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Elisha’s Final Days

Now Elisha was sick with a terminal illness; and Joash, Israel’s king, came to visit him. He cried over Elisha,

Joash quotes to the prophet Elisha’s own words to Elijah before he ascended.

Joash: My father, O my father! The chariots and riders of Israel!

Elisha: Quickly find a bow and some arrows.

Joash did as Elisha instructed and brought a bow and some arrows back to Elisha’s bedside.

Elisha: Now grip the bow tightly.

So Joash gripped the bow, and Elisha placed his hands over the king’s hands.

Elisha: Now open the window facing east.

So Joash opened the window.

Elisha: Now launch the arrow as far as you can!

So Joash drew back the bow and launched the arrow as far as he could.

Elisha: That was the Eternal’s victory arrow! You will crush the Arameans at Aphek! You will do more than just win; you will ruin them! (pausing) Here, take these arrows.

So Joash took the arrows.

Elisha: Hit the ground with them.

So Joash hit the ground three times and stood up. But the man of God became angry at this.

Elisha: You only hit the ground three times! If you had hit the ground five or six times, then you would have completely ruined the Arameans. But because you only hit the ground three times, you will only defeat Aram three times.

Elisha then died and was laid to rest.

The Moabite bandits used to storm the land every spring. It was expected by the people. During the springtime, while a group of men were out burying a man, they spied a gang of bandits approaching themThey became afraid, so they threw the dead man’s body into Elisha’s grave. As soon as the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisha, the dead man miraculously came back to life and stood up.

This miracle, which is unlike anything else in the Bible, must have happened years after Elisha’s death if nothing is left but his bones. Obviously this demonstrates the amazing power Elisha must have had in life, if simple contact with his remains revives a dead man. The demonstration of Elisha’s power, however, is not the author’s primary intention as he records this story. This story is an illustration of what’s about to happen in Israel; a renaissance is coming through their king, Joash (2 Kings 13:14-21, The Voice).

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Categories: 2 Kings, elisha, joash

Floating Iron

The students of the prophets spoke to Elisha.

Students of the Prophets: The place where we are staying with you is too small for us. Allow us to travel to the Jordan Valley, cut down trees, and build a house there for ourselves.

Elisha: Go.

One of the Students: Will you please travel with us, your servants?

Elisha: Yes, I will go with you.

Elisha traveled with them, and they cut down trees when they arrived at the Jordan. While one of the students was cutting down a tree, the iron of the ax broke off and dropped into the river.

Student of the Prophets (to Elisha): Oh no, master! This ax is not mine! I borrowed it!

Elisha: Where did it drop into the river?

The man showed Elisha where it had dropped into the water, and Elisha took a stick and tossed it into the river. Then the iron of the ax floated to the surface.

Elisha: Get your iron out of the water.

The man then grabbed it (2 Kings 6:1-7, The Voice).

Categories: 2 Kings, elisha, miracle

Naaman’s Healing

Naaman’s master considered him an extraordinary man. He was the military commander of Aram’s army, and he had won many important battles for Aram by the power of the Eternal. Naturally he was greatly esteemed by his king. Naaman was a fierce warrior, but he also had a skin disease. Now one time, the Arameans went out in raiding parties and took a little girl from Israel as their prisoner. The little girl became a servant to Naaman’s wife.

Girl (to Naaman’s wife): If only my master could be near the prophet in Samaria, the prophet there could heal my master’s disease.

Naaman became hopeful, and he went and told his king what the little girl from Israel said.

King of Aram: I am going to write a letter to Israel’s king, and I want you to take it to him immediately.

Naaman left with the king’s letter in his hand, plus 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 sets of fineclothing. Naaman handed the letter to Israel’s king, and the king read it.

King of Aram’s Message: The man carrying this letter is my servant, Naaman. He has a skin disease, and I request that you heal him.

King of Israel (ripping his clothing): Who does he think I am—God? Why does Aram’s king think I have the power to kill and make alive again? What in the world makes him think that I can heal you of your disease? It is obvious that Aram’s king is trying to create trouble between us.

Elisha, the man of God, received word that Israel’s king had ripped his clothing, so he sent a message to Israel’s king.

Elisha’s Message: What has caused you to rip your clothing? Tell the man who has come to you for healing to come to me. Then he will be assured that a prophet lives in Israel.

The king told Naaman to go find Elisha, so Naaman showed up at Elisha’s door with his horses and chariots. Elisha did not show his face to Naaman, but instead sent instructions: “Wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times. The waters will heal you, and your skin will be back to normal. You will be cleansed.” Naaman boiled with anger as he left Elisha. He had come to his house expecting something much different.

Naaman: What is this! I came here thinking that Elisha would come outside and call upon the name of the Eternal One his God, and that Elisha’s hand would pass over my sores and heal my skin disease, not the waters of the Jordan River. The Abanah and Pharpar Rivers in Damascus are greater rivers than all the rivers of Israel combined, so why couldn’t I just go bathe in those and be healed?

Naaman then stormed away, boiling with anger. Later his servants approached and spoke to him with respect.

Naaman’s Servants: Father, if the prophet had told you to do some important thing, wouldn’t you have done what he asked? Why is it difficult for you to follow his instructions when he tells you, “Bathe yourself in the Jordan River, and be cleansed”?

So Naaman swallowed his pride, walked down to the Jordan River, and washed himself seven times, just as the man of God had instructed him to do. There, the miracle occurred. Naaman’s disease was healed: his skin was as new as an infant’s, and he was clean from the disease (2 Kings 5:1-14, The Voice).

Categories: 2 Kings, elisha, Health, Naaman

Elisha’s Miracles

The wife of one of the prophets’ disciples pleaded with Elisha.

Woman: My husband who served you is now dead. He greatly feared the Eternal. You yourself know this to be true. The creditor is now trying to take away my only two children and make them into slaves.

Elisha: What is it that you want me to do? Do you have anything of worth in your house?

Woman: I don’t really have much of anything. The only thing I have in my house that might be of any worth is a jar of oil.

Elisha: Borrow as many large empty containers as you can. Ask neighbors for anything they can give to you. Be sure to collect a lot of them. Then enclose yourself in a room with only you and your sons. Pour oil into as many of the containers as you can. Set aside the full ones.

The widow went away from Elisha and enclosed herself in a room with her sons. One at a time, her sons held a container before her, and she poured. Soon all of the containers were filled.

Woman: Bring me another container.

Son: There aren’t any left.

It was then that the oil ran out. The widow then went back to Elisha, the man of God.

Elisha: Now go sell the oil, and pay the creditor what you owe. Then your children won’t be made into slaves, and you and your sons can live on the remaining money.

One day, Elisha traveled to Shunem. There was a well-known woman who lived there, and she convinced him to eat something. So whenever he walked by her house, he went in and ate.

Shunammite Woman (to her husband): This man, who comes by here frequently to eat, is a holy man of God. Can we please make a little room for him—just a simple setting: a bed, a lamp, a table, and a chair. That way, whenever he comes here, he can rest in his own room and have his privacy.

Elisha went by their house to eat one day, and he went and lay down in the upper room. He spoke to his servant, Gehazi.

Elisha: Tell the Shunammite woman to come here.

So Gehazi called out her name, and she came to him.

Elisha (to Gehazi): Tell her, “You have been fearfully attentive to us. We thank you for all of your care. Now what can I do to repay you? Would you like for me to speak to the king or the military commander on your behalf?”

Shunammite Woman: No, that’s OK. I dwell with my own people.

Elisha (to Gehazi): Is there anything at all that I can do for her?

Gehazi: Actually, her husband is an old man, and she doesn’t have a son.

Elisha: Tell her to come here.

Gehazi called out her name, and she came and stood at the entrance to the room.

Elisha: This time next year, when spring is full of new life, you will hold a son of your own in your arms.

Shunammite Woman: That’s impossible, my lord! You are a man of great integrity, a man of God, so please do not deceive me, your servant.

But that time next year, the Shunammite woman did conceive and deliver a son, just as Elisha said she would. When the child was older, he walked out to his father, who was harvesting the fields with the reapers.

Son (to his father): My head hurts! My head hurts!

Father (to his servant): Take the child inside to his mother.

The servant brought the child inside to his mother; and about noon, while the boy was sitting in his mother’s lap, he died. She took his lifeless body and laid him down on Elisha’s bed. She then closed the door and went away.

Shunammite Woman (to her husband): I beg you to send me a servant and a donkey so that I can go find Elisha, the man of God. As soon as I do, I will come back here.

Father: Why is it that you are so anxious to find him today? Today is not a holy day—a new moon or a Sabbath.

Shunammite Woman: Don’t worry; all will be well.

She prepared the donkey and gave instructions to her servant.

Shunammite Woman: Go quickly! Don’t slow down unless I tell you to.

She rode quickly toward the man of God who was staying about a day away on Mount Carmel. As she approached,Elisha saw her at a distance.

Elisha (to Gehazi): Look! It’s the Shunammite woman. Go quickly to see what she wants. Ask her, “Is everything fine? Is your husband well? Is your son well?”

Shunammite Woman: Everything is fine.

When she approached the man of God at the mountain, she fell to the ground and hugged his feet. Gehazi approached to pull her away, but the man of God stopped him.

Elisha: Leave her be. Her very soul is distressed, but the Eternal has kept her troubles hidden from me.

Shunammite Woman: Was it I who asked for a son? I told you not to mislead me!

Elisha (to Gehazi): Prepare yourself, and carry my staff to where the boy is now. Do not acknowledge any blessing to anyone on your way there. If someone speaks a blessing to you, do not respond. When you get there, lay my staff on the boy’s face.

Shunammite Woman (to Elisha): As certain as the life of the Eternal and your own life, I will not leave without you.

Elisha then stood up and followed her to her house. Gehazi went ahead of them and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but nothing happened. The boy did not move or make a sound. Gehazi went back to Elisha and reported this to him: “The boy did not wake up.”

Elisha arrived at the house and saw the lifeless body of the boy lying on Elisha’s bed. He went into the room, closed the door behind both of them, and prayed to the Eternal. Elisha approached the boy and lay down, placing his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on the boy’s eyes, and his hands on the boy’s hands. He covered the boy with his own body, and warmth returned to the boy’s body. Elisha turned around and paced back and forth in the house, then he went back into the room and covered the boy’s body with his own body. The boy sneezed seven times, and then he opened his eyes.

Elisha (to Gehazi): Tell the Shunammite woman to come here.

Gehazi told the Shunammite woman to go inside the room, and she did.

Elisha: Lift up your son, for he is alive.

She fell to the floor before Elisha’s feet, bowing to the ground, and she wept with happiness. She picked up her son and left the room with him (2 Kings 4:1-37, The Voice).

Elijah Is Taken From Elisha

Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal when the Eternal One planned to snatch Elijah up into the heavens by the power of a fierce dancing wind.

Elijah (to Elisha): I ask you to remain here. The Eternal has commanded me to go all the way to Bethel.

Elisha: As certain as your own life and the life of the Eternal, I refuse to abandon you.

So the two men traveled down to Bethel together, where Elisha was approached by the prophets’ disciples who lived there.

Prophets’ Disciples: Are you aware that the Eternal One is going to snatch Elijah, your mentor, away from you today?

Elisha: Yes, I am aware of this. I want you to keep quiet about it.

Elijah (to Elisha): I beg you to remain here. The Eternal has commanded me to travel to Jericho.

Elisha: As certain as your own life and the life of the Eternal, I refuse to abandon you.

The two men then traveled to Jericho together, where the prophets’ disciples living in Jericho approached Elisha.

Prophets’ Disciples: Are you aware that the Eternal One is going to snatch your mentor away from you today?

Elisha: Yes, I am aware of this. I want you to keep quiet about it.

Elijah (to Elisha): I beg you to remain here. The Eternal One has commanded me to travel to the Jordan River.

Elisha: As certain as your own life and the life of the Eternal, I refuse to abandon you.

So the two men then traveled to the Jordan River together.

While Elijah and Elisha were standing near the Jordan River, 50 of the prophets’ disciples from that area stood at a distance from them on the other side. Elijah removed his cloak and rolled it up; then he struck the water with it, and the water divided. Elijah and Elisha then walked across on dry land. After the two had made it to the other side of the Jordan, Elijah spoke to Elisha.

Elijah: Tell me what it is you would like me to do for you before I am taken away from you.

Elisha: Please, I wish to receive a double portion of your spirit. As your successor, I want to have twice the portion of your power.

Elijah: What you have requested of me is challenging, but it will be done if you witness my departure. But if you do not watch, then you will not have your double portion.

Now as the two continued walking along and talking as they normally did, something incredible happened. A blazing chariot pulled by blazing horses stormed down from the heavens and came between Elijah and Elisha. Then Elijah was swept up into heaven by the fiery storm. Elisha witnessed this amazing spectacle.

Elisha: My father, O my father! The chariots and riders of Israel!

Elijah and Enoch (Genesis 5:24) are the only two men in the Bible to leave earth while they are still alive. Although they are separated by centuries of time, both men are inseparable from God, and both leave quite a legacy: Elijah’s successor, Elisha, continues his mentor’s work, even calling out Elijah’s name for help. Enoch’s son, Methuselah, lives longer than anyone else ever has, which is proof that he, too, lives properly.

Elisha never saw Elijah again. Elisha grabbed the clothes he was wearing, and he ripped them in half. He picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had dropped to the ground when he was taken up into heaven, and then he went back to the Jordan riverbank and stood. He struck the water with the cloak.

Elisha: Where is the Eternal One? Where is Elijah’s True God?

After Elisha struck the water, the Jordan River divided, just as when Elijah had struck the waters. Elisha then walked across on dry land.

The prophets’ disciples at Jericho standing on the opposite shore were watching this.

Prophets’ Disciples: Elijah’s powerful spirit now rests upon Elisha. Elijah’s cloak now clothes Elisha.

Then the prophets’ disciples at Jericho approached Elisha and humbled themselves before him.

Prophets’ Disciples: There are 50 strong men along with us, your servants, who could go looking for your mentor. Perhaps the Spirit of the Eternal inside the whirlwind swept Elijah up into heaven and left him on some mountaintop or in some valley of the lowlands.

Elisha: That won’t be necessary.

But they kept asking his permission for a search, and he felt ashamed, so he finally agreed. They sent out a search party of 50 men who spent three days looking for Elijah, but they found no trace of him. The search party came back to Elisha while he was still in Jericho.

Elisha: I told you not to go. He’s gone from the earth (2 Kings 2:1-18, The Voice).

Categories: 1 kings, elijah, elisha

Elisha Joins Elijah as Apprentice

Elijah journeyed to find Elisha (Shaphat’s son). He found Elisha in the field where 12 pairs of oxen were being worked. Elisha was with the last pair. Elijah wrapped his cloak, his token of spiritual power, around Elisha, and Elisha abandoned his oxen and chased after Elijah.

Elisha: Before I leave, allow me to tell my parents goodbye, and then I will journey with you.

Elijah: Go then. Tell them goodbye. What have I done to you?

Elisha realizes that Elijah is questioning his devotion—will he stay with his parents or become a prophet? Elisha demonstrates his devotion to God by destroying his livelihood.

Elisha returned, but not to his parents. He killed his oxen, then he used the equipment (harness, yoke, and reigns) to prepare a fire and cook all the ox meat. He offered the food to everyone, and they feasted. Elisha then joined Elijah and became his apprentice (1 Kings 19:19-21, The Voice).

Categories: 1 kings, elijah, elisha

Character Study: Elisha

The name Elisha appears in The Voice version of the Bible 117 times.

When I think of Elisha, I think of how he cursed the teenagers who made fun of his baldness and caused them to be attacked by bears.

This person is not an idealized archetype. He’s a real person with some great and some awful characteristics.

Categories: character study, elisha
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