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1:1-8:15 MINISTRY OF ELISHA
Elijah succeeded by Elisha (1:1-2:25)
Ahab’s son Ahaziah had not reigned long when he was injured in a fall. When he sent messengers to ask foreign gods whether he would recover, Elijah met them along the way. He sent them back with a message that the king would die, because he had forsaken the true God for foreign gods (1:1-10). Ahaziah sent soldiers to arrest Elijah, apparently with the intention of killing him because of his bold words. The ungodly king lost a hundred soldiers before he realized that he could neither silence nor kill the man whom God had sent to rebuke him (11-18).
Assured of this divine protection, Elijah saw that the time had come to pass on his work to Elisha. Together they visited some of the major centres where young prophets and other faithful Israelites lived. (Schools for prophets had been established in these towns as early as the time of Samuel; see notes on 1 Samuel 3:19-21.) This was a test for Elisha, who could easily have been tempted to stay at one of the schools of the prophets instead of continuing on with Elijah (2:1-6).
Elisha stood the test. He knew that since he was Elijah’s spiritual heir, he had to remain with Elijah to the end, in order to receive the spiritual power to carry on his work. The mark of the heir was that he received a double portion of the father’s inheritance (7-10; cf. Deuteronomy 21:17).
When Elijah was suddenly and supernaturally taken away, Elisha knew that, in this one man, Israel had lost a defender equal to a whole army of horses and chariots. But he soon had clear proof that God’s special power had now passed from Elijah to him (11-14). Back in Jericho the young prophets did not believe the report of Elijah’s spectacular departure, till they had spent three fruitless days looking for him (15-18).
Elisha’s first two miracles symbolized blessing and cursing, the two characteristics of his future ministry. At Jericho, where people were distressed through an unhealthy water supply, he brought healing. At Bethel, where the chief shrine of Israel’s corrupt religion was situated, he brought God’s curse on those who rejected his message (19-25).
The increasing importance of prophets
Ever since the time of Samuel the schools of the prophets had served a useful purpose in Israel’s religious life. They were valuable training centres for young men who were enthusiastic about improving the quality of spiritual life in the nation. Although members of these schools had a reputation for unorthodox behaviour (1 Samuel 10:5,1 Samuel 10:9-12; 1 Samuel 19:20-24; 2 Kings 9:11; 2 Kings 9:11), many of them were genuine followers of God.
Elijah and Elisha did not belong to these schools, but members of the schools looked upon them as their spiritual leaders. Elisha seems to have moved from school to school, spending some time in each community (see 2:1-7,15; 4:38; 6:1). His aim was not to train the young men to be professional prophets, but to build up the godly among them and so help strengthen the faithful minority in an unfaithful nation.
The cases of Elijah and Elisha show that a person did not have to be a member of one of these schools to be a prophet. Of those prophets whose writings have been collected in the Bible, few appear to have been professional prophets. The emphasis of the true prophets was that they had been called by God, not that they had received specialist training (Jeremiah 1:5; Ezekiel 2:1-5; Amos 7:14-15).
Chief characteristic of the prophets was that they were God’s spokesmen in announcing his will (Judges 4:4; 1 Kings 18:18; 1 Kings 18:18; 1 Kings 22:8; Jeremiah 23:18; Ezekiel 2:7; Amos 2:6-16; Amos 3:7). They brought God’s message to the people of their time, and this message may have included instruction for the present and warnings or promises for the future (Isaiah 1:16-20; Jeremiah 18:7-10). The prophets were mainly preachers to the general public and in some cases advisers to the nation’s rulers (2 Samuel 7:1-3; 2 Kings 19:1-7; 2 Kings 19:1-7; Isaiah 7:3-4; Isaiah 37:5-6; Isaiah 39:5-7; Jeremiah 7:1-7; Jeremiah 38:14; Zephaniah 2:1-3).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 2". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany