Old Testament Lesson 28 (2 Kings 2–7)
ELIJAH’S FINAL DAYS
Elijah Visits the Prophets
● 2 Kings 2:1–3 Elijah visited the prophets at Bethel during his final journey. These “sons of the Prophets” (1 Kings 18:13) were part of a group of prophets “living together for instruction and worship.” (endnote: 1) The first mention of this group is in connection with the rise of Saul (1 Sam. 10:10).
— 1 Sam. 19:19–20 David also had contact with this group.
— 2 Kings 2:3,5; 4:38; 6:1–7 Apparently Elijah and Elisha were part of this group.
— 2 Kings 4:1 These men married and had children and worked for their own livelihood.
— During the time of Elijah and Elisha they were found at various places, including Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho. In the days of Ahab, this group must have been well known and influential for Jezebel sought specifically to destroy them. Her persecutions must have resulted in the death of most of the prophets since Elijah thought he was the only one left (1 Kings 19:10).
— 2 Kings. 6:1–6 By the time of Elisha, the group recovered sufficiently that they had to seek a larger place to dwell in. It is unclear what authority they had or what role they played, but if Elijah was part of this group, it may be that they had the Melchizedek priesthood and ordinances. They assisted the great prophets in their duties and even officiated when called in the prophetic office themselves, as was the case when Elisha sent one of them to Ramoth-gilead to anoint Jehu king over Israel (2 Kgs. 9:1–10).
● The importance of Bethel. The name means “House of the Lord.”
— Abraham received visions of God at Bethel when he entered Canaan (Genesis 12:6–8).
— Abraham’s received more visions there after leaving Egypt (Genesis 13:3–4).
— Jacob also received his first vision of the Lord at Bethel (Genesis 28:10–22).
— Jacob received more heavenly visions there upon returning (Genesis 35:9–15).
Elijah Is Translated
● 2 Kings 2:4–8 Elijah parted the waters of the Jordan River and crossed it on dry ground.
● 2 Kings 2:9–10 Elisha’s final request was for a double-portion of Elijah’s spirit.
● 2 Kings 2:11–12 Elijah was translated.
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead.”
● 2 Kings 2:13–15 The mantle fell upon Elisha. Elijah’s cloak, or mantle, was a symbol of his authority. Possession of it symbolized that Elijah’s former authority now rested on Elisha.
● 2 Kings 2:14–25 Elisha later performed miracles similar to those Elijah performed.
THE MISSION OF ELIJAH
The Sealing Powers in Jesus’ Day
● 1 Kings 17:1 Elijah sealed up the heavens against rain.
● 1 Kings 18:1, 41–46 Elijah later called down torrents of water on dry land.
● What is this “sealing” power?
— The keys of sealing and the “gates of hell” (Matthew 16:13–19).
— The fate of things not sealed by priesthood power (D&C 132:7,13–18).
— The fate of things sealed by priesthood power (D&C 132:19–20).
● Matthew 17:1–13 Elijah conferred these sealing keys upon Peter, James and John. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The priesthood is everlasting. The Savior, Moses, and Elias [Elijah] gave the keys to Peter, James, and John, on the Mount when they were transfigured before him.”
● Matthew 18:18 With these keys, whatever they sealed on earth was sealed in heaven.
● The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Elijah was the last prophet that held the keys of the priesthood, and who [could] restore the authority and deliver the keys of the priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness.”
Why Elijah Was Translated
● Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “From that we understand why Elijah and Moses were preserved from death: because they had a mission to perform, and it had to be performed before the crucifixion of the Son of God, and it could not be done in the spirit. They had to have tangible bodies. Christ is the first fruits of the resurrection; therefore if any former prophets had a work to perform preparatory to the mission of the Son of God, or to the dispensation of the meridian of times, it was essential that they be preserved to fulfill that mission in the flesh. For that reason Moses disappeared from among the people and was taken up into the mountain, and the people thought he was buried by the Lord. The Lord preserved him, so that he could come at the proper time and restore his keys, on the heads of Peter, James, and John, who stood at the head of the dispensation of the meridian of time. He reserved Elijah from death that he might also come and bestow his keys upon the heads of Peter, James, and John and prepare them for their ministry.”
● Elijah and Moses were resurrected at the time of the Savior’s resurrection (D&C 133:55; Matthew 27:52–53).
ELISHA INHERITS ELIJAH’S MANTLE
Who Was Elisha?
● 2 Kings 3:11 Elisha “poured water on the hands of Elijah.” In the East a servant pours water over the hands of his master after each meal so he can clean them. The expression indicates that Elisha was the servant and disciple of Elijah.
● 1 Kings 19:19–21 Elijah designated Elisha as his successor, as commanded by God.
— Elisha must have been wealthy to have been plowing with 12 yokes of oxen, for each yoke pulled a plow and was driven by a servant. The feast of two oxen also indicates wealth. Eating the oxen and burning their equipment symbolically represents Elisha’s rejection of worldly wealth as he prepared to follow Elijah.
— Out of Elijah’s simple act of placing his mantle upon Elisha, the phrase “mantle of the prophet” has come to mean the calling and office of the prophet.
Elisha Begins His Ministry
● 2 Kings 2:13–15 The people immediately recognized Elisha as the successor to Elijah.
● 2 Kings 2:16–18 Nevertheless, being worried for the fate of their beloved Elijah, they insisted on looking for him, though Elisha told them not to do so.
● 2 Kings 2:19–22 Elisha healed impure waters coming from the spring at Jericho. The use of salt to purify this water makes it a greater miracle, since salt normally corrupts rather than purifies water (v. 20).
● 2 Kings 2:23–24
The death of “children” who were mocking Elisha. The word that the King James Version translates “little children” means “young,” not necessarily “little,” and can be translated “young men”—ones old enough to go to battle.
● The verse then states that two she-bears came out of the woods, but does not say that Elisha directed the bears. His curse upon these young men did not include any prophetic statement that they would die violently. But having had the Spirit taken from them, they were open to any and all dangers that might befall them.
ELISHA’S PRIESTHOOD POWER
Elisha Performed Many Miracles
● 2 Kings 4:1–7 He multiplied a widow’s oil.
● 2 Kings 4:8–17 He promised a son to a Shunamite woman who showed her love for God by her kindness to Elisha.
— The woman’s response to Elisha’s promise of a child is not one of doubt but one of hope. In essence she was saying, “Let not your words be a lie,” or “Let your words come true” (v. 16).
● 2 Kings 4:18–37 He subsequently raised her son from the dead.
● 2 Kings 4:38–41 He rendered poisonous food harmless.
● 2 Kings 4:42–44 He multiplied food for the hungry in a time of famine.
● 2 Kings 6:1–7 He caused an iron ax head to float on water for a young man who was distressed because he lost a neighbor’s axe head in the Jordan. Iron was very scarce in Israel and therefore very valuable.
The Power of Faith and Obedience
● 2 Kings 5:1 Naaman was captain of the host of the king of Syria—and he had leprosy.
● 2 Kings 5:2–4 A young Israelite girl whom the Syrians had taken captive told Naaman’s wife that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal Naaman.
● 2 Kings 5:5–8 The king of Syria gave him permission to go to the king of Israel seeking help. The king of Israel was suspicious, but Elisha invited him to come to him and be healed.
● 2 Kings 5:9–12
Elisha instructed Naaman to dip himself 7 times in the Jordan and he would be healed. Naaman was offended that Elisha did not do some great and public thing to heal him.
● 2 Kings 5:13–15 Naaman’s servant convinced him to obey, and he was healed.
— Rex D. Pinegar asked, “Are we not sometimes like Naaman, looking for big or important things to do and bypassing simple things which could change our lives and heal us of our afflictions?”
— President Gordon B. Hinckley said, after recounting the story of Naaman, “The way of the gospel is a simple way. Some of the requirements may appear to you as elementary and unnecessary. Do not spurn them. Humble yourselves and walk in obedience. I promise that the results that follow will be marvelous to behold and satisfying to experience.”
● There are many events in scripture that seemed simple but had significant consequences:
— Numbers 21:4–9 Moses placed a serpent on a pole and simply asked the Israelites to look upon it in order to be healed.
— 1 Nephi 17:41 Nephi commented on the simpleness of this requirement.
— Alma 33:19–20 Alma also commented on the simpleness of this requirement.
— 1 Nephi 16:28–29 The Liahona was a simple compass-like device that worked by virtue of faith.
— Alma 37:38–46 Alma’s commented on the simpleness of this device.
● 2 Kings 5:17–19 Naaman’s understanding of Jehovah was very limited. Elisha told Naaman to go in peace, evidently accepting the sincerity of his conversion, even though Naaman obviously had more to learn about the true God.
● 2 Kings 5:15–16 Elisha refused Naaman’s offer of a reward for this miracle.
● 2 Kings 5:17–27 Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was cursed with the leprosy because of his dishonesty in seeking to obtain the refused reward from Naaman.
Elisha Is Protected by the “Lord’s Host”
● 2 Kings 6:8–10 Elisha helped the king of Israel in a war against Syria through revelation.
● 2 Kings 6:11–14 The king of Syria sent an army to capture Elisha. Syria had attacked Israel several times but was always defeated. When it finally came to the attention of the king of Syria that his soldiers were losing because of the prophetic power of Elisha, he sent a large army to destroy Elisha. They located him in Dothan where they surrounded the city so he could not escape.
● 2 Kings 6:15–16 Elisha’s servant panicked when he saw the Syrian army surrounding them. Elisha responded, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
● 2 Kings 6:17 Elisha then prayed that his servant’s eyes might be opened, and when they were he saw that they were surrounded by horses and chariots of fire sent to protect them.
— Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “When I read this wonderful story as a boy, I always identified with the young servant of Elisha. I thought, If I am ever surrounded by the forces of evil while I am in the Lord’s service, I hope the Lord will open my eyes and give me faith to understand that when we are in the work of the Lord, those who are with us are always more powerful than those who oppose us.”
● D&C 84:87–88 God has made similar promises to His servants in our own day.
— The Prophet Joseph Smith related this vision in Kirtland, “I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head, with a drawn Sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it. . . . My scribe also received his anointing with us, and saw, in a vision, the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion, and many things which I saw.”
— President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We have not as yet carried the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. But we have made great strides. We have gone wherever we are permitted to go. God is at the helm, and doors will be opened by His power according to His divine will. Of that I am confident. Of that I am certain.”
● 2 Kings 6:18–23 God then blinded the Syrian army in answer to Elisha’s prayer for protection.
1: LDS Bible Dictionary, 770.
2: History of the Church, 4:210.
3: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 158.
4: History of the Church, 4:211.
5: Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:110–111.
6: In Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 106; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 80.
7: In Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 143; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 96.
8: In Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 54; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 39.
9: History of the Church,2: 381–382.
10: In Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 70–71.