How Jesus Christ Viewed Elijah and Elisha
"Supernatural" vs. "Spiritual" Interpretations of the Scriptures (Sep 98)
For this is the fact of our time, that increasing technology has created a world society which interacts with increasing (and often abrasive) intimacy. That society exists already, like it or no. And the condition of a society without structure is anarchy-the chaos of lawlessness. Such a society is a happy hunting ground for predators. Worse yet, it forces those with decent impulses to also become predators in order to survive amid the chaos. The only way out is to establish structure-law and order.
* Dale Hiller (30 Aug 98)
* (another grain of salt)
1. In my Jul 98 article, I illustrated how the Bible can become a "market basket for morally justifying good OR evil" when it is treated like an idol by claiming that the Bible itself is the "inerrant Word of God" and teaching that the entire Bible should be "taken literally." Such so-called "literal" interpretations of the Bible have been used in the past to "morally justify" wars, genocide, slavery, polygamy, wife-beating, and so on by people who were NOT taking God's two most fundamental commandments seriously. In Luke those two commandments [delineated in brackets] are described as follows:
1a. Luke 10:25-28 (NKJ)
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said," 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and [2 love...]'your neighbor as yourself.'" And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."
1b. In Mark 12:31, Jesus said, "There is no other commandment greater than these." In Matthew 22:40
Jesus said, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." The Living Bible version renders what Jesus said in Matthew 22:40 as follows: "All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others."
1c. That being the case, it is truly amazing how often the scriptural interpretations being promoted by America's "Christian Right" IGNORE or even CONTRADICT those two commandments, as I have pointed out in my previous articles on this web site. Have you ever seen any of them explain that you must ALSO follow the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" [without placing restrictions on your definition of "neighbor"] in order to "inherit eternal life?"
2. Anyhow, in this article, we shall specifically examine the issue of currently popular "supernatural power" (literal) interpretations of the scriptures while we continue from where we left off in our review of King Solomon's reign and review the stories of Elijah and Elisha whose alleged "supernatural powers" were legendary. This article is rather lengthy, because we will be covering chapters 2-22 of 1st Kings, chapters 1-13 of 2nd Kings, chapter 21 of Chronicles, and related passages in the New Testament. Whether or not we should put our faith in "supernatural powers" is a really important issue, so we'll just to have to "slog through this" and see how Jesus evidently viewed such matters. Hopefully, you'll find my editorial comments will make these passages more interesting than if you read 1st and 2nd Kings straight from the Bible.
FIRST-, SECOND-, and THIRD-HEAVEN levels of Interpretation
3. As I showed in my earlier articles on this web site, many of the stories in the Old Testament were carefully crafted (by their various contributing authors) to have two or three levels of interpretation. Jesus recognized all three levels of interpretation and followed the lead of the "third-heaven" authors of the Old Testament in developing his own allegorical parables for illustrating the nature of the Kingdom of God.
3a. The FIRST-HEAVEN (1-hvn) level of interpretation is the commonly popular "literal" interpretation which many in America's "Christian Right" insist is the ONLY legitimate way to interpret the scriptures, at least with regards to stories in Genesis. That explains why they are so "uptight" about the factual challenge that the theory of evolution poses to their "literal" interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis. If you examine their teachings from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments, you'll see that their interpretations aren't really as "literal" as they might first appear. It's just that their selection of what to interpret literally and what to interpret allegorically is predicated on a desire to make the worship of "national sovereignty" appear to be "godly."
3b. The SECOND-HEAVEN (2-hvn) level of interpretation is also predominantly a "literal" interpretation, but the selection of what to interpret literally and what to interpret allegorically is predicated on a desire to make God's two most fundamental commandments appear to be godly. This level of interpretation does NOT assume that everyone in the Bible who claimed to represent God actually did represent God. Instead, it's evaluations in that regard are based on whether or not that person's teachings, actions, and "fruits" (consequences of their teachings and actions) conform with God's two most fundamental commandments. This level of interpretation doesn't rule out the possibility that God helped people to perform acts which were at least interpreted as being "supernatural", but it honestly looks for indications of "natural" explanations before resorting to a "supernatural" interpretation. The word "supernatural", by the way, is never mentioned in either the Old or New Testaments, nor is the word "literal."
3c. The THIRD-HEAVEN (3-hvn) level of interpretation is a completely allegorical level of interpretation based on God's two most fundamental commandments. My article "HOW IT ALL BEGAN" on this web site illustrates the third-heaven interpretations that were carefully crafted into the creation stories in Genesis. Evidently, some of the authors of the Old Testament had to resort to such techniques in order to get their lover-your-neighbor-as-yourself message past the censorship practices of the contemporary Levite "establishment." The symbolic scheme that they established in the Genesis stories was recognized and further embellished by subsequent authors of the Old and New Testaments.
3d. In my article on how Jesus Christ viewed King Solomon, I pointed out how many of the second-heaven observations and third-heaven allegorical "touches" appear to have been added to previously written text during the early "second temple" period by some scribes who were attempting to sneak their love-your-neighbor-as-yourself lessons past the censorship practices of Ezra and Nehemiah. As it turned out, it was efforts of those "redactors" (presently referred to in academia as "R") who were following the allegorical lead started by the "Jahwehist" ("J") that added "eternal life" to the historical accounts in the Old Testament, thereby immortalizing them.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF ELIJAH AND ELISHA
4. Before we delve into the [sometimes overwhelming] confusion of the stories related in 1st and 2nd Kings, let's take an up front look and how Elijah and Elisha were portrayed or referred to in the New Testament. By examining how Jesus Christ viewed them and their conduct, we can get a clearer understanding of the similarities and differences between "supernatural powers" and "spiritual powers."
REGARDING JOHN THE BAPTIST
5. Luke 1:11-19 (NKJ)
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.
[2-hvn: So an angle/messenger/person named Gabriel told Zacharias that in spite of their old age, he and his wife would bear a son who would have the "spirit and power of Elijah" (and become John the Baptist). Clearly, having the "spirit and power of Elijah" is regarded as a good thing here. The only time that John was involved in what may be regarded as "supernatural" incident was when he baptized Jesus; a voice of God was heard and the Holy Spirit was perceived like a dove descending from heaven onto Jesus. However, Matthew 3:7-11 did have this to say about what John the Baptist taught:
6. Matthew 3:7-11 (NKJ)
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
[2-hvn: So rather than bringing "fire down from heaven to consume" people, as Elijah was reported to have done, John taught that one was coming (Jesus) who would baptize people "with the Holy Spirit and fire."]
[3-hvn: It appears that John believed that God had the "supernatural power" to turn stones into children of Abraham, although John was never recorded to have invoked such powers himself. Allegorically, there is nothing supernatural at all about God's ability to turn people who have "hearts of stone" into God-following "children of Abraham."]
7. John 1:19-34 (NKJ)
Now this is the testimony of John [the Baptist], when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord," 'as the prophet Isaiah said." Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
[2-hvn: So John the Baptist didn't really view himself as being Elijah, Christ, or "The Prophet". Like this "grain of salt", he simply viewed himself as a "voice in the wilderness" attempting to convince people to repent of their sins and to "make straight the way of the Lord."]
8. Luke 7:12-28 (NKJ) (also recounted in Matthew 11:7-19)
And when He [Jesus] came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people." And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. Then the disciples of John [the Baptist] reported to him concerning all these things. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'" And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You. [Malachi 3:1]' For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
[2-hvn: This implies that Jesus viewed John the Baptist as fulfilling the "role of Elijah" as foretold in Malachi 3:1. This is further affirmed in Matthew 11:14 where Jesus said, "And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come." In that case, Jesus was referring to Malachi 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Notice though, the he refers to John the Baptist as "the Elijah who is to come" rather Elijah himself.
It's possible that the child Jesus revived above wasn't really dead, that those lame persons weren't really lame (they may have been faking lameness to solicit handouts), the lepers may not have really had leprosy, and that "making the blind see" was referring to how his teachings helped people to recognized the allegorical lessons where were carefully crafted into many of the Old Testament stories (Romans 11:7, "Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded."). Jesus may even have believed that he was curing such people "supernaturally." On the other hand, there is no way to PROVE that that acts described above weren't actual demonstrations of "supernatural powers." All we can be reasonably sure of is that the author of the Gospel of Luke interpreted such acts as being demonstrations of "supernatural powers" and that that in this age few people (if any) can honestly demonstrate such "supernatural powers", regardless of how much they claim to represent God. So let's proceed with an open mind regarding this.]
9. Luke 4:24-30 (NKJ)
Then He [Jesus] said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
[2-hvn: Here Jesus appears to be verifying a belief that Elijah really did "shut up heaven for three years and six months" and that Naaman the Syrian really was cleansed of leprosy when he followed Elisha's instructions to bath seven times in the Jordan river.
As far as his comment that "no prophet is accepted in his own country", that's probably because "the current establishment" in any particular country normally perceives themselves as having a vested interest in continuing things the way they are, even if they are grossly violating God's two most fundamental commandments. Since those outside of the "current establishment" have no such "vested interests", they are often more willing to seriously consider God's views regarding the conduct of that "current establishment." This web site (www.onesalt.com) provides LOTS of present-day illustrations showing that this phenomenon holds true today in the United States as well, in spite of its so-called "free press."]
10. Matthew 16:13-20 (NKJ) (also recounted in Mark 8:27-30 and Luke 9:18-21)
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
11. Matthew 16:21-28 (NKJ)
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
[2-hvn: Aside from illustrating how Jesus would perceive the "voice of Satan" coming out of people's mouths at times (in this case out of Peter's mouth), Jesus appears to be predicting that some of those who where standing there at the time would personally witness the "end times" foretold in:
Daniel 7:13-14 (NKJ)
I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Jesus referred to himself as the "Son of Man" in this context. Some of those who were standing with Jesus at that time were reported to have witnessed the incident known as "the ascension", so the first two of the four Daniel sentences above were indeed fulfilled. The fourth sentences is inherently true, if you interpret the Kingdom of God as a "spiritual kingdom" (as opposed to a political kingdom) comprised of those who take God's two most fundamental commandments seriously. The third sentence, however, has clearly NOT been fulfilled yet, because for the most part, the world's numerous denominations of "Christian" churches have NOT been taking God's two most fundamental commandments seriously. Indeed, they seem to have proven themselves to be far more apostate than the prophets had predicted they would be. That's one of the reasons why they will have to publicly destroy THEIROWN ungodly teachings in order to be redeemed!]
12. Matthew 17:1-13 (NKJ) (also recounted in Mark 9:2-13 and Luke 9:28-36)
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead." And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
[2-hvn: This incident, often referred to as "the transfiguration", sounds like it came out of a science fiction novel. Was Jesus visited by two men in a time machine from our future? Perhaps Jesus was simply standing on a ridge with the sun behind him (shining through his garments), thereby creating a "special effect" which led to their perceptions regarding Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God.]
[3-hvn: Or was this is an allegorical story designed to make the point that God endorsed Jesus over (or rather than) Moses and Elijah.]
13. Luke 9:54-56 (NKJ)
And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He [Jesus] turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.
[2-hvn: Here we see a VERY significant difference between the spirit of Jesus Christ and the popularly perceived "spirit of Elijah". Jesus never advocated the (physical) killing anyone, not even the Pharisees whom he severely criticized nor the Romans who eventually executed him.]
14. Matthew 27:46-54 (NKJ) (also recounted in Mark 15:34-41, Luke 23:46-49, and John 19:28-30)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This Man is calling for Elijah!" Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him." And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
[2-hvn: These certainly do appear to have been "supernatural occurrences." Notice that the dead, although raised, did not "come out of the graves" until after His resurrection.]
[3-hvn: By sacrificing himself on a cross (symbolically representing the intersection of TRUTH and LOVE), Jesus hoped to indelibly engrave the heart of his message (God's two most fundamental commandments) in the hearts and minds of all who would follow him thereafter. Following those two commandments "splits the veil" which current-establishment-serving religious organizations have often used over the centuries to conceal the true nature of an "eternal life relationship with God." Following those two commandments often creates "earthquakes" in the allegorical "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths. Following those two commandments tends to "raise" mankind's memories regarding those who were persecuted by governments or religious organizations in the past for pointing out that those organizations were in fact violating God's two most fundamental commandments! Now matter how much such organizations attempt to suppress or censor them, their observations and teachings keep resurrecting; the truth will not go away!]
15. Romans 11:1-5 (NKJ)
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, "Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
[2-hvn: So Paul believed that God really did speak to Elijah.]
16. James 5:16-20 (NKJ)
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
[2-hvn: So James also believed that Elijah's prayers really did cause the rains to stop for three years and six months."]
[3-hvn: Rain (a.k.a. "living waters") is often used in the Bible to symbolize God's life-giving guidance from heaven. When Elijah (representing the true church of God) were forced to retreat and hide in gullies and caves, King Ahab's administration became increasingly depraved without their guidance. It wasn't until the priests of Baal were "removed from the scene" that God's (unwelcomed) guidance returned to the land.]
OK, now let's examine what the Old Testament authors had to say about Elijah and Elisha. Keep in mind that when Jesus read these stories, he focused on "the forest as well as the trees."
THE STORY CONTINUES...(1st Kings 12 thru 2nd Kings 13 and 2nd Chronicles 21) For the most part, I shall quote these chapters directly from the New King James Version of the Bible, because read pretty well as is. [My own comments will be in brackets]
17. In June's article on King Solomon, we ended with 1st Kings Chapter 12 where Solomon's son Rehoboam went to Shechem and met with Jeroboam, whom Ahijah and the northern Levites had selected to be their representative to negotiate better terms regarding taxation policies, etc. Rehoboam foolishly ignored the advice of the elders and boldly proclaimed that he would increase taxes rather than reduce them. So, as predicted by Ahijah (and actively arranged him), the northern ten tribes of Israel refused to recognize Rehoboam as their king and chose Jeroboam to be their king instead. This left Rehoboam as king of the tribes of Judah and Simeon only. The "Northern Kingdom" continued to call itself Israel, but it eventually became known as Samaria. The "Southern Kingdom" eventually became known as Judea. To discourage his people from traveling to Jerusalem to worship in the Solomon's temple, Jeroboam built "golden calf" monuments at the northern and southern ends of his kingdom (Dan and Bethel) thereby suggesting that God dwelt between those two golden calves rather than between the two cherubim above the Ark in Solomon's temple.
[2-hvn: Some Biblical scholars have suggested that it was this incident which led to the story about Aaron creating a golden calf for the people to worship while Moses was on the mountain receiving the first set of tablets containing the Ten commandments. It's a plausible conjecture, because it seems unlikely that Jeroboam would have chosen golden calves for such a symbolic purpose if the Book of Exodus as we know it had existed during King Solomon's reign.]
18. In Chapter 13 of 1st Kings an unnamed "man of God" from Judah was inspired by the LORD to go to Bethel and confront Jeroboam there, saying, "O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men's bones shall be burned on you.'" He then gave a sign, saying, "This is the sign which the LORD has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out." King Jeroboam responded by stretching out his hand and saying, "Arrest him!", but his hand withered so that could not pull it back to himself, and the altar split apart pouring its ashes out, as predicted. So then King Jeroboam pleaded, "Please entreat the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me." So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him.
[2-hvn: The altar could have been rigged, and the hand withering may have been a symptom of heart attack induced by the stress from ordering the arrest of a "man of God". Or perhaps both incidents were indeed evidence of "supernatural powers."]
[3-hvn: Allegorically, the ashes of a sacrifice represent proof that one has sacrificed (given up) an ungodly concept that was dear to one's heart. The wearing of "sackcloth" and covering of oneself with the ashes of a sacrifice visually symbolized proof of humility and repentance. But if the ashes spill onto the ground (become corrupted by mankind's perceptions of popular truths), then they become worthless for such purposes. And if those ashes are in fact the ashes of a human being, as that "man of God" predicted they would eventually be, then the alter itself would become defiled and would thereafter be worthless for such purposes (2nd Kings 23:16). In spite of some of the dubious Levite teachings that were attributed to Moses, the message here is that you cannot redeem yourself by worshipping false idols or by physically sacrificing people!]
18a. Then the king said to the man of God, "Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward." But the man of God said to the king, "If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.'" So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.
18b. Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words that he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, "Which way did he go?" For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. Then he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" And he said, "I am." Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread." And he said, "I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. "For I have been told by the word of the LORD, 'You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.'" He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (He was lying to him.)
18c. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'" So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
18d. Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, "It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the LORD. Therefore the LORD has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke to him." And he spoke to his sons, saying, "Saddle the donkey for me." So they saddled it. Then he went and found his corpse thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing by the corpse. The lion had not eaten the corpse nor torn the donkey. And the prophet took up the corpse of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. So the old prophet came to the city to mourn, and to bury him. Then he laid the corpse in his own tomb; and they mourned over him, saying, "Alas, my brother!" So it was, after he had buried him, that he spoke to his sons, saying, "When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. For the saying which he cried out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the shrines on the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely come to pass."
[1-hvn: That "man of God" appears to have died because he disobeyed God's orders.]
[2-hvn: Here is an example where Jesus focused on "the forest" as well as the trees. Consider the "fruits" of that so-called "man of God." He claimed to represent God while "pronouncing a deadly judgement" (which turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy) regarding Jeroboam's alter. But behold! That "man of God" ended up having a "deadly judgement" pronounced against him as well, because he allowed himself to be misled by a liar. In Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus taught "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." That's a significant New Testament departure from the Old Testament practice of uttering (often self-fulfilling) prophecies of evil upon people (and their families). Soon we'll see what such practices did to the divided remains of David's kingdom. Suffice it to say at this point that although that "man of God" was no doubt sincere in what he was doing, he got "cut off" because he didn't fully understand what it meant to be a true "man of God."]
[3-hvn: Allegorically, the tribe or kingdom of Judah is often represented as a "lion", because when Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) was presenting his final blessings and curses, he said regarding his son Judah,
Genesis 49:8-10 (NKJ)
"Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people." [Reheboam's nemesis Ahijah came from Shiloh]
Anyhow, in this "man of God" story, the actions of that lion can bee allegorically interpreted as representing Judea's tendency to kill its own prophets when they don't do or say exactly what they want them to do or say. Then they stand back and honor those very same prophets without "eating" (believing) what they had to say. Notice that it's a "foreigner" (not a Judean) who ends up believing what he had to say!]
18e. After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.
[2-hvn: The Levites considered themselves to have an exclusive "covenant of priesthood" with God which the authors of Numbers 25 satirically point out was based on their zealous willingness to kill people "for God" (i.e. their willingness to used God's name in vain). As we will see, this subtle satirical theme continues throughout 1st and 2nd Kings.]
19. In Chapter 14 of 1st Kings, Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick, and Jeroboam said to his wife, "Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people. Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child." And Jeroboam's wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age. Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, "Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman." And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, "Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news.
19a. Go, tell Jeroboam, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back--therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!' Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam; this is the day. What? Even now! For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger. And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin."
[1-hvn: Hey, yeh, sock-it-to-em Ahijah!]
[2-hvn. So now it is Ahijah who is claiming to represent God (again) while pronouncing a judgement of evil, not only against Jeroboam but against his descendants as well. Is that REALLY a godly thing to do? Notice that Ahijah claims that King David kept God's commandments with all his heart, doing only what was right in His eyes. If you read my articles on 1st and 2nd Samuel, you'll see that Ahijah (or the author who wrote that part) was clearly lying about that.]
19b. Then Jeroboam's wife arose and departed, and came to Tirzah. When she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet. Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. The period that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. So he rested with his fathers. Then Nadab his son reigned in his place.
19c. And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother's name was Naamah, an Ammonitess.
[2-hvn: So King Solomon's son Rehoboam was 50% Ammonite from Naamah, 25% Hittite from Bathsheba, 3% Moabite from Ruth, part Canaanite from the union of Judah and Tamar, and thus less than 22% Hebrew! And according to Matthew, he was part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. So much for the Levite teachings regarding "intermarriage."]
19d. Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons [male and female temple prostitutes] in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king's house. And whenever the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom. Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
19e. And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Abijam his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: See what often happens when one becomes arrogant and greedy? If Rehoboam had followed God's two most fundamental commandments as his father (King Solomon) did, the twelve tribes of Israel would have remained united, and none of that would have happened. As we proceed through this story, you'll see why even the Pharisees agreed with Jesus when he said, a "house divided against itself cannot stand."]
20. In Chapter 15 of 1st Kings, we learn that in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Maachah the granddaughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David's sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite [only?]. Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. So Abijam rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David. Then Asa his son reigned in his place.
20a. In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king over Judah. And he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David. And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. And Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed. Nevertheless Asa's heart was loyal to the LORD all his days. He also brought into the house of the LORD the things that his father had dedicated, and the things, which he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils.
[2-hvn: According to some Biblical scholars, the Israelites were not legally permitted to slaughter their own sheep, goats, and cattle for food. The rationale for this was that since God sacrificed an animal to provide animal-skin clothing for Adam and Eve, only the Levites were authorized to take a the life of a sheep, goat, or ox. So the Israelites were required to offer their animals as official sacrifices, so that the Levites could get their share (it was a form of taxation). That's why there were sacrificial alters in the "high places" all over Israel. At the time 1st and 2nd Kings was compiled, the Levites in Jerusalem were seeking to limit such sacrifices to those performed in King Solomon's temple. Thus people from all over Israel would have to bring their animals to Jerusalem if they wished to eat of their meat. If that was indeed the case, then this centralization of animal sacrifices was an extremely selfish (and ungodly) effort on the part of the Levites in Jerusalem. Among other things, it threatened to put Levites throughout the rest of Israel "out of a job."]
20b. Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. And Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the treasuries of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-Hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, "Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. See, I have sent you a present of silver and gold. Come and break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he will withdraw from me." So Ben-Hadad heeded King Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel. He attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maachah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.
[2-hvn: Evidently, King Asa was willing to take extraordinary measures in order to keep that trade route open so that the people in the Northern Kingdom could come to King Solomon's Temple to offer their sacrifices. By describing his sacrifice of the temple and palace treasures for this purpose, the authors are making it clear that he was doing this for religious rather than financial reasons. But once again, all this was just another symptom of their "house divided against itself" situation.]
20c. Now it happened, when Baasha heard it, he stopped building Ramah, and remained in Tirzah. Then King Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted. And they took away the stones and timber of Ramah, which Baasha had used for building; and with them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah. The rest of all the acts of Asa, all his might, all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Asa rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father. Then Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place.
20d. Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin. Then Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him. And Baasha killed him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, while Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. And it was so, when he became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah the Shilonite, because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he had provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger. Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.
20e. In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel in Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.
[2-hvn: So Ahijah finally achieved his quest for power through the actions of his son, Baasha Israel now had a Levite King who came to power in a typical Levite fashion, by murdering his political opponent and all of his descendants, thereby validating his father's self-fulfilling prophesy of evil against the House of Jeroboam. Evidently, Ahijah and his son were not much concerned with the commandment "Thou shalt not kill."]
21. In chapter 16 of 1st Kings the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani, against Baasha, saying: "Inasmuch as I lifted you out of the dust and made you ruler over My people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made My people Israel sin, to provoke Me to anger with their sins, surely I will take away the posterity of Baasha and the posterity of his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Baasha and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the fields." Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Baasha rested with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah. Then Elah his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: So, now Ahijah's son Baasha and his descendants were on the receiving end of an ungodly self-fulfilling prophecy of evil. Remember what Jesus taught about pronouncing judgements?]
21a. And also the word of the LORD [?] came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD in provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he killed them. In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel, and reigned two years in Tirzah. Now his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him as he was in Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of his house in Tirzah; and Zimri went in and struck him and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. Then it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he was seated on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha; he did not leave him one male, neither of his relatives nor of his friends. Thus Zimri destroyed all the household of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD [?], which He spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, by which they had sinned and by which they had made Israel sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
[2-hvn: So much for the "House of Ahijah." Can you recognize the Biblical satire in this? Even though Ahijah CLAIMED to represent God, and even though his evil prophecies did in fact come true (with considerable help from his son, Baasha), the House of Ahijah was "cut off", because Ahijah did NOT in fact represent God. He was using God's name in vain, and as predicted in the Ten Commandments, the sins of the father were "visited" his descendants. In fact, Ahijah's entire ministry led to a continuing series of bloody disasters for the Israelites. It's no wonder that Jesus taught his followers to distinguish between true and false prophets by observing their "fruits."]
21b. Oh well, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri had reigned in Tirzah seven days. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. Now the people who were encamped heard it said, "Zimri has conspired and also has killed the king." So all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon, and they besieged Tirzah. And it happened, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king's house and burned the king's house down upon himself with fire, and died, because of the sins which he had sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam [for seven days?], and in his sin which he had committed to make Israel sin. Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the treason he committed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
[2-hvn: Notice how Zimri is not only "cut off", he is now portrayed as having committed treason, even though he acted to fulfill the evil prophecies of Jehu who CLAIMED to represent God. Now THAT is Biblical satire! What a mess! This reaffirms Dale Hiller's quote at the beginning of this article:
"The condition of a society without structure is anarchy-the chaos of lawlessness. Such a society is a happy hunting ground for predators. Worse yet, it forces those with decent impulses to also become predators in order to survive amid the chaos. The only way out is to establish structure-law and order."]
21c. Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. But the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri reigned. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah. And he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; then he built on the hill, and called the name of the city that he built, Samaria, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill. Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. Then Ahab his son reigned in his place.
21d. In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.
THE STORY OF ELIJAH
22. In Chapter 17 of 1st Kings, we are introduced to Elijah the Tishbite [a "mountain man"], of the inhabitants of Gilead, who said to Ahab, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
22a. So Elijah arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.'" So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
[2-hvn: Perhaps the widow had more flour and oil than she originally thought. Or perhaps it really was a demonstration of "supernatural powers" which the Lord have given to Elijah. Either way, it conforms with God's two most fundamental commandments.]
[3-hvn: This story also has an allegorical point to make that is similar to the story where Jesus fed a large crowd with "five fish and five loves of bread." The point is that "spiritual food" in inexhaustible.]
22b. Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?" And he said to her, "Give me your son." So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him." Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, "See, your son lives!"
[2-hvn: Again, this apparent miracle has possible natural as well as supernatural explanations, and in either case, it conforms with God's two most fundamental commandments.]
[3-hvn: As a result of Elijah's willingness to humble himself by "stretching out" with the child three times, God granted him power over physical death as well as spiritual death.]
23. In Chapter 18 of 1st Kings it came to pass that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth." So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria. And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly. For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab had said to Obadiah, "Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock. So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
23a. Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, "Is that you, my lord Elijah?" And he answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your master, 'Elijah is here.' " So he said, "How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? "As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, 'He is not here,' he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you. And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here" '! And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD'S prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here."' He will kill me!"
23b. Then Elijah said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today." So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah. Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel?" And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."
23c. So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the LORD [not true, there were at least 100 others]; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God." So all the people answered and said, "It is well spoken." Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it."
23d. So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, "O Baal, hear us!" But there was no voice; no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened." So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
23e. Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name." Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, "Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood." Then he said, "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time; and he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!"
[2-hvn: As I pointed out in my earlier articles, the authors of Numbers, 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings often added what appear to be minor details but which in fact provide a natural explanation for what would otherwise appear to be a "supernatural" incident. In this case, the two observations that Elijah dug a trench around the alter to keep the "water" from dispersing and that the fire "licked up the water that was in the trench" strongly indicate that the alleged "water" that was poured on the alter (three times) wasn't really water at all; it was a flammable liquid of some kind (distilled alcohol?). If so, then all that was needed was a flaming arrow to "do the trick" (perhaps that's why he asked to crowd to come closer to the alter, so that they wouldn't notice the archer behind them). Or, as before, perhaps it was truly a "supernatural" occurrence. But look at what happened next!]
23f. And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!" So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there. Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.'" Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth."
[2-hvn: Since Jezebel's Baal-worshipping servants had been putting servants of God to death, it is perhaps understandable that Elijah would respond like a predator under such circumstances and use this opportunity to put the servants of Baal to death. Elijah may have even planned it that way from the very beginning. Although the "Laws of Moses" gave him religious authority to kill those 450 priests of Baal, as we will see, Elijah did not have governmental authority to perform such executions, and these actions did NOT conform with God's two most fundamental commandments.]
[3-hvn: This story illustrates how removing idol worship permits God's guidance (allegorically represented as "rain" or "living waters") to come down from heaven. As pointed out throughout this web site, idol-worshipping diverts peoples' attention AWAY from following God's two most fundamental commandments, and the consequences of such idol worship are often DEADLY for the idol-worshippers themselves as well as for others.]
24. In Chapter 19 of 1st Kings Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"
[2-hvn: Perhaps he was feeling some guilt after personally slaying 450 of his fellow Israelites.]
24a. Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you." So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" And he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."
[2-hvn: As previously noted, Elijah was not the only one left, because Obadiah was hiding a hundred other priests in some caves. Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that God demonstrated to Elijah that He was not to be found in "supernatural" demonstrations like sudden winds, earthquakes, or fires; rather He was to be perceived as a "still small voice" to those who seek His guidance.]
THE STORY OF ELISHA
24b. Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, "Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again, for what have I done to you?" So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.
[2-hvn: This seems strange; the Lord instructing Elijah to anoint a new king of Syria as well as a new King of Israel and then predicting that his pupil Elisha would become a military killer. We'll see what happens.]
25. In Chapter 20, Ben-Hadad the king of Syria gathered all his forces together; thirty-two kings were with him, with horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria, and made war against it. Then he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, and said to him, "Thus says Ben-Hadad: 'Your silver and your gold are mine; your loveliest wives and children are mine.'" And the king of Israel answered and said, "My lord, O king, just as you say, I and all that I have are yours." Then the messengers came back and said, "Thus speaks Ben-Hadad, saying, 'Indeed I have sent to you, saying, "You shall deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children; but I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants. And it shall be, that whatever is pleasant in your eyes, they will put it in their hands and take it.'"
25a. So the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Notice, please, and see how this man seeks trouble, for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not deny him." And all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not listen or consent." Therefore he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, "Tell my lord the king, 'All that you sent for to your servant the first time I will do, but this thing I cannot do.'" And the messengers departed and brought back word to him. Then Ben-Hadad sent to him and said, "The gods do so to me, and more also, if enough dust is left of Samaria for a handful for each of the people who follow me." So the king of Israel answered and said, "Tell him, 'Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.'" And it happened when Ben-Hadad heard this message, as he and the kings were drinking at the command post, that he said to his servants, "Get ready." And they got ready to attack the city. Suddenly a prophet [Elijah?] approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'"
25b. So Ahab said, "By whom?" And he said, "Thus says the LORD: 'By the young leaders of the provinces.'" Then he said, "Who will set the battle in order?" And he answered, "You." Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel--seven thousand. [only 7,000?] So they went out at noon. Meanwhile Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two kings helping him were getting drunk at the command post. The young leaders of the provinces went out first. And Ben-Hadad sent out a patrol, and they told him, "Men are coming out of Samaria!" So he said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; and if they have come out for war, take them alive." Then these young leaders of the provinces went out of the city with the army which followed them. And each one killed his man; so the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them; and Ben-Hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with the cavalry. Then the king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.
25c. And the prophet came to the king of Israel and said to him, "Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do, for in the spring of the year the king of Syria will come up against you." Then the servants of the king of Syria said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hills. Therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they. So do this thing: Dismiss the kings, each from his position, and put captains in their places; and you shall muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain; surely we will be stronger than they." And he listened to their voice and did so.
25d. So it was, in the spring of the year, that Ben-Hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. And the children of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went against them. Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside. Then a man of God [Elijah?] came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys," therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'" And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; then a wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of the men who were left [a wall?]. And Ben-Hadad fled and went into the city, into an inner chamber. Then his servants said to him, "Look now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please, let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life."
25e. So they wore sackcloth around their waists and put ropes around their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says, 'Please let me live.'" And he said, "Is he still alive? He is my brother." Now the men were diligently watching closely to see whether any sign of mercy would come from him; and they quickly grasped at this word and said, "Your brother Ben-Hadad." So he said, "Go, bring him." Then Ben-Hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. So Ben-Hadad said to him, "The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria." Then Ahab said, "I will send you away with this treaty." So he made a treaty with him and sent him away.
[2-hvn: So Ahab, despite his ungodliness, proved to be an able military commander. He was also willing to show some mercy, at least when it served his purposes. It's interesting Ben-Hadad's servants viewed the kings of Israel as being merciful. King Solomon must have significantly changed the Israelites' reputation for them to come to a conclusion like that...]
25f. Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his neighbor by the word of the LORD, "Strike me, please." And the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, surely, as soon as you depart from me, a lion shall kill you." And as soon as he left him, a lion found him and killed him. And he found another man, and said, "Strike me, please." So the man struck him, inflicting a wound. Then the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road, and disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes. Now as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and there, a man came over and brought a man to me, and said, 'Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.' While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." Then the king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it." And he hastened to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. Then he said to him, " Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'" So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and displeased, and came to Samaria.
[1-hvn: If a prophet tells you to do something, even if it appears evil, you'd better do it, because God will kill you if you don't.]
[2-hvn: That prophet sounded a lot like Samuel who became Satanically offended when he discovered that he couldn't keep King Saul "under his thumb." Once again, we see a so-called "prophet" (who didn't represent God at all) pronouncing an evil judgement on a King of Israel for (of all things) showing mercy to an enemy. Jesus taught us to love our enemies...]
[3-hvn: Here that allegorical Judean "lion" satirically appears again to kill a man for refusing to do evil. Hmmmmm...]
26. In Chapter 21 of 1st Kings, it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money." But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!" So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word that Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
26a. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?" He said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it.' And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.'" Then Jezebel his wife said to him, "You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." And she wrote letters in Ahab's name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth. She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people; and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, "You have blasphemed God and the king." Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.
26b. So the men of his city, the elders and nobles who were inhabitants of his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them. They proclaimed a fast, and seated Naboth with high honor among the people. And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!" Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned and is dead." And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead." So it was, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
26c. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, "Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who lives in Samaria. There he is, in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone down to take possession of it. You shall speak to him, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "Have you murdered and also taken possession?"' And you shall speak to him, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours."'" Then Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" And he answered, "I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the LORD: 'Behold, I will bring calamity on you. I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel, both bond and free. I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and made Israel sin.'"
26d. And concerning Jezebel the LORD also spoke, saying, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.' The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Ahab and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field. But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel."
26e. So it was, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his body, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about mourning. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, "See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days. In the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house."
[2-hvn: So the humbling sackcloth routine worked again! Better keep that in mind! But now we see the legendary Elijah following the ungodly path of Ahijah and Jehu by pronouncing a judgement of evil on King Ahab and all of his descendants. Uh oh...]
27. In Chapter 22 of 1st Kings, after three years passed without war between Syria and Israel, Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went to visit the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, "Do you know that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, but we hesitate to take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?" So he said to Jehoshaphat, "Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?" Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire for the word of the LORD today." Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?" So they said, "Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king."
27a. And Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?" So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say such things!" Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, "Bring Micaiah the son of Imlah quickly!" The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, having put on their robes, sat each on his throne, at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, "Thus says the LORD: 'With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.'" And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, "Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the king's hand."
27b. Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement." And Micaiah said, "As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak." Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?" And he answered him, "Go and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the hand of the king!" So the king said to him, "How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" Then he said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, 'These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.'" And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?"
27c. Then Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, 'Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.' The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, 'You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.' Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you."
27d. Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go from me to speak to you?" And Micaiah said, "Indeed, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide!" So the king of Israel said, "Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king's son; and say, 'Thus says the king: "Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I come in peace.'" But Micaiah said, "If you ever return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me." And he said, "Take heed, all you people!"
[2-hvn: Although Micaiah's prophecy might have discouraged King Ahab to some extent, he was not really pronouncing an evil judgement in this case or creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, he was simply warning King Ahab what the probable outcome would be if he went and did what he was planning to do. It's important to note that there was nothing supernatural about the "lying spirit" Micaiah was referring to. It's a common bureaucratic phenomenon that we might refer to in today's vernacular as "intellectual incest" or "boot licking." In the Book of Daniel, it is referred to as "soothsaying."]
27e. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you put on your robes." So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, saying, "Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel." So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, "Surely it is the king of Israel!" Therefore they turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out. And it happened, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.
27f. Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, "Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded." The battle increased that day; and the king was propped up in his chariot, facing the Syrians, and died at evening. The blood ran out from the wound onto the floor of the chariot. Then, as the sun was going down, a shout went throughout the army, saying, "Every man to his city, and every man to his own country!" So the king [Ahab] died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria.
27g. Then someone washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood while the harlots bathed, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken [through Elijah]. Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, the ivory house which he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Ahab rested with his fathers. Then Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
27h. Jehoshaphat the son of Asa had become king over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.
Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for the people offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. Also Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, the might that he showed, and how he made war, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And the rest of the perverted persons, who remained in the days of his father Asa, he banished from the land.
27i. There was then no king in Edom, only a deputy of the king. Jehoshaphat made merchant ships to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, "Let my servants go with your servants in the ships." But Jehoshaphat would not.
And Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father. Then Jehoram his son reigned in his place.
27j. Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; for he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done.
THE SECOND BOOK OF KINGS
28. In Chapter 1 of 2nd Kings, Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured; so he sent messengers and said to them, "Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury." But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' Now therefore, thus says the LORD: 'You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'" So Elijah departed. And when the messengers returned to him, he said to them, "Why have you come back?" So they said to him, "A man came up to meet us, and said to us, 'Go, return to the king who sent you, and say to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'"'" Then he said to them, "What kind of man was it who came up to meet you and told you these words?" So they answered him, "A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist." And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite."
28a. Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty men. So he went up to him; and there he was, sitting on the top of a hill. And he spoke to him: "Man of God, the king has said, 'Come down!'"
So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men." And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Then he sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty men. And he answered and said to him: "Man of God, thus has the king said, 'Come down quickly!'" So Elijah answered and said to them, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men." And the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again, he sent a third captain of fifty with his fifty men. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and pleaded with him, and said to him: "Man of God, please let my life and the life of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight. Look, fire has come down from heaven and burned up the first two captains of fifties with their fifties. But let my life now be precious in your sight."
[2-hvn: Did Elijah's assistants use some more of that flammable "water" to create firebombs for this purpose? Even if these "fire from heaven" feats were really supernatural, the fact remains that Elijah killed 102 of his fellow Israelites whose only Biblically recorded "sin" was to follow their orders to bring him back to talk with the King Ahaziah. Elijah's slaying of 450 of his fellow Israelites who were priests of Baal might be viewed as "self-defense", since they and/or Jezabel had been killing off the prophets of God. But how can anyone morally justify the killing of 102 fellow countrymen under these circumstances? For some reason, this doesn't seem to bother many Jews and Christians who regard Elijah as a "great hero." It certainly bothers me, and evidently it bothered Jesus Christ as well (Luke 9:54-56). In Revelation 13:13, making "fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men" is portrayed as one of the "signs" used by Satan's two-horned false prophet. Such conduct does NOT conform with God's two most fundamental commandments.]
[3-hvn: The fire of the "flaming sword" used by the cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden allegorically represents the purging of ungodly doctrines from one's heart and mind that must be done in order to obtain access into the "Garden of Eden" and its "tree of life". As shown in my earlier articles, that "sword" is in fact Christ's "two-edged sword" of TRUTH and LOVE, and that allegorical "fire" is what John the Baptist was referring to when he said the Jesus would baptize "with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). If this were the kind of "fire" Elijah was using to "consume" those 102 soldiers; then Elijah could be portrayed in a better light. But that does not appear to be the case in this instance. Perhaps something significant got "lost in the translation."]
28b. And the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, "Go down with him; do not be afraid of him." So he arose and went down with him to the king. Then he said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'" So Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. Because he had no son, Jehoram became king in his place, in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
[1-hvn: If you seek counsel from false gods, you will physically die.]
[2-hvn: Elijah pronounced a judgement of evil on his king for seeking counsel from a false god, and his prophecy was fulfilled (or at least that's what the authors of the first chapter of 2nd Kings concluded). I seriously doubt that Jesus would have done the same under those circumstances. Most of the Romans in Jesus' day were worshipping false gods, but according to the four Gospels, Jesus didn't criticize them at all, much less pronounce an evil judgement against them. Instead, he severely criticized the Pharisees for misrepresenting the true God (for using God's name in vain).]
[3-hvn: If you seek counsel from false gods, you will spiritually die, and that often leads to physical death as well.]
29. In Chapter 2 of 2nd Kings, when the LORD was about to take up Elijah into heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah visited Elisha in Gilgal. There Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here, please, for the LORD has sent me on to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" So they went down to Bethel. Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?" And he said, "Yes, I know; keep silent!"
29a. Then Elijah said to him, "Elisha, stay here, please, for the LORD has sent me on to Jericho." But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" So they came to Jericho. Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?" So he answered, "Yes, I know; keep silent!" Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, please, for the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan." But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" So the two of them went on.
[2-hvn: That's interesting. Three times, Elisha refused to obey Elijah, and each time Elijah permitted him to do so.]
29b. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
[3-hvn: Throughout the Bible, rivers are often used to allegorically represent religious teachings which are sometimes godly and sometimes not. Rain is often used to represent teachings coming directly from God (or heaven). The act of "dividing the waters" represents the process of identifying those religious teachings which violate the first of God's two most fundamental commandments on one hand and those religious teachings which violate the second of God's two most fundamental commandments on the other hand. Crossing in between those divided waters on "dry ground" represents making a "fresh start", once again attempting to build a structure of religious teachings that really do conform with God's two most fundamental commandments. By rolling up his mantle, Elijah was making it more like Moses' "rod" of authority. ]
29c. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?" Elisha said, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." So he said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so." Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!" So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.
[2-hvn: Here we see one of the main reasons Elijah is so highly revered these days. According to the authors of 2nd Kings, Elijah never really died. Was he picked up by a time-machine from our future? Were those authors taking Elisha's account of what happened too literally?]
[3-hvn: Ascension into heaven allegorically represents the process of becoming part of "heaven" (mankind's perceptions of God) as opposed to the "earth" (mankind's perceptions of popular truths). The fact that Elisha was able to use that mantel to "divide the waters" as well showed that Elisha had indeed inherited the spirit and authority of Elijah. Notice that this time when he crossed over between the waters, it doesn't say that he crossed over on "dry ground." In other words, he was beginning to build a new structure of religious beliefs based on perceptions of miracles or "supernatural powers" as well as God's two most fundamental commandments.]
29d. Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him. Then they said to him, "Look now, there are fifty strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley." And he said, "You shall not send anyone." But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, "Send them!" Therefore they sent fifty men, and they searched for three days but did not find him.
29e. And when they came back to him, for he had stayed in Jericho, he said to them, "Did I not say to you, 'Do not go'?" Then the men of the city said to Elisha, "Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren." And he said, "Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, "Thus says the LORD: 'I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.'"
So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.
[3-hvn: Adding "salt" to the "source of the water" was like adding God's two most fundamental commandments to their religious teachings.]
29f. Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. Then he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
[2-hvn: Now that wasn't a very godly thing to do. It's amazing to see how "creative" many Biblical commentators get in their attempt to "morally justify" their literal interpretations of Elisha's actions in this incident. More likely than not, this story was satirically added to show that it didn't take long for Satan to "bruise the head" Elisha and his teachings.]
30. In Chapter 3 of 2nd Kings Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel at Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not like his father and mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.
30a. Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheepbreeder, and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams. But it happened, when Ahab died, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. Then he went and sent to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, saying, "The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?" And he said, "I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." Then he said, "Which way shall we go up?" And he answered, "By way of the Wilderness of Edom." So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom, and they marched on that roundabout route seven days; and there was no water for the army, nor for the animals that followed them. And the king of Israel said, "Alas! For the LORD has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab."
30b. But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?" And one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said, "Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah." And Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the LORD is with him." So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. Then Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother." But the king of Israel said to him, "No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab." And Elisha said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you. [Elisha certainly wasn't afraid to insult his own king face to face.] But now bring me a musician." Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. And he said, "Thus says the LORD: 'Make this valley full of ditches.' For thus says the LORD: 'You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.' And this is a simple matter in the sight of the LORD; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones."
[2-hvn: Do you recognize the Satanic nature of that prophecy?]
30b. Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water. And when all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to bear arms and older were gathered; and they stood at the border. Then they rose up early in the morning, and the sun was shining on the water; and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood. And they said, "This is blood; the kings have surely struck swords and have killed one another; now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!" So when they came to the camp of Israel, Israel rose up and attacked the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they entered their land, killing the Moabites.
30c. Then they destroyed the cities, and each man threw a stone on every good piece of land and filled it; and they stopped up all the springs of water and cut down all the good trees. But they left the stones of Kir Haraseth intact. However the slingers surrounded and attacked it. And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him seven hundred men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom, but they could not. Then he took his eldest son who would have reigned in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering upon the wall; and there was great indignation against Israel. So they departed from him and returned to their own land.
[2-hvn: So the Israelites wrought wide-spread death and destruction on the Moabites for refusing the pay tribute. When the Moabite king sacrificed his eldest son upon a wall, the Israelites finally recognized the shameful nature of their conduct and returned home. This does NOT portray Elisha in a good light, even though his prophecies in this case were indeed fulfilled (with considerable help from the Israelite soldiers). As far as the water filling the trenches is concerned, some scholars have pointed out that even today one doesn't have to dig very deep in that particular area to reach water.]
31. In Chapter 4 of 2nd Kings, a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves." So Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil." Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors--empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones." So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another vessel." So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest."
[3-hvn: Once again, this can be allegorically interpreted as illustrating how the wealth of God's guidance is inexhaustible, as long as there are "vessels" willing to receive it.]
31a. Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. And she said to her husband, "Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there."
31b. And it happened one day that he came there, and he turned in to the upper room and lay down there.
Then he said to Gehazi his servant, "Call this Shunammite woman." When he had called her, she stood before him. And he said to him, "Say now to her, 'Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?'" She answered, "I dwell among my own people." So he said, "What then is to be done for her?" And Gehazi answered, "Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old." So he said, "Call her." When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. Then he said, "About this time next year you shall embrace a son." And she said, "No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!"
31c. But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her. And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. And he said to his father, "My head, my head!" So he said to a servant, "Carry him to his mother." When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. Then she called to her husband, and said, "Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back." So he said, "Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath." And she said, "It is well."
31d. Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, "Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you." And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel. So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, "Look, the Shunammite woman!. Please run now to meet her, and say to her, 'Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?'" And she answered, "It is well." Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, "Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me." So she said, "Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, 'Do not deceive me'?" Then he said to Gehazi, "Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child." And the mother of the child said, "As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you." So he arose and followed her.
31e. Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, "The child has not awakened." When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi and said, "Call this Shunammite woman." So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, "Pick up your son." So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.
[2-hvn: So, like Elijah, Elisha apparently brought a child back to life. Of course, it's possible that that child hadn't really died.]
31f. And Elisha returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. Now the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his servant, "Put on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets." So one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, though they did not know what they were. Then they served it to the men to eat. Now it happened, as they were eating the stew, that they cried out and said, "Man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it. So he said, "Then bring some flour." And he put it into the pot, and said, "Serve it to the people, that they may eat." And there was nothing harmful in the pot. Then a man came from Baal Shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley bread, and newly ripened grain in his knapsack. And he said, "Give it to the people, that they may eat." But his servant said, "What? Shall I set this before one hundred men?" He said again, "Give it to the people, that they may eat; for thus says the LORD: 'They shall eat and have some left over.'" So he set it before them; and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.
[3-hvn: This can be allegorically interpreted as a further illustration of the inexhaustible healing powers of God's guidance.]
32. In Chapter 5 of 2nd Kings, Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife. Then she said to her mistress, "If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy." And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel." Then the king of Syria said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel." So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing.
32a. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me." So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha's house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean."
32b. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.' Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
[3-hvn: Allegorically, dipping seven times in the waters of the Jordan River illustrated how the Israelite religious teachings can cleanse one's soul, and (by implication) one's body as well.]
32c. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, "Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant." But he said, "As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing." And he urged him to take it, but he refused. So Naaman said, "Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD. Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing." Then he said to him, "Go in peace." So he departed from him a short distance.
[2-hvn: That's quite a departure from the religious intolerance exhibited by Elijah.]
32d. But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, "Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him." So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, "Is all well?" And he said, "All is well. My master has sent me, saying, 'Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.'" So Naaman said, "Please, take two talents." And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house; then he let the men go, and they departed. Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, "Where did you go, Gehazi?" And he said, "Your servant did not go anywhere." Then he said to him, "Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever." And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow.
[2-hvn: Elisha's apparent ability to transfer Naaman's leprosy to Gehzzi certainly appeared to be "supernatural", if indeed it really happened that way. The messages here appear to be that one shouldn't accept money or gifts in return for bestowing the healing powers of God and that one should not lye to a man of God. Was this simply a story designed to help reinforce the authority of the priests? Or did it really happen that way? In my opinion, it doesn't matter either way, because I accept the principles that are being taught without necessarily having to believe that the above story is "literally true." There are some who claim to believe that such stories are "literally true" but who nevertheless ignore the principles that such stories were trying to teach. One needs to have a "discerning spirit" in this regard.]
33. In Chapter 6 of 2nd Kings, the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, "See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell." So he answered, "Go." Then one said, "Please consent to go with your servants." And he answered, "I will go." So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, "Alas, master! For it was borrowed." So the man of God said, "Where did it fall?" And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, "Pick it up for yourself." So he reached out his hand and took it.
[3-hvn. Normally, when you encounter a story in the Bible which appears to be "somewhat odd", you should consider the possibility that it was written from the start to be interpreted allegorically or perhaps modified to be interpreted allegorically, based on God's two most fundamental commandments. In this case, the ax head can be viewed as a "single-edge sword" representing the ministries of Elijah and Elisha which sometimes emphasized the first of God's two most fundamental commandments and ignored the second. In such cases, their teachings sunk into the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths and thereby became useless for God's purposes. In order to make his teachings "float" again in the "river" of Israel's religious teachings, he had to insert a "stick" (an extension of his helping-hand symbolizing the second of God's two most fundamental commandments) and instruct his followers to grasp the two (commandments) together. This may seem a bit "far fetched" here, but if you read my previous articles in this web site, you'll see that this basic symbolic scheme was used repeatedly throughout the Bible.]
33a. Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, "My camp will be in such and such a place." And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there." Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, "Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?" And one of his servants said, "None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom."
[2-hvn. It must have seemed that way to the Syrian king. Apparently, Elisha had fairly reliable "intelligence network", or perhaps he learned such things by making it a point to talk to all travelers who were passing by.]
33b. So he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him." And it was told him, saying, "Surely he is in Dothan." Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, and said, "Strike this people, I pray, with blindness." And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
33c. Now Elisha said to them, "This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." But he led them to Samaria. So it was, when they had come to Samaria, that Elisha said, "LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see." And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and there they were, inside Samaria! Now when the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, "My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?" But he answered, "You shall not kill them. Would you kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master." Then he prepared a great feast for them; and after they ate and drank, he sent them away and they went to their master. So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel.
[3-hvn: As you can see, Elisha became a kinder, gentler prophet once he added that helping-hand "stick" to his "ax head" teachings. This was quite a contrast from the teachings of that "prophet" who pronounced a judgement of death on King Ahab because he let the captured Syrian King Ben-Hadad go in peace. The reference to the "mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" and his ability to "blind" and mislead the Syrian soldiers can also be allegorically interpreted to represent Elisha's ability to "force his will" on others by making them see what he wants them to see.]
33d. And it happened after this that Ben-Hadad king of Syria gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria; and indeed they besieged it until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove droppings for five shekels of silver. Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, "Help, my lord, O king!" And he said, "If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?" Then the king said to her, "What is troubling you?" And she answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, 'Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son." Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he tore his clothes; and as he passed by on the wall, the people looked, and there underneath he had sackcloth on his body.
33e. Then he said, "God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today." But Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man ahead of him, but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, "Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent someone to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?" And while he was still talking with them, there was the messenger, coming down to him; and then the king said, "Surely this calamity is from the LORD; why should I wait for the LORD any longer?"
[2-hvn. Evidently, King Ahab blamed Elisha for all this, perhaps because he let those Syrian captives go.]
34. In Chapter 7 of 2nd Kings, Elisha said, "Hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the LORD: 'Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.'" So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, "Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" And he said, "In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it."
34a. Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, "Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, 'We will enter the city,' the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die." And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there. For the LORD had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses--the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!" Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact--their tents, their horses, and their donkeys--and they fled for their lives.
[2-hvn: Just what it was that scared the Syrians away is anybody's guess. A tornado in the night?]
34b. When these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it. Then they said to one another, "We are not doing what is right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king's household." So they went and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, saying, "We went to the Syrian camp, and surprisingly no one was there, not a human sound--only horses and donkeys tied, and the tents intact." And the gatekeepers called out, and they told it to the king's household inside.
34c. So the king arose in the night and said to his servants, "Let me now tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, 'When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.'" And one of his servants answered and said, "Please, let several men take five of the remaining horses which are left in the city. Look, they may either become like all the multitude of Israel that are left in it; or indeed, I say, they may become like all the multitude of Israel left from those who are consumed; so let us send them and see." Therefore they took two chariots with horses; and the king sent them in the direction of the Syrian army, saying, "Go and see." And they went after them to the Jordan; and indeed all the road was full of garments and weapons which the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. So the messengers returned and told the king.
35d. Then the people went out and plundered the tents of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD. Now the king had appointed the officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate. But the people trampled him in the gate, and he died, just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. So it happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, "Two seahs of barley for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, shall be sold tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria." Then that officer had answered the man of God, and said, "Now look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?" And he had said, "In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it." And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate, and he died.
[2-hvn: The source of these stories must have been either Elisha himself or one of his servants (perhaps Gehazi who received Naaman's leprosy), because all the other witnesses ended up dead! Elisha's ability to predict these things in such detail does appear to be "supernatural" if in fact this story is true.]
36. In Chapter 8 of 2nd Kings, Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, "Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the LORD has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years." So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years. It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land. Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, "Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done." Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, "My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life." And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, "Restore all that was hers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now."
[2-hvn: So King Ahab's son Joram appears to have been a reasonable guy.]
36a. Then Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, "The man of God has come here." And the king said to Hazael, "Take a present in your hand, and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, 'Shall I recover from this disease?'" So Hazael went to meet him and took a present with him, of every good thing of Damascus, forty camel-loads; and he came and stood before him, and said, "Your son Ben-Hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this disease?'" And Elisha said to him, "Go, say to him, 'You shall certainly recover.' However the LORD has shown me that he will really die." Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept.
[2-hvn: Remember how the LORD had told Elijah to go and anoint Hazael to be king of Syria?]
36b. And Hazael said, "Why is my lord weeping?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child." So Hazael said, "But what is your servant--a dog, that he should do this gross thing?" And Elisha answered, "The LORD has shown me that you will become king over Syria." Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, "What did Elisha say to you?" And he answered, "He told me you would surely recover." But it happened on the next day that he took a thick cloth and dipped it in water, and spread it over his face so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: Another self-fulfilling prophecy of evil fulfilled, this time with the help of Hazael.]
36c. Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat having been king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign as king of Judah. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever [true, but not as a political dynasty].
36d. In his days Edom revolted against Judah's authority, and made a king over themselves. So Joram went to Zair, and all his chariots with him. Then he rose by night and attacked the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; and the troops fled to their tents. Thus Edom has been in revolt against Judah's authority to this day. And Libnah revolted at that time. Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? So Joram rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
36e. In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, king of Israel. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab. Now he went with Joram the son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram. Then King Joram went back to Jezreel to recover from the wounds that the Syrians had inflicted on him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, went down to see Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.
37. In the 9th Chapter of 2nd Kings Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, "Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead. Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, 'Thus says the LORD: "I have anointed you king over Israel."' Then open the door and flee, and do not delay."
[2-hvn: Remember how the LORD had instructed Elijah to anoint Jehu to be king of Judea?]
37a. So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth Gilead. And when he arrived, there were the captains of the army sitting; and he said, "I have a message for you, Commander." Jehu said, "For which one of us?" And he said, "For you, Commander." Then he arose and went into the house. And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. So I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.'" And he opened the door and fled.
[2-hvn So as instructed by Elisha, this servant was essentially reiterating Elijah's pronounced judgement of evil on the house of Ahab. This act help make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.]
37b. Then Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him, "Is all well? Why did this madman come to you?" And he said to them, "You know the man and his babble." And they said, "A lie! Tell us now." So he said, "Thus and thus he spoke to me, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "I have anointed you king over Israel." '" Then each man hastened to take his garment and put it under him on the top of the steps; and they blew trumpets, saying, "Jehu is king!" So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had been defending Ramoth Gilead, he and all Israel, against Hazael king of Syria. But King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.)
37c. And Jehu said, "If you are so minded, let no one leave or escape from the city to go and tell it in Jezreel." So Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram was laid up there; and Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Joram. Now a watchman stood on the tower in Jezreel, and he saw the company of Jehu as he came, and said, "I see a company of men." And Joram said, "Get a horseman and send him to meet them, and let him say, 'Is it peace?'" So the horseman went to meet him, and said, "Thus says the king: 'Is it peace?'" And Jehu said, "What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me." So the watchman reported, saying, "The messenger went to them, but is not coming back." Then he sent out a second horseman who came to them, and said, "Thus says the king: 'Is it peace?'" And Jehu answered, "What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me." So the watchman reported, saying, "He went up to them and is not coming back; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously!"
37d. Then Joram said, "Make ready." And his chariot was made ready. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot; and they went out to meet Jehu, and met him on the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" So he answered, "What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?" Then Joram turned around and fled, and said to Ahaziah, "Treachery, Ahaziah!" Now Jehu drew his bow with full strength and shot Jehoram between his arms; and the arrow came out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot. Then Jehu said to Bidkar his captain, "Pick him up, and throw him into the tract of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I were riding together behind Ahab his father, that the LORD laid this burden upon him: 'Surely I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons,' says the LORD, 'and I will repay you in this plot,' says the LORD. Now therefore, take and throw him on the plot of ground, according to the word of the LORD."
[2-hvn: Once again, "the LORD visited iniquity" upon the descendants of Ahab who had sinned. The irony of throwing Joram's body into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite (whom Ahab's wife Jezebel had killed) was intentional.]
37e. But when Ahaziah king of Judah saw this, he fled by the road to Beth Haggan. So Jehu pursued him, and said, "Shoot him also in the chariot." And they shot him at the Ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. And his servants carried him in the chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the City of David. In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king over Judah. Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window. Then, as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, "Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?" And he looked up at the window, and said, "Who is on my side? Who?" So two or three eunuchs looked out at him. Then he said, "Throw her down." So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot.
37f. And when he had gone in, he ate and drank. Then he said, "Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king's daughter." So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, "This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 'On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, "Here lies Jezebel."'"
[2-hvn: So ended the life and career of one of the Bible's most famous villainesses; another self-fulfilling prophecy fulfilled, this time with considerable help from Jehu. Notice how Elijah's judgmental prophecy against the House of Ahab ended up killing the king of Judea as well. Such "fruits" should not be viewed as godly, because they were not. ]
38. In Chapter 10 of 2nd Kings, we learn that Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote and sent letters to Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to those who reared Ahab's sons, saying:
Now as soon as this letter comes to you, since your master's sons are with you, and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city also, and weapons, choose the best qualified of your master's sons, set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house.
38a. But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, "Look, two kings could not stand up to him; how then can we stand?" And he who was in charge of the house, and he who was in charge of the city, the elders also, and those who reared the sons, sent to Jehu, saying, "We are your servants, we will do all you tell us; but we will not make anyone king. Do what is good in your sight." Then he wrote a second letter to them, saying: If you are for me and will obey my voice, take the heads of the men, your master's sons, and come to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow. Now the king's sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were rearing them. So it was, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons and slaughtered seventy persons, put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel.
[2-hvn: More ungodly "fruits"-what sins had they committed?]
38b. Then a messenger came and told him, saying, "They have brought the heads of the king's sons." And he said, "Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until morning." So it was, in the morning, that he went out and stood, and said to all the people, "You are righteous. Indeed I conspired against my master and killed him; but who killed all these? Know now that nothing shall fall to the earth of the word of the LORD which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the LORD has done what He spoke by His servant Elijah." So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
[2-hvn: Further evil wrought by Elijah and Elisha.]
38c. And he arose and departed and went to Samaria. On the way, at Beth Eked of the Shepherds, Jehu met with the brothers of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, "Who are you?" And they answered, "We are the brothers of Ahaziah; we have come down to greet the sons of the king and the sons of the queen mother." And he said, "Take them alive!" So they took them alive, and killed them at the well of Beth Eked, forty-two men; and he left none of them. Now when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab, coming to meet him; and he greeted him and said to him, "Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?" And Jehonadab answered, "It is." Jehu said, "If it is, give me your hand." So he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. Then he said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD." So they had him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he killed all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed them, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke to Elijah.
38d. Then Jehu gathered all the people together, and said to them, "Ahab served Baal a little, Jehu will serve him much. Now therefore, call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests. Let no one be missing, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live." But Jehu acted deceptively, with the intent of destroying the worshipers of Baal. And Jehu said, "Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal." So they proclaimed it. Then Jehu sent throughout all Israel; and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. So they came into the temple of Baal, and the temple of Baal was full from one end to the other. And he said to the one in charge of the wardrobe, "Bring out vestments for all the worshipers of Baal." So he brought out vestments for them. Then Jehu and Jehonadab the son of Rechab went into the temple of Baal, and said to the worshipers of Baal, "Search and see that no servants of the LORD are here with you, but only the worshipers of Baal."
38e. So they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had appointed for himself eighty men on the outside, and had said, "If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escapes, whoever lets him escape, it shall be his life for the life of the other." Now it happened, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, "Go in and kill them; let no one come out!" And they killed them with the edge of the sword; then the guards and the officers threw them out, and went into the inner room of the temple of Baal. And they brought the sacred pillars out of the temple of Baal and burned them. Then they broke down the sacred pillar of Baal, and tore down the temple of Baal and made it a refuse dump to this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from Israel.
[2-hvn: Talk about religious intolerance...]
38f. However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. And the LORD [?] said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart [no kidding]; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
38g. In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel; and Hazael conquered them in all the territory of Israel from the Jordan eastward: all the land of Gilead-- Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh-- from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, including Gilead and Bashan. Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Jehu rested with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. Then Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place. And the period that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.
[2-hvn: So the ministries of Elijah and Elisha got a lot of Israelites killed (including many who were innocent of any Biblically recorded sins), and yet they are regarded by many today as "great heroes."]
39. In Chapter 11 of 2nd Kings things get even more weird. When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed. So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
[2-hvn: So Judea had a female king for six years. It should be clear now that it was extremely hazardous to be a member of a royal family Israel and Judea in those days, largely due to the teachings of Israel's own religious leaders!]
39a. In the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of hundreds--of the bodyguards and the escorts-- and brought them into the house of the LORD to him. And he made a covenant with them and took an oath from them in the house of the LORD, and showed them the king's son. Then he commanded them, saying, "This is what you shall do: One-third of you who come on duty on the Sabbath shall be keeping watch over the king's house, one-third shall be at the gate of Sur, and one-third at the gate behind the escorts. You shall keep the watch of the house, lest it be broken down. The two contingents of you who go off duty on the Sabbath shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD for the king. But you shall surround the king on all sides, every man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever comes within range, let him be put to death. You are to be with the king as he goes out and as he comes in."
39b. So the captains of the hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. Each of them took his men who were to be on duty on the Sabbath, with those who were going off duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And the priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the LORD. Then the escorts stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, all around the king, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, by the altar and the house. And he brought out the king's son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, "Long live the king!"
39c. Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the escorts and the people, she came to the people in the temple of the LORD. When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. So Athaliah tore her clothes and cried out, "Treason! Treason!" And Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the army, and said to them, "Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her." For the priest had said, "Do not let her be killed in the house of the LORD." So they seized her; and she went by way of the horses' entrance into the king's house, and there she was killed.
[2-hvn: This illustrates why the rulers of Israel and Judea were so concerned about killing off all potential heirs of their predecessors. Due to the failure of their religious leaders to teach respect for the "rule of law", the Israelites lived under monarchies that were just one step above sheer anarchy! "To swim with the sharks, one must become a shark as well."]
39d. Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD, the king, and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people, and also between the king and the people. And all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They thoroughly broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD. Then he took the captains of hundreds, the bodyguards, the escorts, and all the people of the land; and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, and went by way of the gate of the escorts to the king's house. Then he sat on the throne of the kings. So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword in the king's house. Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.
39e. In the 12th Chapter of 2nd Kings, in the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him. But the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. And Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the dedicated gifts that are brought into the house of the LORD--each man's census money, each man's assessment money--and all the money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of the LORD, let the priests take it themselves, each from his constituency; and let them repair the damages of the temple, wherever any dilapidation is found."
39f. Now it was so, by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, that the priests had not repaired the damages of the temple [they kept the money for themselves]. So King Jehoash called Jehoiada the priest and the other priests, and said to them, "Why have you not repaired the damages of the temple? Now therefore, do not take more money from your constituency, but deliver it for repairing the damages of the temple." And the priests agreed that they would neither receive any more money from the people, nor repair the damages of the temple. Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one comes into the house of the LORD; and the priests who kept the door put there all the money brought into the house of the LORD. So it was, whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king's scribe and the high priest came up and put it in bags, and counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD.
39g. Then they gave the money, which had been apportioned, into the hands of those who did the work, who had the oversight of the house of the LORD; and they paid it out to the carpenters and builders who worked on the house of the LORD, and to masons and stonecutters, and for buying timber and hewn stone, to repair the damage of the house of the LORD, and for all that was paid out to repair the temple. However there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, trimmers, sprinkling-bowls, trumpets, any articles of gold or articles of silver, from the money brought into the house of the LORD. But they gave that to the workmen, and they repaired the house of the LORD with it. Moreover they did not require an account from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to be paid to workmen, for they dealt faithfully. The money from the trespass offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD. It belonged to the priests.
[2-hvn: So the workmen proved to be more trustworthy than the priests...]
39h. Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath, and took it; then Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem. And Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred things that his fathers, Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred things, and all the gold found in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and in the king's house, and sent them to Hazael king of Syria. Then he went away from Jerusalem. Now the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And his servants arose and made a conspiracy, and killed Joash in the house of the Millo, which goes down to Silla. For Jozachar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, struck him. So he died, and they buried him with his fathers in the City of David. Then Amaziah his son reigned in his place.
[2-hvn: Jehoash (a.k.a. Joash) kept Judea out of a war with king Hazael of Syria by paying him off with a tribute. Nevertheless, he ended up being killed by his own servants. And it gets worse...]
40. In Chapter 13 of 2nd Kings, in the twenty-third year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. He did not depart from them. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-Hadad the son of Hazael, all their days. So Jehoahaz pleaded with the LORD, and the LORD listened to him; for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. Then the LORD gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Syrians; and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as before.
40a. Nevertheless they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin, but walked in them; and the wooden image also remained in Samaria. For He left of the army of Jehoahaz only fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand foot soldiers; for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Jehoahaz rested with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. Then Joash his son reigned in his place.
40b. In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, but walked in them. Now the rest of the acts of Joash, all that he did, and his might with which he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Joash rested with his fathers. Then Jeroboam sat on his throne. And Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
40c. Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!" And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them." Then he said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times." Then Elisha died, and they buried him.
[2-hvn: So Elisha leaves the scene still advocating more violence. Apparently, Elisha had acquired the phrase "the chariots of Israel and their horsemen" as a nickname.]
40d. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year. So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. And Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But the LORD was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and regarded them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not yet destroy them or cast them from His presence.
40e. Now Hazael king of Syria died. Then Ben-Hadad his son reigned in his place. And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz recaptured from the hand of Ben-Hadad, the son of Hazael, the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times Joash defeated him and recaptured the cities of Israel.
[2-hvn: Another self-fulfilling prophecy fulfilled.]
40f. The following is the only coverage Elijah received in Chronicles (2 Chronicles 21:5-20). Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Yet the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever. In his days the Edomites revolted against Judah's authority, and made a king over themselves.
40g. So Jehoram went out with his officers, and all his chariots with him. And he rose by night and attacked the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots. Thus Edom has been in revolt against Judah's authority to this day. At that time Libnah revolted against his rule, because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers. Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit harlotry, and led Judah astray.
40h. And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus says the LORD God of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father's household, who were better than yourself, behold, the LORD will strike your people with a serious affliction--your children, your wives, and all your possessions; and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day. Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king's house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons. After all this the LORD struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease.
40i. Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one's sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
[2-hvn: Another pronouncement of evil by Elijah gets fulfilled, this time with the help of some kind of intestinal disease.]
41. So what does this tell us regarding how Jesus viewed the ministries of Elijah and Elisha? For one thing, you can now appreciate why Jesus viewed the ministries of Elijah and Elisha as mixed blessings as shown when rebuked his disciples for suggesting that they bring fire down from heaven, saying "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (Luke 9:54-56)
41a. So what about the angel Gabriel's prediction that John the Baptist would have the "spirit and power of Elijah" in Luke 1:17, and Jesus' reference to John the Baptist as the "the Elijah who is to come" in Matthew 22:14, and James' claim that "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours" we regards to getting prayers answered in James 5:17? Although John the Baptist didn't demonstrate the supernatural powers attributed to Elijah, he did (like Elijah) demonstrate that we wasn't afraid to severely criticize his present Jewish king (Herod) for his moral wrong-doings, even if it cost him his life (which it did). Most would agree that John the Baptist fulfilled Gabriel's prophecy as rendered in The Living Bible translation of Luke 1:17, "He will be a man of rugged spirit and power like Elijah, the prophet of old; and he will precede the coming of the Messiah, preparing the people for his arrival. He will soften adult hearts to become like little children's, and will change disobedient minds to the wisdom of faith." Jesus' reference to John as "the Elijah who is to come" shows that he viewed John the Baptist as one who was filling the predicted role of Elijah, as opposed to viewing John as "Elijah returned in the flesh". And James' use of Elijah as an example from the scriptures to illustrate the power of prayer does not necessarily mean that he agreed that everything Elijah did.
41b. The disciples' speculation (which Jesus neither denied nor confirmed) that Elijah was one of those they visualized talking with Jesus during the transfiguration incident merely reflects the immense popularity of Elijah's reputation among the Jews in those days, especially among those who were seeking Israelite "independence" (a.k.a. "national sovereignty") from the Roman Empire. They were expecting the LORD to send them a Messiah who would use "supernatural powers" like those attributed to Elijah and Elisha to "free them from the yoke of Rome." Jesus correctly recognized (and predicted) that such attitudes would lead to violence and the destruction of King Herod's Temple just as such attitudes had led to violence and the destruction of King Solomon's Temple. So Jesus' endorsement of John the Baptist as fulfilling a role similar to that of Elijah was considerably less than "wholehearted", not because John the Baptist has done anything wrong, but because from Jesus' point of view, Elijah had done many things wrong.
42. With regards to the issue of "supernatural" vs. "spiritual" powers, Jesus dealt with that issue while he was spending 40 days in the wilderness:
42a. Matthew 4:1-11 (NKJ)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
42b. So even the devil can quote the scriptures to "morally justify" ungodly conduct. As you can see, Jesus rejected the devil's temptations to use "supernatural powers" to feed himself, glorify himself, or to obtain political power for himself. Also, as you could see from my 1-hvn, 2-hvn, and 3-hvn comments accompanying the 1st and 2nd Kings, it was the 1-hvn ("literal") interpretations of prophecies that often led to bloody "fruits" for the Israelites. And yet that's the level of interpretation being adamantly promoted by America's "Christian Right" organizations.
IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR FUTURE:
43. For the reasons illustrated in this review of 1st and 2nd Kings, Jesus (and Daniel) came to the same conclusion Dale Hiller did when he said, "...the condition of a society without structure is anarchy-the chaos of lawlessness. Such a society is a happy hunting ground for predators. Worse yet, it forces those with decent impulses to also become predators in order to survive amid the chaos. The only way out is to establish structure-law and order."
43a. That's why Jesus never criticized the Roman Empire and why it is incorrect to assume that the Roman Empire was the "4th Beast" described in the 7th chapter of Daniel. The "ten toes" of the image described in the 2nd chapter of Daniel represents a world-wide system of "little Roman Empires" bound together by the "fragile clay" of man-made "international law" (fragile because there is no effective police force to enforce such "laws"). In other words, those "ten toes" represent our present "national sovereignty system" which violates the first of God's two commandments by institutionalizing the worldwide worship of flags and nation-states. It also violates the second of Gods two most fundamental commandments by killing MILLIONS of people EACH YEAR by means of war, anarchy, starvation, and untreated diseases! (The efforts of America's "Christian Right" organizations and their "mouth pieces" in Congress to financially and politically emasculate the United Nations have added considerably to that annual death rate.)
43b. Notice how God's "stone" (the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ) smashes not only the toes of that image but also the rest of that image back through time, and that the wind blows its pieces away like chaff on a threshing floor (Daniel 2:34-35). How can any act in this age "break into pieces" kingdoms that went out of existence thousands of years ago? The "Second Coming of Christ" can, because it will utterly destroy the popularity (spirits) of the very assumptions upon which those earlier kingdoms were based. By inspiring a world-wide loyalty to God's two most fundamental commandments and "blowing away" the presently practiced subordination of God to ungodly man-made assumptions and teachings (as described in my earlier articles on this web site), the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ will indeed bring about peace on earth, as foretold by prophets throughout the entire Bible!
44. Luke 16:13-17 (NIV)
"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law."
[3-hvn: The time has come to replace our old "heaven" (mankind's perceptions of God) and our old "earth" (mankind's perceptions of popular truths) with a "new heaven" and "new earth"! (Rev 21:1)]
(one grain of salt)
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