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The Flight of the Syrians

The king of Syria again made war against the people of Israel. His hosts moved down into the land of Israel, and the king told his servants: "In such and such a place I shall make my camp."

Elisha, the man of God, knew what the king of Syria was doing and sent word to the king of Israel, telling him where the king of Syria had placed his camp and warning him not to pass that place.

No matter where the king of Syria moved his army, always the king of Israel knew of it through Elisha, and this greatly astonished the king of Syria.

The king of Syria called his men around him and said to them: "Which one of you is working for the king of Israel and tells him where my men are placed so that he knows my movements before-hand?" But none of them knew who was giving information to the king of Israel. At last one of them said: "There is a prophet in Israel, named Elisha, who can tell the king of Israel even the words that you speak in your room. It may be he that has told these things to the king of Israel."

"Go, spy where he is, that I may send and get him," were the orders of the king of Syria. Then it was told him that Elisha was in Dothan. To Dothan the king of Syria sent horses and chariots and a great host of men who came by night and surrounded the city that they might take Elisha.

When the servant of Elisha rose early in the morning and went from his house he saw a great host of horses and chariots about the city. He came back to his master and said to him: "Alas, alas! what shall we do?"

"Fear not, for they that are with us are more than they that are with them," answered the man of God.

Elisha prayed to the Lord and asked Him to open the eyes of the servant that he might see the things that the man of God saw. The Lord opened the eyes of the young man who was the servant of Elisha and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around about, and the chariots came down from the mountain and near to Elisha.

Then Elisha prayed again to the Lord and said: "Smite this people, I pray Thee, with blindness." And at once all the hosts of the king of Syria were blind, even as Elisha had prayed.

Then Elisha went where they were and said to the hosts of the king of Syria: "This is not the way and neither is this the city that you seek. Follow me and I will lead you to the man whom you wish to find."

Elisha then led them to Samaria and, though blind, they followed him as he went before them.

At last they came to Samaria, and Elisha said to the Lord: "Open the eyes of these men that they may see." Then their eyes were opened and they saw that they were in the midst of Samaria and at the mercy of the people of Israel.

The king of Israel said to Elisha: "Shall I smite them?" But Elisha told the king that he should not smite them but that he should set bread and water before them that they might eat and drink and go back to their master.

Now there was a great famine in the land of Israel. It was a time when Ben Hadad, king of Syria, was besieging Samaria. The people of that town were so hard pressed for food that they ate anything they could find. When the king of Israel saw how distressed the people were he became angry with Elisha and laid the blame on him. He declared that he would have the head of Elisha that very day and forthwith went to the house of Elisha.

Elisha sat in his house and the elders sat with him. The king sent a man on before him but before this man could arrive, Elisha said to those around him: "This son of a murderer has been sent to take away my head. When this messenger comes, shut the door and hold him fast at the door, because his master is close behind him."

When the king's messenger and the king himself had both arrived at the door of Elisha and found it shut they sat without but Elisha spoke to them and said: "Tomorrow, about this time, a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley shall be sold for a shekel in the gate of Samaria. Tomorrow no famine shall be in the city."

Then a messenger who was with the king spoke up and said: "The Lord would have to make windows in heaven that this thing might be." When Elisha heard him say this he told the messenger that he would see it with his eyes but he should not eat thereof. After this the king and his messenger departed from the house of Elisha.

There were four lepers sitting at the foot of the gate of Samaria and they said one to another: "Why sit we here idle, until we die? If we enter the city the famine is there and we shall certainly die; if we sit here we shall die also. Let us go to the hosts of the Syrians. If they save us alive, we shall live; if they kill us we shall but die."

The lepers rose up in the twilight and went to the camp of the Syrians. When they came to the outposts of the camp, there was no one there, for the Lord had made the hosts of the Syrians hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses and a noise of a great host of people. The Syrians had said one to another: "The king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt." Therefore, they had fled in the twilight and had left their tents and their horses and even the camp as it was and had fled for their lives. This is the reason that the lepers found the camp deserted.

The lepers went into a tent and ate and drank and took away silver and gold and raiment and hid them. They went into another tent and ate and drank and carried away more silver and gold and raiment and hid them.

The lepers went back to the gates of the city and told the people that they came to the camp of the Syrians and there was no man there and only horses and food and raiment and the tents: Then the people told those who were in the king's house.

The king arose in the night and said to his servants: "The Syrians know we are hungry and they have gone out of their camp to hide themselves in the field, thinking that when we go out of the city they shall catch us alive." But his servants persuaded him to send to the camp of the Syrians and see what had happened.

When the king's men came to the camp they found it deserted, even as the lepers had said. They followed the way the Syrians had fled and found the way full of garments and vessels which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. Then the messenger returned and told the king.

The people of Samaria went out to the camp of the Syrians and spoiled the camp of all that they held. There was plenty of barley, silver, gold and raiment so that the words of Elisha came true and a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley were sold for a shekel.

The king appointed the messenger who had gone with him to the house of Elisha to have charge of the gate of the city. As the man stood before the gate, the people went out and came back from the tents of the Syrians in such a great multitude that they trod the messenger under foot and he died, for Elisha had said that he should see plenty of food in the city but should not eat thereof.