Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 13:21

As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Dead (People);   Elisha;   Jehoash;   Miracles;   Prophecy;   Thompson Chain Reference - Body;   Elisha;   Influence;   Miracles;   Mortality-Immortality;   Posthumous Influence;   Resurrection;   Resurrections;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Dead, the;   Kings;   Miracles Wrought through Servants of God;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ben-Hadad;   Elisha;   Joash or Jehoash;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Grave;   Miracle;   Necromancy;   Resurrection;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Relics;   Zeal;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jonah;   Judah, Kingdom of;   Law;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Damascus;   Elisha;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Resurrection;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Elisha;   Revive;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Burial;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Elisha ;   Jehoahaz ;   Joash ;   Miracles;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Burial;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Elisha;   Joash;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Eli'sha;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Band;   Death;   Decease, in the Old Testament and Apocyphra;   Elisha;   Jehoash;   Kings, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Burial;   Shallum;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They spied a band - They saw one of these marauding parties; and through fear could not wait to bury their dead, but threw the body into the grave of Elisha, which chanced then to be open; and as soon as it touched the bones of the prophet, the man was restored to life. This shows that the prophet did not perform his miracles by any powers of his own, but by the power of God; and he chose to honor his servant, by making even his bones the instrument of another miracle after his death. This is the first, and I believe the last, account of a true miracle performed by the bones of a dead man; and yet on it and such like the whole system of miraculous working relics has been founded by the popish Church.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They cast the man - Rather, “they thrust the man.” The graves of the Jews were not pits dug in the ground, like ours, but caves or cells excavated in the side of a rock, the mouth of the cave being ordinarily shut by a heavy stone.

Stood up on his feet - Coffins were not used by the Jews. The body was simply wrapped or swathed in grave-clothes (compare Luke 7:15; John 11:44).

This miracle of Elisha‘s after his death is more surprising than any of those which he performed during his lifetime. The Jews regarded it as his highest glory (compare Ecclesiaticus 48:13,14). It may be said to belong to a class of Scriptural miracles, cases, i. e. where the miracle was not performed through the agency of a living miracle-worker, but by a material object in which, by God‘s will, “virtue” for the time resided (compare Acts 19:12). The primary effect of the miracle was, no doubt, greatly to increase the reverence of the Israelites for the memory of Elisha, to lend force to his teaching, and especially to add weight to his unfulfilled prophecies, as to that concerning the coming triumphs of Israel over Syria. In the extreme state of depression to which the Israelites were now reduced, a very signal miracle may have been needed to encourage and reassure them.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-13.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man,.... That is, as they were going to bury him; for as yet they were not come to the place they designed to bury him at, as appears by what follows:

that, behold, they spied a band of men; one of the bands of the Moabites, which came to rob and plunder, and which was about the place where they intended to bury the man; or they supposed would be there by that time they got to it, or at least before they could bury him, and therefore being frightened stopped:

and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; that being nearest, they opened it, or rather rolled away the stone from it, and threw the body in great haste:

and when the man was let down, and touched the bone's of Elisha; or "went and touched"F18וילך ויגע "abit et tetigit", Pagninus, Montanus. ; that is, as Kimchi interprets it, being cast in, he rolled till he came to the body of the prophet, and touched it:

he revived, and stood upon his feet; which might serve to confirm the faith of Joash in the predictions of the prophet concerning his victories; is a proof of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal life, and an emblem of our being quickened through the death of Christ. The Jews sayF19Pirke Eliezer, c. 33. this man was Shallum the son of Tikvah, and husband of Huldah the prophetess, and was a good man, much given to alms, for which he was rewarded; and they further say, he went to his own house, and lived many years, and begat children, and particularly Hananeel, mentioned in Jeremiah 32:7, which is not likely; though others sayF20T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol, 47. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 11. 2. he was a wicked man, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, 1 Kings 22:24 and therefore not suffered to continue in the prophet's grave; but the former is more probable; and, according to JosephusF21Antiqu. l. 9. c. 8. sect. 6. , it was the band of robbers that left this man, whom they had murdered, in the grave of Elisha. This grave seems to have been in the field, where the Jews of old, and in later times, buried, as in the field of Hebron, the potter's field, &c. so the Greeks, as Pausanias relatesF23Corinthiac. sive, l. 2. p. 97. , and the Romans alsoF24Vid. Kirchman. Funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 22. , buried by the wayside.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band [of men]; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he l revived, and stood up on his feet.

(l) By this miracle God confirmed the authority of Elisha, whose doctrine in his life they contemned, that at this sight they might return and embrace the same doctrine.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-13.html. 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

This miracle perhaps, (for I do not presume to decide upon it positively) had a double signification. Probably it might be intended to imply that the doctrine Elisha had delivered, gave life to the souls of the faithful, after the prophet himself was no more. And yet perhaps, more probably, the thing itself was intended to lead the minds of the Old Testament saints to the belief and assurance of the resurrection, in and by the Lord Jesus. Elisha was himself an eminent type of Christ. And as such, was not the revival of this dead man, whose body was hastily put, through fear of the band of the Moabites, into the sepulchre of Elijah, an emblem that from believers being buried with Christ in the likeness of his death, they shall be also in his likeness in the resurrection? Romans 6:5; John 11:25.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-kings-13.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

He revived — Which miracle God wrought, to do honour to that great prophet, and that by this seal he might confirm his doctrine, to strengthen the faith of Joash, and of the Israelites, in this promise of their success against the Syrians; and in the midst of all their calamities to comfort such Israelites as were Elisha's followers, with the hopes of eternal life, whereof this was a manifest pledge, and to awaken the rest of that people to a due care and preparation for it.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-13.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

POSTHUMOUS INFLUENCE

‘When the man was let down, and touched the hones of Elisha, he revived, and stood upon his feet.’

2 Kings 13:21

The miracle described in these verses—a man being revived by contact with another’s dry bones—is one that is being continually repeated. It takes place every day before our eyes.

I. Shakespeare says that ‘the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.’—I am glad that the last part of the sentence is not true. A great and good man is a volcano that never becomes extinct. ‘I shall never die,’ said Horace, more than eighteen hundred years ago; and even at the present day he sends forth streams of quickening and vitalising energy. Although John Brown’s bones lay mouldering in the dust, his influence was as real, vital, and inspiring to the people of North America as if he had been alive. How many a man has become a painter through contact with Raphael, a musician through contact with Handel, a poet through contact with Shakespeare, a sailor through contact with Nelson, or a missionary through contact with David Livingstone?

II. We live in a soft and enervating age, and are too ready to sacrifice conscience for comfort and principle for patronage.—Contact with such men as John Robinson and John Bunyan should do much to strengthen and rouse the young people of this generation. But it is only by touching the Christ upon the Cross that souls live. It is at the Cross our chains are broken; it is at the Cross our sins are forgiven; it is at the Cross our stubborn hearts are melted.

—Rev. Prebendary Gordon Calthrop.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Whatever authority there may have been for this strange incident, the historian has put it down as a testimony to the veneration in which the prophet was still held years after he had passed away. It is unlike any other Bible miracle, and of itself it has little moral or spiritual significance, but it witnesses that the memory of the just is blessed. The saints’ true relics are not their bones, but the memories of their faith and godliness.’

(2) ‘There is a legend which says that when the Empress Helena was searching for the true Cross three crosses were found. Which of these was the Cross of Jesus could not be told. Then they brought sick people and laid them in turn upon the different crosses, and when they touched the Cross on which Jesus had died they were restored. They brought a dead body and laid it in turn upon the crosses. When it rested upon the true Cross, it became alive. This is only a legend, but it illustrates the truth that the power of Christ always gives life and healing.’

(3) ‘A good man’s influence lives after him. Those who live a good and useful life never die. For years and years the memory of their name remains among those who knew them, and the things they did remain as blessings in the world. There is a story of an old monk who was shipwrecked and cast upon a desert island. He had with him a package of seeds which he scattered upon the bare island. Soon after he died there, but twenty years later, some persons coming to the island found it covered from side to side with waving harvests and luxuriant fruit trees, the result of the scattering of the seeds from the monk’s hand twenty years ago. So it is with those who live well—wherever they go they drop seeds which spring up into beauty.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/2-kings-13.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 13:21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band [of men]; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Ver. 21. He revived, and stood upon his feet.] By as true - though spiritual - a miracle it is that new life is put into a dead soul, "dead in trespasses and sins," by the touch of God’s prophets, applying thereunto the death and resurrection of the Son of God, who restored life to his own dead body, and thereby not only declared himself with power to be God blessed for ever, [Romans 1:4] but also that he quickeneth all true believers, who are united unto him by the ligament of a lively faith, as it were by a corporeal contract.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-13.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Kings 13:21

I. This narrative teaches us that the influence of faithful workers for the kingdom of God extends beyond the grave, and that frequently a cause for which men have laboured and spent themselves is advanced by the departure from amongst us of those who have taken it in hand. Contact with the death of such a worker not unfrequently imparts life—the life of earnestness, the life of devotion, the life of Christian self-sacrifice—to those who did not possess it, or who possessed it only imperfectly and inefficiently before.

II. It is not very difficult to discover why it should be so. Independently of the fact that when a gap is made by the fall of a leader many others may feel that more effort and devotion is required of themselves, there is a contagion about one who has gone to the extremest length of self-sacrifice that is possible in man. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." And as it is the dying of the Saviour which draws His followers round Him and makes Him the centre of their adoration and their love, so it is the dying of men in the cause they have espoused which kindles the enthusiasm of other spirits and makes them willing to rush forward and take the banner from the fallen warriors' failing grasp.

G. Calthrop, Penny Pulpit, No. 730.

References: 2 Kings 13:21.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 155; W. Walters, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 189. 2Ki 13—Parker, vol. viii., p. 228. 2 Kings 14:25.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 161. 2Ki 14—Parker, vol. viii., p. 239. 2 Kings 15:5.—E. Monro, Practical Sermons, vol. iii., p. 117. 2 Kings 15:10.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 259. 2 Kings 15:19.—E. H. Plumptre, Ibid., 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 230. 2Ki 15—Parker, vol. viii., p. 250. 2 Kings 17:1.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 83. 2 Kings 17:1-14.—Ibid., vol. xix., p. 105. 2 Kings 17:4, 2 Kings 17:5.—E. H. Plumptre, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. ii., pp. 316, 318. 2 Kings 17:41.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1622; Ibid., My Sermon Notes: Genesis to Proverbs, p. 94. 2Ki 17—Parker, vol. viii., p. 263. 2 Kings 18:1-37.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 92. 2 Kings 18:3.—E. Monro, Practical Sermons, vol. ii., p. 221. 2 Kings 18:3-7.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 162.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/2-kings-13.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 13:21. And it came to pass, &c.— The life of Elisha was one continued train of miracles. The writer of Ecclesiasticus speaks thus concerning him: The spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha; whilst he lived, he was not moved with the presence of any prince, neither could any bring him into subjection: nothing could overcome him, and after his death his body prophesied. He did wonders in his life, and at his death his works were marvellous. There was no innate power in the bones of Elisha to produce so wonderful an effect: it was the immediate work and operation of God himself; who was thus willing to give his people a proof not only of the divine mission of his prophet, and of his own immediate presence among them, but also of that future resurrection from the dead, which is fully revealed to us in the gospel. Calmet remarks, that this is further a symbol and a prophesy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ; with this difference, and a mighty one it is, that Elisha raised a dead body without raising himself, while Jesus Christ not only raised himself, but gives life to all those who believe in him.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-13.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As they were burying, or, were about to bury, as that particle is oft used in the Hebrew tongue.

They spied a band of men coming towards them, but at some distance.

They cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; not daring to carry the dead corpse further to the place appointed for his burial, they made use of the next burying-place, where Elisha was buried, and there they removed some stone, or opened some door, and hastily flung down their dead corpse there.

The man, i.e. the man’s dead body, or the coffin in which he was put.

Touched the bones of Elisha; which might easily be, the coffin and linen in which Elisha’s body was put, and the flesh of his body, being now consumed; for this was some considerable time after his death.

He revived, and stood up on his feet; which miracle God wrought there, partly, to do honour to that great prophet, and that by this seal he might confirm his doctrine, and thereby confute the false doctrine and worship of the Israelites; partly, to strengthen the faith of Joash, and of the Israelites, in his promise of their success against the Syrians; and partly, in the midst of all their calamities, to comfort such Israelites as were Elisha’s followers with the hopes of that eternal life whereof this was a manifest pledge, and to awaken the rest of that people to a due care and preparation for it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21.They spied a band of men — That is, a band of those marauding Moabites just mentioned. The sight of the invaders caused the haste with which they cast the dead man into the wrong sepulchre.

When the man was let down — Literally, The man went and touched against the bones of Elisha. That is, his body was thrust into the tomb, so that it came in contact with the bones of Elisha. “Among the Israelites the dead were neither enclosed in coffins nor covered with earth, but only wrapped in linen cloth and laid in tombs, so that one body might touch another, and, on returning to life, would not be hindered from moving. It was not the dead body of Elisha, but the living God, that gave life again to the dead; and Omnipotence worked by contact with the dead Elisha to show that the Divine efficiency that was in the prophet had not disappeared from Israel with his death. The special object of the miracle was to convince most effectually people and king that the promise of victory over the Syrians was sure, and would come to pass just as the dying Elisha had announced to king Joash by the laying of his hands upon the hands of the king. The historian intimates this object when, immediately after the account of this miracle, he records the historical fulfillment of that promise. 2 Kings 13:22-25.” — Keil.

On the contrast between Elijah and Elisha, see note at the beginning of chap. 4. “It was Elijah,” says the son of Sirach, “who was covered with a whirlwind; and Elisha was filled with his spirit; whilst he lived he was not moved by any prince, neither could any bring him into subjection. No word could overcome him, and after his death his body prophesied. He did wonders in his life, and at his death were his works marvellous.”

The miracle of Elisha’s bones has been the subject both of criticism and of allegory. The rationalist, of course, admits no miracle. In his view the deceased was a person only apparently dead, fallen into a trance, perhaps, but suddenly brought to his senses again by the shock of being roughly cast into Elisha’s tomb. Others admit a real miracle, but seem to look upon it with suspicion. “This,” says Clarke, “is the first, and, I believe, the last, account of a true miracle performed by the bones of a dead man. And yet on it, and such like, the whole system of miracle-working relics has been founded by the popish Church.” “Elisha’s works,” says Stanley, “stand alone in the Bible in their likeness to the acts of mediaeval saints. There alone, in the sacred history, the gulf between biblical and ecclesiastical miracles almost disappears. In this, as in so much besides, his life and miracles are not Jewish but Christian.” By others the miracle is made a type of Jesus’s power to raise to life by his own death and burial those who are dead in trespasses and sins. “So, too,” says Wordsworth, “the apostles and evangelists being dead yet speak to all the world in the Gospels and Epistles, and by the word of God in them they raise souls to life eternal.”

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-13.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 13:21. As they were burying a man — Carrying him to his grave; they spied a band of men — A party of Moabites coming toward them, but at some distance; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha — This sepulchre being near the place where they then were, they removed some stone, or opened some door, and hastily flung down the dead corpse into it; fearing lest, if they proceeded to the place where a grave was prepared, they should fall into the hands of the Moabites. And when the man was let down — His body, or the coffin in which it was put; and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood upon his feet — Which great miracle, wrought, not by the bones of Elisha, in which there could be no innate power to produce any such effect, but by the almighty power of God, was doubtless intended for divers important purposes; as, 1st, To do honour to that great and holy prophet; and a singular honour it was, not much inferior to that conferred on Elijah when he was translated. Elijah was honoured in his departure; Elisha after his departure. Thus God dispenses honours as he pleases. 2d, To seal and confirm his doctrine and prophecies, and thereby confute the false doctrine and worship of the Israelites. 3d, To strengthen the faith of Joash and the Israelites in the promises which he had given them of success against the Syrians. And, 4th, In the midst of all their calamities to comfort such Israelites as were Elisha’s followers, with the hopes of that eternal life, whereof the reviving of this dead man was a manifest pledge, and to awaken the people to a due care about, and preparation for it. According to Calmet, this was further a symbol and prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with this difference, and a mighty one it is, that Elisha raised a dead body without raising himself, while the Lord Jesus not only raised himself, but gives life to all those that believe in him.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-13.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

CHAPTER XIII.

Eliseus. His tomb was not in the city, but in a spacious cave, the entrance of which was secured with a stone, according to custom. This was removed in the hurry, and the corpse thrown into the same recess, which had been prepared for the remains of the prophet. Josephus ([Antiquities?] ix. 8.) relates the history in a different manner, and pretends that robbers having slain a person, threw his corpse accidentally into the tomb of Eliseus. The Rabbins tell us his name was Sellum, and that he died again immediately, because he was a wicked man, which would render the miracle, in a manner, useless. (Calmet) --- By it God honoured his servant, and convinced the Israelites that what he had so lately foretold, respecting the Syrians, would undoubtedly take place. (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

they: probably those who were evading the Moabite marauders.

he revived = he lived. The sixteenth miracle. See note on 2 Kings 2:15.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-13.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
was let down
Heb. went down. touched.
4:35; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:1-10; Matthew 27:52,53; John 5:25,28,29; 11:44; Acts 5:15; 19:12; Revelation 11:11
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 17:22 - and he revived;  2 Kings 24:2 - the Lord;  Hosea 9:8 - with;  Matthew 8:15 - touched;  Mark 5:27 - touched;  Mark 6:56 - touch;  Luke 6:19 - sought;  Luke 7:15 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-13.html.