Elijah Goes Up To Heaven

On the day G‑d had selected to take His servant Elijah from this earth, the prophet left Gilgal in the company of his disciple Elisha. They reached the shores of the Jordan followed by fifty young prophets who had come with them out of Jericho and stood watching them at some distance. Elijah took his mantle and, rolling it up like a staff, he smote the waters, which separated. The prophets passed through the river on dry land. Walking with Elisha between the parted floods, Elijah asked his disciple if he could do something for him, before G‑d took him away. Elisha replied that he would like to ask for a double measure of the Divine spirit of his master. Elijah assured him that although his wish was no small thing, it would come true if Elisha merited seeing his master go up to heaven. As they thus went on and talked, they were separated by the sudden appearance of a fiery chariot, drawn by fiery horses; and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw his master disappear and in bitter grief he rent his garments, and exclaimed: "My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its riders!"1

Elisha Succeeds Elijah

Elisha picked up Elijah's mantle that had fallen off, and returned to the shores of the Jordan. He waved the mantle over the water, as his master had done, and behold, the miracle repeated itself; the river parted again and a dry passage appeared, over which Elisha crossed to the opposite bank. The prophets who had remained on the banks of the Jordan before Elijah and Elisha went across, saw this and exclaimed: "Truly, the spirit of Elijah rests upon Elisha!" They walked towards him and bowed down before him, accepting him as their master.

Elisha's Miracles

Soon Elisha was again to prove his Divine powers. The people of Jericho came to him to complain of the bad water in the vicinity which caused disease to man and beast and laid the whole land waste and barren. Elisha was ready to prove G‑d's great kindness in a miraculous way. He requested a new cruse of salt. This he took to the nearest spring and there cast the salt into the water. To the assembled people he proclaimed in G‑d's name that the water would now be purified, and would no longer cause death and desolation. The amazed people drank of the water which had now become pure and wholesome, and praised G‑d and blessed His prophet. Elisha's fame spread far and wide.

Leaving Jericho in the company of his disciples, the young prophets, Elisha was approaching the town of Bethel. A crowd of young men came out of the town and began to mock the prophet and shout abusive words in his direction. The reason for their disgraceful behavior was their selfishness. For until Elisha had purified the water in the vicinity of Jericho, they had had a profitable business bringing fresh water for the inhabitants and charging exorbitant prices for it. But since Elisha had purified the water, they had lost this business and therefore hated the prophet.

Seeing that these people had neither fear of G‑d, nor consideration for their fellow-men, Elisha cursed them, and their punishment came swiftly. Ferocious bears suddenly appeared from the woods and charged into the mocking crowd. Forty-two young men were killed, and the rest fled in terror.

Elisha proceeded on his way to Mount Carmel, and later went to Samaria, where King Joram sat on the throne of Israel.