In 2 Kings chapter 3, the Kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom are gathered together (v.9a) to go against Moab (v.5-6). But in the hunt with their armies, they were running out of water (v.9b), such that the king of Israel was beginning to believe the three kings were to be delivered by YHWH to Moab.
So the king of Judah inquires if a prophet of YHWH is around, and the answer comes back that Elisha is (v.11). So the kings go to him, and then an exchange occurs where Elisha seems not too pleased to be inquired of by them, only acknowledging Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, the one who sought a prophet of YHWH, per vv.12-14 (NKJV, bolding added):
12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. 13 Then Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.” 14 And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you."
So Elisha then does something interesting (again, bolding added) and a prophecy comes (2 Kg 3:15-19):
15 "But now bring me a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. 16 And he said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ 17 For thus says the LORD: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ 18 And this is a simple matter in the sight of the LORD; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19 Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”
Does the "him" (end of v.15) and "he" (beginning of v.16) refer to Elisha or to the musician?
That is, did Elisha call a musician so that the prophecy would be delivered by that musician (but obviously by Elisha's "blessing" so to speak, since he is the one who called for him) instead of directly by Elisha or did the musician simply, in some unexplained way here, play a role of causing Elisha himself to prophesy under these circumstances through the playing of music?
The reasons why I question this at all are:
Against being the musician (so in favor of Elisha)
- Contextually, Elisha was the prophet sought for by the kings to get an answer from.
- Contextually, related to #1, Elisha is a recognized prophet within Scripture, so it seems probably he is the one doing the prophesying here.
- Historically, Elisha is a well known prophet of Scripture, so that also points more to his being the messenger.
Against being Elisha (so in favor of the musician)
- Contextually, Elisha did not really want to have anything directly to do with the king of Israel's errand.
- Contextually, since Elisha made the call for the musician, this would likely alleviate any doubts the kings might have had from a prophecy coming from the musician. That is, they would likely see Elisha's "blessing" on the message spoken, since he is the one who called for the musician, and take that message as if Elisha had given it himself. (This is significant, because if true, it takes all the three reasons above for why Elisha might be intended and essentially nullifies them, for Elisha's prophetic authority would be seen as "approving" of the musician's message since Elisha was the one who called for him.)
- Contextually, no other reason is given why the musician is called for (he does not call for one in any other story of his prophesying, e.g. 2 Kg 4:1-7).
- Grammatically, the nearest antecedent to "him" and "he" is the musician.
- Historically, there are other isolated instances in Scripture where those not normally prophetic do prophesy (often in association with prophets). Consider:
- The elders (Num 11:25-27)
- Saul before becoming king (1 Sam 10:5-13); interesting to compare to the passage in question here, as there, the prophets themselves played the instruments (is there an implication that the musician was a prophetic student of Elisha?)
- Messengers from Saul and again Saul (1 Sam 19:24)
The above logic is why I am questioning the intent and form of the wording of the passage with respect to determining who delivered this prophecy.