2 Kings 2: Elijah is taken to heaven


It was time for Elijah to be taken to heaven. He told Elisha to stay as he was going to Beth-el. But Elisha insisted on going with him. They went to Beth-el together and the son’s of prophets told Elisha that the Lord was going to take away Elijah that day. Elijah then told Elisha to stay in Beth-el as he was going on to Jericho. Again Elisha insisted on coming. And again, the sons of the prophets at Jericho told Elisha that Elijah was going to be taken. Elijah then told Elisha to stay as he was going to Jordan. Again Elisha refused to stay and went with Elijah to Jordan.  Elijah took his mantle and parted the waters of the Jordan so he and Elisha could walk across it on dry ground.  Elijah asked Elisha what he could do for him before he was taken away. And Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. They walked on and a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeard and Elijah went up in a whirlwind into heaven.  Elisha witnessed this and tore his clothes in two and took up the mantle of Elijah and used it to part the waters again so he could cross the Jordan. He met up with the sons of the prophets. They convinced him to send men to look for Elijah in case the lord had taken him up and cast him upon some mountain but they didn’t find Elijah’s body.  They then asked Elisha to use his new powers to fix the water situation as they were in drought. This Elisha did.  On his way to Beth-el – several children came and teased him so he set two she bears upon the kids to tear them apart. He continued on to Mount Carmel and returned to Samaria.

In other words:

Prophet Elijah is taken to heaven in a whirlwind of fire and Elisha is given his powers.

Favorite bit:

2 Kings 2:11 – 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. (I like this because whatever magic Elijah had – all had to do with fire. The sacrifice, the killing of the guards and now this – it’s an apt way for him to disappear).

Least favorite bit:

2 Kings 2:23,24 – Some kid tease Elisha calling him baldy so he has them torn apart by bears!  42 of them.  They are kids. Seems like overkill to me. Literally.

What got me thinking:

Wondering what the trick was. On the other hand, no one witnessed Elijah’s ascension except Elisha so it may not have happened at all. And clearly all the other prophets, including those who warned Elisha that Elijah was leaving, still wondered whether it really happened or had his body be thrown somewhere.  Regardless, the idea that he was taken up in a fiery whirlwind is pretty spectacular and would have been an awesome sight to see. Can’t help wondering how modern magicians might pull something like that off. Or, Elisha knew that Elijah just wanted to leave and wouldn’t let him so Elijah – who had planned to just walk away, had to stage something spectacular to get Elisha to stop following him.

Moral Lesson Learned:

  • Don’t mock people (2 Kings 2)
  • Don’t overreact to being mocked (2 Kings 2)