2Ki 4: "The land was suffering from drought and distress. In
the extremity of her misfortune a poor woman was forced to appeal to Yahweh. She
was in debt and her creditor demanded satisfaction. She was in a terrible
situation, with none to assist. The advent of Elisha brought salvation in the
continuing cruse of oil (vv 1-7). A further situation concerned 'a great woman'
who desired a family life, and was provided with a son (vv 8-17). Then came
tragedy. The faith of the woman is tried further in the death of the child, and
a further practical lesson taught (vv 18-22). The power of Elisha is sought so
that her hope might be realised (vv 23-28). Meanwhile the effort of Gehazi is
found to be impotent, as the Law of Moses could not bring life to dying Israel
(vv 29-31). The advent of Elisha turned sorrow into joy, and the resurrection is
foreshadowed (vv 32-37). The nation was to experience the situation felt in the
home of the woman, as famine continued to afflict the land, and 'death in the
pot' is realised (vv 38-41). Food was multiplied (vv 42-44), an expression of
the great harvest of the future, when the problems of the present environment is
overcome, and the famine for the word of Yahweh is followed by the great
outpouring of the Spirit at the coming of the greater Elisha. It was all
'according to the word of Yahweh' " (GEM).
Vv 1-7: Widowed, childless, and past 80 years of age, Bill
Cruxton wanted his $500,000 fortune to make a difference in someone's life. A
17-year-old waitress who had been kind to him seemed the perfect choice. So when
Cruxton died on November 9, 1992 he left the bulk of his estate to Cara Wood, a
high school senior who befriended him during the 13 months she worked part-time
at a restaurant. Even after she quit her job, Cara kept in touch with Cruxton,
running errands for him and helping him around the house. Because of his poor
eyesight, she often helped him read his mail and pay his bills.
Like Cara Wood, the widow here became the recipient of
another's wealth. But the riches she received came from the hand of God. The
woman had known great heartache. She had lost her husband, who was of the men
from the "company of the prophets". Soon she would lose her sons as well, since
they were about to become slaves. The Mosaic Law gave a creditor the right to
claim the person and children of a debtor who was unable to pay. They were
obliged to serve as the creditor's hired workers until the year of Jubilee, when
they were set free (Lev 25:39-41).
It was not a happy prospect, and the prophet Elisha, who knew
her husband's devotion to the Lord, wanted to help this desperate widow. When he
learned that she had nothing in her house but a small flask of oil, he told her
to collect from her neighbors as many empty jars as she could -- leaving the
number of jars, and the size of her faith, up to her. The woman was to shut
herself and her sons inside the house and pour from her flask until all of the
jars were full. Nobody else was to see or know about the miracle. Nobody needed
to know about it, or Elisha would surely have been swamped with "business
The woman did as Elisha instructed, and had enough oil to pay
her debts and live off the rest. God's prophets were not only messengers of His
judgment, but instruments of His miraculous provision for His people.
DON'T ASK FOR JUST A FEW: Ct lukewarm response of Joash
(2Ki 13:18,19). Cp Mary at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (Joh 2:5).
GO INSIDE AND SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU...: A separate
people: cp Jewish homes at first passover.
Vv 5,21,33: Open doors: for restored communion (2Ch 29:3);
deliverance from prison (Act 5:19); surrender (Rev 3:20); service (1Co 16:9);
and opportunity (Rev 3:8). Shut doors: for safety (Gen 7:16); privacy and
communion (Mat 6:6); faith and prayer (2Ki 4:5,21,33); self-sufficiency (Rev
3:20); and separation and rejection (Mat 25:10).
Enough oil for all available vessels, but no more. For
symbolism, cp 10 virgins in Mat 25:1-12.
SHUNEM: Heb "resting place". A town in the territory
assigned to the tribe of Issachar (Jos 19:18). Shunem has been identified with
the modern Solem that overlooks the valley of Jezreel on the southwest slope of
the hill of Moreh; it lies seven miles east of Megiddo.
A WELL-TO-DO WOMAN: The "great woman" (AV) contrasts
with Naaman who was a "great man" (2Ki 5:1, sw). Whilst she believed that Elisha
was able to help her Naaman took some convincing -- by one of his
WHO URGED HIM TO STAY FOR A MEAL: "Stay with us, for it
is nearly evening; the day is almost over" (Luk 24:29).
TABLE... LAMP: Suggestive of table for bread of the
presence, and the lampstand, in Holy Place.
I HAVE A HOME AMONG MY OWN PEOPLE: A picture of
contentment. 'These people (and circumstances) with which I live are good enough
... (Then the woman leaves, and Elisha talks with
DON'T MISLEAD YOUR SERVANT: 'Do not awaken old hopes,
long since put aside.'
She does not tell husband of his son's death.
IT'S NOT THE NEW MOON OR THE SABBATH: Implying it may
have been her habit to make such a trip (40-mile round-trip) on special
AND CAME TO THE MAN OF GOD AT MOUNT CARMEL: About 20
IF YOU MEET ANYONE, DO NOT GREET HIM: Cp Luk 10:4. Do
not be detained on your important mission. Oriental greetings were long,
tedious, distracting, deceitful, flattering, insincere, and wasteful of time (LB
The very words Elisha had spoken to Elijah (2Ki
BUT THERE WAS NO SOUND OR RESPONSE: Cp the disciples'
inability to heal at times (Mat 17:16; Luk 9:40).
What the disciple could not do must await the coming of his
greater Master from a far country.
HE STRETCHED HIMSELF OUT UPON HIM: As though to give
the child his own breath and warmth. Like the Holy Spirit which hovered over the
waters in the beginning, to bring forth new life (Gen 1:2; cp Deu
Seemingly, a considerable time involved and a bit of a trial
of Elisha's faith. We also have the job of bringing life to those around us. Let
us not forget that this too needs fervent prayer and faith and patience; like
Elisha, we cannot give up, because the result is the salvation of
Vv 40-41: This act of 'salvation from death' tends to be lost
as it is tacked on to the end of a ch with a miraculous resurrection. It seems
that Elisha had the power to exercise from God even in small things of
Instances of signs that accompany healings: 2Ki 2:20-22; 4:41;
GIVE IT TO THE PEOPLE TO EAT: Typ the feeding of the
5,000: Mat 14:16; Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13.