NBS – Elisha

Please read 2 Kings 5 & 6.  We will mainly cover the stories of Naaman and the King of Aram in these two chapters.   Below is some background information on Elisha.   

See you Wednesday,
Doug.
 

III. GENERAL ESTIMATE LITERATURE  A prophet, the disciple and successor of Elijah. He was the son of Shaphat, lived at Abel-meholah, at the northern end of the Jordan valley and a little South of the Sea of Galilee. Nothing is told of his parents but the father’s name, though he must have been a man of some wealth and doubtless of earnest piety. No hint is given of Elisha’s age or birth-place, and it is almost certain that he was born and reared at Abel-meholah, and was a comparatively young man when we first hear of him. His early life thus was spent on his father’s estate, in a god-fearing family, conditions which have produced so many of God’s prophets. His moral and religious nature was highly developed in such surroundings, and from his work on his father’s farm he was called to his training as a prophet and successor of Elijah.  I. His Call and Preparation.  The first mention of him occurs in 1Ki 19:16. Elijah was at Horeb, learning perhaps the greatest lesson of his life; and one of the three duties with which he was charged was to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah, as prophet in his stead.  1. His Call:  Elijah soon went northward and as he passed the lands of Shaphat he saw Elisha plowing in the rich level field of his father’s farm. Twelve yoke of oxen were at work, Elisha himself plowing with the twelfth yoke. Crossing over to him Elijah threw his mantle upon the young man (1Ki 19:19). Elisha seemed to understand the meaning of the symbolic act, and was for a moment overwhelmed with its significance. It meant his adoption as the son and successor of Elijah in the prophetic office. Naturally he would hesitate a moment before making such an important decision. As Elijah strode on, Elisha felt the irresistible force of the call of God and ran after the great prophet, announcing that he was ready to follow; only he wished to give a parting kiss to his father and mother (1Ki 19:20). Elijah seemed to realize what it meant to the young man, and bade him “Go back again; for what have I done to thee?” The call was not such an urgent one as Elisha seemed to think, and the response had better be deliberate and voluntary. But Elisha had fully made up his mind, slew the yoke of oxen with which he was plowing, boiled their flesh with the wood of the implements he was using, and made a farewell feast for his friends. He then followed Elijah, making a full renunciation of home ties, comforts and privileges. He became Elijah’s servant; and we have but one statement describing their relationship (2Ki 3:11): he “poured water on the hands of Elijah.”  2. His Preparation:  They seem to have spent several years together (1Ki 22:1; 2Ki 1:17), for Elisha became well known among the various schools of the prophets. While ministering to the needs of his master, Elisha learned many deep and important lessons, imbibed much of his spirit, and developed his own religious nature and efficiency until he was ready for the prophetic service himself. It seems almost certain that they lived among the schools of the prophets, and not in the mountains and hills as Elijah had previously done. During these years the tie between the two men became very deep and strong. They were years of great significance to the young prophet and of careful teaching on the part of the older. The lesson learned at Horeb was not forgotten and its meaning would be profoundly impressed upon the younger man, whose whole afterlife shows that he had deeply imbibed the teaching.  3. The Parting Gift of Elijah:  The final scene shows the strong and tender affection he cherished toward his master. Aware that the end was near, he determined to be with him until the last. Nothing could persuade him to leave Elijah. When asked what should be done for him, before his master was taken away, he asks for the elder son’s portion, a double portion, of his master’s spirit (2Ki 2:9). He has no thought of equality; he would be Elijah’s firstborn son. The request shows how deeply he had imbibed of his master’s spirit already. His great teacher disappears in a whirlwind, and, awestruck by the wonderful sight, Elisha rends his clothes, takes up the garment of Elijah, retraces his steps to the Jordan, smites the waters to test whether the spirit of Elijah had really fallen upon him, and as the water parts, he passes over dry shod. The sons of the prophets who have been watching the proceedings from the hills, at once observe that the spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha, and they bowed before him in reverence and submission (2Ki 2:12-15). Elisha now begins his prophetic career which must have lasted 50 years, for it extended over the reign of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz and Joash. The change in him is now so manifest that he is universally recognized as Elijah’s successor and the religious leader of the prophetic schools. The skepticism of the young prophets regarding the translation of Elijah found little sympathy with Elisha, but he is conciliatory and humors them (2Ki 2:16-18).  (7) The next incident is the healing of Naaman, the leprous commander of the Syrian army (2Ki 5:1-19). He is afflicted with the white leprosy, the most malignant kind (2Ki 5:27). A Jewish maiden, captured in one of their numerous invasions of Eastern Palestine, and sold into slavery with a multitude of others, tells her mistress, the wife of Naaman, about the wonder-working Elisha. The maiden tells her mistress that Elisha can heal the leprosy, and Naaman resolves to visit him. Through the king he obtains permission to visit Elisha with a great train and rich presents. The prophet sends his servant to tell him to dip seven times in the Jordan and he will be healed. Naaman is angered at the lack of deference on the part of Elisha and turns away in a rage to go home. Better counsels prevail, and he obeys the prophet and is cured. Elisha absolutely refuses the rich presents Naaman offers, and permits the Syrian to take some earth from Yahweh’s land, that he may build an altar in
Syria and worship Yahweh there. The idea was that a God was localized and could be worshipped only on his own land. Elisha grants Naaman permission apparently to worship Rimmon while avowedly he is a worshipper of Yahweh. The prophet appreciates the difficulties in Naaman’s path, believes in his sincerity, and by this concession in no way proves that he believes in the actual existence of a god named Rimmon, or that Yahweh was confined to his own land, or in any way sanctions idolatrous worship. He is conciliatory and tolerant, making the best of the situation.  

  

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Published in: on March 5, 2007 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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