During a time of famine in Samaria, the Syrians besieged Samaria, causing acute inflation and desperation within the city walls. With the Syrian army surrounding the capitol city, they were unable to get provisions to the people inside. It got to the point that a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove droppings sold for five shekels of silver. 

One day as the king of Israel was passing by on the walls, a woman called out to him for help. His first response was there was nothing he could do, but nevertheless, he asked what was troubling her.

She explained the situation. She and another woman were starving, so the other woman suggested the boil her son and eat him, then they were to eat the other woman’s son the next day. But though they boiled and ate the one son, the other woman hid her son. 

When the king heard what the woman said, he was horrified. He tore his clothes revealing sackcloth underneath his royal robes. 

What possessed these two women to consider such a horrific solution to their hunger? While we can certainly appreciate the seriousness of their situation, what happened to their maternal instinct? What a contrast to the prophet’s widow, the Canaanite woman, even the prostitute who went to King Solomon for help. 

In this story we see the evil that comes when we lose sight of the needs of others and focus only on our own suffering. 

When we experience desperate times, may we watch out for those in our care, putting their needs above our own rather than looking out only for ourselves. 

Read about the Prophet’s Widow in Scripture: 2 Kings 6:24-31

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