2nd Kings 2
Passing the Mantle
Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven
by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; for the LORD has sent
me as far as Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the LORD
lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So
they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of prophets who were in
Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know
that today the LORD will take your master away from you?"
And he said, "Yes, I know; keep silent." 4 Elijah said
to him, "Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho."
But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,
I will not leave you." So they came to Jericho. 5 The company
of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said
to him, "Do you know that today the LORD will take your master
away from you?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be silent."
6 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; for the LORD has sent
me to the Jordan." But he said, "As the LORD lives,
and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two
of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of prophets also went,
and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing
by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up,
and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and
to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. 9 When
they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what I
may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha said,
"Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit."
10 He responded, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you
see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if
not, it will not." 11 As they continued walking and talking,
a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them,
and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept
watching and crying out, "Father, father! The chariots of
Israel and its horsemen!" But when he could no longer see
him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13
He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and
went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the
mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water,
saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" When
he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side
and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Passing the Mantle
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This is literally where Elijah passes the mantle to Elisha,
or God does anyway. Elisha is a loyal disciple and servant to
Elijah and will not part from him until he has absolutely no choice.
Elijah parting the Jordan with his mantle (cloak not fireplace
shelf) rolled up like a staff is a direct symbolic link (again)
to Moses. By Elisha asking for a double portion from Elijah, he
is asking for a first-born son's share of an inheritance. Elijah
doesn't grant or refuse this request, but later God grants it.
Elisha comes back and parts the Jordan demonstrating that he is
now officially Elijah's successor. The fifty disciples serve as
a witness. Chariots, whirlwinds, horsemen, fire are all common
symbols of God appearing (theophany), also evidence of the spectacular
exit Elijah was granted. Perhaps one of the more elaborate retirement
ceremonies in the Old Testament and inspiring at least one very
well-known song (Swing Low Sweet Chariot).
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