Old Testament Scriptural Summaries and Commentary
Old Testament, 2 Kings 2, 5-6
Supplemental Study 2 Kings 3-4
Gospel Doctrine Class, Sunday School Lesson #29
"He Took Up…the Mantle of Elijah" (2 Kings 2:13)
2 Kings 2 - Elijah is translated/Elisha receives the mantle of Elijah
" And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal." And Elijah said unto Elisha, "Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el." And Elisha said unto him, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." So they went down to Beth-el. And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day?" And he said, "Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace" (vv. 2:1-3).
And the same sequence of events between Elijah and Elisha happened again at Jericho and Jordan (vv. 2:4-6). At Jordan, fifty men of the "sons of the prophets" stood and watched afar off as Elijah and Elisha stood by the river. Elijah took his mantle, and "smote the waters" and [the waters] were divided "hither and thither," so they crossed to the other side on dry ground. Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee." And Elisha said, "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." And Elijah said, "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so" (vv. 2:7-10).
"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."
"The term heaven has more than one meaning. Sometimes it is used to mean the sky; at other times it refers to the celestial glory. Elijah was taken from this earth as a translated being, but not into celestial glory" (Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, (1982), 59–65).
Note: Elijah was translated (as was Moses) because it was necessary that he have a body when he conferred the sealing keys—the power to bind in the heavens all ordinances performed on earth—on Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration before Christ was resurrected (Matt. 17:1-13). After the resurrection of Christ, he became a resurrected being.
And Elisha cried, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." And he saw him no more: and he took his own clothes, and tore them in two pieces. As Elijah was taken up, his mantle "fell from him" and "He [Elisha] took up also the mantle of Elijah" and smote the waters of Jordan. And he said, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Then the waters parted "hither and thither" and Elisha crossed over (v. 2:11-14).
"Elijah’s cloak, or mantle, was a symbol of his authority. Possession of it symbolized that Elijah’s former authority now rested on Elisha" (Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, (1982), 59–65).
Now the sons of the prophets who had been watching in Jericho said, "The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him." And they said to him, "Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley." And Elisha said, "Ye shall not send." But they urged him till he was ashamed, and he said, "Send." So Fifty men looked for Elijah for three days but did not find him. "And when they came again to him [Elisha], (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?" (vv. 2:15-18).
And while in Jericho Elisha healed the water which was sick. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast…salt in there, and said, "Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence [here] any more death or barren land" (vv. 2:19-22).
"The use of salt makes this a greater miracle, since salt normally corrupts rather than purifies water" (Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, (1982), 59–65).
As Elisha travels to Beth-el "there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him" saying, "Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head." And he cursed them in the name of the Lord. "And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them" (vv. 2:23-25).
"The word that in the King James Version is translated 'little children' means young as compared to old, and can be translated not only as child, but as young man, meaning a servant or one fit to go out to battle" (Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, (1982), 59–65).
The Old Testament Student Manual explains this scripture with a commentary by Adam Clark who conjectures that the she-bears could have been taking vengeance on those [not children] "young men" who were searching for and killing their young whelps (see also 2 Samuel 17).
"The mention of she-bears gives some colour to the…conjecture; and, probably, at the time when these young fellows insulted the prophet, the bears might be tracing the footsteps of the murderers of their young, and thus came upon them in the midst of their insults, God’s providence ordering these occurrences so as to make this natural effect appear as a Divine cause. If the conjecture be correct, the bears were prepared by their loss to execute the curse of the prophet, and God’s justice guided them to the spot to punish the iniquity that had been just committed.” (Commentary, 2:486; quoted in OT Student Manual, p. 64.)
And Elisha went from there to mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria (v. 2:25).
2 Kings 5 - Elisha cures Naaman, a Syrian, of leprosy
W. Cleon Skousen in his book, The Fourth Thousand Years, states the following: “We now come to one of the most notable chapters of the Old Testament. This is the story of Naaman, the leper, from
(p. 404). Naaman was the captain of all
the armies (host) of the king of Syria and “a mighty man of valor” (v.
5:1). While in Syria Israel, Naaman captured “a little maid” and
brought her back to
as a servant to his wife. So she said to
her mistress, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Syria ! For he would
recover him of his leprosy” (v. 5:3).
Thus the king of Samaria Syria
wrote a letter to the king of
and sent Naaman to him along with silver, gold and “ten changes of
raiment.” But the king of Israel Israel thought it was a trick by the king of (v. 5:7). Syria
When the man of God, Elisha, heard the king was distressed, he sent to the king saying, “let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in
(v. 5:8). So Naaman went with all his
horses and chariots and stood at Elisha’s door but Elisha sent word to him by a
messenger saying, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come
again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (v. 5:10). This made Naaman angry and he immediately
turned his chariot back toward Israel . As he neared the Syria , his humble servants said to
him, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou
not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Jordan and be clean?” (v. 5:13). And Naaman agreed to do as the prophet had
said. He went into the Wash and
immersed himself in the waters seven times “…and his flesh came again like unto
the flesh of a little child, and he was clean!” (v. 5:14). Jordan
Naaman rushed back to Elisha and proclaimed, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in
” (v. 5:15). And he offered a reward to Elisha but Elisha
refused (God’s power through the priesthood is not to be used for personal
gain.) Sadly, Elisha’s servant Gehazi
ran after Naaman’s chariot and ask for a reward and was given two talents of
silver and two changes of garments. When
Gehazi returned to Elisha, the prophet perceived what the servant had
done. Elisha said to him, “The leprosy
therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And [Gehazi] went out from his presence a
leper as white as snow” (v. 5:27). Israel
2 Kings 6 - Elisha’s miracles continue
When Elisha was in Jordan where the sons of the prophets went to dwell, the brethren were working on enlarging their dwelling by cutting and hauling logs from the
Jordan River. Unfortunately, while one man was in the
process of axing a tree, the ax head fell off and sank into the river. The man immediately went to Elisha and cried,
“Alas. Master! For it was borrowed” (v. 6:5).
The man showed Elisha exactly where the ax head went down and Elisha
took a stick and tossed it onto the spot and the ax head rose to the surface
and was rescued (vv. 6:6-7).
Syria was again at war with . The king of Israel Syria
confided to his servants the place where he was planning to ambush the king of . The Lord told Elisha about the plan and
Elisha twice warned the Israelite king not go near the place of the Syrian
fortification and it twice saved his life.
The king of Israel Syria
believed he had a spy in his camp but was told by one of his servants, “Elisha,
the prophet that is in Israel,
telleth the king of
the words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber” (vv. 6:11-12). Israel
Thus, the king of Syria set about to find Elisha who was in Dothan, just a short distance from Samaria, and the Syrian army seized the city. When Elisha’s servant arose in the morning, he found the city surrounded by the Syrians and was fearful. Elisha said to him, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (v. 6:16). And Elisha prayed to the Lord and caused the servant to see that the mountain was full of horses, chariots and fire (v. 6:17). And Elisha again prayed that the Syrians would be smitten with blindness and the Lord smote them according to Elisha’s prayer (v. 6:18). Then Elisha had the whole army follow him to
and the Lord opened their eyes. The king
asked if he was to kill them, and Elisha said to let them eat and drink and
return to their master. “So the bands of
Israel Syria came no more into the ” (v. 6:19-23). land of Israel
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “When I read this wonderful story as a boy, I always identified with the young servant of Elisha. I thought, If I am ever surrounded by the forces of evil while I am in the Lord’s service, I hope the Lord will open my eyes and give me faith to understand that when we are in the work of the Lord, those who are with us are always more powerful than those who oppose us” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 54; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 39; quoted in Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 139–43).
The next year, Ben-hadad, the king of
Syria came again and seized and there was no food in the
city. The king of Samaria blamed the Lord for the
famine and decided to take revenge by killing the prophet Elisha—to be continued (v. 6:33). Israel
Supplemental Scripture Study
2 Kings 3 - War with the Moabites
King Jehoram of
(the Northern Kingdom) reigned
eighteen years and was evil—but not as evil as his father Ahab and his mother
Jezebel (v. 3:1-2). Jehoram went to
Jehoshaphat, king of Israel Judah,
and ask him to make a pact with him and the king of to battle against the Moabites
because they refused to send Israel their required tribute (v. 3:4). After seven days journey in the wilderness of
Edom, they had no water for the men or the animals. And Jehoshaphat asked that a prophet of the
Lord be consulted. One of the servants
suggested Elisha and the three kings went to him. Elisha knew that Jehoram was evil, but
because of Jehoshaphat, he said to them, "Thus saith the LORD, make this
valley full of ditches (vv. 3:8-16). And in the morning water came by the way of Edom , and the
ditches filled up with water (v. 3:20).
As the Moabites looked on the water where the armies of Israel were camped,
it appeared as red blood in the sunrise and they thought the kings had slain
each other and they went to raid the camps (vv. 3:21-23). Edom
"The divine help consisted, therefore, not in a miracle which surpassed the laws of nature, but simply in the fact that the Lord God, as He had predicted through His prophet, caused the forces of nature ordained by Him to work in the predetermined manner"(Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:305–6; Quoted in Old Testament Student Manual Kings-Malachi, (1982), 73–80.)
Then the Israelites rose up and slaughtered the Moabites and followed them to their cities where they did as Elisha had told them to do to the land; to beat down the cities, to cut down all the trees, to destroy all the wells, and to throw large rocks on the fields (so no crops could be planted) (v. 3:25). The king of Moab saw that the battle was lost and offered his oldest son as a sacrifice for a burnt offering to his idol god, which horrified the armies of Israel and they returned to their own land (vv. 3:26-27).
2 Kings 4 - Elisha’s many miracles
(1) A widow, who was one of the wives of the sons of the prophets, came to Elisha. She told him her sons were about to be taken away and made bondsmen for a debt she owed. Elisha asked her if she had any thing in her house and she replied only a “pot of oil.” Elisha told her to borrow all the empty pots she could find and from her pot, pour oil into the empty pots. She did as he said and the oil stayed. Elisha said, “Go, sell the oil and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children” (vv. 4:1-8).
(2) Elisha often was shown kindness by a Shunammite woman who perceived that he was a man of God. She offered him bread and made him his own room in her house to stay when he was in the area. Elisha, in turn, asked what he could do for her. Elisha’s servant said that he noticed the woman had no children and her husband was old. And, Elisha promised she would have a child by the same time next year. “And the woman conceived and bare a son” (v. 4:17).
(3) When the child was grown, one day he got sick and by the time the woman brought Elisha back to her house, he was dead. And Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son from the dead and he lived (vv. 4:8-37).
(4) Now at Gilgal there was a lack of food and the prophets gathered herbs and vines and wild gourds from the fields and made a pottage out of it. As they were eating, some cried out that there was death in the pot. Elisha ask that meal be brought and he put it into the pot, “and there was no harm in the pot” and they did eat (vv. 4:38-41).
(5) Another miracle occurred when a man brought Elisha twenty loaves of barley bread and some ears of corn. And he fed all the people and some was still left over. This was done “according to the word of the Lord” (vv. 4:42-44).