Another Day in the Life of Elisha (Kings 2 1-2)

Lo and behold, there’s another chapter called Kings. Looks like Kings 2 is a sequel to Kings but still leaves those same canyon-sized narrative gaps (the ones that go something along the lines of “Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?” Personally, I think it’s a bit much to ask a reader to cross-reference a book that’s eight hundred pages, single-spaced, double-columned, in print tiny enough for a cheat sheet. 

I haven’t posted in a while (my bathroom was being renovated and I was out of my apartment) and I feel like I’ve lost track of things. Kings 1 and 2 jump around quite a bit, following this guy and then that guy. The first two chapters in Kings 2 follow a guy named Elisha who doesn’t seem to get ruffled when a bunch of weird stuff happens to him. Here’s what happens:

1. He goes for a stroll with his friend (and likely lover) Elijah. Introductions must get confusing for this pair: “No, I’m Elijah and he’s Elisha. I’m the one with the striking blue eyes and he’s the one with fabulous taste in hairshirts. You guys, this happens all the time!”

2. God threatens to take Elijah up to heaven in a literal, not metaphorical, whirlwind (whirlwind doesn’t indicate “montage” here).

3. Elisha refuses to leave Elijah despite the impending danger and is pretty dramatic about it. Gay, gay, gay.

4. Elijah parts water so they can cross a river but then “a chariot of fire and horses separated the two of them” (Kin 2 2:11). So a pair of flaming stallions are separated by another pair of flaming stallions.

5. Elijah disappears into the sky.

6. Elisha performs one of my favourite biblical gestures: he “took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces” (Kin 2 2:12). People are always ripping their clothes off in a misguided coping strategy.

7. Elisha picks up the mantle Elijah left behind (still warm) and smacks it againts the water, demanding that God show his ugly mug.

8. He doesn’t.

9. A bunch of prophets bow down to him (supposedly to stop him from spazzing out?) and ask him to help them fix a water problem the city is having. What? 

10. Elisha throws some salt in the water and – presto – the water is better.

11. Elisha goes to Bethlehem and “some small boys came out of the city and jeered and him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”. Ouch. Not one to adhere to the “sticks and stones” school of thought, Elisha curses the boys “in the name of the Lord” (Kin 2 2:23-24). Male pattern baldness was a sensitive an issue then as it is now, apparently.

12. Then two she-bears run out of the woods and kill forty-two of the boys. Out of how many? I don’t know. But, yes – this is in the Bible.

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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