2 Kings brings us to the end of Elijah’s life. In the beginning of the book, Ahaziah is dying. He sends men to find out if he will die. The men are confronted by Elijah, who says he will die because he turned to Baal and not Yahweh. Since Ahaziah was already dying, how can it be said that he wouldn’t die had he turned to Yahweh? Why would Yahweh save him if he had done so much evil?
Ahaziah then sends men to capture Elijah. Elijah refuses to go with them. God sent fire to consume the king’s men because they came to bring Elijah to the king. Doesn’t that seem a bit harsh? The men were just doing their job. Did they really deserve to die? Couldn’t God have picked a more peaceful way to stop the men from getting to Elijah? Elijah ends up going with the third set of men. Ahaziah dies.
Joram became king after Ahaziah died.
God tells Elijah that he is going to bring Elijah up to heaven. Elijah is sent to Jericho to die. The Jews don’t have the same theology about heaven and hell as the Christians do, so what is the significance of this bit? Why is Elijah brought up to heaven? What does this say about Elijah? And what does it say about the changes taking place in the Israelite religion at the time? Elijah was brought up to heaven in a whirlwind after a chariot of fire came down. What is the importance of this passage? What is the significance of the chariot and the manner in which Elijah is brought up into heaven?
Elisha inherited Elijah’s spirit because he watched Elijah get taken. He then crosses the Jordan to rejoin the other Israelites. Before he reaches them, them proclaim that he has inherited Elijah’s spirit. How did the people know that Elisha had inherited Elijah’s spirit? He hadn’t told them yet, so could they see it? What did it look like? They couldn’t have been told by God because God would have refused to talk to them, so what other options are there other than that it was visible? And if Elisha had Elijah’s spirit, what was up in heaven? Could Elijah be in heaven without his spirit? Or is Elisha having Elijah’s spirit some sort of symbolism? If so, what does it mean and why is it important?
Elisha then goes on to do some interesting things. It kind of seems like he’s testing out his powers. At one point, he cursed a group of boys for mocking his baldness. 42 of them were mauled by bears. This is odd. What were over 42 boys doing wandering around together? Our societies today are far larger than any that existed at that time, and when was the last time anyone saw more than 42 boys roaming around together? And why was Elisha so concerned with them mocking him about being bald? They don’t appear to be threatening, just annoying. So why curse them at all, let alone sick bears on them? And how did two bears manage to maul 42 boys? Even if the punishment fit the crime (though I’m pretty sure no crime is deserving of death by mauling), there is no way the bears would be able to catch all 42 boys to maul them, nor would they likely try.
Joram apparently did evil, though it wasn’t idolatry, so what were these sins? We’re told he tore down the Baal idol, but he apparently still committed the sins of Jeroboam. However, we never learned what sins Jeroboam committed other than adultery. How can anyone hope to avoid sinning if they aren’t told what sins there are?
The Israelites slaughtered the Moabites. What was the point of this? It didn’t seem to be given much attention. And why did the Israelites kill them? Why is God so happy to help them slaughter people?
Elisha granted a son to an older Moabite woman who helped him. He died as a young boy. Elisha brought him back to life. This is the second example of someone being brought back to life.Why is this becoming common? Why didn’t it happen before?
At one point, God fed many with a small amount of food. What is the significance of this bit? What is it meant to say about God?
A man with leprosy is cured by Elisha by bathing in the Jordan 7 times. He proclaims that Elisha’s God is the only god. Why did he need to bathe in the Jordan 7 times? Couldn’t God have just healed him then and there? Why did being healed convince the man that there was only one God? We can also see a move towards monotheism here. Before they would have said Yahweh was greater than any other god, but now it’s said that he is the only god.
Gehazi, one of Elisha’s men, tricked the healed man into giving him gifts. Elisha had denied any gifts earlier. Gehazi is given the healed man’s leprosy as a result. How does this punishment fit? Why not make him return to things?
Elisha asked God to strike an army blind. What’s the point of this? It seems as though 2 Kings is nothing more that a show of God’s apparent powers. But if God is capable of doing all this, why don’t we see such things happening today?
Elijah tells the Israelites there will be a famine. Food costs spike significantly. This is as a result of the Israelites position outside of the Aramean camp. The king of Israel tore his clothes at being told that a woman ate her son with another woman at the other woman’s urging, then the other woman hid her son so that he wouldn’t be eaten next. He blamed Elisha for the suffering of the people. How bad would things have to have gotten for people to start eating their children? Why was this allowed to continue? And what is the significance of this bit? Why is it important? I also can’t help but wonder how old the boy was. It doesn’t sound like he was very old. Doesn’t this seem ironic when atheists are accused of being baby-eaters?
As a result of the famine, three men with leprosy snuck into the Aramean camp and took things. The camp was empty when they arrived, so they told the other Israelites. What is the importance of the theme of leprosy in 2 Kings? What did leprosy mean to the author? The Israelites plundered the Aramean camp, and the king was trampled to death. The famine worsened. Why was God so concerned about the Israelites entering the camp? Why did God not want the people to plunder it? The famine lasted 7 years.
Elisha reveals knowledge of the future by saying that he knows of the things the future king will do. This is the first time that we have evidence of a prophet having future knowledge. What does this say about the changing religion? What does this say about Yahweh?