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2 Kings 8:9 Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’ ”

10 Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.”

Is lying a sin?

Did God command Hazael to mislead Ben-Hadad in 2 Kings 8:10?

  • Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die. [KJV] Thou dost certainly not revive, seeing Jehovah hath shewed me that he doth surely die.' [Young's Literal]. KJV and YLT translate differently but neither contains a lie.('Thou mayest recover' does not promise anything.) – Nigel J Jun 11 at 21:32
  • @Ba's answer here I think should solve your problem hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/40146/… – Bach Jun 12 at 0:28
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    Does this answer your question? Did Elisha tell Hazael that Ben Hadad will recover in 2 Kings 8? – Nigel J Jun 12 at 3:05
  • @NigelJ that's the question I linked in my comment, however I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's an exact duplicate of that one. It's definitely related and the answer over there may even resolve the OP's question, but we have to be careful when we close a question in the name of it being a duplicate. – Bach Jun 12 at 14:53
  • @Bach The answer to the previous question obviates the necessity of asking this question. In my opinion. – Nigel J Jun 12 at 14:56
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We often underestimate the levels of sarcasm and innuendo present in the Bible writers, often falsely attributing to them only simple speech and pious blessings. Life is and never was that simple.

When Hazael presented himself before the prophet Elisha, he immediately saw through the messenger's murderous intentions and immediately saw how Hazael intended to usurp the throne by deception and regicide. Elisha knew that Hazael would lie to the king to gain his confidence.

Thus, Elisha said to Hazael something like, "Say to Ben Hadad, You will certainly recover because that is what you will say to him no matter what I say. However, the king will die, not from this disease but by your hand."

If Hazael had reported Elisha's words to the king in full, no lie would have been told.

Commentaries reach a similar conclusion. Note the Pulpit Commentary on 2 Kings 8:10 -

What Elisha says to Hazael is, "Go, say unto him, Thou shalt surely live;" i.e. "Go, say unto him, what thou hast already made up thy mind to say, what a courtier is sure to say, Thou shalt recover." Howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. If Hazael had reported the whole answer to Benhadad, he would have told no lie, and thus Elisha is not responsible for his lie.

Ellicott reaches an identical conclusion.

Thou wilt certainly live. Elisha sees through Hazael's character and designs, and answers him in the tone of irony which he used to Gehazi in 2 Kings 5:26, "Go, tell thy lord--as thou, the supple and unscrupulous courtier wilt be sure to do--he will certainly recover. I know, however, that he will assuredly die, and by thy hand." Others interpret, "Thou mightest recover" (i.e., thy disease is not mortal); and make the rest of the prophet's reply a confidential communication to Hazael. But this is to represent the prophet as deceiving Benhadad, and guilty of complicity with Hazael, which agrees neither with Elisha's character nor with what follows in 2 Kings 8:11-12.

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