King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Kings 2

Elijah divides Jordan. (1-8) Elijah is taken up into heaven. (9-12) Elisha is manifested to be Elijah’s successor. (13-18) Elisha heals the waters of Jericho, Those that mocked Elisha destroyed. (19-25)

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Elijah divides Jordan

1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.

3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.

7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.

8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

Elijah is taken up into heaven

9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

Elisha is manifested to be Elijah’s successor

13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;

14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.

17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.

18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

Elisha heals the waters of Jericho, Those that mocked Elisha destroyed

19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.

20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.

21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.

22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Heaven. By heaven here is meant, the air, the lowest of the heavenly regions, (Ch). through which he was carried by the ministry of angels, who directed the storm, (H.) to the place designed for him. — It is generally supposed to be Paradise, (C.) whither Henoch had been translated. H. — They are still living, (C.) and must come again, to invite all to repent. After which they will die martyrs, in the persecution of Antichrist. H. — See S. Aug. de Gen. ad lit. ix. 6. et Apoc. xi. W. — Eccli. xlviii. 10. M. — They are a proof of a future resurrection. C. — To decide where the paradise which they inhabit, (H.) is situated. would be rash. S. Chrys. hom. 21. in Gen. &c. Some suppose it is still in some unknown region of the earth: others place it above the sky, (M.) or in the bosom of Abraham. C. — The Jews (ap. Munster) assert that Elias penetrated the sphere of fire, where his body was consumed. Vat. — The earthly paradise is very probably no longer existing, in its ancient luxuriant state. H. — It may now be covered with the waters of the Persian Gulf. Worthington.

Ver. 3. The sons of the prophets. That is, the disciples of the prophets; who seem to have had their schools, like colleges or communities, in Bethel, Jericho, and other places, in the days of Elias and Eliseus. Ch. — Many of these disciples might be also their children. Elias collected some fervent souls together even at Bethel, to preserve the true religion, as much as possible. He visited them before his departure. C. — Peace: let not Elias hear us.

Ver. 5. From thee. Heb. “from thy head,” thy superior, and raise him into the air, v. 3. C.

Ver. 6. Thee. Elias had tried the constancy of his disciple three times, as Christ required of S. Peter a triple confession of love. Jo. xxi. 17. H. — Humility might also prompt the prophet to desire to be alone. Salien.

Ver. 8. Mantle. Sept. meloten, “sheep skin,” (M.) such as the prophets wore. The Syriac explains it of an ornament or bandage of the head; others, of a leathren mantle to keep off rain. Ad subitas nunquam scortea diset aquas. Martial xiv.

Ver. 9. Double spirit. A double portion of thy spirit, as thy eldest son and heir: or thy spirit, which is double, in comparison of that which God usually imparteth to his prophets; (Ch). or the power of working miracles, as well as of prophesying. W. — He wishes to excel his fellow disciples, rather than his master. T. Cajet. Amama. — Double often means, great and perfect. Jer. xvii. 18. If Eliseus even begged that he might perform more and greater wonders than his master, (as Christ enabled his disciples to surpass himself, in this particular. Jo. xiv. 12. H.) he might do it without pride, purely for the glory of God. He certainly shone forth with peculiar splendour; and some have enumerated sixteen or twenty-four of his miracles, while they can only find eight (Lyran.) or twelve recorded of Elias. See A. Lapide, in Eccli. xlviii. 13. C. — We read a similar expression in Pindar, (Olym. vi.) where Neptune gave his son Jamus (Thesauron didumon mantosunas) “the double treasure of divination,” p. 50. Ed. Step. H.

Ver. 10. Hard thing. Heb. lit. “thou art hardened to ask” a thing so difficult, and which I have not the power to grant. But I will pray that thou mayst receive it; (C.) and I feel confident that thou wilt, if God shall grant thee the power to see me, at my departure. H. — This he did, v. 12. M. — Elias had perhaps imagined that his disciple would have desired some of his clothes, or some advice. C. — He left him his mantle, (v. 13. H.) and by prayer was enabled to communicate his spirit to him; as Moses and the apostles did to their assistants in the ministry. C.

Ver. 11. Horses. Angels assumed these forms, (Grotius) or a cloud, resembling a fiery chariot and horses, was impelled by a strong wind, under their guidance. Tostat. M. Salien, A.C. 914. — As the name of Elias is very like Helios, “the sun,” some have supposed that hey have the same meaning: (Sedulius, pasc. 1.) but the Heb. term signifies, “He is my God.” The pagans have taken occasion from this history to represent the sun drawn in a fiery chariot, by horses composed of the same element.

Animosos ignibus illis,

Quos in pectore habent, quos ore & naribus efflant. Metam. xii. C.

Heaven; (see v. 1.) where he lives free from all disturbance. T. — It is a constant, that he will come again before the last judgment; as his representative, John the Baptist, announced the first appearance of our Redeemer. S. Greg. hom. 7. in Ev. Of this the Jews were convinced. S. Justin, dial. See Malac. iv. 5.

Ver. 12. Thereof. Thou alone wast equal to an army, in our defence. Chariots were then very common. C. — Chal. and Vatab. “Thou wast, by thy prayer, better to Israel than chariots and horses.” So we should call a person, a pillar of the state, &c. T. — In giving the character of Elias, the Holy Ghost dwells in a particular manner on his burning zeal. C. — Elias stood up as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch…he brought down fire from heaven thrice, on the holocaust, and on the captains. H. — Who can glory like to thee? Eccli. lxviii. 1. 4. See SS. Amb. and Chrys. on Elias. His resemblance with Christ is very striking. His name puts us in mind of Christ’s divinity; who burnt with zeal for God’s house, (Jo. ii. 17.) was persecuted, (C.) raised the dead to life, rose again and ascended triumphant into heaven, having imparted his blessing (H.) and his sacraments to his disciples. C. — No more, as he was taken from the company of men. H. — Pieces, to express his grief, at being deprived of so excellent a master. M.

Ver. 13. Mantle, as an earnest of his affection. By the imposition of this mantle, he had been called to be a prophet. 3 K. xix. 19.

Ver. 14. Not divided. God thus prevented him from giving way to vanity, (Abul. q. 28.) or thinking that he could do any thing himself. H. — Elias. Heb. “where is he?” C. — The original and Sept. (Alex. and Vat.) do not specify that he struck the waters twice, or that they did not divide at first. H. — This is taken from other copies of the Sept. Amama. — The exclamation contains a most fervent prayer. Heb. “he smote the waters, and said: Where is the Lord God of Elias? and when he had stricken the,” &c. which removes the idea of presumption, which (H.) some discover in the words of Eliseus. T. Sanctius. — Now. Heb. aph hu. Sept. aphpho, retaining the words which Theodotion renders “the hidden” god. H. — “Even he himself.” Aquila. C. — When I stand so much in need of his assistance, (M.) having performed his important functions, which cannot be done without his spirit, nor without the confirmation of miracles, before an unbelieving people. H.

Ver. 15. They worshipped him; viz. with an inferior, yet religious veneration, not for any temporal, but spiritual excellency. Ch. W. — They had stopped on a hill, (M.) to see the event, v. 7. H. — Jericho itself is two hours’ journey from the Jordan. Adric. — The sons of the prophets had seen what had happened at the translation of Elias, and perceiving that Eliseus was invested with his mantle, and with the power of working miracles, they did not hesitate to acknowledge him for their superior, during the absence of Elias, who they expected would return. C.

Ver. 16. Valley. It seems such translations were not uncommon. 3 K. xviii. 12. C.

Ver. 17. Send. He acquiesces, lest they might think that he was afraid of losing his superiority. M.

Ver. 19. Barren, owing to the salt or bituminous waters. Some think that they were muddy and of a loathsome smell. The fountain is still to be seen very abundant and excellent, watering the plain on the west of the city. Its source is about two miles distant on the road to Jerusalem. Maundrell, p. 134. C. — Other parts of the environs were very fertile. M.

Ver. 20. Put salt. He removes ever suspicion of imposture: if the waters were already saline, the remedy would seem contrary to his design, but it would display the miracle in a stronger light; and if they were only fetid and muddy, (C.) though (H.) salt might rectify a small quantity, (Palladius tit. 9. Vales, &c.) it could never correct the bad qualities of such a fountain for a length of time, by the mere force of nature. H. — Josephus (Bel. iv. 8.) represents Eliseus acting like a magician, being desirous to please the pagan readers with various embellishments. C.

Ver. 21. Barrenness. By the divine power they are become salubrious. H.

Ver. 23. Bald-head. It is not know whether Eliseus was really bald, or only wore his hair short, like the priests of the Lord, and the monks at present. It may also be a term of reproach, of which the emperors Julius Cæsar, Domitian, and Otho, were very sensible. Cæsar wore a crown of laurel, and Otho a sort of false hair, to hide this deformity. Sueton.

Quod summum formæ decus est, periere capilli. Petronius. C.

Ver. 24. Cursed them. This curse, which was followed by so visible a judgment of God, was not the effect of passion, or of a desire of revenging himself; but of zeal for religion, which was insulted by these boys, in the person of the prophet, and of a divine inspiration; God being determined to punish in this manner the inhabitants of Bethel, (the chief seat of the calf-worship) who had trained up their children in a prejudice against the true religion and its ministers. Ch. — The boys themselves were not so little as not to be aware of the insult they were offering to a minister of the God of Juda; and probably they acted thus out of hatred to him, at the instigation of their idolatrous parents. Sanc. C. — Lord. He called on him (M.) to revenge his own cause, (H.) “that the people might learn to take care of their souls, by the fear of death.” S. Aug. D.

Ver. 25. Carmel. To avoid the indignation of the populace, and to instruct his disciples. — Samaria. That he might be ready to give advice to the two kings, who were meditating an expedition against Moab. M.