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AND it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elias into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elias and Eliseus were going from Galgal.

Ver. 1.  Heaven.  By heaven here is meant, the air, the lowest of the heavenly regions, (Ch). through which he was carried by the ministry of angels, who directed the storm, (H.) to the place designed for him.

 

--- It is generally supposed to be Paradise, (C.) whither Henoch had been translated.  H.

 

--- They are still living, (C.) and must come again, to invite all to repent.  After which they will die martyrs, in the persecution of Antichrist.  H.

 

--- See S. Aug. de Gen. ad lit. ix. 6. et Apoc. xi.  W.

 

--- Eccli. xlviii. 10.  M.

 

--- They are a proof of a future resurrection.  C.

 

--- To decide where the paradise which they inhabit, (H.) is situated. would be rash.  S. Chrys. hom. 21. in Gen. &c.  Some suppose it is still in some unknown region of the earth: others place it above the sky, (M.) or in the bosom of Abraham.  C.

 

--- The Jews (ap. Munster) assert that Elias penetrated the sphere of fire, where his body was consumed.  Vat.

 

--- The earthly paradise is very probably no longer existing, in its ancient luxuriant state.  H.

 

--- It may now be covered with the waters of the Persian Gulf.  Worthington.




2 And Elias said to Eliseus: Stay thou here, because the Lord hath sent me as far as Bethel. And Eliseus said to him: As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And when they were come down to Bethel,

Bethel

Bethel, 1 see s.v. — 2 (Josh 12:16; Simeon) another name for Bethul. --- Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza. C. --- Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars. H.

3 The sons of the prophets, that were at Bethel, came forth to Eliseus, and said to him: Dost thou know that this day the Lord will take away thy master from thee? And he answered: I also know it: hold your peace.

Ver. 3.  The sons of the prophets.  That is, the disciples of the prophets; who seem to have had their schools, like colleges or communities, in Bethel, Jericho, and other places, in the days of Elias and Eliseus.  Ch.

 

--- Many of these disciples might be also their children.  Elias collected some fervent souls together even at Bethel, to preserve the true religion, as much as possible.  He visited them before his departure.  C.

 

--- Peace: let not Elias hear us.



Bethel

Bethel, 1 see s.v. — 2 (Josh 12:16; Simeon) another name for Bethul. --- Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza. C. --- Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars. H.

4 And Elias said to Eliseus: Stay here because the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said: As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And when they were come to Jericho,


5 The sons of the prophets that were at Jericho, came to Eliseus, and said to him: Dost thou know that this day the Lord will take away thy master from thee? And he said: I also know it: hold your peace.

Ver. 5.  From thee.  Heb. "from thy head," thy superior, and raise him into the air, v. 3.  C.




6 And Elias said to him: Stay here, because the Lord hath sent me as far as the Jordan. And he said: As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee; and they two went on together,

Ver. 6.  Thee.  Elias had tried the constancy of his disciple three times, as Christ required of S. Peter a triple confession of love.  Jo. xxi. 17.  H.

 

--- Humility might also prompt the prophet to desire to be alone.  Salien.




7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets followed them, and stood in sight at a distance: but they two stood by the Jordan.


8 And Elias took his mantle and folded it together, and struck the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, and they both passed over on dry ground.

Ver. 8.  Mantle.  Sept. mhlwthn, "sheep skin," (M.) such as the prophets wore.  The Syriac explains it of an ornament or bandage of the head; others, of a leathren mantle to keep off rain.  Ad subitas nunquam scortea diset aquas.  Martial xiv.


9 And when they were gone over, Elias said to Eliseus: Ask what thou wilt have me to do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Eliseus said: I beseech thee that in me may be thy double spirit.

Ver. 9.  Double spirit.  A double portion of thy spirit, as thy eldest son and heir: or thy spirit, which is double, in comparison of that which God usually imparteth to his prophets; (Ch). or the power of working miracles, as well as of prophesying.  W.

 

--- He wishes to excel his fellow disciples, rather than his master.  T.  Cajet.  Amama.

 

--- Double often means, great and perfect.  Jer. xvii. 18.  If Eliseus even begged that he might perform more and greater wonders than his master, (as Christ enabled his disciples to surpass himself, in this particular.  Jo. xiv. 12.  H.) he might do it without pride, purely for the glory of God.  He certainly shone forth with peculiar splendour; and some have enumerated sixteen or twenty-four of his miracles, while they can only find eight (Lyran.) or twelve recorded of Elias.  See A. Lapide, in Eccli. xlviii. 13.  C.

 

--- We read a similar expression in Pindar, (Olym. vi.) where Neptune gave his son Jamus ( Qhsauron didumon mantosunaV) "the double treasure of divination," p. 50. Ed. Step.  H.


10 And he answered: Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless if thou see me when I am taken from thee, thou shalt have what thou hast asked: but if thou see me not, thou shalt not have it.

Ver. 10.  Hard thing.  Heb. lit. "thou art hardened to ask" a thing so difficult, and which I have not the power to grant.  But I will pray that thou mayst receive it; (C.) and I feel confident that thou wilt, if God shall grant thee the power to see me, at my departure.  H.

 

--- This he did, v. 12.  M.

 

--- Elias had perhaps imagined that his disciple would have desired some of his clothes, or some advice.  C.

 

--- He left him his mantle, (v. 13.  H.) and by prayer was enabled to communicate his spirit to him; as Moses and the apostles did to their assistants in the ministry.  C.


11 And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Ver. 11.  Horses.  Angels assumed these forms, (Grotius) or a cloud, resembling a fiery chariot and horses, was impelled by a strong wind, under their guidance.  Tostat.  M.  Salien, A.C. 914.

 

--- As the name of Elias is very like Helios, "the sun," some have supposed that hey have the same meaning: (Sedulius, pasc. 1.) but the Heb. term signifies, "He is my God."  The pagans have taken occasion from this history to represent the sun drawn in a fiery chariot, by horses composed of the same element.

                        Animosos ignibus illis,

                        Quos in pectore habent, quos ore & naribus efflant.  Metam. xii.  C.

 

 

--- Heaven; (see v. 1.) where he lives free from all disturbance.  T.

 

--- It is a constant, that he will come again before the last judgment; as his representative, John the Baptist, announced the first appearance of our Redeemer.  S. Greg. hom. 7. in Ev.  Of this the Jews were convinced.  S. Justin, dial.  See Malac. iv. 5.



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Elias Taken Into Heaven

Elias Taken Into Heaven

And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Elias Taken Up To Heaven In A Chariot Of Fire

Elias Taken Up To Heaven In A Chariot Of Fire

And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Eliseus saw him, and cried: My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the driver thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own garments, and rent them in two pieces.

Ver. 12.  Thereof.  Thou alone wast equal to an army, in our defence.  Chariots were then very common.  C.

 

--- Chal. and Vatab. "Thou wast, by thy prayer, better to Israel than chariots and horses."  So we should call a person, a pillar of the state, &c.  T.

 

--- In giving the character of Elias, the Holy Ghost dwells in a particular manner on his burning zeal.  C.

 

--- Elias stood up as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch...he brought down fire from heaven thrice, on the holocaust, and on the captains.  H.

 

--- Who can glory like to thee?  Eccli. lxviii. 1. 4.  See SS. Amb. and Chrys. on Elias.  His resemblance with Christ is very striking.  His name puts us in mind of Christ's divinity; who burnt with zeal for God's house, (Jo. ii. 17.) was persecuted, (C.) raised the dead to life, rose again and ascended triumphant into heaven, having imparted his blessing (H.) and his sacraments to his disciples.  C.

 

--- No more, as he was taken from the company of men.  H.

 

--- Pieces, to express his grief, at being deprived of so excellent a master.  M.


13 And he took up the mantle of Elias, that fell from him: and going back, he stood upon the bank of the Jordan,

Ver. 13.  Mantle, as an earnest of his affection.  By the imposition of this mantle, he had been called to be a prophet.  3 K. xix. 19.




14 And he struck the waters with the mantle of Elias, that had fallen from him, and they were not divided. And he said: Where is now the God of Elias? And he struck the waters, and they were divided, hither and thither, and Eliseus passed over.

Ver. 14.  Not divided.  God thus prevented him from giving way to vanity, (Abul. q. 28.) or thinking that he could do any thing himself.  H.

 

--- Elias.  Heb. "where is he?"  C.

 

--- The original and Sept. (Alex. and Vat.) do not specify that he struck the waters twice, or that they did not divide at first.  H.

 

--- This is taken from other copies of the Sept.  Amama.

 

--- The exclamation contains a most fervent prayer.  Heb. "he smote the waters, and said: Where is the Lord God of Elias? and when he had stricken the," &c. which removes the idea of presumption, which (H.) some discover in the words of Eliseus.  T.  Sanctius.

 

--- Now.  Heb. aph hu.  Sept. affw, retaining the words which Theodotion renders "the hidden" god.  H.

 

--- "Even he himself."  Aquila.  C.

 

--- When I stand so much in need of his assistance, (M.) having performed his important functions, which cannot be done without his spirit, nor without the confirmation of miracles, before an unbelieving people.  H.


15 And the sons of the prophets at Jericho, who were over against him, seeing it said: The spirit of Elias hath rested upon Eliseus. And coming to meet him, they worshipped him, falling to the ground,

Ver. 15.  They worshipped him; viz. with an inferior, yet religious veneration, not for any temporal, but spiritual excellency.  Ch.  W.

 

--- They had stopped on a hill, (M.) to see the event, v. 7.  H.

 

--- Jericho itself is two hours' journey from the Jordan.  Adric.

 

--- The sons of the prophets had seen what had happened at the translation of Elias, and perceiving that Eliseus was invested with his mantle, and with the power of working miracles, they did not hesitate to acknowledge him for their superior, during the absence of Elias, who they expected would return.  C.




16 And they said to him: Behold, there are with thy servants fifty strong men, that can go, and seek thy master, lest perhaps the spirit of the Lord hath taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley. And he said: Do not send.

Ver. 16.  Valley.  It seems such translations were not uncommon.  3 K. xviii. 12.  C.


17 But they pressed him, till he consented, and said: Send. And they sent fifty men: and they sought three days but found him not.

Ver. 17.  Send.  He acquiesces, lest they might think that he was afraid of losing his superiority.  M.


18 And they came back to him: for he abode at Jericho, and he said to them: Did I not say to you: Do not send?


19 And the men of the city said to Eliseus: Behold the situation of this city is very good, as thou, my lord, seest: but the waters are very bad, and the ground barren.

Ver. 19.  Barren, owing to the salt or bituminous waters.  Some think that they were muddy and of a loathsome smell.  The fountain is still to be seen very abundant and excellent, watering the plain on the west of the city.  Its source is about two miles distant on the road to Jerusalem.  Maundrell, p. 134.  C.

 

--- Other parts of the environs were very fertile.  M.


20 And he said: Bring me a new vessel, and put salt into it. And when they had brought it,

Ver. 20.  Put salt.  He removes ever suspicion of imposture: if the waters were already saline, the remedy would seem contrary to his design, but it would display the miracle in a stronger light; and if they were only fetid and muddy, (C.) though (H.) salt might rectify a small quantity, (Palladius tit. 9. Vales, &c.) it could never correct the bad qualities of such a fountain for a length of time, by the mere force of nature.  H.

 

--- Josephus (Bel. iv. 8.) represents Eliseus acting like a magician, being desirous to please the pagan readers with various embellishments.  C.


21 He went out to the spring of the waters, and cast the salt into it, and said: Thus saith the Lord: I have healed these waters, and there shall be no more in them death or barrenness.

Ver. 21.  Barrenness.  By the divine power they are become salubrious.  H.


22 And the waters were healed unto this day, according to the word of Eliseus, which he spoke. 23 And he went up from thence to Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, little boys came out of the city and mocked him, saying: Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

Ver. 23.  Bald-head.  It is not know whether Eliseus was really bald, or only wore his hair short, like the priests of the Lord, and the monks at present.  It may also be a term of reproach, of which the emperors Julius Cæsar, Domitian, and Otho, were very sensible.  Cæsar wore a crown of laurel, and Otho a sort of false hair, to hide this deformity.  Sueton.

                        Quod summum formæ decus est, periere capilli.  Petronius.  C.



Children Destroyed By Bears

Children Destroyed By Bears

And he went up from thence to Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, little boys came out of the city and mocked him, saying: Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.


Bethel

Bethel, 1 see s.v. — 2 (Josh 12:16; Simeon) another name for Bethul. --- Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza. C. --- Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars. H.

24 And looking back, he saw them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord: and there came forth two bears out of the forest, and tore of them two and forty boys.

Ver. 24.  Cursed them.  This curse, which was followed by so visible a judgment of God, was not the effect of passion, or of a desire of revenging himself; but of zeal for religion, which was insulted by these boys, in the person of the prophet, and of a divine inspiration; God being determined to punish in this manner the inhabitants of Bethel, (the chief seat of the calf-worship) who had trained up their children in a prejudice against the true religion and its ministers.  Ch.

 

--- The boys themselves were not so little as not to be aware of the insult they were offering to a minister of the God of Juda; and probably they acted thus out of hatred to him, at the instigation of their idolatrous parents.  Sanc.  C.

 

--- Lord.  He called on him (M.) to revenge his own cause, (H.) "that the people might learn to take care of their souls, by the fear of death."  S. Aug.  D.


25 And from thence he went to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Ver. 25.  Carmel.  To avoid the indignation of the populace, and to instruct his disciples.

 

--- Samaria.  That he might be ready to give advice to the two kings, who were meditating an expedition against Moab.  M.



Carmel

Carmel. Not where Elias dwelt, but a city and mountain 10 miles east of Eleutheropolis. Nabal rendered it famous by his imprudence, (1 K. xxv.) and Saul by a triumphal arch, 1 K. xv. 12. --- Carmel, so famous for the miracles of Elias, 3 K. xviii. 20. Josephus (Bel. ii. 17,) places it 120 stadia south of Ptolemais. This range of mountains extended northward through the tribes of Issachar and of Zabulon. Pliny (v. 17,) speaks of a promontory and of a town of this name. Here also the god Carmel was adored, having an altar, but no temple or image, as the ancients had decreed. Nec simulacrum Deo aut templum, (sic tradidere majores) ara tantum et reverentia. Tacit. Hist. ii. 78. --- Vespasian consulted the priest Basilides. Carmel means "the vineyard of the Lord," or the excellent vineyard, &c. It was so rich and beautiful as to become proverbial. The spouse compares the head of his beloved to Carmel. C. vii. 5. Isaias (xxxii. 15,) foretels that the deserts shall be equal to Carmel. It was covered with wood and fruit. S. Jerom in Isai. x. 18. Jer. iv. 26. The city, which was built upon this mountain, and which Pliny calls by the same name, was formerly styled Ecbatana. The oracle had denounced to Cambyses that he should die at Ecbatana, and he concluded that the city of Media was meant; but it was "that of Syria," says Herodotus, (iii. 64,) where he died.

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