2 Kings 1-4 The Message Bible

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The Death of Ahaziah

1 1  After Ahab died, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2  One day Ahaziah fell through the balcony railing on the rooftop of his house in Samaria and was injured. He sent messengers off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, "Am I going to recover from this accident?" 3  God's angel spoke to Elijah the Tishbite: "Up on your feet! Go out and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria with this word, 'Is it because there's no God in Israel that you're running off to consult Baal-Zebub god of Ekron?' 4  Here's a message from the God you've tried to bypass: 'You're not going to get out of that bed you're in - you're as good as dead already.'" Elijah delivered the message and was gone. 5  The messengers went back. The king said, "So why are you back so soon - what's going on?" 6  They told him, "A man met us and said, 'Turn around and go back to the king who sent you; tell him, God's message: Is it because there's no God in Israel that you're running off to consult Baal-Zebub god of Ekron? You needn't bother. You're not going to get out of that bed you're in - you're as good as dead already.'" 7  The king said, "Tell me more about this man who met you and said these things to you. What was he like?" 8  "Shaggy," they said, "and wearing a leather belt." He said, "That has to be Elijah the Tishbite!"

9  The king sent a captain with fifty men to Elijah. Meanwhile Elijah was sitting, big as life, on top of a hill. The captain said, "O Holy Man! King's orders: Come down!" 10  Elijah answered the captain of the fifty, "If it's true that I'm a 'holy man,' lightning strike you and your fifty men!" Out of the blue lightning struck and incinerated the captain and his fifty. 11  The king sent another captain with his fifty men, "O Holy Man! King's orders: Come down. And right now!" 12  Elijah answered, "If it's true that I'm a 'holy man,' lightning strike you and your fifty men!" Immediately a divine lightning bolt struck and incinerated the captain and his fifty. 13  The king then sent a third captain with his fifty men. For a third time, a captain with his fifty approached Elijah. This one fell on his knees in supplication: "O Holy Man, have respect for my life and the souls of these fifty men! 14  Twice now lightning from out of the blue has struck and incinerated captains with their fifty men; please, I beg you, respect my life!" 15  The angel of God told Elijah, "Go ahead; and don't be afraid." Elijah got up and went down with him to the king. 16  Elijah told him, "God's word: Because you sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron, as if there were no God in Israel to whom you could pray, you'll never get out of that bed alive - already you're as good as dead." 17  And he died, exactly as God's word spoken by Elijah had said. Because Ahaziah had no son, his brother Joram became the next king. The succession took place in the second year of the reign of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. 18  The rest of Ahaziah's life is recorded in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

Elisha Succeeds Elijah

2 1  Just before God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on a walk out of Gilgal. 2  Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Bethel." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" So they both went to Bethel. 3  The guild of prophets at Bethel met Elisha and said, "Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?" "Yes," he said, "I know it. But keep it quiet." 4  Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Jericho." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" So they both went to Jericho. 5  The guild of prophets at Jericho came to Elisha and said, "Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?" "Yes," he said, "I know it. But keep it quiet." 6  Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to the Jordan." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" And so the two of them went their way together. 7  Meanwhile, fifty men from the guild of prophets gathered some distance away while the two of them stood at the Jordan. 8  Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and hit the water with it. The river divided and the two men walked through on dry land.

9  When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, "What can I do for you before I'm taken from you? Ask anything." Elisha said, "Your life repeated in my life. I want to be a holy man just like you." 10  "That's a hard one!" said Elijah. "But if you're watching when I'm taken from you, you'll get what you've asked for. But only if you're watching." 11  And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. 12  Elisha saw it all and shouted, "My father, my father! You - the chariot and cavalry of Israel!" When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces.

13  Then he picked up Elijah's cloak that had fallen from him, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there. 14  He took Elijah's cloak - all that was left of Elijah! - and hit the river with it, saying, "Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?" When he struck the water, the river divided and Elisha walked through. 15  The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, "The spirit of Elijah lives in Elisha!" They welcomed and honored him. 16  They then said, "We're at your service. We have fifty reliable men here; let's send them out to look for your master. Maybe God's spirit has swept him off to some mountain or dropped him into a remote ravine." Elisha said, "No. Don't send them." 17  But they pestered him until he caved in: "Go ahead then. Send them." So they sent the fifty men off. For three days they looked, searching high and low. Nothing. 18  Finally, they returned to Elisha in Jericho. He told them, "So there - didn't I tell you?"

19  One day the men of the city said to Elisha, "You can see for yourself, master, how well our city is located. But the water is polluted and nothing grows." 20  He said, "Bring me a brand-new bowl and put some salt in it." They brought it to him. 21  He then went to the spring, sprinkled the salt into it, and proclaimed, "God's word: I've healed this water. It will no longer kill you or poison your land." 22  And sure enough, the water was healed - and remains so to this day, just as Elisha said. 23  Another time, Elisha was on his way to Bethel and some little kids came out from the town and taunted him, "What's up, old baldhead! Out of our way, skinhead!" 24  Elisha turned, took one look at them, and cursed them in the name of God. Two bears charged out of the underbrush and knocked them about, ripping them limb from limb - forty-two children in all! 25  Elisha went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria.

The Reign of Jehoram of Israel

3 1  Joram son of Ahab began his rule over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. He was king for twelve years. 2  In God's sight he was a bad king. But he wasn't as bad as his father and mother - to his credit he destroyed the obscene Baal stone that his father had made. 3  But he hung on to the sinful practices of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the ones that had corrupted Israel for so long. He wasn't about to give them up.

Elisha Predicts Victory over Moab

4  King Mesha of Moab raised sheep. He was forced to give the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and another hundred thousand rams. 5  When Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

6  So King Joram set out from Samaria and prepared Israel for war. 7  His first move was to send a message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: "The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Would you join me and fight him?" 8  Which route shall we take?" "Through the badlands of Edom." 9  The king of Israel, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom started out on what proved to be a looping detour. After seven days they had run out of water for both army and animals. 10  The king of Israel said, "Bad news! God has gotten us three kings out here to dump us into the hand of Moab." 11  But Jehoshaphat said, "Isn't there a prophet of God anywhere around through whom we can consult God?" One of the servants of the king of Israel said, "Elisha son of Shaphat is around somewhere - the one who was Elijah's right-hand man." 12  Jehoshaphat said, "Good! A man we can trust!" So the three of them - the king of Israel, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom - went to meet him. 13  Elisha addressed the king of Israel, "What do you and I have in common? Go consult the puppet-prophets of your father and mother." "Never!" said the king of Israel. "It's God who has gotten us into this fix, dumping all three of us kings into the hand of Moab." 14  Elisha said, "As God-of-the-Angel-Armies lives, and before whom I stand ready to serve, if it weren't for the respect I have for Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I wouldn't give you the time of day. 15  But considering - bring me a minstrel." (When a minstrel played, the power of God came on Elisha.) 16  He then said, "God's word: Dig ditches all over this valley. 17  Here's what will happen - you won't hear the wind, you won't see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill. 18  This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you. 19  You will ravage the country: Knock out its fortifications, level the key villages, clear-cut the orchards, clog the springs, and litter the cultivated fields with stones."

20  In the morning - it was at the hour of morning sacrifice - the water had arrived, water pouring in from the west, from Edom, a flash-flood filling the valley with water. 21  By this time everyone in Moab had heard that the kings had come up to make war against them. Everyone who was able to handle a sword was called into service and took a stand at the border. 22  They were up and ready early in the morning when the sun rose over the water. From where the Moabites stood, the water reflecting the sun looked red, like blood. 23  "Blood! Look at the blood!" they said. "The kings must have fought each other - a bloody massacre! Go for the loot, Moab!" 24  When Moab entered the camp of Israel, the Israelites were up on their feet killing Moabites right and left, the Moabites running for their lives, Israelites relentless in pursuit - a slaughter. 25  They leveled the towns, littered the cultivated fields with rocks, clogged the springs, and clear-cut the orchards. Only the capital, Kir Hareseth, was left intact, and that not for long; it too was surrounded and attacked with thrown and flung rocks. 26  When the king of Moab realized that he was fighting a losing battle, he took seven hundred swordsmen to hack a corridor past the king of Edom, but they didn't make it. 27  Then he took his son, his firstborn who would succeed him as king, and sacrificed him on the city wall. That set off furious anger against Israel. Israel pulled back and returned home.

The Widow's Oil

4 1  One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves." 2  Elisha said, "I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?" "Nothing," she said. "Well, I do have a little oil." 3  "Here's what you do," said Elisha. "Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few - all you can get. 4  Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside." 5  She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. 6  When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, "Another jug, please." He said, "That's it. There are no more jugs." Then the oil stopped. 7  She went and told the story to the man of God. He said, "Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what's left."

Elisha and the Shunammite Woman

8  One day Elisha passed through Shunem. A leading lady of the town talked him into stopping for a meal. And then it became his custom: Whenever he passed through, he stopped by for a meal. 9  "I'm certain," said the woman to her husband, "that this man who stops by with us all the time is a holy man of God. 10  Why don't we add on a small room upstairs and furnish it with a bed and desk, chair and lamp, so that when he comes by he can stay with us?" 11  And so it happened that the next time Elisha came by he went to the room and lay down for a nap. 12  Then he said to his servant Gehazi, "Tell the Shunammite woman I want to see her." He called her and she came to him. 13  Through Gehazi Elisha said, "You've gone far beyond the call of duty in taking care of us; what can we do for you? Do you have a request we can bring to the king or to the commander of the army?" She replied, "Nothing. I'm secure and satisfied in my family." 14  Elisha conferred with Gehazi: "There's got to be something we can do for her. But what?" Gehazi said, "Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man." 15  "Call her in," said Elisha. He called her and she stood at the open door. 16  Elisha said to her, "This time next year you're going to be nursing an infant son." "O my master, O Holy Man," she said, "don't play games with me, teasing me with such fantasies!" 17  The woman conceived. A year later, just as Elisha had said, she had a son.

18  The child grew up. One day he went to his father, who was working with the harvest hands, 19  complaining, "My head, my head!" His father ordered a servant, "Carry him to his mother." 20  The servant took him in his arms and carried him to his mother. He lay on her lap until noon and died. 21  She took him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut him in alone, and left. 22  She then called her husband, "Get me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the Holy Man; I'll be back as soon as I can." 23  "But why today? This isn't a holy day - it's neither New Moon nor Sabbath." She said, "Don't ask questions; I need to go right now. Trust me." 24  She went ahead and saddled the donkey, ordering her servant, "Take the lead - and go as fast as you can; I'll tell you if you're going too fast." 25  And so off she went. She came to the Holy Man at Mount Carmel. 26  Quickly now. Ask her, 'Is something wrong? Are you all right? Your husband? Your child?'" She said, "Everything's fine." 27  But when she reached the Holy Man at the mountain, she threw herself at his feet and held tightly to him. Gehazi came up to pull her away, but the Holy Man said, "Leave her alone - can't you see that she's in distress? But God hasn't let me in on why; I'm completely in the dark." 28  Then she spoke up: "Did I ask for a son, master? Didn't I tell you, 'Don't tease me with false hopes'?" 29  He ordered Gehazi, "Don't lose a minute - grab my staff and run as fast as you can. If you meet anyone, don't even take time to greet him, and if anyone greets you, don't even answer. Lay my staff across the boy's face." 30  The boy's mother said, "As sure as God lives and you live, you're not leaving me behind." And so Gehazi let her take the lead, and followed behind. 31  But Gehazi arrived first and laid the staff across the boy's face. But there was no sound - no sign of life. Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and said, "The boy hasn't stirred." 32  Elisha entered the house and found the boy stretched out on the bed dead. 33  He went into the room and locked the door - just the two of them in the room - and prayed to God. 34  He then got into bed with the boy and covered him with his body, mouth on mouth, eyes on eyes, hands on hands. As he was stretched out over him like that, the boy's body became warm. 35  Elisha got up and paced back and forth in the room. Then he went back and stretched himself upon the boy again. The boy started sneezing - seven times he sneezed! - and opened his eyes. 36  He called Gehazi and said, "Get the Shunammite woman in here!" He called her and she came in. Elisha said, "Embrace your son!" 37  She fell at Elisha's feet, face to the ground in reverent awe. Then she embraced her son and went out with him.

Elisha's Miracles for the Prophets

38  Elisha went back down to Gilgal. There was a famine there. While he was consulting with the guild of prophets, he told his servant, "Put a large pot on the fire and cook up some stew for the prophets." 39  One of the men went out into the field to get some herbs; he came across a wild vine and picked gourds from it, filling his gunnysack. He brought them back, sliced them up, and put them in the stew, even though no one knew what kind of plant it was. 40  The stew was then served up for the men to eat. They started to eat, and then exclaimed, "Death in the pot, O man of God! Death in the pot!" Nobody could eat it. 41  Elisha ordered, "Get me some meal." Then he sprinkled it into the stew pot. "Now serve it up to the men," he said. They ate it, and it was just fine - nothing wrong with that stew! 42  One day a man arrived from Baal Shalishah. He brought the man of God twenty loaves of fresh baked bread from the early harvest, along with a few apples from the orchard. Elisha said, "Pass it around to the people to eat." 43  His servant said, "For a hundred men? There's not nearly enough!" Elisha said, "Just go ahead and do it. God says there's plenty." 44  And sure enough, there was. He passed around what he had - they not only ate, but had leftovers.

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