Elijah and Elisha
- Between them, Elijah and Elisha prophesied
for 50-80 years.
- Elijah means "Yahweh is my god (el)."
- Elijah prophesied while Ahab was king and
Jezebel was queen.
- Baal was thought to be the god of rain but
when Elijah proclaimed a drought, Baal was found
to be impotent.
- Ravens fed Elijah twice a day during the drought
(poor people were fortunate to eat one meal
- Zarephath in Sidon was deep in Baal country
(Jezebel was also from Sidon).
- In a patriarchal society, widows were particularly
vulnerable, but when Elijah asked her for help,
she was willing to oblige.
- When the widow's son died, Elijah prayed and
God restored him.
- It is not known why Elijah stretched himself
out on the lad.
- Ahab and his servant were out looking for
grass for their cattle, when the servant met
- Ahab's servant had hidden 100 of Yahweh's
prophets from Ahab.
- Ahab blamed the drought on Elijah, calling
him a troublemaker for Israel.
- Elijah proposed a contest between Yahweh and
hundreds of Baal's best prophets.
- Mount Carmel was about 17 miles away from
- The people in attendance were very confused,
not knowing which god to follow.
- When Baal didn't answer his prophets, Elijah
mocked him, saying maybe he was sleeping and
they should yell louder.
- Elijah doused his altar with water: he didn't
want anyone to think it happened spontaneously.
- Yahweh answered Elijah's simple prayer without
the need for incantations or rituals.
- Part of Elijah's prayer was that the people
would be converted, that they would see and
follow the true God.
- In this "winners take all" contest,
Baal's prophets were killed.
- Following this demonstration of Yahweh's power,
the drought ended.
- Elijah raced Ahab home, so convinced was he
that the "war" was over.
- Elijah misjudged Jezebel's anger and resolve,
so he ran for his life to Beersheba in the southern
part of Judah, out of the land under Ahab's
- Exhausted and afraid, Elijah was ready to
- The Lord had other plans and sent an angel
to feed him -- twice.
- It took him forty days to get from there to
- "A still small voice" could also
be translated as "the sound of deep silence."
- Whatever the translation, it certainly got
- He still complained, however, that he was
the only one left to worship the Lord.
- God refused to accept his resignation as prophet.
- God's response was to give him three directives:
Anoint a new king of Syria, a new king of Israel,
and Elisha as his own successor. Elijah only
completed the third task, though even here he
did not anoint Elisha, but gave him his mantle.
- This was enough because Elisha knew he was
- Elisha was out plowing with twelve men and
oxen - a statement indicating great wealth.
- After Ahab stole Naboth's property, Elijah
was commissioned to pronounce judgment on him
- When it was time for Elijah to go, Elisha
refused to stay behind. First they went to Bethel,
then Jericho, then Jordan.
- At each point, groups of prophets prophesied
that Elijah would leave.
- With his cloak, Elijah also parted the waters
of the Jordan and he and Elisha crossed over
on dry ground (reminds us of Moses and Joshua).
- Elisha was very upset when Elijah was carried
up to heaven in a whirlwind.
- There is no parallel or precedent for this
happening to anyone else in the Bible.
- Elisha's father and locale were known.
- Elisha means "my God saves."
- Elisha used Elijah's cloak to part the waters
of the Jordan River, just like Elijah had done.
- The two stories that follow illustrated to
Elisha that he was being offered a choice between
good and evil.
- The people of the city needed fresh water
- they got it.
- Young boys taunted Elisha; they were punished.
- Elisha acted as theological advisor for Jehoram
in the battle against Moab.
- He only agreed to help because the Judahite
king was also involved.
- The successful battle further established
his credentials as Elijah's successor.
- Like Elijah, Elisha encountered a widow who
- That she was able to fill pots with oil without
Elisha even being present only heightened his
- Elisha's promise that the Shunammite woman
would have a son echoed God's promise to Abraham
- When that son died, the woman had complete
faith in Elisha, telling him (against all evidence
to the contrary) "it is well."
- But she also complained that he gave her a
son only to deceive her (compare the mother's
complaint against Elijah in 1Kings 17:18).
- Elisha's servant could not restore the child.
- Like Elijah, Elisha also lay upon the child,
and prayed, and the child was restored.
- The third in this series of life-giving miracles
was when Elisha overcame "death in the
pot" during a famine. People were able
to eat freely.
- Lastly, Elisha multiplied twenty loaves of
bread to feed over 100 men (compare Jesus' multiplication
of loaves and fishes).
- The incident with Naaman (captain of the host
of the king of Syria) brought international
stature to Elisha.
- Naaman was used to dealing with top-level
people so he went to the king of Israel first
for healing for his condition of leprosy.
- The king of Israel had nothing to offer and
immediately "rent his clothes" (a
typical sign of mourning), thinking there would
- Elisha took pity on the king and offered to
- When Naaman appeared at his door, he sent
out a messenger with a simple message - go wash
in the Jordan seven times.
- This was humiliating because the Jordan was
considered to be a "lesser" river.
- Nonetheless, when he was obedient, Naaman
was cleansed of leprosy.
- Elisha refused Naaman's generous offer to
- Unfortunately, Gehazi did not.
- Unlike many of the other parallels in the
life of Elisha, he is the only one in the Bible
who "made iron float." (See 2 Kings
- Because of Gehazi's earlier misconduct in
taking payment from Naaman, it is not known
which servant was with Elisha when the Syrian
army surrounded him.
- In the face of overwhelming odds and immediate
danger, Elisha told his servant "Fear not:
for they that be with us are more than they
that be with them." (2 Kings 6:16)
- Almost immediately the Syrian army was struck
blind, and Elisha led them to Samaria - the
capital of the northern kingdom.
- Elisha insisted that the Syrian army, though
captive, be treated well, fed, and allowed to
return home. "And they warred no more against
- The treaty, however, was short lived.
- Shortly thereafter, the Syrians instituted
a siege against Samaria.
- When all seemed lost and the king was about
to kill him, Elisha predicted it would end "tomorrow."
It did. The Syrians vanished without a fight.
- Elisha was further validated through a second
party conversation between Gehazi and the king.
Just as he was telling the king about the Shunammite
woman's son, she walked in and confirmed everything.
In return, she was blessed because the king
restored her land to her.
- Elisha fulfilled Elijah's commission to anoint
Hazael as king of Syria.
- He wept as he did so, because he could foresee
the pain and suffering Hazael would inflict
on the people of Israel.
- Next he sent a messenger with oil to anoint
the head of Jehu as king over Israel (Elijah's
- It was Jehu who brought the dynasty of the
House of Omri to an end, as well as the demise
- On his deathbed, Elisha gave prophetic signs
regarding the course of events with Syria -
they would win some early battles, but eventually
they would be defeated by the Assyrians.
- As soon as Elisha passed on, the bands of
Moabites invaded the land.
- Even in his death, Elisha had one more life-saving
act to perform.
- When a corpse was also thrown into Elisha's
grave, he was restored to life the minute his
body touched Elisha's bones. (Another tribute
to the life-giving stature of Elisha).
Alter, Robert and Frank Kermode. The Literary Guide to the Bible. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. 1987.
Auld, A.Graeme. "I & II Kings." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1986.
Brueggeman, Walter. "1 & 2 Kings." Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys. 2000.
Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995
Nelson, Richard. "I & II Kings." Interpretation. Atlanta: John Knox Press. 1987.
Provan, Iain. "1 and 2 Kings." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
Rice, Gene. "1 Kings, Nations Under God." The International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1990.