Elisha

2 Kings 2-3; 2 Kings 4; 2 Kings 5; 2 Kings 6:1-7; Hebrews 1:13-14; 2 Kings 6:8; 2 Kings 7; 1 Kings 21:23-24; 2 Kings 8-9; Daniel 12:2; 2 Kings 13:14-21; Luke 4:27
Son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah. Elijah was instructed by God to anoint Elisha to be prophet in his stead. Elijah cast his mantle over him, but we do not read of the anointing: doubtless it was realized in receiving a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elisha was not prepared then to take up Elijah’s mantle, but first he made a feast for his people, and then he followed Elijah and ministered unto him. When God was about to take Elijah to Himself, it became known to the sons of the prophets, and they told Elisha, but he knew it already; and when Elijah suggested to him to remain behind he refused and followed him from place to place, until he had traversed Jordan (figuratively death) with Elijah. Being thus proved to be knit together in spirit, Elijah asked Elisha what he should do for him before he was taken. Elisha said, “Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” Elijah replied that, though he had asked a hard thing, it should be so if he saw him when he was taken up. A chariot and horses of fire separated them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven; and Elisha saw it. Elisha took up the mantle that fell from Elijah, which before he had failed to do, and went to the Jordan and smote it with the mantle, and the waters divided, and he passed over into the land, with the spirit of the ascended Elijah resting on him.
Elisha’s first miracle was healing the waters at Jericho, the cursed city, by means of salt in a new cruse: type of the purifying power of grace. His mission was grace as from an ascended one; the waters were permanently healed, and the ground was no longer barren. But as he went to Bethel some boys out of the city mocked him, saying, “Go up, thou bald head.” He cursed them in the name of the Lord, and two she bears tore forty-two of them. God vindicated the authority of His servant. Elisha had come as it were from heaven, into which Elijah had entered, and he came in grace, and if this was despised, judgment must follow, as it will be with Israel by-and-by. Elisha went to Carmel, where the priests of Baal had been destroyed, and thence to Samaria, the seat of the apostasy, and where his testimony was most needed. Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Jehoram king of Israel, and the king of Edom, to attack Moab; but they had no water. Elisha was sought for, and he boldly told Jehoram to go to the gods of his father and mother: if Jehoshaphat had not been there he would not have helped them, nevertheless there was grace for them. Ditches, or pits were made, and in the morning the valley was full of water; victory over Moab followed (2 Kings 2-3)
A widow of one of the prophets appealed to Elisha to save her two sons from the grasp of a creditor. She had nothing but a pot of oil. She was told to borrow vessels “not a few,” and fill them with oil. On her doing this the oil was increased until there was not a vessel more to fill. Thus according to her faith in borrowing was her supply from God. The creditor was paid, and she and her sons lived on the remainder, showing how God far exceeded her request.
A great woman at Shunem bestowed hospitality on Elisha, and provided a chamber for his use whenever he passed that way. For this she was rewarded with a son; but when grown old enough to go into the fields he died. The woman laid him on Elisha’s bed, and hastened to inform him of what had happened, but piously added “It is well.” Elisha returned with the woman, and the child was raised to life and restored to his mother. Thus was manifested the power of God over death and a broken heart was bound up.
Two more miracles followed. In gathering herbs for a meal because of the dearth, a poisonous weed was included and there was “death in the pot.” Elisha cast in some meal, and the pottage was cured. The other miracle was the increase of the bread so that a hundred men were supplied from twenty loaves, or cakes, and there was some left: similar to the Lord feeding the multitudes when He was on earth (2 Kings 4).
The next miracle was healing Naaman the Syrian of leprosy. This was grace extending beyond the land, even to their enemies. Naaman had to be humbled as well as blessed, and to learn that there was “no God in all the earth but in Israel,” as he himself confessed. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, was, alas, tempted with a lie in his mouth to take of the Syrian some of the presents which he had brought for Elisha, but which had been refused. This was revealed to Elisha, and the leprosy of Naaman cleaved to Gehazi and to his seed. The one nearest to the means of blessing, if he turns from it, suffers most. Elisha next made the iron head of the ax to swim, thus reversing the laws of nature: the ax was borrowed, and the trust must not be violated (2 Kings 5; 2 Kings 6:1-71And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. 2Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye. 3And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. 4So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. 5But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed. 6And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. 7Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it. (2 Kings 6:1‑7)).
The Syrians had now to learn a lesson of the power of the God of Israel, but still in grace. They laid traps for the king of Israel, but Elisha warned him again and again of the danger, and he escaped. On this being made known to the king of Syria he sent an army to seize Elisha. He was at Dothan, and they compassed the city. Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes might be opened to see that they were surrounded with horses and chariots of fire which were otherwise invisible (compare Heb. 1:13-1413But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:13‑14)). The army was then smitten with blindness, led to Samaria, fed with bread and water, and dismissed to their master with the wonderful tale. It was no use laying plots against people whose God protected them like this. “The bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel”; that is, the marauding bands that laid plots to seize the king; for immediately we read that Ben-hadad king of Syria came with a great army and besieged Samaria. The famine became so severe that a woman’s child was boiled and eaten. The king was greatly moved at this and threatened to take the life of Elisha, apparently linking the famine with God’s servant. This was revealed to Elisha as he sat in the house. The king followed the messenger and apparently he said, “This evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?” Elisha had a message of deliverance: by the next day a measure of fine flour should be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for the same. An unbelieving lord scoffed at this; but he saw it, though he did not eat of it, for he was trampled to death in the crowd. Thus judgment followed unbelief in the gracious provision of God (2 Kings 6:88Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp. (2 Kings 6:8)—2 Kings 7).
Elisha prophesied that there would be a seven years’ famine, and he told the Shunammite woman to sojourn where she could during the time. She dwelt among the Philistines seven years, and on her return she cried to the king for the restoration of her house and land. God so ordered it that just at that time Gehazi was relating to the king the great things that Elisha had done. He recognized the woman as the one whose son Elisha, had raised, and the king ordered the restoration of her property.
The prophet went to Damascus, and Ben-hadad, being sick, sent Hazael to inquire if he should recover. The answer was that he might certainly recover, yet he should die: an apparent enigma; but it was fully explained by Hazael causing his death when he would otherwise have recovered. Elisha prophesied that Hazael would be king over Syria, and he wept as he told the dreadful things he would do to Israel. Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel: he was to execute God’s judgment on the house of Ahab and on Jezebel, which had been prophesied by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23-2423And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. 24Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat. (1 Kings 21:23‑24)). What had been foretold Jehu fulfilled (2 Kings 8-9).
The time now approached for Elisha’s death. He was sick and Joash king of Israel went to visit him. Elisha prophesied that Joash should smite the Syrians till they were consumed, but he was angry with the king’s want of energy and said he should smite them but three times. Elisha’s work was now done and he died and was buried. When a corpse was let down into the same tomb, as soon as it touched the bones of Elisha life was restored. Type that though Israel is now dead towards God (Compare Dan. 12:22And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)), when they are brought into connection with God’s true Prophet they will be restored to life as unexpectedly and as powerfully. As we have seen, Elisha’s mission was grace, and his history to the end is stamped with the power of life (2 Kings 13:14-2114Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. 15And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. 16And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands. 17And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord's deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. 18And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. 19And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice. 20And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. 21And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet. (2 Kings 13:14‑21)). He is called ELISEUS in Luke 4:2727And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. (Luke 4:27).