2 Kings 2:3
And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said to him, Know you that the LORD will take away your master from your head to day? And he said, Yes, I know it; hold you your peace.
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(3) The sons of the prophets.—See Notes on 1Kings 20:35; 1Samuel 10:10; 1Samuel 19:20. There was a guild of prophets at Beth-el.

Came forth to Elisha.—Who probably walked a little way before his master, to announce his approach.

And said unto him.—The prophetic college had been divinely forewarned of Elijah’s departure.

The Lord will take away . . . to day.—“To day” is emphatic. “Knowest thou that this day Jehovah is about to take away thy lord from beside thee?” The word “head” may signify self, or person, like the word “soul,” and other terms. (Comp. Genesis 40:13; 1Samuel 28:2; 2Samuel 1:16.) Others explain “from over thy head,” i.e., from his position of superiority over thee as thy master and teacher. (See 1Kings 19:21; Acts 22:3.) Others again, but very improbably, take the words literally as a reference to Elijah’s ascension, “away over thine head.”

Yea, I know.—Rather, I, too, know.

Hold ye your peace.—Elisha says this, not to prevent the gathering of a crowd to witness the spectacle of Elijah’s departure, nor yet to intimate that his master’s modesty will be shocked by much talk of his approaching exaltation, but simply to suggest that the subject is painful both to him and to his beloved master. The Hebrew term, hehĕshû, imitates the sound, like our “hush!”

2 Kings 2:3. The sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el — In these very corrupt times God did not wholly forsake the Israelites, but continued the schools of the prophets among them, in which men were trained up and employed in the exercises of religion, and to which good people resorted to solemnize the feasts of the Lord with prayer and hearing portions of the law read, although they had not conveniences for sacrifices, as they had in Judah, where they had priests and Levites, and the temple service. Even in Beth-el, the chief place of idolatry and impiety, where one of the golden calves was worshipped, these schools were not wanting. This was a great testimony of God’s love to that apostate people: among whom he thus left prophets to recover them from their idols. And, what is still more remarkable, prophets of greater eminence for their miracles were continued in Israel than in Judah, because they needed them more, both to turn the idolaters among them from their false worship, and their other vices, and to encourage the truly pious that still remained, and preserve them from being led away by the error of the wicked. Knowest thou not, &c.? — God had revealed to some of them, that Elijah was to be taken away that day, of which they advised Elisha, that he might more diligently attend him. From thy head — Hebrew, from above thy head; which phrase may respect the manner of sitting in their schools, for the scholars used to sit below at their masters’ feet, and the masters above, over their heads, when they taught them. Houbigant renders it, The Lord will elevate thy master above thy head to-day, alluding to his being carried up into heaven. And he said, Yea, I know it, hold ye your peace — Do not aggravate my grief, nor divert me by any unseasonable discourses. He speaks as one who was himself, and would have them to be calm and sedate, and with awful silence waiting the event. Some think he gave them this charge, lest, the extraordinary matter being divulged, there should be a great concourse of people collected about Elijah; for as the Israelites had not renounced their idolatries, notwithstanding that so many and so great miracles had been done among them, they were altogether unworthy of being witnesses of the prophet’s miraculous assumption, even as the Jews in our Lord’s time were of being permitted to be present when he ascended.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!Came forth to Elisha - It does not appear that any interchange of speech took place between "the sons of the prophets" (see the marginal reference note) and Elijah; but independent revelations had been made to the two "schools" at Bethel and Jericho 2 Kings 2:5, and also to Elisha, with respect to Elijah's coming removal.

From thy head - i. e. from his position as teacher and master. The teacher sat on an elevated seat, so that his feet were level with the heads of his pupils (compare Acts 22:3).

Hold ye your peace - i. e. "Say nothing - disturb us not. The matter is too sacred for words."

3. take away thy master from they head—an allusion to the custom of scholars sitting at the feet of their master, the latter being over their heads (Ac 22:3). The Lord will take away thy master: this was revealed to some of the sons of the prophets, and by them to the whole college.

From thy head, Heb. from above thy head; which phrase may respect, either,

1. The manner of sitting in schools, where the scholar sat at his master’s feet, Deu 33:3 Acts 22:3. Or,

2. The manner of Elijah’s translation, which was to be by a power sent from heaven, to take him up thither.

Hold ye your peace; do not aggravate my grief, nor divert me with any unseasonable discourses; that I may digest my sorrow, and prepare myself for so great a stroke, and diligently attend all my master’s steps, lest he be snatched away from me whilst I am talking with you; and that I may beg and obtain some great blessing from him before his departure. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel,.... Or the disciples of them, as the Targum; here, though a place where one of Jeroboam's calves was set up, was a school of the prophets, perhaps founded by Elijah as a nursery for religion, and a check upon the idolatry of the times:

came forth to Elisha; out of their college: and said unto him, knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today? who was, as Abarbinel observes, the crown and glory of his head; or else this is said, as generally thought, in allusion to disciples sitting at the feet of their masters, and so they at the head of them; the rapture of Elijah was by a spirit of prophecy revealed unto them:

and he said, yea, I know it; being revealed to him in the same way:

hold your peace: not caring to continue any discourse with them on the subject, that his thoughts, which were intent upon it, might not be interrupted, and that his master might not know that he knew of it, and lest he should be snatched away from him, and he not see him, while discoursing with them.

And the {b} sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from {c} thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I {d} know it; hold ye your peace.

(b) So called, because they are begotten anew as it were by the heavenly doctrine.

(c) That is, from being your head any more: for to be as the head, is to be the master, as to be at the feet, is to be a scholar.

(d) For the Lord had revealed it to him.

3. the sons of the prophets] They were called ‘sons’ in the same way as Elisha calls Elijah ‘father’. See below verse 12. Whether the prophetic body in Gilgal had been warned before Elijah’s departure from them that they would see him no more wé are not told; but it seems highly probable that it was so from what is said of Bethel and of Jericho. Thus Elisha started on his journey prepared for what its end would be.

Beth-el] This was the city which in old time had been called Luz (Joshua 18:13) though from one passage (Joshua 16:2) there seems to have been a distinction between Bethel and Luz, as though the latter had been the old town, and the former a sacred spot near to it. It lay in the northern part of the tribe of Benjamin, and when the kingdoms were divided and Jeroboam set up the calf-worship in Israel, Bethel was constituted the southern sanctuary. Perhaps it was as a protest against this worship that the sons of the prophets made one of their centres in Bethel. It was at Bethel that the voice of God’s prophet was first raised against Jeroboam’s altar (1 Kings 13:1).

came forth to Elisha] The solemn event of which they had been forewarned checks them from addressing Elijah. His thoughts must have been all absorbed in meditation on the revelation which he was so soon to experience, and heaven, not earth, nor the things of earth, was in his mind. Silence when God is so near is the only homage man can pay.

the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day] We can see from this language that the communion between Elijah and Elisha had been much closer than that which the aged prophet had held with the other sons of the prophets. Hence he is rather spoken of as Elisha’s master, than theirs. This is what we should expect from the special way in which Elisha was appointed (1 Kings 19:16). The prophetic bodies were therefore prepared to accept Elisha as their head, when Elijah had been taken away.

hold you your peace] Elisha had marked the solemn and meditative frame of his master’s mind, and would not have it disturbed by any prolonged conversation between himself and the sons of the prophets. He cannot bear the questioning. He thinks of his own weakness and of the terrible burden which will be laid upon him when he is left alone without the friend on whom he has hitherto leaned.Verse 3. - The sons of the prophets that were at Bethel (On the expression, "sons of the prophets," see the comment upon 1 Kings 20:35.) The institution of the "schools of the prophets," or theological colleges where young prophets were brought up, is usually assigned to Samuel, one of whose habitual residences for a part of the year was Bethel (1 Samuel 7:16). Probably he had established a "school" there which continued to this time. Came forth to Elisha, and said unto him. The students did not venture to address the master himself, who was a person of too much dignity to be intruded on; but sought out the servant, to give him a warning of what their prophetic instinct assured them was about to happen. Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head (i.e. from his position as teacher and master) today? There was, perhaps, something a little officious and self-assertive in this question. They might have felt sure, if they had been properly modest, that Elisha would have at least as much prophetic instinct and foresight as themselves. Hence he answers them with something of rebuke: And he said, Yea, I know it - literally, I too know it - hold ye your peace; or, "Hush - do not chatter about what is so sacred; do not suppose that you are wiser than any one else; be a little modest and a little reticent." Then Elijah followed him to the king (מפּניו, before him, i.e., before the king, not before the captain; and אתו for ??????, see Ewald, ֗264, b.), having been directed to do so by the angel of the Lord, and repeated to him the word of the Lord, which he had also conveyed to him through his messengers (see 2 Kings 1:4 and 2 Kings 1:6).
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