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Elisha Prophesies the End of Samaria's Siege

Elisha Prophesies the End of Samaria’s Siege by Nicolas Fontaine, 1625-1709.

In our last installment, we discussed opportunity cost using the example of the four lepers at the gate of Samaria (2 Kings 7:3-5).

 

The prospects facing of these gentlemen were all seemingly poor. They could remain where they were and die, they could enter the city of Samaria and die, or they could defect to the Syrians and maybe die or maybe live. Choosing any one of the three options meant forgoing the other two opportunities.

Quite rationally, the lepers elected to forgo the opportunity of dying in Samaria, either outside its gates or within the city itself, for the outside chance that they might survive among the Syrians. The two options of dying in Samaria, we concluded, represented the opportunity cost to the lepers of their decision to go over to the Syrians.

The Samaritan Consumer Price Index

At the same time the lepers were reasoning among themselves about their opportunity cost, inside the city walls of Samaria another discussion was taking place.

By this point, King Jehoram of Israel had had quite enough of the whole siege business and was ready to take it out on someone. The most obvious scapegoat in his mind was the prophet Elisha. Such was the king’s anger with Elisha that he had dispatched one of his high ranking officers to take off the prophet’s head.

This came as no surprise to the prophet, who, apparently forewarned by God that a plot had been hatched against him, told those with whom he was sitting, “Do you see this son of a murderer has sent someone to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?” (2 Kings 6:32).

When the king’s messenger arrived, Elisha had a message for him. Said Elisha, “Hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the LORD: ‘Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria’ ” (7:1).

Incredulous, the officer responded, “Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” To which Elisha answered, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it” (7:2).

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