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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

2 Kings 2

Verses 1-25

Elijah’s Translation to Heaven

The great service rendered to Israel by the prophet whose life is here closed was the stand which he made for the religion of Jehovah when its supremacy was threatened by the worship of the Zidonian Baal introduced by Jezebel. In view of such a crisis, the degradation of Jehovah’s worship by the association with it of the golden calves set up by Jeroboam could for a while be ignored, a superstitious form of the true faith being preferable to total apostasy; though later, when the religion of Baal had been abolished by Jehu, the time came for a protest against the calf-worship, such as that which was made by Hosea (Hosea 10:5) and Amos (Amos 8:14). The preeminence which Elijah, by his zeal and devotion in this struggle against Baal worship, won for himself among the prophets of the Old Testament is evidenced by the expectation subsequently entertained that he would come again: see Malachi 4:5-6, and cp. Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:11; Luke 1:17; John 1:21. It is said that a chair is still placed for him by the Jews at the circumcision of every child, and that at the Paschal feast the door is set open for him to enter. At our Lord’s Transfiguration he is recorded to have been present, together with Moses, and to have talked with Him (Matthew 17:3; Mark 9:4).

1. When the Lord.. Elijah] The only parallel to this narrative in the OT. is the account of the translation of Enoch in Genesis 5:24. The mention (in 2 Chronicles 21:12) of a letter from Elijah in the reign of Jehoram has led some to think that the event related in this chapter is placed out of its proper order. Gilgal] probably identical with the modern Jiljilia, a place between Bethel and Shechem in the hill-country of Ephraim.

2. Tarry here] Elijah may have wished to spare Elisha the awe-inspiring vision of his departure. The sons of the prophets] see on 1 Kings 20:35.

3. Knowest thou, etc.] Knowledge of Elijah’s impending departure seems to have prevailed both at Bethel and Jericho.

9. A double portion] i.e. the share of the firstborn son (Deuteronomy 21:17), twice as much as that of any of the other ’sons’ of the prophet. Elisha wished to be, in spiritual power, the chief among Elijah’s disciples and successors.

11. A chariot of fire] cp. 2 Kings 6:17.

12. The chariot of Israel] The words are probably a figure to describe the prophet, who in virtue of the supernatural powers that were at his service had been to Israel a greater protection than its military forces: cp. the similar expression used of Elisha in 2 Kings 13:14. Rent them] a usual token of grief: cp. 2 Kings 5:7; 2 Kings 6:3; Genesis 37:29; 2 Samuel 13:19; Ezra 9:3.

13. The mantle] The symbol of prophetic authority: see 2 Kings 1:8, and cp. 1 Kings 19:19.

16. The Spirit of the Lord] some strong impulse of divine origin: cp. 1 Kings 18:12.

17. Till he was ashamed] i.e. to persist in further refusal.

19. This city] Jericho (2 Kings 2:18). The water] not of the Jordan but of an affluent of it, the modern Ain es Sultan.

20. Salt] a preservative and a symbol of wholesomeness and purity: cp. Matthew 5:13.

22. Unto this day] see on 1 Kings 8:8.

23. Little children] RM ’young lads’ Bethel, one of the seats of the calf-worship, was at a later date a royal chapel (Amos 7:13), and perhaps enjoyed the same distinction in Elijah’s day; and the prophet, by his zeal for the Lord, may have there incurred popular resentment, of which the mockery here described was a symptom. Thou bald head] a bald forehead might give rise to the suspicion and reproach of leprosy (Leviticus 13:42-44).

24. Cursed them] see on 1 Kings 16:34; Elisha seems to have shared the fiery disposition of his master Elijah (2 Kings 1:10), and the spirit he manifested on this occasion stands in impressive contrast with that enjoined and exemplified by our Lord (Matthew 5:44; Luke 23:34). She bears] for the presence of bears in Palestine cp. 1 Samuel 17:34-36.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 2". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.