2 Kings 2
Wind carries Elijah away
Elijah’s walk into the wind1Elijah and Elisha were walking, leaving the town of Gilgal,  when the LORD decided to sweep Elijah up in a windstorm.
2But before that happened, Elijah told Elisha, “I want you to stay here. The LORD is sending me on to Bethel.” Elisha said, “Not a chance. As sure as you’re standing here alive and as sure as the LORD lives, I won’t leave you.” And he didn’t. They walked together to Bethel. 3A community of prophets lived in the town. They cornered Elisha and asked, “Did you know the LORD is taking your teacher away today?” Elisha said, “Yes, but keep your voices down. And don’t bring this up again.”
4Elijah told Elisha, “I want you to stay here. The LORD is sending me on to Jericho.” Elisha said, “Still, not a chance. As sure as you and the LORD are alive, I’m not leaving you.” He didn’t. They walked together to Jericho. 5There was a community of prophets in Jericho, too. They cornered Elisha and said, “Do you know that today is the day the LORD will take your teacher away?” Elisha said, “Yes I know, but keep quiet about it.”
6Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here. The LORD is sending me down to the Jordan River.” Elisha said, “Sorry, but no. As sure as you and the LORD are alive, I’m sticking with you.” So the two walked toward the river. 7Fifty prophets followed them at a distance all the way to the river.
Elijah stops the Jordan River8Elijah rolled up his cloak and tapped it on the water, which opened a path across the river. Both prophets walked dry-footed to the other side of the river.
9Finally, Elijah spoke about what the two had been avoiding. He said, “What can I do for you before I leave?” Elisha said, “Please, let me be the one to inherit the position you’re leaving behind.” 
10Elijah said, “Well, that’s a tough one. But I’ll tell you this. If you’re permitted to see me leaving, you’ll get what you’re asking. But if you don’t, you won’t.” 
Elijah up11As they walked, horses of fire  pulling a chariot of fire charged at the men—driving between them and separating them. Then a powerful wind knocked Elijah off his feet and carried him into the sky. 
12Elisha screamed over and over, “Father! Father! Israel’s chariots and calvary!” When he lost sight of Elijah, he ripped his robe in grief.
A new prophet in Israel13Elisha picked up the cloak Elijah dropped, and he walked back to the Jordan River. 14As Elijah had done, Elisha tapped the cloak into the water. Then he said, “LORD, God of Elijah, are you here?” A path opened for him, and he crossed the river dry-footed. 
15Prophets who had been watching this from Jericho’s side of the river saw Elisha approaching. They said, “The ministry  of Elijah now rests on Elisha’s shoulders.” When they reached Elisha, they bowed low in respect.
Search party: Looking for Elijah16The prophets told Elisha, “We’ve got 50 strong men here who can search for Elijah. Let’s form a search party and look for him. Perhaps the LORD who lifted him up later dropped him on a mountain or in a valley.” Elisha said, “Don’t do that.” 17But they pushed him so hard that it got embarrassing. So he finally said, “Go ahead.” Fifty men search for three days. No success.
18Elisha had waited at Jericho for them. When they got back, he said, “I told you so, didn’t I?”
Elisha blesses water and curses boys19Citizens of Jericho told Elisha, “You can see that this city has a good location. But the water is bad, and the land is unfriendly to crops.” 20Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl, and toss some salt in there.” They did.
21He walked to a spring of water and threw in a little salt. Then he said, “This comes from the LORD: I have made this water healthy for you. It won’t kill you or cause miscarriage.” 22Water has been good ever since Elisha blessed it with those words. It’s still good today.
Bear attack23Elisha walked up out of the river valley to Bethel. Along the way some boys made fun of him. They said, “Get outta here, Baldy. Take that bald head and get going.”
24Elisha turned around, gave them a stern look, and put a curse  on them, invoking the LORD’s name. Momma bears thundered out of the woods and mauled daylight into 42 boys.
25Elisha continued his journey, which took him to Mount Carmel, on the other side of Israel. Then he went back home to Samaria. 
Gilgal’s location is unclear. Joshua 4:19 puts it on Canaan’s border and identifies it as Israel’s staging camp before they launched the attack on Jericho. But Deuteronomy 11:30 seems to put it near the center of Canaan, close to Shechem and the sacred oaks of Moreh that Abraham passed by, as reported in Genesis 12:6. If Gilgal was within a few miles of Jericho, it would have been about 10 miles (16 km) east of Bethel. Shechem was roughly 20 miles (32 km) north of Bethel.
A more literal, yet cryptic way of translating Elisha: “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” It sounds like Elisha is asking for the right of the oldest son to receive twice as much as any of his younger brothers, and to become the Alpha Male leader of the extended family (Deuteronomy 21:17). Bible writers seemed to describe Elijah as the Number One prophet of his day—leader of the scattered communities of prophets. Elisha wanted to take Elijah’s place. Many scholars say, Elisha wasn’t asking for twice the miracle-working power of Elijah, or double Elijah’s Spirit of God. He wanted to fill the job opening. He wanted the “spirit,” in Hebrew the ruah. It’s a word that can mean “breath” or “wind” or “a spiritual being.” Maybe the term hinted that he wanted the words from heaven, he wanted to deliver God’s message. It’s ironic that the word can also mean “wind,” given what happens to Elijah.
With this approach, Elijah tossed the ball to God. God would make the decision about what to do.
Bible stories about God often include fire and wind. The stories of the Hebrew exodus out of slavery in Egypt have Moses talking to a burning bush (Exodus 3) and the people crossing a sea after an all-night wind blew back the water (Exodus 14).
Scholars don’t agree about how to explain what just happened. Was it a theophany—a physical expression of a spiritual or celestial event? Was it physical and literal—horses that could toast a hotdog? Was it physical and metaphorical—lightning and a tornado or maybe an intense thunderstorm associated with a powerful dust storm? Or was it a vision of heaven’s military carrying Elijah away. What remains of the story is the teaching that Elijah never died. Jews today set a cup of wine out for Elijah at every annual Passover meal known as a seder. Some teach that Elijah will come before the Messiah comes, as one prophet seemed to predict (Malachi 4:5). Jesus later taught that John the Baptist fulfilled that prophecy (Matthew 11:14).
This sounds like a spin-off story or spin-off miracle or both from the story in Joshua 3, with the Israelites finally crossing into the Promised Land. Here, Elijah is headed to a different Promised Land. Some scholars say this miracle was God’s way of confirming Elisha had become Elijah’s successor. And it could have been Elisha’s deliberate way of getting confirmation if he needed it. And his question to God seems to suggest he did.
The Hebrew word for “ministry” is ruah, which has many meanings: breath, wind, spiritual essence of a person, spirit being. In the context of the story, the prophets seemed to recognize that Elijah’s ministry as Israel’s leading prophet had just fallen to Elijah’s apprentice, Elisha.
A “curse” is the opposite of what Elisha had just done when he blessed the Jericho spring. His words healed the water and hurt the boys. He didn’t throw out the babies with the bathwater. He kept the bathwater. It’s hard to knowhow Elisha cursed the boys. Maybe he did it our way, with purple words. Maybe it was a ritual collection of words. Maybe it was just a prayer for a little payback. The bears, on the other hand, may have cared nothing about Elisha’s words but a lot about the boys playing near the bear cubs.
Samaria was the capital of the northern Jewish nation of Israel. It had been ever since King Ahab’s father, Omri, built the city. Shechem and Tirzah had been capitals of earlier dynasties.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.