Posted by: mattcolvin | October 10, 2012

Mistaking Water for Blood


Wednesday of the 18th week after Trinity: 2 Kings 3:4 – 24.

Just a few interesting things jumped out of me as I read this with my family this morning as part of our devotions. Jehoshaphat king of Judah and “the king of Israel” (For so Jehoram is always named in this passage, except for verse 6) band together with the king of Edom to attack the king of Moab, but They spend a week wandering around with their army and animals in the desert of Edom, and they are afflicted with thirst because there is no water or rain.

In light of this fact, it is interesting that Jehoshaphat asks for a prophet of the Lord, and when Jehoram introduces Elisha he refers to him specifically as “Elisha, Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” Not only does this make him look like a promising prophet to consult about water, but he also is designated as the successor of Elijah, at whose word the three years’ drought was ended after his defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.

Second, in the conclusion of the story, the Moabites mistake the trenches full of water for trenches for blood. This is a very natural mistake to make, since after all, it has not rained, so there is no good reason why there should be standing water on the ground. It is interesting that the king of Edom is among the enemies of the Moabites here, since we recall that Esau (Edom) sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils which he probably mistook for a blood broth, calling it “that red, red stuff.” (And as David Daube points out, it is important that he have been deceived in this way, for he tells Isaac that “my brother has deceived me these two times” (Gen 27:36), and unless we count this one, we would find only one act of deception. But unless he is mistaken about the broth, there is nothing deceptive about Jacob’s bargain of lentils for birthright.)

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