The Call of Elisha   Leave a comment

Above: Elisha

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LXXIV

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Kings 19:19-21

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And another said, “I will follow you, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”  [To him] Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

–Luke 9:61-62, The New American Bible (1991)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A prophet’s mantle (a robe) was his distinctive garment.  The mantle, made of skin and covered in goat’s hair turned outward, was also an object of power, much like the staff Moses carried.  The mantle of Elijah–later of Elisha–was an important element in some stories, including this one.  

God had given Elijah three tasks to complete in 1 Kings 19:15-18.  Selecting Elisha as his successor was the only one Elijah completed.  As I wrote in the previous post, Elisha completed the other two tasks in 2 Kings 8:7-15 and 9:1-15.

Elisha came from a wealthy agricultural family.  When Elijah arrived, Elisha was working as part of a team plowing a field with a dozen oxen.  His parents must have been upset to learn that Elisha had slaughtered valuable livestock.

Verse 20 contains ambiguous elements.

  1. Did Elisha visit his parents to say goodbye?
  2. Did Elijah rebuke him for asking to do so?

The long tradition of interpretation (both Jewish and Christian) includes many who have said “yes” and “no” in various combinations, as well as those who have answered consistently with “yes” or “no” to both questions.  After consulting commentaries and reading different interpretations, I am uncertain what the text says.  I am inclined, however, to apply Ockham’s Razor to the text.  In context, Elijah’s question seems like a rebuke.  And verse 21 is plain in its meaning that Elisha accepted the call to serve God.

The call to serve God overrides previous commitments that may get in the way.  This is also a theme in the Gospels.  When God calls, draw the boldfaced double lines through your life, O reader.  Label one side “before” and the other side “after.”

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES A. WALSH AND THOMAS PRICE, COFOUNDERS OF THE MARYKNOLL FATHERS AND BROTHERS; AND MARY JOSEPHINE ROGERS, FOUNDRESS OF THE MARYKNOLL SISTERS OF SAINT DOMINIC

THE FEAST OF DMITRY BORTNIANSKY, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF HARRY WEBB FARRINGTON, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted October 27, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Kings 19, 2 Kings 8, 2 Kings 9, Luke 9

Tagged with , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: