The Calling of Elisha
"So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him." (1 Kings 19:19-21 RSV)
And so it was that Elisha was selected to become the assistant, student, and eventual successor of Elijah. Together, they formed one of the most miracle-filled ministries of The Bible:
- Little is written of Elisha during the few years between the time of his calling, until Elijah's very curious departure in a "chariot of fire" (2 Kings 2:11) (in illustration). See Where Did Elijah Go?
- Having inherited a "double portion of Elijah's spirit" (2 Kings 2:9), which was actually the Holy Spirit of God (see The Spirit and Power of Elijah), Elisha became the new leader of the company of Prophets (2 Kings 2:15)
- After Elijah's departure, Elisha went to Jericho where he miraculously transformed a poison water supply into a clean spring (2 Kings 2:19-22).
- From Jericho, he travelled to Bethel where he was accosted by a large gang of youths. Elisha called down a curse on his attackers, and 42 of them were mauled by 2 bears that then came out of the woods (2 Kings 2:23-25)
- A few of the other recorded miracles by Elisha:
- a supply of water when Jehoram's army was suffering from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20)
- increasing the poor widow's supply of oil (2 Kings 4:1-7)
- restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem (2 Kings 4:18-37)
- the multiplication of 20 loaves of bread into enough to feed 100 men (2 Kings 4:42-44)
- curing Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-27)
- making an iron axhead float in the waters of the Jordan (2 Kings 6:1-7)
- During the worst of the siege of Samaria by the king of Syria, and of the starvation of the people, Elisha prophesied that relief would soon come, which it did (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).
- At Damascus, Elisha carried out the command that had been given to Elijah to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings 8:7-15). He then directed one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead of Ahab. Thus the 3 commands given to Elijah were all eventually accomplished through one or both of them.
- Elisha's ministry covered a period of about 60 years (892-832 B.C.), through the reigns of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash, kings of Israel (see Kings of Israel and Judah and Jews At War With Israel).
- Elisha died in his own house of an unspecified illness (2 Kings 13:14-20). It is interesting to note that the man who once had the powers to cure sickness and raise the dead, himself had to actually suffer (2 Kings 13:14) through a terminal illness, like so many others commonly do, when his own time came (see Healing and Why Does God Allow Suffering?). Joash, the grandson of Jehu, upon seeing that Elijah was about to die, uttered the same words that Elisha uttered when Elijah was taken away: "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" (2 Kings 13:14 RSV)
Fact Finder: About a year after Elisha died, what happened to a dead man who was hastily buried in Elisha's tomb?
2 Kings 13:20-21