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Close this message. Author: Karin Hedner-Zetterholm. Add to Cart. Have an Access Token? Enter your access token to activate and access content online. Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token. Have Institutional Access? Forgot your password? PDF Preview. Table of Contents. Restricted Access. Related Content. Much like the Greek translations of the Old Testament, this document is an important source for our knowledge of the text of the Old Testament.

Its language is also of great interest to linguists. Moreover, as Bible of the Syriac Churches it is used in sermons, commentaries, poetry, prayers, and hymns. Many terms specific to the spirituality of the Syriac Churches have their origins in this ancient and reliable version of the Old Testament. Thus Elijah was taken to heaven from a place very close to where Moses died [8]. Elisha then took the mantle, crossed the Jordan on dry land [9] and headed straight for Jericho [10] much as Joshua had done before him [11].

As compelling as the circumstantial evidence is for a link between the pair Moses and Joshua and the duo of Elijah and Elisha it is just circumstantial. However there is another parallel from the two Prophets and that is to John the Baptist and the Lord Himself. The correlation between John and Elijah was endorsed by Christ in Mat And if you are willing to receive it, he[John] is Elijah who is to come.

And thus needs no further justification to the believing heart [12]. I am always a little more cautious in drawing a parallel between a human and God incarnate yet again one may note that Elisha means 'God his Salvation' and there is no greater expression of the salvation of God than Jesus.

One may also note that there was again a very visible [13] and deliberate [14] passing of office between John and Jesus. The final parallel I wish to mention in this section is actually the thesis that I wish to contemplate throughout the remainder of this paper.

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It is not a parallel between two sets of people although it is perhaps suggested by the parallel with John and Jesus. The suggestion is that in the lives of Elijah and Elisha we actually see in microcosm the development of the Old and then New Testaments. I consider it possible that Elijah shows the outworking of the Mosaic covenant whilst Elisha suggests some of what was to come during the dispensation of Grace.

The Beginner’s Guide to the Prophets in the Bible

The ministry of Elijah commenced during the reign of Ahab [15] and continued through to the reign of Ahaziah [16] which places him in the period from BCBC [17]. Elisha comes to prominence during the reign of Ahaziah and then continues until the reign of King Johoash of Israel [18] which ended in BC. This places us squarely in the period of the divided kingdom which commenced in BC.

It also places us in a time of tremendous political upheaval. Both prophets ministered primarily within the Northern Kingdom although both also had contact with the King of Judah of the time [19]. Elisha additionally had significant dealings with the Syrians. The early reign of Ahab was characterized by material prosperity [20]. Ahab followed the precepts of his father and built strong alliances based upon trade and intermarriage: specifically to Jezebel of Tyre and Sidon. During his reign he defeated the Syrian's temporarily ending their raids [21] and the Moabites making them a vassal state.

He also sided with the Syrians to fight the Assyrians a fight they lost but which had the effect of stalling Shalmaneser III of Assyria for four years. It is an interesting insight into the character of Ahab and also the extreme turbulence of the times that during the four year break that he gained from fighting Assyria alongside Syria he formed as alliance with Judah and then attacked Syria. It was during that battle that Ahab received the wound from which he would eventually die. Ahab was succeeded by Ahaziah who died within two years leaving Jehoram to take the throne.

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The instability caused prompted Mesha of Moab to rebel. He was eventually crushed by a coalition of Israel and Judah but only after doing significant damage to the south west of the country. Meanwhile to the North Syria was on the move again. They started with raids and then launched a full scale attack against Samaria which was defeated by God. It was during a subsequent battle with Syria that Jehoram was wounded and after which Jehu, commissioned by Elisha, usurped the throne.

Jehu did not simply take the throne however; he embarked upon a full scale destruction of the previous royal house and also killed King Ahaziah of Judah. Israel had lost its allies and most of its experienced leadership [22]. Towards the end of Elisha's ministry Israel strengthened again. It was able to defeat Judah after a failed alliance and then under Joash was able to recapture Aphek much as it had done during the time of Ahab.

In fact the victory of Joash may well have signaled the end of an era for Syria as Joash's son Jeroboam II was later able to capture Damascus [24]. From the Biblical perspective however the political turmoil was but an outward manifestation of the actual problem which was spiritual corruption. In fact the alliances that appeared to be a stroke of genius on the part of the house of Omri came with a very heavy price: religious compromise.

We are told that Ahab did more evil in the sight of the Lord that all of those that came before him [25]. Whilst Jeroboam son of Nebat encouraged idolatry it was Ahab under the influence of Jezebel that introduced Baal worship and the Asherah pole [26]. This was more than a cult that polluted; by the time of Elijah there were only seven thousand men in Israel that had not accepted Baal worship [27]. Therefore we see that this period was characterized not simply by a fight for the political survival of Israel but also by a fight for the very spiritual distinctive that made Israel the people of God.

(5-1) Introduction

The purpose of the table that follows is not to detail every minutia of each prophet's existence but rather to act as an index to what follows and the scripture that it is drawn from. The left column of the table details Elijah's ministry and is listed in biblical order. The second column details a corresponding event in Elisha's ministry when such exists.

Those events in Elisha's ministry only will then follow in their own Biblical order. The third column provides notes on why a given event was allocated to the row it is in.

Israelite Prophets Date Chart

Whilst there is clearly some subjectivism in the division of categories here I think it is immediately apparent that Elisha did far more than Elijah. I have heard it said that Elisha truly had double the spirit of Elijah [28] and that thus he had twice as many miracles. I don't think I would like to make that statement dogmatically but it is certainly true that almost twice as many are recorded for Elisha as they were for Elijah.

It is also true that Elisha's ministry spanned a greater period. They say that first impressions count and there can be no doubt that Elijah set the tone for his entire ministry in one verse [29]. Ahab was happily going about his business enjoying relative prosperity when Elijah bursts onto the scene declares a drought and then immediately disappears from public view. It can be argued that Elijah's role was not in bringing the curse to pass but simply in announcing it.

God had already declared that sin in the nation would be answered by drought [30]. In 1Ki God states: "Go, make an appearance before Ahab, so I may send rain on the surface of the ground. Elijah was acting as a mouthpiece to a people that were going to be forced to listen. Elisha's turn at weather prediction happened in very different circumstances. He did not approach a king; instead three kings came to visit him [31]. It is interesting that whilst Elijah willingly confronted sinful kings it was Elisha's preference to ignore them [32].

The kings were also well aware of their need [33] and Elisha acquiesced to seek the Lord on their behalf. His response was also positive; not only would the kings win their battle but the waters of the Lord would overflow the cisterns that were built. The picture of Elijah sitting isolated by a brook being fed morsels by a flock of ravens does not immediately correspond to a picture of Elisha surrounded by his friends dining upon stew.

However the accounts do have similarities. Both took place during a famine [34]. In both cases the prophet was sustained in a situation where death was a real possibility [35]. In both cases the food would be viewed as tainted; either because it was poisonous or because it came from a raven which was an unclean bird [36]. The most striking difference between these events is the part played by the prophet. Elijah was fully dependant upon God and his miraculous provision. Elisha ultimately was too. However Elijah just had to sit and wait for the provision to come; Elisha was actively involved in the transformation of the inedible meal into food.

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Whilst it might be possible to question just how aligned the previous miracles were there can be no contention that the two miracles involving the pots of oil are too similar to be coincidence. In both cases there was a widow, in both cases she had a small pot of olive oil and in both cases she was able to keep pouring from the pot of oil and this solved her distress. However close scrutiny of the details show that these were very different miracles.

Firstly we may note that in the case of Elijah he was the active party; he engaged an unknown widow [37] , required something from her [38] and then effectively rewarded her with provision [39]. The account also tells us that the supply of oil was not permanent [40].