Despite all the dietary restrictions of the Jewish people, they consumed some terrible things during the famine in Samaria, reported in II Kings. Their city was surrounded by the Syrians and they were essentially being starved out.
Apparently, even the meat of a donkey’s head brought a great price. I can’t imagine eating any part of a donkey’s head. I guess they were so hungry that any kind of protein got consumed with gusto. Although, I was a little bit puzzled to read that even dove dung brought a good price.
It made me think way back to my middle school years when a Chinese student reported on bird nest soup. Jimmy Wong went into detail in home room about how a certain type of bird in Asia regurgitated to form the lining for its nest and that the lining was sought after as a delicacy, the main ingredient in soup. One kid in the class said loudly, “Ewwww, bird vomit soup?!” Jimmy Wong had a quick reply: “Do you like honey?” The offended kid said, “Sure, everyone likes honey.” Jimmy Wong replied, “Honey is the barf of bees.” Thus, he made his point cogently.
But the story of the famine in II Kings gets beyond gross to darkly sinister, even to the point of infanticide and cannibalism. There is a chilling story of an unsolvable situation involving both of these horrors brought before the king in II Kings 6: 28-29. Instead of solving the problem, the king blames Elisha (prophets get a lot of blame) and seeks to remove his head from his shoulders. However, Elisha prophesies that the famine will be over the next day.
This prophecy is fulfilled through two fatalistic lepers, one of whom had a guilty conscience. These two were sitting at the gate of the city reasoning with each other. The upshot of their argument was that if they sat there they would die; if they went into the devastated city, they would die… “Now, therefore, come, let us fall into the host of the Syrians and if they save us alive, we shall live and if they kill us, we shall but die.”
So, they went out into the camp of the Syrians and the Lord created a noise of chariots and horses. The Syrians thought the king of Israel had hired mercenaries to attack them and they ran, leaving all their treasures, food, clothing, horses and donkeys behind. The lepers had a party at the camp, eating and gathering treasures until one of them had an attack of conscience. “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household.”
When those in the besieged city heard of it, they went out and feasted as well. Thus, Elisha’s prophesy that the fast would be over the next day was fulfilled. I’m sure the people were glad that leper had a conscience!