II Kings – Chapter 13

A Posthumous Miracle

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yehoachaz, son of Yehu, had become king of Israel and he was one of the bad kings, perpetuating the evil of his predecessors. The people were led into idolatry and G-d became angry with them, so He allowed Aram to invade and oppress them. Yehoachaz pleaded to G-d, so G-d provided relief and they dwelled securely again. Nevertheless, the golden calves of Yaravam and the asheira trees remained in place. The army of Israel was all but destroyed by Aram.

Yehoachaz reigned 17 years and was succeeded by his son Yehoash (not the same as the king of Judah by the same name). Yehoash the son of Yehoachaz was an evil king, who sinned and led his nation to sin.

The prophet Elisha became sick with what would be his final illness. Even though he was a wicked king, Yehoash of Israel went to visit him. Yehoash mourned the loss of Elisha’s merits from the nation.

Elisha had Yehoash take a bow and shoot an arrow in the direction of Aram. He then prophesized that Israel would beat Aram into submission. (A prophecy accompanied by a physical act is irrevocable.) Elisha then told Yehoash to shoot the remaining arrows into the ground. Yehoash shot three, then stopped. Elisha became angry. “Had you emptied the quiver, you would have totally destroyed Aram! Now you will only strike them three times!” Elisha died and was buried.

Later, some people were burying a body when soldiers from Moav started approaching. They quickly threw the body into Elisha’s tomb and ran away. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the corpse woke up and walked out of the tomb. (The Talmud, Sanhedrin 47a, and Rashi there, say that the person buried with Elisha was the false prophet from I Kings 13. Being unworthy of being buried with Elisha, the false prophet got up and walked out, only to collapse again. The Midrash Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 32, says that it was Shalom, the husband of the prophetess Chuldah, and that he remained alive and fathered children after being revived.)

Chazael, king of Aram, oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Yehoachaz, but G-d did not permit the Jewish nation to be destroyed. Chazael died and was succeeded by his son, Ben-Hadad. Yehoash, son of Yehoachaz, struck Aram three times, as Elisha had said, and retrieved the cities that Chazael had captured from Israel.

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