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[51] Elisha also sent a hasty message to Joram, 1 and exhorted him to take care of that place, for that therein were some Syrians lying in ambush to kill him. So the king did as the prophet exhorted him, and avoided his going a hunting. And when Benhadad missed of the success of his lying in ambush, he was wroth with his own servants, as if they had betrayed his ambushment to Joram; and he sent for them, and said they were the betrayers of his secret counsels; and he threatened that he would put them to death, since such their practice was evident, because he had intrusted this secret to none but them, and yet it was made known to his enemy. And one that was present said that he should not mistake himself, nor suspect that they had discovered to his enemy his sending men to kill him, but that he ought to know that it was Elisha the prophet who discovered all to him, and laid open all his counsels. So he gave order that they should send some to learn in what city Elisha dwelt. Accordingly those that were sent brought word that he was in Dothan; wherefore Benhadad sent to that city a great army, with horses and chariots, to take Elisha: so they encompassed the city round about by night, and kept him therein confined; but when the prophet's servant in the morning perceived this, and that his enemies sought to take Elisha, he came running, and crying out after a disordered manner to him, and told him of it; but he encouraged him, and bid him not be afraid, and to despise the enemy, and trust in the assistance of God, and was himself without fear; and he besought God to make manifest to his servant his power and presence, so far as was possible, in order to the inspiring him with hope and courage. Accordingly God heard the prayer of the prophet, and made the servant see a multitude of chariots and horses encompassing Elisha, till he laid aside his fear, and his courage revived at the sight of what he supposed was come to their assistance. After this Elisha did further entreat God, that he would dim the eyes of their enemies, and cast a mist before them, whereby they might not discern him. When this was done, he went into the midst of his enemies, and asked them who it was that they came to seek; and when they replied, "The prophet Elisha," he promised he would deliver him to them, if they would follow him to the city where he was. So these men were so darkened by God in their sight and in their mind, that they followed him very diligently; and when Elisha had brought them to Samaria, he ordered Joram the king to shut the gates, and to place his own army round about them; and prayed to God to clear the eyes of these their enemies, and take the mist from before them. Accordingly, when they were freed from the obscurity they had been in, they saw themselves in the midst of their enemies; and as the Syrians were strangely amazed and distressed, as was but reasonable, at an action so Divine and surprising, and as king Joram asked the prophet if he would give him leave to shoot at them, Elisha forbade him so to do; and said, that "it is just to kill those that are taken in battle, but that these men had done the country no harm, but, without knowing it, were come thither by the Divine Power:" — so that his counsel was to treat them in a hospitable manner at his table, and then send them away without hurting them. 2 Wherefore Joram obeyed the prophet; and when he had feasted the Syrians in a splendid and magnificent manner, he let them go to Benhadad their king.

1 Dr. Hudson, with very good reason, suspects that there is no small defect in our present copies of Josephus, just before the beginning of this section, and that chiefly as to that distinct account which he had given us reason to expect in the first section, and to which he seems to refer, ch. 8. sect. 6. concerning the glorious miracles which Elisha wrought, which indeed in our Bibles are not a few, 2 Kings 6-9., but of which we have several omitted in Josephus's present copies. One of those histories, omitted at present, was evidently in his Bible, I mean that of the curing of Nanman's leprosy, 2 Kings 5.; for he plainly alludes to it, B. III. ch. 11. sect. 4, where he observes, that "there were lepers in many nations who yet have been in honor, and not only free from reproach and avoidance, but who have been great captains of armies, and been intrusted with high offices in the commonwealth, and have had the privilege of entering into holy places and temples." But what makes me most regret the want of that history in our present copies of Josephus is this, that we have here, as it is commonly understood, one of the greatest difficulties in all the Bible, that in 2 Kings 5:18, 19, where Naaman, after he had been miraculously cured by a prophet of the true God, and had thereupon promised (ver. 17) that "he would henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord," adds, "In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimnu to worship there, and he leaneth on my hands, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmort; when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmort, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. And Elisha said, Go in peace." This looks like a prophet's permission for being partaker in idolatry itself, out of compliance with an idolatrous court.

2 Upon occasion of this stratagem of Elisha, in Josephus, we may take notice, that although Josephus was one of the greatest lovers of truth in the world, yet in a just war he seems to have had no manner of scruple upon him by all such stratagems possible to deceive public enemies. See this Josephus's account of Jeremiah's imposition on the great men of the Jews in somewhat like case, Antiq. B. X. ch. 7. sect. 6; 2 Samuel 16:16, &c.

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