Return to Jericho—Acknowledgment by the Sons of the Prophets—Healing of the Waters of Jericho—Judgment on the Young Men at Bethel—Settlement in Samaria
THE history which now follows reads almost like a chronicle of Elisha. More correctly it may be described as the prophetic history of that period. With the removal of Elijah, Elisha had begun his ministry, the test of its reality having been the parting of the waters of Jordan. The next three incidents must be considered as preparatory to his prophetic activity; the first, as regarded his public acknowledgment by the sons of the prophets (2 Kings 2:15-18); the second and third that by the people, when Elisha publicly appeared as the instrument of God—in the one case, for mercy (vv. 19-22), in the other, for judgment (vv. 23, 24). Having thus established his authority, Elisha immediately afterwards assumed the place of God’s representative in the affairs of Israel.
1. As we look more closely into it, a special significance attached to each of the three preliminary events just referred to. In the first it was seen that Elisha occupied precisely the same position of superiority as Elijah over the ordinary “sons of the prophets,” as also the folly of their attempted interference in his work. Henceforth they would be unquestioning, obedient instruments of his behests, and this was the rightful position alike for them and as regarded the work of Elisha. According to our modern notions the circumstances may seem strange, but they are in agreement with the condition of the times and with the degree of spiritual understanding possessed even by the sons of the prophets. As Elisha returned alone, the “sons of the prophets,” judging that the spirit of Elijah rested upon him, perhaps because they had watched as the waters of Jordan parted when he smote them—went to meet the prophet and to do him homage. And yet they began by urging a strange request—perhaps because notions such as they expressed were popularly entertained (as by Obadiah 1 Kings 18:12) in regard to the influence of the Spirit on the prophets generally, or it may be only on the great prophet of fire. Or perhaps they imagined that Elijah might be in a trance or dead in some valley or on some mountain-height; or it may have been only from morbid curiosity to learn something more of what had happened. In any case their proposal marked an entire lack of spiritual understanding and sympathy.