While it is assumed among scholarship that the “double portion” which Elisha requests of Elijah refers to the portion of the eldest son (following Deuteronomistic law), it is proposed in this paper that this is theologically significant to demonstrate Elisha as the true son of Elijah as prophet of Yahweh in contrast to the other “sons of the prophets” in the Former Prophets. This motif is followed in the stories of Elisha as he fulfills the prophetic call earlier given to Elijah as Horeb, knows and does what the “sons of the prophets” cannot do themselves, and functions as a new Elijah in the paneling accounts and images. The role of Spirit endowment as verification of elder sonship is followed as a theological trajectory of the Former Prophets.
(Here is the first of a few personal comments and questions from my Wednesday night Bible study — working through 2 Kings right now — let me know what you think)
13:1 – Jehoahaz – the son of Jehu. He reigned for 17 years (814-798 BC) as the king of Israel and did evil in the LORD’s sight (13:2). His father, Jehu, had been promised by the prophet Elisha that final judgment would not fall on his family for four generations (2 Ki.10:30; see also Deut.6:10-12). However, because of idolatry Israel was defeated by the Aramaens and Israel’s army reduced to 50 charioteers, 10 chariots and 10,000 foot soldiers (2 Ki.13:6-7).
13:3-4 – Judgment brings blessing? What was the purpose of the chastisement that Israel suffered at the hands of the Aramaens?
13:4 – Who might this unnamed “deliverer” be? Paul House (NAC 308 – he also mentions Hobbs and Gray as holding this position) and Gus Konkel (NIVAC 525) propose this “deliverer” was Elisha. The reasons given are that Elisha is named in the immediate context in language reminiscent of the “new” Moses (Deut.26:5-9) who would be another “deliverer” for Israel; further he is called the “chariots and horses of Israel” (2 Ki.13:14); finally, Elisha is portrayed in Kings as being a deliverer of Israel (2 Ki.3; 6:8-23).
13:6 – “…but they continued to sin…” – What were their sins? The religion of Jeroboam and the Asherah pole (see Amos 4:6-12).
13:10 – Jehoash – the son of Jehoahaz. He reigned for 16 years (798-782 BC) as king of Israel and did evil in the LORD’s sight (13:11). He defeated and captured king Amaziah of Judah and conquered Jerusalem: looting the treasuries of the Temple and palace, and carrying away many of the inhabitants into exile in Samaria (2 Ki.13:11-14). He also made an alliance with Assyria in order to try to oppose Aram.
13:14 – Why is Elisha called the “chariots and horses of Israel”?(see 2 Ki.3; 6:8-7:20; and also concerning Elijah: 2 Ki.2:12). He was here called this name on his deathbed after having anointed Jehu king of Israel nearly 40 years prior (2 Ki.9:1-3). Even the servants of the LORD may suffer illness that leads to death. There is no guarantee with the LORD other than that He is ever faithful. We are called to look to Him and entrust ourselves in faith and obedience to His work and will. The outcome of our life is not determined by our manner of suffering, or of death. The outcome of our life is determined by the LORD Himself.
13:17-19 – What is the point of shooting the arrow and striking the arrows on the ground? (see 2 Ki.13:25)
13:21 – A miracle story is told of a “chance” throwing of a body into the grave of Elisha which results in the dead man being resurrected. Paul House notes the living miracles associated with the passing of Elijah and Elisha by saying, “Elijah has gone to heaven without dying; Elisha has kept giving Israel life after he has died” (NAC 308). How much more is our LORD capable of giving life if one of His prophets could be used to give life?
13:23 – What do “grace” and “compassion” have to do with the LORD’s “covenant” with Israel?
14:1-4 – Amaziah – son of Joash. He reigned for 29 years (796-767 BC) as the king of Judah and did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight, but not like David and “not wholeheartedly” (2 Ki.14:4; 2 Chron.25:2). Though he received mention as fulfilling the Law of retribution in accordance with judging only those who sin (see Deut.24:16). However, he did not destroy the “high places” (Deut.16:1-8; 16:21-22), while he maintained the worship of the LORD at Jerusalem. In a campaign against Edom, he initially hired mercenaries from Israel, but by a message from one of the prophets concerning failure if the Israelites were with them, he summarily dismissed them (2 Chron.25:6-10). The dismissed Israelites then raided border towns of Judah which led to Amaziah’s challenge to Israel on the battlefield (2 Chron.25:20). This was the doing of the LORD because after Amaziah’s victory over Edom (10,000 were killed) he took Edom’s idols and established worship of them, therefore the LORD determined to judge him (2 Chron.25:20). He lost the battle against Israel and was utterly defeated at the hands of Jehoash king of Israel. Amaziah was captured, Jerusalem’s northern wall was torn down, and the city was plundered of both wealth and people (2 Ki.14:11-14; 2 Chron.25:22-24). King Amaziah lived another 15 years after the death of Jehoash king of Israel, but he never regained the confidence of his people and eventually was forced to flee to Lachish where he was hunted down and assassinated (2 Ki.14:17-19; 2 Chron.25:25-27).
14:8 – Why did Amaziah king of Judah challenge Jehoash king of Israel to battle? (see 2 Chron.25:7-13)
14:11-14 – Why was Judah defeated? (see 2 Chron.25:20) Sin may have led to the defeat, but what is the aim of the LORD in bringing about the defeat?