The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
Thereupon Eliseus announced a message from the Lord; Thus says the Lord, by this time to-morrow a silver piece will be buying a peck of wheat, or two pecks of barley, in the market-place at the gate of Samaria.
The king had one of his lords with him, to support him with his arm as he went; and this man mocked at the prophet’s words. Perhaps the Lord means to open the flood-gates of heaven, said he; then it might be as thou sayest. And Eliseus answered, The sight of it thou shalt have, but not the eating of it.
Now turn we to four lepers, who were standing there in the open space round the city gate. They were saying to one another, This is no place to wait for death.
Enter we the city, we starve; abide we here, we shall die none the less. Come, let us give ourselves up to the Syrian army; it may be they will spare our lives; if they kill us, it is but another form of death.
So, when night fell, they ventured out, to make for the Syrian camp; and as they reached the edge of it, never a man was to be seen.
That night, the Lord had made a noise heard in the camp of Syria like the stir of chariots and horses, and a great host of men; and the word went round, The Hethite chiefs, the Egyptians are upon us! The king of Israel has hired them to attack us!
And with that the Syrians took to their heels, and fled away in the darkness, leaving tents and horses and asses behind them, there in the camp; fled for their lives.
So these lepers, still at the very edge of the camp, went into one of the tents, ate and drank there, carried off silver and gold and clothing and went off to hide it; came back to another tent, plundered that too, and hid away their plunder.
Then one said to another, This is ill done; we are bearers of good news to-day. If we keep it secret, and wait till morning to spread it, that were shame to us. Back go we, and tell our tale in the king’s court.
When they reached the city gate, and made it known how they had been to the Syrian camp, and found never a man there, only horses and asses that stood tethered, beside pitched tents,
the porters went off to the king’s palace, and there spread the story about.
The king himself rose, and held a midnight council. This is the trick, said he, the Syrians are playing us; they know we are hard put to it by famine, and they think to lure us out by leaving their camp and hiding in the open country; so they hope to capture us alive, and make their way into the city.
But one of his counsellors said, There are still half a dozen horses left in the city; so few among so many of us; all the rest have been slaughtered for food. Yet with these we may send out riders to report.
So two horses were fetched, and on these men were sent to search the camp of Syria.
All the way to Jordan they followed in the enemy’s track, and still all the road was strewn with garments and weapons which the Syrians had thrown away in the flight; and they brought back the report of it to the king.
So the whole city went out and plundered the Syrian camp; and it was a silver piece for a peck of wheat, a silver piece for two pecks of barley, as the Lord had foretold.
As for that courtier who had walked beside the king to support him, he was put in charge of the market-place; and such was the crowd at the gate entrance that he was trampled to death, as the servant of God had foretold when the king came to visit him.
It was nothing but truth Eliseus had told the king, By this time to-morrow a silver piece will be buying a peck of wheat, or two pecks of barley, in the market-place at the gate of Samaria.
Perhaps the Lord means to open the flood-gates of heaven, this courtier said; then it might be as thou sayest. And Eliseus told him he should have the sight of it but not the eating of it;
which prophecy was fulfilled in its turn, when he sat in the gateway there and the folk trampled him to death.
The Holy Bible