2 Kings 2:2 MEANING

2 Kings 2:2
(2) Said.--Not spake, as throughout the account in 2 Kings 1:2-16; a mark of different origin.

Tarry here, I pray thee.--This was said, not to test Elisha's affection, nor from a motive of humility, that Elisha might not witness his glorious ascension, but because Elijah was uncertain whether it was God's will that Elisha should go with him. (Comp. 2 Kings 2:10.) Elisha's threefold refusal to leave him settled the doubt. (Comp. John 21:15, seq.)

The Lord hath sent me to Beth-el.--Why? Not merely to "see once more this holiest place in Israel, the spiritual centre of the kingdom of the ten tribes" (Ewald), but to visit the prophetic schools, or guilds, established there, and at Gilgal and Jericho, and to confirm their fidelity to Jehovah. Gilgal and Beth-el, as ancient Canaanite sanctuaries, were centres of illegal worship of the God of Israel. The guilds of the prophets may have been intended to counteract this evil influence at its head-quarters (Bahr).

As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth.--2 Kings 4:30; 1 Samuel 20:3. A more solemn and emphatic oath than "As the Lord liveth" (Judges 8:19), or "As thy soul liveth" (1 Samuel 1:26). Literally, By the life of Jehovah and by the life of thy soul (i.e., of thyself, thine own life).

They went down.--From Gilgal. The phrase proves that the Gilgal between the Jordan and Jericho cannot be meant in 2 Kings 2:1. (See Joshua 4:19; Joshua 5:10.)

Verse 2. - And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me. Elijah makes three efforts to rid himself of the presence of his faithful attendant (see vers. 4 and 6), either really desirous to pass in solitude the few remaining hours of his earthly life, for he knows that his end is approaching (vers. 9, 10), or for the purpose of testing his fidelity and affection. Under ordinary circumstances, the servant would naturally have obeyed his lord, and submitted to a temporary separation; but Elisha has a presentiment, or something stronger than a presentiment, of what is impending (vers. 3, 5), and will not be induced to accelerate by a single moment the time of the last parting. He will remain with his master, ready to do him all needful service, until the end. To Bethel. Bethel was the spiritual center of the kingdom of the ten tribes. There may have been many reasons why Elijah should visit it once more before he quitted the earth. He may have had directions to leave, consolation to give, words of warning to speak. We must not suppose that the narrative before us is complete. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth. These were ordinary forms of earnest asseveration with the Israelites, generally used separately (Judges 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 1:26; 1 Samuel 14:39; 1 Samuel 17:55; 1 Samuel 19:6; 1 Samuel 20:21; 2 Samuel 4:9; 2 Samuel 11:11, etc.); but on occasions of special solemnity united, as here and in 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Samuel 25:26; 2 Kings 4:30). The prophet is not to be blamed for using them, since the command, "Swear not at all," had not yet been given. I will not leave thee. The resolve indicates strong attachment, deep fidelity, combined, perhaps, with a reasonable curiosity to see how the end would be brought about. So they went down to Bethel. The expression, "went down," shows that the Gilgal of ver. 1 is not that of the Jordan valley, but the mountain-city between Sichem and Bethel.

2:1-8 The Lord had let Elijah know that his time was at hand. He therefore went to the different schools of the prophets to give them his last exhortations and blessing. The removal of Elijah was a type and figure of the ascension of Christ, and the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Elisha had long followed Elijah, and he would not leave him now when he hoped for the parting blessing. Let not those who follow Christ come short by tiring at last. The waters of Jordan, of old, yielded to the ark; now, to the prophet's mantle, as a token of God's presence. When God will take up his faithful ones to heaven, death is the Jordan which they must pass through, and they find a way through it. The death of Christ has divided those waters, that the ransomed of the Lord may pass over. O death, where is thy sting, thy hurt, thy terror!And Elijah said unto Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee,.... Seemingly unwilling he should go with him, and be present at his assumption; which was either out of modesty, not affecting the spread of the honour and glory to be conferred upon him; or to prevent the grief of Elisha at his departure, or to try whether Elisha knew any thing of it, and what affection he had for him:

for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel; to give some comfort and some instruction and advice to the college of prophets there:

and Elisha said unto him, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee; being determined to see the last of him, and to have the benefit of his company and conversation, his heavenly discourse, and instruction from him as long as he could, and in hope of receiving a blessing from him at parting:

so they went down to Bethel; together, which, according to Bunting (h), was six miles.

(h) Travels, &c. p. 205.

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