Profile Of The Prophets - Elisha

by Joseph Hunting

"For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, and walked in the statutes of the heathen (nations) , whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.

"And the children of Israel did secretly those things which were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city ... And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree.

"And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger. For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing." (II Kings 17:7-12)

Thus the Bible describes the spiritual and moral quagmire into which the ten northern tribes known as Israel had sunk during the days of Elijah and Elisha. Even so, it was during their lifetime that God wrought great miracles and displayed His mighty power to the unbelieving and rebellious nation.

Elisha's transition from plowman to prophet resulted in his being one of the most spectacular and dramatic of all the prophets of Israel. He accompanied Elijah during the final days of his ministry and witnessed the fiery chariot which swept Elijah up to heaven. Elisha's last request was that a double portion of his spirit be upon him.


At the commencement of his ministry Elisha prophesied a victory for the combined armies of Edom, Judah and Israel against Moab after they had marched through the wilderness for seven days without water. The prophet's contempt for the idolatrous king of Israel is revealed in his words: "And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? Get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.

"And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

"For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain: yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: He will deliver the Moabites also into your hand." (II Kings 3:13-14,17-18)


One of the miracles wrought by Elisha has been a source of encouragement for those in need to put their trust in God. A certain prophet died leaving a widow and two sons. In order that payment be made for all her debts the creditor claimed her two sons. In her extremity the widow appealed to Elisha. "And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? Tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hasn't anything in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

"And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, there is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed ... Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest." (II Kings 4:2-7)


Many of the prophets are portrayed in Scripture as austere men who deliver God's warnings and the judgements which befall those that fail to heed them. On the other hand Elisha is portrayed as a sensitive man who, though apparently unmarried, loved home life and children. On his journeys he frequently passed by the home of a Shunamite man and wife who extended hospitality to him. In due course Elisha wished to repay their kindness. However the woman replied that she had everything. Elisha then discussed the matter further with his servant who then revealed that the Shunamite's deepest longing in life was for a son. "Verily, she has no child, and her husband is old." (II Kings 4:14)

When Elisha told the Shunamite woman that she would embrace a son just one year hence it seemed to her that he was mocking her, so deep was her longing. Nevertheless, it came to pass even as Elisha had prophesied. When the child was grown to boyhood and Elisha was living at Mount Carmel tragedy struck. The lad went to help his father with the reaping and became suddenly ill. He was carried home to his mother but by noon he was dead. In her distress the mother sought for Elsiha. "So she went and came to the man of God at mount Carmel. And it came to pass when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunamite. Run now I pray thee to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.

"And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone, for her soul is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me. Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? Did I not say, Do not deceive me?" (II Kings 4:25-28)

Elisha commanded his servant to hasten immediately to the child and to lay his staff upon him. This exercise proved unsuccessful. "And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.

"And he went up and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunamite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son" (II Kings 4:32-36)


No doubt Elisha's miracles became a by-word throughout the land of Israel. At that time a little captive girl in Syria mentioned to her mistress that there was a man of God in Samaria who could heal her husband of the dreaded and loathsome disease of leprosy. The account of Naaman's healing is one of the great classics of Scripture.

Naaman was Syria's 'Chief of Staff' and when he was told by Elisha to dip himself seven times in the river Jordan he was angry. "Are not Abana and Pharper, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage." (II Kings 5:12)

Naaman had to learn that God's ways are not necessarily our ways.

The great miracle of healing that followed Naaman's obedience to Elisha's instructions resulted in a discovery Naaman made that has been shared by countless Gentiles. "Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in the river Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came and stood before him: and he said: Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel." (II Kings 5:14-15)

THE DEATH OF ELISHA Space doesn't permit recounting all the miracles wrought by Elisha. However, a certain burial party long remembered the last miracle associated with Elisha even though it was after his death. "And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass as they were burying a man, that behold they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up upon his feet." (II Kings 13:20-21) This Scripture draws the curtain across one of the great prophets of Israel, a man called by God to this holy office as he was plowing his field, and who received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah.