Bible Commentator

Articles

Rabbi Moshe Reiss

moshereiss@moshereiss.org

ELISHA: THE SUCCESSOR

Elijah has been described him as: ". . . a flame and a fury, a portent and a fugitive, like a human comet . . .  . knight errant [Don Quixote de la Mancha] righter of wrongs armored in prayer shawl and phylacteries . . . [traveling around the world] until he announces the Messiah himself."  1. If Elijah is the ‘knight errant’ is Elisha ‘Sancho Panza’? 2

INTRODUCTION:

The theme of Elijah and Elisha prophetic cycles is the War against the false god Baal (I Kgs. Chapters 18-19) and his champion King Ahab of the Kingdom of Israel and his wife Jezebel. The death of King Ahab occurs in I Kgs. 22:34-36, and his evil wife Jezebel in II Kgs. 9:32-33. Their successor son Ahaziah (not to be confused with his brother-in-law of the same name Ahaziah, King of Judah) is killed at the curse of Elijah (II Kgs. 1:16-17).  His brother Jehoram succeeded him (also not to be confused with Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah); is killed by Jehu as noted in II Kgs. 9:24-26. Jehu is the new King of Israel appointed by Elisha (9:12), one of the very few positive Kings of Israel although his descendants decline rather quickly.

The themes of Elijah and Elisha are finally accomplished by the end of Elisha’s lifetime. Much evil occurred in both Israel and Judah during their days.  Elijah was zealously focused on the task 3; Elisha often seemed less focused, even confused.

 

THE SUCCESSION OF ELIJAH:

After God defeated Baal, the god of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, at Elijah’s request, he goes into a cave. God asks Elijah ‘What are you doing here?’ Elijah responds: ‘I have been zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant . . . and I have remained alone, and they seek my life to take it’. God then tells Elijah to go up to the top of the mountain. God gives Elijah a theophany similar to that of Moses: A strong wind splits the mountain and shatters boulders . . . but the Lord was not in the wind. And the after the wind an earthquake - but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came fire but God was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still small voice . . . a voice came to him and said: What are you doing here Elijah? And he said I have been zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant . . . and I have remained alone, and they seek my life to take it’ (I Kg 19:9-15).

God told Elijah to go and anoint Hazael, King of Syria, Jehu, King of Israel and Elisha ben Shapot to be prophet in his place (I Kg 19:15-17). According to Rashi, the medieval commentator (1040-1105) God was saying "You shall anoint Elisha to be prophet in your in stead, I do not want your prophecy since your prophecy does not plead for the prosecution of My children.' Rashi is noting that despite the theophany given to Elijah, which can only be compared to Moses on Mt. Sinai, Elijah has no reaction; he responds to God in a repetition of what he had said before the theophany. 

Elijah finds Elisha ploughing on his father’s land, and throws his cloak over him. Elisha says let me kiss my parents and I will follow you. Elijah quixotically says ‘go, return for what have I done to you?’ Elisha does go back, slaughters oxen and makes a feast presumably to say good by to his parents. Elisha follows Elijah and ‘attends’ to him (19:19-21).

Elijah did not anoint Elisha, but threw his cloak to him -- a symbol of succession which he later took back -- and walked away. Elisha has become the disciple but not yet a successor.

 

ELIJAH’S DEATH AND ELISHA’S SUCCESSION

While in Gilgal Elijah tells Elisha I am going to Bethel, you stay here. Elisha says no and follows Elijah. In Bethel, a brotherhood of prophets come to meet Elijah and say to Elisha ‘‘Do you now that Yahweh will carry our lord and master away today’. Elisha responds ‘yes I know’” (2:3). Elijah then says to Elisha stay here I am going to Jericho. Elisha again refuses and follows Elijah. The brotherhood of Jericho repeats the events at Bethel exactly. It is apparent that the brotherhood of prophets do not recognize Elisha as a prophet who would know Elijah is about to be translated into heaven. For a third time with Elijah claiming to go to the Jordan tells Elisha to stay. Does Elijah not accept that Elisha is to be his successor? This time the brotherhood of prophets also follow Elijah and Elisha.

Is Elijah fighting against his successor?

Elijah rolls his cloak and strikes the river; the river then splits and the two walk across. (This, of course, is another comparison to Moses splitting the Red Sea.) Elijah asks Elisha: What do you wish before I depart? Elisha asks for a "double share of your spirit (pi shenayim)." The term is exactly what a first born in entitled to in Deuteronomy (21:17). Does this imply Elisha is not the sole prophet but the leader, if so is he necessarily Elijah’s successor? What can double of your spirit mean; double the power; double the miracles?

Elijah says it will be difficult, but if Elisha sees him depart, the wish will be granted. But God has already commissioned Elisha as a prophet, why is Elijah setting up a test? Elijah drops his cloak. Elisha sees a chariot of fire descent from heaven with horses of fire and Elijah goes up to heaven in a whirlwind. It is almost a Greek-like departure. When Elisha sees the chariot coming for Elijah he says ‘My father, My father’ with great respect. Elijah has not blessed Elisha nor laid on his hands.  Elisha picks up Elijah's cloak strikes the water. He asks where is God, strikes the water a second time, and only then does it split for him. Is the double striking a pun on double the power?

The only other prophet to appoint a successor is Moses and Joshua. The chariots and horsemen and the splitting of the sea are clearly intended to remind the reader of Exodus chapter 14 and 15:19 with its chariots and horsemen and splitting of the Sea of Reeds. Elijah is thus compared to Moses; 4 both disappear in Jordan. Elisha then turns back across the Jordan to Israel. God tells Moses that Joshua has the spirit within him (Num. 27:18). The voice of God never is actually heard speaking to Elisha. After Elisha splits the waters, the brotherhood of Prophets who did not see the chariot and horses (despite their foreknowledge that it would happen today), see Elisha strike the water and say ‘’the spirit of Elijah has come to rest on Elisha’ (2:15); note the spirit of Elijah not of God. Despite that they seek to confirm that Elijah is gone by seeking his body.

The first act Elisha prophetic accomplishes as he returns over the Jordan is to correct the water of Jericho which is causing death; he salts it (II Kgs. 2:19-22). Joshua had cursed this water (Josh. 6:26). Is Joshua to be compared to Elisha as Elijah was to Moses?

Immediately thereafter, we find forty two ‘small boys’ jeering at Elisha for his baldness.  Some have connected this story to their doubting Elisha’s being Elijah’s successor. His baldness is being compared to the long haired Elijah (1:8). Elisha sends two female bears from the woods who maul the forty two ‘children’ (n’arim vs.y’ladim – 2:23-24). The punishment seems out of proportion to the crime. Some consider this story an ironic satire; note the forty two children and forty two brothers of Ahazia killed by Jehu. This is exemplified by the modern Hebrew expression ‘loh dobim ve-loh yaer’ ‘there are no bears and no forest’; suggesting that the event was seen as imaginary. While some of the Rabbis make excuses for Elisha defining the young as idolatrous juvenile delinquents, the consensus was his punishment was inappropriate (BT Sota 47a). 

DOUBLE SHARE OF YOUR SPIRIT:

Did a double portion mean twice what anyone else received in the inheritance concept of Deut. 21:17? This would make Elisha more of a prophet than anyone else but not necessarily equal to Elijah. He is not the only heir, just more than equal than the others. While Elisha does perform more than double the number of miracles Elijah did; he does not turn out to be equal to Elijah.  Whether that was acceptable to Elisha is difficult to

measure?

As we shall see shortly many events happen twice in the Elisha. One can wonder whether this is related to ‘double the spirit’?

Elijah performs five miracles (as counted by the author):

Reproducing food (I Kgs. 17:8-16); Raises the widow’s child (17:17-24);

The events on Mt. Carmel and the creation of God’s fire (18:20-40); 

Creating a fire to destroy the soldiers send to capture him (II Kgs. 1:9-12) and the Splitting and crossing the Jordan.

In addition there are miraculous events that occur relative to Elijah:

He is fed by ravens (I Kgs. 17:2-6) after a drought he predicted (I Kgs. 17:1) and later ended (I Kgs. 18:1)); and then he is fed by angels (19:4-8); He has a theophany with God (19:11-12); he run faster than a chariot (18:46) and at the end of his life he rises directly to heaven (II Kgs. 2:11).

Elisha performs thirteen miracles (as counted by the author):

He re-crosses the Jordan after crossing with Elijah (2:13-14);

He heals the waters of Jericho by throwing salt into a bowl (2:19-22);

He brings bears to maul boys who insult him (2:23-25);

He helps the three Kings of Israel, Judah and Edom defeat Moab using miracles to fill streams with water (3:17-20);

He reproduces oil and fills up jars for a poor woman (4:1-7);

He grants a son to a elder and barren woman of Shumen (4:11-17);

He later raises the son after his death (4:18-37);

He removes poison from pot (4:38-41);

He reproduces bread (4:42-44); heals Naaman (5:1-14);

He transfers leprosy from Naaman to Gehazi (5:19-27);

He has an iron tool rise from the water (6:1-7);

He captures the soldiers of Syria by striking them with temporary blindness (6:13-23);

After his death Elisha’s bones revive a dead man (13:20-21).

In addition there are miraculous events relative to Elisha:

He has clairvoyant hearing listening to the Syrian military officers conferring in Damascus over 100 miles away (6:8-10); similarly he knows of the King of Israel’s threatening his life while on the city walls and Elisha is home (6:26-33); in the conflict between Israel, Judah and Edom against Moab, Elisha tells the King of Israel that the water drought will be solved by God and the Moab defeated (3:16-25); during a terrible famine in Samaria where cannibalism has come about Elisha predicted its end and the next day the Armeaeans evacuated their city and left huge amounts of food; and he completed Elijah’s commission to anoint Jehu King of Israel (9:1-10) and Hazael King of Syria (8:9-15).

Bergen has argued that Elisha is ‘a loose cannon, wondering around Israel firing off miracles at random’; 5 including one not requested (4:28), one pointless (6:6-7), two insufficient (3:27; 6:23-24) and two causing unnecessary suffering (2:24; 5:27). Both Elijah and Elisha announced droughts; Elijah for one full year and parts of two others (I Kgs. 17:1-16; 18:3) and Elisha’s for seven years (II Kgs. 8:1-6). Elisha’s seemed ineffective while Elijah’s is very effective. 

WHAT KIND OF A PROPHET?

The theme of Elisha prophetic mission was a war against the false god Baal and the Omri dynasty. When we review Elisha’s work he seemed to focus on combating Aram, the enemy of Israel and Judah and not on combating Baal or the Omri dynasty.

The First Aram Wars:

The conflict over the Aramaeans continues through almost all of Elisha’s lifetime and includes the longest and most complex set of the tales in Elisha; it includes both his most successful actions and his greatest failure.

The first tale about Aram may or may not actually involve Elisha. It occurs in I Kings chapter 20. We have an Israeli-Aram war in which the same persons (Ben-Hadad – a title perhaps than a name - and Ahab as King of Israel) are noted but an unnamed prophet of Yahweh helps Israel (20:13, 22, 28, 35,37,38). This occurs immediately after God tells Elijah to anoint Elisha as Prophet and Hazael as king of Aram. Is the unknown prophet intended to be the not yet anointed Elisha or to have us understand that there are other important prophets aside from Elisha? The language: sinful kings, horses and chariots, wives and children, gold and silver, a prophet to advice the king and sackcloth, all are included in this story and then again in the second Aram war that specifically mentions Elisha and occurs in II Kings chapters 6-7. We even have a strategy meeting in Damascus discussing the war in both stories, in the latter Elisha overhears clairvoyantly and relates the result to the King of Israel.

In the chapter 20 story the events are repeated twice; first in verses 13-21 and then repeated in verses 22-30a; the remainder of the chapter is the aftermath of the war. Ahab and Ben Hadad diplomatically end the war and renew the peace. Both Ahab and Ben Hadad were evil men who deserved death and according to Elijah were intended for destruction (I Kgs. 19:15-16).  The term used for Ben Hadad is ‘herem’ the same term used for Agag of Amalek whom Saul was required to kill. Just as Saul’s not killing Agag cost him his kingdom so Ahab’s not killing Ben Hadad is one of the events to cost his kingdom; the other was Ahab’s relationship with the false god Baal. 

After three years the King of Israel Jehoshaphat (having married Athaliah, daughter of Ahab) went to Ahab to strategize a war with the Aramaeans.  The prophet Micaiah predicted they would lose (although 400 other prophets predicted success); and indeed Ahab was killed (I Kgs. 22:35). This is the only battle described in this war.

Then another Aram incident occurs, although not directly related to the various wars between Israel and Aram; Elisha performs a miracle regarding Naaman, the army commander of Aram. 

Naaman:

Naaman, the Army commander of Aram had a difficult skin disease. While this disease is described in Hebrew as a form of leprosy it did not have the social intercourse implications usually implied by leprosy and probably was a form of dermotoses or psoriasis. In a previous battle with Israel he had captured a young female child who became a servant to Naaman’s wife. She suggested the prophet of Samaria could cure his disease. His King wrote a letter to the King of Israel and Naaman went with horses and chariots and much gold, silver and robes to pay as was usual in those times. The King of Israel tore his cloths assuming this was a feint intended to create another conflict. When Elisha heard he said sent Naaman to me and the Aramaeanions will recognize the power of Yahweh.  Elisha told Naaman’s messenger to have him bath in the Jordan seven times; Naaman rejected that and said the waters of Damascus are surely as good. His servants convinced him otherwise and he did bathe and was cured. The word cured in Hebrew here is ‘shub’ also meaning typically to return to the fold (5:14-15). Naaman then went directly to Elisha and said there is no God except in Israel. He gave the gifts to Elisha who rejected them, saying I serve God. Naaman asked for a clod of Israeli earth so he could pray on that in his own country (II Kgs. 5:13-19). He then explains to Elisha that when his master the King worships he leans on his arm and he bows; he asks for Yahweh’s forgiveness. Elisha says ‘go in peace’ (5:18). Some have argued that Naaman converted to Judaism much as Ruth had earlier.

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant followed Naaman and fraudulently took some of the silver and robes for himself. When he returned to Elisha he lied about where he had been and Elisha clairvoyantly knew what he done gave Gehazi Naaman’s skin disease (5:27).   Gehazi reappears later in chapter 8 when Elisha once again helps the Shunemite woman; perhaps this was intended to happen earlier or perhaps his skin disease like Naaman’s did not disqualify social inter relations. It would be strange that Elisha would continue to retain a servant who was involved with fraud.

The Second Aram wars:

The second Elisha Aram story is also told in two parts. It begins with Elisha being informing as if by clairvoyance that the Aramaeans are about to attack Israel; he several times tells the Israelis of the King of Aram’s plans (6:9-10). The king assuming some act of treason is told by one of his servant’s that ‘Elisha the prophet’ informs the Israelites of our conversations (6:12). This is the first time Elisha is defined as a prophet; his succession to Elijah is noted by an Aramaean. This entire story is told by the narrator.

The king decided to eliminate Elisha. His soldiers with horses and chariots surrounded the city of Dothan where Elisha was staying. Elisha prayed to God and his servant saw that Elisha was surrounded with ‘fiery horses and chariots’ (6:17). (This is intended as a comparison to fifty soldiers sent to Kill Elijah – twice – and are lit up by fiery lightening from God II Kgs. 1:9-16.) At Elisha’s request God blinded the Aramaean soldiers, and Elisha then led them into captivity in Samaria in the presence of the King of Israel. The King referring to Elisha as ‘father’ (6:20) asks whether they should be killed. Elisha says feed and water and sent them back home. This king unnamed but one of the sons of Ahab obeys the prophet. Despite Elisha being Elijah successor his relation to the House of Omri is very different that Elijah’s. Elijah was in perpetual conflict with the Omrides. Why not let the Aramaeans destroy the House of Omri? Was not that one of Elisha’s missions?

Elisha helps defeat the Aramaeans and this section ends and we are told that the ‘raiding parties never invaded the land of Israel again’ (6:23). However the very next verse (6:24) tells us the ‘It happened after this that Ben Hadad, King of Aram mustered his whole army marched and laid siege to Samaria’. As Bergen states it, ‘in three short words [and after this ‘va’yehi ahra khan’- it happened after this] the credibility of Elisha collapses’. 6

The new siege creates a severe famine; one quarter ‘kab’ (1/2 liter) of wild onions cost five shekels. A woman cooked her son and ate him with a neighbor. In Deuteronomy this level of famine and reaction of eating one’s children is noted as a punishment for disobeying God (Deut. 28:53-56). When the next day it became time to her neighbor’s son to be cooked she hid her son. The woman sought ‘justice’ from the king. (This is a parallel  to the incident with two women who approach King Solomon with one child; however Solomon has a solution; this unnamed King does not (I Kgs. 3:16-28). The King tore his clothing and the people noted he was already wearing sackcloth. The King curses himself, blames God and threatens Elisha.  If the King recognizes that God is ordaining his problem why he thinks harming God’s prophet Elisha will have a positive outcome is bewildering.

The scene shifts to Elisha in his house with the elders. Elisha clairvoyantly says ‘’the son of the murderer has given order to cut off my head’ (6:32). He then says to bare the doors but the King and his messenger arise as he is speaking. The king blames God and questions His help. Elisha response is not about the danger to himself, but the state of the famine as introduced to the two women above.  According to Elisha God says ‘Tomorrow a measure of fine flour will sell for one shekel’. The messenger, a military officer laughs.  Elisha responds, ‘you will see it but not eat it’ (7:2).  

The scene switches again to four starving lepers. They discover that the Aramaeans have fled their camp. We are told that the Aramaeans had heard from Adonai, the noise of chariots, horses and a large army of mercenaries who they assumed were to attack them. The lepers eat, drink and take silver, gold and clothing, the latter they hide. They repeat this and then decide to relate the information to Israelites in Samaria. The King uncertain of whether to trust the lepers sends out scouts and discovered that they are right. (There also appears some irony in the lepers taking and hiding some silver and then helping the Israelites when earlier Gehazi fraudulently took some silver from Naaman and was punished  with leprosy.)

As Elisha had foretold fine flour sold for one shekel. The military officer is trampled as the people rush to the Aramaean camp. The story of Elisha telling him ‘you will see it but not eat it’ is repeated.

Thus Adonai independently of Elisha caused the Aramaeans to flee and Elisha’s prediction about the result and about the military officer comes true.

The next section but one completes the story of the Ben Hadad dynasty. In Elijah’s original message from God appointing Elisha as his successor he is also told to anoint Hazael as King of Aram (I Kgs. 19:15). Years later, after Elijah has left the scene and the wars between Aram and Israel are at least temporarily concluded, Elisha is in Damascus for reasons unknown to us. He is asked by Hazael, an officer of the King and at the King’s request whether the king will recover from his illness. (Hazael says to Elisha ‘your son’ Ben Hadad, King of Aram has sent me’; Ben Hadad may be a title meaning son of the god Hadad (8:9); a piece of subtle irony.)

Following the Masoretic text Elisha says to Hazael ‘omer lo hayo tihyeh’; lo with an aleph meaning no, ‘tell him that he will not recover’. However we are told to read (kere) the ‘lo’, with the lamet followed by a vuv; which would mean he will recover. 7  The text continues with Elisha saying ‘but Yahweh has told me he will die’ (8:9). Some Jewish commentators believe that the substitution of ‘vuv’ for an ‘aleph’ was to avoid Elisha, a prophet, lying to Hazael. Others believe that Elisha is telling Hazael to ‘act diplomatically’ and tell his King that he will recover. 8

There is one commentator that believes the ‘lamet vuv’ is the correct spelling and does not imply a lie by Elisha. He suggests the following:

‘Go say to him that you shall certainly live, and that Yahweh has shown me that he shall certainly die’. The first clause is a form of indirect speech. Elisha is enlightening Hazael that he would succeed the King who would in turn die. The ‘omer lo (with a vuv) indicates the indirect speech.  If it was intended as a direct statement with the King as the subject, it would have, according to this commentator, state ‘l-omer’. 9

Elisha then begins to weep telling Hazael that I know you will become King and create havoc and destroy Israeli cities and kill soldiers, women and children. Hazael then suffocated the King and succeeds him; thus the King did not die of his illness. One could argue that Hazael considered Elisha’s prophecy a justification to kill his King (8:7-15).

These two double stories above involved a series of wars between the Omri dynasty - Ahab, Jehoahaz and Joash and the Aramaeanians. A number of commentators have noted that the order and timing of these wars is very confusing; the wars described in chapter 20 may have occurred earlier or later that as stated in the Books of Kings. 10

What are we intended to learn with the twice told tale of the war against the Aramaeans (I Kgs. chapter 20; II Kgs. 6:8-7:20); each in turn doubly related?

The Last Prophecy - Jehu and Joash:

The last remaining mission of Elijah, not yet completed is the anointing of Jehu as King of Israel. Elisha sends a young man of the brotherhood of prophets to anoint Jehu and tell Jehu to strike down the family of Ahab and that Jezebel’s body will be eaten by the dogs (9:1-10). It is somewhat surprising that Jezebel is alive and not been relevant to Elisha’s life all this time. Elisha disappears while Jehu fulfills his mission including Jezebel’s being eaten by the dogs. What is most surprising is that Jezebel’s end is proclaimed as the word of Yahweh through God’s servant Elijah (10:10,17), nothing about Elisha. 

Jehu’s son Jehoahaz succeeded him and his son Joash succeeded him (although there is some confusion between who is King of Israel and who is king of Judah). Elisha reappears after perhaps fifty years as a prophet in a deathbed scene. Joash comes to Elisha’s deathbed, for assistance; a war with Aram is about to begin. Joash says to Elisha ‘my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen’ (13:14)! Despite the evilness of the king (13:1-3) he seeks a savior ‘a messiah’ against Aram.

Elisha tells Joash shoot an arrow east and you will completely defeat (ad kolah) the Syrians. He then says to Joash strike the ground with the remaining arrows. Joash strikes the ground three times and Elisha says you should have hit the ground five or six times then you would have defeated (ad kolah) them (13:17-19). Elisha seemed to change the rules after the fact.

CONCLUSION:

Towards the end of Elijah’s life and at the beginning of Elisha’s appointment as his successor, Elijah is given his mission; to destroy the house of Ahab and Baal worship (I Kgs. 19:16-18; 21:21-22). While this finally occurs at the end of Elisha’s long life he does not spend much effort on this task and in fact he spends much time helping Ahab and Jezebel’s sons as Kings of Israel and their sons-in-laws as Kings of Judah. 

The majority of problems dealt by Elisha are battles with Aram; not fighting the directly false god Baal or Ahab and his dynasty. One could almost believe Baal had already been defeated by Elijah as suggested by Bergen. 11 Hazael, now King of Aram, continues to fight Israel even after Elisha’s death (II Kgs. 13:22-25).  There are 336 verses (calculated by the author) between these two events (although Elisha still lives until his death is noted in II Kgs. Chapter 13, 188 or 56% involve Aram.

 

Miracles play a much larger role in the Elisha cycle than in Elijah’s life. But Elisha can never overcome his famous predecessor.

Three events in Elijah’s life overpower anything Elisha accomplished. The first is the conflict played out on Mt. Carmel with Yahweh defeating Baal (I Kgs. 18:20-40) – this can be compared to Moses with God help defeating Pharaoh; the second is the theophany with the still small voice (I Kgs. 19:11-13) – this can be compared to Moses theophany on Mt. Sinai and Elijah’s departure directly to heaven (II Kgs. 2:11-12) which is a unique event.

While Elisha displays greater miraculous power than Elijah he does not measure up to his illustrious predecessor.

Elisha’s use of his powers in sometimes suspect; the Bears and boys, the Hazael ‘lie’, that Aram will never invade and the next verse they do invade (II Kgs. 6:23-24) and the story of Joash and the arrows. Elisha sometimes has to try a miracle twice (re-crossing the Jordan) or even three times (raising the dead son of the Shunem women). In the Israel, Judah and Edom coalition fighting against Moab, Elisha proclaimed miracles that did occur (II Kgs. 3:17-25). However, his prediction that God would put Moab in Israel’s hands (3:18), did not occur and Israel despite winning the war for reasons difficult to comprehend, withdrew (3:37).

The last event in Elisha’s life with his dead bones healing another dead person (II Kgs. 13:21) seem more humorous than serious especially when compared to Elijah going by chariot to heaven. 

Elisha tells us of God’s name and has his power as noted in his miracles and clairvoyance; however we never hear God’s voice addressing Elisha; only Elisha’s statement of God’s word. (We should recall Deut. (13: 2-6) where it is noted that ‘prophets’ can accomplish signs and miracles and still be false. I am not suggesting that Elisha is a false prophet simply noting the possibility in the text.) It is unclear whether Elisha’s word is predictive or causative. One would never question Elijah‘s direct God given power.

Elijah as I have noted in a previous article is a zealot dedicated to returning the people to God. 12  Elisha is more passive and does not challenge the people to return to Yahweh, does not act as a conscience to the King nor spiritually lead Israel.

 

1 Samuels, M., Certain People of the Book, (Knopf, N.Y., 1967) pg. 241-243.

2 The knight errant is of course, Don Quixote de La Mancha written by Cervantes and Sancho Panza is his disciple.

3 M. Reiss, ‘Elijah the Zealot: A Foil to Moses, JBQ July 2004.

4 M. Reiss, ‘Elijah the Zealot: A Foil to Moses, JBQ July 2004.

5 Bergen, W.J., Elisha and the End of Prophecy, JSOT, 286, Sheffield University Press, Sheffield, 1999) pg. 44.

6 Bergen, pg. 135.

7 There are several manuscripts which have the lamet vuv in the ‘ketab’ text. Labuschagne, C.,L., ‘Did Elisha Lie? – A Note on II kings 8:10’, Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschift, 1965, #77.  pg. 327.

8 Slotki, I.,W., ‘Kings’, Soncino Press, London, 1950, pg. 210. 

9 Labuschagne, C.,L., ‘Did Elisha Lie?, pg. 327-328.

10 Kittel, Rudolf, Trs. Hogg, H.W.,and Speirs, E.B., ‘A History of the Hebrews (Williams and Norgate, London, 1896), Whitley, C.F., The Deuteronomic Presentation of the House of Omri, VT 2, 1952; Miller, J. M., ‘The Elisha Cycle and the Accounts of the Omride Wars’, JBL #85, 1966 and Slotki, pg. 200.

11 Bergen, Conclusion.

12 M.  Reiss, ‘Elijah the Zealot: A Foil to Moses, JBQ July 2004