Once again, the Old Testament is just plain strange. This next bit is “more weird” in two senses – there is more weirdness, and the weirdness is getting weirder. In 2 Kings 13, the writer interrupts the monotony of Israelite kingly lameness to report on Elisha’s death. First the evil king Jehoash (not to be confused with his father Jehoahaz or his grandfather Joash) comes and says nice things to Elisha. As a result (apparently), God grants Jehoash freedom from Aramean oppression. Elisha then tells Jehoahaz (oops, I mean Jehoash) to strike the ground with some arrows; when Jehoash does so only three times, Elisha scolds him. Apparently Jehoash didn’t know that while striking the ground with arrows five or six times guarantees total victory, striking it only three times earns only partial victory. Idiot.
And if that’s not weird enough, check out the following paragraph: “Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.”
In an effort to salvage some sort of purposeful reflection out of this, let’s notice that dead people coming to life seems to be a recurring theme within the stories of Elijah and Elisha.
In 1 Kings 17.17-24, Elijah stretches himself out on a dead boy three times and the boy comes back to life. In 2 Kings 4.17-37, Elisha performs a similar feat, though he only stretches himself out on the boy twice. Note also that later in that chapter Elisha saves another group of people from death (strangely once again). And now in 2 Kings 13 we see this. This is part of the larger witness to Elijah and Elisha as wonder workers (i.e. they performed miracles). It seems more and more to me that the Gospels (accurately) present Jesus having a ministry very much like these prophets of old – see 2 Kings 4.42-44, for instance. Any ideas on the significance of this, particularly with all the bringing people back from the dead stuff?