2 Kings 2:18
And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(18) For he tarried.Now he (emphatic) was abiding in Jericho (while they were searching).

Did I not say.—Or, command. Elisha could now fairly remind them of his authority. So the phrase “Go not” is, in the Hebrew, imperative. (Comp. “Ye shall not send,” 2Kings 2:16.) With these words, the history of Elijah significantly closes. “Elias resembled Moses in courage and eloquence, and no other prophet was his equal. But when he withdrew from the world, that Providence which guided the destinies of Israel did not, therefore, forsake His people. A portion of Elijah’s spirit passed to his disciples; and they are forbidden to seek their departed master in the desert: they must find among themselves the means of carrying on his work” (Reuss).

Thenius considers the entire section (2Kings 1:2 to 2Kings 2:18) to be a distinct fragment of a lost history of Elijah. Its contents, he says, betray the same poetical (?) spirit as 1 Kings 17-19.

2:13-18 Elijah left his mantle to Elisha; as a token of the descent of the Spirit upon him; it was more than if he had left him thousands of gold and silver. Elisha took it up, not as a sacred relic to be worshipped, but as a significant garment to be worn. Now that Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha inquired, 1. After God; when our creature-comforts are removed, we have a God to go to, who lives for ever. 2. After the God that Elijah served, and honoured, and pleaded for. The Lord God of the holy prophets is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; but what will it avail us to have the mantles of those that are gone, their places, their books, if we have not their spirit, their God? See Elisha's dividing the river; God's people need not fear at last passing through the Jordan of death as on dry ground. The sons of the prophets made a needless search for Elijah. Wise men may yield to that, for the sake of peace, and the good opinion of others, which yet their judgment is against, as needless and fruitless. Traversing hills and valleys will never bring us to Elijah, but following the example of his holy faith and zeal will, in due time.Till he was ashamed - i. e. to refuse them any longer. 16-18. fifty strong men, let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master—Though the young prophets from Jericho had seen Elijah's miraculous passage of the Jordan, they had not witnessed the ascension. They imagined that he might have been cast by the whirlwind on some mountain or valley; or, if he had actually been admitted into heaven, they expected that his body would still be remaining somewhere on earth. In compliance with their importunity, he gave them permission, but told them what the result would be. No text from Poole on this verse.

And when they came again to him, for he tarried at Jericho,.... Waiting their return to hear the report they made: which when they had:

he said unto them, did I not say unto you, go not? assuring them it would be fruitless, and to no purpose; though this search of theirs served both to confirm the assumption of Elijah, and the truth of Elisha being a prophet of the Lord.

And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?
18. And when [R.V. omits when] they came again [R.V. back] to him, (for [R.V. while] he tarried at Jericho)] The alteration of the R.V. of course removes the parenthesis. The Hebrew has in both places only the conjunction usually rendered ‘And’. The two clauses are literally ‘And they came back and he was tarrying’ &c. Having acceded to their request, he waited for the return of the searching party. ‘They turn back as wise as they went. Some men are best satisfied when they have wearied themselves in their own ways. Nothing will teach them wit but disappointments’ (Bp Hall).

We cannot dismiss the history of Elijah, which is brought to a close in this chapter, without some notice of the powerful hold which that history took upon the minds of the Jewish people, and of the prominent place which the prophet fills in the writings of the New Testament. In the Old Testament Elijah is rarely mentioned except in these chapters of the books of Kings, yet from the way in which Malachi (2 Kings 4:5-6) foretells his coming again we can see that the character of his mission had been fully appreciated. It was felt to be a mission suited for evil times, for times when God might be expected to come and smite the earth with a curse, if men repented not. Elijah is therefore set forth as mighty rather in works than in words. His was hardly the day for preaching. He is also, nearly always, seen to be supported by the loftiest faith, and his message is on that account attested by signs more striking than usual. On the contrary among his countrymen the decay of faith was so complete, that no work of mercy was wrought by this prophet except for a stranger, the widow of Zarephath.

The son of Sirach (Sir 48:1-12) speaks of Elijah as a fire, no unfit comparison, and of his word as a lamp. He calls him a prophet ordained for the reproof of the times in which he lived, and to pacify the wrath of the Lord’s judgement before it brake forth into fury. The day of the Lord was at hand, and his warnings were sent by a startling messenger. And although the wrath of the Almighty was not ultimately diverted from Israel, we can see how the mighty works of Elijah stirred up a more devout spirit in the land, and thus put back the day of vengeance. This influence of Elijah’s life is specially to be noted in the days of his successor. We come constantly upon evidence that even in the house of Ahab itself the prophet of the Lord was held in some esteem, while Jehovah was truly worshipped by not a few in the land, though Baal and the calves had captivated the multitude.

Hence in later days, to the mind of the pious Jew, Elijah was deemed to be ever interested in the spiritual welfare of the Lord’s people, and a place was set for him at every circumcision-service. We can see too how his ministry for help was in all men’s minds from the mistake which was made at the Crucifixion, when our Lord’s cry of agony was interpreted into a call for Elijah. That his intervention was ever expected to be salutary is testified by the language ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come and save him’. The large place which Elijah filled in the thoughts of the Jews of our Lord’s day is shewn by the mention in the New Testament of his name and his work more frequently than those of any other prophet; while both in his despondency over the evil condition of the nation (Romans 11:2) and in the mention of his effectual prayer (James 5:17) he is identified most closely with the people whom he so earnestly served as ‘a man subject to like passions as we are’.

For such a prophet men were looking in those evil days which preceded the coming of Christ, and from a like obscurity in the desert John the Baptist suddenly emerged in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) and all men recognised him as God’s prophet. ‘Art thou Elijah?’ was the first question of those who saw and heard him (John 1:21) and Jesus pointed out to His disciples that the office of Elijah was truly fulfilled by the Baptist (Matthew 11:14).

The ‘taking up’ of Elijah was accepted by the Jews as a testimony to the doctrine of man’s immortality. ‘Blessed are they that saw thee’ … says the writer of Ecclesiasticus … ‘for we shall surely live.’ Hence the great fitness of the appearance of Elijah with Moses at our Lord’s, Transfiguration. Christ came and brought life and incorruption to light, the former by the fulfilling of the Mosaic law, the latter by taking again His body after it had lain three days dead in the grave. The discourse on the mount of Transfiguration was of the decease which He was shortly to accomplish at Jerusalem. The presence of the prophet who had long before been taken from this world by the chariots of heaven calmed the minds of the disciples concerning the coming decease, taught them that to disappear from among men was not to perish, and so prepared them in a measure to believe the Master’s promise ‘In three days the Son of Man shall rise again’. Hence at a later time they could return in joy to Jerusalem when the angel had announced that this same Jesus whom they had seen taken up, should come again in like manner as they had seen Him depart. They had seen Elijah and by that they were assured that Jesus would be sent again. Thus they became preachers of the times of refreshing when God should send Jesus, the Christ, to bless men, as Elijah in his day fain would have done, by turning them away from their iniquities.

Verse 18. - And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? The prophet was not above vindicating the propriety of his past conduct. He waited at Jericho until the fifty men returned from their vain search, and then reminded them that his advice to them had been not to start on a useless errand. The ministers of God have to vindicate themselves, because God's honor is concerned in their being without reproach. 2 Kings 2:18But the disciples of the prophets at Jericho were so unable to realize the fact of Elijah's translation, although it had been previously revealed to them, that they begged permission of Elisha to send out fifty brave men to seek for Elijah. פּן־נשׂאו: whether the Spirit of the Lord has not taken him and cast him upon one of the mountains, or into one of the valleys. פּן with the perfect is used "where there is fear of a fact, which as is conjectured almost with certainty has already happened," like μὴ in the sense of "whether not" (vid., Ewald, 337, b.). יהוה רוּח is not a wind sent by Jehovah (Ges.), but the Spirit of Jehovah, as in 1 Kings 18:12. The Chethb גּיאות is the regular formation from גּיא or גּיא (Zechariah 14:4); the Keri with the transposition of א and ,י the later form: גּאיות, Ezekiel 7:16; Ezekiel 31:12, etc. The belief expressed by the disciples of the prophets, that Elijah might have been miraculously carried away, was a popular belief, according to 1 Kings 18:12, which the disciples of the prophets were probably led to share, more especially in the present case, by the fact that they could not imagine a translation to heaven as a possible thing, and with the indefiniteness of the expression ראשׁך מעל לקח could only understand the divine revelation which they had received as referring to removal by death. So that even if Elisha told them how miraculously Elijah had been taken from him, which he no doubt did, they might still believe that by the appearance in the storm the Lord had taken away His servant from this life, that is to say, had received his soul into heaven, and had left his earthly tabernacle somewhere on the earth, for which they would like to go in search, that they might pay the last honours to their departed master. Elisha yielded to their continued urgency and granted their request; whereupon fifty men sought for three days for Elijah's body, and after three days' vain search returned to Jericho. עד־בּשׁ, to being ashamed, i.e., till he was ashamed to refuse their request any longer (see at Judges 3:25).

The two following miracles of Elisha (2 Kings 2:19-25) were also intended to accredit him in the eyes of the people as a man endowed with the Spirit and power of God, as Elijah had been. 2 Kings 2:19-22. Elisha makes the water at Jericho wholesome. - During his stay at Jericho (2 Kings 2:18) the people of the city complained, that whilst the situation of the place was good in other respects, the water was bad and the land produced miscarriages. הארץ, the land, i.e., the soil, on account of the badness of the water; not "the inhabitants, both man and beast" (Thenius). Elisha then told them to bring a new dish with salt, and poured the salt into the spring with these words: "Thus saith the Lord, I have made this water sound; there will not more be death and miscarriage thence" (משּׁם). משׁלּכת is a substantive here (vid., Ewald, 160, e.). המּים מוצא is no doubt the present spring Ain es Sultn, the only spring near to Jericho, the waters of which spread over the plain of Jericho, thirty-five minutes' distance from the present village and castle, taking its rise in a group of elevations not far from the foot of the mount Quarantana (Kuruntul); a large and beautiful spring, the water of which is neither cold nor warm, and has an agreeable and sweet (according to Steph. Schultz, "somewhat salt") taste. It was formerly enclosed by a kind of reservoir or semicircular wall of hewn stones, from which the water was conducted in different directions to the plain (vid., Rob. Pal. ii. p. 283ff.). With regard to the miracle, a spring which supplied the whole of the city and district with water could not be so greatly improved by pouring in a dish of salt, that the water lost its injurious qualities for ever, even if salt does possess the power of depriving bad water of its unpleasant taste and injurious effects. The use of these natural means does not remove the miracle. Salt, according to its power of preserving from corruption and decomposition, is a symbol of incorruptibility and of the power of life which destroys death (see Bhr, Symbolik, ii. pp. 325,326). As such it formed the earthly substratum for the spiritual power of the divine word, through which the spring was made for ever sound. A new dish was taken for the purpose, not ob munditiem (Seb. Schm.), but as a symbol of the renewing power of the word of God. - But if this miracle was adapted to show to the people the beneficent character of the prophet's ministry, the following occurrence was intended to prove to the despisers of God that the Lord does not allow His servants to be ridiculed with impunity.

2 Kings 2:18 Interlinear
2 Kings 2:18 Parallel Texts

2 Kings 2:18 NIV
2 Kings 2:18 NLT
2 Kings 2:18 ESV
2 Kings 2:18 NASB
2 Kings 2:18 KJV

2 Kings 2:18 Bible Apps
2 Kings 2:18 Parallel
2 Kings 2:18 Biblia Paralela
2 Kings 2:18 Chinese Bible
2 Kings 2:18 French Bible
2 Kings 2:18 German Bible

Bible Hub

2 Kings 2:17
Top of Page
Top of Page