1Elisha replied: “Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD: At this time tomorrow a seah of fine flour will sell for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, in the market* of Samaria.” 2But the adjutant, upon whose arm the king leaned, answered the man of God, “Even if the LORD were to make windows in heaven, how could this happen?” Elisha said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
3At the city gate four lepers were asking one another, “Why should we sit here until we die?a 4If we decide to go into the city, we shall die there, for there is famine in the city. If we remain here, we shall die too. So come, let us desert to the camp of the Arameans. If they let us live, we live; if they kill us, we die.” 5At twilight they left for the Arameans; but when they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there. 6b The Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses, the sound of a large army, and they had reasoned among themselves, “The king of Israel has hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to fight us.” 7Then in the twilight they had fled, abandoning their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, the whole camp just as it was, and fleeing for their lives.
8After the lepers reached the edge of the camp, they went first into one tent, ate and drank, and took silver, gold, and clothing from it, and went out and hid them. Back they came into another tent, took things from it, and again went out and hid them. 9Then they said to one another: “We are not doing right. This is a day of good news, and we are keeping silent. If we wait until morning breaks, we will be blamed. So come, let us go and inform the palace.” 10They came and summoned the city gatekeepers. They said, “We went to the camp of the Arameans, but no one was there—not a human voice, only the horses and donkeys tethered, and the tents just as they were left.” 11The gatekeepers announced this and it was reported within the palace.
12Though it was night, the king got up; he said to his servants, “Let me tell you what the Arameans have done to us. Knowing that we are starving, they have left their camp to hide in the field. They are thinking, ‘The Israelites will leave the city and we will take them alive and enter it.’” 13* One of his servants, however, suggested: “Let some of us take five of the horses remaining in the city—they are just like the whole throng of Israel that has reached its limit—and let us send scouts to investigate.” 14They took two chariots, and horses, and the king sent them to reconnoiter the Aramean army with the order, “Go and find out.” 15They followed the Arameans as far as the Jordan, and the whole route was strewn with garments and other objects that the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. The messengers returned and told the king. 16The people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans.
Then a seah of fine flour sold for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD. 17The king had put in charge of the gate the officer upon whose arm he leaned; but the people trampled him to death at the gate, just as the man of God had predicted when the messenger came down to him. 18This was in accordance with the word the man of God spoke to the king: “Two seahs of barley will sell for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel at this time tomorrow in the market of Samaria.” 19The adjutant had answered the man of God, “Even if the LORD were to make windows in heaven, how could this happen?” And Elisha had replied, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” 20And that is what happened to him, for the people trampled him to death at the gate.
* [7:1] Market: lit., “gate,” the principal place of trading in ancient walled cities in time of peace.
* [7:13] The Hebrew of this verse is difficult and its meaning is uncertain.
b. [7:6–7] 2 Kgs 6:17; 2 Sm 5:24.