Elisha HaNavi

June 14, 2006

The Prophet Elisha takes the mantle of his master and teacher in prophecy, Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet), quite literally. (II Melachim 2:13). He strikes the waters of the Yarden (the River Jordan) with the mantle, and asks, “Where is HaShem, the G-d of Eliyahu?” As he speaks, the waters part, as they had for Eliyahu. “And when the ‘Sons of the Prophets’ who were in Yericho see this, they say, ‘The spirit of Eliyahu rests on Elisha.’ ” (II Melachim 2:15) The first independent miracle performed by Elisha is when he sweetens and purifies the waters of Yericho by adding salt to them.

The widow of the Prophet Ovadiah is poverty-stricken, and her creditors are threatening to take her two sons as slaves in lieu of payment. Elisha asks if she has anything in her house of value, and she replies that she has only one bottle of oil. Elisha tells her to collect as many empty vessels as possible in her home, and then to fill them all from her one container. She is able to pay her creditors with some of the oil, and live with her sons from the remainder.
In his travels, Elisha is frequently hosted by a prominent woman of Shunam, and her husband. He discovers that she is childless, and promises her that in a year, she will have a son. The infant arrives, grows to boyhood, but one day in the field is seized by a terrible pain in his head, and dies. Ultimately, in a manner similar to his master, Eliyahu, Elisha performs “Miraculous Cardio-Pulmonary Revival of the Dead.”

On another occasion, a situation arises for a great Sanctification of G-d’s Name, but is partially diminished by the greed of Gechazi, Elisha’s servant. Naaman is a great general of Aram, but he has contracted leprosy. He tries all known cures, but nothing works. Then a young Jewish girl taken into captivity by Aram, now serving the wife of Naaman, suggests to her mistress that the general seek a cure from the great Prophet of Israel, Elisha. The King of Aram urges him to go to the King of Israel, and sends a great reward. But the King, distraught at not knowing what to do, rends his clothing. Elisha hears of this and sends a message that Naaman should come to him. The great general and his entourage arrive at the house of the Prophet. Without setting a foot outside, Elisha sends a message that Naaman should bathe seven times in the Yarden. Naaman becomes enraged, for he has expected that Elisha will come out to treat him.

Moreover, he says “Are not Amana and Parpar, rivers of Damesek, better than all the waters of Israel!?” (II Melachim 5:12) But his servants urge him to try Elisha’s cure. He does, and it works, “… and his flesh is restored like the flesh of a little child, and he is clean.” (II Melachim 5:14) Naaman returns to Elisha’s house, professes his faith in the G-d of Israel, and offers the King’s reward to him. Elisha will take nothing. But when Naaman leaves, Gechazi follows him and obtains part of the reward. When Gechazi returns, Elisha, knowing what has happened, transfers Naaman’s leprosy to Gechazi.
II Melachim recounts numerous other incidents involving the Prophet Elisha, including his interactions with the Kings of Israel Achav, Azariah, Yehoram, Yehu, Yehoachaz and Yehoash.