And Elijah said to Elisha, Tarry here, I pray you; for the LORD has sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said to him, As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. So they went down to Bethel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Said.—Not spake, as throughout the account in 2Kings 1:2-16; a mark of different origin.
Tarry here, I pray thee.—This was said, not to test Elisha’s affection, nor from a motive of humility, that Elisha might not witness his glorious ascension, but because Elijah was uncertain whether it was God’s will that Elisha should go with him. (Comp. 2Kings 2:10.) Elisha’s threefold refusal to leave him settled the doubt. (Comp. John 21:15, seq.)
The Lord hath sent me to Beth-el.—Why? Not merely to “see once more this holiest place in Israel, the spiritual centre of the kingdom of the ten tribes” (Ewald), but to visit the prophetic schools, or guilds, established there, and at Gilgal and Jericho, and to confirm their fidelity to Jehovah. Gilgal and Beth-el, as ancient Canaanite sanctuaries, were centres of illegal worship of the God of Israel. The guilds of the prophets may have been intended to counteract this evil influence at its head-quarters (Bähr).
As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth.—2Kings 4:30; 1Samuel 20:3. A more solemn and emphatic oath than “As the Lord liveth” (Judges 8:19), or “As thy soul liveth” (1Samuel 1:26). Literally, By the life of Jehovah and by the life of thy soul (i.e., of thyself, thine own life).2 Kings 2:2. Tarry here — This he desires, either, 1st, That being left alone, he might better prepare himself for his great change. Or, 2d, Out of indulgence to Elisha, that he might not be overwhelmed with grief at so sad a sight. Or, 3d, That he might try his love, and whet his desire to accompany him; it being highly convenient for God’s honour, that there should be witnesses of so glorious a translation. The Lord hath sent me to Beth-el — Which was truth, though not the whole truth: for he was to go a far longer journey. But he was first to go to Bethel, and also to Jericho, to the schools of the prophets there, that he might comfort and strengthen their hearts in God’s work, and give them his dying counsels.2 Kings 2:9, should be kept as secret as possible.
The Lord hath sent me to Bethel - Elijah may have been directed to Bethel, because of the "School of the prophets" there, that the sight of him - if not his words - might console and encourage them before they lost him forever.
As the Lord liveth ... - This double oath, repeated three times 2 Kings 2:4, 2 Kings 2:6, is very remarkable. The two clauses of it are separately used with some frequency (see Judges 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 1:26, etc.), but it is comparatively seldom that they are united (see the marginal references).
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.Elijah said unto Elisha: this he desires, either,
1. That he, being left alone, might better prepare himself for his great change. Or,
2. Out of his humility and modesty; he desired no witnesses of his glorious removal, and no fame and glory from it. Or,
3. Out of indulgence to Elisha, that he might not be overwhelmed with grief at so sad a sight. Or,
4. That he might try his love, and whet his desire to accompany him; it being highly convenient for God’s honour, and the church’s good, (which Elijah sought above all things,) that there should be witnesses of so glorious a translation.
The Lord hath sent me to Beth-el; which was truth, but not the whole truth; for he was to go a far longer journey. But he was first to go to Beth-el, as also to Jericho, to the schools of the prophets there, that he might comfort and strengthen their hearts in God’s work, and give them his last and dying counsels.
for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel; to give some comfort and some instruction and advice to the college of prophets there:
and Elisha said unto him, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee; being determined to see the last of him, and to have the benefit of his company and conversation, his heavenly discourse, and instruction from him as long as he could, and in hope of receiving a blessing from him at parting:
so they went down to Bethel; together, which, according to Bunting (h), was six miles.And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. Tarry here] Not only was Elijah himself conscious of some great event at hand but Elisha and the bands of prophets in Bethel and Jericho had an intimation that the departure of Elijah was very near. But the subject is too solemn for words. The two chief persons do not speak of it, and it is only when the separation is just about to take place that direct allusion is made to it (verse 9). We can see however in Elijah’s request, here and afterwards, that Elisha should stay behind how awful the immediate future appeared to him, and in Elisha’s persistence the great love which the disciple felt for his master. Elijah, feeling that soon he was to stand before God, and was drawing near to the gate of heaven, would save his disciple from the sight of a glory on which man, as the Jew felt, cannot gaze and live, while Elisha is resolved that nothing but the last necessity shall take him from his master’s side.
the Lord hath sent me to [R.V. more precisely, as far as] Beth-el] The whole journey has been marked out for him, and devised that those who were to carry on the work after Elijah’s departure might at this last interview see, and remember hereafter, the last looks, fixed on heaven, and the last words, though they seem to have been but few, spoken, of him who had been their guide and father for a long while and amid constant perils.
As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth] The combination of the two phrases imparts much solemnity to the resolve. They are not un-frequently found apart. Thus ‘As the Lord liveth’ occurs alone in Jdg 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 14:39 &c., and ‘As thy soul liveth’ in 1 Samuel 1:26; 1 Samuel 17:55; 2 Samuel 14:19 &c. Beside the places in this chapter the double form is found in 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Samuel 25:26 and is expressive of the most intense earnestness. Elisha’s master may be withdrawn from him: he will not be withdrawn from his master.Verse 2. - And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me. Elijah makes three efforts to rid himself of the presence of his faithful attendant (see vers. 4 and 6), either really desirous to pass in solitude the few remaining hours of his earthly life, for he knows that his end is approaching (vers. 9, 10), or for the purpose of testing his fidelity and affection. Under ordinary circumstances, the servant would naturally have obeyed his lord, and submitted to a temporary separation; but Elisha has a presentiment, or something stronger than a presentiment, of what is impending (vers. 3, 5), and will not be induced to accelerate by a single moment the time of the last parting. He will remain with his master, ready to do him all needful service, until the end. To Bethel. Bethel was the spiritual center of the kingdom of the ten tribes. There may have been many reasons why Elijah should visit it once more before he quitted the earth. He may have had directions to leave, consolation to give, words of warning to speak. We must not suppose that the narrative before us is complete. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth. These were ordinary forms of earnest asseveration with the Israelites, generally used separately (Judges 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 1:26; 1 Samuel 14:39; 1 Samuel 17:55; 1 Samuel 19:6; 1 Samuel 20:21; 2 Samuel 4:9; 2 Samuel 11:11, etc.); but on occasions of special solemnity united, as here and in 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Samuel 25:26; 2 Kings 4:30). The prophet is not to be blamed for using them, since the command, "Swear not at all," had not yet been given. I will not leave thee. The resolve indicates strong attachment, deep fidelity, combined, perhaps, with a reasonable curiosity to see how the end would be brought about. So they went down to Bethel. The expression, "went down," shows that the Gilgal of ver. 1 is not that of the Jordan valley, but the mountain-city between Sichem and Bethel.
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