1. The pupil and successor of Elijah, a prophet of Israel during the reign of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash, B. C. 903-838. He was a native of Abel-meholah, where he was at work ploughing when Elijah called him to become a prophet, 1Ki 19:16. Some years afterwards he witnessed the miraculous ascension of Elijah, divided the Jordan with his mantle, and took his place at the head of the schools of the prophets. During his long ministry he acted an important part in the public affairs of Israel. Many miracles also were wrought at his word; some of these were, healing the waters of Jericho; supplying the widow's cruse with oil, and the allied armies of Judah, Israel, and Edom with water; gaining a son for the woman of Shunem, and restoring him to life; healing the leprosy of Naaman; detecting and punishing Ghazi. His history is recorded in 2Ki 2-9; 13:14-21. He died lamented by king Joash and the people; and a year afterwards, a corpse deposited in the same sepulchre was at one restored to life.
God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1Ki 19:16-19). His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint him as his successor (1Ki 19:16). This was the only one of the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished. On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native place engaged in the labours of the field, ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him with the prophetical office (comp. Lu 9:61-62). Elisha accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and 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 Elijah, Elisha 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 (2Ki 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2Ki 5:8).
After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2Ki 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2Ki 2:23), where, with the sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of Jehoram was faint from thirst (2Ki 3:9-20); of the multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (2Ki 4:1-7); the miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem (2Ki 4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (2Ki 4:42-44); of the cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (2Ki 5); of the punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan (2Ki 6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that would come (2Ki 6:24-7:2).
We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2Ki 8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (2Ki 9:1-10) were at length carried out.
We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed in his own house (2Ki 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away: "My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2Ki 13:20-21).
("God for salvation".) ELISEUS in New Testament. Shaphat's son, of Abel Meholah ("meadow of the dance"), in the Jordan valley. See his call: ELIJAH. He was engaged at field work, 12 yoke before him, i.e. himself with the 12th while the other 11 were in other parts of the field; or, as land was measured by "yokes of oxen," he had plowed land to the extent of nearly 12 yokes, and was finishing the 12th: either view marks his being a man of substance. Hengstenberg regards the twelve as marking him the prophet of the whole covenant nation, not merely of the ten tribes. Whether formally "anointed" with oil or not, he was really anointed with the Spirit, and duly called by his predecessor to the prophetic office by Elijah's crossing over, and hastily throwing upon him the rough mantle, the token of investiture, and then going as quickly as he came. Elisha was one to act at once on God's first call, at all costs.
So bidding farewell to father and mother (contrast Mt 8:21-22; "suffer me first to go and (tend my father until his death, and then) bury my father"; and Lu 9:61-62, where the "bidding farewell" involved in that particular case a division of heart between home relations and Christ, Lu 14:26; Mt 10:37; Php 3:13), and slaying a yoke of oxen and boiling the flesh with the wooden instruments (compare 2Sa 24:22), a token of giving up all for the Lord's sake, he ministered to Elijah henceforth as Joshua did to Moses. His ministry is once described, "Elisha who poured water on the hands of Elijah." He was subordinate; so the sons of the prophets represent it: "Jehovah will take away thy master (Elijah) from thy head" (2Ki 2:3). Yet his ministry made an advance upon that of his master.
The mission of Elijah, as his name implied, was to bring Israel to confess that Jehovah alone is God ('Eel); Elisha further taught them, as his name implies, that Jehovah if so confessed would prove the salvation of His people. Hence, Elisha's work is that of quiet beneficence; Elijah's that of judicial sternness upon all rebels against Jehovah. Contrast 1Ki 18:40 with 2Ki 5:18-19. Elisha, the healer, fitly comes after Elijah, the destroyer. The latter presents himself with the announcement, "as Jehovah God of Israel liveth ... there shall not be dew nor rain these years": the first miracle of the former is, "thus saith Jehovah, I have healed these waters (by casting in salt, the symbol of grace and incorruption), there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land." The large spring N.W. of the present town of Jericho is the traditional object of the cure (Ain-es-Sultan).
Elijah, like a Bedouin, delighted in the desert, the heights of Carmel, and the caves of Horeb, and avoided cities. Elisha on the contrary frequented the haunts of civilization, Jericho (2Ki 2:18), Samaria (2Ki 2:25), and Dothan (2Ki 6:13), where he had a house with "doors" and "windows" 2Ki 4:3,9,24; 6:32; 13:17). He wore the ordinary Israelite garment, and instead of being shunned by kings for sternness, he possessed considerable influence with the king and the "captain of the host" (2Ki 4:13).
At times he could be as fiery in indignation against the apostate kings of Israel as was his predecessor (2Ki 3:13-14), but even then he yields himself to the soothing strains of a minstrel for the godly Jehoshaphat's sake, and foretells that the ditches which he directs to be made should be filled with water (the want of which was then being sorely felt), coming by the way of Edom; this took place at the S.E. end of the Dead Sea; the route of the confederates Judah. Israel, and Edom, in order to invade the rebelling Moabite king Mesha from the eastern side, since he was (according to the Moabite stone) carrying all before him in the N.W.
Like Elijah, he conquered the idols on their own ground, performing without fee the cures for which Beelzebub of Ekron was sought in vain. At Bethel, on his way from Jericho to Carmel (2Ki 2:23), where he had been with Elijah (2Ki 2:2), he was met by "young men" (narim, not "little children"), idolaters or infidels, who, probably at the prompting of Baal's prophets in that stronghold of his worship sneered at the report of Elijah's ascension: "Go up" like thy master, said they, "thou bald head" (qereach, i.e., with hair short at the back of the head, in contrast with Elijah's shaggy locks flowing over his shoulders; gibeach is the term for bald in front). Keil understands, however, "small boys" to have mocked his natural baldness at the back of his head (not with old age, for he lived until 50 years later, 2Ki 13:14).
The God-hating spirit which prevailed at calf-worshipping Bethel betrayed itself in these boys, who insulted the prophet of Jehovah knowingly. The profanity of the parents, whose guilt the profane children filled the measure of, was punished in the latter, that the death of the sons might constrain the fathers to fear the Lord since they would not love Him, and to feel the fatal effects recoiling on themselves of instigating their children to blaspheme (Ex 20:5). Elisha, not in personal revenge but as Jehovah's minister, by God's inspiration, pronounced their doom. Two Syrian she-bears (corresponding to the Arctic bear of northern Europe) "tare forty-two of them" (compare and contrast Lu 9:54-55). A widow (Obadiah's widow, according to Josephus), when the creditor threatened to take her sons as bondmen, cried to Elisha for help on the ground of her deceased husband's piety.
Elisha directed her to borrow empty vessels, and from her one remaining pot of oil to fill them all, shutting the door upon herself and her sons who brought her the vessels. Only when there was no vessel left to fill was the miraculous supply of oil stayed. A type of prayer, with "shut doors" (Mt 6:6), which brings down supplies of grace so long as we and ours have hearts open to receive it (Ps 81:10; Eph 3:20). Only when Abraham ceased to ask did God cease to grant (Genesis 18). On his way from Gilgal (not the one which was near Jericho, but N. of Lydda, now Jiljilieh) to Carmel, Elisha stayed at Shunem in Issachar, now Solam, three miles N. of Jezreel, on the southern slopes of Jebel ed Duhy, the little Hermon. "A great woman" (in every sense: means, largeness of heart, humility, contentment) was his hostess, and with her husband's consent provided for him a little chamber with bed, table, stool, and candlestick, so that he might in passing always "turn in there."
In reward he offered to use his interest for her with the king or the captain of the host; with true magnanimity which seeks not great things for self (Jer 45:5), she replied, "I dwell among mine own people." At Gehazi's suggestion without her solicitation, Elisha promises from God that she should have what was the greatest joy to an Israelite wife, a son. When he was old enough to go out with his father, a sunstroke in the harvest field caused his death. The mother, inferring from God's extraordinary and unsought gift of the child to her, that it could not be God's design to snatch him from her for ever, and remembering that Elijah had restored the widow's son at Zarephath, mounted her she-ass (hathon, esteemed swifter than the he-ass), and having left her son on the bed of the man of God, without telling her husband of the death, rode 15 miles, four hours ride, to Carmel.
There Elisha was wont to see her regularly at his services on the "new moon and sabbath." Seeing her now approaching from a distance, Elisha sent Gehazi to meet her and ask, "Is it well with thee? ... with thy husband? ... with the child?" Her faith, hope, and resignation prompted the reply, "It is well." Gehazi, like Jesus' disciples (Mt 15:23; 19:13), would have thrust her away when she clasped Elisha's feet (compare Mt 28:9; Lu 7:38), but Elisha with sympathetic insight said, "Let her alone, for her soul is vexed within her, and Jehovah hath hid it from me." A word from her was enough to reveal the child's death, which with natural absence of mind amidst her grief she did not explicitly men. lion, "Did I desire a son from my lord?" Elisha sends on Gehazi with his staff; Gehazi is to salute none on the way, 'like Jesus' 70 sent before His face, but lays Elisha
Elisha was a native of Abel-meholah, which was situated in the Jordan valley 10 Roman miles from Scythopolis, probably on the site of the modern 'Ain Helweh. His father was a well-to-do farmer, and so Elisha is a representative of the newer form of Hebrew society. On his return from Horeb, Elijah cast his mantle upon the youth, as he was directing his father's servants at their ploughing. The young man at once recognized the call from God, and, after a hastily-devised farewell feast, he left the parental abode (1Ki 19:16,19), and ever after he was known as the man 'who poured water on the hands of Elijah' (2Ki 3:11). His devotion to, and his admiration for, his great master are apparent in the closing scenes of the latter's life. A double portion of Elijah's spirit (cf. the right of the firstborn to a double portion of the patrimony) is the summum bonum which he craved. In order to receive this boon he must be a witness of the translation of the mighty hero of Jehovah; and as Elijah is whirled away in the chariot of fire, his mantle falls upon his disciple, who immediately makes use of it in parting the waters of the Jordan. After Elisha has recrossed the river, he is greeted by the sons of the prophets as their leader (2Ki 2:15).
After this event it is impossible to reduce the incidents of Elisha's life to any chronological sequence. His ministry covered half a century (b.c. 855
Son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah. Elijah was instructed by God to anoint Elisha to be prophet in his stead. Elijah cast his mantle over him, but we do not read of the anointing: doubtless it was realised in receiving a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Elisha was not prepared then to take up Elijah's mantle, but first he made a feast for his people, and then he followed Elijah and ministered unto him. When God was about to take Elijah to Himself, it became known to the sons of the prophets, and they told Elisha, but he knew it already; and when Elijah suggested to him to remain behind he refused and followed him from place to place, until he had traversed Jordan (figuratively death) with Elijah. Being thus proved to be knit together in spirit, Elijah asked Elisha what he should do for him before he was taken. Elisha said, "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." Elijah replied that, though he had asked a hard thing, it should be so if he saw him when he was taken up. A chariot and horses of fire separated them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven; and Elisha saw it. Elisha took up the mantle that fell from Elijah, which before he had failed to do, and went to the Jordan and smote it with the mantle, and the waters divided, and he passed over into the land, with the spirit of the ascended Elijah resting on him.
Elisha's first miracle was healing the waters at Jericho, the cursed city, by means of salt in a new cruse: type of the purifying power of grace. His mission was grace as from an ascended one; the waters were permanently healed, and the ground was no longer barren. But as he went to Bethel some boys out of the city mocked him, saying, "Go up, thou bald head." He cursed them in the name of the Lord, and two she bears tore forty-two of them. God vindicated the authority of His servant. Elisha had come as it were from heaven, into which Elijah had entered, and he came in grace, and if this was despised, judgement must follow, as it will be with Israel by-and-by. Elisha went to Carmel, where the priests of Baal had been destroyed, and thence to Samaria, the seat of the apostasy, and where his testimony was most needed. Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Jehoram king of Israel, and the king of Edom, to attack Moab; but they had no water. Elisha was sought for, and he boldly told Jehoram to go to the gods of his father and mother: if Jehoshaphat had not been there he would not have helped them, nevertheless there was grace for them. Ditches, or pits were made, and in the morning the valley was full of water; victory over Moab followed. 2Ki 2:1; 3:1.
A widow of one of the prophets appealed to Elisha to save her two sons from the grasp of a creditor. She had nothing but a pot of oil. She was told to borrow vessels 'not a few,' and fill them with oil. On her doing this the oil was increased until there was not a vessel more to fill. Thus according to her faith in borrowing was her supply from God. The creditor was paid, and she and her sons lived on the remainder, showing how God far exceeded her request.
A great woman at Shunem bestowed hospitality on Elisha, and provided a chamber for his use whenever he passed that way. For this she was rewarded with a son; but when grown old enough to go into the fields he died. The woman laid him on Elisha's bed, and hastened to inform him of what had happened, but piously added 'It is well.' Elisha returned with the woman, and the child was raised to life and restored to his mother. Thus was manifested the power of God over death and a broken heart was bound up.
Two more miracles followed. In gathering herbs for a meal because of the dearth, a poisonous weed was included and there was 'death in the pot.' Elisha cast in some meal, and the pottage was cured. The other miracle was the increase of the bread so that a hundred men were supplied from twenty loaves, or cakes, and there was some left: similar to the Lord feeding the multitudes when He was on earth. 2 Kings 4.
The next miracle was healing Naaman the Syrian of leprosy. This was grace extending beyond the land, even to their enemies. Naaman had to be humbled as well as blessed, and to learn that there was "no God in all the earth but in Israel," as he himself confessed. Gehazi, Elisha's servant, was, alas, tempted with a lie in his mouth to take of the Syrian some of the presents which he had brought for Elisha, but which had been refused. This was revealed to Elisha, and the leprosy of Naaman cleaved to Gehazi and to his seed. The one nearest to the means of blessing, if he turns from it, suffers most. Elisha next made the iron head of the axe to swim, thus reversing the laws of nature: the axe was borrowed, and the trust must not be violated. 2 Kings 5, 2Ki 6:1-7.
The Syrians had now to learn a lesson of the power of the God of Israel, but still in grace. They laid traps for the king of Israel, but Elisha warned him again and again of the danger, and he escaped. On this being made known to the king of Syria he sent an army to seize Elisha. He was at Dothan, and they compassed the city. Elisha prayed that his servant's eyes might be opened to see that they were surrounded with horses and chariots of fire which were otherwise invisible: cf. Heb 1:13-14. The army was then smitten with blindness, led to Samaria, fed with bread and water, and dismissed to their master with the wonderful tale. It was no use laying plots against people whose God protected them like this. "The bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel;" that is, the marauding bands that laid plots to seize the king; for immediately we read that Ben-hadad king of Syria came with a great army and besieged Samaria. The famine became so severe that a woman's child was boiled and eaten. The king was greatly moved at this and threatened to take the life of Elisha, apparently linking the famine with God's servant. This was revealed to Elisha as he sat in the house. The king followed the messenger and he said, "This evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?" Elisha had a message of deliverance: by the next day a measure of fine flour should be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for the same. An unbelieving lord scoffed at this; but he saw it, though he did not eat of it, for he was trampled to death in the crowd. Thus judgement followed unbelief in the gracious provision of God. 2Ki 6:8 - 2 Kings 7.
Elisha prophesied that there would be a seven years' famine, and he told the Shunammite woman to sojourn where she could during the time. She dwelt among the Philistines seven years, and on her return she cried to the king for the restoration of her house and land. God so ordered it that just at that time Gehazi was relating to the king the great things that Elisha had done. He recognised the woman as the one whose son Elisha had raised, and the king ordered the restoration of her property.
The prophet went to Damascus, and Ben-hadad, being sick, sent Hazael to inquire if he should recover. The answer was that he might certainly recover, yet he should die: an apparent enigma; but it was fully explained by Hazael causing his death when he would otherwise have recovered. Elisha prophesied that Hazael would be king over Syria, and he wept as he told the dreadful things he would do to Israel. Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel: he was to execute God's judgement on the house of Ahab and on Jezebel, which had been prophesied by Elijah. 1Ki 21:23-24. What had been foretold Jehu fulfilled. 2-Kings/8/type/bbe'>2 Kings 8, 2 Kings 9.
The time now approached for Elisha's death. He was sick and Joash king of Israel went to visit him. Elisha prophesied that Joash should smite the Syrians till they were consumed, but he was angry with the king's want of energy and said he should smite them but three times. Elisha's work was now done and he died and was buried. When a corpse was let down into the same tomb, as soon as it touched the bones of Elisha life was restored. Type that though Israel is now dead towards God (cf. Da 12:2), when they are brought into connection with God's true Prophet they will be restored to life as unexpectedly
(God his salvation), son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah; the attendant and disciple of Elijan, and subsequently his successor as prophet of the kingdom of Israel. The earliest mention of his name is in the command to Elijah in the cave at Horeb.
(B.C. about 900.) Elijah sets forth to obey the command, and comes upon his successor engaged in ploughing. He crosses to him and throws over his shoulders the rough mantle --a token at once of investiture with the prophet's office and of adoption as a son. Elisha delayed merely to give the farewell kiss to his father and mother and preside at a parting feast with his people, and then followed the great prophet on his northward road. We hear nothing more of Elisha for eight years, until the translation of his master, when he reappears, to become the most prominent figure in the history of his country during the rest of his long life. In almost every respect Elisha presents the most complete contrast to Elijah. Elijah was a true Bedouin child of the desert. If he enters a city it is only to deliver his message of fire and be gone. Elisha, on the other hand, is a civilized man, an inhabitant of cities. His dress was the ordinary garment of an Israelite, the beged, probably similar in form to the long abbeyeh of the modern Syrians.
His hair was worn trimmed behind, in contrast to the disordered locks of Elijah, and he used a walking-staff,
of the kind ordinarily carried by grave or aged citizens.
After the departure of his master, Elisha returned to dwell at Jericho,
where he miraculously purified the springs. We next meet with Elisha at Bethel, in the heart of the country, on his way from Jericho to Mount Carmel.
The mocking children, Elisha's curse and the catastrophe which followed are familiar to all. Later he extricates Jehoram king of Israel, and the kings of Judah and Edom, from their difficulty in the campaign against Moab arising from want of water.
Then he multiplies the widow's oil.
The next occurrence is at Shunem, where he is hospitably entertained by a woman of substance, whose son dies, and is brought to life again by Elisha.
Then at Gilgal he purifies the deadly pottage,
and multiplies the loaves.
The simple records of these domestic incidents amongst the sons of the prophets are now interrupted by an occurrence of a more important character.
The chief captain of the army of Syria, Naaman, is attacked with leprosy, and is sent by an Israelite maid to the prophet Elisha, who directs him to dip seven times in the Jordan, which he does and is healed,
while Naaman's servant, Gehazi, he strikes with leprosy for his unfaithfulness. ch.
Again the scene changes. It is probably at Jericho that Elisha causes the iron axe to swim.
A band of Syrian marauders are sent to seize him, but are struck blind, and he misleads them to Samaria, where they find themselves int he presence of the Israelite king and his troops.
During the famine in Samaria,
he prophesied incredible plenty, ch.
which was soon fulfilled. ch.
We next find the prophet at Damascus. Benhadad the king is sick, and sends to Elisha by Hazael to know the result. Elisha prophesies the king's death, and announces to Hazael that he is to succeed to the throne.
Finally this prophet of God, after having filled the position for sixty years, is found on his death-bed in his own house.
The power of the prophet, however, does not terminate with his death. Even in the tomb he restores the dead to life. ch.
ELISHA, the son of Shaphat, Elijah's disciple and successor in the prophetic office, was of the city of Abelmeholah, 1Ki 19:16, &c. Elijah having received God's command to anoint Elisha as a prophet, came to Abelmeholah; and finding him ploughing with oxen, he threw his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha, who left the oxen, and accompanied him. Under the article Elijah, it has been observed that Elisha was following his master, when he was taken up to heaven; and that he inherited Elijah's mantle, with a double portion of his spirit. Elisha smote the waters of Jordan, and divided them; and he rendered wholesome the waters of a rivulet near Jericho. The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom, having taken the field against the king of Moab, who had revolted from Israel, were in danger of perishing for want of water. Elisha was at that time in the camp; and seeing Jehoram, the king of Israel, he said, "What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. As the Lord liveth, were it not out of respect to Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, who is here present, I would not so much as look on thee. But now send for a minstrel; and while this man played, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon Elisha, and he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make several ditches along this valley; for ye shall see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley shall be filled with water, and you and your cattle shall drink of it." The widow of one of the prophets having told Elisha, that her husband's creditor was determined to take her two sons and sell them for slaves, Elisha multiplied the oil in the widow's house, in such quantity that she was enabled to sell it and to discharge the debt. Elisha went frequently to Shunem, a city of Manasseh, on this side Jordan, and was entertained by a certain matron at her house. As she had no children, Elisha promised her a son; and his prediction was accomplished. Some years after, the child died. Elisha, who was then at Mount Carmel, was solicited by the mother to come to her house. The prophet went, and restored the child. At Gilgal, during a great famine, one of the sons of the prophets gathered wild gourds, which he put into the pot, and they were served up to Elisha and the other prophets. It was soon found that they were mortal poison; but Elisha ordering meal to be thrown into the pot, corrected the quality of the pottage. Naaman, general of the king of Syria's forces, having a leprosy, was advised to visit Elisha in order to be cured. Elisha appointed him to wash himself seven times in the Jordan; and by this means Naaman was perfectly healed. He returned to Elisha, and offered him large presents, which the man of God resolutely refused. But Gehazi, Elisha's servant, did not imitate the disinterestedness of his master. He ran after Naaman, and in Elisha's name begged a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. Naaman gave him two talents. Elisha, to whom God had discovered Gehazi's action, reproached him with it, and declared, that the leprosy of Naaman should cleave to him and his family for ever. This is a striking instance of the disinterestedness of the Jewish prophets. Elisha, like his master Elijah, had learned to contemn the world. The king of Syria being at war with the king of Israel, could not imagine how all his designs were discovered by the enemy. He was told, that Elisha revealed them to the king of Israel. He therefore sent troops to seize the prophet at Dothan; but Elisha struck them with blindness, and led them in that condition into Samaria. When they were in the city, he prayed to God to open their eyes; and after he had made them eat and drink, he sent them back unhurt to their master. Some time after, Benhadad, king of Syria, having besieged Samaria, the famine became so extreme, that a certain woman ate her own child. Jehoram, king of Israel, imputing to Elisha these calamities, sent a messenger to cut off his head. Elisha, who was informed of this design against his life, ordered the door to be shut. The messenger was scarcely arrived, when the king himself followed, and made great complaints of the condition to which the town was reduced. Elisha answered, "To-morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria." Upon this, one of the king's officers said, "Were the Lord to open windows in heaven, might this thing be." This unbelief was punished; for the prophet answered, "Thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof," which happened according to Elisha's prediction, for he was trodden to death by the crowd in the gate. At the end of the seven years' famine, which the prophet had foretold, he went to Damascus, to execute the command which God had given to Elijah many years before, of declaring Hazael king of Syria. Benhadad being at that time indisposed, and hearing that Elisha was come into his territories, sent Hazael, one of his principal officers, to the prophet to consult him, and inquire of him whether it were possible for him to recover. The prophet told Hazael, that he might recover, but that he was very well assured that he should not; and then looking steadfastly upon him, he broke out into tears upon the prospect, as he told him, of the many barbarous calamities which he would bring upon Israel, when once he was advanced to power, as he would soon be, because he was assured by divine revelation that he was to be king of Syria. Hazael, though offended at the time at being thought capable of such atrocities, did but too clearly verify these predictions; for at his return, having murdered Benhadad, and procured himself to be declared king, he inflicted the greatest miseries upon the Israelites.
2. Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Nimshi, to be king, in pursuance of an order given to Elijah some years before; and Jehu having received the royal unction, executed every thing that had been foretold by Elijah against Ahab's family, and against Jezebel. Elisha falling sick, Joash, king of Israel, came to visit him, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." Elisha desired the king to bring him a bow and arrows. Joash having brought them, Elisha requested him to put his hands on the bow, and at the same time the prophet put his own hand upon the king's, and said, Open the window which looks east, and let fly an arrow.
The king having done this, Elisha said, This is the arrow of the Lord's deliverance: thou shalt be successful against Syria at Aphek. Elisha desired him again to shoot, which he did three times, and then stopped. But Elisha with vehemence said, "If thou hadst smitten five or six times, then thou hadst smitten Syria until thou hadst consumed it; whereas now thou shalt smite Syria only thrice." This is the last prediction of Elisha of which we read in Scripture, for soon after he died; but it was not his last miracle: for, some time after his interment, a company of Israelites, as they were going to bury a dead person, perceiving a band of Moabites making toward them, put the corpse for haste into Elisha's tomb, and, as soon as it had touched the prophet's body, it immediately revived; so that the man stood upon his feet: a striking emblem of the life-giving effect of the labours of the servants of God, after they themselves are gathered to their fathers.