2 Kings 4

Elisha Helps a Widow and Her Sons

1Now a wife of one of the prophets
Heb “a wife from among the wives of the sons of the prophets.”
Or “cried out.”
to Elisha for help, saying, “Your servant, my husband is dead. You know that your servant was a loyal follower of the Lord.
Heb “your servant feared the Lord.” “Fear” refers here to obedience and allegiance, the products of healthy respect for the Lord’s authority.
Now the creditor is coming to take away my two boys to be his servants.”
2Elisha said to her, “What can I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a small jar of olive oil.” 3He said, “Go and ask all your neighbors for empty containers.
Heb “Go, ask for containers from outside, from all your neighbors, empty containers.”
Get as many as you can.
Heb “Do not borrow just a few.”
4Go and close the door behind you and your sons. Pour the olive oil into all the containers;
Heb “all these vessels.”
set aside each one when you have filled it.”
5So she left him and closed the door behind her and her sons. As they were bringing the containers to her, she was pouring the olive oil. 6When the containers were full, she said to one of her sons,
Heb “to her son.”
“Bring me another container.” But he answered her, “There are no more.” Then the olive oil stopped flowing.
7She went and told the prophet.
Heb “man of God” (also in vv. 16, 22, 25, 27 [twice]).
He said, “Go, sell the olive oil. Repay your creditor, and then you and your sons can live off the rest of the profit.”

Elisha Gives Life to a Boy

8 One day Elisha traveled to Shunem, where a prominent
Heb “great,” perhaps “wealthy.”
woman lived. She insisted that he stop for a meal.
Or “she urged him to eat some food.”
So whenever he was passing through, he would stop in there for a meal.
Or “he would turn aside there to eat some food.”
9She said to her husband, “Look, I’m sure
Heb “I know.”
that the man who regularly passes through here is a very special prophet.
Heb “holy man of God.”
10Let’s make a small private upper room
Heb “a small upper room of a wall”; according to HALOT 832 s.v. עֲלִיָּה, this refers to “a fully walled upper room.”
and furnish it with
Heb “and let’s put there for him.”
a bed, table, chair, and lamp. When he visits us, he can stay there.”

11 One day Elisha
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
came for a visit; he went
Heb “turned aside.”
into the upper room and rested.
Or “slept there.”
12He told his servant Gehazi, “Ask the Shunammite woman to come here.”
Heb “Call for this Shunammite woman.”
So he did so and she came to him.
Heb “and he called for her and she stood before him.”
13Elisha said to Gehazi,
Heb “he said to him.”
“Tell her, ‘Look, you have treated us with such great respect.
Heb “you have turned trembling to us with all this trembling.” The exaggerated language is probably idiomatic. The point seems to be that she has taken great pains or gone out of her way to be kind to them. Her concern was a sign of her respect for the prophetic office.
What can I do for you? Can I put in a good word for you with the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I’m quite secure.”
Heb “Among my people I am living.” This answer suggests that she has security within the context of her family.
14So he asked Gehazi,
Heb “and he said.”
“What can I do for her?” Gehazi replied, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”
15Elisha told him, “Ask her to come here.”
Heb “Call for her.”
So he did so
Heb “and he called her.”
and she came and stood in the doorway.
Heb “and he called for her and she stood in the door.”
16He said, “About this time next year
Heb “at this appointed time, at the time [when it is] reviving.” For a discussion of the second phrase see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 57.
you will be holding a son.” She said, “No, my master! O prophet, do not lie to your servant!”
17The woman did conceive, and at the specified time the next year she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

18 The boy grew and one day he went out to see his father who was with the harvest workers.
Heb “to his father, to the harvesters.”
19He said to his father, “My head! My head!” His father
Heb “He”; the referent (the boy’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.”
20So he picked him up and took him to his mother. He sat on her lap
Heb “knees.”
until noon and then died.
21She went up and laid him down on the prophet’s
Heb “man of God’s.”
bed. She shut the door behind her and left.
22She called to her husband, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so I can go see the prophet quickly and then return.” 23He said, “Why do you want to go see him today? It is not the new moon
The new moon was a time of sacrifice and special feasts (Num 28:14; 1 Sam 20:5). Apparently it was a convenient time to visit a prophet. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 57.
or the Sabbath.” She said, “Everything’s fine.”
Heb “peace.”
24She saddled the donkey and told her servant, “Lead on.
Heb “lead [the donkey on] and go.”
Do not stop unless I say so.”
Heb “do not restrain for me the riding unless I say to you.”

25 So she went to visit
Heb “went and came.”
the prophet at Mount Carmel. When he
Heb “the man of God.” The phrase has been replaced by the relative pronoun “he” in the translation for stylistic reasons.
saw her at a distance, he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, it’s the Shunammite woman.
26Now, run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you well? Are your husband and the boy well?’” She told Gehazi,
Heb “she said.” The narrator streamlines the story at this point, omitting any reference to Gehazi running to meet her and asking her the questions.
“Everything’s fine.”
27But when she reached the prophet on the mountain, she grabbed hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to push her away, but the prophet said, “Leave her alone, for she is very upset.
Heb “her soul [i.e., ‘disposition’] is bitter.”
The Lord has kept the matter hidden from me; he didn’t tell me about it.”
28She said, “Did I ask my master for a son? Didn’t I say, ‘Don’t mislead me?’” 29Elisha
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
told Gehazi, “Tuck your robes into your belt, take my staff,
Heb “take my staff in your hand.”
and go! Don’t stop to exchange greetings with anyone!
Heb “If you meet a man, do not greet him with a blessing; if a man greets you with a blessing, do not answer.”
Place my staff on the child’s face.”
30The mother of the child said, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So Elisha
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent must be Elisha here, since the following verse makes it clear that Gehazi had gone on ahead of them.
got up and followed her back.

31 Now Gehazi went on ahead of them. He placed the staff on the child’s face, but there was no sound or response. When he came back to Elisha
Heb “to meet him.”
he told him, “The child did not wake up.”
32When Elisha arrived at the house, there was
Heb “look.”
the child lying dead on his bed.
33He went in by himself and closed the door.
Heb “and closed the door behind the two of them.”
Then he prayed to the Lord.
34He got up on the bed and spread his body out over
Heb “he went up and lay down over.”
the boy; he put his mouth on the boy’s
Heb “his” (also in the next two clauses).
mouth, his eyes over the boy’s eyes, and the palms of his hands against the boy’s palms. He bent down over him, and the boy’s skin
Or perhaps, “body”; Heb “flesh.”
grew warm.
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
went back and walked around in the house.
Heb “and he returned and went into the house, once here and once there.”
Then he got up on the bed again
Heb “and he went up.”
and bent down over him. The child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
called to Gehazi and said, “Get the Shunammite woman.” So he did so
Heb “and he called for her.”
and she came to him. He said to her, “Take your son.”
37She came in, fell at his feet, and bowed down. Then she picked up her son and left.

Elisha Makes a Meal Edible

38 Now Elisha went back to Gilgal, while there was famine in the land. Some of the prophets were visiting him
Heb “the sons of the prophets were sitting before him.”
and he told his servant, “Put the big pot on the fire
The words “the fire” are added for clarification.
and boil some stew for the prophets.”
Heb “sons of the prophets.”
39Someone went out to the field to gather some herbs and found a wild vine.
Heb “a vine of the field.”
He picked some of its fruit,
Heb “[some] of the gourds of the field.”
enough to fill up the fold of his robe. He came back, cut it up, and threw the slices
Heb “he came and cut [them up].”
into the stew pot, not knowing they were harmful.
The Hebrew text reads, “for they did not know” (יָדָעוּ, yadau) but some emend the final shureq (וּ, indicating a third plural subject) to holem vav (וֹ, a third masculine singular pronominal suffix on a third singular verb) and read “for he did not know it.” Perhaps it is best to omit the final vav as dittographic (note the vav at the beginning of the next verb form) and read simply, “for he did not know.” See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 59.
40The stew was poured out
Heb “and they poured out [the stew].” The plural subject is probably indefinite.
for the men to eat. When they ate some of the stew, they cried out, “Death is in the pot, O prophet!” They could not eat it.
41He said, “Get some flour.” Then he threw it into the pot and said, “Now pour some out for the men so they may eat.”
Or “and let them eat.”
There was no longer anything harmful in the pot.

Elisha Miraculously Feeds a Hundred People

42 Now a man from Baal Shalisha brought some food for the prophet
Heb “man of God.”
– twenty loaves of bread made from the firstfruits of the barley harvest, as well as fresh ears of grain.
On the meaning of the word צִקְלוֹן (tsiqlon), “ear of grain,” see HALOT 148 s.v. בָּצֵק and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 59.
Heb “he”; the referent (Elisha) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
said, “Set it before the people so they may eat.”
43But his attendant said, “How can I feed a hundred men with this?”
Heb “How can I set this before a hundred men?”
He replied, “Set it before the people so they may eat, for this is what the Lord says, ‘They will eat and have some left over.’”
The verb forms are infinitives absolute (Heb “eating and leaving over”) and have to be translated in light of the context.
44So he set it before them; they ate and had some left over, just as the Lord predicted.
Heb “according to the word of the Lord.”

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