The Widow’s Oil. 1a A certain woman, the widow of one of the guild prophets, cried out to Elisha: “My husband, your servant, is dead. You know that he revered the LORD, yet now his creditor has come to take my two children into servitude.”* 2Elisha answered her, “What am I to do for you? Tell me what you have in the house.” She replied, “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil.” 3He said, “Go out, borrow vessels from all your neighbors—as many empty vessels as you can. 4Then come back and close the door on yourself and your children; pour the oil into all the vessels, and as each is filled, set it aside.” 5So she went out. She closed the door on herself and her children and, as they handed her the vessels, she would pour in oil. 6When all the vessels were filled, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” He answered, “There is none left.” And then the oil stopped. 7She went and told the man of God, who said, “Go sell the oil to pay off your creditor; with what remains, you and your children can live.”
Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son. 8One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who pressed him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he would stop there to dine. 9So she said to her husband, “I know that he is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, 10let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.”b
11One day Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. 12Then he said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite woman.” He did so, and when she stood before Elisha, 13he told Gehazi, “Say to her, ‘You have troubled yourself greatly for us; what can we do for you? Can we say a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I am living among my own people.”* 14Later Elisha asked, “What can we do for her?” Gehazi answered, “She has no son, and her husband is old.” 15Elisha said, “Call her.” He did so, and when she stood at the door, 16Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be cradling a baby son.” She said, “My lord, you are a man of God; do not deceive your servant.”c 17Yet the woman conceived, and by the same time the following year she had given birth to a son, as Elisha had promised; 18and the child grew up healthy.d
One day the boy went out to his father among the reapers. 19He said to his father, “My head! My head!” And his father said to the servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20The servant picked him up and carried him to his mother; he sat in her lap until noon, and then died. 21She went upstairs and laid him on the bed of the man of God. Closing the door on him, she went out 22and called to her husband, “Let me have one of the servants and a donkey. I must go quickly to the man of God, and I will be back.” 23He asked, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the new moon nor the sabbath.” But she said, “It is all right.” 24When the donkey was saddled, she said to her servant, “Lead on! Do not stop my donkey unless I tell you.” 25She kept going till she reached the man of God on Mount Carmel. When he saw her at a distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi: “There is the Shunammite! 26Hurry to meet her, and ask if everything is all right with her, with her husband, and with the boy.” “Everything is all right,” she replied. 27But when she reached the man of God on the mountain, she clasped his feet. Gehazi came near to push her away, but the man of God said: “Let her alone, she is in bitter anguish; the LORD hid it from me and did not let me know.” 28She said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not mislead me’?” 29He said to Gehazi, “Get ready for a journey. Take my staff with you and be off; if you meet anyone, give no greeting,* and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff upon the boy.” 30But the boy’s mother cried out: “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not release you.” So he started back with her.
31Meanwhile, Gehazi had gone on ahead and had laid the staff upon the boy, but there was no sound, no response. He returned to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.” 32When Elisha reached the house, he found the boy dead, lying on the bed. 33He went in, closed the door on them both, and prayed to the LORD. 34Then he lay upon the child on the bed, placing his mouth upon the child’s mouth, his eyes upon the eyes, and his hands upon the hands. As Elisha stretched himself over the child, the boy’s flesh became warm.e 35He arose, paced up and down the room, and then once more stretched himself over him, and the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.f 36Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” He called her, and she came to him, and Elisha said to her, “Take your son.” 37She came in and fell at his feet in homage; then she took her son and left.
The Poisoned Stew. 38g When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. Once, when the guild prophets were seated before him, he said to his servant, “Put the large pot on, and make some vegetable stew for the guild prophets.” 39Someone went out into the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine, from which he picked a sackful of poisonous wild gourds. On his return he cut them up into the pot of vegetable stew without anybody’s knowing it. 40The stew was served, but when they began to eat it, they cried, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41He said, “Bring some meal.” He threw it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was no longer anything harmful in the pot.
The Barley Loaves. 42h A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” 43But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred?” Elisha again said, “Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the LORD: You will eat and have some left over.” 44He set it before them, and when they had eaten, they had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.
* [4:1] His creditorâ€¦into servitude: Israelite law permitted the selling of wife and children into slavery for debt; cf. Ex 21:7; Am 2:6; 8:6; Is 50:1.
* [4:13] I am living among my own people: the Shunammite woman declines Elisha’s offer. Surrounded by the support of her family and her clan, she is secure. Ironically, at some point in the future Elisha’s advice will send her to live among foreigners (see 8:1–2).
* [4:29] Give no greeting: a profuse exchange of greetings and compliments would normally surround the chance encounter of acquaintances on the road. This would, however, take time, and Gehazi’s mission was urgent. Compare Lk 10:4.
a. [4:1–7] 1 Kgs 17:8–16.
b. [4:10] 1 Kgs 17:9.
d. [4:18–37] 1 Kgs 17:17–24; Lk 7:11–16; Acts 20:10–12.
g. [4:38–41] 2 Kgs 2:19–22.
h. [4:42–44] Mt 14:13–21; 15:32–38; Mk 6:34–44; 8:1–9; Lk 9:10–17; Jn 6:1–13.