Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor has come to take unto him my two sons to be slaves.
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Caesarius of Arles
Just as we said concerning blessed Elijah that he typified our Lord and Savior, dearly beloved, so we assert with confidence and assurance that holy Elisha was an image of our Savior. As you heard in the sacred lesson, a certain widow cried to blessed Elisha, beseeching him with tearful voice, “My husband is dead, and behold, the creditors are come and want to take away my sons.” Then he asked her what she had in the house. The woman replied, “As the Lord lives, I have nothing but a little oil to anoint me.” Then Elisha said, “Borrow vessels of your neighbors, and pour out of that oil into all the vessels, and when the vessels are full, sell, and pay your creditors.” This widow typified the church, beloved brothers, just like the one who merited to receive blessed Elijah. This widow, that is, the church, had contracted a heavy debt of sins, not of material substance. She had a debt, and she endured a most cruel creditor, because she had made herself subject to the devil by many sins. T...
It is said that this woman was the wife of Obadiah, the treasurer of Ahab and a secret disciple of Elijah, who had taken one hundred prophets away from the rage of Jezebel and had fed them when they were hungry. It seems that in this affair he was entrusted with the gold of the royal house, but after his death his wife was left with a huge debt to be paid to his masters. But since she could not pay, and the taxmen of the king pressed her and wanted to sell her children, the mother implored Elisha, because she knew he was the father of orphans and the defender of widows, and she thought he would have not drawn back his hands [when asked to help] the sons of a righteous man who had served his companions the prophets. Among other things, the taxmen of the king, who had lent money to Obadiah, in justice, according to the law of the Hebrews, had moved against his children; and this is what our Lord suggested to us in the parable of the creditor king who ordered the children to be sold for t...
Prophets. Josephus ( ix. 4.) intimates that this man was Abdias; (3 Kings xviii. 13.) and the Rabbins pretend that Joram was the creditor. But these traditions are destitute of proof; and we know not that Abdias was a prophet. (Calmet)
Serve him, not as slaves, for the Hebrews were not thus to be sold, except they had commited some crime. (Salien, the year before Christ 913.) See Leviticus xxv. 39.
But the condition of mercenaries was perhaps little different; (Haydock) and we find that people were sold for debt, Exodus xxi. 7., and Isaias l. 1. The same practice seems to have continued till our Saviour's time, Matthew xviii. 25. Children were regarded as part of a person's property. The Romans, Athenians, and other nations, claimed the same right over them. (Hali car. ii. p. 96.; Plutarch, in Solon et Lucullus.) The custom of selling children continued for a long time in our islands.