2 Kings 1-4, Bible Highlights: week starting august 17

Highlights From Bible Reading: 2 Kings 1-2-3-4. Information for personal study.

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(2 KINGS 1:1)

“After the death of Aʹhab, Moʹab revolted against Israel.”

*** si p. 69 par. 2 Bible Book Number 12—2 Kings ***
It was completed about 580 B.C.E. and covers the period beginning with the reign of Ahaziah of Israel in about 920 B.C.E. and ending in the 37th year of Jehoiachin’s exile, 580 B.C.E.—1:1; 25:27.

*** it-1 p. 152 Archaeology ***
The Moabite Stone was one of the earliest discoveries of importance in the area E of the Jordan. (PICTURE, Vol. 1, p. 325) Found in 1868 at Dhiban, N of the Arnon Valley, it presents Moabite King Mesha’s version of his revolt against Israel. (Compare 2 Ki 1:1; 3:4, 5.) In part the inscription says: “I (am) Mesha, son of Chemosh-[. . .], king of Moab, the Dibonite . . . As for Omri, king of Israel, he humbled Moab many years (lit., days), for Chemosh [the god of Moab] was angry at his land. And his son followed him and he also said, ‘I will humble Moab.’ In my time he spoke (thus), but I have triumphed over him and over his house, while Israel hath perished for ever! . . . And Chemosh said to me, ‘Go, take Nebo from Israel!’ So I went by night and fought against it from the break of dawn until noon, taking it and slaying all . . . And I took from there the [vessels] of Yahweh, dragging them before Chemosh.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. B. Pritchard, 1974, p. 320)

(2 KINGS 1:2)

“It was then that A•ha•ziʹah fell down through the grating in his roof chamber in Sa•marʹi•a and was injured. So he sent messengers and said to them: “Go, inquire of Baʹal-zeʹbub the god of Ekʹron to find out whether I will recover from this injury.””

*** it-1 p. 63 Ahaziah ***
A house accident, in which the king fell through a grating (perhaps one covering a daylight shaft) in his roof chamber, left him bedridden and seriously ill. (2Ki 1:2) As if the true God no longer existed, Ahaziah sent messengers to inquire of the Philistine god Baal-zebub (meaning “Owner of the Flies”) as to his prospects of recovery.

*** it-1 p. 233 Baal-zebub ***
BAAL-ZEBUB
(Baʹal-zeʹbub) [Owner of the Flies].
The Baal worshiped by the Philistines at Ekron. There are indications that it was a common practice among the Hebrews to change the names of false gods to something similar but degrading. Hence, the ending “zebub” may be an alteration of one of the titles of Baal shown in the Ras Shamra texts as “Zabul” (“Prince”), or Zebul. Some scholars, however, suggest that the name was given to the god by his worshipers because of his being viewed as the producer of flies and therefore able to control this common pest of the Middle East. Since the giving of oracles was associated with Baal-zebub, others favor the view that Baal-zebub was a god who was regarded as giving oracles by the flight or buzzing of a fly.—2Ki 1:2.

*** it-1 p. 843 Fly ***
The name of the god venerated by the Philistines at Ekron, “Baal-zebub,” means “Owner of the Flies.” This has given rise to the thought that his worshipers may have regarded him as being able to control these insects. Since the giving of oracles was associated with Baal-zebub, others have suggested that the name may denote that this god gave oracles by means of the flight or buzzing of a fly.—2Ki 1:2, 6; see BAAL-ZEBUB; GADFLY.

(2 KINGS 1:3)

“But the angel of Jehovah said to E•liʹjah the Tishʹbite: “Rise up, go to meet the messengers of the king of Sa•marʹi•a and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baʹal-zeʹbub the god of Ekʹron?”

*** nwt p. 1694 Glossary ***
Beelzebub. A designation applied to Satan, the prince, or ruler, of the demons. It is possibly an alteration of Baal-zebub, the Baal worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron.—2Ki 1:3; Mt 12:24.

(2 KINGS 2:1)

“When Jehovah was about to take E•liʹjah up to the heavens in a windstorm, E•liʹjah and E•liʹsha went out from Gilʹgal.”

*** it-1 p. 961 Gilgal ***
2. Although some view it otherwise, the Gilgal mentioned in connection with Elijah and Elisha is evidently not the same as No. 1. Before being taken up to the heavens in a windstorm, Elijah, accompanied by Elisha, went from Gilgal down to Bethel and then to Jericho. (2Ki 2:1-5) This route suggests a location near Bethel. Also, their going “down” implies that this Gilgal was in a mountainous region. The Gilgal in the Jordan Valley would not fit this description. Hence this Gilgal is usually linked with Jil Jiliya, a large village atop a hill about 11 km (7 mi) N of Bethel. Elisha later rendered harmless a poisonous stew there. (2Ki 4:38-41) Perhaps this or still another Gilgal is the one described at Deuteronomy 11:29, 30 as having Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal in front of it.

(2 KINGS 2:2)

“E•liʹjah said to E•liʹsha: “Stay here, please, because Jehovah has sent me on to Bethʹel.” But E•liʹsha said: “As surely as Jehovah is living and as you are living, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethʹel.”

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
ELISHA STUCK TO HIS ASSIGNMENT
Before God ‘took Elijah up to the heavens in a windstorm,’ he sent the prophet from Gilgal to Bethel. Elijah suggested that his companion not accompany him, but Elisha replied: “I will not leave you.” As the trip continued, two more times Elijah urged Elisha to stay behind but to no avail. (2 Ki. 2:1-6) Just as Ruth had clung to Naomi, so Elisha stuck with Elijah. (Ruth 1:8, 16, 17) Why? Evidently because Elisha appreciated his God-given privilege of ministering to Elijah.
Elisha set a fine example for us. If we receive some privilege of service in God’s organization, we will value it highly if we bear in mind that we are serving Jehovah. No greater honor exists.—Ps. 65:4; 84:10.

(2 KINGS 2:3)

“Then the sons of the prophets in Bethʹel came out to E•liʹsha and said to him: “Do you know that today Jehovah is taking your master away from headship over you?” At this he said: “I already know it. Be silent.””

*** it-2 p. 697 Prophet ***
“Sons of the Prophets.” As Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar explains (Oxford, 1952, p. 418), the Hebrew ben (son of) or benehʹ (sons of) may denote “membership of a guild or society (or of a tribe, or any definite class).” (Compare Ne 3:8, where “a member of the ointment mixers” is literally “a son of the ointment mixers.”) “The sons of the prophets” may thus describe a school of instruction for those called to this vocation or simply a cooperative association of prophets. Such prophetic groups are mentioned as being at Bethel, Jericho, and Gilgal. (2Ki 2:3, 5; 4:38; compare 1Sa 10:5, 10.)

(2 KINGS 2:4)

“E•liʹjah now said to him: “E•liʹsha, stay here, please, because Jehovah has sent me on to Jerʹi•cho.” But he said: “As surely as Jehovah is living and as you are living, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jerʹi•cho.”

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
ELISHA STUCK TO HIS ASSIGNMENT
Before God ‘took Elijah up to the heavens in a windstorm,’ he sent the prophet from Gilgal to Bethel. Elijah suggested that his companion not accompany him, but Elisha replied: “I will not leave you.” As the trip continued, two more times Elijah urged Elisha to stay behind but to no avail. (2 Ki. 2:1-6) Just as Ruth had clung to Naomi, so Elisha stuck with Elijah. (Ruth 1:8, 16, 17) Why? Evidently because Elisha appreciated his God-given privilege of ministering to Elijah.
Elisha set a fine example for us. If we receive some privilege of service in God’s organization, we will value it highly if we bear in mind that we are serving Jehovah. No greater honor exists.—Ps. 65:4; 84:10.

(2 KINGS 2:9)

“As soon as they had gone across, E•liʹjah said to E•liʹsha: “Ask what you want me to do for you before I am taken from you.” So E•liʹsha said: “Please, may I receive a double portion of your spirit?””

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
“ASK WHAT I SHOULD DO FOR YOU”
As the two men were traveling, Elijah said to Elisha: “Ask what I should do for you before I am taken from you.” Just as Solomon’s request made years earlier was of a spiritual nature, so was Elisha’s. He asked that ‘two parts of Elijah’s spirit might come to him.’ (1 Ki. 3:5, 9; 2 Ki. 2:9) In Israel, a man’s firstborn son was to receive a double portion of an inheritance. (Deut. 21:15-17) In effect, then, Elisha asked to be recognized as Elijah’s spiritual heir. Moreover, Elisha evidently wanted to have the same courageous spirit as that of Elijah, who was “absolutely jealous for Jehovah.”—1 Ki. 19:13, 14.

*** w05 8/1 p. 8 par. 6 Highlights From the Book of Second Kings ***
2:9—Why did Elisha ask for ‘two parts in Elijah’s spirit’? To carry out the responsibility as a prophet to Israel, Elisha would need the same spirit that Elijah had shown, that of courage and fearlessness. Realizing this, Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elisha was appointed by Elijah as his successor and had been his attendant for six years, so Elisha viewed Elijah as his spiritual father; Elisha was like the firstborn spiritual son of Elijah. (1 Kings 19:19-21; 2 Kings 2:12) Hence, just as the literal firstborn received two parts of his father’s inheritance, Elisha asked for and received two parts of spiritual inheritance from Elijah.

*** w03 11/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
Questions From Readers
Why did Elisha ask for “two parts” of Elijah’s spirit?
Just before Elijah finished his assignment as a prophet in Israel, the younger prophet Elisha requested from him: “Please, that two parts in your spirit may come to me.” (2 Kings 2:9) Spiritually speaking, Elisha was evidently claiming a double portion such as that given to a firstborn son. (Deuteronomy 21:17) A brief consideration of the account will make this clear and will help us to draw lessons from what happened.
In harmony with Jehovah’s direction, the prophet Elijah had anointed Elisha as his successor. (1 Kings 19:19-21) For some six years, Elisha served as Elijah’s faithful attendant and was determined to do this to the end. Even on Elijah’s last day as a prophet in Israel, Elisha stuck to his mentor. Although Elijah urged Elisha to stop following him, the younger prophet stated three times: “I will not leave you.” (2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6; 3:11) Indeed, Elisha viewed the older prophet as his spiritual father.—2 Kings 2:12.
However, Elisha was not the only spiritual son of Elijah. Elijah and Elisha associated with a group of men known as “the sons of the prophets.” (2 Kings 2:3) The account in Second Kings indicates that these “sons” also felt a close bond with their spiritual father, Elijah. (2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7, 15-17) Yet, as the anointed successor, Elisha was the foremost among Elijah’s spiritual sons—he was like the firstborn. In ancient Israel, a literal firstborn son received two parts of his father’s inheritance, whereas the other sons each received one part. Hence, Elisha asked for two parts of Elijah’s spiritual inheritance.
Why did Elisha make this request at that particular time? Because he was about to take on a weighty task—that of succeeding Elijah as prophet in Israel. Elisha realized that in order to fulfill the responsibilities related to this daunting assignment, he needed spiritual power far beyond his own capabilities, power that only Jehovah could provide. He needed to be as fearless as Elijah had been. (2 Kings 1:3, 4, 15, 16) Thus, he asked for two parts of Elijah’s spirit, a spirit of courage and of being “absolutely jealous for Jehovah”—desirable qualities produced by God’s spirit. (1 Kings 19:10, 14) How did Elijah respond?
Elijah knew that Elisha had asked for something that was not his but only God’s to give. So Elijah modestly replied: “You have asked a difficult thing. If you see me when taken from you, it will happen to you that way.” (2 Kings 2:10) And, indeed, Jehovah allowed Elisha to see Elijah ascend in a windstorm. (2 Kings 2:11, 12) Elisha’s request was granted. Jehovah provided him with the spirit he needed to take on his new task and to face coming trials.
Today, anointed Christians (sometimes called the Elisha class) and God’s servants in general can draw much encouragement from this Bible account. At times, we may feel overwhelmed and inadequate in the face of a new assignment, or we may be losing some of our courage to continue with our Kingdom-preaching work as we face increasing indifference or opposition in our territory. Yet, if we beg Jehovah for his support, he will give us holy spirit as we need it to cope with challenges and changing circumstances. (Luke 11:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 4:13) Yes, just as Jehovah strengthened Elisha for his weightier responsibilities, he will help all of us, young and old, to accomplish our ministry.—2 Timothy 4:5.

*** w97 11/1 p. 30 An Example of Self-Sacrifice and Loyalty ***
Once they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha: “Ask what I should do for you before I am taken from you.” Elisha asked for “two parts” of Elijah’s spirit—that is, the double portion that would normally be due a firstborn son. Indeed, Elisha had honored Elijah just as a firstborn son would honor his father. Furthermore, he was anointed to become Elijah’s successor as Jehovah’s prophet in Israel. So his request was neither selfish nor inappropriate. Nevertheless, knowing that only Jehovah could grant this request, Elijah modestly replied: “You have asked a difficult thing.” Then he added: “If you see me when taken from you, it will happen to you that way; but if you do not, it will not happen.”—2 Kings 2:9, 10; Deuteronomy 21:17.

*** it-1 p. 712 Elijah ***
Elisha takes up Elijah’s official garment that had fallen off him, and “two parts” (like a firstborn son’s portion) in Elijah’s spirit, a spirit of courage and of being “absolutely jealous for Jehovah the God of armies,” come on him.—2Ki 2:1-13; 1Ki 19:10, 14; compare De 21:17.

*** it-1 p. 714 Elisha ***
Before Elijah leaves, Elisha asks him for “two parts in [his] spirit,” that is, a double part, which was due the firstborn son. This position he occupies because of his official appointment as Elijah’s successor at the time that Elijah threw his official garment over him. (2Ki 2:9)

(2 KINGS 2:10)

“He replied: “You have asked a difficult thing. If you see me when I am taken from you, it will happen for you that way; but if you do not, it will not happen.””

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
How did Elijah respond to his attendant’s request? “You have asked a difficult thing,” said the prophet. “If you see me when taken from you, it will happen to you that way; but if you do not, it will not happen.” (2 Ki. 2:10) Elijah’s answer apparently had a twofold significance. First, only God could determine whether Elisha would receive what he had requested. Second, if Elisha was to receive it, he had to maintain his resolve to stay with Elijah, come what may.

(2 KINGS 2:11)

“As they were walking along, speaking as they walked, suddenly a fiery chariot and fiery horses made a separation between the two of them, and E•liʹjah ascended to the heavens in the windstorm.”

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
Elijah did not ascend to the heavens that are the spiritual dwelling place of Jehovah and his angelic sons. See The Watchtower of September 15, 1997, page 15.

*** w13 8/15 pp. 29-30 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
What he saw when Elijah ascended in the windstorm undoubtedly made a very great impression on Elisha. After all, a person does not see a fiery war chariot and fiery horses every day! They provided proof of Jehovah’s positive response to Elisha’s request. When God answers our prayers, we do not have a vision of a flaming war chariot and fiery horses. But we can discern that God uses great power to ensure that his will is done. And when we observe that Jehovah is blessing the earthly part of his organization, in effect we “see” his celestial chariot in action.—Ezek. 10:9-13.

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
WHAT ELISHA SAW
How did God view Elisha’s request for two parts of Elijah’s spirit? The account says: “It came about that as they were walking along, speaking as they walked, why, look! a fiery war chariot and fiery horses, and they proceeded to make a separation between them both; and Elijah went ascending in the windstorm to the heavens. All the while Elisha was seeing it.” That was Jehovah’s answer to Elisha’s request. Elisha saw Elijah taken from him, received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and became the prophet’s spiritual heir.—2 Ki. 2:11-14.

*** w05 8/1 p. 9 par. 1 Highlights From the Book of Second Kings ***
2:11—What were “the heavens” to which “Elijah went ascending in the windstorm”? These were neither the distant parts of the physical universe nor the spiritual place where God and his angelic sons dwell. (Deuteronomy 4:19; Psalm 11:4; Matthew 6:9; 18:10) “The heavens” to which Elijah ascended were the atmospheric heavens. (Psalm 78:26; Matthew 6:26) Racing through earth’s atmosphere, the fiery chariot evidently transferred Elijah to another part of the earth, where he continued living for a time. Years later, in fact, Elijah wrote a letter to Jehoram, the king of Judah.—2 Chronicles 21:1, 12-15.

*** w03 9/1 p. 30 Do You Treasure Elderly Fellow Believers? ***
At that point, Elisha had already assisted Elijah for some six years. Yet, he desired to serve with Elijah as long as possible. In fact, the account adds: “It came about that as they were walking along, speaking as they walked, why, look! . . . Elijah went ascending.” (Verse 11) Elijah and Elisha were conversing until the very last moment of Elijah’s ministry in Israel. The younger prophet apparently was eager to absorb as many words of instruction and encouragement as possible from the older, more experienced prophet. Clearly, he treasured his older friend.

*** w97 9/15 p. 15 Will You Be Faithful Like Elijah? ***
To Which Heavens Did Elijah Ascend?
IT CAME about that as [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along, speaking as they walked, why, look! a fiery war chariot and fiery horses, and they proceeded to make a separation between them both; and Elijah went ascending in the windstorm to the heavens.”—2 Kings 2:11.
What is meant by the word “heavens” in this case? The term sometimes applies to the spiritual dwelling place of God and his angelic sons. (Matthew 6:9; 18:10) “Heavens” may also denote the physical universe. (Deuteronomy 4:19) And the Bible uses this term to refer to earth’s immediate atmosphere, where birds fly and winds blow.—Psalm 78:26; Matthew 6:26.
To which of these heavens did the prophet Elijah ascend? Evidently, he was transferred through earth’s atmosphere and placed on a different part of the globe. Elijah was still on earth years later, for he wrote a letter to King Jehoram of Judah. (2 Chronicles 21:1, 12-15) That Elijah did not ascend to the spiritual abode of Jehovah God was later confirmed by Jesus Christ, who declared: “No man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man,” that is, Jesus himself. (John 3:13) The way to heavenly life was first opened up to imperfect humans after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.—John 14:2, 3; Hebrews 9:24; 10:19, 20.

*** it-1 p. 712 Elijah ***
There Elisha is rewarded for his faithfulness by seeing a fiery war chariot and fiery horses and Elijah ascending in a windstorm to the heavens. Elisha takes up Elijah’s official garment that had fallen off him, and “two parts” (like a firstborn son’s portion) in Elijah’s spirit, a spirit of courage and of being “absolutely jealous for Jehovah the God of armies,” come on him.—2Ki 2:1-13; 1Ki 19:10, 14; compare De 21:17.
Elijah does not die at this time, nor does he go into the invisible spirit realm, but he is transferred to another prophetic assignment. (Joh 3:13) This is shown by the fact that Elisha does not hold any period of mourning for his master. A number of years after his ascension in the windstorm Elijah is still alive and active as a prophet, this time to the king of Judah. Because of the wicked course taken by King Jehoram of Judah, Elijah writes him a letter expressing Jehovah’s condemnation, which is fulfilled shortly thereafter.—2Ch 21:12-15; see HEAVEN (Ascension to Heaven).

*** it-1 p. 715 Elisha ***
On the way, a band of juvenile delinquents comes out and shows great disrespect both to him and his office as prophet. “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” they jeer. They mean for him either to keep on going up to Bethel or to get off the earth just as his predecessor was supposed to have done. (2Ki 2:11)

*** it-1 p. 1064 Heaven ***
Ascension to Heaven. At 2 Kings 2:11, 12 the prophet Elijah is described as “ascending in the windstorm to the heavens.” The heavens here referred to are the atmospheric heavens in which windstorms occur, not the spiritual heavens of God’s presence. Elijah did not die at the time of such ascension, but he continued to live for a number of years after his heavenly transportation away from his successor Elisha. Nor did Elijah upon death ascend to the spiritual heavens, since Jesus, while on earth, clearly stated that “no man has ascended into heaven.” (Joh 3:13; see ELIJAH No. 1 (Elisha Succeeds Him).) At Pentecost, Peter likewise said of David that he “did not ascend to the heavens.” (Ac 2:34) In reality, there is nothing in the Scriptures to show that a heavenly hope was held out to God’s servants prior to the coming of Christ Jesus. Such hope first appears in Jesus’ expressions to his disciples (Mt 19:21, 23-28; Lu 12:32; Joh 14:2, 3) and was fully comprehended by them only after Pentecost of 33 C.E.—Ac 1:6-8; 2:1-4, 29-36; Ro 8:16, 17.

*** it-1 p. 1145 Horse ***
Jehovah’s invisible heavenly war equipment is represented by fiery horses and chariots. (2Ki 2:11, 12) Elisha, on one occasion, prayed for the eyes of his terrified attendant to be opened to see that “the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha” to protect him from the surrounding forces of Syrians sent out to capture him.—2Ki 6:17.

(2 KINGS 2:12)

“While E•liʹsha was watching, he was crying out: “My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and his horsemen!” When he could no longer see him, he took hold of his own garments and ripped them into two pieces.”

*** it-1 p. 1145 Horse ***
Jehovah’s invisible heavenly war equipment is represented by fiery horses and chariots. (2Ki 2:11, 12) Elisha, on one occasion, prayed for the eyes of his terrified attendant to be opened to see that “the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha” to protect him from the surrounding forces of Syrians sent out to capture him.—2Ki 6:17.

(2 KINGS 2:23)

“He went up from there to Bethʹel. As he was going along the way, some young boys came out from the city and began to jeer at him, and they kept saying to him: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!””

*** w05 8/1 p. 9 par. 6 Highlights From the Book of Second Kings ***
2:23, 24. The main reason for this mocking of Elisha appears to be that a bald man was wearing Elijah’s official garment. The children recognized Elisha as Jehovah’s representative and simply did not want him around. They told him to “go up,” that is, keep going up to Bethel or be taken up as Elijah had been. The children evidently reflected the antagonistic attitude of their parents. How vital that parents teach their children to respect God’s representatives!

*** si p. 74 par. 34 Bible Book Number 12—2 Kings ***
34 Jehovah tolerates no disrespect for his official servants. When the delinquents mocked Elisha as the prophet of Jehovah, He brought swift recompense. (2:23, 24)

*** it-1 pp. 245-246 Baldness ***
Jehovah’s prophet Elisha was bald. After he had succeeded to the prophetic office of Elijah, he was proceeding uphill from Jericho toward Bethel when he was mocked by a mob of children who cried: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” The primary reason for their jeers seems to have been not that Elisha was bald but that they saw a bald man wearing Elijah’s familiar official garment. They did not want any successor of Elijah around. He should either keep going his way up to Bethel or ascend in a windstorm to the heavens as the former wearer of that official garment had done. (2Ki 2:11) To answer this challenge of his being Elijah’s successor and to teach these young people and their parents proper respect for Jehovah’s prophet, Elisha called down evil upon the jeering mob in the name of the God of Elijah. It was a test of his prophetship. Jehovah manifested his approval of Elisha by causing two she-bears to come out of the nearby woods and to tear to pieces 42 of them.—2Ki 2:23, 24.

*** it-1 p. 435 Child, Children ***
Great disrespect was shown to God’s appointed prophet Elisha by a group of small boys who derided him, crying out: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” They wanted Elisha, who was wearing Elijah’s familiar garment, either to go on his way up to Bethel or to get off the earth as Elijah was supposed to have done. (2Ki 2:11) They did not want him around. Elisha finally turned and called down evil upon them in the name of Jehovah. “Then two she-bears came out from the woods and went tearing to pieces forty-two children of their number.”—2Ki 2:23, 24.

(2 KINGS 2:24)

“Finally he turned around and looked at them and cursed them in the name of Jehovah. Then two she-bears came out of the forest and tore 42 of the children to pieces.”

*** w92 11/1 p. 9 Going to Shiloh—Good Children and Bad ***
Second Kings 2:23, 24 tells us that a band of youths jeered God’s prophet: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” In response, Elisha “called down evil upon them in the name of Jehovah. Then two she-bears came out from the woods and went tearing to pieces forty-two children of their number.” Such Syrian brown bears could be ferocious when surprised or when their cubs seemed threatened. (2 Samuel 17:8; Proverbs 17:12; 28:15) God used them to execute divine justice against those who grossly despised his representative and thus despised Jehovah himself.

*** si p. 74 par. 34 Bible Book Number 12—2 Kings ***
34 Jehovah tolerates no disrespect for his official servants. When the delinquents mocked Elisha as the prophet of Jehovah, He brought swift recompense. (2:23, 24)

*** it-1 pp. 245-246 Baldness ***
Jehovah’s prophet Elisha was bald. After he had succeeded to the prophetic office of Elijah, he was proceeding uphill from Jericho toward Bethel when he was mocked by a mob of children who cried: “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” The primary reason for their jeers seems to have been not that Elisha was bald but that they saw a bald man wearing Elijah’s familiar official garment. They did not want any successor of Elijah around. He should either keep going his way up to Bethel or ascend in a windstorm to the heavens as the former wearer of that official garment had done. (2Ki 2:11) To answer this challenge of his being Elijah’s successor and to teach these young people and their parents proper respect for Jehovah’s prophet, Elisha called down evil upon the jeering mob in the name of the God of Elijah. It was a test of his prophetship. Jehovah manifested his approval of Elisha by causing two she-bears to come out of the nearby woods and to tear to pieces 42 of them.—2Ki 2:23, 24.

(2 KINGS 3:4)

“Now Meʹsha the king of Moʹab was a sheep raiser, and he used to pay 100,000 lambs and 100,000 unshorn rams as tribute to the king of Israel.”

*** w92 3/1 p. 24 Visit the Land, Visit the Sheep! ***
Wool was an important trading commodity. That is implied in the comment that a Moabite king “became a sheep raiser, and he paid to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand unshorn male sheep.” (2 Kings 3:4) Yes, they were “unshorn” sheep; their abundant wool added to their worth.

*** it-1 p. 99 Amos ***
His home was the town of Tekoa, some 16 km (10 mi) S of Jerusalem, at an elevation of about 820 m (2,700 ft). To the E, and sloping toward the Dead Sea, which lay about 1,200 m (4,000 ft) below, was the bleak wilderness of Judah, where, in his early life, the prophet found employment as a humble sheep raiser. (Am 1:1) The Hebrew word no•qedhimʹ here translated “sheep raisers” occurs in only one other place in the Bible (2Ki 3:4) and is related to naqqad, the Arabic word for a special breed of sheep, rather unattractive but highly valued for its fleece.

*** it-2 pp. 381-382 Mesha ***
2. King of Moab in the time of Kings Jehoshaphat of Judah and Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram of Israel. The Moabites, under subjugation to the northern kingdom of Israel, paid King Ahab a tribute of 100,000 lambs and 100,000 unshorn male sheep, apparently of a breed noted for their quality of wool. Following Ahab’s death, Mesha rebelled against Israel’s King Ahaziah. But Ahaziah died after a short rule and was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, who secured an alliance with Jehoshaphat of Judah and an unidentified king of Edom, in order to bring Mesha again under subjection. Taking a difficult route S of the Dead Sea, their forces ran out of water. But Elisha the prophet gave assurance that if ditches were dug in the dried-up torrent valley, Jehovah would fill them with water.—2Ki 1:1; 3:4-19.

(2 KINGS 3:5)

“As soon as Aʹhab died, the king of Moʹab revolted against the king of Israel.”

*** gm chap. 4 pp. 46-47 par. 19 How Believable Is the “Old Testament”? ***
19 Later on, Israel and Judah became two nations, and Israel conquered the neighboring land of Moab. At one time Moab, under King Mesha, revolted, and Israel formed an alliance with Judah and the neighboring kingdom of Edom to war against Moab. (2 Kings 3:4-27) Remarkably, in 1868 in Jordan, a stela (a carved stone slab) was discovered that was inscribed in the Moabite language with Mesha’s own account of this conflict.

*** it-1 p. 152 Archaeology ***
The Moabite Stone was one of the earliest discoveries of importance in the area E of the Jordan. (PICTURE, Vol. 1, p. 325) Found in 1868 at Dhiban, N of the Arnon Valley, it presents Moabite King Mesha’s version of his revolt against Israel. (Compare 2 Ki 1:1; 3:4, 5.) In part the inscription says: “I (am) Mesha, son of Chemosh-[. . .], king of Moab, the Dibonite . . . As for Omri, king of Israel, he humbled Moab many years (lit., days), for Chemosh [the god of Moab] was angry at his land. And his son followed him and he also said, ‘I will humble Moab.’ In my time he spoke (thus), but I have triumphed over him and over his house, while Israel hath perished for ever! . . . And Chemosh said to me, ‘Go, take Nebo from Israel!’ So I went by night and fought against it from the break of dawn until noon, taking it and slaying all . . . And I took from there the [vessels] of Yahweh, dragging them before Chemosh.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. B. Pritchard, 1974, p. 320)

*** it-1 p. 625 Dibon ***
Mesha, king of Moab, revolted against Israelite domination many centuries later, “as soon as Ahab died,” according to the Bible account at 2 Kings 3:4, 5. The Bible does not say precisely how long this uprising lasted, and it is possible that, as Mesha boasts on the Moabite Stone, he managed to annex several Israelite cities to “Qarhah” at that time.

(2 KINGS 3:11)

“At that Je•hoshʹa•phat said: “Is there no prophet of Jehovah here through whom we may inquire of Jehovah?” So one of the servants of the king of Israel answered: “There is E•liʹsha the son of Shaʹphat, who used to pour out water on the hands of E•liʹjah.””

*** w13 8/15 p. 29 Elisha Saw Fiery Chariots—Do You? ***
Elisha served Elijah for perhaps six years. During that time, Elisha was the one ‘who poured out water upon Elijah’s hands.’ (2 Ki. 3:11) In those days, people customarily ate with their hands, without forks, knives, or other eating utensils. After a meal, a servant poured water on his master’s hands to cleanse them. So at least some of Elisha’s tasks were menial. Nevertheless, he considered it a privilege to be Elijah’s attendant.

*** ia chap. 11 p. 98 He Watched, and He Waited ***
Soon after this, Jehovah would assign Elijah to train Elisha, who would become known as the one “who poured out water upon the hands of Elijah.” (2 Ki. 3:11) Elisha acted as Elijah’s attendant, evidently offering practical assistance to an older man.

*** w97 11/1 p. 31 An Example of Self-Sacrifice and Loyalty ***
It was customary for a servant to pour water over the hands of his master for washing, particularly after meals. This practice was similar to the washing of feet, which was an act of hospitality, respect, and in certain relationships, humility.—Genesis 24:31, 32; John 13:5.

*** w97 11/1 p. 31 An Example of Self-Sacrifice and Loyalty ***
Evidently, some of his duties were menial, for he became known as the one who “poured out water upon the hands of Elijah.” (2 Kings 3:11)

*** it-1 p. 217 Attitudes and Gestures ***
Pouring water on another’s hands. Elisha was identified as the minister or servant of Elijah by the expression “[he] poured out water upon the hands of Elijah.” This was a service performed particularly after meals. In the Middle East it was not the custom to use knives and forks, but fingers, and the servant would afterward pour water over the hands of his master for washing. (2Ki 3:11)

*** it-1 p. 714 Elisha ***
For perhaps six years Elisha served as Elijah’s attendant. Elijah served as head prophet, and Elisha worked closely with him, being known as the one who “poured out water upon the hands of Elijah” when Elijah washed his hands.—2Ki 2:3-5; 3:11.

(2 KINGS 3:17)

“for this is what Jehovah says: “You will not see wind, and you will not see rain; yet this valley will be filled with water, and you will drink from it, you, your livestock, and your other animals.”’”

*** it-1 p. 681 Edom ***
With regard to the campaign against Moab, the predicted flooding of the previously dry torrent valley where the allied armies camped may have resulted from a desert thunderstorm on the higher plateau. Such storms in modern times can send torrents of water rushing down the wadis toward the Arabah. Or the water may have appeared by purely miraculous means.—2Ki 3:16-23.

(2 KINGS 3:19)

“You must strike down every fortified city and every choice city, you should cut down every good tree, you should stop up all the springs of water, and you should ruin every good plot of land with stones.””

*** it-2 p. 1123 Trees ***
On invading the land, the Israelites were instructed not to destroy the fruit-bearing trees when attacking the cities, although centuries later the kings of Judah and Israel were authorized by God to devastate the ‘good trees’ of the kingdom of Moab. The reason appears to be that Moab was outside the Promised Land. It was punitive warfare against Moab, and the Israelite action was a protection against Moabite revolt or retaliation. (De 20:19, 20; 2Ki 3:19, 25; compare Jer 6:6.)

(2 KINGS 3:20)

“And in the morning, at the time of the morning grain offering, water was suddenly coming from the direction of Eʹdom, and the land became filled with the water.”

*** it-1 p. 681 Edom ***
With regard to the campaign against Moab, the predicted flooding of the previously dry torrent valley where the allied armies camped may have resulted from a desert thunderstorm on the higher plateau. Such storms in modern times can send torrents of water rushing down the wadis toward the Arabah. Or the water may have appeared by purely miraculous means.—2Ki 3:16-23.

(2 KINGS 3:22)

“When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water, and to the Moʹab•ites on the opposite side, the water looked red like blood.”

*** w05 8/1 p. 9 par. 8 Highlights From the Book of Second Kings ***
3:22. The reflection of the early morning light created the illusion that the water was blood, perhaps because the soil in the freshly made ditches contained red clay. Jehovah may choose to use natural phenomena to accomplish his purposes.

*** it-2 p. 382 Mesha ***
This occurred, and the reflection of the early morning sun upon the water made it look like blood to the Moabites, possibly because of red clay in the freshly cut ditches. The illusion deceived them into thinking the allied armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom had turned on one another. It was not unreasonable for them to think this, in view of the fact that they knew of the jealousy between Israel and Judah. Also, the Edomites were no lovers of the men of Judah, who were allied with Israel on this occasion.—2Ki 3:20-23; compare 2Ch 20:10, 11, 24, 25.
Thinking their enemies had slaughtered one another, the Moabites shouted, “So now, to the spoil, O Moab!” and entered the camp of Israel, only to be put to flight. Israel followed up by destroying the Moabite cities, stopping up their springs, and filling their tracts of land with stones, until they got to the city of Kir-hareseth (Kir of Moab).—2Ki 3:23-25.

(2 KINGS 3:23)

“They said: “This is blood! The kings have surely slaughtered one another with the sword. So, then, to the spoil, O Moʹab!””

*** it-2 p. 382 Mesha ***
This occurred, and the reflection of the early morning sun upon the water made it look like blood to the Moabites, possibly because of red clay in the freshly cut ditches. The illusion deceived them into thinking the allied armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom had turned on one another. It was not unreasonable for them to think this, in view of the fact that they knew of the jealousy between Israel and Judah. Also, the Edomites were no lovers of the men of Judah, who were allied with Israel on this occasion.—2Ki 3:20-23; compare 2Ch 20:10, 11, 24, 25.
Thinking their enemies had slaughtered one another, the Moabites shouted, “So now, to the spoil, O Moab!” and entered the camp of Israel, only to be put to flight. Israel followed up by destroying the Moabite cities, stopping up their springs, and filling their tracts of land with stones, until they got to the city of Kir-hareseth (Kir of Moab).—2Ki 3:23-25.

(2 KINGS 3:26)

“When the king of Moʹab saw that the battle was lost, he took with him 700 men armed with swords to break through to the king of Eʹdom; but they were not able to.”

*** it-1 p. 945 Kingdoms Surrounding Israel ***
Moab Nu 22:4-7; 25:1-3; 2Ki 3:26, 27

*** it-2 p. 382 Mesha ***
When King Mesha found himself trapped, he took 700 swordsmen and tried in a counterattack to break through to the king of Edom (perhaps because he thought that there he would meet with the weakest resistance), but he was unable to do so. “Finally he took his firstborn son who was going to reign in place of him and offered him up as a burnt sacrifice upon the wall.”—2Ki 3:26, 27.
The majority of commentators agree that Mesha offered up his own son as a sacrifice to his god Chemosh. The few who think otherwise say it was a captured son of the king of Edom that was sacrificed, citing Amos 2:1 as evidence, where reference is made to Moab “burning the bones of the king of Edom for lime.” Though grammatically the Hebrew will allow for such an interpretation, this latter suggestion seems contrary to other known facts. For example, it was unheard of for Moabites and Ammonites, Israel’s neighbors, to offer up their enemies as sacrifices to their gods, but it was a known practice of their religion to offer their own children as burnt sacrifices to appease the anger of their gods. (De 12:30, 31; Mic 6:6, 7) It is therefore understandable why this Chemosh worshiper, Mesha, faced with imminent danger of defeat, would have resorted to such drastic measures.

(2 KINGS 3:27)

“So he took his firstborn son who was going to reign in his place and offered him up as a burnt sacrifice on the wall. And there came to be great indignation against Israel, so they withdrew from against him and returned to their land.”

*** it-2 pp. 175-176 Kir of Moab ***
As a last resort, it appears that the king of Moab publicly sacrificed his own firstborn son, probably to appease the god Chemosh. (2Ki 3:5, 9, 25-27) The Hebrew text (2Ki 3:27) may also be understood to refer to the firstborn son of the king of Edom, and some suggest that this is alluded to at Amos 2:1. But this is less likely.

*** it-2 p. 382 Mesha ***
When King Mesha found himself trapped, he took 700 swordsmen and tried in a counterattack to break through to the king of Edom (perhaps because he thought that there he would meet with the weakest resistance), but he was unable to do so. “Finally he took his firstborn son who was going to reign in place of him and offered him up as a burnt sacrifice upon the wall.”—2Ki 3:26, 27.
The majority of commentators agree that Mesha offered up his own son as a sacrifice to his god Chemosh. The few who think otherwise say it was a captured son of the king of Edom that was sacrificed, citing Amos 2:1 as evidence, where reference is made to Moab “burning the bones of the king of Edom for lime.” Though grammatically the Hebrew will allow for such an interpretation, this latter suggestion seems contrary to other known facts. For example, it was unheard of for Moabites and Ammonites, Israel’s neighbors, to offer up their enemies as sacrifices to their gods, but it was a known practice of their religion to offer their own children as burnt sacrifices to appease the anger of their gods. (De 12:30, 31; Mic 6:6, 7) It is therefore understandable why this Chemosh worshiper, Mesha, faced with imminent danger of defeat, would have resorted to such drastic measures.

*** it-2 p. 421 Moab ***
Already at the close of the ninth century B.C.E., Amos wrote that Moab would suffer calamity for “burning the bones of the king of Edom for lime.” (Am 2:1-3) While some take this to mean that 2 Kings 3:26, 27 refers to King Mesha’s offering up, not his own son, but the firstborn of the king of Edom, this is an unlikely inference. One Jewish tradition, though, does link the event mentioned by Amos with the war waged against Mesha and claims that sometime after this conflict the Moabites dug up the bones of the king of Edom and then burned them for lime. But the Bible record provides no basis for determining the time involved.

(2 KINGS 4:10)

“Please, let us make a small room on the roof and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lampstand. Then, whenever he comes to us, he can stay there.””

*** it-1 p. 1155 House ***
Often a roof chamber or upper chamber was built on the housetop. This was a pleasant, cool room that often served as a guest room. (Jg 3:20; 1Ki 17:19; 2Ki 1:2; 4:10)

(2 KINGS 4:11)

“One day he came there, and he went to the room on the roof to lie down.”

*** w97 10/1 p. 30 Shunem—Marked by Love and Violence ***
We can imagine Elisha returning thankfully after a long, fatiguing journey, to the little roof chamber she and her husband had prepared for him. He probably visited their home often, since his ministry spanned 60 years. Why did this Shunammite woman insist that Elisha stay at their home every time he passed that way? Because she valued Elisha’s work. This humble, selfless prophet acted as the conscience of the nation, reminding kings, priests, and commoners of their duty to serve Jehovah.

(2 KINGS 4:13)

“Then he said to Ge•haʹzi: “Please tell her, ‘Here you have gone to all this trouble for us. What can be done for you? Should I speak in your behalf to the king or to the chief of the army?’” But her reply was: “I am living among my own people.””

*** w97 10/1 p. 30 Shunem—Marked by Love and Violence ***
The Bible says that she ‘restricted herself’—or went to a lot of trouble—in order to provide the prophet Elisha regular meals and accommodations.—2 Kings 4:8-13.

(2 KINGS 4:29)

“He immediately said to Ge•haʹzi: “Wrap your garments around your waist and take my staff in your hand and go. If you encounter anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone should greet you, do not answer him. Go and place my staff on the boy’s face.””

*** it-1 p. 654 Dress ***
Sash, belt, or girdle. A sash was often worn over the inner or the outer garments. When one engaged in some form of physical activity or work, he would ‘gird up his loins’ by wearing a sash, often pulling the ends of the garment up between his legs and tucking these ends under the sash so that he would have freedom of movement. (1Ki 18:46; 2Ki 4:29; 9:1)

(2 KINGS 4:38)

“When E•liʹsha returned to Gilʹgal, there was famine in the land. The sons of the prophets were sitting before him, and he said to his attendant: “Put the large pot on and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.””

*** it-2 p. 697 Prophet ***
“Sons of the Prophets.” As Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar explains (Oxford, 1952, p. 418), the Hebrew ben (son of) or benehʹ (sons of) may denote “membership of a guild or society (or of a tribe, or any definite class).” (Compare Ne 3:8, where “a member of the ointment mixers” is literally “a son of the ointment mixers.”) “The sons of the prophets” may thus describe a school of instruction for those called to this vocation or simply a cooperative association of prophets. Such prophetic groups are mentioned as being at Bethel, Jericho, and Gilgal. (2Ki 2:3, 5; 4:38; compare 1Sa 10:5, 10.) Samuel presided over a group at Ramah (1Sa 19:19, 20), and Elisha seems to have held a similar position in his day. (2Ki 4:38; 6:1-3; compare 1Ki 18:13.)

(2 KINGS 4:40)

“They later served it to the men to eat, but as soon as they ate from the stew, they cried out: “There is death in the pot, O man of the true God.” And they could not eat it.”

*** it-1 p. 991 Gourd ***
GOURD
[Heb., paq•qu•ʽothʹ, plural].
The Hebrew word rendered “gourds” appears in the Bible only with reference to an incident occurring during a time of famine in Elisha’s day. Someone had gathered some unfamiliar wild gourds and sliced them in with a stew. Upon tasting it, “the sons of the prophets” feared food poisoning and stopped eating, but Elisha miraculously saved the stew from being wasted.—2Ki 4:38-41.
Although a number of other suggestions have been made, the colocynth (Citrullus colocynthis), a plant related to the watermelon, is generally favored as the plant whose fruit probably corresponds to the “wild gourds” of the Scriptural record. The vine of the colocynth trails like the cucumber and also has similar foliage. The fruit is about the size of an orange; it has a thick, smooth rind with green and yellow mottlings, and it contains a very bitter and poisonous spongy pulp, from which the colocynth of medicine is derived. The characteristics of the colocynth would fit the Bible narrative of a wild gourd that was apparently poisonous, as suggested by its very taste. (2Ki 4:40) When most other plants have withered, it is still green and hence is a temptation to one unfamiliar with it.

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