1

Two captains and their men die after being sent to bring in Elijah who calls fire from heaven which consumes them.

2 Kings 1:9 KJV

9 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. 10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 11 Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. 12 And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

When the third captain is sent he pleads for his life & survives with his men

2 Kings 1 :14 KJV

14 Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. 15 And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.

Was the death of the hundred soldiers caused by the action of the two captains?

4

The real intent of king Ahaziah was to defy Elijah, considering him only a man, and not a ‘man of God’, really. The first two captains tried to fulfill this kingly purpose along with all their arrogance.

Interestingly, the prophet in this instance performed a word-play (or, word pun) between the two Hebrew terms we translate ‘man’ and ‘fire’, respectively, אישׁ [AIŠ] and אשׁ [AŠ].

We may conclude – from the behaviour of those first two captains, they used the expression ‘man of God’ in a slang way – almost a verbal tic - to indicate a ‘basket case person’ (please, compare this concept with the expression ‘behaved like a prophet’ in 1 Sam 18:10, and other passages).

So, since those captains spoke without any respect for the God’s prophet (note that the second captain even add to his injunction the adverb מהרה [MERE], ‘hastily!’), Elijah used a similar way to speak (compared to the speaking way of those men). In other words, the thoughts of Elijah were, probably, ‘Since they are using words in a twisted way (that is, thinking in a way, and speaking in another way) I will do the same with them’.

In this manner, the prophet phrase could be understood (by ear), “If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven...”, but also, simultaneously, “If I be a fire of God, then let fire come down from heaven…”.

  • 'playword' might be better understood as 'word-play'. אש is actually the 'gate' from which איש is formed. There is a lot of such word-play in scripture. – Bob Jones Jul 19 '18 at 11:52
  • @Bob Jones: thanks for the corrections. Sometimes, my English wording should deserve of some 'fire from the heaven'... – Saro Fedele Jul 19 '18 at 12:11
  • Maybe someday we can compare notes on 'puns' in Hebrew. – Bob Jones Jul 19 '18 at 13:20
  • @Saro Fedele - great answer (+1). I also note that Rev 20:9 quotes this same passage from the LXX verbatim, "Fire came down from heaven and devoured them". – user25930 Jul 19 '18 at 21:08

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