Home > Hermeneutics > The work of Elijah and Elisha formed two parts of one whole, the one supplementing the other, and though there are manifest parallels between them there are also marked contrasts

The work of Elijah and Elisha formed two parts of one whole, the one supplementing the other, and though there are manifest parallels between them there are also marked contrasts

The work of Elijah and Elisha formed two parts of one whole, the one supplementing the other, and though there are manifest parallels between them there are also marked contrasts. Both of them were prophets, both dwelt in Samaria, both were confronted with much the same situation. The falling of Elijah’s mantle upon Elisha intimated that the latter was the successor of the former, and that he was called upon to continue his mission. The first miracle performed by Elisha was identical with the last one wrought by his master: the smiting of the waters of the Jordan with the mantle, so that they parted asunder for him (2 Kings 2:8, 14). At the beginning of his ministry Elijah had said to king Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand” (1 Kings 17:1), and when Elisha came into the presence of Ahab’s son he also declared, “As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand” (2 Kings 3:14). As Elijah was entertained by the woman of Zarephath, and rewarded her by restoring her son to life (1 Kings 17:23), so Elisha was entertained by a woman at Shunem and rewarded her by restoring her son to life (2 Kings 4).

Striking as are the points of agreement between the two prophets, the contrasts in their careers and work are just as vivid. The one appeared suddenly and dramatically on the stage of public action, without a word being told us concerning his origin or how he had been previously engaged; but of the other, the name of his father is recorded, and an account is given of his occupation at the time he received his call into God’s service. The first miracle of Elijah was the shutting up of the heavens, so that for the space of three and a half years there was neither dew nor rain according to his word; whereas the first public act of Elisha was to heal the springs of water (2 Kings 2:21, 22) and to provide abundance of water for the people (3:20). The principal difference between them is seen in the character of the miracles wrought by and connected with them: the majority of those performed by the former were associated with death and destruction, but the great majority of those attributed to Elisha were works of healing and restoration: the one was more the prophet of judgment, the other of grace. The former was marked by loneliness, dwelling apart from the apostate masses; the latter seems to have spent most of his time in the company of the prophets, presiding over their schools. The one was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, the other fell sick in old age and died a natural death (22:9).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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