A Great Defeat For Judah's Invaders; God's Judgment On The Kings By Death, Disease And Shipwreck; The Death Of Elijah, And The Life Of His Successor Elisha

This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 5 (of 11) in Section 8: "The Kings of Israel and Judah, and Disaster and Prosperity Brought on the Two Kingdoms According to Their Obedience or Disobedience to God".

Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The purpose of the Old Testament seems to have been mainly to try to scare lawless societies into behaving decently, giving up the cruel ways the Bible says they were guilty of. Hence much of the gruesomeness, which is at least in part meant to warn people committing cruel and hurtful actions to change.

In the Books of Kings and Chronicles in the Old Testament, the Bible says:

2 Chronicles chapter 20 (NIV)

1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi).

3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD , and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD ; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:

"O LORD , God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'

10 "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."

13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD. 14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.
16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "

18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD . 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD , the God of Israel, with very loud voice.

20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."

21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
"Give thanks to the LORD ,
for his love endures forever."

22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value-more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.

26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD . This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.

29 The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.

2 Kings chapter 1 (NLT)

2 One day Israel's new king, Ahaziah, fell through the latticework of an upper room at his palace in Samaria, and he was seriously injured. So he sent messengers to the temple of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether he would recover.

3 But the angel of the LORD told Elijah, who was from Tishbe, "Go and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, 'Why are you going to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether the king will get well? Is there no God in Israel? 4 Now, therefore, this is what the LORD says: You will never leave the bed on which you are lying, but you will surely die.'" So Elijah went to deliver the message.

5 When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, "Why have you returned so soon?"

6 They replied, "A man came up to us and said, 'Go back to the king and give him this message from the LORD: Why are you sending men to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether you will get well? Is there no God in Israel? Now, since you have done this, you will never leave the bed on which you are lying, but you will surely die.'"

7 "Who was this man?" the king demanded. "What did he look like?"

8 They replied, "He was a hairy man, and he wore a leather belt around his waist."

"It was Elijah from Tishbe!" the king exclaimed.

9 Then he sent an army captain with fifty soldiers to arrest him. They found him sitting on top of a hill. The captain said to him, "Man of God, the king has commanded you to come along with us." 10 But Elijah replied to the captain, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men!" Then fire fell from heaven and killed them all. 11 So the king sent another captain with fifty men. The captain said to him, "Man of God, the king says that you must come down right away." 12 Elijah replied, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men!" And again the fire of God fell from heaven and killed them all.

13 Once more the king sent a captain with fifty men. But this time the captain fell to his knees before Elijah. He pleaded with him, "O man of God, please spare my life and the lives of these, your fifty servants. 14 See how the fire from heaven has destroyed the first two groups. But now please spare my life!"

15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, "Don't be afraid. Go with him." So Elijah got up and went to the king. 16 And Elijah said to the king, "This is what the LORD says: Why did you send messengers to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether you will get well? Is there no God in Israel? Now, since you have done this, you will never leave the bed on which you are lying, but you will surely die."

17 So Ahaziah died, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah. Since Ahaziah did not have a son to succeed him, his brother Joram became the next king. This took place in the second year of the reign of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.

Historical Information, and Examples of the Kinds of Problems People Living Today Need to Help Resolve or Stop Causing, in Accordance With What the Bible's Trying to Teach Here

Gruesome and Immoral Activities Involved in Baal Worship, and the Persecution of Christians by Polytheists

In the Books of Kings and Chronicles in the Old Testament, the Bible says:

2 Chronicles chapter 20 (TEV)

31 Jehoshaphat had become king of Judah at the age of thirty-five and had ruled in Jerusalem for twenty-five years. 32 Like his father Asa before him, he did what was right in the sight of the Lord; 33 but the pagan places of worship were not destroyed. The people still did not turn wholeheartedly to the worship of the God of their ancestors.

35 At one time King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who did many wicked things. 36 At the port of Eziongeber they built ocean-going ships. 37 But Eliezer son of Dodavahu, from the town of Mareshah, warned Jehoshaphat, "Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have built." And the ships were wrecked and never sailed.

2 Chronicles chapter 21 (TEV)

1 Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the royal tombs in David's City and his son Jehoram succeeded him as king.

2 Jehoram son of King Jehoshaphat of Judah had six brothers: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael, and Shephatiah. 3 Their father gave them large amounts of gold, silver, and other valuable possessions, and placed each one in charge of one of the fortified cities of Judah. But because Jehoram was the oldest, Jehoshaphat made him his successor.

4 When Jehoram was in firm control of the kingdom, he had all his brothers killed, and also some Israelite officials.

5 Jehoram became king at the age of thirty-two, and he ruled in Jerusalem for eight years. 6 He followed the wicked example of King Ahab and the other kings of Israel, because he had married one of Ahab's daughters. He sinned against the Lord, 7 but the Lord was not willing to destroy the dynasty of David, because he had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would always continue to rule.

8 During Jehoram's reign Edom revolted against Judah and became an independent kingdom. 9 So Jehoram and his officers set out with chariots and invaded Edom. There the Edomite army surrounded them, but during the night they managed to break out and escape. 10 Edom has been independent of Judah ever since.

During this same period the city of Libnah also revolted, because Jehoram had abandoned the Lord, the God of his ancestors. 11 He even built pagan places of worship in the Judean highlands and led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to sin against the Lord.

12 The prophet Elijah sent Jehoram a letter, which read as follows:

"The Lord, the God of your ancestor David, condemns you, because you did not follow the example of your father, King Jehoshaphat, or that of your grandfather, King Asa. 13 Instead, you have followed the example of the kings of Israel and have led the people of Judah and Jerusalem into being unfaithful to God, just as Ahab and his successors led Israel into unfaithfulness. You even murdered your brothers, who were better men than you are. 14 As a result, the Lord will severely punish your people, your children, and your wives, and will destroy your possessions. 15 You yourself will suffer a painful intestinal disease that will grow worse day by day."

16 Some Philistines and Arabs lived near where some Ethiopians had settled along the coast. The Lord caused them to go to war against Jehoram. 17 They invaded Judah, looted the royal palace, and carried off as prisoners all the king's wives and sons except Ahaziah, his youngest son.

18 Then after all this, the Lord brought on the king a painful disease of the intestines. 19 For almost two years it grew steadily worse until finally the king died in agony.
His subjects did not light a bonfire in mourning for him as had been done for his ancestors.

20 Jehoram had become king at the age of thirty-two and had ruled in Jerusalem for eight years. Nobody was sorry when he died. They buried him in David's City, but not in the royal tombs.

2 Kings chapter 2 (TEV)

1 The time came for the Lord to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, 2 and on the way Elijah said to Elisha, "Now stay here; the Lord has ordered me to go to Bethel."

But Elisha answered, "I swear by my loyalty to the living Lord and to you that I will not leave you." So they went on to Bethel.

3 A group of prophets who lived there went to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?"

"Yes, I know," Elisha answered. "But let's not talk about it."

4 Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Now stay here; the Lord has ordered me to go to Jericho."

But Elisha answered, "I swear by my loyalty to the living Lord and to you that I will not leave you." So they went on to Jericho.

5 A group of prophets who lived there went to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?"

"Yes, I know," Elisha answered. "But let's not talk about it."

6 Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Now stay here; the Lord has ordered me to go to the Jordan River."

But Elisha answered, "I swear by my loyalty to the living Lord and to you that I will not leave you." So they went on, 7 and fifty of the prophets followed them to the Jordan. Elijah and Elisha stopped by the river, and the fifty prophets stood a short distance away. 8 Then Elijah took off his cloak, rolled it up, and struck the water with it; the water divided, and he and Elisha crossed to the other side on dry ground. 9 There, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what you want me to do for you before I am taken away."

"Let me receive the share of your power that will make me your successor," Elisha answered.

10 "That is a difficult request to grant," Elijah replied. "But you will receive it if you see me as I am being taken away from you; if you don't see me, you won't receive it."

11 They kept talking as they walked on; then suddenly a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire came between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out to Elijah, "My father, my father! Mighty defender of Israel! You are gone!" And he never saw Elijah again.

In grief Elisha tore his cloak in two.

13 Then he picked up Elijah's cloak that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He struck the water with Elijah's cloak and said, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" Then he struck the water again, and it divided, and he walked over to the other side.

15 The fifty prophets from Jericho saw him and said, "The power of Elijah is on Elisha!" They went to meet him, bowed down before him, 16 and said, "There are fifty of us here, all strong men. Let us go and look for your master. Maybe the spirit of the Lord has carried him away and left him on some mountain or in some valley."

"No, you must not go," Elisha answered.

17 But they insisted until he gave in and let them go.

The fifty of them went and looked high and low for Elijah for three days, but didn't find him. 18 Then they returned to Elisha, who had waited at Jericho, and he said to them, "Didn't I tell you not to go?"

19 Some men from Jericho went to Elisha and said, "As you know, sir, this is a fine city, but the water is bad and causes miscarriages."

20 "Put some salt in a new bowl and bring it to me," he ordered.

They brought it to him, 21 and he went to the spring, threw the salt in the water, and said, "This is what the Lord says: "I make this water pure, and it will not cause any more deaths or miscarriages.' " 22 And that water has been pure ever since, just as Elisha said it would be.

23 Elisha left Jericho to go to Bethel, and on the way some boys came out of a town and made fun of him. "Get out of here, baldy!" they shouted. 24 Elisha turned around, glared at them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys to pieces.

In the Amplified Bible translation, there is a footnote with this passage that says:

"This incident has long been misunderstood because the Hebrew word "naar" was translated "little boys." That these characteristic juvenile delinquents were old enough to be fully accountable is obvious from the use of the word elsewhere. For example, it was used by David of his son Solomon and translated "young and inexperienced," when Solomon was a father (I Chron. 22:5; cf. I Kings 14:21 and II Chron. 9:30 ). It was used of Joseph when he was seventeen (Gen. 37:2). In fact, not less than seventy times in the King James Version this word "naar" is translated "young man" or "young men."

25 Elisha went on to Mount Carmel and later returned to Samaria.

2 Kings chapter 4 (CEV)

1 One day the widow of one of the LORD's prophets said to Elisha, "You know that before my husband died, he was a follower of yours and a worshiper of the LORD. But he owed a man some money, and now that man is on his way to take my two sons as his slaves."

2 "Maybe there's something I can do to help," Elisha said. "What do you have in your house?"

"Sir, I have nothing but a small bottle of olive oil."

3 Elisha told her, "Ask your neighbors for their empty jars. And after you've borrowed as many as you can, 4 go home and shut the door behind you and your sons. Then begin filling the jars with oil and set each one aside as you fill it."
5 The woman left.

Later, when she and her sons were back inside their house, the two sons brought her the jars, and she began filling them.
6 At last, she said to one of her sons, "Bring me another jar."
"We don't have any more," he answered, and the oil stopped flowing from the small bottle.

7 After she told Elisha what had happened, he said, "Sell the oil and use part of the money to pay what you owe the man. You and your sons can live on what is left."

8 Once, while Elisha was in the town of Shunem, he met a rich woman who invited him to her home for dinner.
After that, whenever he was in Shunem, he would have a meal there with her and her husband.

9 Some time later the woman said to her husband, "I'm sure the man who comes here so often is a prophet of God. 10Why don't we build him a small room on the flat roof of our house? We can put a bed, a table and chair, and an oil lamp in it. Then whenever he comes, he can stay with us."

2 Kings chapter 4 (TEV)

11 One day Elisha returned to Shunem and went up to his room to rest. 12 He told his servant Gehazi to go and call the woman. When she came, 13 he said to Gehazi, "Ask her what I can do for her in return for all the trouble she has had in providing for our needs. Maybe she would like me to go to the king or the army commander and put in a good word for her."

"I have all I need here among my own people," she answered.

14 Elisha asked Gehazi, "What can I do for her then?"

He answered, "Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man."

15 "Tell her to come here," Elisha ordered. She came and stood in the doorway, 16 and Elisha said to her, "By this time next year you will be holding a son in your arms."

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Please, sir, don't lie to me. You are a man of God!" 17 But, as Elisha had said, at about that time the following year she gave birth to a son.

18 Some years later, at harvest time, the boy went out one morning to join his father, who was in the field with the harvest workers. 19 Suddenly he cried out to his father, "My head hurts! My head hurts!"

"Carry the boy to his mother," the father said to a servant.

20 The servant carried the boy back to his mother, who held him in her lap until noon, at which time he died.

21 She carried him up to Elisha's room, put him on the bed and left, closing the door behind her. 22 Then she called her husband and said to him, "Send a servant here with a donkey. I need to go to the prophet Elisha. I'll be back as soon as I can."

23 "Why do you have to go today?" her husband asked. "It's neither a Sabbath nor a New Moon Festival."

"Never mind," she answered. 24 Then she had the donkey saddled, and ordered the servant, "Make the donkey go as fast as it can, and don't slow down unless I tell you to."
25 So she set out and went to Mount Carmel, where Elisha was.

Elisha saw her coming while she was still some distance away, and he said to his servant Gehazi, "Look, there comes the woman from Shunem! 26 Hurry to her and find out if everything is all right with her, her husband, and her son."

She told Gehazi that everything was all right, 27 but when she came to Elisha, she bowed down before him and took hold of his feet. Gehazi was about to push her away, but Elisha said, "Leave her alone. Can't you see she's deeply distressed? And the Lord has not told me a thing about it."

28 The woman said to him, "Sir, did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you not to get my hopes up?"

29 Elisha turned to Gehazi and said, "Hurry! Take my walking stick and go. Don't stop to greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, don't take time to answer. Go straight to the house and hold my stick over the boy."

30 The woman said to Elisha, "I swear by my loyalty to the living Lord and to you that I will not leave you!"

So the two of them started back together. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and held Elisha's stick over the child, but there was no sound or any other sign of life. So he went back to meet Elisha and said, "The boy didn't wake up."

32 When Elisha arrived, he went alone into the room and saw the boy lying dead on the bed. 33 He closed the door and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he lay down on the boy, placing his mouth, eyes, and hands on the boy's mouth, eyes, and hands. As he lay stretched out over the boy, the boy's body started to get warm. 35 Elisha got up, walked around the room, and then went back and again stretched himself over the boy. The boy sneezed seven times and then opened his eyes.

36 Elisha called Gehazi and told him to call the boy's mother. When she came in, he said to her, "Here's your son." 37 She fell at Elisha's feet, with her face touching the ground; then she took her son and left.

38 Once, when there was a famine throughout the land, Elisha returned to Gilgal. While he was teaching a group of prophets, he told his servant to put a big pot on the fire and make some stew for them. 39 One of them went out in the fields to get some herbs. He found a wild vine and picked as many gourds as he could carry. He brought them back and sliced them up into the stew, not knowing what they were. 40 The stew was poured out for the men to eat, but as soon as they tasted it they exclaimed to Elisha, "It's poisoned!" - and wouldn't eat it.
41 Elisha asked for some meal, threw it into the pot, and said, "Pour out some more stew for them." And then there was nothing wrong with it.

42 Another time, a man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing Elisha twenty loaves of bread made from the first barley harvested that year, and some freshly-cut heads of grain. Elisha told his servant to feed the group of prophets with this, 43 but he answered, "Do you think this is enough for a hundred men?"

Elisha replied, "Give it to them to eat, because the Lord says that they will eat and still have some left over."

44 So the servant set the food before them, and as the Lord had said, they all ate, and there was still some left over.

The Bible does not instruct Christians and ordinary people to be violent towards Pagans or to destroy their places of worship. God illustrated in Old Testament times how much he objects to the worship of other gods and disobedience to his commands. The Bible instructs Christians and ordinary individuals to behave in a very different way to the way in which God wanted the kings of Israel and Judah to behave. To find out more, visit What The Bible Says About Violence, Anger, Jealousy, Arguments, And Living In Peace With Each Other.

The next file in this section (Part 6), is entitled: "The Syrian Commander Miraculously Healed; Supernatural Relief From The Syrian Army And Famine; And God's Judgment Executed On The King Of Israel".

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

Warning Against Believing Everything you Hear or Read

Don't be afraid to question the truth of what a religious authority figure tells you, or even the Bible or other holy books themselves, or certain people's interpretation of them. Nothing to do with religion or the supernatural is so well established in fact it shouldn't be questioned. To find out why caution is a good idea, visit:

The Beauty of the New Testament's Moral Teaching and Other Important Pages on this Website

Are you up to trying the challenges of the New Testament's moral guidelines, and would you like to know more of what it says about the love of Jesus? Here are some links to Bible quotes about the beautiful ideals the New Testament encourages Christians to try to live up to:

There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:

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If you have a problem affecting your mental health or well-being, like depression, a difficulty with life-damaging worry, panic attacks, phobias or OCD, marriage problems, an addiction, an eating disorder, recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse or domestic violence, coping with bullies in the workplace, or bullying and teasing at school, trying to lose weight, raising difficult teenagers, caring for someone with a disease like Alzheimer's, wanting to recover from anorexia or self-harm, or grieving for someone you were close to or feeling lonely, and you'd like some ideas on coping or getting past it, visit our Self-help series.

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