When is was time for Eliyahu to depart this world, why did G-d choose for him to depart from the eastern side of the Jordan River and not from Israel?
There are several answers given:
1. The Radak (Melachim II, 2:1) explains, that since Eliyahu’s stature was close to that of Moshe Rabeinu, therefore it was appropriate and an honor for Eliyahu to depart this world from the same place that Moshe departed this world, the eastern side of the Jordan River.
2. Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel posits; that Eliyahu was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, WHILE they were crossing the Jordan River. This was intended to demonstrate that all of the four basic elements of the world were involved in unison in his departure. The involvement of the four basic elements, is as follows: Fire – fiery chariot and fiery horses. Wind – He was taken in a storm wind. Water – He was in middle of the Jordan River. Earth – The bed of the river.
3. Rabbi Menachem Azariah da Fano (commonly referred to as the “Rama MiPano”) explains (Yonas Eilem, 2nd edition from manuscript, 1:33); that it was appropriate for Eliyahu to depart this world from the eastern side of the Jordan River, because that was the place that Pinchas was awarded the Priesthood, when he killed Zimri. [This is presumably in line with the opinion that says that Eliyahu was the same as Pinchas (either literally or spiritually)].
והיה סלוקו בעבר הירדן, הוא המקום שבו נתכהן פינחס כשהרג את זמרי וזכה לברית שלום תחת אשר קינא לאלקיו.
4. In another approach; the “Rama MiPano” explains (Yonas Eilem, Chapter 15) that the eastern side of the Jordan River, is unique in that it is a ממוצע, a state of holiness that is between the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael and the status of Chutz La’aretz. It was therefore appropriate for Eliyahu to depart this world from such an in-between place, since he was destined to make future appearances, both in Eretz Yisrael, and in Chutz La’aretz.
והיה בעבר הירדן, מקום ממוצע בין קדושת הארץ וחוצה לה, הואיל ויש לו רשות להראות בכל מקום אשר ישאהו רוח השם