Elijah Makes a Swift Departure
1 Just before#tn Or “when.” the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. 2 Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”#map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. But Elisha said, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 Some members of the prophetic guild#tn Heb “the sons of the prophets.” in Bethel came out to Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take your master from you?”#tn Heb “from your head.” The same expression occurs in v. 5. He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.”
4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”#map For location see Map5-B2; Map6-E1; Map7-E1; Map8-E3; Map10-A2; Map11-A1. But he replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. 5 Some members of the prophetic guild in Jericho approached Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.”
6 Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they traveled on together. 7 The fifty members of the prophetic guild went and stood opposite them at a distance, while Elijah and Elisha#tn Heb “the two of them.” The referents (Elijah and Elisha) have been specified in the translation for clarity. stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, folded it up, and hit the water with it. The water divided, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you,#tn Heb “Ask! What can I do for you….?” before I am taken away from you?” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of the prophetic spirit that energizes you.”#tn Heb “May a double portion of your spirit come to me.” 10 Elijah#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. replied, “That’s a difficult request!#tn Heb “You have made difficult [your] request.” If you see me taken from you, may it be so, but if you don’t, it will not happen.”
11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot#tn Though the noun is singular here, it may be collective, in which case it could be translated “chariots.” pulled by fiery horses appeared.#tn Heb “look, a chariot of fire and horses of fire.” They went between Elijah and Elisha,#tn Heb “and they made a division between the two of them.” and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. 12 While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!”#sn Elisha may be referring to the fiery chariot(s) and horses as the Lord’s spiritual army that fights on behalf of Israel (see 2 Kgs 6:15-17; 7:6). However, the juxtaposition with “my father” (clearly a reference to Elijah as Elisha’s mentor), and the parallel in 2 Kgs 13:14 (where the king addresses Elisha with these words), suggest that Elisha is referring to Elijah. In this case Elijah is viewed as a one man army, as it were. When the Lord spoke through him, his prophetic word was as powerful as an army of chariots and horses. See M. A. Beek, “The Meaning of the Expression ‘The Chariots and Horsemen of Israel’ (II Kings ii 12),” The Witness of Tradition (OTS 17), 1-10. Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two. 13 He picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen off him, and went back and stood on the shore of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah,#tn Heb “Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen off him.” The wording is changed slightly in the translation for the sake of variety of expression (see v. 13). hit the water with it, and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water, it divided and Elisha crossed over.
15 When the members of the prophetic guild in Jericho,#map For location see Map5-B2; Map6-E1; Map7-E1; Map8-E3; Map10-A2; Map11-A1. who were standing at a distance,#tn Heb “and the sons of the prophets who were in Jericho, [who were standing] opposite, saw him and said.” saw him do this, they said, “The spirit that energized Elijah#tn Heb “the spirit of Elijah.” rests upon Elisha.” They went to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him. 16 They said to him, “Look, there are fifty capable men with your servants. Let them go and look for your master, for the wind sent from the Lord#tn Or “the spirit of the Lord.” may have carried him away and dropped him on one of the hills or in one of the valleys.” But Elisha#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity. replied, “Don’t send them out.” 17 But they were so insistent, he became embarrassed. So he said, “Send them out.” They sent the fifty men out and they looked for three days, but could not find Elijah.#tn Heb “him”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 18 When they came back, Elisha#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity. was staying in Jericho. He said to them, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t go’?”
Elisha Demonstrates His Authority
19 The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, the city has a good location, as our#tn Heb “my.” master can see. But the water is bad and the land doesn’t produce crops.”#tn Heb “miscarries” or “is barren.” 20 Elisha#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “Get me a new jar and put some salt in it.” So they got it. 21 He went out to the spring and threw the salt in. Then he said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘I have purified#tn Or “healed.” this water. It will no longer cause death or fail to produce crops.”#tn Heb “there will no longer be from there death and miscarriage [or, ‘barrenness’].” 22 The water has been pure to this very day, just as Elisha prophesied.#tn Heb “according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.”
23 He went up from there to Bethel.#map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. As he was traveling up the road, some young boys#tn The word נַעַר (na’ar), here translated “boy,” can refer to a broad age range, including infants as well as young men. But the qualifying term “young” (or “small”) suggests these youths were relatively young. The phrase in question (“young boy”) occurs elsewhere in 1 Sam 20:35; 1 Kgs 3:7 (used by Solomon in an hyperbolic manner); 11:17; 2 Kgs 5:14; and Isa 11:6. came out of the city and made fun of him, saying, “Go on up, baldy! Go on up, baldy!” 24 When he turned around and saw them, he called God’s judgment down on them.#tn Heb “he cursed them in the name of the Lord.” A curse was a formal appeal to a higher authority (here the Lord) to vindicate one’s cause through judgment. As in chapter one, this account makes it clear that disrespect for the Lord’s designated spokesmen can be deadly, for it is ultimately rejection of the Lord’s authority. Two female bears came out of the woods and ripped forty-two of the boys to pieces. 25 From there he traveled to Mount Carmel and then back to Samaria.#sn The two brief episodes recorded in vv. 19-25 demonstrate Elisha’s authority and prove that he is the legitimate prophetic heir of Elijah. He has the capacity to bring life and blessing to those who recognize his authority, or death and judgment to those who reject him.map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.