went to the Jordan and did as Elisha said (v. 14).

When he came up the 7th time, “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (v. 15). He returned to Elisha and praised God saying, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

This miracle altered his life permanently. He took two mule-loads of dirt back with him to Syria so that he could offer sacrifices on the soil to the Lord. He also asked Elisha in advance for pardon for anytime his master required him to go to their temple to worship. All signs point to the encounter being a salvation moment for Naaman (vv. 17-18).

He also wished to thank Elisha by leaving him so gift . However, Elisha refused (v. 16) and Naaman went on his way (v. 19).

Gehazi Gets Greedy

Elisha’s servant Gehazi saw an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that Elisha had not accepted any gifts from this wealthy man. So he pursued Naaman on his way back home. When Gehazi reached him, he told Naaman that Elisha did indeed have need of some gifts for “two young men of the sons of the prophets” who had “come to me [Elisha] from the mountains of Ephraim” (v. 22). So Gehazi lied about his intentions and falsified a need in Elisha’s name.

Naaman had no clue. He gave Gehazi two talents of silver (about 140 lbs.) and two changes of garments (v. 22). Gehazi returned home and stored it all away in his house (v. 24).

When he next met Elisha, the prophet asked where he’d been. Gehazi lied to Elisha saying he had not gone anywhere (v. 25). Of course, Elisha knew, by some supernatural power from God, what Gehazi did. So he criticized Gehazi for it and said, “Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.”

“And he [Gehazi] went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow” (v. 27).

II Kings 6 – Blinded Syrians Captured

The beginning of II Kings 6 describes another miracle by Elisha. The sons of the prophets were making a dwelling for themselves near the Jordan when one of the workers dropped the head of their ax into the river and it sunk. Elisha threw a stick into the water near the location of it and the ax head floated to the surface (vv. 1-7).

More interesting though is how the king of Israel seemed to know all the strategies of Ben-Haded king of Syria. Ben-Haded suspected a spy was in his ranks, as battle details were only discussed within his tent. Turns out the spy was Elisha, who was then relaying information to the king of Israel. God was supernaturally supplying information of the enemy’s plans to Elisha (vv. 8-12).

Ben-Haded “sent horses and chariots and a great army” to go after Elisha. They surrounded Dothan, the town in which he was staying (v. 13). When Elisha’s servants arose early in the morning and saw the great army, they were terrified (v. 15).

Elisha however, was not. He calmly told them, Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them….Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see” (v. 16-17). When the Lord did, the young servant saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v. 17). God had sent an army of heavenly hosts to protect Elisha.

At that point, the Syrians came down and Elisha prayed, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness” (v. 18). And God did just as the word of Elisha had spoken. The Syrians were blinded. 

Syrian Comes Against Samaria

When God blinded the Syrians, Elisha led them to Samaria. All the while, the Syrians thought Elisha was helping them find…well, Elisha (v. 19). But when they got to Samaria and Elisha prayed for their eyes to be opened, they realized they were in enemy territory and were in danger of being killed by the king of Israel (vv. 20-21). However, Elisha had the king of Israel spare them. And because of that, the bands of Syrian raiders didn’t come into Israel again (vv. 22-23).

Until the peace was broken and they did.

Some time later, the wars revived. This time Syria besieged Samaria. The resulting conflict caused a great famine in Samaria (v. 24) because no food or supplies could get in through the blockade. It was so bad that common items cost extravagant prices (v. 25). And in a fulfillment of what the Lord had said would happen for national disobedience, cannibalism occurred (vv. 27-29). When the king of Israel heard about that issue, he was greatly disturbed and blamed Elisha (vv. 30-31).

The king sent messengers ahead of him to capture Elisha. However, once again Elisha was supernaturally alerted to their plan (vv. 32) and knew the king was coming too (v. 33). When the king arrived, Elisha had some welcome news for him.

II Kings 7 – The Syrians Flee

Elisha had this exchange of good news with the king and not so good news with one of his officers:

“Then Elisha said, ‘Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord: ‘Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.’ So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, ‘Look, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?’ And he [Elisha] said, ‘In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.'” (vv. 1-2). 

Meanwhile, near the entrance of the city gate, were four leprous men. With their disease and the famine in the city, they reasoned they had no hope of living. So in an odd conclusion, they decided to surrender to the Syrians. Either way, whether they stayed in the city and starved to death or were killed by their Syrian captors, they’d be dead (vv. 3-4).

At twilight, they arose and went to the Syrian camp. What they found astonished them. No one was there. They didn’t know why. We do however, as verses 6-7 describe:

“For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses—the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!’ Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact—their tents, their horses, and their donkeys—and they fled for their lives.”

Plundering the Syrian Camp

The four leprous men were overjoyed at what was before them. They were so hungry, they went into the Syrian tents and ate and drank. Then they started to ransack the camp, taking silver, gold and clothing for themselves (v. 8).

At some point they come to their senses. They said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household” (v. 9).

When they returned with the news, no one believed their report. The king thought it was a ruse by the Syrians to draw out his army. So he ordered several men to take the remaining five horses in the city and a couple of chariots to confirm the men’s story (vv. 10-14).

The messengers found it just as the men had said. They saw “…the road was full of garments and weapons which the Syrians had thrown away in their haste” (v. 15). They reported this news to the king and all the people went and plundered the Syrians. “So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord” as Elisha had said (v. 16). 


“The king had appointed the officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. But the people trampled him in the gate, and he died, just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him…’In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it'” (vv. 17-20)

II Kings 8 – A Woman Gets Her Land Back

The beginning of II Kings 8 returns to the Shunammite woman whose son Elisha had raised from the dead. She had left at Elisha’s instruction because he warned her of a coming famine in the land (v. 1). She resided in Philistine territory for seven years (v. 2). Now she’d returned and wanted to make a claim to the king to get her house and her land back (v. 3).

This story seems to be out of order chronologically in the book. How do we know that? Because Gehazi appears in the story as an intermediary between the woman and the king (vv. 4-6). He confirmed her story to Jehoram the king of Judah. So this must have occurred while he was still faithful to Elisha’s ministry. We know from Chap. 5 the sin that caused him to become a leper (see II Kings 5:20-27).

Ben-Hadad Dies

In time, Ben-Haded king of Syria became ill. He sent a servant of his, Hazael, to speak with Elisha to see if the king would survive (vv. 7-9).

Elisha had an interesting report for Hazael. Yes, Ben-Haded would recover but then he would also die (vv. 10-11). With that Elisha’s countenance changed into a deep, long stare. And he began to weep.

Hazael was confused and asked Elisha why he was crying. Elisha responded:

“Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child” (v. 12).

In other words, Hazael would become the next king of Syria and at some point carry out these horrific things (v. 13).

Hazael departed and returned to Ben-Haded with the news. And the next day, Hazael assassinated Ben-Haded by suffocating him. “And Hazel reigned in his place” (v. 15).

Jehoram: King of Judah

“Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat having been king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign as king of Judah. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah, for the sake of His servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever” (vv. 16-19). 

Jehoram put down a major revolt by Edom during his reign. When he died, his son Ahaziah reigned in his place. More about his wicked reign, his evil wife Athaliah and the revolts of Edom, Libnah and the Philistine-Arabian incursion can be found in II Chron. 21.

Also, at this point, kings of both nations had the same name. Jehoram king of Judah reigned from 848-841 BC. He should not be confused with Joram king of Israel who reigned from 852-841 BC.

Ahaziah: King of Judah

“In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, king of Israel. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab” (vv. 25-27). 

Additionally, he fought with Joram king of Israel against the aforementioned Hazael king of Syria. See also II Chron. 22.

Questions to Consider:

Have you ever received a blessing from God after doing something that you thought odd or unusual? 

God gives wisdom to all who seek him and can use anyone to accomplish his plan.

In II Kings 5, we read that a young servant girl planted the idea in Naaman’s mind to go see Elisha to heal his skin disease. She had faith that God would cure him and wasn’t afraid to share it. It’s proof that God can use anyone, even the lowliest among us to accomplish his will.

What other points would you want to know about in our II Kings 5-8 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.