Haftarah Metzorah: Reading the Text II
They stood up at evening to come to the Aramaean camp and they arrived at the age of the Aramaean camp, and behold! Not a man was there.
God had caused Aramaean camp to hear the sound of chariots and the sound of horse, the sound of a great army; and they said one to another, “Behold! The King of Israel has hired the Hittite kings and the Egyptian kings to come upon us!” So they stood up and fled into the evening; they abandoned their tenants, their horses, and their donkeys; the camp just as it was, and they fled for their lives. (II Kings 7:5–6)
It seems that God likes to play with Aramaeans! (See Background Text I) God not only made them here what wasn’t there, He instilled fear in them that it was the sound of multiple armies.
The stories of these confrontations between Aram and Israel are stories of people who just don’t get the message. The King of Aram learns that the Jews have a prophet who knows about his secret ambushes, and yet he sends his soldiers to capture is the prophet who seems to always know what Aram is planning! The King of Israel follows Elisha’s instructions, feeds the captured soldiers and sends them home. We can understand that he will blame the prophet for the fact that Aram has an army, and yet, he doesn’t turn to the prophet for help or guidance! His captain refuses to believe a prophecy of salvation, and publicly challenges Elisha!
These four men don’t seem to be to astute or aware either. If they were actually sitting in front of the gate of the city, how could they not see a massive besieging army flee?
They had obviously decided to throw themselves upon the mercy of the besieging army. Why did they wait until evening? Were they trying to sneak into the camp? Wouldn’t that be a lot more dangerous than simply asking for help?
The only possible explanation is that the Aramaean army snuck away from the back of their camp. They believed that multiple armies were coming to help Israel and attack them. They had to sneak away.
God did not want anyone to know that the besieging army had abandoned their siege. Not Israel. Not the king of Israel. Not even the four men. The famine continued to rage in this city until the abandoned camp was discovered by the four men excluded from the city. God wanted this miracle brought about by the very people who were sent away from the city!
The time between the actual miracle and its discovery was a test for all the people inside the city, to see whether they believed Elisha’s prophecy, or whether they, as had the Kings captain, ridiculed his prophecy of salvation. The time in between the miracle and its discovery was a test. It’s almost as if God is teaching us that His miracles are there; they are waiting for us to discover them.
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