|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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!
Verse 1. - And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven. The subject is introduced as one of general notoriety, the writer professing rather to give the exact details of a well-known fact, than to relate a new fact unknown to his readers. "When the time came," he means to say, "for Elijah's translation, of which you, my readers, all know, the following were the circumstances under which it took place." The fact itself was deeply impressed on the Jewish consciousness. "Elias," says the Sou of Sirach, "was taken up in a whirlwind of fire, and in a chariot of fiery homes" (Ecclus. 48:9). He was ranked with Enoch, as not having seen death (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 9:2. § 2), and was viewed as "continuing in heaven a mysterious life, which no death had ever interrupted, whence he was ready at any time to return to earth" (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 113). The scribes thought that he was beyond all doubt to make his appearance upon the earth in person, before the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 16:10). By a whirlwind. Sa'arach is not so much an actual "whirlwind" as a storm or atmospheric disturbance (συσσεισμός, LXX.). It is a word which only occurs here in the historical Scriptures. That Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. Elisha had become to Elijah what Joshua was to Moses (Exodus 24:13) - his "minister," or regular attendant, from the time of his call at Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:21). Elijah had no fixed residence, but moved from place to place as the Spirit of God suggested. His wanderings had now brought him to Gilgal (probably Jiljilieh, near Nablous), one of the most ancient sanctuaries of the land (1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 11:15, etc.), celebrated in the history of Saul and Samuel.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind,.... Thereby lifting him up from the earth, and which, as it was the purpose and will of God, Elijah had notice of, as appears by his motions to different places, under a divine direction:
that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal, where it seems they met, a place where the Israelites first pitched when they came over Jordan, and where the tabernacle was for some time, and was famous for religious services, see Joshua 4:19.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2Ki 2:1-10. Elijah Divines Jordan.
1-7. when the Lord would take up Elijah—A revelation of this event had been made to the prophet; but, unknown to him, it had also been revealed to his disciples, and to Elisha in particular, who kept constantly beside him.
Gilgal—This Gilgal (Jiljil) was near Ebal and Gerizim; a school of the prophets was established there. At Beth-el there was also a school of the prophets, which Elijah had founded, notwithstanding that place was the headquarters of the calf-worship; and at Jericho there was another [2Ki 2:4]. In travelling to these places, which he had done through the impulse of the Spirit (2Ki 2:2, 4-6), Elijah wished to pay a farewell visit to these several institutions, which lay on his way to the place of ascension and, at the same time, from a feeling of humility and modesty, to be in solitude, where there would be no eye-witnesses of his glorification. All his efforts, however, to prevail on his attendant to remain behind, were fruitless. Elisha knew that the time was at hand, and at every place the sons of the prophets spoke to him of the approaching removal of his master. Their last stage was at the Jordan. They were followed at a distance by fifty scholars of the prophets, from Jericho, who were desirous, in honor of the great occasion, to witness the miraculous translation of the prophet. The revelation of this striking event to so many was a necessary part of the dispensation; for it was designed to be under the law, like that of Enoch in the patriarchal age, a visible proof of another state, and a type of the resurrection of Christ.
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