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2Ki 4:1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets to Elisha, saying, Your servant my husband is dead-
Josephus (Antiquities 9.4.2) says this woman was the widow of Obadiah, Ahab’s servant. Many of the Elisha and Elijah incidents concern obscure characters. The widow woman with whom Elijah lived for three years was so obscure that Ahab's search for Elijah never led anyone there. And so it is with the widow of one of the sons of the prophets, Naaman's wife's servant girl, a guy who borrows an axe and the axe head goes plop in the river etc. Perhaps the obscurity of these people was a foil for the high profile life of Elijah and Elisha. They were being shown that humble spirituality in obscurity and personal suffering and difficulty is the essence, and not public work for its own sake. We observed this difference between Obadiah's more private spirituality, and Elijah's. 

You know that your servant feared Yahweh-
This is exactly how Obadiah described himself (1 Kings 18:12). Obadiah also tells Elijah that Elijah "knows" that he fears Yahweh, and the widow says the same. We have here another example of how Elijah was so wrong to insist that he alone feared Yahweh; and for this arrogance he was removed from his post as chief prophet of Israel. Elisha 'knew' of this man's faithfulness to Yahweh, and therefore realized Elijah was wrong in his attitude; and yet Elisha clearly respected Elijah very deeply, looking at the whole man rather than one area of life in which he failed. This is an example to us. 

Now the creditor has come to take for himself my two children to be slaves-
The sons of the prophets were not wealthy. We think of the borrowed axe head, and their cooking stew of whatever they could find. They would have been discriminated against in Israelite society. Such behaviour by a creditor was contrary to the spirit of the Mosaic law, but clearly it was the kind of thing which went on in Israel at the time. The children could be taken as servants, but not as slaves (Lev. 25:39-41 uses the same word for "slaves" as used here). Instead of challenging the creditor as to his disobedience to the Mosaic law, Elisha chose to resolve the situation another way. Head on confrontation with people over their disobedience to Divine law may have been the way of the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist, but the Lord Jesus like Elisha tended to tackle such issues in a more oblique manner. As discussed on :7, a far more powerful witness and appeal was made to the man when the woman paid her debt, than if he had simply been challenged point blank regarding his breaking the spirit and letter of the law. 

According to Lev. 25:39,40 a poor Israelite could work as a hired servant until the year of Jubilee. To take the woman's children into such servitude was therefore technically in line with the law. We instinctively see a problem with this creditor- but we are thereby set up to want the spirit rather than the letter of Divine law. But Elisha worked to show grace above law through the oil of the Spirit. We see here how one can 'legally' treat brethren in a way that may be just about in line with the letter of a law, but which is in fact the opposite of the way of grace and the Spirit.

The creditor could have taken the sons of the widowed woman according to the law; but Elisha was taught that there was a higher way, and that the legalistic example and position of his idol Elijah wasn't the right way. See on :42 for more examples.

2Ki 4:2 Elisha said to her, What shall I do for you?-
The Lord Jesus appears to quote this in Mk. 10:36. Elisha is alluding to Elijah's words to him: "What shall I do for you?" (2 Kings 2:9). Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. And he had apparently received that. And so his question to the woman is seeking for an opportunity to use that spirit.  The woman doesn't answer this question. She simply expects Elisha to do a miracle. But Elisha wants her to have more involvement, to do her human side; hence he asks her what she has in the house.

"What can I do for you?" is a question Elisha asks twice (:13 also). But it is exactly the question Elijah had asked him (2 Kings 2:9). We wonder whether this reflects how he was too much in a personality cult behind Elijah, using his very terms and language. Or whether Elijah's grace to him was now being reflected by him to others, just as grace does have a natural way of being reflected.

"What shall I do?" could suggest Elisha was poor and couldn't help. He had once owned yokes of oxen, but true giving to the Lord leaves us minus for life and isn't always compensated. He could also however have been focusing her upon her need, like the Lord asking the blind man what he wanted, and appearing to walk on past the disciples on the lake or to take leave of those on the way to Emmaus. This focusing of man upon what he really wants is a feature of God's dealings with men. 


Tell me: what do you have in the house? She said, Your handmaid has nothing in the house, except a pot of oil-
"Pot" is from the same root as 'anoint'; it refers to oil used for anointing, not for cooking. Hence LXX "save the oil with which I shall anoint myself". It is the same word translated "jewels" in Ex. 3:22. She had no food. She was worse than the widow of Zarephath who had a little oil and a little flour. This widow had no food at all. So this is an example of Elisha doing greater miracles than Elijah, having a double portion of his spirit. The sale of a large amount of such anointing oil would really have been enough to clear her debts and to live on for the rest of her days, whereas multiplying cooking oil would not have had the same effect.

The idea is “an anointing of oil” - "so much oil, as would serve me for one anointing of my person". The hint may be that by faith, she could provide for the anointing of many others. The oil of the Spirit was to be provided for others through her plight and the resolution of her desperate situation. The oil may have been used for anointing, as her husband had been a "son of the prophets". It may have been what he was anointed with. And now through her suffering, this anointing was shared with others, mainly women.

2Ki 4:3 Then he said, Go, borrow containers, empty ones, from of all your neighbours-
The word for "container" is translated "jewels" in Ex. 3:22; 11:2, where the same three Hebrew words are found. The Israelite women were to "borrow" from their "neighbours" such "jewels / containers" and place them on their "sons" (Ex. 3:22). The connection is in that once again Elisha is being set up as Moses. Elijah had been set up to be as Moses; see on 1 Kings 19:11. But when in Moses' cave on Sinai, he had been shown that he was not as Moses because he lacked Moses' humility. And he had been sent to anoint Elisha to replace him. Elisha therefore is being set up as Moses, as noted throughout 2 Kings 3. It could be that now he takes the initiative, and himself now structures a miracle in order to present himself as Moses. The obvious connection was also to lift the woman up to a higher level, to see beyond her immediate problem of debt. She was not only going to get out of the debt problem, an exodus from her immediate 'Egypt'. She was to be given wealth which was to be used as the Israelites used what they borrowed from their immediate neighbours- to build God's tabernacle / dwelling place. But she was to do that through spending the wealth on raising her sons in the faith. That for her was building the tabernacle.

Don’t borrow just a few-
See on 2 Kings 8:10. The idea was, Don't just give God a half hearted try. Believe Him to the maximum, and act accordingly. The word / Gospel will inevitably have a result, and yet it is also limited by the attitudes of men. The widow woman was told to borrow pots in which to place the oil which would be miraculously provided. The extent of the miracle was limited by the number and size of the pots she borrowed in faith. The same principle is seen in 2 Kings 3:16; the more trenches were dug, the more water was provided. And so the exhortation is to us, to not "borrow just a few", to not be minimalists in our approach to God's ways but seek to realize our spiritual potentials to the maximum. "Few" is the same word used for how the widow whom Elijah helped had a "little" oil in a container (1 Kings 17:12; also s.w. Ps. 37:16; Prov. 15:16). This widow woman was being invited to see the similarities, and to act likewise so that her oil would also be enough for her and her family.

I have discussed earlier how the use of the Spirit by Elijah was not always exactly as God wished, but power was delegated to him to use. Thus he brought fire down twice to destroy groups of 50 men, but the Lord implicitly criticizes this. And Elijah was stopped from scribbling the third group of 50. And so we wonder whether Elisha's miracle here was thought up by himself, although it used God's power. There are clear similarities with the widow woman and her son having her flour and cooking oil miraculously multiplied by Elijah in time of famine and want. And one suspects Elijah was seeking to emulate and replicate Elijah's work, rather than accepting Elijah had been fired from the ministry for arrogance and judgmentalism, and God intended Elisha to be a new man for Him. He was so but partially, because he was held back by his hero worship of Elijah and constant endeavour to be like Elijah, rather than being a totally new creation. And we see a lot of this in church life.

2Ki 4:4 You shall go in, and shut the door on yourself and on your sons-
There is a connection between shutting the door and praying (:33; Mt. 6:6). The idea was that her situation was going to be read as a prayer. And practically, Elisha didn't want others seeing the miracle. The actions of God in our lives are intimate, between Him and ourselves; and not to be disturbed by the observations and perceptions of others. Elisha wasn't present when the miracle happened; he wanted her to experience God alone, directly in her poverty stricken kitchen, without any religious representative present. Prayers and miracles behind shut doors are a feature of the narrative here; and the Lord alludes here by saying we should pray likewise. The idea is that relationship with God and His action in our lives is by its nature, totally personal. The Shunammite woman likewise closes the door on her dead son (:21).  

Shutting the door was  also to remind her later that nobody could have brought oil in to her. We all have a tendency to later rationalize away God's wonderful works. And that is made intellectually respectable by higher critics. 

And pour out into all those containers; and you shall set aside that which is full-
The idea was that the pouring out had to be continuous (:6). This was an exhortation to use to the maximum the potential given. The oil would continue to be there to be poured out, as long as she had containers for it to go into. If she were to take a break and run out for more containers, the oil would cease to flow. The extent of the miracle was directly related to how much faith and effort she had shown in borrowing the containers. The miracle repeats the essence of the situation in 2 Kings 3:16, where the Israelites had to dig ditches, and then water was abundantly poured into them by God, thus giving them the victory. The same word for "full" is used about the filling of the ditches and the filling of the pots. The scale of Elisha's work in 2 Kings 3 was national, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers and giving victory to God's people. Now the scale is different- one obscure widow woman. The same saving Divine hand at work amongst the nations is at work in one obscure life.

In the same way as they had to obediently dig the ditches, doing what was totally counter intuitive, so the woman had to borrow the vessels before the miracle happened. As with the woman told to borrow empty pots to have oil multiplied in them  (2 Kings 4:3), the extent of this miracle was controlled by the degree to which the people were obedient. The more ditches [LXX "pits"] were dug, the greater the amount of water would be provided, and the greater the effect of the illusion upon the Moabites..  

2Ki 4:5 So she went from him, and shut the door on herself and on her sons; they brought the containers to her, and she poured out-
The Divine cameraman is as it were zoomed in upon the scene, as the boys brought the containers to her, with her pouring continually into them. For the pouring was continuous (see on :4). The words for 'pouring out' and "oil" in :2 are those used of pouring out oil in anointing (Gen. 28:18; 35:14; Lev. 8:12; 1 Sam. 10:1 etc.) and preparing the offerings (Lev. 2:1,6). She was being bidden see this act of faith as a religious act, preparing for a life of further sacrifice and dedication to Divine service, rather than simply a means of getting out from her immediate problems. The word for 'pouring out' is used later in this chapter (:40,41). The same spirit of faith in pouring out was being asked for, and the widow was the parade example to those men. 

The nature of the miracle required that the woman had her sons assisting her, gathering the vessels and holding them whilst she poured out into them; :6 implies she asked her son to bring another container whilst she held the pouring pot. They were the ones saved, and so they were the ones brought in to the work and used. Just as we are. Seeing Elisha wasn't present with them, the experience was intended to bind mother and sons closer together. Which is what participating in redemption should do to all experiencing it. This miracle behind closed doors would however have soon been shared by the woman- because she was seen in the village market selling oil from her neighbour's vessels and then returning those vessels to them. Questions would have been asked- 'Where did the oil come from?', 'What did you use my vessel for?'. And so the very private personal relationship and activity between God and the woman, behind closed doors, would have become the basis of her witness to her world. 

2Ki 4:6 It happened, when the containers were full, that she said to her son, Bring me another container. He said to her, There isn’t another container. The oil stopped flowing-
As discussed on :4, the oil flowed continually, and the extent of the miracle was therefore only limited by the number of containers which they had borrowed in faith and works of faith. The filling of the containers with the oil of the Spirit may look forward to how Israel had become as empty containers at the hands of the Babylonians, but were to be filled with the Spirit as far as they believed the promise (s.w. Jer. 51:34). The idea is that the oil / spirit keeps flowing whilst there is a vessel able to receive it. A profound principle. We wonder why the detail of :6 is included. Possibly we are to infer that sons and mother looked at each other with the unspoken thought that if they had only borrowed more vessels, they would have had even more oil to sell.

2Ki 4:7 Then she came and told the man of God. He said, Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt-
We are left to imagine the surprise and awkwardness of the creditor. This was a far more powerful way of leading him to a more Godly attitude than a head on confrontation with him about his breaking the letter and spirit of the Mosaic law. See on :1. 

And you and your sons shall live on the rest-
I suggested on :3 that the wealth received from borrowing pots from her neighbours was analogous to that received by the Israelites when they borrowed from their neighbours when they left Egypt. And they used it to build God's dwelling place. But she was to do that through spending the wealth on raising her sons in the faith. That for her was building the tabernacle. 

2Ki 4:8 It fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman; and she persuaded him to eat bread. So it was, that as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat bread-
Shunem would have been a logical stopping point on journeys from mount Carmel, where it seems there was a school of the prophets, to the towns of Galilee where apparently Elisha ministered on the kind of circuit which Samuel operated. Maybe her persuasion of Elijah to eat food with her was because he felt awkward in the presence of a wealthy person. We can conclude that Elisha lived on Carmel, still following in the personality cult of Elijah rather than being a new creation for God's use after Elijah was found inadequate for the ministry.

2Ki 4:9 She said to her husband, See now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God that passes by us continually-
It seems that Elisha didn't specifically tell her of his prophetic work. Perhaps he as a poor man was shy to witness to the wealthy, as we can be. If even the lead prophet of Israel felt like this, it's unsurprising that we also do. Or perhaps she was a Gentile and he considered her unworthy of the Gospel.

2Ki 4:10 Please let us make a little room on the wall-
The fact she "went up" to the room (:21) suggests it was a room on the wall in the sense of built above and upon the structural wall of the ground floor.

Let us set for him there a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp stand. It shall be, when he comes to us, that he shall turn in there-
The furniture might suggest that Elisha was literate and was involved in the study of the scrolls as well as writing. 

2Ki 4:11 One day he came there, and he turned into the room and lay there-
We are invited to imagine him meditating as he lay down, counting his blessings, amongst which was the kindness of this wealthy woman. And he wanted to respond to her grace.

2Ki 4:12 He said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. When he had called her, she stood before him-
Although she was a great woman, and I discussed on :8,9 how Elisha may have been keenly aware of this, she stands before him as a subordinate to his spirituality. Or it could be that she stood before Gehazi (:13), on the basis that the representative of a person is spoken of as them. This is why the Lord Jesus as God's supreme representative can be spoken of functionally as "God", although He was not God in any Trinitarian sense.

2Ki 4:13 He said to him, Say now to her-
As discussed on :12, it is possible that Gehazi spoke with her on Elisha's behalf. But it could be that [as so often with the Biblical text] this is not in chronological order. We are being given the background as to what had gone on when finally the woman "stood before" Elisha himself in :12. It would seem inappropriate for Elisha to ask Gehazi to call the woman to him if in fact Gehazi was to speak with her (:12). Rather would Elisha have told Gehazi to go to her and speak directly with her.

‘Behold, you have cared for us with all this care. What is to be done for you?-
The Hebrew word for "care" also means "reverence". She 'reverenced' him (RVmg.). To reverence someone is to care for them. Care therefore comes out of a respect / reverence for the person. If we respect persons for who they are, we will care. Care in that sense can't in any sense be properly done or shown if it's simply from a sense of duty, because we're paid to do it, because we might get some benefit from doing so, etc.

Would you like to be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the army?’-
Elisha lived in Samaria, or at least had a house there, and was well known it seems to the Israelite leadership- despite his insistence upon Yahweh worship. The leadership likely tolerated him in that they considered that they were worshipping Yahweh, but did it through their Baal worship. This was and is now the essential temptation to all God's people.

She answered, I dwell among my own people-
This would imply she was a Gentile, and didn't want to be spoken of to the king of Israel. This continues the similarities with Elijah, who was also cared for by a Gentile woman. The woman may well have been a Philistine, as the events of 2 Kings 8:2 appear to have happened at this time.

2Ki 4:14 He said, What then is to be done for her? Gehazi answered, Most certainly she has no son, and her husband is old-
The scene is so imaginable. Two men in the guest room discussing what the know about their host and how best to help her. Gehazi observes the age difference between the man and his wife, and seems to sense she had never had her own children. We are left to imagine the wide range of possible scenarios which may have resulted in this situation. The narrative seems purposefully open ended at points like this, so that we can enter into the situation.

This is what Elisha had been asked by Elijah. On one hand, we see here grace experienced being reflected to others. But we might also speculate that Elisha was dominated by a desire to replicate his master Elijah; when it was God's intention from Horeb onwards that Elisha replace Elijah and have a better spirit. Instead his spirituality was all about imitating a mentor. We see the same feature in so much small time Protestant sect mentality. Elisha, like Elijah, had some latitude if usage in using God's power to do miracles. We wonder whether at times he used that power to consciously imitate Elijah. Elisha lived on Carmel, :25, where Elijah liked to be after his triumph there in 1 Kings 18. This suggests a slavish following of Elijah rather than being a new man for God's service, who had learned from Elijah's errors. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, but the Lord clearly viewed Elijah's spirit as wrong and not of His spirit.

2Ki 4:15 He said, Call her. When he had called her, she stood in the door-
The Shunamite woman stood "in the door", i.e. on the threshold, when Elisha gave her the message that she would have a child. This was surely to help her see the similarities with Abraham and Sarah in the tent door, who were given the same message; and they like the Shunamite woman almost lost and then 'received back' the promised son.

2Ki 4:16 He said, At this season, when the time comes around, you will embrace a son. She said, No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your handmaid-
As noted on :15, this continues the connection with Abraham, for these are similar words to those spoken to him by the Angel (Gen. 18:14). And she responds as Sarah does. Seeing that God's word does not lie (Num. 23:19; Hab. 2:3), her words are tantamount to disbelief in the prophetic word. See on :17.

2Ki 4:17 The woman conceived, and bore a son at that season, when the time came around, as Elisha had said to her-
Again the language is so similar to the record of Abraham and Sarah having Isaac. But we note that the woman didn't apparently have faith in God's word to her. And as noted on :37, at the end of the story we are left wondering whether she did really personally believe. For unlike the widow woman whose son Elijah resurrected, there is no gratitude from her to God. Remember that she was a Gentile (:13). The point is, great things were done for a woman who was at best an agnostic, because of the faith of third parties. We see the same in Mk. 2:5. And this opens up a huge range of pastoral responsibility for us in the lives of others.  

2Ki 4:18 When the child was grown, it happened one day that he went out to his father to the reapers-
There are intentional connections with Boaz, who also married a much younger woman and had a child by her. But as discussed on :37, the question is left open in the narrative here as to how much they really believed. The boy goes out to the field and finds death; later in this chapter we will read of a man going out into a field and finding death, in the wild gourds. Elisha saves from death in both cases. The idea surely is that God through him intervened in the daily crises of the lives of obscure, nameless individuals. And this is His style to this day. This is what it means to have God in your life.

2Ki 4:19 He said to his father, My head! My head! He said to his servant, Carry him to his mother-
He assumed it was just sunstroke. We note the man's wealth, having servants. We wonder why in the bigger picture, God allowed this to happen. Both Elisha and Gehazi wanted to do something wonderful for the woman as a reward for her merit. But that is contrary to the spirit of grace. And so all concerned had to be taught that life is given, taken and restored all by grace, and not according to merit.

2Ki 4:20 When he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees until noon, and then died-
Sitting on her knees implies he was still young.

2Ki 4:21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door on him, and went out-
I discussed on :4 how there is a connection between shutting the door and praying (:33; Mt. 6:6). But the record doesn't say that she prayed. She simply thinks in a superstitious way that the dead child may be somehow blessed if he lays on the bed of the man of God. The narrative leaves us guessing as to whether she ever came to true faith in the God of Israel, seeing she was a Gentile (:13) with her own belief systems.

2Ki 4:22 She called to her husband and said, Please send me one of the servants, and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God, and come again-
A full believer would surely have prayed directly to God. But she passionately believes that the physical presence of the man of God might possibly lead to the child's resurrection. Again the narrative teases us with the question of how far she really believed herself in Israel's God.

2Ki 4:23 He said, Why would you want go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath. She said, It’s alright-
We conclude that she had not told her husband that the child had died, leaving him caught up in all the concerns of harvest time, his busiest time of the year, thinking that the child had just suffered sunstroke (see on :19). His response could suggest that she was used to travelling by donkey to keep the Sabbath and new moon feasts. Or his faith and spirituality may have been so weak that he thought that the man of God could not be bothered by anyone apart from on such occasions. This was the thinking of mere religion rather than spirituality. And he may be saying that a Jewish prophet could only be approached on such festivals, so it was a pointless journey. Again the record is intentionally vague, eliciting constantly in us the question as to whether or how far the woman personally believed in Israel's God. We note that the ten tribe kingdom considered Sabbath keeping and new moon observance as quite normal. The problem was that they thought they could worship Baal as part of Yahweh worship, and so festivals of Yahweh were mixed with Baal worship- just as effectively happened in the church at Corinth. "It is well...." here and in :26 likewise teases us, as to whether she was just fobbing him off because she didn't want to tell him their son was dead; or whether she said this in trust that Elisha would indeed make all things "well" through God's power.

2Ki 4:24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward! Don’t slow down for me, unless I ask you to-
It was normal for the head of a household to have their donkey saddled by servants or inferiors (1 Kings 13:13,27). But this "great woman" was so urgent that she saddled her own donkey.

2Ki 4:25 So she went, and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel. It happened, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, there is the Shunammite-
Although Elisha had a house in Samaria, he was clearly associated with a school of prophets on Mount Carmel. Elisha would have seen her coming up the mountain.

2Ki 4:26 Please run now to meet her, and ask her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’ She answered, It is well-
As noted throughout this account, we are left to ponder whether "It is well" was a statement of her faith that Elisha would make things "well" in the end; or a vague answer because she wanted to talk with Elisha and not Gehazi. There are so many of these kinds of open ended statements in the narrative that we assume they are intended. 

2Ki 4:27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, Leave her alone; for her soul is troubled within her; and Yahweh has hidden it from me, and has not told me-
Although she was angry with Elisha (:28), her passionate clinging to his feet reflects genuine respect and devotion. These two conflicting strands of feeling are quite often found in people as they come to God, or His representatives, in times of grief and loss. On one hand there is anger with God, and yet also devotion towards Him and a clinging on in faith. God hiding things from people is typically a sign of His displeasure; and He reveals that which is hidden from the world to His true servants (Is. 48:6; Lk. 10:21; 2 Cor. 4:3; Col. 1:26). So we can appreciate Elisha feeling at this point that he is somehow out of step with God.

2Ki 4:28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? Didn’t I say, Do not deceive me?-
Her view is that God had come into her life through Elisha, on His initiative, and she had been given the child on Elisha's initiative. She recalls years later how she had suspected Elisha was somehow deceiving her. And so she pins the guilt for the child's death directly on Elisha, even though this was unreasonable. But it is absolutely psychologically credible. For the death of a child creates an almost overwhelming desire to pin the guilt upon somebody. And Elisha was a convenient person.  

There is a psychological credibility in the way she doesn't say he has died. Truly, "Great grief shrinks from putting itself into words". She cannot bring herself to say “My son is dead;” but by reproaching the prophet with having “deceived” her, she sufficiently indicates her loss.


2Ki 4:29 Then he said to Gehazi, Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand, and go your way. If you meet any man, don’t greet him; and if anyone greets you, don’t answer him again. Then lay my staff on the face of the child-
Perhaps Gehazi was sent ahead at the fastest possible speed, not even wasting a moment on greeting people (which was often a lengthy business), because Elisha thought that time was of the essence in saving the child. And Gehazi could run or travel far faster than Elisha could as an older man.

But a snapshot of Gehazi's earnest, speedy journey is taken in the New Testament, and applied to the preachers of the Gospel, who likewise have limited time in which to share the vital power of resurrection with those who are about to die, or already spiritually dead. Therefore the disciples were to go on their preaching mission without pausing to greet others, such was their haste (Lk. 10:4 cp. 2 Kings 4:29). The Greek word translated ‘greet’ also carries the idea of joining together with others. People rarely travelled alone unless they were in great haste, but rather moved in caravans. But for the Lord’s messengers, there was to be no loss of time. Every minute was to be precious. In a world full of time wasting distractions, information we don’t need to know… this is all so necessary. No wonder that when those men finally came to themselves, realized their calling, and hurled themselves in joy at this world after the Lord’s ascension… they preached repentance, immediate conversion and quick baptism, right up front.

2Ki 4:30 The mother of the child said, As Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. He arose, and followed her-
The woman apparently had no faith in Gehazi, and was insistent that Elisha personally was her only hope for the restoration of her child. "I will not leave you" were the very words spoken by Elisha to Elijah (2 Kings 2:2,4,6). Elisha then had in view not simply a literal determination to follow Elijah, but a commitment to spiritually follow him. "Leave" is the usual word for "forsake", used in the many appeals not to forsake Yahweh for other gods. Again we are left with intentional unclarity, as to whether the woman was vowing to follow Elisha spiritually despite the loss of her child. 

2Ki 4:31 Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he returned to meet him, and told him, saying, The child has not awakened-
Elisha was perhaps elderly or weak, and the urgency of the situation meant that Gehazi was sent to run ahead of them. But the lesson was that the external symbols of religion, such as the staff of a prophet, would not bring the power and presence of God. "Neither voice nor hearing / response" is the very phrase used of how there was no such response or hearing from Baal when the prophets of Baal cried to him on Carmel (1 Kings 18:26,29). So we get the hint that Gehazi may possibly have invoked Baal as well as Yahweh, and we will see in 2 Kings 5 that his spirituality was at best questionable. Or it may be that the woman also entertained some aspects of Baal belief, for she was a Gentile (:13) and as noted throughout, we are left never completely sure that she was a fully believer in Yahweh.    

2Ki 4:32 When Elisha had come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid on his bed-
The record implies that Elisha only now realizes that the child is dead; for he has commented that the Lord has hidden from him what has happened. This was surely to exercise his own faith. This is why crises come upon us unexpectedly; not because God is cruel, but to pique the intensity of our faith.

This was precisely the situation with the child whom Elijah resurrected; the same words for "laid on his bed" are used in 1 Kings 17:19. Elisha was inspired to faith by perceiving the similarities between this situation and that faced by Elijah. We too will be inspired by perceiving that no situation in essence is unique, but all were somehow met before in the range of histories we have in the Biblical record.

2Ki 4:33 He went in therefore, and shut the door on them both, and prayed to Yahweh-
The "therefore" may allude to how he perceived the situation as so similar to that Elijah had faced in 1 Kings 17:19. He knew what to do because he perceived the similarities with the precedent set for him by Elijah. It's hard to discern how much of this kind of behaviour was explicitly commanded by God, and how much was purely on Elisha's initiative. He had not laid the child on his own bed, the woman had, and so he was nudged by that towards perceiving the similarities with the Elijah precedent. And therefore he entered the room, knowing he was set up to resurrect the child. Mt. 6:6 alludes here, inviting each of us to see ourselves as in Elisha's position, every day- closing the door on our room and praying in secret.

2Ki 4:34 He went up, and cast himself on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. He lay upon him; and the flesh of the child grew warm-
Elijah cast himself down in prayer (1 Kings 18:42). The word occurs only in 2 Kings 4:34,35, as if it was Elijah’s example which inspired Elisha likewise to cast himself down [AV “stretch”] upon the child. See on :32,33. The implication is that Elisha did so in prayer; and in passing, we wonder whether this implies that Elijah’s stretching himself upon another child, although a different Hebrew word, was also in prayer. Again we see that Elijah’s prayerful example inspired another. Our attitude to prayer is so easily influential upon others, and we ourselves are likewise easily influenced. It should be no shame nor embarrassment to us to instantly break into prayer, nor to kneel down to further our intensity in prayer, regardless of the social embarrassment  this may involve in some cultures.

It has been suggested that this involves three separate procedures from Elisha on eyes, hands and mouth. Because the proportion of an adult body to a child's wouldn't have allowed all this to be done simultaneously. In this case  we again see how there was a process of apparently futile efforts and apparently unanswered prayers... before the miracle happened.

2Ki 4:35 Then he returned, and walked in the house once back and forth; and went up, and cast himself on him. Then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes-
The resurrection wasn't immediate. Elisha had to cast himself down in prayer again, just as Elijah (whose example he was imitating, 1 Kings 18:42) had to do so several times before the rain came. The reason is multi factorial, but as with Divine responses to our prayers, part of the picture may be that immediate answers to prayers would turn God into some kind of magic man who comes up with the goods at the click of our fingers. Whereas His response to man is part of the ongoing, mutual relationship with man which He so seeks. And the need to keep on praying, receiving partial answers before we get the complete answer, is part of developing that relationship. 

The miracle didn't happen automatically. Elisha has to twice lay himself on the child, walking back and forth in prayer in between the two sessions. We note that prayer can be made whilst walking back and forth. Gehazi failed to revive the boy with the staff. Elisha had to more than once try to revive him. Heb. 11:35 says that by faith, women receives their dead to life. Both Elijah and Elisha experienced the need to keep on trying in faith and prayer before the miracle happened. We think of Elijah having to pray seven times for the rain to come, and stretching three times upon a dead child to revive it. Or Elisha initially failing to part the Jordan. Prayer is rarely immediately answered in order to pique our faith and intensity. 

2Ki 4:36 He called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite! So he called her. When she had come in to him, he said, Take up your son-
Again we note that Elisha tends to operate with the woman through Gehazi. Perhaps this was to recall how he had asked Gehazi to call the woman, and she had likewise come to him, when he first told her she was to have a child. Elisha wanted her to perceive the similarities, and to realize that the power of God's word which had made her pregnant was no less active at this time also. We too find we are treated in such a way as to restimulate past experiences with the Lord.

2Ki 4:37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground; and she took up her son, and went out-
There are strong similarities with Elijah's curing of the child of the woman who had cared for him in 1 Kings 17:24. That woman's response was "Now I know that the word of Yahweh in your mouth is truth". The situation is so similar that we are invited to wonder whether this Shunamite said or felt the same. But we aren't told. And again, the narrative is left hanging, to encourage us to enter into it. 

2Ki 4:38 Elisha came again to Gilgal. There was a famine in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him-
We have in this chapter a collection of cameos from Elisha's ministry. They may not be chronological, as this famine was surely that of 2 Kings 8:1.

He said to his servant, Set on the great pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets-
We have the picture here of the communal life amongst the "sons of the prophets", using a large cauldron in which to cook their collective food; although we know from :1 that some of them were married with homes and children. We get the impression that instead of the sons of the prophets giving a meal to their respected visitor, as was normal custom, he cooked for them. This could be a reflection of their total lack of food, but I noted throughout 2 Kings 2 that the sons of the prophets can be detected as not being hugely respectful towards Elijah and Elisha. Elijah went too far in considering they were all apostate, and he was the only true prophet of Yahweh; but clearly he considered they were majorly spiritually compromised, and their attitude to Elisha and Elijah gives reason to think that indeed all was not spiritually well amongst them.  

2Ki 4:39 One went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered of it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and shred them into the pot of stew; for they didn’t recognize them-
The plant in view is hard to define, but "wild gourd" appears to refer to some kind of wild cucumber; or LXX "wild pumpkin". These plants were not necessarily poisonous, but would have given the stew a bitter and suspicious taste, leading them to fear that they were being poisoned.

2Ki 4:40 So they poured out for the men to eat. It happened, as they were eating of the stew, that they cried out, and said, Man of God, there is death in the pot! They could not eat of it-
Given the tense relationship between the sons of the prophets and Elisha (see on :38), they maybe interpreted the unusual and bitter taste of the stew which Elisha had cooked as being because he and Gehazi wanted to poison them to death.

2Ki 4:41 But he said, Bring meal, then. He cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. There was now no harm in the pot-
The word for 'pouring out' is used earlier in this chapter (:5), again in connection with a pot or container. The same spirit of faith in pouring out was being asked for, and the widow was the parade example to those men. Using a handful of meal / flour in a miraculous way recalled what Elijah had done likewise (s.w. 1 Kings 17:12). And again we wonder whether Elisha chose to use flour in this way in order to consciously imitate Elijah, within the parameters of usage of God's power which he knew he had been given. And again we enquire as to whether Elisha [good man as he was] remained too much in the personality cult of Elijah, rather than becoming God's new man as needed and intended. 

2Ki 4:42 A man from Baal Shalishah came, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits-
The first fruits were to be given to the priests, and there is no evidence that Elisha was a Levite. The faithful Levites had generally fled from the ten tribe kingdom to Judah. The "sons of the prophets" had effectively taken their place as the teachers of God's word to Israel.

Twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. He said, Give to the people, that they may eat-
The Lord told the disciples to feed the crowd, when they had nothing to give them (Mk. 6:37). He was actually quoting from 2 Kings 4:42, where the man of God told his servant to do the same. He gave what bread he had to the people, and miraculously it fed them. The disciples don't seem to have seen the point; otherwise, they would have realized that if they went ahead in faith, another such miracle would likely be wrought. But it seems that God almost over-ruled them to make the response of the faithless servant of 2 Kings 4:43: "Shall we... give them to eat?" (Mk. 6:37). They were almost 'made' to do this to make them later see the similarity with the 2 Kings 4 incident. If they had been more spiritually aware at the time, the Lord's quotation would have been a fillip for their faith.

The firstfruits were brought to the Levites (Num. 18:13; Dt. 18:4,5). The miracle shares these things with the sons of the prophets, and so it effectively made the sons of the prophets the equivalent of the Levites in the ten tribe kingdom. Just as Elisha's laying on a dead body didn't make him unclean, nor did Elijah's contact with unclean ravens, so again we see these men being taught a way of spirituality according to the spirit rather than the letter of the law. The creditor could have taken the sons of the widowed woman according to the law; but Elisha was taught that there was a higher way, and that the legalistic example and position of his idol Elijah wasn't the right way.

2Ki 4:43 His servant said-
The reference may be to Elisha's servant, Gehazi, who lacked the faith to raise the widow's son; and we will again see in 2 Kings 5 had some serious spiritual problems. The word for "servant" used here specifically means 'minister' (s.w. Ex. 24:13; 33:11).

What, should I set this before a hundred men? But he said, Give the people, that they may eat; for thus says Yahweh, ‘They will eat, and will have some left over’-
See on :42. "A hundred men" may be a general number, but we recall the various mentions of "sons of the prophets" in groups of 50, and how Obadiah had hidden 100 of them by groups of 50 in a cave. It seems there are no more than four schools of the prophets mentioned at this time (Carmel, Gilgal, Bethel and Jericho), and possibly there were remnants of those at Ramah and Kirjath Jearim from the time of Samuel (1 Sam. 10:5). If there were 50-100 prophets in each, then along with their families this would have meant that there were likely several thousand people who were faithful to Yahweh in the ten tribe kingdom. It makes sense of God's comment that there were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Although all of them were considered by Elijah as somehow astray on one point or another, as he felt he was the only true prophet of Yahweh who had not fallen away.

2Ki 4:44 So he set it before them, and they ate, and left some of it, according to the word of Yahweh
This again was repeated by the Lord in His replication of this miracle in a far larger scale. There is always a generosity in God's dealings, an abundance of provision, which should be reflected in our attitudes too. We note how in Lk. 9:8, Herod enquires whether the Lord is in fact Elijah, and then in Lk. 9:19 we learn that many people thought that He was Elijah. In between those two questions about whether the Lord was Elijah, we have the feeding of the five thousand- a miracle framed in terms of how Elisha, not Elijah, fed 100 men in a similar way (2 Kings 4:43.44). It could be that the Lord is replying that He is not Elijah, but He is more in the spirit of Elisha, the prophet intended to replace Elijah. This all again hints that the Lord is pointing out that He was not of Elijah's spirit.