And the man of God was angry with him, and said, You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria till you had consumed it: whereas now you shall strike down Syria but three times.
Read Chapter 13
Ephrem The Syrian
“Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness from which he was to die, King Joash of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And Jehu, king of Israel, died, and Jehoahaz, his son, took his place for seventeen years and died. And his son Joash reigned; he reestablished the kingship which had been troubled by his father, and fought impiety. Elisha helped him with words and actions. And when the prophet was struck with a fatal disease, the king came to him and, seeing that his death was imminent, began to weep like a son deprived of his father and said, “My father, my father,” and so on. This is also the word that Elisha said at the moment of Elijah’s ascension to heaven. And the meaning of both words is one, and we have explained it above.
Then he calls the prophet “chariots and horsemen of Israel,” because the peace of the kingdom and the victories of Israel depended on his prayer and rule. The prophet, o...
Angry. Septuagint, "grieved. "(Haydock)
Or seven is omitted in Hebrew and Septuagint. This text proves that God knows what would take place conditionally. (Tirinus)
If By this it appears, that God had revealed to the prophet that the king should overcome the Syrians, as many times as he should then strike on the ground; but, as he had not, at the same time, revealed to him how often the king would strike, the prophet was concerned to see that he struck but thrice. (Challoner)
Joas was assured that he should consume the Syrians. But this was to be understood, provided he performed his part, (Menochius; Tirinus) and that destruction was not said to be entire. (Haydock)
If thou hadst smitten: By this it appears that God had revealed to the prophet that the king should overcome the Syrians as many times as he should then strike on the ground; but as he had not at the same time revealed to him how often the king would strike, the prophet was concerned to see that he struck but thrice.