“The Prophet Elisha and the Woman of Shunem” (detail) by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout
In a Whirlwind
Elijah didn’t die. Instead, he was carried to heaven by a whirlwind in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). This places him in a unique category of prophets who were translated, changed into a state where they no longer experience pain or death until the resurrection. Some other people who experienced this change are Enoch (and his city), Moses, John the Beloved, the three Nephite disciples, and possibly Alma. This is not merely a reward for good behavior. Instead, it indicates that their ministry on this earth is not complete, that they need a special connection to mortality in order to fulfill their unique missions. Here’s a blog post about translated beings: Was Alma Translated?
After Elijah ascended to heaven, Elisha picked up his mantle, or cloak (2 Kings 2:13-14). For those who witnessed the event, this gesture symbolized a transfer of Elijah’s authority to Elisha. Subsequently, Elisha performed a number of miracles which mirrored events from the ministry of Elijah. For example, both Elijah and Elisha:
- Parted the waters in the Jordan River, just as Joshua had done generations earlier ( 2 Kings 2:8, 13-14, Joshua 3:14-17.)
- Multiplied the oil of a poor widow (2 Kings 4:1-7, 1 Kings 17:13-16)
- Raised a child from the dead (2 Kings 4:18-37, 1 Kings 17:17-24)
- Initiated a famine (2 Kings 8:1, 1 Kings 17:1)
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we sometimes speak of a bishop receiving a “mantle” when he is called to serve. (See, for example, Elder Robert D. Hales, “The Mantle of a Bishop,” General Conference, April 1985.) It might be appropriate to think about this principle more broadly—every time we receive an assignment from the Lord, we receive corresponding gifts to help us fulfill that assignment. Here’s a blog post about those gifts: Gazelem – Alma 37:23.
Chariots of Fire
Elisha saw Elijah ascend into heaven in a chariot of fire. Sometime later, he found himself in an apparently hopeless situation. The city where he was staying was surrounded by horses and chariots sent by the king of Syria. Elisha’s servant was in despair. “Alas, my master!” he said, “how shall we do?” Elisha responded, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Then, he prayed, “Lord…open his eyes, that he may see.” Immediately, the young man saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:15-17).
There is an important message for us in this story. When we feel alone or outnumbered, we may be missing the big picture. We may have numerous allies who we simply can’t see. Here are some blog posts about that message:
- What Is the Meaning of the Title “Lord of Hosts?”
- There Were Many Before the Days of Abraham – Helaman 8:18.
- They Were Armed with Righteousness – 1 Nephi 14:14
Blog Posts: July 5-10
It Fell on a Day
Three events from the life of a Shunnamite woman are introduced with the phrase “it fell on a day:” The first time she saw the prophet Elisha and persuaded him to eat dinner at her home (2 Kings 4:8).When Elisha and his servant came to stay at her house, and he promised that she would…
“Would God My Lord Were With the Prophet!”
She was a young Israelite woman, who had been captured by the Syrian army and was now a slave in the house of Naaman. She felt empathy toward her master, who was captain of the Syrian army but who was afflicted with leprosy. She said to Naaman’s wife, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in…
Gehazi and Gifts
In the book Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely discusses the problems that come from mixing social norms with market norms. As humans, he said, we make some decisions in purely financial terms—How much is this activity worth? Does the benefit justify the cost?—but we make other decisions in terms of relationships. Applying a market lens to…
The Spirit of Elijah
On the day Elijah was translated, he visited three locations: Beth-El, Jericho, and then a location on the far side of the river Jordan. Each time, he urged Elisha to stay behind, and each time, Elisha answered the same way: “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee” (2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6). After they miraculously…
Some Great Thing
Naaman was used to commanding respect. As the leader of the Syrian army, he was surrounded by people who would do his bidding. So when the prophet Elisha sent a messenger with instructions on how to be healed, and when those instructions seemed ridiculous, he was angry. “Behold,” he complained, “I thought, He will surely…
“Open His Eyes”
When Elisha’s young servant arose early one morning, he was alarmed to see the city Dothan surrounded by horses and chariots. Syria was at war with Israel, and the king of Syria had heard that Elisha was helping the king of Israel, much like Alma would later help Nephite military leaders (2 Kings 6:8-12; see…
Leave a Reply