Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:1
In this chapter the history of the kingdom of Israel is traced through the two reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoash. In 2 Kings 14 the history of Judah is resumed.
In the three and twentieth year - Rather, the "one and twentieth year." See Kg2 13:10.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:3
All their days - literally, "all the days." Not "all the days" of the two Syrian kings, for Ben-hadad lost to Joash all the cities which he had gained from Jehoahaz Kg2 13:25; but either "all the days of Jehoahaz" Kg2 13:22, or "all the days of Hazael" - both while he led his own armies, and while they were led by his son.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:5
The Lord gave Israel a saviour - Not immediately on the repentance of Jehoahaz but after his death (see Kg2 13:25).
They went out from under the hand of the Syrians - i. e. they ceased to be oppressed by the Syrians; they shook off their yoke, and became once more perfectly independent.
Tents - See Kg1 8:66 note.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:6
But walked therein - Rather, "he walked therein," meaning Joash, the "saviour" of the preceding verse.
There remained the grove also in Samaria - It seems strange that Jehu had not destroyed this when he put down the worship of Baal Kg2 10:26-28. Perhaps the "grove" or "Asherah" worship was too closely connected with the old worship in high places to be set aside with the same ease as the rites newly introduced from Phoenicia.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:7
The meaning is that "he, the king of Syria" (Kg2 13:4 Hazael) limited the standing army of Jehoahaz.
Like the dust by threshing - An expression not only employed metaphorically, and importing defeat, conquest, and grinding oppression Jer 51:33; Mic 4:12, but implying also the literal use of threshing-instruments in the execution of prisoners of war (marginal reference, and compare Sa2 12:31).
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:12
According to ordinary laws of historical composition, these verses should form the closing paragraph of the present chapter.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:14
The closing scene of Elisha's life. It was now at least sixty-three years since his call, so that he was at this time very possibly above ninety. He seems to have lived in almost complete retirement from the time he sent the young prophet to anoint Jehu king Kg2 9:1. And now it was not he who sought the king, but the king who sought him. Apparently, the special function of the two great Israelite prophets (Elijah and Elisha) was to counteract the noxious influence of the Baalistic rites; and, when these ceased, their extraordinary ministry came to an end.
The chariot of Israel ... - See the marginal reference. Joash must have known the circumstances of Elijah's removal, which were perhaps already entered in the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel;" and he must have intended to apply to Elisha his own words on that solemn occasion; "Thou too art about to leave us, and to follow Elijah - thou who hast been since his departure, that which he was while he remained on earth, the true defense of Israel."
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:16
Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands - A symbolic act, indicating that the successes, which the shooting typified, were to come, not from human skill, or strength, or daring, but from the presence and the power of God.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:17
Eastward - Syria of Damascus lay partly east, but still more north, of the holy land. The arrow was to be shot, eastward, not so much against Syria itself as against the scene of the recent Syrian successes, Gilead Kg2 10:33, which was also to be the scene of Joash's victories over them. Aphek is almost due east from Shunem, where it is not unlikely that Elisha now was.
The arrow ... - literally, "An arrow of deliverance from the Lord, and an arrow of deliverance against Syria; and thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, even to consuming."
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:18
Smite upon the ground - Some prefer to render - "Shoot to the ground;" i. e. "Shoot arrows from the window into the ground outside, as if thou wert shooting against an enemy."
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:19
The unfaithfulness of man limits the goodness of God. Though Joash did the prophet's bidding, it was without any zeal or fervour; and probably without any earnest belief in the efficacy of what he was doing. Compare Mar 6:5-6. God had been willing to give the Israelites complete victory over Syria Kg2 13:17; but Joash by his non-acceptance of the divine promise in its fulness had checked the outflow of mercy; and the result was that the original promise could not be fulfilled.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:20
The bands of the Moabites invaded the land - The Moabites had been increasing in strength ever since their revolt from Ahaziah Kg2 1:1. The defeat which they suffered at the hands of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat Kg2 3:24 did not affect their subjugation. They spread themselves into the country north of the Arnon Isa 16:2, and thence proceeded to make plundering expeditious year by year into Samaria, in Spring. This was the natural season for incursions, as then in Palestine the crops began to be ripe.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:21
They cast the man - Rather, "they thrust the man." The graves of the Jews were not pits dug in the ground, like ours, but caves or cells excavated in the side of a rock, the mouth of the cave being ordinarily shut by a heavy stone.
Stood up on his feet - Coffins were not used by the Jews. The body was simply wrapped or swathed in grave-clothes (compare Luk 7:15; Joh 11:44).
This miracle of Elisha's after his death is more surprising than any of those which he performed during his lifetime. The Jews regarded it as his highest glory (compare Ecclesiaticus 48:13, 14). It may be said to belong to a class of Scriptural miracles, cases, i. e. where the miracle was not performed through the agency of a living miracle-worker, but by a material object in which, by God's will, "virtue" for the time resided (compare Act 19:12). The primary effect of the miracle was, no doubt, greatly to increase the reverence of the Israelites for the memory of Elisha, to lend force to his teaching, and especially to add weight to his unfulfilled prophecies, as to that concerning the coming triumphs of Israel over Syria. In the extreme state of depression to which the Israelites were now reduced, a very signal miracle may have been needed to encourage and reassure them.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:23
The writer regards the captivity of Israel as God's "casting them out of His sight" (see Kg2 17:18, Kg2 17:20); and notes that this extreme punishment, though deserved, was by God's mercy not allowed to fall on them as yet.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:24
So Hazael ... died - literally, "And Hazael died," a fact not mentioned before.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 13:25
The cities which ... - Probably cities west of the Jordan, since the tract east of that river was conquered, mainly if not wholly, in the reign of Jehu Kg2 10:33.