2 Kings 2

1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up by a whirlwind into heaven, Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Please wait here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 The sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from your head today?” He said, “Yes, I know it. Hold your peace.” 4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please wait here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” He said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from your head today?” He answered, “Yes, I know it. Hold your peace.” 6 Elijah said to him, “Please wait here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” He said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” Then they both went on. 7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood opposite them at a distance; and they both stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle, and rolled it up, and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that they both went over on dry ground. 9 When they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be on me.” 10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. If you see me when I am taken from you, it will be so for you; but if not, it will not be so.” 11 As they continued on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha saw it, and he cried, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” He saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes, and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up Elijah’s mantle that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took Elijah’s mantle that fell from him, and struck the waters, and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he also had struck the waters, they were divided apart, and Elisha went over. 15 When the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho over against him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” They came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. 16 They said to him, “See now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. Perhaps the LORD’s Spirit has taken him up, and put him on some mountain, or into some valley. He said, “Don’t send them.” 17 When they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send them.” Therefore they sent fifty men; and they searched for three days, but didn’t find him. 18 They came back to him, while he stayed at Jericho; and he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t go?’” 19 The men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, please, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the land is barren.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” Then they brought it to him. 21 He went out to the spring of the waters, and threw salt into it, and said, “the LORD says, ‘I have healed these waters. There shall not be from there any more death or barren wasteland.’” 22 So the waters were healed to this day, according to Elisha’s word which he spoke. 23 He went up from there to Bethel. As he was going up by the way, some youths came out of the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldy! Go up, you baldy!” 24 He looked behind him and saw them, and cursed them in the LORD’s name. Then two female bears came out of the woods, and mauled forty-two of those youths. 25 He went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–8

The Lord had let Elijah know that his time was at hand. He therefore went to the different schools of the prophets to give them his last exhortations and blessing. The removal of Elijah was a type and figure of the ascension of Christ, and the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Elisha had long followed Elijah, and he would not leave him now when he hoped for the parting blessing. Let not those who follow Christ come short by tiring at last. The waters of Jordan, of old, yielded to the ark; now, to the prophet’s mantle, as a token of God’s presence. When God will take up his faithful ones to heaven, death is the Jordan which they must pass through, and they find a way through it. The death of Christ has divided those waters, that the ransomed of the Lord may pass over. O death, where is thy sting, thy hurt, thy terror!

Verses 9–12

That fulness, from whence prophets and apostles had all their supply, still exists as of old, and we are told to ask large supplies from it. Diligent attendance upon Elijah, particularly in his last hours, would be proper means for Elisha to obtain much of his spirit. The comforts of departing saints, and their experiences, help both to gild our comforts and to strengthen our resolutions. Elijah is carried to heaven in a fiery chariot. Many questions might be asked about this, which could not be answered. Let it suffice that we are told, what his Lord, when he came, found him doing. He was engaged in serious discourse, encouraging and directing Elisha about the kingdom of God among men. We mistake, if we think preparation for heaven is carried on only by contemplation and acts of devotion. The chariot and horses appeared like fire, something very glorious, not for burning, but brightness. By the manner in which Elijah and Enoch were taken from this world, God gave a glimpse of the eternal life brought to light by the gospel, of the glory reserved for the bodies of the saints, and of the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers. It was also a figure of Christ’s ascension. Though Elijah was gone triumphantly to heaven, yet this world could ill spare him. Surely their hearts are hard, who feel not, when God, by taking away faithful, useful men, calls for weeping and mourning. Elijah was to Israel, by his counsels, reproofs, and prayers, better than the strongest force of chariot and horse, and kept off the judgments of God. Christ bequeathed to his disciples his precious gospel, like Elijah’s mantle; the token of the Divine power being exerted to overturn the empire of Satan, and to set up the kingdom of God in the world. The same gospel remains with us, though the miraculous powers are withdrawn, and it has Divine strength for the conversion and salvation of sinners.

Verses 13–18

Elijah left his mantle to Elisha; as a token of the descent of the Spirit upon him; it was more than if he had left him thousands of gold and silver. Elisha took it up, not as a sacred relic to be worshipped, but as a significant garment to be worn. Now that Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha inquired, 1. After God; when our creature-comforts are removed, we have a God to go to, who lives for ever. 2. After the God that Elijah served, and honoured, and pleaded for. The Lord God of the holy prophets is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; but what will it avail us to have the mantles of those that are gone, their places, their books, if we have not their spirit, their God? See Elisha’s dividing the river; God’s people need not fear at last passing through the Jordan of death as on dry ground. The sons of the prophets made a needless search for Elijah. Wise men may yield to that, for the sake of peace, and the good opinion of others, which yet their judgment is against, as needless and fruitless. Traversing hills and valleys will never bring us to Elijah, but following the example of his holy faith and zeal will, in due time.

Verses 19–25

Observe the miracle of healing the waters. Prophets should make every place to which they come better for them, endeavouring to sweeten bitter spirits, and to make barren souls fruitful, by the word of God, which is like the salt cast into the water by Elisha. It was an apt emblem of the effect produced by the grace of God on the sinful heart of man. Whole families, towns, and cities, sometimes have a new appearance through the preaching of the gospel; wickedness and evil have been changed into fruitfulness in the works of righteousness, which are, through Christ, to the praise and glory of God. Here is a curse on the youths of Bethel, enough to destroy them; it was not a curse causeless, for it was Elisha’s character, as God’s prophet, that they abused. They bade him “go up,” reflecting on the taking up of Elijah into heaven. The prophet acted by Divine impulse. If the Holy Spirit had not directed Elisha’s solemn curse, the providence of God would not have followed it with judgment. The Lord must be glorified as a righteous God who hates sin, and will reckon for it. Let young persons be afraid of speaking wicked words, for God notices what they say. Let them not mock at any for defects in mind or body; especially it is at their peril, if they scoff at any for well doing. Let parents that would have comfort in their children, train them up well, and do their utmost betimes to drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts. And what will be the anguish of those parents, at the day of judgment, who witness the everlasting condemnation of their offspring, occasioned by their own bad example, carelessness, or wicked teaching!

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