FTER the death of Ahab, his son Ahaziah reigned for only two years as king of Israel He fell out of a window in his palace, and was injured so that he died; and as he had no son, his brother, Jehoram, became king in his place.
The work of Elijah, the prophet, was now ended, and the Lord was about to take him up to heaven. Elijah and Elisha went together to a place called Gilgal, not the place beside the river Jordan where the army of Israel was encamped under Joshua (see Part Second, Stories Two and Three), but another place of the same name among the mountains, not far from Bethel. And Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel."
Elisha knew that Elijah would be taken from him very soon, and he said, "As surely as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you."
So Elijah and Elisha walked together to Bethel. At Bethel were living many worshippers of the Lord, who were called "sons of the prophets," because they followed the teaching of the prophets, and some of them became prophets themselves. These men came to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from you very soon?"
And Elisha answered them, "Yes, I know it; but hold your peace; do not speak of it."
And at Bethel Elijah said to Elisha again, "Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho." But Elisha answered him, "As surely as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you."
So Elijah and Elisha walked together down the steep road from Bethel to Jericho. And at Jericho the followers of the prophets came to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you to-day?"
And he answered them, "Yes, I know it; but hold your peace, and say nothing." And Elijah said to him again, "Stay here at Jericho, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to the river Jordan."
But Elisha said to Elijah once more, "As surely as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you."
So Elijah and Elisha walked from Jericho to the river Jordan, about five miles. About fifty men of the sons of the prophets who lived at Jericho followed them at a distance When they came to the bank of Jordan, Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and struck the waters. Then the waters were divided on each side, and a path was made across the river; and the two prophets walked across on dry ground. And as they walked, Elijah said, "As what I shall do for you, before I am taken away from you."
Elijah strikes the water with his mantle
Elisha answered him, "All that I ask is that your spirit shall come upon me in greater power than comes upon any other man."
And Elijah said to him, "You have asked a great blessing; and if you see me when I am taken away, it shall come to you; but if you do not see me, it shall not come"
And as they still went on, and talked, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire came between them, and parted them; and Elijah went up in a whirlwind on the fiery chariot to heaven.
And Elisha saw him going up toward heaven, and he cried out, "O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!"
He meant that in losing Elijah the kingdom had lost more than an army of chariots and horsemen. After this he saw Elijah no more; but he caught up the mantle of Elijah which had fallen from him. With the mantle he struck the waters of Jordan, saying, "Where now is the Lord God of Elijah?"
And as he struck the water with Elijah's mantle it parted on either side, and Elisha walked across the Jordan. The sons of the prophets who were standing near the river had not seen Elijah go up; but now they saw Elisha walking through the river alone, and they felt that God had taken Elijah away. They said, "The spirit of Elijah now rests upon Elisha," and they came to meet him, and bowed down before him as their chief. So Elijah was taken away, but Elisha stood in his place as the Lord's prophet.