God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19). His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). This was the only one of the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished. On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native place engaged in the labours of the field, ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him with the prophetical office (comp. Luke 9:61, 62). Elisha accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life. After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed, according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2 Kings 5:8). After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2 Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20); of the multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7); the miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem (4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (4:42-44); of the cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27); of the punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan (6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that would come (2 Kings 6:24-7:2). We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings 8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (9:1-10) were at length carried out. We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away: "My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings 13:20-21).
(God his salvation), son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah; the attendant and disciple of Elijan, and subsequently his successor as prophet of the kingdom of Israel. The earliest mention of his name is in the command to Elijah in the cave at Horeb. (1 Kings 19:16,17) (B.C. about 900.) Elijah sets forth to obey the command, and comes upon his successor engaged in ploughing. He crosses to him and throws over his shoulders the rough mantle-a token at once of investiture with the prophet's office and of adoption as a son. Elisha delayed merely to give the farewell kiss to his father and mother and preside at a parting feast with his people, and then followed the great prophet on his northward road. We hear nothing more of Elisha for eight years, until the translation of his master, when he reappears, to become the most prominent figure in the history of his country during the rest of his long life. In almost every respect Elisha presents the most complete contrast to Elijah. Elijah was a true Bedouin child of the desert. If he enters a city it is only to deliver his message of fire and be gone. Elisha, on the other hand, is a civilized man, an inhabitant of cities. His dress was the ordinary garment of an Israelite, the beged, probably similar in form to the long abbeyeh of the modern Syrians. (2 Kings 2:12) His hair was worn trimmed behind, in contrast to the disordered locks of Elijah, and he used a walking-staff, (2 Kings 4:29) of the kind ordinarily carried by grave or aged citizens. (Zechariah 8:4) After the departure of his master, Elisha returned to dwell at Jericho, (2 Kings 2:18) where he miraculously purified the springs. We next meet with Elisha at Bethel, in the heart of the country, on his way from Jericho to Mount Carmel. (2 Kings 2:23) The mocking children, Elisha's curse and the catastrophe which followed are familiar to all. Later he extricates Jehoram king of Israel, and the kings of Judah and Edom, from their difficulty in the campaign against Moab arising from want of water. (2 Kings 3:4-27) Then he multiplies the widow's oil. (2 Kings 4:5) The next occurrence is at Shunem, where he is hospitably entertained by a woman of substance, whose son dies, and is brought to life again by Elisha. (2 Kings 4:8-37) Then at Gilgal he purifies the deadly pottage, (2 Kings 4:38-41) and multiplies the loaves. (2 Kings 4:42-44) The simple records of these domestic incidents amongst the sons of the prophets are now interrupted by an occurrence of a more important character. (2 Kings 5:1-27) The chief captain of the army of Syria, Naaman, is attacked with leprosy, and is sent by an Israelite maid to the prophet Elisha, who directs him to dip seven times in the Jordan, which he does and is healed, (2 Kings 5:1-14) while Naaman's servant, Gehazi, he strikes with leprosy for his unfaithfulness. ch. (2 Kings 5:20-27) Again the scene changes. It is probably at Jericho that Elisha causes the iron axe to swim. (2 Kings 6:1-7) A band of Syrian marauders are sent to seize him, but are struck blind, and he misleads them to Samaria, where they find themselves int he presence of the Israelite king and his troops. (2 Kings 6:8-23) During the famine in Samaria, (2 Kings 6:24-33) he prophesied incredible plenty, ch. (2 Kings 7:1-2) which was soon fulfilled. ch. (2 Kings 7:3-20) We next find the prophet at Damascus. Benhadad the king is sick, and sends to Elisha by Hazael to know the result. Elisha prophesies the king's death, and announces to Hazael that he is to succeed to the throne. (2 Kings 8:7,15) Finally this prophet of God, after having filled the position for sixty years, is found on his death-bed in his own house. (2 Kings 13:14-19) The power of the prophet, however, does not terminate with his death. Even in the tomb he restores the dead to life. ch. (2 Kings 13:21)
Smith's Bible Dictionary (1884) , by William Smith.