Biblical Burns
The Art of the Insult According to Scripture

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2nd May 2015
“There’s death in that pot, man!”
- Hungry Guys
2 Kings 4:40 (HCSB)

Next time you need to call someone's cooking abilities into question, this one may be of use.

Like all the best Bible stories, this one begins with “There was a famine in the land…”

The prophet Elisha has just returned home after performing some impressive miracles in the neighbouring towns when he asks his assistant to get a stew on for some of his friends. The lad goes out to find some ingredients, but all he finds are some “wild gourds”, which, hoping for the best, they chuck in the stew, even though “they were unaware of what they were”.

When the stew looks ready, everyone is keen for a helping. But after tasting it, they quickly change their minds: “There's death in that pot, man of God!”

Many readers and translators take this to mean that the stew was poisonous—which is understandable—but I think it just means that it tasted really, awfully bad. Either way, they wouldn't take another bite.

But just as it seems that dinnertime is over, Elisha adds “culinary salvage” to his list of God-given, miraculous abilities, sprinkling some meal into the pot, and making it fit for grateful consumption.

A Side Note

Directly after this incident, Elisha performs another miracle, in which he feeds a hundred people with a small number of loaves. Sound familiar? While feeding five thousand people is slightly more impressive, I think that if Jesus was in a band, He'd list Elisha as one of His influences.


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