The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Kings

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2 Kings 2

2Ki 2:3

COMPANY: Lit "sons" (as KJV).

DO NOT SPEAK OF IT: That is, 'this is too painful to discuss.'

2Ki 2:7

FIFTY MEN... WENT AND STOOD: Elijah with another "51" (cp 2Ki 1:9,11,13)!

2Ki 2:8

Elijah was last seen at the Jordan River. John Baptist was first seen by nation there, at the same place (Mat 3:1,5,6).

2Ki 2:9

Elijah uses the power of God: vv 14,15. "Full of power": Mic 3:8. The Spirit promised to all flesh: Joel 2:28,29.

LET ME INHERIT A DOUBLE PORTION OF YOUR SPIRIT: If Elijah = John Baptist, then Elisha = Christ! The double portion of the Holy Spirit: Elijah did 8 recorded miracles (1Ki 17:1n); Elisha does 16! (1) dividing Jordan (v 14); (2) healing waters (v 21); (3) cursing young men (v 24); (4) water for 3 kings (2KI 3:16-20); (5) multiplying widow's oil (2Ki 4:1-20); (6) raising widow's son (2Ki 4:37); (7) healing deadly pottage (2Ki 4:38-41); (8) feeding 100 (2Ki 4:42-44); (9) healing Naaman (2Ki 5:1-19); (10) smiting Gehazi (2Ki 5:20-27); (11) causing the iron to "swim" (2Ki 6:1-7); (12) opening servant's eyes (2Ki 6:17); (13) blinding Syrian army (2Ki 6:18); (14) restoring their sight (2Ki 6:20); (15) arresting king's messengers (2Ki 6:30); and (16) raising dead by contact with his bones (2Ki 13:20,21).

DOUBLE PORTION: The inheritance of the firstborn: cp "my father!" of v 12.

2Ki 2:10

IT WILL BE YOURS -- OTHERWISE NOT: Perhaps, 'If Yahweh thinks you worthy to witness my departure, then you will be worthy to be my successor.'

2Ki 2:11

Elijah was last seen at the river Jordan (2Ki 2:11); John the Baptist first appeared to Israel at the same place (Mat 3:1,5,6). Elijah is not still alive: see Heb 11:39,40 (incl Elijah: Heb 11:35). Years later, Elijah was still alive: 2Ch 21:12 establishes that Elijah was still alive on earth in the days of king Jehoram, whereas Elisha, Elijah's successor, had succeeded to Elijah's office in the days of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram's father (2Ki 3:11,12,14). Evidently, Elijah was carried away through the heavens (cp Act 8:39; 1Th 4:17) to a secluded retirement, broken only briefly by his letter written to Jehoram (2Ch 21:1,9-12).

Probable site: Mt Nebo -- just across Jordan (v 8) from Jericho (v 5). Cp Deu 34:1-5, and the Transfiguration (Mat 17:1-13).

CHARIOT OF FIRE: The Cherubim of Yahweh.

WENT UP TO HEAVEN IN A WHIRLWIND: Cp ascension of Christ, taken up in a cloud.

2Ki 2:13

HE PICKED UP THE CLOAK: Being now invested with the authority and power of Elijah.

2Ki 2:15

AND THEY WENT TO MEET HIM: Another "51" (cp 2Ki 1:9,11,13; 2:7): Elisha the "captain" and the 50 disciples with him.

2Ki 2:20

SALT: Sig savor, zeal, purification. Heals water, or word. Cp Num 18:18,19: covenant of salt, the breast and the shoulder.

Instances of signs that accompany healings: 2Ki 2:20-22; 4:41; 20:7.

2Ki 2:22

AND THE WATER HAS REMAINED WHOLESOME TO THIS DAY: This spring still produces fresh water (Tes 52:122).

2Ki 2:23

YOUTHS: Sig young adults; sw used of soldiers: 1Ki 20:14. Poss teenage cult warriors of Ashtaroth, sometimes worshiped as a great female bear. This cult had its Israelite center at Bethel (Tes 54:306,307).

GO ON UP, YOU BALDHEAD: 'Ascend to heaven, you empty skull, as it is pretended your master did!'

YOU BALDHEAD: Cp Christ: having "no beauty" (Isa 53:2). Ct Absalom's flowing locks (2Sa 14:26). Poss in ct Elijah, who was a hairy man (2Ki 1:8). Poss, baldness suggested an empty head, or leprosy/uncleanness.

2Ki 2:24

BEARS: "In Aristophanes's 'Lysistrata' bears personify teenage girls. Both were either sacrificed or worshipped at distinct times in various parts of Greece... The bear is exchanged for a black goat in sacrifice at some stage in ritual development. Aphrodite, and more often Artemis, in their roles as Mistress of the Animals, preside over the ritual at Brauron. The Classics (especially the Oresteia by Aeschylus) harness this pagan typology from earlier Minoan times.

"The Greek Minoans had borrowed this typology of the bear from Canaan, probably through the Philistines in Crete. The bear symbol often represents the female power of fertility. This had its counterpart in Bethel. Elisha witnessed the two she-bears which 'tare' [mauled: NIV] 42 teenage cult warriors who were from the Ashtaroth cult at Bethel. The Ugaritic tablets on a parallel cultic situation present two goddesses (Ashtaroth and Anat), which match the two Greek ones cited above, together with bear motifs. In 2Ki the word for 'tare' [maul] is the same stem as the term rendered 'cuttings' [cut] in Lev 19:28. Here Lev is proscribing ritual slitting of the womb of expectant women to deliver them to the Syrian god at whose hand the victims were supposed to believe the land had been invaded. The abortion was a dedication to the invading god. This is referred to in 2Ki 8:12 (and Amos, etc), where the same Heb word is translated 'rip'. Associated with the Syrian cult was the Israelite center at Bethel for implementing this horrific practice. So it is no surprise that Yahweh penalized the 42 warriors for their obscene suggestion that Elisha should go up, as a burnt offering, with Elijah to heaven (a stress made explicit in the Heb).

"These details have their counterpart in Greece. Artemis, as with the Canaanite bear goddesses, could turn and rend her devotees. (The Hebrew in 2Ki 2:24, 'forty and two of them', is non-standard grammar, to make the 42 the offspring of the bears; as, in mythological fact, they were.) Euripides in his 'Bacchae' makes the human hunter the hunted: the false mother-goddess tears up her children...

"Accordingly, the symbol of the bear used to depict a Near Eastern political power in the book of Daniel aptly fits the mythology of those who fall under its concept. The goat-like motif is used in Daniel to indicate Greece, and thus mixes with the bear symbol to represent a very common tradition. It is an instance of choosing the right devils for nations mingling imagination" (AG, Tes 54:306,307).

MAULED 42 OF THE YOUTHS: Perhaps the rest escaped with marks and scars, to serve as a warning to others.

Female bears, with young, were noted for their great ferocity: 2Sa 17:8; Pro 17:12; 28:15; Hos 13:8.

"If I could believe that uninspired men chanced to produce the Bible, then I could believe that blind force chanced to produce the world. If I could refuse to believe in the Bible because it represents that God has sometimes used beasts of prey, or no less savage races of men, as the instruments of His vengeance, then I should also feel bound to believe that God could never allow such evils to prevail at all -- and thus deny His very existence. There is no logical halting place between the position of the Christadelphian and that of the absolute atheist: no halting place for me between simple faith and utter folly" (ConCon 58,59).

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