2 Kings 4
Elisha resuscitates dead boy
Miraculous jar of olive oil1The widow of a prophet who had been part of a community of prophets came to Elisha with a problem. She said, “My husband worked for you and was devoted to the LORD. But he’s dead now and we’re in debt. Someone is already threatening to take my two children, to cover the debt.”
2Elisha said, “Let’s think about what I can do to help. What do you have at home?” She said, “Nothing worth much of anything. I do have a jar of olive oil.”
3Elisha said, “I want you to go to your friends and neighbors. Borrow as many empty jugs, jars, and bowls as you can find. I’m not talking about a few containers. Get as many as you can lay your hands on.” 4Take them inside the house. Take your children in there with you. Then shut the door and start pouring your jar of olive oil into those containers. When you fill a container, set it aside and go to the next one.”
5She went home, shut the door, and got to work. She filled one container after another. 6After she filled the last container, she told her son, “Bring me the next one.” He said, “Mom, there is no next one.” That’s when the oil stopped flowing from her original jug.
7The widow went to Elisha and told him what happened. He said, “Okay, now sell that oil and pay off your debts. You and your boys can live off the rest of the income.”
Hospitable lady of Shunem8One day when Elisha was passing through the town of Shunem,  a rich woman invited him to eat a meal with her family. Her home became a frequent stop whenever he came to town.
9She told her husband, “I’m sure this man who often passes through town is someone devoted to God, a holy man. 10Let’s build a guest room for him up on the roof. He’ll have a roof over his head, a bed, table, chair, and an oil lamp. Then he can stay here whenever he comes our way.”
A son for the lady11One day Elisha was up there in the guest room, lying in bed. 12He told his servant, Gehazi, “Ask the lady of Shunem to come up here.” She came and stood in front of him at the door.
13Elisha told Gehazi, “Tell the lady this for me: You have gone to a lot of trouble for us. What can we do for you? Would you like me to deliver a message to the king for you, or perhaps to the commander of Israel’s army?”  She said, “My people are here, in this town.”
14Elisha later asked Gehazi, “What can we do for this woman?” Gehazi said, “Well, she has an old husband and no son.”  15Elisha said, “Ask her to come and see me.” She came up and stood at the door. 16Elisha told her, “This time next year, you’ll be holding your son.” She said, “Dear sir, I know you’re a man of God. But that’s not possible. Don’t toy with me about this.” 17The woman got pregnant and gave birth to a son, just as Elisha predicted.
The boy dies18When the boy grew older, he went out in the fields where his father was working. 19He told his father, “I have a terrible headache!” The father told one of his workers, “Carry this boy back to his mother right away.”
20The worker carried the child back. And the boy lay on his mother's lap until about noon, when he died. 21The woman took the boy up to Elisha’s guest room. She lay him on the bed, closed the door, and left.
The mother races to Elisha at Mount Carmel22She told her husband, “Send me one of the servants. I want a donkey. I'm going to visit the holy man, then I'll be back.” 
23Her husband said, “Why would you go there today? This isn't the Sabbath or the New Moon Festival”  She didn’t argue. All she said was “Shalom.”  24She saddled the donkey and told her servant, “Lead the donkey on a fast pace. Don’t slow down for me unless I tell you to.”
25She caught up with Elisha on Mount Carmel.  Elisha saw her coming and he told Gehazi, “Look at that. Here comes the woman from Shunem. 26Run to her and ask her if she's okay. Ask her if her husband is okay. Ask her if the boy is okay.” She told Gehazi, “Shalom.”
27But when she reached Elisha on the mountain, she grabbed him by his feet. Gehazi stepped toward her to push her away. But Elisha said, “No. Leave her alone. She’s deeply upset about something, and I don't know what it is. The LORD hasn't told me.”
Elisha rushes to Shunem28She said, “Did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you not to toy with me about this?”
29Elisha told Gehazi, “Get dressed for traveling. I want you to take my staff and go to her house. Don't stop for anyone. If you meet someone, say nothing. Keep going. If someone greets you, don't answer. Keep going. I want you to lay my staff on the boy’s face.”
30That was not good enough for the mother. She told Elisha, “As sure as you and the LORD are alive, I'm not leaving here without you.” Elisha got up and they all left. 31Gehazi went ahead of them. He laid Elisha’s staff on the boy's face, but nothing happened. The boy didn’t move or make a sound. Gehazi went back and said, “The child didn’t wake up.”
Elisha resuscitates the boy32When Elisha reached the house, he saw the child lying dead on the bed. 33Elisha went in the room and shut the door on the other two. He prayed to the LORD.
34Then he climbed onto the bed and on top of the boy. Elisha put his mouth on the boy's mouth. And he lay with his eyes above the boy's eyes and his hands on the boy's hands. The boy grew warm again.
35Elisha got off the bed and walked around the room a bit. Then he lay on the boy once more. The child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. 36Elisha called in Gehazi and said, “Bring the woman from Shunem in here.” So Gehazi called her in. When she stepped into the room, Elisha said, “Here's your boy. You can take him.”
37The woman dropped at Elisha’s feet and bowed, with her face to the ground. Then she got up and took her son and left.
Poisonous pot of stew38Elisha traveled to the city of Gilgal when there was a famine in the region. He met with the community of prophets who lived there. And he told his servant, “Put on a big pot of stew for the group.”
39So one of the prophets went out into the field to pick some herbs. He found a wild vine that had gourds growing on it. He had no idea what the gourds were. But he took as many as he could carry. Then he came back and cut them up and put them in the pot of stew.
40As the prophets started eating, someone screamed to Elisha, “Prophet, there's poison in this pot.” They couldn't eat any of it. 41Elisha said, “Bring me some flour.” He threw a little flour into the pot of stew and said, “Okay, it's good to eat.” And the stew was safe. 
Elisha feeds 100 with 20 loaves42A man from the town of Baal-Shalishah  brought some food to Elijah: 20 loaves of barley  bread along with fresh grain in a sack. This came from the first of his harvest. Elijah said, “Give it to the people here to eat.”
43But Elisha's servant said, “We have 100 people here. How can we feed them with so little food?” Elisha said again. “Give it to the people so they can eat it. The LORD says they will eat this food and there will be leftovers.” 
44The servant served the food. The people ate it. And there were leftovers, just as the LORD said there would be.
Shunem, now called Sulam, is a town in the heart of the sprawling Jezreel Valley, a place French General Napoleon once called the perfect battlefield. Many major battles have been fought there. Jezreel Valley was and still is Israel’s most productive farmland. It’s called the “Breadbasket of Israel.” Crops today include beans, chickpeas, wheat, cotton, oranges, squash, corn, and watermelon to name a few. There’s also plenty of grass for livestock. First-century Jewish historian Josephus described the area this way: “The land is so rich in soil and pastures and produces such a variety of trees, that even the laziest people are tempted to take up farming there. In fact, every bit of soil has been cultivated by the inhabitants. There’s not a plug of ground going to waste. There are a lot of towns there, with a lot of people because the land is so fertile. The smallest towns have at least 15,000 people each.”
Was Elisha name-dropping for his own ego? Or was he essentially saying, “I have a lot of influence. Is there something I can do to use that influence to help you?” The writer doesn’t answer those questions.
Gehazi was painting this woman as a widow-to-be. Widows with no sons didn’t do well in the patriarchal age, when men were men and everyone else was pitifully less. Women were considered like minors today—not legally permitted to own property or run a business. They needed a man. Jewish law encouraged a brother of the dead man to marry the widow, as a form of social security (Deuteronomy 25:4-6). People called this a levirate marriage.
Well, that’s a surprising thing to say. What happened to, “Our son just died”? Clearly, she thought Elisha could revive the boy. And perhaps she thought her husband might get in the way.
We can only guess what her husband was talking about. Perhaps Elisha accepted visitors only on the Sabbath or on the monthly New Moon observance. Jews in Bible times followed a lunar calendar, with every month starting at the first tiny crescent after the new moon. A new moon is when the moon is hidden behind earth’s shadow for one day. The sun, moon, and earth are aligned, with earth in the middle, and the moon in the shade.
This is the Hebrew word for “peace.” In the context of what the husband said, she may have intended something like, “It’s okay.” Or maybe, “See you later, fella.”
Mount Carmel was roughly 25 miles (40 km) west of Shunem. That’s a hard day’s ride on a donkey.
Don’t try this at home.
Location unknown. Bethlehem is one of many guesses.
Barley was one of the earliest crops harvested. Farmers harvested flax and barley in March and April, then wheat in May through July.
Jesus later fed crowds with very little food, too. He collected leftovers, as well (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9).
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