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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

2 Kings 2

Introduction

2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 2:25 . Last Days and Ascension of Elijah: Elisha Established as his Successor.— Here we have perhaps a third Elijah narrative, in which the prophet is represented as playing a part scarcely worthy of the Elijah of 1 Kings 17-19 or 21, who in the first section represents Yahweh against the Tyrian Baal, whereas in the latter he stands for righteousness opposed to legalised violence. Here the king’ s offence is that he sent to a Philistine oracle instead of inquiring of Yahweh, and his soldiers are punished by fire for summoning the prophet to surrender. The spelling of the prophet’ s name in Hebrew differs from that in the rest of the OT. The story is mentioned in the Gospel ( Luke 9:54).

Verses 1-25

2 Kings 1:1 to 2 Kings 2:25 . Last Days and Ascension of Elijah: Elisha Established as his Successor.— Here we have perhaps a third Elijah narrative, in which the prophet is represented as playing a part scarcely worthy of the Elijah of 1 Kings 17-19 or 21, who in the first section represents Yahweh against the Tyrian Baal, whereas in the latter he stands for righteousness opposed to legalised violence. Here the king’ s offence is that he sent to a Philistine oracle instead of inquiring of Yahweh, and his soldiers are punished by fire for summoning the prophet to surrender. The spelling of the prophet’ s name in Hebrew differs from that in the rest of the OT. The story is mentioned in the Gospel ( Luke 9:54).

With ch. 2 we seem to enter upon a series of Elisha stories which occupy the greater part of the earlier chapters of 2 K. Elijah and Elisha lived, apparently, at the Gilgal” ( 2 Kings 2:1), not the place of that name in the Jordan valley, or they could not have “ gone down” from thence to Bethel. At Bethel and Jericho there were prophetic settlements ( 2 Kings 2:3) or companies ( 1 Samuel 10:5). These associations play an important part in the story of Elisha, who is in a sense their leader, whereas Elijah was a solitary prophet. “ Son” simply means “ disciple.” Amos ( Amos 7:14) denied that he himself was a professional prophet. By the doable portion of Elijah’ s spirit ( 2 Kings 2:9) is meant the share of the first-born. Elisha desires to be appointed his master’ s representative. Elijah’ s answer ( 2 Kings 2:10) shows how difficult it is to transmit a spiritual office. The chariots of fire were a sign of the Divine presence ( 2 Kings 6:17). When Elisha crossed the Jordan he could not have been seen from Jericho, which is not in sight of the river ( 2 Kings 2:15). He was recognised by the prophets as the successor of Elijah, whose spirit rested upon him. Two signs of Elisha’ s power are given, the healing of the spring at Jericho ( 2 Kings 2:19-22), which made the land miscarry, by casting in salt, the symbol of purification ( Leviticus 21:3, Matthew 5:13, etc.), and the punishment of the children— not youths but “ little boys,” who mocked his baldness ( 2 Kings 2:23-25). Baldness is not an honourable sign of age in the East, but ( a) of grief (voluntary baldness); ( b) a discredit (see A. Macalister, Baldness, HDB). The bear ( 2 Kings 2:24) is rare in Western Palestine (but see 1 Samuel 17:34, Amos 5:19). The children were not necessarily punished by death, but were at least severely wounded.

2 Kings 2:12 a. Apparently describes Elijah as Israel’ s defence, her chariots and horsemen, cf. the application by Joash to Elisha of the same description in 2 Kings 13:14.— A. S. P.]

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 2". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/2-kings-2.html. 1919.