2 Kings 2; 5-6
Elijah has been chief prophet of Jehovah in the nation of Israel. He caused a famine for three years in order to humble the people to return to Jehovah, after they turned to worshiping Baal with Jezebel. Upon defeating the priests of Baal, Elijah had them slain - Jehovah’s vengeance for Jezebel slaying the real prophets of Israel. Worn out after years of jealously serving God and hiding from Ahab and Jezebel’s storm troops, Elijah asks the Lord for rest. Jehovah tells him to anoint Jehu as future king of Israel and Elisha to replace him as chief prophet in Israel (1 Kings 19:15-17). Where Elijah made great strides in returning Israel back from apostasy, Elisha and Jehu will continue the trend.
2 Kings 2
We find a poetic parallelism or chiasm in the story of Elisha following Elijah from place to place. In each place, sons of the prophets warn Elisha of the pending event with Elijah. Elisha acknowledges it, and then insists on following Elijah to the end. Starting in Gilgal, Elijah and Elisha go to Beth-el, Jericho, and then to the Jordan River.
Jericho is just north of the Dead Sea. Gilgal is just north of Jericho.
What was the Lord’s purpose in sending Elijah and Elisha to each of these places? Their starting place, Gilgal, is just north of Jericho and north of the Dead Sea. From here, they traveled west to Beth-el, and then back east to Jericho. Surely, the shortest route would have been to go north to the Jordan River.
It is very probable that Elijah was sent to Beth-el, because it was one of the major worship centers to God in the land of Israel. Elijah went to ensure all things were set in order before his ascension. It may also be that the Lord desired all the sons of the prophets in the land to see Elisha with Elijah, in anticipation of the prophetic mantle being transferred to him. This would have left little doubt as to the proper authority, ensuring the plan to return Israel to Jehovah came about without any delays.
Crossing the Jordan River, Elijah gathered up his mantle (a cloak which symbolized his prophetic power and office), and smote the waters. Just as with Moses as the Red Sea, and Joshua at the Jordan River before him, the waters divided and the two men crossed on dry ground.
Elisha asks for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit to be with him. Elijah notes this to be a difficult thing to promise, but states that if Elisha actually sees him ascend, God has granted the request. What was Elijah’s spirit? It was the prophetic mantle of power given to Elijah. It allowed Elijah to seal up the heavens from raining, to cause fire to come down upon his enemies, and to be transported by the Spirit to whichever place the Lord would send him. A “double portion” goes back to the concept of inheritance. All of the sons of the prophets sought to inherit the spirit of Elijah, the gift of prophesy and the power of miracles. Yet, in ancient times, the oldest son received two portions of the inheritance from his father, while the others received a single portion for their inheritance. Elisha knows he is to be the anointed prophet, and wants to ensure he does not have difficulties with any of the sons of the prophets. He wants to be able to perform the miracles that Elijah was able to do, in order to reclaim Israel for Jehovah. In seeing Elijah ascend, and in retrieving the physical mantle of Elijah, Elisha also obtained a vision into heaven, and the spiritual mantle of prophet.
John the Baptist as Elijah
Christ with Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (Transfiguration by Raphael)
In the New Testament, Jews sought the return of Elijah as prophesied by Malachi (Mal 4:5-6) and wondered if John the Baptist was Elijah. While John denied it, Jesus did establish that John was Elias (another form of Elijah - Luke 1:16-17; Matthew 17:10-13). We understand that he was not literally the same Elijah, but that the name Elias/Elijah is also a title. Just as Elisha received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah and took upon himself Elijah’s mantle, so John the Baptist also was an Elias, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. Elijah’s and John’s lives were similar in many ways. Both lived in the desert/wilderness for years. Both called Israel to repentance from their apostasy. Both opposed the evil king and queen. While Elijah was translated, and John beheaded, both returned in the last days to give priesthood authority and keys to Joseph Smith - preparing the way for the final coming of Jesus Christ.
Traditions concerning Elijah
I’ve heard that there is a Jewish tradition that Elijah’s mantle was later laid in the golden altar of the temple as a national treasure. Some Christians believe that John’s father later removed it and gave it to John the Baptist to wear as part of his mantle of authority, literally making him an Elias. While I’ve heard these things, I’ve yet to read anything authoritative on it, and would appreciate anyone’s help in finding solid evidence, if any.
Of Elijah, Jewish folklore does suggest different things, including he was the long surviving grandson of Aaron, Phinehas. Others believed him to be an angel in human form, perhaps the archangel Sandalphon.
Of course, whenever the dogs are happy for no obvious reason, it is because Elijah is in the neighborhood....
Elisha the Prophet
2 Kings 2
Elisha’s return parallels much of his journey with Elijah. First, he takes the mantle from the ground and smites the Jordan’s waters, crossing again on dry ground. From there, he returned to Jericho for a time, and then passing going back to Beth-el.
He immediately used the power of his mantle to perform miracles. He healed the waters at Jericho, so they again could be used for drinking. As he left the area, teenagers mocked him, and his curse caused them to be mauled by bears who came out of the woods and attacked them. Clearly, Elisha would be no more merciful than Elijah was. Why curse the youth? They mocked the Lord’s anointed prophet, suggesting they were followers of Baal (Jezebel still lived and ruled the land with her son), and Jehovah was out to purify the land. According to the Law of Moses, those who followed after other gods and rejected the Prophet of God merited death. Even in Moses’ accounts, many were killed for rejecting Jehovah and his prophet. Destruction seems cruel, but God is consistent in his dealings with men. He seeks us to repent, but will allow us only so much leeway before allowing nature to take its course and destroy the wicked.
Elisha supports the Kings
2 Kings 3
King Joram of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah become allies. The land of Moab paid tribute to Israel under Ahab. With Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled and Israel was forced to subject them anew. The two kings devised a strategy. They would travel from the south, up through Edom (Esau) with its king and attack from the south. However, a drought occurred and the armies of the kings found themselves in a precarious position.
“10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!“
Not a friend of Jehovah, the King of Israel was convinced that the Lord had prepared for their demise. Fortunately for him, Jehoshaphat was a devoted follower of God.
“11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him?“
They went to Elisha, who was just as disgusted with Joram as Elijah had been with Ahab.
“13 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.
14 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.
15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.
17 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.
18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.”
Had it not been for the righteous Jehoshaphat, Elisha would have performed no miracle. The armies of Israel and Edom would have died in the desert. Instead, they were to dig ditches, into which water bubbled up from the ground. As the armies drank and revived themselves, the thirsty armies of Moab arrived to the valley. The reflection of the water looked like blood to them, and they were convinced the three kings’ armies had fought amongst themselves. The Moabites expected an easy conquest among those already dead. Instead, they found the armies of Judah and Israel prepared to receive them. The Moabites were slaughtered, and their cities burned.
You would think that Joram would have realized that Jehovah was not the bad guy, but the God who promised to protect and support them if they were obedient. Still, he will continue expecting bad things from God. In Joram and his father, Ahab, we get an interesting contrast with Jehoshaphat. Two kings of the chosen tribes of God, yet only one follows Jehovah in the proper way. Only one demonstrates faith, and sought out the prophet of God when things were going wrong. Jehoshaphat’s righteousness brought Elisha’s and Jehovah’s favor and saved the armies.
The King of Moab, however, was not about to have the three kings wipe his country off the map. He made a desperate attempt to save Moab:
“25 And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.
26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not.
27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to theirown land.”
While some worshiped Molech, a god who was worshiped by having one’s children pass through fire (sometimes a deadly event), the Moabites generally worshiped Baal. Human sacrifice was such an extreme event, even for those of Judah and Edom, that they realized the destruction had gone far enough and left the battle, returning to their own lands.
Elisha’s miracles continue
2 Kings 4
Elisha’s miracles often paralleled those of Elijah. Again tragedy hits a widow. This time she is the wife of a prophet who died. Creditors are beating at her door, and her sons would be sold into slavery. Elisha has her borrow as many vessels to hold oil as possible, and to pour from her own vessel into them. The oil continued pouring until all the vessels were filled, then sell the oil to pay off the creditors. Again, woman’s son dies, and Elisha (just like Elijah) must use his power to bring the child back to life.
Elisha was able to purify a poisoned stew, and on another occasion fed over 100 people with a little food one of his followers had. Each of these miracles is given as evidence of the power of God to affect individual lives. We’ve seen how God can assist kings and armies by providing water and victory in battle. Now the Lord shows that he has compassion and power to assist the widow, the child, and others who seek after God’s blessing.
Naaman the Leper
2 Kings 5
Leprosy was a deadly and feared disease in ancient days. Thought to be highly contagious, many nations forced lepers to dwell in colonies away from the healthy. According to the Mosaic Law, lepers were considered “unclean” and had to stay apart from the healthy until they became clean and presented themselves before the priest. Other diseases could be mistaken for leprosy, including skin diseases, so it is very possible many were called unclean, who did not have leprosy.
Even today, leprosy is a difficult bacterial disease. In 1995, over 2 million people were permanently disabled because of leprosy. Today we have treatment for it, with 20 million people being cured of it over the past 20 years.
Naaman was a leper. He was also the Syrian king’s chief advisor. It was likely that this man had tried many tonics and methods to get rid of the disease, all to no avail. Only in hearing that a prophet in Israel could heal him, was there a new hope for Naaman. In traveling to Israel and introducing himself to King Joram, the Israelite king was dismayed. He just finished fighting the Moabites, and now feared he would again have to fight against the Syrians if he were not able to heal the leper. Fortunately, Elisha heard of the arrival of Naaman, and sent for him.
Imagine being the second in command of a nation. In traveling, even in ancient days, it was normal and customary for the important people to greet the visitor. Instead, Elisha sends his lowly servant out to greet the Syrian. There are no trumpets. There is no great fanfare. There are no prophets calling forth thunder and lightning from the sky to torch the leprosy from the inflicted’s skin. There is just a small man in ragged clothing standing before Naaman.
“Go wash in the Jordan River seven times.” The simple servant turned around and walked back up the path to the prophet’s house.
Of course Naaman was incensed. This was not the way one treated an emissary from another country! Thankfully, Naaman had good counselors. “If the prophet had shown up with great fanfare and told you to build a temple to Jehovah, would you have done it?” Of course he would have. Why then murmur about such a simple thing? Naaman humbled himself, bathed, and was cleaned.
The story seems so simple today. Anyone could see he should have immediately trusted the prophet. Right? Yet we forget that he had seen many gods come and go in his own land. No doubt he had gone to all their temples and altars, seeking to be cleansed, only to find that none of them had the power to heal him. We often miss out on blessings and the healing power of God in our own lives, simply because we are too proud to do the simple things. If God were to ask us to cross the Great Plains with a handcart, we would quickly jump to the task. Yet when we are asked to pray daily, study our scriptures, or visit the sick and afflicted, we balk at such a simple thing. Yet it is in the simple things that God works some of his greatest works.
“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise” (Alma 37:6).
Gehazi - seeking wealth
Gehazi was Elisha’s servant. He was the one Elisha sent down to tell Naaman to wash in the filthy waters of Jordan. As Elisha’s servant, he was responsible for handling all tasks and being completely obedient to Elisha and Jehovah. However, greed set in. When Naaman returned to thank the prophet, Elisha refused to take any gifts from the Syrian. Naaman did proclaim his faith in Jehovah, and that he personally would worship no other god, even as he served the Syrian king in his personal worship of his gods. Naaman departed, taking all his treasure with him.
Gehazi felt his master was foolish in not accepting even a little of the treasure:
“But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him” (2 Kings 5:20).
Gehazi was clearly intent on taking some of the riches, as he swore to do it in God’s name (“as the Lord liveth”). So he devised an excuse and chased after the entourage. Naaman stopped and asked him if all was well with Elisha. Gehazi explained that as soon as he left, Elisha perceived two sons of the prophets were arriving and would need two changes of clothing and a talent of silver. Naaman insisted he take two talents, and Gehazi returned feeling like his future retirement was all set.
But Elisha perceived what occurred, and asked Gehazi, “Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow” 2 Kings 5:26-27).
Alma explained it, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). There is plenty of time in the next life to receive great treasures and rewards from God. Here, we need to focus on the works of God, and serving Him. For those who first seek treasure before their reward in heaven, they will find that their treasure will rot and rust away. Gehazi now had his two talents, but no where to spend it easily. As a leper, he would be forced to join the unclean away from the cities of Israel and dwell in sickness and poverty the rest of his life. Though this seems like a terrible curse to place upon a person, perhaps it was Elisha’s way to help Gehazi repent and turn back to God. Just as Elijah brought drought upon Israel in order to humble the people, here was Gehazi’s chance to be humbled and return to God.
So are the trials we are given in life. Sometimes we will face health issues, economic problems, or family struggles. Each of these can be a curse or a blessing in disguise:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
Elisha versus the Syrians
2 Kings 6
In this period, the Syrians developed a massive army with thousands of chariots. The king of Syria devised a plan to secretly set up a camp for his army. This camp obviously was in a place that Israel’s King would frequently send his troops, as the Syrians were set in ambush.
Elisha warned Joram to not take his troops to that spot, as the Syrians lay in wait for them and would destroy them. In this instance, Joram wisely listened to the prophet. Instead, he sent his own spies to the area twice, and affirmed that the Syrians were waiting in ambush. When the Syrian king realized that his plan was foiled, he demanded of his counselors which one betrayed Syria:
“Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel? “ (2 Kings 6:11).
They insisted that none of them were traitors, but instead the problem lie with the prophet Elisha. The prophet perceived them, and warned Israel’s king. Syrian spies found the prophet dwelling at Dothan. Dothan was north of Samaria and not far from the Syrian border. The armies of Syria crept through the wilderness and surrounded the town by night. In the morning, Elisha’s servant left the house, only to see thousands of troops and chariots surrounding the village.
“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
“And he (Elisha) answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:15-16).
The young man did not understand what Elisha meant, until the veil over his eyes were removed.
“Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17)
The prophet then caused the Syrians to be blinded, and led the army carefully away to Samaria, the Israelite king’s city. Elisha delivered the Syrians to an astonished Joram, who asked Elisha what he should do with them - “My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?”. Elisha commanded him to treat them as captives. Feed them and send them humbly back to the king of Syria.
In this we learn that a wise person will follow the counsels of the living prophet. Israel’s armies risked destruction, but were spared because the king listened to the prophet. Perhaps Joram saw how Elisha helped the armies of Israel and Judah against Moab, and knew that God would help them, even if he didn’t always serve the Lord diligently. Joram had put away his parents’ god of Baal, but still worshiped the calves of Jeroboam (which represented El, as I discussed in a previous lesson). He was a heretic, not an apostate.
Next, the servant of Elisha discovered that the angels of God surround the righteous, ready to protect and defend them as necessary. In a recent discussion with someone elsewhere, he struggled with believing in invisible beings causing miracles. His example was that in the Middle Ages, many Christians believed that when one threw a ball into the air, an angel would catch it and hold it up until it let it go. Today, we understand it as a natural force, called gravity. My point was that while many things can be explained in scientific terms, it does not mean there is no God or angels. God may indeed work most things through natural law. But he can also step in and perform miracles on occasion. Natural law could explain all the Syrians being temporarily blinded at once: perhaps a bright flash of light. But it is also possible that angels or priesthood power caused the flash of light which blinded them.
“25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?....
35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made” (Moroni 7:25-38).
We live in a doubting time. Just as the servant of Elisha was overwhelmed by the Syrian army and his fears shook him, Elisha’s faith revealed the true power and nature of God. Some wonder how we can defeat the powers of evil in our own day, whether radical terrorists or people who promote sin. The answer is in Elisha’s statement, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” The wicked do not outnumber us, even though we may not be able to see all the reinforcements God has ready to send to us. For those who are deceived into believing God is no longer, or that God no longer performs miracles, they are left alone on the battlefield. Many of them will choose to desert to the armies of the Syrians rather than be decimated.
But God will protect his faithful Saints in the last days, even if by power:
“Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
“Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come; yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come; and it must needs be upon the face of this earth; and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel” (1 Nephi 22:17-18).
This hearkens back to Elijah’s experience. When King Ahaziah (Ahab’s oldest son) sent troops to destroy him, Elijah sent down fire from heaven to destroy them (1 Kings 1). Elijah was one man against all of Israel, including Ahab and Jezebel. Yet, he was able to perform great works that amazed the people, and caused many to return to Jehovah and accept him as the only God. Elisha picked up that mantle of responsibility, authority, and power, and equally did great things for the people and the kings of Israel and Judah.
2 Kings 6-7
Ben-Hadad (Son of Hadad), King of Syria was not pleased to see his armies return to him empty handed. Instead of a ploy of stealth, he directly attacked Samaria and besieged it. Holding a city so that no one can go in or out is a waiting game. It requires patience to see who will blink first. When the Romans besieged Jerusalem in 70 AD for over a year, over a million people starved to death.
In this case, the Samaritans were also starving. Bread was scarce and sold for exorbitant prices. Imagine if the $1 loaf of bread you normally purchase zoomed to $100 a loaf! So intense is the starvation that a woman accosted King Joram, begging for justice. She and another woman each had a child. It was agreed upon that they would kill and eat the one child one day, and when needed would slay the other child. The other woman reneged on the agreement, refusing to kill her child after the first woman cooked hers. So is mass starvation when it occurs. People do horrific things, including cannibalism, when they are desperate and no help is near. It is a sign of the degenerate and destitute spirits of people, as we also see in Mormon’s witness against the Nephite people in their final days (Moroni 9).
The King was shocked and dismayed, renting (tearing off) his clothing and donning sackcloth and ashes as an outward sign of intense mourning and grief. Joram, who had previously called Elisha “father” for saving his armies from the Syrians, now cursed him and swore “God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day” (2 Kings 6:31). He did not understand that the siege was due to his own sins. He had not turned to Jehovah nor his prophet for deliverance, but chose instead to blame the destruction and cannibalism on Elisha.
Joram comes to the prophet and speaks to Elisha, saying “Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33). Elisha tells him that a little more patience is needed:
“Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof” (2 Kings 7:1-2).
Four lepers sitting in the cities main gates decide that there’s no reason to starve. If they were to desert to the Syrian army, they would either be fed or killed. Either way, their problems would be over. Upon arriving, they find the army is gone, having left everything behind. We are told that the Syrians heard in the middle of the night the sound of thousands of chariots and soldiers. Believing Israel had the Hittites and Egyptian armies helping them, the Syrians fled in terror. The lepers stuffed their pockets, hid food and treasure for themselves, and then returned to Samaria.
“So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were” (v 10).
Still, Joram did not believe the prophesy of Elisha.
“And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city” (v 12).
However, in sending a small group to check out the situation, and finding the Syrians did indeed flee, the king tried to establish an orderly march of the people to the site. The lord who mocked Elisha before was placed to regulate movement out of the main city gate. However, once the people heard there was food and treasure outside, they ran through the gates, trampling him. Elisha’s prophesy came true.
Interestingly, Joram and others were ready to blame Jehovah and Elisha for the siege. Would it have lasted as long had the king and people humbly gone before Elisha earlier and prayed for God’s deliverance? Why is it that we often must wait until death looks us straight in the eye before we choose to humble ourselves and obey? We have a similar example in the Book of Mormon. Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi on the ship to the Promised Land. They wanted to party and were tired of his preachings. Storms came in that became worse and worse over a series of days, knocking them off course. The Liahona compass, which they had come to rely upon for directions, did not function. It was not until they realized that destruction was imminent that they humbled themselves enough to untie Nephi and ask the prophet to beseech the Lord for safety (2 Nephi 18).
Jehu Anointed King and Slays Jezebel
2 Kings 9-10
Elisha continues performing works in Israel. He foresees a seven year drought and gives the people a warning regarding it. After the famine, he sees Hazael, a servant of the king of Syria, and weeps. When Hazael asks the prophet why he should weep, Elisha states that he knew Hazael would be the next king of Syria and would slaughter many Israelites. Hazael returns to the Syrian king, assassinates him in his sickbed and takes his place as king.
The kings of Israel and Judah were related. Israel’s King Joram was the son of Ahab. King Ahaziah of Judah was Ahab’s son-in-law. Both were very wicked. In fact, Ahaziah introduced the worship of Baal into Judah. The two went to battle against the new king of Syria. King Hazael defeated the armies of Judah and Israel, wounding Joram in battle. Joram and Ahaziah return to Jezreel, the military capitol of Israel and the home of Jezebel.
Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to Jehu and anointed him to be the new king of Israel. Jehu sat with other generals of the Israelite army discussing important issues, possibly regarding the war with Syria and how the kings had failed them, when the prophet arrived.
“5 And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain.
6 And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel.
7 And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel.
8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:
9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah:
10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled” (2 Kings 9).
Jehu gathers his men and furiously rides his chariot to Jezreel. Joram sends messengers out to greet Jehu and ask him, “is it peace?” wanting to know if the Syrians declared a truce. Jehu answered each messenger sent with, “What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me”. In succession, several messengers lined up behind Jehu and followed him.
Finally, Kings Joram and Ahaziah climb onto their chariots and go out to meet Jehu.
“22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?
23 And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.”
Both kings are slain, and Joram’s body tossed upon the field of Naboth. Naboth was an Israelite that owned a field next to the palace in Jezreel. Ahab desired it for a garden and mourned over the field, because Naboth refused to sell it. Jezebel convinced her husband to trump up charges of treason against Naboth and slay him. Ahab then rejoiced in the field he had acquired. This is reminiscent of other women who have tempted their husbands or fathers to do evil in order to get gain (see Ether 8, Mark 6).
This killing of Naboth and his family rested heavily upon Jehu, who said to his men, “Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the Lord; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the Lord. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the Lord“ (v 26).
Arriving in Jezreel, Jezebel looked out from her palace window. It was near the gate, which probably faced north towards Syria). Knowing trouble was about, she took the time to paint her face and make herself look queenly. Jehu called to the servants above and told them to toss her down. The horses of Jehu and his soldiers trampled her to death. Going inside to eat, he then commanded that she be buried, being a queen. However, when they returned, all that was left of her were her skull, the palms of her hands and feet. The prophet’s foresaw her death, and that she would not be honored with burial.
“36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:
37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.”
Come with me, and See my Zeal for the Lord
2 Kings 11
In chapter eleven, Jehu commands that the people slay all seventy of the sons of Ahab, ensuring there is no one in the family line to reign again. They send the heads of the men in baskets to Jehu, so he can verify they truly all are dead.
The new king turns to his friend Jonadab and says, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord” (v 16). Jehu then called forth all the priests of Baal and Jezebel in the entire country for a huge feast to Baal.
Publicly, Jehu pronounced: "Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much” (v 18).
Jehu called for all the prophets, servants, and priests of Baal to attend a great sacrifice. He proclaimed that those who did not show up for the sacrifice would not live. Special vestments were made for the worshipers of Baal. They were all gathered into the chief Temple of Baal in Jezreel, filling the place.
“23 And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshippers of Baal only.“
Once there were only the followers of Baal inside, Jehu sent 80 men to kill them all.
“And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel” (vs 26-28).
The temple of Baal was turned into a draught house, or tavern.
Still, Jehu turned away from the proper worship of Jehovah, and towards the worship of Jeroboam’s calves (of El). As with others before him, he rejected the complete apostasy of Baal worship, and turned to the heresy of worshiping El without God’s permission to do so, nor the proper order in which to do it.
Because Israel did not fully return to God or give heed to the prophets of God, they fell under the terror of King Hazael of Syria, who crushed the Israelites from the Mediterrannean coast all the way to the east side of the Jordan River.
Both Israel and Judah will continue struggling with apostasy over the years. Israel’s time is numbered before the Assyrians will carry them off. Only Judah will occasionally have a righteous king, one of which we’ll discuss next time.
Elijah - Bible history and traditions: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah
Leprosy - Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy
David Larsen’s lesson #29 on Elisha: http://www.heavenlyascents.com/2010/07/31/he-took-up-the-mantle-of-elijah-ot-lesson-29/