Hard times came to ninth-century Israel. 2 Kings 6 and 7 recount the tale of the conflict with their northern neighbors the Syrians – also known as the Arameans – and the ensuing siege of Samaria. A severe famine upon the inhabitants of the Israelite capital followed, leaving the people in desperate straits. Things became so difficult that certain women resorted to cannibalizing their own children in an effort to assuage their incessant hunger (2 Kings 6:26-29.) Formerly worthless, but edible commodities like a donkey’s head suddenly became costly delicacies. This high price for a ceremonially unclean animal indicated the extreme suffering playing out within the city walls. Such misery engendered a collage of colliding emotions in the Israelite king – including frustration, perplexity, rage, and helplessness. His ire soon turned against the Lord’s faithful spokesman, Elisha, but the latter was not to blame for the calamity (v. 31.) Instead, he pronounced a message of unparalleled deliverance to the astonished monarch and his advisers.
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