Many of the most memorable events in the Bible center around God’s incredible miracles. From Creation, to the universal Flood, to the plagues, to the dividing of the Red Sea, to the walls of Jericho, to Elijah and Elisha raising the dead, to the miracles of Jesus, to the empty tomb, the Bible is filled with amazing, awesome, unusual miracles. However, that is not what I mean by “strange”.
In 2 Kings 6 there is one of the strangest happenings in all the Bible. It begins in the city of Dothan, the home of the prophet, Elisha. He had gotten into serious hot water with Ben-Hadad, king of Syria/Aram because he kept revealing his secret military plans to Jehoram, King of Israel. Ben-Hadad thought he had a mole in his troops, but found out his leak was Elisha.
So he sent “horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.” (Dothan) Now we don’t know for certain exactly how many soldiers were sent to capture Elisha. However, in any military circumstance there were many, many more foot soldiers than officers on horseback and many more officers on horseback than officers and commanders in chariots. So “horses and chariots and a great army” probably was at least in the high hundreds.
Also note that the “great army” surrounded the city of Dothan. Archeological excavation of the Dothan site back in the 1960s, revealed that it was about 25 acres in size, which equals 19 football fields; definitely hundreds of soldiers were required to surround it militarily.
The army was caught off guard when Elisha asked God to strike them all blind; and God did just that. They were all terrified and completely at Elisha’s mercy; he could have slaughtered them all had he wished to do so. But Elisha didn’t. The striking the entire army blind was AMAZING, but the next part of the story is the STRANGE part.
“And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.”
Now picture that in your mind. The “great army” were all blind, terrified and stumbling all over the place, trying to make their way home. That is when the STRANGE showed up. Elisha “led them to Samaria.” (12 miles from Dothan)
Have you ever escorted a blind person outdoors, helping them make their way over ground that wasn’t smooth and flat? It is an adventure, even when you are trying your best to walk carefully and to communicate helpful information about the terrain. And that’s when you are escorting only ONE person. This is an army, a blind great army, stumbling and no doubt falling at times.
Elisha definitely gets a GOLD STAR for this one. He could have prayed, like Elijah did, for fire to come from heaven and consume them (2 Kgs 1:8-9), but he didn’t. He could have left them to themselves and left them blind, but he didn’t. He prayed for them to be blind, personally led them 12 miles to Samaria, restored their sight, talked King Jehoram into sparing his enemies lives and then feeding them and letting them return home. Three cheers for Elisha.
Many scenes from the Bible have been the subject of great artists over the centuries. I looked for one on this strange event and struck out. So close your eyes and envision an army of at least 500-1,000 soldiers stumbling in their blindness, all being led by one man. Now tell me that wouldn’t qualify as STRANGE. God bless.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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