For introductory material on 2 Kings see the introductory material on 1 Kings.
2 Kings encompasses about 130 years...and ends with the deportation of Israel to Assyria, and Judah to Babylon. During the period of 2 Kings...Elisha, Amos, and Hosea prophesied in Israel, Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah in Judah.
2 Kings 1-3
The Divided Kingdom-Israel & Judah (various Kings) 2 Kings 1-17
2 Kings 1…Ahaziah is king of Israel
2 Kings 1:1-18-2 Kings picks up where 1 Kings left off. The kingdom of Moab rebelled against Israel when Ahab died and Ahaziah became king. So, Ahaziah sent a messenger to inquire of Baal-zebub (means: Lord of the flies, probably a spelling change of Baal-zebul), the god of Ekron, to ask if he should go after Moab. However, Ahaziah had fallen through the roof and injured himself. Along the way, Elijah encountered the messenger and told him to go back and tell Ahaziah that he would die lying in his bed. Three times Ahaziah sent 50 soldiers to bring Elijah in...but twice he called down fire from Heaven and they were destroyed. Finally, the third time Elijah voluntarily came in. Ahaziah died like Elijah said...and his son, Jehoram became king...in the second year of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.
2 Kings 1:17…Jehoram became king of Israel (852-841)
2 Kings 2:1-11-God sends Elijah on a trip. He is going to take him to Heaven. He tells Elisha to stay behind...but he will not because he knows that Elijah is about to leave. They travel to Bethel, Jericho, and then the Jordan River...where Elijah struck the water with his mantle and it dried up and they walked across.
Question: "What is a mantle in the Bible?"
Answer: Although there are variations of the meaning of mantle in the Bible, the main idea is that of a covering such as a cloak or other article of clothing. The New American Standard Bible uses the word mantle in Joshua 7:21 and Hebrews 1:12. In the former passage, the ESV translates the word as “cloak” and, in the latter, “robe.” In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment made of animal skin, probably sheepskin. Several people are mentioned as wearing a mantle, including Job (Job 1:20) and Ezra (Ezra 9:5).
Prophets were known for wearing mantles as a sign of their calling from God (1 Kings 19:13). The prophet Samuel wore a mantle (1 Samuel 15:27). The prophet Elijah “threw his cloak around [Elisha]” as a symbol of Elijah’s ministry being passed on to Elisha. The prophet’s mantle was an indication of his authority and responsibility as God’s chosen spokesman (2 Kings 2:8). Elisha was not confused as to what Elijah was doing; the putting on of his mantle made his election clear.
Some theologians see the mantle as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. For example, in 2 Kings 2:14 Elisha takes the mantle that had “fallen” from Elijah, similar to how Jesus received the Spirit “descending” on Him at His baptism (Matthew 3:16). The audible voice of God in Matthew 3:17 confirms Jesus as God’s chosen servant (cf. Isaiah 42:1). We see a similar “falling” of the Spirit in Acts 8:15–16 and Acts 10:44. It’s only after Elisha takes the fallen mantle that he performs miraculous works (2 Kings 2:14, 21, 24). The Holy Spirit is the Person who empowers God’s people to do God’s work (Micah 3:8; Matthew 12:28; Ephesians 3:16).
The mantle served the practical purpose of keeping people warm and protecting them from the elements. It also served a symbolic purpose, in the case of the prophets, showing they were wrapped in God’s authority. Like all imagery in the Old Testament, the mantle presents a visible representation of a New Testament principle. The mantle can be seen as a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit whom God so graciously gives to all Christians, the people of His choosing (1 Thessalonians 1:5–6; 1 Peter 2:9).
Elijah then asked Elisha what he wanted...and he said a double portion of his spirit.
2:9 let a double portion of your spirit be upon me. Not a request that Elisha have or do twice as much as Elijah, but a plea that he might be the recognized heir of Elijah in the prophetic office (the firstborn received a double portion of his father’s inheritance, Deut. 21:17).
Ryrie Study Bible, 2 Kings 2:9 footnote, p. 555
Elijah was then taken up to heaven in a chariot and horses of fire in a whirlwind.
2 Kings 2:12-25-Elisha struck the Jordan with the mantle of Elijah and they dried up and he walked across. Elijah purified the water in the city by throwing salt in it. On his way to Bethel some young men (not boys) mocked him by calling him "baldhead". This was an attempt on their part to pronounce a curse on Elisha (cf. Isaiah 3:17,24). It was their attempt to challenge his prophetic office. In response, as a sign that he was a prophet, he cursed them back and two female bears mauled 42 of them. He proceeded to Mt. Carmel, and then to Samaria.
- Two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths: In response to the curse of Elisha, God sent two female bears and they mauled (literally, cut up) the young men.
- "Bears are attested in the hill ranges until mediaeval times." (Wiseman)
- "Since forty-two of the boys were struck by the bears, the group may have been quite large and therefore dangerously out of control. Elisha may have needed miraculous intervention to escape." (Dilday)
iii. "Verse 24 does not say that the victims were killed. The Hebrew word translated 'mauled' might indicate less serious injuries. The ultimate outcome of the miracle was to break up the gang, frighten the offenders and the entire village." (Dilday)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 2 Kings 2,
2 Kings 3:1-2 (cf. 1:17)-This shows a co-regency between Jehoram and Jehoshaphat. Moab rebelled against Israel...so Israel, Judah, and Edom joined together to go to war. On the way, they ran out of water. They found Elisha and asked for advice. He told them to go to their own prophets. This was a sarcastic remark since he knew that their prophets were false prophets and could do them no good. Finally, he told them that he would consider their request…but only because of the respect that he had for Jehoshaphat. He then called for a minstrel (someone who played a stringed instrument…he probably wanted him to play music that would calm his spirit that had been agitated by these kings). The Lord spoke to him and he told them to dig trenches and that the next day they would be filled with water. It happened just as he said. The next morning, the Moabites saw the water glistening in the sun and it looked like blood. They thought the three kings had fought each other and that what they saw glistening was their blood. They attacked...but Israel defeated them and chased them into one of their chief cities in the area. When the Moabite king realized that they were going to lose the battle…he sacrificed his own son in fire in hopes that this god, Chemosh (Deuteronomy 12:31), would rescue them. When the Israelites saw this it frightened them. If the king would mercilessly murder his own son when he was cornered…what would they whole army do? Better to leave now with a partial victory, than to take a chance of being defeated.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that You would use me to raise up men that You will call into the ministry…as You used Elijah to raise up Elisha. I pray that when I die…there will faithful men serving You as ministers and missionaries that You have allowed me to influence. Please, Father, let Your Holy Spirit live through me in such a way that I can invest in them the joy and the blessing that I have known as Your servant. I pray that You will allow me to have a godly spiritual lineage that will last until You come back.