2 Kings 1
Ahaziah’s Messengers Meet Elijah
Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. Ahaziah [the king of Israel] fell through the lattice (grid) in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became sick [from the injury]. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of [a]Ekron, if I will recover from this sickness.” But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the [b]Tishbite, “[c]Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You [Ahaziah] will not leave the bed on which you lie, but you will certainly die.’” So Elijah departed.
When the messengers returned to Ahaziah, he said to them, “Why have you returned [so soon]?” They replied, “A man came up to meet us and said to us, ‘Go, return to the king who sent you and tell him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you send to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed on which you lie, but you will certainly die.’”’” The king asked them, “What was the appearance of the man who came up to meet you and said these things to you?” They answered him, “He was a [d]hairy man with a [wide] leather [e]band bound around his loins.” And Ahaziah said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
Then the king sent to Elijah a captain of fifty with his fifty [fighting men to seize the prophet]. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of a hill. And the captain said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “So if I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty [fighting men].” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
So King Ahaziah again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty [fighting men]. And he said to him, “Man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’” Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty [fighting men].” And the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
So Ahaziah again sent a captain of a third fifty with his fifty [fighting men]. And the third captain of fifty went up and came bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him [for compassion] and said to him, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of your servants, these fifty, be precious in your sight. Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.” The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he stood and went down with him to the king. Then Elijah said to Ahaziah, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Since you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word?—therefore you will not leave the bed on which you lie, but will certainly die.’”
Jehoram Reigns over Israel
So Ahaziah [the son of King Ahab] died in accordance with the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And because he had no son, Jehoram [his younger brother] became king [of Israel, the northern kingdom] in his place in the [f]second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah [the southern kingdom]. Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?
- 2 Kings 1:2 One of the five major Philistine cities, located in the north.
- 2 Kings 1:3 The location of the town of Tishbe is uncertain, but some believe it was located within the tribal territory of Gad.
- 2 Kings 1:3 The Hebrew verb “to stand” or “arise” is often an instruction to get ready to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”
- 2 Kings 1:8 Most likely a reference to Elijah’s hairy outer garment made of goat, sheep, or camel skin.
- 2 Kings 1:8 The band or girdle worn by men during this time was not like a modern belt that is worn around the waist. This band was about six inches wide and had clasps or fasteners in front. It was worn around the loins (the midsection of the body between the lower ribs and the hips) and was normally made of leather. Expensive or embroidered girdles were also worn and were made of cotton, flax or silk. The girdle also served as a kind of pocket or pouch and was used to carry personal items such as a dagger, money or other necessary things.
- 2 Kings 1:17 During the last five years of Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah, his son Jehoram was co-regent with him. This refers to the second year of the co-regency.
2 Kings 2
Elijah Taken to Heaven
When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Now the [a]sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you today?” He said, “Yes, I know it; be quiet [about it].”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; be quiet [about it].” Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.
Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood opposite them [to watch] at a distance; and the two of them stood by the Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle (coat) and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they were divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
And when they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let a double [b]portion of your spirit be upon me.” He said, “You have asked for a difficult thing. However, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” As they continued along and talked, behold, a chariot of fire with horses of fire [appeared suddenly and] separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” And he no longer saw Elijah. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces [in grief]. He picked up the mantle of Elijah that fell off him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he too had struck the waters, they divided this way and that, and Elisha crossed over.
Elisha Succeeds Elijah
When the sons of the prophets who were [watching] opposite at Jericho saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him [in respect]. Then they said to Elisha, “Behold now, there are among your servants fifty strong men; please let them go and search for your master. It may be that the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send anyone.” But when they urged him until he was embarrassed [to refuse them], he said, “Send them.” So they sent fifty men, and they searched for three days but did not find Elijah. They returned to Elisha while he was staying at Jericho; and he said to them, “Did I not tell you, ‘Do not go’?”
Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, this city is in a pleasant place, as my lord [Elisha] sees; but the water is bad and the land [c]is barren.” He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put [d]salt in it.” So they brought it to him. Then Elisha went to the spring of water and threw the salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I [not the salt] have purified and healed these waters; there shall no longer be death or barrenness because of it.’” So the waters have been purified to this day, in accordance with the word spoken by Elisha.
Then Elisha went up from Jericho to [e]Bethel. On the way, young boys came out of the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you [f]baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” When he turned around and looked at them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore to pieces forty-two of the boys. Elisha went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
- 2 Kings 2:3 I.e. a group or association of prophets.
- 2 Kings 2:9 Lit mouthful.
- 2 Kings 2:19 Or causes miscarriages.
- 2 Kings 2:20 Salt was sometimes considered a symbol of God’s faithfulness and His purifying power.
- 2 Kings 2:23 Many people in Bethel participated in pagan worship and regarded the prophets of God with contempt.
- 2 Kings 2:23 This refers to a bald space on the back of the head, which was probably shaved by prophets as a symbol of their sacred separation from ordinary life. So it appears that the boys were not only ridiculing Elisha’s baldness, but his prophetic office as well.