2 Kings 2:10
And he said, You have asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so to you; but if not, it shall not be so.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Thou hast asked a hard thing.—Because to grant such a petition was not in Elijah’s own power, but in God’s only. And therefore in the next words the prophet connects the fulfilment of his follower’s wish with a condition depending entirely upon the Divine will: “If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee (Keil).” ‘If the Lord think thee worthy to witness my departure, thou wilt be worthy to win thy boon.’ Elijah thus disclaims power to fulfil the request. At the same time, it is implied that his departure will be something exalted above the perception of ordinary men” (Thenius).

When I am taken.—Literally, taken (participle pu’al, shortened form, as in Exodus 3:2; Isaiah 18:2).

2 Kings 2:10. He said, Thou hast asked a hard thing — A rare and singular blessing, which I cannot promise thee; which God only can give, and which he gives only when and to whom he pleases. Nevertheless, if thou see me, &c. — Mark, this is a sign whether thou shalt obtain what thou desirest or not. This sign he proposed, not without the direction of God’s Spirit, that hereby he might engage him more earnestly to wait, and more fervently to pray for this mercy.2:9-12 That fulness, from whence prophets and apostles had all their supply, still exists as of old, and we are told to ask large supplies from it. Diligent attendance upon Elijah, particularly in his last hours, would be proper means for Elisha to obtain much of his spirit. The comforts of departing saints, and their experiences, help both to gild our comforts and to strengthen our resolutions. Elijah is carried to heaven in a fiery chariot. Many questions might be asked about this, which could not be answered. Let it suffice that we are told, what his Lord, when he came, found him doing. He was engaged in serious discourse, encouraging and directing Elisha about the kingdom of God among men. We mistake, if we think preparation for heaven is carried on only by contemplation and acts of devotion. The chariot and horses appeared like fire, something very glorious, not for burning, but brightness. By the manner in which Elijah and Enoch were taken from this world, God gave a glimpse of the eternal life brought to light by the gospel, of the glory reserved for the bodies of the saints, and of the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers. It was also a figure of Christ's ascension. Though Elijah was gone triumphantly to heaven, yet this world could ill spare him. Surely their hearts are hard, who feel not, when God, by taking away faithful, useful men, calls for weeping and mourning. Elijah was to Israel, by his counsels, reproofs, and prayers, better than the strongest force of chariot and horse, and kept off the judgments of God. Christ bequeathed to his disciples his precious gospel, like Elijah's mantle; the token of the Divine power being exerted to overturn the empire of Satan, and to set up the kingdom of God in the world. The same gospel remains with us, though the miraculous powers are withdrawn, and it has Divine strength for the conversion and salvation of sinners.It would be better to omit the words "when I am," which are not in the original. The sign was to be Elisha's seeing the actual translation, which he did 2 Kings 2:12. 10. Thou hast asked a hard thing—an extraordinary blessing which I cannot, and God only, can give. Nevertheless he, doubtless by the secret directions of the Spirit, proposed to Elisha a sign, the observation of which would keep him in the attitude of an anxious waiter, as well as suppliant for the favor. A hard thing, i. e. a rare and singular blessing, which I cannot promise thee, which only God can give; and he gives it only when and to whom he pleaseth.

If not, it shall not be so: this sign he proposed not without the instinct and direction of God’s Spirit, that hereby he might engage him more earnestly to wait, and more fervently to pray, for this mercy. And he said, thou hast asked a hard thing,.... Not a common privilege, but what is rarely enjoyed, and difficult to obtain, few are so favoured of God:

nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee, but if not, it shall not be so; meaning, that if his rapture was visible to Elisha, and he was favoured with a sight of his assumption, and be an eyewitness of it, this would be a token both to Elijah that it was agreeable to the Lord to ask of him this favour for him, and to Elisha to expect it, otherwise not.

And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. Thou hast asked a hard thing] Because it was not Elijah’s to bestow. He knew that except for God’s strengthening power and comforting revelations his own heart would often have fainted. He therefore leaves the result to depend on God’s judgement. If He permit Elisha to behold the assumption, then it shall be for a token that the petition is granted, and Elisha counted worthy to be blessed as he desires.Verse 10. - And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing; literally, thou hast been hard in asking (ἐσκλήρυνας τοῦ αἰτήσασθαι, LXX.). Perhaps the "hardness" of the request was in the thing asked, not in the quantity of the thing. Had Elisha asked for anything that Elijah had it directly in his power to give, as for his mantle, or his blessing, or his prayers in the other world, to grant the request would have been easy. But he had asked for something that was not Elijah's to give, but only God's. Elijah could not bequeath his spirit, as a man bequeaths his property; he could only pray God that Elisha's pious request might be granted. Nevertheless, if thou see ms when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. Our translators have thought to clear the sense by inserting "nevertheless" and "when I am." But the inserted words would be better away. As Elijah cannot either grant or refuse a request for a spiritual gift, which it is not in his power to Bestow, he is divinely instructed to give Elisha a sign, by which he shall know whether God grants his prayer or not. The sign of acceptance is to be his actually seeing his master's translation. Probably the chariot and horses were not visible to the natural human eye, any more than the angelic hosts were who compassed Elisha himself about at Dothan (2 Kings 6:17). In Bethel, and again in Jericho, to which they both proceeded from Bethel, Elijah repeated the appeal to Elisha to stay there, but always in vain. The taking away of Elijah had also been revealed to the disciples of the prophets at Jericho. Thus they both came to the Jordan, whilst fifty disciples of the prophets from Jericho followed them at a distance, to be eye-witnesses of the miraculous translation of their master. The course which Elijah took before his departure from this earth, viz., from Gilgal past Bethel and Jericho, was not merely occasioned by the fact that he was obliged to touch at these places on the way to the Jordan, but had evidently also the same higher purpose, for which his ascension to heaven had been revealed both to Elisha and to the disciples of the prophets at Bethel and Jericho. Elijah himself said that the Lord had sent him to Bethel, to Jericho, to the Jordan (2 Kings 2:2, 2 Kings 2:4, 2 Kings 2:6). He therefore took this way from an impulse received from the Spirit of God, that he might visit the schools of the prophets, which he had founded, once more before his departure, and strengthen and fortify the disciples of the prophets in the consecration of their lives to the service of the Lord, though without in the least surmising that they had been informed by the Spirit of the Lord of his approaching departure from this life. But as his ascension to heaven took place not so much for his own sake, as because of those associates in his office who were left behind, God had revealed it to so many, that they might be even more firmly established in their calling by the miraculous glorification of their master than by his words, his teaching, and his admonitions, so that they might carry it on without fear or trembling, even if their great master should no longer stand by their side with the might of his spiritual power to instruct, advise, or defend. Btu above all, Elisha, whom the Lord had appointed as his successor (1 Kings 19:16), was to be prepared for carrying on his work by the last journey of his master. He did not leave his side therefore, and resolved, certainly also from an inward impulse of the Spirit of God, to be an eye-witness of his glorification, that he might receive the spiritual inheritance of the first-born from his departing spiritual father.
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