The Bible And Taqiyya [Part 4]

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In the following passage, Elisha and YHWH worked together on a project in which Elisha, told the enemy troops, “This is not the way and this is not the city”, but in fact it was the city they intended to go. However, because of Elisha’s prayer, asking God to blind the troops, they found themselves going somewhere else when they never wanted to be. What is striking in this story is that YHWH does not rebuke or correct Elisha the Prophet for lying to the enemies.

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. 2 Kings 6:18-20

Here, God appeared to support Elisha in his deception and He, YHWH did not rebuke him for lying.

Commentary

Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 6:19. This is not the way, &c.— Elisha says this without being asked; for if the Syrians had
asked him whether this was the way to the city of Dothan, his answer certainly would have been a falsehood; from which his words are clear; this is not the way, neither is this the city; because the prophet does not say the way to Dothan, nor the city of Dothan; but uses a feint or stratagem which has always been allowed in war against enemies whom he afterwards treated humanely. We are not to imagine that the blindness wherewith the Lord smote there men was so total that they quite lost the use of their eyes; but only that it was such a dimness and confusion in their sight, as hindered them from distinguishing one object from another: the city of Dothan, for instance, from the city of Samaria. See a similar case, Genesis 19:11. This is no more than what happens to several men in their liquor, that though their eyes be open, and can perceive the several objects which surround them, yet they cannot discern wherein they differ: and if we may suppose that the Syrian army was under the same Αορασια, as the Greeks happily term it, we need no more wonder that they readily accepted a guide who offered his service, than that a drunkard, after having lost his way, and found himself bewildered, should be thankful to any hand which should undertake to conduct him safe home. See Houbigant and Scheuchzer. [1]

Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible

This is not the way, neither is this the city, to wit, where you will find the man for whom you seek; which was very true, because he was now come out of the city; and if they had gone on in that way into the city, they had found that Elisha was gone thence. There is indeed some ambiguity in his speech, and an intention to deceive them, which hath ever been esteemed lawful in the state of war, as appears from the use of stratagems.
I will bring you to the man whom ye seek; and so he did, though not in such manner as they expected and desired.
He led them to Samaria; which seemed to them to be some small and ordinary city; their senses being still deluded by a Divine operation. [2]

The Popular Commentary – Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 19. And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city, he prepared deliberately to mislead them. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria, while they were virtually his captives. [3]

The Pulpit Commentary

2 Kings 6:19
And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city. This was clearly “an untruthful statement” (Keil), if not in the letter, yet in the intent. Elisha meant the Syrians to understand him to say, “This is not the way which ye ought to have taken if ye wanted to capture the Prophet Elisha, and this is not the city (Dothan) where you were told that he was to be found.” And so the Syrians understood him. In the morality of the time, and, indeed, in the morality of all times up to the present, it has been held to be justifiable to deceive a public enemy. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria. It could only be through the miraculous delusion for which Elisha had prayed, and which had been sent, that the Syrians believed the first comer in an enemy’s country, followed him to the capital without hesitation, and allowed him to bring them inside ‘the walls. But for the delusion, they would have suspected, made inquiries of others, and retreated hastily, as soon as the walls and towers of Samaria broke on their sight. [4]

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.
This is not the way, neither is this the city. This is considered by some as a falsehood or equivocation, like the falsehood of Abraham to Abimelech and Pharaoh, of Isaac to Pharaoh, of Rebekah and Jacob to Isaac, and many of the patriarchs. But the statement is so far true, that, as he had now left the place of his residence, they would not have got him by that road. But the ambiguity of his language was purposely framed to deceive them; and yet the deception must be viewed in the light of a stratagem, which has always been deemed lawful in war. [5]

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Verses 18-20
When the enemy came down to Elisha, he prayed to the Lord that He would smite them with blindness; and when this took place according to his word, he said to them, This is not the way and this is not the city; follow me, and I will lead you to the man whom ye are seeking; and led them to Samaria, which was about four hours’ distance from Dothan, where their eyes were opened at Elisha’s prayer, so that they saw where they had been led. אליו ויּרדוּ cannot be understood as referring to Elisha and his servant, who went down to the Syrian army, as J. H. Mich., Budd., F. v. Meyer, and Thenius, who wants to alter אליו into אליהם, suppose, but must refer to the Syrians, who went down to the prophet, as is evident from what followed. For the assumption that the Syrians had stationed themselves below and round the mountain on which Dothan stood, and therefore would have had to come up to Elisha, need not occasion an unnatural interpretation of the words. It is true that Dothan stands upon an isolated hill in the midst of the plain; but on the eastern side it is enclosed by aranger of hills, which project into the plain (see V. de Velde, R. i. p. 273). The Syrians who had been sent against Elisha had posted themselves on this range of hills, and thence they came down towards the town of Dothan, which stood on the hill, whilst Elisha went out of the town to meet them. It is true that Elisha’s going out is not expressly mentioned, but in 2 Kings 6:19 it is clearly presupposed. סנורים is mental blindness here, as in the similar case mentioned in Genesis 19:11, that is to say, a state of blindness in which, though a man has eyes that can see, he does not see correctly. Elisha’s untruthful statement, “this is not the way,” etc., is to be judged in the same manner as every other ruse de guerre, by which the enemy is deceived. [6]

David Guzik Commentary on the Bible

b. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek: Here Elisha told a technical truth but certainly intended to deceive. He did in fact bring them to the man they sought (when their eyes were opened, Elisha was there with them). However, he led them back to Samaria – the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel and an unfriendly place for a group of Syrian soldiers.
i. Yet, the Elisha’s gentle deception demonstrates a principle: the blind are easily deceived. Those who are spiritually blind should appreciate that they can be easily deceived regarding spiritual things. [7]

George Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary

Verse 18
Blindness. The blindness here spoken of was of a particular kind, which hindered them from seeing the objects that were really before them; and represented other different object to their imagination; so that they no longer perceived the city of Dothan, nor were able to know the person of Eliseus; but were easily led by him, whom they took to be another man, to Samaria. Sot that he truly told them; this is not the way, neither is this the city, &c., because he spoke with relation to the way, and to the city which was represented to them. (Challoner) — Stratagems in war are lawful. (St. Chrysostom, &c.) (Grotius, Jur. iii. 1, 17.) The words of the prophet might be merely ironical. — Blindness, Septuagint Greek: aorasia, “not seeing” certain objects, while they could perceive others; as was the case of the men who sought Lot’s door at Sodom; (Genesis xix. 11.; Calmet) and the eyes of the disciples were held, that they might not know our Saviour. Eliseus had left his house, going towards Samaria to meet the soldiers; and when they asked him where the prophet dwelt, he answered truly, This, &c. For he was then near the royal city, and is above was at Dothan. (Salien) (Haydock) — The reprobate will thus acknowledge their error, when it is too late, at the last day. [8]

Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible

“Smite this people with blindness” (2 Kings 6:18). Some scholars view this as actual physical blindness, but the fact of the band being able, later in the narrative, to return to their own nation makes it evident that they were merely DECEIVED. Such a usage of the word “blindness” is often found in Scripture. Jesus called the Pharisees the “blind leaders of the blind,” but he was speaking of deception and the deceived, not of actual literal blindness.
Apparently, the leader of the raiding party happened to ask a man, who turned out to be Elisha himself, where the prophet was; and Elisha promptly responded: “You are on the wrong road; he doesn’t even live in this city (and of course, he didn’t live there). Follow me, and I will take you to where he really lives (which is exactly what he did)! [9]

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 6:19. This is not the way, &c.— Elisha says this without being asked; for if the Syrians had asked him whether this was the way to the city of Dothan, his answer certainly would have been a falsehood; from which his words are clear; this is not the way, neither is this the city; because the prophet does not say the way to Dothan, nor the city of Dothan; but uses a feint or stratagem which has always been allowed in war against enemies whom he afterwards treated humanely. We are not to imagine that the blindness wherewith the Lord smote there men was so total that they quite lost the use of their eyes; but only that it was such a dimness and confusion in their sight, as hindered them from distinguishing one object from another: the city of Dothan, for instance, from the city of Samaria. See a similar case, Genesis 19:11. This is no more than what happens to several men in their liquor, that though their eyes be open, and can perceive the several objects which surround them, yet they cannot discern wherein they differ: and if we may suppose that the Syrian army was under the same Αορασια, as the Greeks happily term it, we need no more wonder that they readily accepted a guide who offered his service, than that a drunkard, after having lost his way, and found himself bewildered, should be thankful to any hand which should undertake to conduct him safe home. [10]

Expositor’s Bible Commentary

There was a touch of almost joyful humor in the way in which Elisha proceeded to use, in the present emergency, the power of Divine deliverance. He seems to have gone out of the town and down the hill to the Syrian captains, and prayed God to send them illusion (ajbleya), so that they might be misled. Then he boldly said to them, “You are being deceived: you have come the wrong way, and to the wrong city. I will take you to the man whom ye seek.” The incident reminds us of the story of Athanasius, who, when he was being pursued on the Nile, took the opportunity of a bend of the river boldly to turn back his boat towards Alexandria. “Do you know where Athanasius is?” shouted the pursuers. “He is not far off!” answered the disguised Archbishop; and the emissaries of Constantius went on in the opposite direction from that in which he made his escape.
Elisha led the Syrians in their delusion straight into the city of Samaria, where they suddenly found themselves at the mercy of the king and his troops. Delighted at so great a chance of vengeance, Jehoram eagerly exclaimed, “My father, shall I smite, shall I smite?” [11]

References:

[1] Coke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible
[2] Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible
[3] The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
[4] The Pulpit Commentary
[5] Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged
[6] Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
[7] David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
[8] George Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary
[9] Coffman’s Commentary on the Bible
[10] Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
[11] Expositor’s Bible Commentary

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