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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

2 Kings 4



Verses 1-44

2 Kings 4:1-7 — Elisha and the Widow's Oil - 2 Kings 4:1-7 records the story of Elisha and the widow's oil.

2 Kings 4:1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

2 Kings 4:1 — "Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha" - Comments- Josephus tells us the ancient Jewish tradition that this woman was the widow of Obadiah , the steward of King Ahab (see 1 Kings 18:1-19).

"For they say that the widow of Obadiah, Ahab"s steward, came to him, and said, that he was not ignorant how her husband had preserved the prophets that were to be slain by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab; for she said that he hid a hundred of them, and had borrowed money for their maintenance, and that, after her husband"s death, she and her children were carried away to be made slaves by the creditors; and she desired of him to have mercy upon her on account of what her husband did, and afford her some assistance. And when he asked her what she had in the house, she said, "Nothing but a very small quantity of oil in a cruise." So the prophet bid her go away, and borrow a great many empty vessels of her neighbors, and when she had shut her chamber door, to pour the oil into them all; for that God would fill them full. And when the woman had done what she was commanded to do, and bade her children bring every one of the vessels, and all were filled, and not one left empty, she came to the prophet, and told him that they were all full; upon which he advised her to go away, and sell the oil, and pay the creditors what was owing them, for that there would be some surplus of the price of the oil, which she might make use of for the maintenance of her children. And thus did Elisha discharge the woman"s debts, and free her from the vexation of her creditors." (Antiquities of the Jews 942)

2 Kings 4:3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

2 Kings 4:3 — "borrow not a few" - Comments- Regarding the phrase "borrow not a few," Nasir Saddika said, "Your level of faith will determine your level of harvest." 58]

58] Nasir Saddika, interviewed by Rod Parsley, Breakthrough (Columbus, Ohio), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 2January 2009), television program.

2 Kings 4:4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

2 Kings 4:4 — "thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons" - Comments- Regarding the phrase "shut the door," Nasir Saddika said that this was necessary because many people are not in agreement with your miracle-working prosperity. 59]

59] Nasir Saddika, interviewed by Rod Parsley, Breakthrough (Columbus, Ohio), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, 2January 2009), television program.

2 Kings 4:8-37 — Elisha Raises the Shunammite's Son - 2 Kings 4:8-37 records the story of Elisha raising the Shunammite's son. We see a similar story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath as he raised her son from the dead also ( 1 Kings 17:8-24).

The death of a son meant that there would be no provision for a mother when she becomes widowed. Therefore, in one aspect of her request the Shunammite was asking for provisions from him since she had provided for Elisha.

2 Kings 4:8-37 — Elisha Raises the Shunammite's Son (Naming the Harvest from Sowing) - The Lord was teaching Nasir Saddika about the divine laws of harvesting and reaping. One thing shown to him was the fact that when a person sows a seed, he must declare the harvest intended for the sowing. Saddika asked the Lord to show him Scripture for this divine principle. The Lord took him to the story of the Shunammite's son. 60]

60] Nasir Saddika, interviewed by Rod Parsley, Breakthrough (Columbus, Ohio), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

We see in 2 Kings 4:8-10 we see the Shunammite sowing into the life of Elisha, but as of yet there is no reaping in her life from this good deed. But one day Elisha asked the woman to name her harvest ( 2 Kings 4:11-13). Her reply was one of contentment and no request was made ( 2 Kings 4:13). Gehazi then noted that she was childless and old ( 2 Kings 4:14), so Elisha named this as her harvest ( 2 Kings 4:15-16). Once the harvest was named, it was received ( 2 Kings 4:17).

2 Kings 4:12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him.

2 Kings 4:12Comments- Note that Elisha did not speak directly to her, nor he did not stand in her presence; but, he spoke through Gehazi.

2 Kings 4:18-19Comments - The Child's Heatstroke- If the young man were not used to working all day in the hot sun, it would be hard on his body. Also, it is easy for a father to overwork his young sons, so that they give out. It appears that this child suffered a sunstroke.

My experience as a father has taught me that a mother is often much more aware of a child's health and safety than the father. While the father in this story was focused on gathering his crop in haste, as is usually the case during the harvest, the mother would have been focused more on the well being of her child. It is her natural desire to focus on the home and family.

In August 2003, I left Menchu and one child at the mall in Fort Worth while I drove over to a Christian bookstore to look for Bibles software. The terrible mistake I made was that I forgot that my 3-year old was with me in the car fastened in the baby seat. I left her in a very hot car for 45-minutes while browsed the bookstore. She could have easily died as a result of a heat stroke. I had to rethink my role as a father and where my priorities lay. It still hurts each time I think about the suffering she must have endured during that period of time.

2 Kings 4:22 And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.

2 Kings 4:22Comments- The wife did not tell anyone of her child's death, but told Elisha that it was well with her son. This was her faith that God could raise her son up if Elisha would come. She knew that others perhaps would think her crazy to try and raise him from the dead. She kept her faith to herself ( Romans 14:22). We do the same thing may times when we go about a task at which we tell no one because they think that we are silly.

Romans 14:22, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."

2 Kings 4:23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.

2 Kings 4:22-23Comments - The Silence of the Wife- The wife did not even tell her husband that their son was dead.

2 Kings 4:26 Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.

2 Kings 4:26Comments- In African customs, the greeting is very important. If two people have not seen each other for a long period of time, then the greeting is lengthy. If two people are friends or neighbours and see each other daily, then the greeting is shortened. But a greeting is always done, and it is very impolite not to follow through with a warm greeting. The greeting involves asking about yourself, as well as the family. It is important to ask about the family out of politeness. In addition, for the person to reply when asked and say, "It is fine," is to follow the customary greeting, regardless of whether things are fine or not. It is after the greetings are complete that a person then has the liberty to discuss the purpose of the visit. These points were discussed by a Lugandan language instructor as Menchu and I took a course in learning an African language in Uganda. We see this custom being followed in this verse. To say that this woman"s positive reply was a confession of faith is to ignore the customs found in greetings.

2 Kings 4:27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.

2 Kings 4:27"caught him by his feet" - Comments- Normally, people would not touch a man of God like this.

2 Kings 4:29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any Prayer of Manasseh , salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.

2 Kings 4:29Comments- At this point, she had not told Elisha that her son was dead, but perhaps understood, through God, that God could raise the child from the dead.

2 Kings 4:34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

2 Kings 4:34Comments- The life of God seemed to be in Elisha and flow into the dead body to quicken to life. Note in 2 Kings 13:21 how the anointing of God remained in the bones of Elisha long after his death.

2 Kings 13:21, "And it came to pass, as they were burying a Prayer of Manasseh , that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet."

The Spirit of God was "breathed" and bestowed upon the dead body to bring it life ( Romans 8:11, James 2:26).

Romans 8:11, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

James 2:26, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

2 Kings 4:35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

2 Kings 4:34-35Scripture References- See:

1 Kings 17:21, "And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child"s soul come into him again."

2 Kings 4:41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

2 Kings 4:42-44 — The Miracle of the Loaves of Bread - 2 Kings 4:42-44 records the story of the miracle of the loaves of bread, in which Elisha feeds one hundred men with twenty loaves of barley bread and a sack of grain. This miracle certainly reminds us of Jesus feeding the five thousand and the four thousand with a few loaves of bread and fish.

2 Kings 4:42 And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.

2 Kings 4:42Comments - The man from Baalshalisha brought a firstfruit's offering to Gilgal and gave it to Elisha the prophet. The firstfruit offering was taught in the Mosaic Law ( Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26, Leviticus 23:10-21, Deuteronomy 18:4). During this period in Israel's history, the Temple worship and its services had fallen into corruption and decay from years of abuse. Therefore, this man brought his offering to the place where God was working signs and miracles.

Exodus 23:19, "The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother"s milk."

Deuteronomy 18:4, "The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him."


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Kings 4:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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