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2 Kings 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear Jehovah: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two children to be bondmen.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets to Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant feared the LORD: and the creditor hath come to take to him my two sons to be bond-men.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And a woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha saying, Thy servant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant feared Jehovah; and the creditor is come to take my two children to be bondmen.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Now, a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets, made outcry unto Elisha, saying—Thy servant, my husband, is dead, and, thou, knowest that, thy servant, was one who revered Yahweh,—now, the creditor, hath come to take my two boys to himself as bondmen.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets hath cried unto Elisha, saying, 'Thy servant, my husband, is dead, and thou hast known that thy servant was fearing Jehovah, and the lender hath come to take my two children to him for servants.'
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Now a certain woman of the wives of the prophets, cried to Eliseus, saying: Thy servant, my husband, is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant was one that feared God, and behold the creditor is come to take away my two sons to serve him.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Now there cryed a certaine woman of the wiues of the sonnes of the Prophets vnto Elisha, saying, Thy seruant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy seruant did feare the LORD: and the creditour is come to take vnto him my two sonnes to be bondmen.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And one of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha{gr.Elisaie}, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant feared the Lord: and the creditor is come to take my two sons to be his servants.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear Yahweh: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Now there cried 6817
{6817} Prime
צָעַק
tsa`aq
{tsaw-ak'}
A primitive root; to shriek; (by implication) to proclaim (an assembly).
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
a certain 259
{0259} Prime
אֶחָד
'echad
{ekh-awd'}
A numeral from H0258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first.
woman 802
{0802} Prime
אִשָּׁה
'ishshah
{ish-shaw'}
The first form is the feminine of H0376 or H0582; the second form is an irregular plural; a woman (used in the same wide sense as H0582).
of the wives 802
{0802} Prime
אִשָּׁה
'ishshah
{ish-shaw'}
The first form is the feminine of H0376 or H0582; the second form is an irregular plural; a woman (used in the same wide sense as H0582).
x4480
(4480) Complement
מִן
min
{min}
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
of the sons 1121
{1121} Prime
בֵּן
ben
{bane}
From H1129; a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of literal and figurative relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc., (like H0001, H0251, etc.).
of the prophets 5030
{5030} Prime
נָבִיא
nabiy'
{naw-bee'}
From H5012; a prophet or (generally) inspired man.
unto x413
(0413) Complement
אֵל
'el
{ale}
(Used only in the shortened constructive form (the second form)); a primitive particle, properly denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, that is, near, with or among; often in general, to.
l` אֱלִישָׁע, 477
{0477} Prime
אֱלִישָׁע
'Eliysha`
{el-ee-shaw'}
Contracted for H0474; Elisha, the famous prophet.
saying, 559
{0559} Prime
אָמַר
'amar
{aw-mar'}
A primitive root; to say (used with great latitude).
z8800
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
Thy servant 5650
{5650} Prime
עֶבֶד
`ebed
{eh'-bed}
From H5647; a servant.
my husband 376
{0376} Prime
אִישׁ
'iysh
{eesh}
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
is dead; 4191
{4191} Prime
מָמוֹת
muwth
{mooth}
A primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively to kill.
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
and thou x859
(0859) Complement
אַתָּה
'attah
{at-taw'}
A primitive pronoun of the second person; thou and thee, or (plural) ye and you.
knowest 3045
{3045} Prime
ידע
yada`
{yaw-dah'}
A primitive root; to know (properly to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively instruction, designation, punishment, etc.).
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
that x3588
(3588) Complement
כִּי
kiy
{kee}
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
thy servant 5650
{5650} Prime
עֶבֶד
`ebed
{eh'-bed}
From H5647; a servant.
did x1961
(1961) Complement
הָיָה
hayah
{haw-yaw'}
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary).
fear y3373
[3373] Standard
יָרֵא
yare'
{yaw-ray'}
From H3372; fearing; morally reverent.
x3372
(3372) Complement
יָרֵא
yare'
{yaw-ray'}
A primitive root; to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten.
x853
(0853) Complement
אֵת
'eth
{ayth}
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
Yhw יָהוֶה: 3068
{3068} Prime
יְהֹוָה
Y@hovah
{yeh-ho-vaw'}
From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.
and the creditor 5383
{5383} Prime
נָשָׁה
nashah
{naw-shaw'}
A primitive root (rather identical with H5382, in the sense of H5378); to lend or (by reciprocity) borrow on security or interest.
z8802
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
is come 935
{0935} Prime
בּוֹא
bow'
{bo}
A primitive root; to go or come (in a wide variety of applications).
z8804
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
to take 3947
{3947} Prime
לָקַח
laqach
{law-kakh'}
A primitive root; to take (in the widest variety of applications).
z8800
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
unto him x853
(0853) Complement
אֵת
'eth
{ayth}
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
my two 8147
{8147} Prime
שְׁתַּיִם
sh@nayim
{shen-ah'-yim}
(The first form being dual of H8145; the second form being feminine); two; also (as ordinal) twofold.
sons 3206
{3206} Prime
יֶלֶד
yeled
{yeh'-led}
From H3205; something born, that is, a lad or offspring.
to be bondmen. 5650
{5650} Prime
עֶבֶד
`ebed
{eh'-bed}
From H5647; a servant.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

2 Kings 4:1

_ _ 2 Kings 4:1-7. Elisha augments the widow’s oil.

_ _ there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets — They were allowed to marry as well as the priests and Levites. Her husband, not enjoying the lucrative profits of business, had nothing but a professional income, which, in that irreligious age, would be precarious and very scanty, so that he was not in a condition to provide for his family.

_ _ the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen — By the enactment of the law, a creditor was entitled to claim the person and children of the insolvent debtor, and compel them to serve him as bondmen till the year of jubilee should set them free.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

2 Kings 4:1-7

_ _ Elisha's miracles were for use, not for show; this recorded here was an act of real charity. Such also were the miracles of Christ, not only great wonders, but great favours to those for whom they were wrought. God magnifies his goodness with his power.

_ _ I. Elisha readily receives a poor widow's complaint. She was a prophet's widow; to whom therefore should she apply, but to him that was a father to the sons of the prophets, and concerned himself in the welfare of their families? It seems, the prophets had wives as well as the priests, though prophecy went not by entail, as the priesthood did. Marriage is honourable in all, and not inconsistent with the most sacred professions. Now, by the complaint of this poor woman (2 Kings 4:1), we are given to understand, 1. That her husband, being one of the sons of the prophets, was well know to Elisha. Ministers of eminent gifts and stations should make themselves familiar with those that are every way their inferiors, and know their character and state. 2. That he had the reputation of a godly man. Elisha knew him to be one that feared the Lord, else he would have been unworthy of the honour and unfit for the work of a prophet. He was one that kept his integrity in a time of general apostasy, one of the 7000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal. 3. That he was dead, though a good man, a good minister. The prophets — do they live for ever? Those that were clothed with the Spirit of prophecy were not thereby armed against the stroke of death. 4. That he died poor, and in debt more than he was worth. He did not contract his debts by prodigality, and luxury, and riotous living, for he was one that feared the Lord, and therefore durst not allow himself in such courses: nay, religion obliges men not to live above what they have, nor to spend more than what God gives them, no, not in expenses otherwise lawful; for thereby, of necessity, they must disable themselves, at last, to give every one his own, and so prove guilty of a continued act of injustice all along. Yet it may be the lot of those that fear God to be in debt, and insolvent, through afflictive providences, losses by sea, or bad debts, or their own imprudence, for the children of light are not always wise for this world. Perhaps this prophet was impoverished by persecution: when Jezebel ruled, prophets had much ado to live, and especially if they had families. 5. That the creditors were very severe with her Two sons she had to be the support of her widowed state, and their labour is reckoned assets in her hand; that must go therefore, and they must be bondmen for seven years (Exodus 21:2) to work out this debt. Those that leave their families under a load of debt disproportionable to their estates know not what trouble they entail. In this distress the poor widow goes to Elisha, in dependence upon the promise that the seed of the righteous shall not be forsaken. The generation of the upright may expect help from God's providence and countenance from his prophets.

_ _ II. He effectually relieves this poor widow's distress, and puts her in a way both to pay her debt and to maintain herself and her family. He did not say, Be warmed, be filled, but gave her real help. He did not give her some small matter for her present provision, but set her up in the world to sell oil, and put a stock into her hand to begin with. This was done by miracle, but it is an indication to us what is the best method of charity, and the greatest kindness one can do to poor people, which is, if possible, to help them into a way of improving what little they have by their own industry and ingenuity.

_ _ 1. He directed her what to do, considered her case: What shall I do for thee? The sons of the prophets were poor, and it would signify little to make a collection for her among them: but the God of the holy prophets is able to supply all her need; and, if she has a little committed to her management, her need must be supplied by his blessing and increasing that little. Elisha therefore enquired what she had to make money of, and found she had nothing to sell but one pot of oil, 2 Kings 4:2. If she had had any plate or furniture, he would have bidden her part with it, to enable her to be just to her creditors. We cannot reckon any thing really, nor comfortably, our own, but what is so when all our debts are paid. If she had not had this pot of oil, the divine power could have supplied her; but, having this, it will work upon this, and so teach us to make the best of what we have. The prophet, knowing her to have credit among her neighbours, bids her borrow of them empty vessels (2 Kings 4:3), for, it seems, she had sold her own, towards the satisfying of her creditors. He directs her to shut the door upon herself and her sons, while she filled all those vessels out of that one. She must shut the door, to prevent interruptions from the creditors, and others while it was in the doing, that they might not seem proudly to boast of this miraculous supply, and that they might have opportunity for prayer and praise to God upon this extraordinary occasion. Observe, (1.) The oil was to be multiplied in the pouring, as the other widow's meal in the spending. The way to increase what we have is to use it; to him that so hath shall be given. It is not hoarding the talents, but trading with them, that doubles them. (2.) It must be poured out by herself, not by Elisha nor by any of the sons of the prophets, to intimate that it is in connexion with our own careful and diligent endeavours that we may expect the blessing of God to enrich us both for this world and the other. What we have will increase best in our own hand.

_ _ 2. She did it accordingly. She did not tell the prophet he designed to make a fool of her; but firmly believing the divine power and goodness, and in pure obedience to the prophet, she borrowed vessels large and many of her neighbours, and poured out her oil into them. One of her sons was employed to bring her empty vessels, and the other carefully to set aside those that were full, while they were all amazed to find their pot, like a fountain of living water, always flowing, and yet always full. They saw not the spring that supplied it, but believed it to be in him in whom all our springs are. Job's metaphor was now verified in the letter (Job 29:6), The rock poured me out rivers of oil. Perhaps this was in the tribe of Asher, part of whose blessing it was that he should dip his foot in oil, Deuteronomy 33:24.

_ _ 3. The oil continued flowing as long as she had any empty vessels to receive it; when every vessel was full the oil stayed (2 Kings 4:6), for it was not fit that this precious liquor should run over, and be as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Note, We are never straitened in God, in his power and bounty, and the riches of his grace; all our straitness is in ourselves. It is our faith that fails, not his promise. He gives above what we ask: were there more vessels, there is enough in God to fill them — enough for all, enough for each. Was not this pot of oil exhausted as long as there were any vessels to be filled from it? And shall we fear lest the golden oil which flows from the very root and fatness of the good olive should fail, as long as there are any lamps to be supplied from it? Zechariah 4:12.

_ _ 4. The prophet directed her what to do with the oil she had, 2 Kings 4:7. She must not keep it for her own use, to make her face to shine. Those whom Providence has made poor must be content with poor accommodations for themselves (this is knowing how to want), and must not think, when they get a little of that which is better than ordinary, to feed their own luxury: no, (1.) She must sell the oil to those that were rich, and could afford to bestow it on themselves. We may suppose, being produced by miracle, it was the best of its kind, like the wine (John 2:10), so that she might have both a good price and a good market for it. Probably the merchants bought it to export, for oil was one of the commodities that Israel traded in, Ezekiel 27:17. (2.) She must pay her debt with the money she received for her oil. Though her creditors were too rigorous with her, yet they must not therefore lose their debt. Her first care, now that she has wherewithal to do so, must be to discharge that, even before she makes any provision for her children. It is one of the fundamental laws of our religion that we render to all their due, pay every just debt, give every one his own, though we leave ever so little for ourselves; and this, not of constraint but willingly and without grudging; not only for wrath, to avoid being sued, but also for conscience' sake. Those that possess an honest mind cannot with pleasure eat their daily bread, unless it be their own bread. (3.) The rest must not be laid up, but she and her children must live upon it, not upon the oil, but upon the money received from it, with which they must put themselves into a capacity of getting an honest livelihood. No doubt she did as the man of God directed; and hence, [1.] Let those that are poor and in distress be encouraged to trust God for supply in the way of duty. Verily thou shalt be fed, though not feasted. It is true we cannot now expect miracles, yet we may expect mercies, if we wait on God and seek to him. Let widows particularly, and prophets' widows in a special manner, depend upon him to preserve them and their fatherless children alive, for to them he will be a husband, a father. [2.] Let those whom God has blessed with plenty use it for the glory of God and under the direction of his word: let them do justly with it, as this widow did, and serve God cheerfully in the use of it, and as Elisha, be ready to do good to those that need them, be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

2 Kings 4:1

Prophets — Who, though they were wholly devoted to sacred employment, were not excluded from marriage, any more than the priests and Levites. Fear the Lord — His poverty therefore was not procured by his idleness, or prodigality; but by his piety, because he would not comply with the king's way of worship, and therefore lost all worldly advantages. Bondmen — Either, to use them as his slaves, or to sell them to others, according to the law.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

2 Kings 4:1

(a) Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did (b) fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be (c) bondmen.

(a) (2 Kings 2:3).

(b) And therefore did not fall into debt by carelessness or excess but by the hand of the Lord.

(c) Because I am poor and not able to pay.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
am 3110, bc 894

sons:

2 Kings 4:38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and [there was] a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets [were] sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.
2 Kings 2:3 And the sons of the prophets that [were] at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know [it]; hold ye your peace.
2 Kings 2:5 And the sons of the prophets that [were] at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know [it]; hold ye your peace.
1 Kings 20:35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

thy servant did fear:

Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me.
1 Kings 18:3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which [was] the governor of [his] house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly:
Nehemiah 7:2 That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he [was] a faithful man, and feared God above many.
Psalms 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Psalms 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
Psalms 112:1-2 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed [is] the man [that] feareth the LORD, [that] delighteth greatly in his commandments. ... His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
Psalms 115:13 He will bless them that fear the LORD, [both] small and great.
Psalms 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Ecclesiastes 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his [days] be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.
Malachi 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
Malachi 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Acts 13:26 Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
Revelation 15:4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for [thou] only [art] holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
Revelation 19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

the creditor:

Leviticus 25:39-40 And if thy brother [that dwelleth] by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: ... [But] as an hired servant, [and] as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, [and] shall serve thee unto the year of jubile:
Leviticus 25:48 After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
Nehemiah 5:2-5 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, [are] many: therefore we take up corn [for them], that we may eat, and live. ... Yet now our flesh [is] as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and [some] of our daughters are brought unto bondage [already]: neither [is it] in our power [to redeem them]; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
Nehemiah 10:31 And [if] the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, [that] we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and [that] we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.
Jeremiah 34:14 At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear.
Matthew 18:25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Matthew 18:30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
Matthew 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
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Gn 22:12. Lv 25:39, 48. 1K 18:3; 20:35. 2K 2:3, 5; 4:38. Ne 5:2; 7:2; 10:31. Ps 103:11, 17; 112:1; 115:13; 147:11. Ec 8:12; 12:13. Jr 34:14. Mal 3:16; 4:2. Mt 18:25, 30, 35. Ac 13:26. Jm 2:13. Rv 15:4; 19:5.

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