THE CHARIOTS OF FIRE AROUND ELISHA

2 Kings 6:8 to 23.





HERE was constant war between Israel and Syria through all the years of Elisha, the prophet. And the king of Israel found Elisha a greater help than his horses and chariots. For whenever the king of Syria told his officers to make an attack upon any place in the land of Israel, Elisha would send word to the king of Israel, saying, "Watch carefully that place, and send men to guard it, for the Syrians are coming to attack it." And then, when the Syrian army came to the place, they were sure to find it strongly guarded so that their soldiers could do nothing. This happened so many times that the king of Syria at last said to his nobles, "Some one among you is secretly helping the king of Israel, and is sending him word of all our plans. Will no one tell me who the traitor is?" And they said, "No one of us, my lord, O king, has made known your plans; but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your own room."

Then the king of Syria said, "Go and find where that man is, so that I may send an army to take him." After a time the king of Syria heard that Elisha was staying in Dothan. Then he sent to that place a great army, with horses and chariots. They came by night, and stood in a great ring all around the city, ready to seize the prophet. In the morning the prophets helper rose up early; and he found the city surrounded on every side by a host of men, with swords and spears. He called Elisha, in great alarm, and said to him, "O my master, what shall we do?" "Fear not," answered Elisha, "there are more men on our side than on theirs." And then Elisha prayed to the Lord, saying, "O Lord, open the eyes of this young man, and let him see who are with us."

Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw what other men could not see, that the mountain on which the city stood was covered with horses and chariots of fire, sent by the Lord to keep his prophet safe. But this the Syrians could not see; and they came up to the gates of the city to take Elisha. Then Elisha prayed to the Lord, saying, "Lord, make these men blind for a little while." Then a mist came over the eyes of the Syrians, and they could not see clearly. And Elisha went out to them, and said, 4 This is not the right city, but I will show you the way. Follow me." And Elisha led them from Dothan to Samaria, and into the walls of the city, where the army of Israel were standing all around them. Then Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see."

And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw the walls of Samaria, and the host of Israel all around them. The king of Israel was glad to have his enemies in his power; and he said to Elisha, "My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?" But Elisha said to him, "You shall not kill them. Would you kill helpless men whom you had taken as prisoners? Give them bread to eat, and water to drink, and send them home to their master." So, instead, of killing the Syrian soldiers, or holding them as prisoners, the king of Israel set plenty of food before them, and gave them all that they needed. Then he sent them home to their master, the king of Syria. And after that it was a long time before the Syrian armies came into the land of Israel.