2 Kings 13:21
And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) As they were burying.—They—i.e., a party of Israelites. The story is told with vivid definiteness.

A band.—Rather, the troop. The particular troop of Moabites which happened to be making an inroad at the time.

They cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha.—Comp. Mark 16:3-4. In this case, we must suppose that the tomb was more easily opened, as the action was obviously done in haste.

And when the man was let down, and touched the bones.—Rather, and they departed. And the man touched the bones. The order of words in the original, as well as the sense, supports old Houbiganťs conjecture. If the meaning were, “and the man went and touched,” the subject in the Hebrew would have followed the first verb, not the second. Moreover, the verb would hardly have been hālak.

He revived.—Literally, and he lived. Thenius thinks that the sacred writer regarded this miracle as a pledge of the fulfilment of Elisha’s promise to Joash Bähr says: “Elisha died and was buried, like all other men, but even in death and in the grave he is avouched to be the prophet and servant of God.” Dante’s warning may not be out of place here:—

“O voi che avete gľintelletti sani,

Mirate la dottrina, che s asconde

Sotto il velame degli versi strani.”

Inf. 9:61, sqq.

2 Kings 13:21. As they were burying a man — Carrying him to his grave; they spied a band of men — A party of Moabites coming toward them, but at some distance; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha — This sepulchre being near the place where they then were, they removed some stone, or opened some door, and hastily flung down the dead corpse into it; fearing lest, if they proceeded to the place where a grave was prepared, they should fall into the hands of the Moabites. And when the man was let down — His body, or the coffin in which it was put; and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood upon his feet — Which great miracle, wrought, not by the bones of Elisha, in which there could be no innate power to produce any such effect, but by the almighty power of God, was doubtless intended for divers important purposes; as, 1st, To do honour to that great and holy prophet; and a singular honour it was, not much inferior to that conferred on Elijah when he was translated. Elijah was honoured in his departure; Elisha after his departure. Thus God dispenses honours as he pleases. 2d, To seal and confirm his doctrine and prophecies, and thereby confute the false doctrine and worship of the Israelites. 3d, To strengthen the faith of Joash and the Israelites in the promises which he had given them of success against the Syrians. And, 4th, In the midst of all their calamities to comfort such Israelites as were Elisha’s followers, with the hopes of that eternal life, whereof the reviving of this dead man was a manifest pledge, and to awaken the people to a due care about, and preparation for it. According to Calmet, this was further a symbol and prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with this difference, and a mighty one it is, that Elisha raised a dead body without raising himself, while the Lord Jesus not only raised himself, but gives life to all those that believe in him.13:20-25 God has many ways to chastise a provoking people. Trouble comes sometimes from that point whence we least feared it. The mention of this invasion on the death of Elisha, shows that the removal of God's faithful prophets is a presage of coming judgments. His dead body was a means of giving life to another dead body. This miracle was a confirmation of his prophecies. And it may have reference to Christ, by whose death and burial, the grave is made a safe and happy passage to life to all believers. Jehoash was successful against the Syrians, just as often as he had struck the ground with the arrows, then a stop was put to his victories. Many have repented, when too late, of distrusts and the straitness of their desires.They cast the man - Rather, "they thrust the man." The graves of the Jews were not pits dug in the ground, like ours, but caves or cells excavated in the side of a rock, the mouth of the cave being ordinarily shut by a heavy stone.

Stood up on his feet - Coffins were not used by the Jews. The body was simply wrapped or swathed in grave-clothes (compare Luke 7:15; John 11:44).

This miracle of Elisha's after his death is more surprising than any of those which he performed during his lifetime. The Jews regarded it as his highest glory (compare Ecclesiaticus 48:13, 14). It may be said to belong to a class of Scriptural miracles, cases, i. e. where the miracle was not performed through the agency of a living miracle-worker, but by a material object in which, by God's will, "virtue" for the time resided (compare Acts 19:12). The primary effect of the miracle was, no doubt, greatly to increase the reverence of the Israelites for the memory of Elisha, to lend force to his teaching, and especially to add weight to his unfulfilled prophecies, as to that concerning the coming triumphs of Israel over Syria. In the extreme state of depression to which the Israelites were now reduced, a very signal miracle may have been needed to encourage and reassure them.

20, 21. Elisha died—He had enjoyed a happier life than Elijah, as he possessed a milder character, and bore a less hard commission. His rough garment was honored even at the court.

coming in of the year—that is, the spring, the usual season of beginning campaigns in ancient times. Predatory bands from Moab generally made incursions at that time on the lands of Israel. The bearers of a corpse, alarmed by the appearance of one of these bands, hastily deposited, as they passed that way, their load in Elisha's sepulchre, which might be easily done by removing the stone at the mouth of the cave. According to the Jewish and Eastern custom, his body, as well as that of the man who was miraculously restored, was not laid in a coffin, but only swathed; so that the bodies could be brought into contact, and the object of the miracle was to stimulate the king's and people of Israel's faith in the still unaccomplished predictions of Elisha respecting the war with the Syrians. Accordingly the historian forthwith records the historical fulfilment of the prediction (2Ki 13:22-25), in the defeat of the enemy, in the recovery of the cities that had been taken, and their restoration to the kingdom of Israel.

As they were burying, or, were about to bury, as that particle is oft used in the Hebrew tongue.

They spied a band of men coming towards them, but at some distance.

They cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; not daring to carry the dead corpse further to the place appointed for his burial, they made use of the next burying-place, where Elisha was buried, and there they removed some stone, or opened some door, and hastily flung down their dead corpse there.

The man, i.e. the man’s dead body, or the coffin in which he was put.

Touched the bones of Elisha; which might easily be, the coffin and linen in which Elisha’s body was put, and the flesh of his body, being now consumed; for this was some considerable time after his death.

He revived, and stood up on his feet; which miracle God wrought there, partly, to do honour to that great prophet, and that by this seal he might confirm his doctrine, and thereby confute the false doctrine and worship of the Israelites; partly, to strengthen the faith of Joash, and of the Israelites, in his promise of their success against the Syrians; and partly, in the midst of all their calamities, to comfort such Israelites as were Elisha’s followers with the hopes of that eternal life whereof this was a manifest pledge, and to awaken the rest of that people to a due care and preparation for it. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man,.... That is, as they were going to bury him; for as yet they were not come to the place they designed to bury him at, as appears by what follows:

that, behold, they spied a band of men; one of the bands of the Moabites, which came to rob and plunder, and which was about the place where they intended to bury the man; or they supposed would be there by that time they got to it, or at least before they could bury him, and therefore being frightened stopped:

and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; that being nearest, they opened it, or rather rolled away the stone from it, and threw the body in great haste:

and when the man was let down, and touched the bone's of Elisha; or "went and touched" (r); that is, as Kimchi interprets it, being cast in, he rolled till he came to the body of the prophet, and touched it:

he revived, and stood upon his feet; which might serve to confirm the faith of Joash in the predictions of the prophet concerning his victories; is a proof of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal life, and an emblem of our being quickened through the death of Christ. The Jews say (s) this man was Shallum the son of Tikvah, and husband of Huldah the prophetess, and was a good man, much given to alms, for which he was rewarded; and they further say, he went to his own house, and lived many years, and begat children, and particularly Hananeel, mentioned in Jeremiah 32:7, which is not likely; though others say (t) he was a wicked man, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, 1 Kings 22:24 and therefore not suffered to continue in the prophet's grave; but the former is more probable; and, according to Josephus (u), it was the band of robbers that left this man, whom they had murdered, in the grave of Elisha. This grave seems to have been in the field, where the Jews of old, and in later times, buried, as in the field of Hebron, the potter's field, &c. so the Greeks, as Pausanias relates (w), and the Romans also (x), buried by the wayside.

(r) "abit et tetigit", Pagninus, Montanus. (s) Pirke Eliezer, c. 33. (t) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol, 47. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 11. 2.((u) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 8. sect. 6. (w) Corinthiac. sive, l. 2. p. 97. (x) Vid. Kirchman. Funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 22.

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, 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 {l} revived, and stood up on his feet.

(l) By this miracle God confirmed the authority of Elisha, whose doctrine in his life they contemned, that at this sight they might return and embrace the same doctrine.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. as they were burying a man] i.e. Some Israelites had brought a dead body to the burial-place. The body was carried on a bier, and was not enclosed in a coffin (cf. Luke 7:12-14), so that when cast into the grave it would touch any other body which had been deposited there before. In the East the graves are usually excavated in the rock, and closed by a stone at the mouth. The bodies were laid there, but there was no covering them with earth as in burials among western nations.

behold they spied a band of men] The R.V. omits the italics. The band was a band of the marauding Moabites, at whose approach the Israelites were terrified, and so made all haste to dispose of the corpse they were carrying.

unto the sepulchre of Elisha] This must have been nearer at hand than the grave which they intended to use. The distance from which the Moabites were visible allowed the bearers to open the first grave they came to, and there to lay down their burden, but gave time for nothing more. Josephus says that it was the robbers who had killed a man and that they cast him into Elisha’s grave (Ant. IX. 8. 6).

and when the man was let down and touched] R.V. and as soon as the man touched. It will be seen from the margin of R.V. that the Hebrew means ‘and when the man went and touched’; a very unusual kind of expression, but which does not warrant the idea conveyed by the A.V. that the body was lowered into the tomb.

the bones of Elisha] We need not press the literal sense of ‘bones’, as though a long time had elapsed since Elisha died. The lying prophet of Bethel (1 Kings 13:31), speaking of his own death and burial, says ‘Lay my bones beside his bones’.

he revived and stood up on his feet] The record of this miracle seems intended to set forth that it was nothing in the prophet himself which had given him the great powers he manifested in his lifetime. Through his dead body God could work a miracle also. ‘Israel shall well see that He lives, by whose virtue Elisha was, both in life and death, miraculous. While the prophet was alive, the impetration might seem to be his, though the power were God’s; now that he is dead, the bones can challenge nothing, but send the wandering Israelites to that Almighty agent to whom it is all one to work by the quick or dead.’ (Bp. Hall.)Verse 21. - And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that. "They" is used indefinitely of some unnamed Israelites, like the French on. Certain persons, it does not matter who, were burying a man, i.e. about to bury him, and were carrying the corpse to the grave, when an interruption occurred. Behold, they spied a band of men - rather, the band, i.e. the band of that year - and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha. There was no time for ceremony. Hastily, and somewhat roughly, it may be, the bearers of the body thrust it into Elisha's tomb, which happened to be at hand, and from the mouth of which they were able to remove the closing stone. They did not "throw" the body in, but pushed it in. And when the man was let down. The man was not "let down." Our translators seem to have been unacquainted with the Jewish mode of burial. They imagine that Elisha's tomb is a pit dug in the ground from the surface downwards, like a modern grave, and the man has therefore to be "let down," or to "go down" (marginal translation) into it. The Revised Version avoids the mistranslation, but weakens the force of the original. Translate, and when the man came, etc. And touched the bones of Elisha, he revived. The violent push given to the corpse imparted to it a movement which brought it in contact with the bones, i.e. the body (1 Kings 13:31) of Elisha, as it lay, wound in its grave-clothes, but uncoffined, on the floor of the sepulchral chamber. At the moment of contact the dead man came to life - "revived." And stood up on his feet. In many Jewish tombs the sepulchral chamber would allow of this. "Take-said Elisha to Joash-bow and arrows, ... and let thy hand pass over the bow" (הרכּב), i.e., stretch the bow. He then placed his hands upon the king's hands, as a sign that the power which was to be given to the bow-shot came from the Lord through the mediation of the prophet. He then directed him to open the window towards the east and shoot, adding as he shot off the arrow: "An arrow of salvation from the Lord, and an arrow of salvation against the Syrians; and thou wilt smite the Syrians at Aphek (see at 1 Kings 20:26) to destruction." The arrow that was shot off was to be a symbol of the help of the Lord against the Syrians to their destruction. This promise the king was then to appropriate to himself through an act of his own. Elisha therefore directed him (2 Kings 13:18) to "take the arrows;" and when he had taken them, said: ארצה הך, "strike to the earth," i.e., shoot the arrows to the ground, not "smite the earth with the bundle of arrows" (Thenius), which neither agrees with the shooting of the first arrow, nor admits of a grammatical vindication; for הכּה, when used of an arrow, signifies to shoot and to strike with the arrow shot off, i.e., to wound or to kill (cf. 2 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 22:34). The shooting of the arrows to the earth was intended to symbolize the overthrow of the Syrians. "And the king shot three times, and then stood (still)," i.e., left off shooting.
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