You shall not kill them…: Reading II Kings 6: 8-23 in the context of the African Great Lakes Region Conflict


nonresistance approach.


The African Great Lake Region, specifically, Burundi, Rwanda and the Republic Democratic of Congo, is a region renowned across the globe for its history of persistent conflicts. A pattern observable especially in Rwanda and Burundi is a succession of political regimes where each time a new regime indicted its predecessor for failing to end the spiral of deadly ethnic conflicts. When previously oppressed any social group that finally snatches power resolves to neutralize the rival social group for good.  To achieve this, the new powerful, formerly oppressed, becomes the new oppressor. The attitude of the leaders of the African Great Lakes countries find echo in that of the Israelite king mentioned in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Traumatized by the oppression that his people had suffered from the Arameans, and now in a position of strength, the king would not want to miss the opportunity to put off the threat for good by annihilating the enemy.  But Elisha had a different solution, not to kill the now weak enemies but to show them the alternative way of relating. The present paper draws attention to one of many voices in Old Testament texts that are opposed to violence that focuses on Elisha’s approach of pacifism; Elisha’s approach of pacifism in the narrated conflict is found to be in tune with some pacifist approach usually grounded on Jesus’ teaching in the gospels. The essay argues that the pacifist perspectives find in the Old Testament find support in the New Testament and explores the relevance of such pacifist approach to modern conflicts such as those experienced in the African Great Lakes Region. 


Bonk, Jon. 1988. The World at war, the church at peace: A Biblical perspective. Winnipeg, Canada: Kindred Press.

Draper, Jonathan A. 2001. Old scores and new notes: Where and what is contextual exegesis in the new South Africa? In Speckman, McGlory T. and Kaufmann, Larry T. (eds). Towards an agenda for contextual theology: Essays in honour of Albert Nolan. 148-168. Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications.

Drieger, Leo and Kraybill1 Donald. 1994. Mennonite peacemaking: From quietism to activism. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press.

Hens-Piazza, Gina. 2006. Abington Old Testament Commentaries, 1-2Kings. Nashville: Abington Press.

Hershberger, Guy F. 2009. War, peace and nonresistance. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press.

Hobbs,T. R. 1985. Word Biblical commentary Vol 2:2Kings. Waco, Texas: Word Books.

Iser, Wolfgang 1974. The implied reader: Patterns of communication in prose fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore/London: John Hopkins University Press.

Leithart, Peter. 2006. Brazos theological commentary of the Bible, 1&2 Kings. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos.

Malbon, Elisabeth S. 2000. In the company of Jesus: Characters in Mark’s gospel. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox.

Mpangala, P. Guadens, 2004“Origins of political conflicts and peace building in the Great Lakes Regions”. Paper Presented at a Symposium in Arusha, Tanzania. 30/05/2016

Nelson, Richard. 1987. A Bible commentary for teaching and preaching, First and Second Kings. Louisville: John Knox.

Niyonziman, David. 2007. “ Ethnic Conflict in Burundi” . In Miller, E. Donald at al Eds. Seeking Peace in Africa: Stories from African peacemakers. Pennsylvania, Scottdale: Herald Press.

Nyirimana, Eraste 2010. The tribal dimension in the division of the kingdom of Israel: A contextual study of Kings 12:1-24 from the perspective of the struggle for national unity in Rwanda. Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Nyirimana-Mukansengimana R. and Draper, Jonathan A. The Peace-making mother: Reading John in the context of Rwandan post-genocide. Scriptura 112 (2013:1), pp. 1-16

Shemesh Yael. “The Elisha stories as saint’s legends.” The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures. Volume 8, article 5, p. 6. June 2 ,2016.

Sikenyi, Maurice. 2013 Challenges of Regional Peacebuilding: A Case of the Great Lakes Region Visited: 05/07/ 2016.

Peachey, Urbane. Ed. 1980. Mennonite statements on peace and social concerns, 1900-1978. Akron, USA: Library of Congress.

Pottier, J . 2002. Re-Imagining Rwanda. Cambridge: University Press.

Powley, Elisabeth 2003. Strengthening governance: The role of women in Rwanda’s transition. Women Waging Peace, October.

Taylor, Christopher C. 1999. Sacrifice as terror: The Rwandan genocide of 1994. New York: Berg.

Tenney, Merill C. ed. 1987. Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Michigan. : Zondervan.

Ukpong, Justin S. 1995. Re-reading the Bible with African eyes. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 91, 3-14.

Vlassenroot 2006. Vlassenroot, Koen 2006. A societal view on violence and war: Conflict & militia formation in Eastern Congo, in Kaarsholm, Preben (ed). Violence, political culture & development in Africa, 49-65. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.

Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck. 1985. The Bible knowledge commentary. Old Testament. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Chariot Victor.

West, Gerald O. 2009. Interpreting ‘the Exile’ in African Biblical scholarship: An Ideo-theological dilemma in post-colonial South Africa, in Becking, B and Human, Dirk (eds). Exile and suffering: A Selection of papers read at the 50th anniversary.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).