Elijah and Elisha
- Which half of David and Solomon’s kingdom did Elijah and Elisha live in?
- How did Samaria become the capital of Israel?
- Who was Ahab?
- What did Jezebel do?
- Which prophet raised someone from the dead?
- Who spoke with a still small voice?
- How did Naboth lose his vineyard?
- What were Elishas’ first three miracles?
- Who was Naaman?
- Which three kings fought against Moab?
Omri, king of the northern kingdom of Israel by conquest, buys a hill and builds a city (hills were good, defensible places for cities) called Samaria, which then becomes the capital of Israel. Omri’s son Ahab marries the Zidonian princess Jezebel and institutes Baal worship, possibly even child sacrifice, among the Jews of Israel (1 Kings 16). Under Jezebel’s authority, Jewish prophets are slaughtered but Obadiah hides some away (1 Kings 18). Meanwhile Elijah prophesies a drought then hides by a brook where ravens feed him, afterwards staying with a widow in Zarephath where oil and grain miraculously never run out. When the widow’s son dies, Elijah prays, lies on top of him, and revives him (1 Kings 17). The drought ends with God setting fire to wet wood on an altar in response to Elijah’s prayers while the gods of Baal prove unresponsive and incapable (1 Kings 18). In his moment of triumph, Elijah runs away again but God leads him to Mount Sinai where Elijah finds God in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19).
Elijah chooses Elisha as his successor by sharing his cloak with him (1 Kings 19)—a standard mode of succession in those days. Meanwhile King Ahab is embroiled in battles with Benhadad of Syria. Refusing to hand over his family, Ahab is helped by a nameless prophet and God leads Israel to victory in the hill country. When Benhadad claims the Israelite God is only God of the hills, another victory follows on the plains (aided and abetted by a wall falling down on the Syrian army) (1 Kings 20).
Queen Jezebel engineers the death of Naboth so King Ahab can steal his vineyard. Elijah prophesies against the king, but the king begs forgiveness and gets to keep the kingdom a little longer (1 Kings 21). Ahab’s son Ahaziah inherits but falls ill and calls on the prophets of Beelzebub for aid. Elijah prophesies his death and the soldiers sent to change his mind all die (2 Kings 1). Ahaziah’s brother Jehoram becomes king then, tries to have Elishah beheaded (blaming him for prophesying famine, 2 Kings 6) and is later killed by treachery in that same vineyard (2 Kings 9). When the Moabites rebel, Jehoram gets Judah and Edom to come to his aid. The Moabites wrongly assume these traditional enemies will destroy each other and so are killed while foolishly celebrating (2 Kings 3). Judah and Israel remain on good terms till Elijah’s successor Elisha instigates a rebellion led by Jehu in which both King Jehoram of Israel and King Ahaziah (son of Athaliah, king Ahab’s sister, 2 Kings 8) of Judah are killed.
Elijah’s death, like Moses’ before him, is a secret one leaving no grave (2 Kings 2). Elisha watches Elijah vanish on a flaming chariot and returns wearing Elijah’s cloak. Like Elijah (and Moses) before him, Elisha parts the waters of a river (his first miracle). He cleanses the water of a nearby city, and the people who mock his bald head are mauled by bears (second and third miracles). Later miracles include water for an army (2 Kings 3), multiplying oil, a child born to an elderly woman and raised from the dead, poisoned pottage redeemed with an antidote (2 Kings 4), healed leprosy and a deceiving servant given leprosy (Naaman and Gehazi, 2 Kings 5), floating ax-heads, mystic knowledge of Syrian battle-plans followed by visions of chariots and blinded (later healed) Syrian soldiers (2 Kings 6), the end of a famine (and prophesy that a nobleman will miss its blessing), more Syrian deception (2 Kings 7), many more prophesies, and, after his death, the resurrection of someone who’s buried next to his bones (2 Kings 13)! Elisha prophesies Jehu’s reign and has him anointed, instigating his takeover of the kingdom.