"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:68














 
                    

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Elisha the Prophet



Elisha was a prophet of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who was active during the reign of Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Jehoash (Joash).

Elisha was the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah; he became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16–19), and after Elijah was taken up into the whirlwind, he was accepted as the leader of the sons of the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed, according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for sixty years (892–832 BC) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2 Kings 5:8).
His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). After learning, in the cave on Mount Horeb, that Elisha, the son of Shaphat, had been selected by God as his successor in the prophetic office, Elijah set out to make known the Divine will. On his way from Sinai to Damascus, Elijah found Elisha "one of them that were ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen". Elisha delayed only long enough to kill the yoke of oxen, whose flesh he boiled with the very wood of his plough. He went over to him, threw his mantle over Elisha's shoulders, and at once adopted him as a son, investing him with the prophetic office. Elisha accepted this call about four years before the death of Israel's King Ahab. For the next seven or eight years Elisha became Elijah's close attendant until Elijah was taken up into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.

After he had shared this farewell repast with his father, mother, and friends, the newly chosen Prophet "followed Elijah and ministered to him". (1 Kings 19:8–21) He went with his master from Gilgal to Bethel, to Jericho, and thence to the eastern side of the Jordan, the waters of which, touched by the mantle, divided, so as to permit both to pass over on dry ground. Elisha then was separated from Elijah by a fiery chariot. He then beheld Elijah taken up by a whirlwind into heaven. By means of the mantle let fall from Elijah, Elisha miraculously recrossed the Jordan, and so won from the prophets at Jericho the recognition that "the spirit of Elijah hath rested upon Elisha" (2 Kings 2:1–15). He won the gratitude of the people of Jericho for healing its barren ground by adding salt to its waters.

When a group of children from Bethel taunted the prophet for his baldness, Elisha cursed them in the name of God and two female bears came out of the forest and mauled 42 of them (2 Kings 2:23–25).

Before Elijah was taken up into the whirlwind, Elisha asked to "inherit a double-portion" of Elijah's spirit. This is indicative of the property inheritance customs of the time, where the oldest son received twice as much of the father's inheritance as each of the younger sons. For example, if a man had three sons, his property was divided into fourths. Each son received one-fourth, with the oldest receiving two-fourths (twice as much as the others). In this instance with Elijah, Elisha is not asking to become twice as powerful as Elijah, but that he may be seen as the "rightful heir" to the work of the Lord that Elijah had done.

Before he settled in Samaria, the Prophet passed some time on Mount Carmel (2 Kings 2:25). When the armies of Judah, Israel and Edom, then allied against Mesha, the Moabite king, were being tortured by drought in the Idumean desert, Elisha consented to intervene. His double prediction regarding relief from drought and victory over the Moabites was fulfilled on the following morning (2 Kings 3:4–24).

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