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Elijah Taken up to Heaven
v. 1. And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, at the time which the Lord had fixed for this important event, of which He had informed His faithful servant, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal, a town near Shiloh, on the road leading into the Jordan Valley.
v. 2. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. His humility prompted him to make this request, for he did not know whether his translation to heaven was to be attended by any witness. And Elisha said unto him, with a solemn oath, As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. He was bound to his teacher, to his spiritual father, with the bonds of the most faithful affection. So they went down to Bethel, the well-known city nearer to Jerusalem, where there was also a school of prophets.
v. 3. And the Sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today? They also had received the information that the Lord would take their beloved teacher from them. And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. So all the persons concerned, yielding to the will of God, were ready for the sacrifice, but because they loved one another, they did not discuss the departure, the subject being too painful for them to think about.
v. 4. And Elijah said unto him, as before, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho, near the Jordan, where there was another school of prophet disciples. And he said, as before, As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
v. 5. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho, the disciples or students of the prophets' school located there, came to Elisha and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today? And he answered, as in Bethel, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. Thus Elijah had now visited the chief prophets' schools.
v. 6. And Elijah said unto him, his humility once more prompting him to make the suggestion, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan, near this river his departure was to take place. And he said, still determined to stay with his master to the end, As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. It was probably the Spirit of God Himself who urged him to accompany his aged teacher. And they two went on.
v. 7. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood to view afar off, they stood at an elevated point, following the two prophets with their eyes as long as possible; and they two stood by Jordan.
v. 8. And Elijah took his mantle, one of the signs of his prophetical office, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters; and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground, as the children of Israel had done at the time of their entrance into Canaan, Joshua 3:16.
v. 9. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee before I be taken away from thee, some last favor. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me, the reference being to the right of the firstborn, who received twice as much of his father's goods as the rest of the children, Deuteronomy 21:17. Elisha's request, as the spiritual son of Elijah, was that he might get a greater share of his spirit than any other prophet of his time.
v. 10. And he, Elijah, said, Thou hast asked a hard thing, one which was, in fact, not in Elijah's hands to bestow, but could be granted by God alone; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, if Elisha would be an eye-witness of his wonderful departure, It shall be so unto thee, that would be a token to him that the Lord had granted his request; but if not, it shall not be so.
v. 11. And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, while they were engaged in earnest conversation, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, in a manner hidden from mere human understanding; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind Into heaven. While the storm was playing about the two men, while Elisha plainly saw the chariot and the horses of fire, Elijah was taken from his side and miraculously carried upward, to be translated to the realms of bliss above.
v. 12. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, for Elijah had been his spiritual father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof! For the presence of Elijah in Israel had proved a powerful protection against the enemies. And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces, as an expression of his great grief and pain at the loss of his fatherly teacher and friend.
v. 13. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, purposely dropped at the moment of his departure, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan.
v. 14. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? This was not a question of doubt, but meant to say: "Thou, God of Elijah, if Thou art also mine, and if I am Thy servant according to Thy will and command as he was, then let this become evident by granting that that may take place at my word which Thou grantedst should come to pass at his. " (Menken. ) And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither; and Elisha went over. Thus Elisha received his credentials as the successor of Elijah and could go forth to carry on his prophetic work.
Elisha's Miraculous Powers
v. 15. And when the Sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho, those who had stood at a distance to witness the older men crossing the Jordan on dry ground, saw him, returning in the same manner as both he and Elijah had gone over, they said, drawing their conclusion from this miracle, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him, with the same veneration which they had formerly shown to Elijah.
v. 16. And they said unto him, Behold, now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master, lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley. They had known that Elijah was to be removed from Elisha's head,
v. 5. but they had no definite idea of the meaning attached to this expression, believing, apparently, that the soul of Elijah alone had been taken, and that they would be able to find his body somewhere in the neighborhood. And he said, Ye shall not send. He knew that their plan was altogether foolish, since Elijah had been translated to heaven according to body and soul.
v. 17. And when they had urged him till he was ashamed, when their stubborn persistence showed him that there was no hope of dissuading them from their purpose, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not, their strenuous search proved fruitless.
v. 18. And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, in a mild reproof for not heeding his advice, Did I not say unto you, Go not?
v. 19. And the men of the city, probably the magistrates or the influential citizens, said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, on a beautiful oasis, noted for its splendid palms, as my lord seeth; but the water is naught, it had a bad effect, and the ground barren, miscarriages were the rule in the country round about, apparently on account of the water.
v. 20. And he said, Bring me a new cruse, a receptacle, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
v. 21. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, where the brook welled up from the ground, and cast the salt in there, as a prophetical, symbolical action to indicate what the Lord was about to do, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land, that is, barrenness, of which they had complained. This miracle was intended to convey to the minds of the people the fact of the blessings of God in the prophetic activities of Elisha.
v. 22. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake. The spring and the brook served as permanent reminders of Jehovah's goodness and power for good.
v. 23. And he went up from thence unto Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city and mocked him, a band of blaspheming youngsters up to the age of young men, children of the idolaters of Bethel, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head! Go up, thou bald head! They railed on him and insulted him as an impure and expelled person.
v. 24. And be turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord; for it was as Jehovah's prophet that the mockery had been heaped upon him. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them, without, however, making any move toward eating them. It was God's punishment upon these revilers of His servant, for their number shows that they had planned this demonstration with deliberate, wicked intent.
v. 25. And he went from thence to Mount Carmel, he chose solitude and concealment for a while, after the manner of the prophets, and from thence he returned to Samaria, where he afterwards had a house, 2 Kings 6:32. Note: It is not wrong or an injustice, but is done out of obedience to God, if His servants pronounce His curse and damnation upon persistent blasphemers.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent