If I am reading and understanding the text correctly, in chapter 2 of II Melachim (2 Kings) Eliyahu (Elijah) and Elisha haNevi'im travel from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho to across the Jordan. After Eliyahu haNavi is taken up into heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha haNavi goes back across the Jordan to Jericho, then to Bethel, then to Mount Carmel, and then he returned to Samaria. Why did he travel to these locations (and in this order)? I know haShem told Eliyahu haNavi to go to each place. But was there any additional significance to either the initial or return trips and/or the order of travels?

I ask because a user on the Biblical Hermeneutics SE website mentioned a connection to Yehoshua (Joshua):

The progression of the armies in Joshua goes from crossing the Jordan to the destruction of Jericho, to a battle at Ai and Bethel, to encampment at Gilgal. So Elijah retraces the conquest, but in reverse.

My question, though, still is why? What is the author saying by showing Elijah take this path at the command of the LORD?

It should be noted that there were likely two separate Gilgal's being mentioned in this account versus in that of Yehoshua.

Is this accurate or are there other reasons for their travels in these locations and in this order?


1 Answer 1


The Alshich here explains that on the day that a Tzaddik (a righteous person) dies, he receives from G-d an additional level of holiness. Also, even though Elijah was leaving behind his protégé Elisha, nevertheless, prophecy would certainly be lessened by his parting. This was especially true since Jezebel had recently killed many prophets.

Therefore, G-d commanded Elijah to visit the two remaining groups of prophets on the day that he was to die, fifty in Beis El and fifty in Jericho, in order to elevate them spiritually with his own specially elevated level of holiness.

He was then to proceed to the other side of the Jordan where he was to ascend to heaven together with his body. And the reason why Hashem chose that place for him to ascend was because He knew that there would be arguments against this unusual happening from the Heavenly Academy. Therefore, He chose the place where Elijah, who is Pinchas, was zealous for the sake of G-d in Shittim, and because of which G-d reward to him with eternal life.

The Alshich does not discuss Elisha's return journey, but it is possible that since Elisha had received a double portion of Elijah's spirit, he returned to the two groups of prophets in Jericho and Beis El to further elevate them.

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