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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
2 Kings 2

 

 

Verse 1

2 Kings 2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

Ver. 1. When the Lord would raise up Elijah into heaven.] Into the third heaven, not into the sky only - as some have conceited - till our Saviour’s ascension.

That Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.] Which is commonly held to have been a school or college of prophets - as was also Bethel - of whom be was the father or chief instructor. For a meet farewell to the earth, Elijah will go visit these places before his departure: these were in his way. Of any part of the earth, these were nearest unto heaven.


Verse 2

2 Kings 2:2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said [unto him, As] the LORD liveth, and [as] thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.

Ver. 2. And Elijah said unto Elisha.] Individuo suo Achati, who was and would be his constant companion.

Tarry here, I pray thee.] This he might speak, as desirous either to conceal his rapture to heaven, or rather to kindle in Elisha a more earnest affection to go along with him, that he might be a witness thereof, for the good of the Church in all ages.

I will not leave thee.] Hence some gather that God had revealed the matter to Elisha; and suggested to him not to leave Elijah.


Verse 3

2 Kings 2:3 And the sons of the prophets that [were] at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know [it]; hold ye your peace.

Ver. 3. From thy head,] i.e., To heaven, or from sitting any longer over thy head, as a doctor over his disciples. See Acts 22:3. For among the Jews, the Rabbi sat on high, and was called Joshebh, or the sitter; the scholar sat at his feet, or lay along in the dust, called therefore Mithabbek, in token of humility.

Hold ye your peace.] Hinder me not by your discourses from my diligent attendance, lest he be taken away on the sudden, and I not see him.


Verse 4

2 Kings 2:4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, [As] the LORD liveth, and [as] thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

Ver. 4. For the Lord hath sent me to Jericho.] Where was another college of prophets, whom he would likewise visit ere he left the earth, that he might pray with them, and advise them - see the like, 2 Peter 1:14 - and haply leave with them that letter to Jehoram, king of Judah, which, some years after, was to be delivered, [2 Chronicles 21:12] prophesying and foretelling his sins and punishments.


Verse 5

2 Kings 2:5 And the sons of the prophets that [were] at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know [it]; hold ye your peace.

Ver. 5. And the sons of the prophets.] See ver. 3.


Verse 6

2 Kings 2:6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, [As] the LORD liveth, and [as] thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.

Ver. 6. Tarry, I pray thee, here.] This is a third motion, for trial haply of his love and constancy. See the like, John 21:17.


Verse 7

2 Kings 2:7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.

Ver. 7. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets.] These were all of one college, and these were strong men, [2 Kings 2:16] able and active. In our days, the Jesuits - those locusts, Revelation 9:3 - have maintained two hundred thousand scholars, besides the monks and friars of other orders, enough to make up a very formidable army, and such as may serve Antichrist for a sufficient reserve, cum res redierit ad Triarios, when he shall be worst put to it. Oxford is said to have had sometime thirty thousand students in it at once.

And stood to view afar off.] Out of curiosity likely, but not without a special providence of God, that there might be so many witnesses of Elijah’s assumption to heaven.


Verse 8

2 Kings 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped [it] together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

Ver. 8. And smote the waters, and they were divided.] Elijah was a great wonder worker: and this is reckoned by some, his seventh, by others his eleventh miracle.


Verse 9

2 Kings 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

Ver. 9. Ask what I shall do for thee before.] Not after I am gone, but before I go up. We have a communion with the saints departed, not a commerce.

Let a double portion,] i.e., Two parts of three, saith Vatablus: the portion of the firstborn, say others, which was double to his brethren; so would Elijah have a larger measure of the gifts of the Spirit, than any ordinary prophets inasmuch as he was to succeed his master. [1 Kings 19:16] Some read it thus, Let the double portion of thy spirit be upon me: and then he wisheth no more than to be like his master Elijah. Thus Irenaeus proved very like Polycarp, John the Evangelist’s disciple. Thus Paraeus succeeding his master Ursinus in the College of Wisdom at Heidelberg, expressed him to the life: whence Paulus Melissus, the poet,

Sacra docente Pareo,

Vividus Ursini spiritus ora movet. ”


Verse 10

2 Kings 2:10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: [nevertheless], if thou see me [when I am] taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be [so].

Ver. 10. If thou see me when I am taken from thee.] Vehemence is the way to speed both in earth and in heaven. If but the eyelids of Elisha fall, if his thoughts slacken, his hopes are dashed. (a) There must be fixedness and vigilancy in those that desire double graces.


Verse 11

2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Ver. 11. As they still went on and talked.] Lo, Elijah was going and talking when the chariot of heaven came to fetch him. Surely, saith my reverend author, had not that conference been needful and divine, it had given way to meditation: and Elijah had been taken up rather from his knees than from his feet. (a) There can be no better posture or state for the messenger of our dissolution to find us in, than in a diligent prosecution of our calling; our busy attendance whereupon is no less pleasing to God, than an immediate devotion.

A chariot of fire, and horses of fire.] Angels in this form. [Psalms 104:4] Seraphims fetch up this seraphical doctor. He was zealous for the Lord of hosts: and they were all alight, on fire, as it were, with ardent affection toward him; so there was a suitableness. This candidate, therefore, of immortality - as the ancients call him and Enoch - went up by a whirlwind into heaven: he went most willingly with them. And Chrysostom hath a conceit, that Satan, the prince of the air, was very much amazed when he saw Elias thus convoyed through his country. But what a fool had he made of that woman of a sect and her companions at Newbury, A.D, 1647, whom he had persuaded that such a night she should be taken up into heaven: before which time many of them assembled together, took their solemn leaves of her with tears, and the time being come, out they go to see her ascension; but at length were fain to return to their homes, as wise as they came, having made themselves a ridiculous spectacle unto many. (b)


Verse 12

2 Kings 2:12 And Elisha saw [it], and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

Ver. 12. And Elisha saw it.] See on 2 Kings 2:10.

The horsemen of Israel.] As thou hast been the Lord’s faithful warrior for the safety of his Church, so now thou art carried into his kingdom of glory, as it were upon a triumphal chariot and horses. (a)


Verse 13

2 Kings 2:13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;

Ver. 13. The mantle of Elisah that fell from him.] This, Elijah let go - the rest of his clothes likely were consumed - ut mundi vestimenta in mundo dimittens, saith Jerome, as showing that in heaven there was no need of clothes. This mantle Elisha gladly took up, not only as a good amends for his own clothes which he had rent in two pieces, [2 Kings 2:12] but also as a memorial of his master, and a token that God had designed him his successor, and would clothe him with his spirit, as appeared by the ensuing experiment, Elisha’s first miracle.


Verse 14

2 Kings 2:14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where [is] the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

Ver. 14. Where is the Lord God of Elijah?] These are words of invocation and faith, rather than of doubt and of diffidence. Some render it, Where is the Lord God of Elijah, even He? and make Aph-hu - even He - to be one of God’s attributes. See Weemse’s "Exposition of the Moral Law," p. 162, and A Lapide, in loco.


Verse 15

2 Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which [were] to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

Ver. 15. Which were to view at Jericho,] i.e., At a convenient distance betwixt Jericho and Jordan.

Bowed themselves to the ground before him.] As acknowledging him now to be their chief instructor.


Verse 16

2 Kings 2:16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.

Ver. 16. And they said unto him, Behold now, &c.] They would do nothing without Elisha’s consent, whom now they looked upon as their new master. The Popish padres require blind obedience of their novices; telling them that if an angel or the blessed Virgin were talking with them, and their superior meanwhile call them off, they must presently obey. To argue or debate in their case, they say, were presumption: to require a reason, proud curiosity: to detract or disobey, breach of vow equal to sacrilege. This is the doctrine of Ignatius. But Elisha gave his pupils more liberty: as to propound and press their motion till he was ashamed. [2 Kings 2:17]


Verse 17

2 Kings 2:17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.

Ver. 17. He said, Send.] Since you have such a mind to it; though you are sure to lose your labour,

But found him not.] Tired with three days’ search, they turn back as wise as they went. Some men are best satisfied when they have wearied themselves in their own ways. Nothing will teach them wit but disappointments.


Verse 18

2 Kings 2:18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

Ver. 18. Did not I say unto you, Go not?] The uncounsellable are commonly unhappy in their attempts.


Verse 19

2 Kings 2:19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city [is] pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water [is] naught, and the ground barren.

Ver. 19. Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city, &c.] Say we so of such places, though never so pleasant, as have not the word and sacraments - those waters of life - purely and powerfully administered in them: and seek remedy.

But the water is naught, and the ground barren.] Heb., Making to miscarry. The cause whereof was not either that ancient malediction of Joshua, or the neighbourhood of that noisome lake of Sodom, but the recent sins of the inhabitants, - see Psalms 107:34, - and particularly Hiel’s presumption in rebuilding it. [1 Kings 16:34]


Verse 20

2 Kings 2:20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought [it] to him.

Ver. 20. And he said, Bring me, &c.] Jericho is now become a receptacle of prophets; it is reason that any place should fare the better for the presence of such.

A new cruse,] Whereby it might appear that the miracle was not wrought by virtue of anything that had been in it before.

And put salt therein.] Salt was more likely to make the waters brackish, than to sweeten them. Salsum in amarum was a strange way to heal. God oft worketh by contraries, that his power may the more appear.


Verse 21

2 Kings 2:21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren [land].

Ver. 21. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there.] Not into the channel, but into the spring. So must we, if we would be healed, cast the salt of mortification into our hearts, those fountains of speeches and actions. The Paracelsian holdeth that there is salt in every body. Sure enough there ought to be godly sorrow in every soul.

I have healed these waters.] If God casteth into our hearts but one cruseful of the salt of his Spirit, we are whole: no thought can pass between the receipt and the remedy.


Verse 22

2 Kings 2:22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

Ver. 22. So the waters were healed.] By Elisha; who was willing to gratify his hosts of Jericho, to remunerate their courtesy, and to convert them "from dumb idols to the living and true God."


Verse 23

2 Kings 2:23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

Ver. 23. And he went from thence unto Bethel.] Which was now a place of strange composition; for there was at once the golden calf of Jeroboam, and the school of God. Physicians are of most use where diseases abound.

There came forth little children.] Nuzzled up by their wicked parents in idolatry and contempt of a faithful ministry.

Go up, thou bald head.] Or, Ascend, as they say - but who can think it? - thy master Elijah did. Thus these mistaught brats, and, because they had nothing worse to upbraid him with, they twit him with his baldness: loading that head with scorn which God had crowned with honour.


Verse 24

2 Kings 2:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

Ver. 24. And cursed them.] By his spirit of prayer and prophecy: not out of private revenge.

And there came forth two she bears.] So Dr Whittington returning from martyring a good woman at Chipping Sadbury, was gored by a bull. (a) Dr Story, who vaunted that he had burnt so many earwigs - heretics he meant, - was hanged at Tyburn for treason. Hemingius telleth of a lewd fellow in Denmark, who showing great contempt against a preacher, as he passed out of the Church was brained with a tile. Luther (b) telleth of such another, who going into the fields to look to his sheep, after he had railed most bitterly against a godly minister, was found dead: his body being burnt as black as a coal. "Be not ye mockers, lest your bands be increased."


Verse 25

2 Kings 2:25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Ver. 25. To mount Carmel.] He can never be a profitable seer, that is either always or never alone. Carmel shall fit Elisha for Samaria; contemplation for action. (a)

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-2.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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