Elisha keeps close to Elijah, and walks with him through Jordan,
ver. 1 - 8.
Elijah is taken up, and Elisha laments the loss of him,
ver. 9 - 12.
He divides Jordan, ver. 13, 14.
Is acknowledged by the sons of the prophets, ver. 15.
Who send to seek Elijah, ver. 16 - 18.
Elisha heals the unwholesome waters, ver. 19 - 22.
Destroys the mocking children, ver. 23 - 25
1: About to take, &c. - It is supposed, (tho' not expressly revealed)
that Elijah flourished about twenty years, before he was translated,
body and soul, to heaven, only undergoing such a change, as was necessary
to qualify him for being an inhabitant in that world of Spirits. By
translating him, God gave in that dark and degenerate age, a very sensible
proof of another life, together with a type of the ascension of Christ,
and the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
That being left alone, he might better prepare himself for his great
Out of indulgence to Elisha, that he might not be overwhelmed
with grief at so sad a sight.
That he might try his love, and whet his desire to accompany him; it
being highly convenient for God's honour, that there should be
witnesses of so glorious a translation.
To Beth - el - Which was truth, tho' not the whole truth: for he was to go a
far longer journey. But he was first to go to Beth - el, as also to
Jericho, to the schools of the prophets there, that he might comfort,
and strengthen their hearts in God's work, and give them his dying counsels.
3: And said - This was revealed to some of the sons of the prophets,
and by them to the whole college. In the kingdom of Judah they had
priest and Levites, and the temple service. The want of these in the
kingdom of Israel, God graciously made up by these colleges, where men
were trained up and employed, in the exercises of religion, and whither good
people resorted, to solemnize the appointed feasts, with prayer and hearing,
tho' they had not conveniencies for sacrifice. From thy head - Heb.
from above thy head: which phrase may respect, either, the manner of
sitting in schools, where the scholar sat at his master's feet. Or, the
manner of Elijah's translation, which was to be by a power sent from
heaven, to take him up thither. Hold you your peace - Do not aggravate my
grief, nor divert me with any unseasonable discourses. He speaks as one
that was himself, and would have them calm and sedate, and with awful
silence waiting the event.
7: To view - To observe this great event, Elijah's translation to
heaven, which they expected every moment: and whereof they desired to be
spectators, not to satisfy their own curiosity, but that they might be
witnesses of it to others.
8: Smote the waters - These waters of old yielded to the ark, now to
the prophet's mantle; which to those that wanted the ark, was an equivalent
token of God's presence. When God will take his children to himself, death
is the Jordan, which they must pass through. And they find a way thro'
it, a safe and comfortable way. The death of Christ has divided those
waters, that the ransomed of the Lord may pass over.
9: A double portion - Or, rather double to what the rest of the sons
of the prophets receive at thy request. He alludes to the double portion
of the first - born, (De 21:17).
But though Elisha desired no more, yet God gave him more than he desired
or expected; and he seems to have had a greater portion of the gifts of
God's Spirit, than even Elijah had.
10: A hard thing - A rare and singular blessing, which I cannot
promise thee, which only God can give; and he gives it only when, and to
whom he pleaseth. If thou seest - This sign he proposed, not without the
direction of God's Spirit, that hereby he might engage him more earnestly
to wait, and more fervently to pray for this mercy.
11: A chariot of fire - In this form the angels appeared. The souls of
all the faithful, are carried by an invisible guard of angels, into the
bosom of Abraham. But Elijah being to carry his body with him, this
heavenly guard appeared visibly: Not in an human shape, tho' so they might
have borne him in their arms, but in the form of a chariot and horses, that
he may ride in state, may ride in triumph, like a prince, like a conqueror.
See the readiness of the angels to do the will of God, even in the meanest
services for the heirs of salvation! Thus he who had burned with holy zeal
for God and his honour, was now conveyed in fire into his immediate
12: My father - So he calls him for his fatherly affection to him,
and for his fatherly authority which he had over him, in which respect the
scholars of the prophets are called their sons. He saw his own condition
like that of a fatherless child, and laments it accordingly.
The chariot, &c. - Who by thy example, and counsels, and prayers, and
power with God, didst more for the defence and preservation of Israel
than all their chariots and horses. The expression alludes to the form of
chariots and horses which he had seen.
13: Which fell - God so ordering it for Elisha's comfort, and the
strengthening of his faith, as a pledge, that together with Elijah's
mantle, his Spirit should rest upon him. And Elijah himself was gone to
a place, where he needed not the mantle, either to adorn him, or to shelter
him from weather, or to wrap his face in.
14: The Lord - Who at Elijah's request divided these waters, and
is as able to do it again.
15: Bowed themselves - They had been trained up in the schools:
Elisha was taken from the plough. Yet, when they perceive, that God is
with him, and that this is the man whom he delights to honour, they readily
submit to him as their head and father, as the people to Joshua when
Moses was dead. "Those that appear to have God's Spirit and presence
with them, ought to have our esteem and best affections, notwithstanding
the meanness of their extraction and education."
16: Strong men - Able to take such a journey. Lest, &c. - They
thought, either that God had not finally taken him away from them, but only
for a time; or that God had only taken away his soul, and that his body was
cast down into some place, which they desired to seek, that they might give
it an honourable burial.
17: Was ashamed - That is, to deny them any longer, lest they should
think his denial proceeded from a neglect of his master, or a contempt
19: Barren - Either it was so originally, at least, as to that part
of the city where the college of the prophets was: or, it became so from
the curse of God inflicted upon it, when Hiel rebuilt it. However, upon
the prophet's care, it grew exceeding fruitful, and therefore is commended
for its fertility in later writers.
20: A new cruse - That there might be no legal pollution in it which
might offend God, and hinder his miraculous operation. Put salt - A most
improper remedy; for salt naturally makes waters brackish, and lands barren.
Hereby therefore he would shew, that this was effected solely by the Divine
power, which could work either without means, or against them.
21: Death - Hurt, or danger, to man or beast, by drinking of it.
23: To Beth - el - To the other school of prophets, to inform them of
Elijah's translation, and his succession to the same office; and to
direct, and comfort, and stablish them. Children - Or, young men: as
this Hebrew word often signifies. It is more than probable they were
old enough to discern between good and evil. The city - Beth - el was
the mother - city of idolatry, where the prophets planted themselves, that
they might bear witness against it, and dissuade the people from it; though,
it seems, they had but small success there. Mocked him - With great
petulancy and vehemency, as the word signifies; deriding both his person
and ministry, and that from a prophane contempt of the true religion, and
a passionate love to that idolatry which they knew he opposed.
Go up - Go up into heaven, whither thou pretendest Elijah is gone.
Why didst not thou accompany thy friend and master to heaven?
Bald - head - So they mock his natural infirmity, which is a great sin.
The repetition shews their heartiness and earnestness, that it was no sudden
slip of their tongue, but a scoff proceeding from a rooted impiety and
hatred of God and his prophets. And very probably it was their usual
practice, to jeer the prophets as they went along the streets, that they
might expose them to contempt, and if possible drive them out of their town.
Had the abuse done to Elisha been the first offence of the kind, they
might not have been so severely punished. But mocking the messengers of
the Lord, was one of the crying sins of Israel.
24: Cursed them - Nor was this punishment too great for the offence,
if it be considered, that their mocking proceeded from a great malignity of
mind against God; that they mocked not only a man, and an ancient man, whose
very age commanded reverence; and a prophet; but even God himself, and that
glorious work of God, the assumption of Elijah into heaven; that they
might be guilty of many other heinous crimes, which God and the prophet
knew; and were guilty of idolatry, which by God's law deserved death; that
the idolatrous parents were punished in their children; and that, if any of
these children were more innocent, God might have mercy upon their souls,
and then this death was not a misery, but a real blessing to them, that they
were taken away from that education which was most likely to expose them not
only to temporal, but eternal destruction. In the name - Not from any
revengeful passion, but by the motion of God's Spirit, and by God's command
and commission. God did this, partly, for the terror and caution of all
other idolaters and prophane persons who abounded in that place; partly,
to vindicate the honour, and maintain the authority of his prophets; and
particularly, of Elisha, now especially, in the beginning of his sacred
ministry. Children - This Hebrew word signifies not only young
children, but also those who are grown up to maturity, as(Ge 32:22,34:4,37:30,Ru 1:5).