Sunday, November 29, 2009



Key Facts: Prophet, Elijah's successor, performed several miracles (2 Kings 3-8; 1 Kings 19:16)

Father: Shaphat of Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:16)
Total Bible References: 58
Key References: 2 Kings 3-8; 1 Kings 19:16-21

became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1Ki 19:16-19).

His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint him as his successor (1Ki 19:16).

Elijah, on his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native place engaged in the labours of the field, ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him with the prophetical office (Compare Luke 9:61, 62).

Elisha accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up into heaven.

During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life. After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed, according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's spirit (2Ki 2:9);

This is indicative of the property inheritance customs of the time, where the oldest son received twice as much of the father's inheritance as the younger sons. For example, if a man had 3 sons, his property was divided into fourths. Each son received one-fourth, with the oldest receiving two-fourths (twice as much as the others). In this instance with Elijah, Elisha is not asking to become twice as powerful as Elijah, but that he may be seen as the "rightful heir" to the work of the Lord that Elijah had done.

and for the long period of about sixty years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2Ki 5:8).

In almost every respect Elisha presents the most complete contrast to Elijah. Elijah was a true Bedouin child of the desert. If he enters a city it is only to deliver his message of fire and be gone. Elisha, on the other hand, is a civilized man, an inhabitant of cities. His dress was the ordinary garment of an Israelite, the beged (behg'-ed, Covering or clothing), probably similar in form to the long abbeyeh of the modern Syrians. 2 Kin 2:12 His hair was worn trimmed behind, in contrast to the disordered locks of Elijah, and he used a walking-staff, 2 Kin 4:29 of the kind ordinarily carried by grave or aged citizens. Zech 8:4

Key Verse
"When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, 'What can I do for you before I am taken away?' And Elisha replied, 'Please let me become your rightful successor' " (2 Kings 2:9).

Elisha and Eighteen Exciting Events

Parting the waters at Jordan (2 Ki. 2:14).

When Elijah had disappeared from view, Elisha picked up his master’s cloak and returned to the Jordan River bank to see if his request for power had been granted. Striking the river with Elijah’s cloak, he thundered out, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Immediately the Jordan waters parted. This marked the third time such a miracle had happened in Israel’s history. (Compare Josh. 3:17; 2 Ki. 2:8, 14.) Today, in our desperate world, the cry is: "Where are the Elijahs of the Lord God?"

All this was watched by the students from the j.b.i. (Jericho Bible Institute), but these pessimistic prophets found it difficult to believe Elijah really went all the way to heaven and therefore suggested that some of their best athletes form a search party; "Lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley" (2 Ki. 2:16). After repeated urging, Elisha agreed to the search. After the fifty men combed the entire area for three days, the hunt was called off (2 Ki. 2:17, 18).

Elisha now employed his supernatural powers to their greatest extent. No other Old or New Testament individual (apart from the Savior), with the possible exception of Moses, could match the sheer number of his miracles.

Purifying the waters at Jericho (2:19-22).

At Jericho Elisha purified a polluted city well, which was believed by the citizens to be causing miscarriages, by pouring a bowl of salt into the noxious water (2 Ki. 2:19-22). Moses did a similar miracle at Marah centuries before. (See Ex. 15:23-25.)

Judging some hoodlums at Bethel (2:23, 24).

En route to Bethel he was surrounded by a gang of young hoodlums from that city who ridiculed his bald head and mocked the recent translation of Elijah. Elisha caused two female bears to appear, and forty-two of these arrogant rebels were clawed as a divine punishment (2 Ki. 2:23-25). The Hebrew word yeled, translated "little children," should doubtless be rendered "young lads." The same word is found in 1 Samuel 16:11, referring to David, and by then David had already established a reputation as "a mighty man of valor" (1 Sam. 16:18), having killed a lion and a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-37). Note their taunt, "Go up, thou bald head," an obvious effort to ridicule the rapture of Elijah. (See Lev. 26:21, 22.)

Causing some empty ditches to fill with water (2 Ki. 3:16-27).

This took place during the days of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Jehoshaphat was again tricked by the Ahab dynasty into an unholy alliance. This time (the fourth and final), King Jehoram, Ahab’s youngest son, persuaded him into a fighting alliance to defeat the Moabites, who had rebelled against Israel by refusing to pay their tribute after Ahab’s death (3:1-8).

The two allied armies met in the wilderness of Edom and immediately were faced with the problem of water. In desperation both kings turned to Elisha when it was discovered he was secretly traveling with them. Elisha utterly spurned the pleas of wicked Jehoram, but agreed to help for Jehoshaphat’s sake. At his order, great trenches were dug and the next day God had filled them all with water (3:9-20).

The Moabites were now aware of the impending attack and began to marshal their forces along the frontier. On the day of the battle, the Moabites mistook the rays of the sun shining across the water-filled trenches for blood, and immediately attacked, concluding that their enemies were fighting a bloody battle among themselves (3:21-23).

This reckless action led them into a trap which resulted in their total defeat. The Moabite king made one last effort to break through the siege by leading an attack of 700 swordsmen. When this failed, he took his oldest son and, to the horror of the watching allied armies, killed and sacrificed him as a burnt offering to his pagan god (3:22-27).

Creating oil in empty vessels (4:1-7).

At Samaria he rescued a poverty-stricken widow of a God-fearing man from her creditor, who was threatening to enslave her two sons for non-payment. Elisha ordered the woman to borrow every possible container from her neighbors and then pour her remaining jar of olive oil into these vessels. She did this and every container was supernaturally filled, thus solving her indebtedness problem (2 Ki. 4:1-7). God loves to use little things.

Raising a dead boy at Shunem (4:18-21, 32-37).

In Shunem he was given a sleeping room by a prominent woman of that city and her husband. To reward her kindness for his prophet’s chamber, Elisha promised she would have a son. The son was born, but fell sick some years later and died. In desperation the mother found Elisha and begged him to do something. He then sent his carnal servant Gehazi who laid the prophet’s staff upon the dead child’s face, but all in vain. Elisha then arrived and stretched his body across the child. The lad became warm, sneezed seven times, and opened his eyes (2 Ki. 4:8-37). Elisha would later advise this woman to leave the land during a divinely sent seven-year famine. Upon return, she went to the northern king (Jehoram) to get her land back. Gehazi happened to be there and was relating to the king how Elisha had once raised a boy from the dead. At that very moment she walked in. The king was so impressed he restored all her land (2 Ki. 8:1-6).

Purifying a poisonous stew at Gilgal (4:38-41).

In Gilgal a student prophet had unknowingly prepared some harmful stew for the students’ lunch hour by adding some poisonous wild gourds. Upon discovering this, Elisha purified the soup by throwing some meal into it (2 Ki. 4:38-41).

Feeding 100 men by supernaturally increasing twenty loaves of bread and a sack of corn (4:42-44).

Near Baal-shalishah he fed one thousand men supernaturally from a sack of fresh corn and twenty loaves of barley bread. Again the prophet’s servant Gehazi displayed his carnality by doubting this could be done. He acted here as Philip and Andrew would later respond prior to the feeding of the 5000 performed by our Lord in John 6:5-13. (See 2 Ki. 4:42-44.)

Healing of Naaman (5:1-19).

The Syrian king at this time had an army commander whose name was Naaman. This general was honorable, brave, and successful, but he had a problem, for he was also a leper (2 Ki. 5:1). A little Israeli slave girl who was serving in the Naaman household told her master about the miraculous power of the prophet Elisha in Israel. Acting upon her testimony, the Syrian king sent Naaman to Jehoram (Israel’s ruler) carrying $20,000 in silver, $60,000 in gold, and ten units of clothing, along with a personal royal letter requesting healing (5:2-6).

Jehoram was filled with both wrath and fear at this impossible request and concluded Syria demanded this as an excuse to invade the land again. However, Elisha soon learned the purpose of Naaman’s visit, and bid the leprous general to visit him (5:7, 8). Naaman arrived and waited outside Elisha’s home where he was instructed by a servant to wash seven times in the Jordan River, which would cure his leprosy. The Syrian soldier was furious at such "impersonal treatment" but finally was persuaded by his own servants to obey. This he did and was immediately healed (5:9-14).

Naaman arrived back at Elisha’s home and was this time greeted by the prophet, but his offered reward was refused. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, coveted the money and later told Naaman that his master had changed his mind. Naaman gave him $4,000 and two expensive robes. Elisha discovered this, and Gehazi was divinely punished by being afflicted with the kind of leprosy of which Naaman was cured (5:15-27).

Predicting the judgment of leprosy upon Gehazi (2 Ki. 5:15-27).

Recovering a lost axehead (6:1-7).

At the river Jordan, Elisha caused an axehead which had accidentally fallen into the water to float on top (2 Ki. 6:1-7).

Revealing the secret war plans of Syria (6:8-12).

Elisha the prophet, who had once refused to help Jehoram, the northern king, now aided him by warning the monarch of several planned Syrian ambushes (2 Ki. 6:8-10).

The Syrian king concluded a traitor in his camp must be informing Israel of their plans, but was told by one of his officers that Elisha was supernaturally revealing these plans (6:11, 12). Syrian troops were immediately dispatched to arrest Elisha at Dothan. The prophet awakened the next day and found himself surrounded by a great army of chariots and horses (6:13-15).

Praying that his servant could see an invisible angelic army and blinding the Syrian army (6:15-23).

His servant, Gehazi, was terrified, but was soon reassured by Elisha.

"And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha" (6:16-18).

Elisha then led these sightless Syrian soldiers into Samaria, where their eyes were opened. King Jehoram (the northern king) determined to slay his helpless enemies, but was forbidden to do so by Elisha (6:19-23). This little account by itself totally refutes the devilish claim of liberals and unbelievers that the Old Testament is one huge bloody "eye-for-an-eye" slaughter story. Here an entire Syrian army was defeated by sheer kindness. (See Rom. 12:20, 21; Prov. 25:21, 22; Mt. 5:43-45.)

Blinding the entire Syrian army (2 Ki. 6:18-23).

Predicting the salvation of Samaria from starvation (2 Ki. 7).

Some years later (perhaps after Naaman’s death) the Syrians invaded Israel and besieged the city capitol of Samaria, causing a great famine. This must have been indescribably horrible, for even a donkey’s head sold for $50.00 and a pint of dove’s dung brought $3.00. Things became so desperate that even cannibalism was practiced (6:29).

All this was tragically prophesied over five centuries before by Moses. (See Lev. 26:27-29.) The southern kingdom of Judah would later be reduced to this same pit of despair during the destruction of Jerusalem. (Compare Deut. 28:53 with Lam. 4:10; see 2 Kings 6:25-29.) The northern king, Jehoram, bitterly remembered how Elisha had once refused to allow him to kill the blinded Syrian soldiers some years back, and vowed to execute the prophet, blaming him for the present terrible situation (6:31). The unruffled Elisha ignored the king’s threats and predicted that within twenty-four hours food would be so plentiful that two gallons of flour and four gallons of barley grain would only bring a dollar in the Samaritan market. He also prophesied that the king’s chief officer, an especially arrogant man, would see this food but never live to eat it (7:1, 2).

Outside the gate of the city sat four starving lepers who decided in desperation to surrender to the Syrians and began walking toward their camp (7:3, 4). But God caused their very footsteps to resemble the clatter of speeding chariots and horses. In panic, the Syrians fled, concluding that Samaria must have hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack them (7:5-7).

God had employed this method before. (See 2 Sam. 5:23, 24; Jdg. 7:16-21; 2 Chron. 20:20-25.) After looting the camp, the four lepers reported the good news to Samaria. Soon thousands of frantically happy men and women were rushing out from the main gate to gather food. In their mad drive, the king’s official, attempting to control the traffic, was knocked down and crushed to death, just as Elisha had predicted. That very day two gallons of flour and four gallons of barley grain did indeed sell for a dollar (7:8-20).

Predicting the death of Ben-hadad, King of Syria, and the subsequent reign of Hazael over Syria (2 Ki. 8:7-15).

Elisha went to Damascus to visit Ben-hadad, the ailing Syrian king. En route he was greeted by Hazael, an important Syrian official who presented the prophet with forty camel loads of the best products of the land. Hazael was instructed to inquire whether Ben-hadad would recover from his illness. Elisha gave the strange answer that he would indeed get well, but would still die (2 Ki. 8:7-10).

Elisha then predicted that Hazael would become the next king of Syria and that his reign would shed much Israelite blood. Hazael denied this, but the very next day he smothered to death his master, Ben-hadad (8:11-15).

Hazael would later oppress Israel without mercy. (See 2 Ki. 13:22.) Elisha instructed one of his young prophets to locate a professional charioteer in Ramoth-gilead named Jehu and anoint him the next king over Israel. This was done and Jehu was ordered by God to execute the dynasty of Ahab, including Jezebel, whom the dogs would later eat (2 Ki. 9:1-10). Note: The anointing of both Hazael and Jehu was ordered by God to be performed by Elijah, but for some reason he did not accomplish this. (See 1 Ki. 19:15, 16.)

Predicting Israel’s three victories over Syria (2 Ki. 13:14-19).

On his deathbed Elisha was visited by Jehoash, a wicked northern king of Israel. In spite of his evil ways he did apparently have some affection for Elisha. Jehoash visited the dying prophet and wept over his impending death. Following Elisha’s strange command, the king shot an arrow from his bedroom window. This was to symbolize Israel’s victory over the Syrians. He was then instructed to strike the floor with some arrows, which he timidly did three times, thus angering Elisha, who told him he should have hit the ground five or six times, for each strike assured him of a victory over Syria (2 Ki. 13:14-19).

During the period that followed, Jehoash reconquered the cities his father had previously lost, and defeated the Syrians on three specific occasions, just as Elisha had predicted (13:22-25).

We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed in his own house (2Ki 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away: "My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2Ki 13:20-21).

Raising a man from the dead years after the prophet himself had died (13:20, 21).

Elisha died and was buried. After some years, a corpse was being buried near the prophet’s grave and was accidentally allowed to touch the bones of Elisha. The dead man suddenly revived and jumped to his feet (13:20, 21).

We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed in his own house (2Ki 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away: "My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."

Resemblance to Elijah.

There is a striking resemblance between the life of Elisha and that of Elijah. Not only do their names sound alike, but the main events of their lives run in much the same channels. They are twin figures in Hebrew history. The Two Prophets in Parallel. Both...

In spite of the points of resemblance between the miracles performed by the two prophets, Elisha was not a mere echo of his fiery predecessor. There was a marked difference between the temperaments of the two men, and their general attitude toward society.

Elijah was a solitary figure like John the Baptist. His life was largely spent in an unavailing struggle with the evils of his times, and he had his periods of great depression.
Not so Elisha. His gift of "a double portion of the Spirit" enabled him to lead a triumphant life as he mingled with his fellow men.

We have no record that he ever complained of his lot, fled from his enemies, or lost his courage.
Even on his death bed he seemed to be full of power as he gave commands to a king.

His reception of a double portion of the Spirit is demonstrated by the fact that he lived a victorious life and also that he performed a greater number of miracles than any other prophet except Moses.

Elisha Speaks
I can only hope they're prepared by now to minister without me. I've done my best to provide proper instructions for these young prophets. I've also purified their water and food, fed their hungry, recovered their lost tools, and provided oil for their widows! (2 Kings 2:3-5, 19-22; 2 Kings 4:1-7, 38-44; 2 Kings 6:1-7)

Well, at least they won't be running around looking for this old bald head as they once did when they were trying to find Elijah. (2 Kings 2:15-16, 23-24)
I only hope I have been half the teacher to them that Elijah was to me. What a remarkable man! There I was, plowing with oxen, when he suddenly threw his coat on my shoulders and announced that I would be his successor! Frankly, I think he had his doubts about me, considering how I hesitated. But what could he do? God himself had commanded it! (1 Kings 19:16-21)
Funny, Elijah's final miracle was identical to my first miracle—the parting of the Jordan. We also both raised young men from the dead. (2 Kings 2:7-8; 2 Kings 13-14; 2 Kings 4:8-37; 1 Kings 17:17-24)

But in other ways our ministries differed. He could pray down fire from heaven, while God would allow me to feed a starving city and heal a leper. (2 Kings 5:10-14; 2 Kings 7:1, 18; 1 Kings 18:38)

Death approaches, but I feel no fear. God once sent his angels to protect me. I know he will now commission them to comfort and reassure! (2 Kings 6:8-18)

Spiritual Lessons from Elisha
  • Seeking and following God's purpose for our lives should take precedence over family and friendship ties (compare 1 Kings 19:19-21 with Matthew 6:33; Matthew 8:21-22).
  • We should live our lives in such a way that others will know we believe in God and stand for the truth. Elisha knew that if Naaman were to come to him for healing, he would become convinced "that there is a true prophet here in Israel" (2 Kings 5:8, 15).
  • People of faith need have no fear, even when surrounded by their physical, spiritual, or financial enemies, knowing that "there are more on our side than on theirs!" (2 Kings 6:16; see Psalm 27:3; Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:14).
  • The influence of a godly person continues after his or her death, imparting life to others (2 Kings 13:20-21).

Outstanding Lesson of His Life: The Power of Divine Grace.

Sources: H.L Willmington, Dr. David C. Brown, Clarence O. Staggs, A.T. Worley, Easton's Dictionary, Smiths Bible Dictionary, Thompson Chain Reference, Wikipedia

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