A SPRING SWEETENED BY SALT
2 Kings 2:19 to 3:27
AFTER Elijah had been taken up to heaven, Elisha stayed for a time at Jericho; for, unlike Elijah, Elisha did not live in the wilderness, away from the people. He lived in the cities, and helped many by the power which the Lord gave to him.
The people of Jericho said to Elisha, "This city stands in a pleasant place; but the water of its spring is very bitter, and causes disease and death; and the land around it is barren, giving no fruit."
Elisha said to them, "Bring me a small new bottle, and fill it with salt."
They brought it to him, and he poured the salt into the fountain that gave water to the city, and said:
"Thus saith the Lord, ‘I have healed these waters; from them there shall no more be death or unfruitfulness to the land.' "
And the waters became pure and sweet from that time onward. Many believe that the fountain which still flows at the foot of the mountain near the ruins where once stood Jericho is the one which was healed by the prophet; and it is called "The Fountain of Elisha."
At this time Jehoram, the son of Ahab, was king of Israel. He reigned twelve years, not so wickedly as his father Ahab had ruled, but still doing evil in the sight of the Lord. From the days of King David the land of Moab, on the east of the Dead Sea, had been under the control of Israel. The land was governed by its own king, but he paid every year a large sum to Israel. The king of Moab in the times of Ahab and Jehoram was named Mesha. He had great flocks of sheep, and he paid to the king of Israel every year the wool of a hundred thousand sheep and of as many rams.
When King Ahab was dead, the king of Moab rose against Israel, and tried to set his land free. Then King Jehoram sent for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and these two kings gathered their armies, and made war on Mesha, the king of Moab. They led their armies southward through Judah, and then through Edom, on the south of the Dead Sea, and from Edom into the land of Moab; and with them was the king of Edom, who was under the king of Judah.
While they were on their march they found no water, either for the army or for the horses. And the king of Israel said, "Alas! The Lord has brought together these three kings, only to let them fall into the hands of the king of Moab!"
But the good King Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, so that we may ask of him to show us the Lord's will?"
And one man said, "Elisha, the son of Shaphat, is here; the man who poured water on the hands of Elijah, and was his servant."
And Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the Lord is with him; let us see him."
And the three kings went to find Elisha; but Elisha said to the king of Israel, "Why do you come to me? Go to the idol-prophets of your father Ahab and your mother Jezebel, and ask them!"
And the king of Israel said to Elisha, "You must help us; for the Lord has brought these three kings together, to let them fall into the hands of the king of Moab."
Then said Elisha, "As surely as the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, if Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, were not here, I would not look on you nor speak to you. But now bring me one who can play on the harp, a minstrel."
And while the minstrel made music on his harp, the power of the Lord came upon Elisha, and he said, "Thus saith the Lord, ‘Make this valley full of ditches. For the Lord tells me that you shall not see any rain, nor hear any wind, yet the valley shall be filled with water; and you shall drink, and your cattle and your horses also shall drink. And the Lord shall give the Moabites into your hand; and you shall take their cities, and cut down their trees, and stop their wells, and shall conquer their land."
And it came to pass as Elisha had said. They dug ditches in the valley, and the next morning they found them full of water, enough for all the host. And when the men of Moab saw the water in the light of the sun, it was red like blood. They said, one to another, "That is blood; the three kings have quarreled, and their armies have killed each other; now, men of Moab, hasten to take the camp of the three kings, and all the treasure that is in it!"
So the men of Moab came rushing unguarded and without their arms. But the army of Israel and of Judah, and of Edom, met them, and slew them, and won over them a great victory. From that place they went on laying waste the land of Moab, until the cities were taken, and the whole land was made desolate. And Mesha, the king of Moab, was in such distress, that, hoping to please the god of his land, who was called Chemosh, he took his oldest son, who was to have reigned in his place, and killed him, and offered him up as a burnt-offering. But all was in vain, for the Moabites were still held under the power of the Israelites. The story of this war between Israel and Moab is written not only in the second Book of Kings in the Bible, but also on a stone pillar, which was set up by the king of Moab afterward. This pillar was found in the land of Moab not many years ago, and the writing upon it was read, showing that the history of this war as given in the Bible is true.