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2 Kings 6:32 NASB

32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man from his presence; but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, “Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and [t]hold the door shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?”

Throughout the narrative it seems the author is referring to King Ahab but in the closing verses he seems to be referring to his son

Was he referring to King Ahab or his son in the above text?

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The "king" referenced in 2 Kings 6 is very unlikely to have been Ahab but rather his son, Joram, for the following reasons.

  • Ahab had been killed in battle at Ramoth Gilead 1 Kings 22:34-37.
  • The prophet Elijah continued to serve God and prophesy during the reign of Ahab's son Ahaziah, 1 Kings 22:41, 2 Kings 1:1-17
  • Ahaziah died and was succeeded by Joram, 2 Kings 1:17, 18.
  • Shortly after Joram became monarch, Elisha succeeded Elijah as prophet, 2 Kings 2:1-18.

The reference to Joram being the son of a murderer is entirely understandable. He had inherited the same murderous tendencies of his father Ahab, eg, 1 Kings 18:13, 21:9-13, 18, and then in this instance, 2 Kings 6:31.

The Hebrew Idiom "son of" can and often does mean "has the characteristics of" and not literal biological descent. In this case, Joram as the "son of a murderer" was correct in both senses.

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Ahab was “the murderer” of the time. Poor or mistranslation is what’s causing this confusion. Looking at the same verse from 27 Bibles 2-Kings-6-32-from-27-Bibles one word causes a huge difference.

Most Bibles have the very vague, confusing “a” murderer, which could represent numerous murderers and is terrible for identification. Very few Bibles have the more helpful “that” or “this” murderer. However, the one Bible written simply because Young knew others were so often not translating correctly was Young’s Literal Translation Bible. It alone has “this son of ‘the’ murderer’, and Ahab was known as the murderer of the time.

Pulpit Commentary: “…"this son of the murderer," with reference to Ahab, the great murderer of the time…”

The question used the NASB, and the NASB used the vague “a” murderer.

Per the YLT, Pulpit Commentary, etc. translation, Ahab was “the murderer” but dead at this point, and Ahab’s son Jehoram was then king of Israel. According to 2 Kings 6:26, that King of Israel sent the messenger in advance to take away Elisha’s head.

Jehoram died at 2 Kings 8:24.

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