The men of the city of Jericho came to Elisha in 2 Kings 2.19 and they said the situation in the city of Jericho was not very pleasant. The water there was of poor quality and the land was unfruitful. So Elisha told them to bring a jar of salt, alluding to the Salt Covenant (Lev 2.13). Salt was used on the korbanot to signify preservation, never ceasing, purification and it prevents fermentation. It also signifies suffering. The Salt Covenant speaks of the perpetual covenant based on the Torah (Num 18.19).
Elisha went out to the spring and threw the salt into it and said, “Thus says Yehovah, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.'” After this, Elisha left for Bethel and some young men (who were adults) began to mock him. This shows their contempt for a true prophet in Bethel, the main center for pagan calf worship (1 Kings 12.28-29). They said, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” They wanted Elisha to “go up” like Elijah and leave them alone.
Now, Elisha may have been bald, but it was not because he was old. He lived another fifty years after this. His baldness must have been a contrast to Elijah’s appearance (hairy). The word “baldhead” was also an idiom for a liar. A “bald-faced” lie is one that is truly untrue. But Elisha turned around and pronounced a curse in the name of Yehovah. Two female bears came out and mauled forty-two of them. It does not say they were killed, but the gang was broken up and the rest were frightened away. From there he went to Mount Carmel, where Elijah used to go. From there he went to Samaria, the capital of Israel, to begin his work.
2 Kings 3.1-27 tells us about Yehoram, king of Israel and his character. He put away the pillar of Baal but did not destroy it. He was idolatrous and clung to the sins of Jereboam. The king of Moab rebelled against Ahaziah after Ahab died (stopped paying tribute) and Yehoram went out against him later with Yehoshaphat of Judah and developed a battle plan.
Now, Yehoshaphat was a godly king (1 Kings 22.41-43) and followed after his father Asa (1 Kings 15.9-15), but Asa fought against Israel (1 Kings 15.16) while Yehoshaphat made peace with them (1 Kings 22.44). The armies of Israel and Judah had to march a long way to confront Moab. They had to also make sure Edom did not revolt, too. Moab would not expect them from the direction of Edom, but there was no water for the army or the cattle that followed. So, Yehoshaphat seeks godly counsel because he felt there was a spiritual element to this, but Yehoram disagreed.
Yehoshaphat was told that Elisha was with them, who “poured water on the hands of Elijah.” This was women’s work, or a servant’s work. But this was part of the training of a prophet. It was humiliating. They said “the word of Yehovah is with him” which means he can give an answer to anything. Of course, Yehoram didn’t want that (v 13), and Elisha said, “What do I have to do with you” meaning he was disagreeing with Yehoram. Elisha said if it wasn’t for Yehoshaphat he wouldn’t even notice him.
Elisha requested a minstrel to come and put him in an attitude to receive a word from Yehovah (1 Sam 10.5). Elisha said, “Make this valley full of trenches” to receive water. They would not see wind or rain, yet the valley shall be filled with water. Digging trenches with thirsty and dehydrated men isn’t something that is easy, yet they must do it. God had them prepare for a blessing and he didn’t ask them to do something they couldn’t do. Spiritually, if we expect the Lord to teach us through the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) we must dig spiritual trenches to receive the blessing, and it is hard work.
Yehovah wanted to give the army more than what they needed because he wanted a complete victory over the enemy. They were to strike every fortified city and every choice city, and cut down every good tree (the fruit trees). In Deut 20.19-20 they were forbidden to do this, but God was punishing Moab and were to be “cut off.” Here is a concept. Nothing could justify the setting aside of a commandment unless God told you to do it.
At about the time of the morning Tamid service in the Temple in Jerusalem (9 A.M.) water came from Edom and the country was filled with water. Many times in Scripture things happened at the time of the daily prayers in the Temple, which would have been about 9 A.M. and 3 P.M. (1 Kings 18.29,36; 2 Kings 3.20; Dan 6.10, 9.21; Luke 1.10; Acts 2.1-15, 3.1, 10.3). These are significant times of prayer and it doesn’t matter if a Temple stood or not in the case of Daniel. He prayed about the time there would have been a service. The water came along the mountains, valleys and the ground.
The water that came reflected the sun the next morning and the Moabites saw the water as blood. The Moabites thought that Yehoshaphat, Yehoram and the king of Edom fought each other, so that drew the Moabites in and they did not expect a fight and they came like a mob, in total disorder. But Israel rose up against them and Moab fled.
The Lord used the ditches is several ways. It supplied water to the troops and it was used to defeat the enemy. They pursued Moab and destroyed their cities, stopped up the water and cut down the fruit trees. The king of Moab tried to break through to the king of Edom to kill him with 700 men but couldn’t. So he took his oldest son, who would reign in his place, and offered him as an olah (burnt offering) on the wall of Kir-Hareseth (“city of pottery”) when he saw the siege of the city was getting close (v 25). This was to appease his pagan gods and to horrify Judah and Israel. There came great wrath against Israel by the king of Moab, and knowing that Moab was desperate and would kill to the last man, Israel broke up the siege.
We will pick up in 2 Kings 4.1-44, which will start out very eschatological, in Part 3 .