1 Kings 19:21
And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) And he returned.—Like Matthew in Luke 9:27-29, Elisha, probably after sacrifice, makes a feast of farewell to his home, and of homage to his new master. The hasty preparation is made by the use of the wooden implements for fuel, as in the sacrifice at the threshing-floor of Araunah (2Samuel 24:22). Henceforth from a master he became a servant, ministering to Elijah, and willing to be known, even when he became himself the prophet of God, as “he that poured water on the hands of Elijah” (2Kings 3:11).

1 Kings 19:21. From him — From Elijah to his parents; whom when he had seen and kissed, he returned to Elijah. The instruments — That is, with the wood belonging to the plough, &c., to which more was added, as occasion required: but that he burned, to show his total relinquishing of his former employment. And gave unto the people — That is, he made thereof a feast for his servants who had been ploughing with him, and for him, and his other friends and neighbours who came to take their leave of him. Hereby he showed how willingly and joyfully he forsook all his friends, that he might serve God in that high and honourable employment. It is of great advantage to young ministers to spend some time under the direction of those that are aged and experienced; and not to think much, if occasion be, to minister unto them. Those who would be fit to teach, must have time to learn: those should first serve, who may hereafter rule.

19:19-21 Elijah found Elisha by Divine direction, not in the schools of the prophets, but in the field; not reading, or praying, or sacrificing, but ploughing. Idleness is no man's honour, nor is husbandry any man's disgrace. An honest calling in the world, does not put us out of the way of our heavenly calling, any more than it did Elisha. His heart was touched by the Holy Spirit, and he was ready to leave all to attend Elijah. It is in a day of power that Christ's subjects are made willing; nor would any come to Christ unless they were thus drawn. It was a discouraging time for prophets to set out in. A man that had consulted with flesh and blood, would not be fond of Elijah's mantle; yet Elisha cheerfully leaves all to accompany him. When the Saviour said to one and to another, Follow me, the dearest friends and most profitable occupations were cheerfully left, and the most arduous duties done from love to his name. May we, in like manner, feel the energy of his grace working in us mightily, and by unreserved submission at once, may we make our calling and election sure.Elisha returns to his oxen and laborers. He indicates his relinquishment of his home and calling by the slaughter of the particular yoke of oxen with which he had himself been plowing, probably the best beasts of the twelve, and by burning the "instruments," the p oughs and yokes, both made of wood. Next he feasts his people to show his gratitude for his call, Elijah apparently remaining the while; and then, leaving father and mother, cattle and land, good position and comfortable home, Elisha became the "minister" to the wanderer. Compare Exodus 24:13; Joshua 1:1. 21. took a yoke of oxen—Having hastily prepared (2Sa 24:22) a farewell entertainment to his family and friends, he left his native place and attached himself to Elijah as his minister. He returned back from him; from Elijah to his parents, whom when he had seen and kissed, he returned to the field where Elijah was.

With the instruments of the oxen, i.e. with the wood belonging to the plough, &c., to which more was added, as occasion required; but that he burned, to show his total relinquishing of his former employment.

Gave unto the people, i.e. he made thereof a feast for his servants who had been ploughing with him, and for him, and his other friends and neighbours who came to take their leave of him. Hereby he showed how willingly and joyfully he forsook all his friends, that he might serve God in that high and honourable employment.

And he returned back from him,.... To his father's house, and took his leave, and then came back into the field, perhaps with others accompanying him:

and took a yoke of oxen and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen: their yokes, and the plough, with an addition of other things sufficient to boil them:

and gave unto the people, and they did eat; the ploughmen and others that came together on this occasion; he made a feast for them, to express his joy at being called to such service he was:

then he arose and went after Elijah; left his worldly employment, the riches he was heir to, his parents, and his friends, and followed the prophet:

and ministered unto him; became his servant, whereby he attained to great knowledge and understanding of divine things, and was trained up to the prophetic office, which he was invested with upon the removal of Elijah; see Matthew 8:21.

And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the {k} instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

(k) He would not stay till wood was brought, so great was his desire to follow his calling.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. And he returned back from [R.V. from following] him] Elisha clearly understood the permission which was given to him. He is allowed a short space for leave-taking, but the call is imperative, and he is to follow with all speed. Elijah goes his way, but leaves Elisha in no doubt whither he is going, and where he may be found.

and took a [R.V. the] yoke of oxen] The language in the original is definite, and no doubt refers to the particular pair of oxen which Elisha had himself been using.

and boiled their flesh] Thus he made a farewell feast to those with whom he had been working. Having a true conception of the great duty to which he was called, he would have them rejoice, and not sorrow, at his departure.

and gave unto the people] i.e. The plowmen, and other helpers in the work which they had been doing. There is nothing to guide us in deciding whether the feast was made at the place where the call was received, or whether it was a meal given in the home to which Elisha went to bid adieu to his parents. It seems however more natural to understand it of the latter. At such a parting meal the parents of him who was going away were hardly likely to be absent.

Because the word rendered ‘slew’ in this verse, is very frequently translated ‘sacrificed’ some have thought that the ceremony here described was a religious one. But there is no mention of an altar, which would have been necessary, nor of the devotion of any part of the slain beasts as an offering. The guests were invited to a family feast, after the patriarchal fashion, and joined in the festivities attendant on such an occasion. The parents of Elisha were perhaps likeminded with himself and felt the grandeur of the office to which he was called. In that case the feeling of joyous thankfulness would be the most prevalent.

went after Elijah, and ministered unto him] Josephus adds to the narrative, that ‘Elisha immediately began to prophesy.’ In the Scripture story he is not mentioned again till the departure of Elijah into heaven is close at hand (2 Kings 2:1). But we cannot doubt that he was the companion of Elijah from that day forward, and we are shewn something of the nature of the attendance and ministration here alluded to in 2 Kings 3:11, where we read of Elisha as he ‘which poured water on the hands of Elijah.’ The members of the prophetic school seem to have lived after the fashion of ‘Brethren of the common life,’ and the less prominent members did service of every kind for those who were at the head.

Verse 21. - And he returned back from him [Wordsworth is not warranted in affirming that Elisha "did not go back and kiss," etc. The text rather implies that he did], and took a yoke [Heb. the yoke; Cf. ver. 19] of oxen, and slew them [Heb. sacrificed; LXX. ἔθυσε. But the word, though generally restricted to sacrificial acts, primarily means, to slay" simply, as here, and in Genesis 31:54; 1 Samuel 28:24; 2 Chronicles 18:2; Ezekiel 39:17. There was no altar there, and the flesh of a sacrifice was never boiled], and boiled their flesh [Heb. boiled them, the flesh] with the Instruments of the oxen [the plough, yoke, etc. The plough of the East is extremely rude and slender, but the yoke, shaft, etc., would afford a fair supply of wood. The scarcity of timber may have had something to do with this application of the "instruments of the oxen;" but it is much more important to see it in a symbolical act, expressive of Elisha's entire renunciation of his secular calling. He would henceforth need them no longer. Cf. 1 Samuel 6:14; 2 Samuel 24:22], and gave unto the people [Not only the servants or peasants who had been ploughing with him, but possibly his neighbours and friends. This was a farewell, not a religious feast. Cf. Luke 5:29, where Levi makes a "great feast" on the occasion of his call], and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him [i.e., became his attendant, as Joshua had been the minister of Moses (Exodus 24:13; Joshua 1:1), and as Gehazi subsequently became servant to him. See 2 Kings 3:11: "Elisha... which poured water on the hands of Elijah;" and cf. Acts 13:5.]



1 Kings 19:21Then Elisha returned, took the pair of oxen with which he had been ploughing, sacrificed, i.e., slaughtered them (זבח used figuratively), boiled the flesh with the plough, gave a farewell meal to the people (of his place of abode), i.e., his friends and acquaintance, and then followed Elijah as his servant, i.e., his assistant. The suffix in בּשּׁלם refers to הבּקר צמּד, and is more precisely defined by the apposition הבּשׂר, "namely, the flesh of the oxen."
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