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Cannibalism in Samaria

One of the most grotesque and tragic historical narratives in the Bible is the account of Cannibalism in Samaria. It was grotesque because of the cannibalism and who was being consumed. It was tragic because of stupidity, starvation, and unnecessary loss of life. So, why am I writing about it? I'm writing about it because it provides valuable life lessons. You can learn lessons only by reviewing tragedies like this account, which is why God shared this heartbreak with us through the inspiration of the writer of 2 Kings. I will share some background to put the incident in context with the scripture and then share the tragedy and life lessons associated with it.

Cannibalism in Samaria Under the Rule of King Joram

King Joram reigned in Samaria from 852 to 841 BC. He was king for only 11 years. Joram was the son of King Ahab, who ruled from 874 to 853 BC and lasted 21 years. Both Kings were evil in the sight of God. In 2 Kings 6:9-23 Elisha, the prophet of God warned King Joram that King Benhadad of Syria would come south against King Joram's kingdom. And that is exactly what happened. King Benhadad encamped his army around the city of Samaria and began their siege of the city. The siege went on for three long years. By this time, they had virtually no food and limited water. The people were starving.

Tragic Cannibalism in Samaria

The tragedy starts at the end of the war. King Joram was walking along the wall of the city. Then a woman ran up to him and cried, "Help, my lord, O king. And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?" 2 Kings 6: 26-27. The king was angry and scolded her because he felt helpless. If God hadn't helped her, how could he? "And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son." 2 Kings 6:28-29. Then King Joram tore his close and, without a word, kept walking. He was clearly disgusted and appalled at what these women had done.

Cannibal Woman

One of the most tragic things about this bit of history is that Elisha said, "Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus, saith the Lord," Tomorrow about this time, a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel (about a month's wage), and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. But he said to the men that even though they would see it, they would not have to endure it. That day Elisha was talking about came the next day. Some lepers were camped outside the city wall because they were not allowed into the city. So, since they were starving, they decided to go to the Syrian camp. If they were killed, that was better than starving to death. If they were allowed to live, they may give them food. When they arrived, the entire army was gone. So, the tragedy is that if these homicidal cannibal women had held out for just two days, neither child would have died.

Life Lessons

If an Old Testament prophet warns you about something, you should listen. That goes for us today, too. We read the Old Testament prophets to witness the 100% accuracy of their prophecies. And to watch for the prophecies yet to come true.

We learn that cannibalism is never acceptable. God said you will not murder, so murdering the baby with forethought and mindless self-preservation is an abomination to God. God, in numerous places in scripture, says that eating human flesh is an abomination. God uses it as a judgment against godless, evil people.

We learn to obey the Old Testament moral laws. If a person or a nation rebels against God, He will pronounce judgment upon them. Some people, in their arrogance, say, "How could a loving God allow this to happen!" They aren't thinking. A thinking person would reason that God created everything from nothing, so everything is His. Therefore, His will is perfect. No matter what He does or says, it is good, correct, and perfect. God sees all of time and everything in it, so he knows exactly what will happen. God has a plan that encompasses all of space, time, and matter in the universe. We cannot comprehend such a plan because "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." James 4:14. We are almost nothing compared to God, and our understanding, knowledge, and wisdom are the ramblings of an infant compared to God's infinite understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. We have no right to judge God, and those who do (unrepentantly) are not Christians.

Lastly, patience is a must for all Christians. God always answers prayer. He either says yes, no, or wait. We must be prepared to wait on God. These two tragic women in 2 Kings 6 were not patient, didn't wait on God, and were probably not even worshiping God. King Joram worshiped other gods, so many of his people also probably abandoned the worship of Yahweh (God). We don't know who these women prayed to or what they prayed to, and we cannot understand being so hungry that you would butcher and eat your own son. None of this makes any sense, but it happened. So, God inspired the historian who wrote 2 Kings to write down this tragedy so we could learn from other people's mistakes.

Cannibalism in Samaria

The Holy Bible shares the history of tragic events of cannibalism in Samaria to provide life lessons that increase our knowledge and develop our wisdom. These things are essential to our growth and sanctification. As we learn and grow by studying God's Holy Word, we build our righteousness and holiness, gradually becoming more Christlike as we grow. We will never be perfect, but improving your Christian Walk each month, year, and decade is possible. I pray that I never tire of studying God's Word and growing my relationship with God in my quest for ever-improving sanctification (separating from this world in ever-increasing service to my Lord).

I pray that each of you develops your patience. If God doesn't answer your prayer with yes or no – wait! Waiting on the Lord can be challenging, but remember, He knows best. His will is perfect, so if you wait on the Lord, He will answer your prayer perfectly.

Lord, as we await your answer, grant us patience and perseverance. Let your perfect will be done in our lives. Amen!!

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