The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
There was a time when his disciples complained to Eliseus that they had no room to live there in his company;
and they asked leave to take the road for Jordan, cut down, each of them, his load of timber from the forest, and build themselves a house there. Then, when he had given them leave,
one of them said to him, Master, do thou come with us. Come with you I will said he,
and bore them company. So they reached the Jordan, and began felling wood.
It chanced that one of them, in felling a beam, let his axe-head fall into the river; and at that he cried aloud, Alas, alas, master! It was a borrowed axe, too!
Where fell it? the prophet asked; and when the place was shewn to him, he cut a stick and threw it in there; whereupon the iron floated to the surface.
It is there to thy hand, said he, and the disciple put out his hand and took it.
When the king of Syria went to battle with Israel, he would hold a council of war, and name some place where he would lay an ambush;
and ever word came from Eliseus to the king of Israel, Beware how thou marchest by such and such a place; the Syrians are lying in wait there.
Then the king of Israel would send and make sure of the place the prophet had told him of; and so he avoided danger, not once but many times.
At this, the king of Syria’s mind much misgave him; and at last he summoned his council and asked, was there no learning the name of this traitor that revealed his plans to the king of Israel?
Whereupon one of his courtiers told him, Nay, my lord king, it is the Israelite prophet, Eliseus, that discloses to him the secrets of thy council-chamber.
Why then, the king said, go and find out where he is, so that I can send and take him prisoner. And when news came that Eliseus was in Dothain,
he sent horses and chariots and the pick of his army there, to surround the city at dead of night.
The prophet had a servant that was early abroad next day, and found the whole city beleaguered by armed men and horses and chariots; and as he brought the news, he cried out, Alas, alas, master, what shift will serve us now?
Do not be afraid, said he; we have more on our side than they on theirs.
Open his eyes, Lord, Eliseus prayed; give him clear sight. Thereupon the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and clear sight came to him; all at once he saw the whole mountain-side beset with flaming horses and chariots, there about Eliseus.
Then, as the enemy closed in upon him, Eliseus prayed to the Lord anew, asking that this whole multitude might be smitten with blindness; and sightless the Lord smote them, at Eliseus’ prayer.
Eliseus would have it that they had taken the wrong road and reached the wrong city; Come with me, he said, and I will shew you the man you are looking for. So he led them to Samaria;
and once they were there, he prayed anew, that their eyes might be opened, and clear sight given them. In Samaria, then, they found themselves, once their eyes were opened;
and the king of Israel, upon sight of them, asked Eliseus, My father, shall I strike them down?
Strike them down (said he) thou shalt not; they were not captured by sword or bow of thine, and wouldst thou slay them?✻ Set food and drink before them, and let them go home to their master.
So a great banquet was made for them, and when they had eaten and drunk their fill, back to their master he sent them. And Israel was rid, for a while, of freebooters from Syria.
Some time after this, Benadad, king of Syria, mustered all his forces, and went to the siege of Samaria.
And Samaria was famine-stricken; so long beleaguered, that men would pay eighty pieces of silver for an ass’s head, or five for a pint of dove’s droppings.
And one day, as the king was making the round of the battlements, a woman cried out to him, Help me, my lord king!
Help from the Lord is none, said he, and what means of help have I, in threshing-floor or wine-press? What wouldst thou have of me? And she told him,
This woman who is with me bade me kill my son, to be food for us that day; hers should be our food the next.
And then, my son’s flesh already cooked and eaten, when I bade her kill hers next day, she kept him in hiding.
Upon hearing this tale, the king tore his garments across; and as he made his way along the battlements the people, one and all, could see how his shirt underneath was of sackcloth.
May the Lord punish me as I deserve, said he, and more than I deserve, if I leave Eliseus the son of Saphat a head on his body by nightfall!
So he sent a man on before him, to find Eliseus where he sat at home, in conclave with the elders of the people. To these, before ever the messenger reached him, Eliseus said, You must know that my head is in danger. The murderer is on his way, sent by the murderer’s son. When he comes in, look to it that you keep the doorway barred; I hear his master’s tread not far behind him.
Even as he spoke to them thus, in came the messenger that had set out to find him. And this was the king’s word, See what ruin the Lord has brought on me! Folly it were to expect relief from the Lord any longer.✻
The Holy Bible