Without doing any type of research, you may read this story and understood it as a tale of young men who tasted some of your mother-in-law or wife’s soup and Elisha improved it’s flavor with a little bit of flour. Some have understood the soup to be bitter but most believe it was poisonous because of the gourd in it. If you believe that it was poisonous (which makes more sense to me with the surrounding context) then you would see that this was another miracle done by God through Elisha. This may not have been the raising of a dead son but it is still proof of a God that brings life out of death as Elisha miraculously saved these young men from the poison with some flour. Yes, flour.
However there’s also another potential parallel in this short story that a lot of people can miss but one I personally love because of my views on God’s covenant throughout scripture. This was written by an anonymous pastor on a hermeneutics (interpreting scripture) website and I thought that I’d share it with all of you today.
“The story follows the Covenant pattern: a delegation of authority, a firstfruits, a testing, a result, an accountability and a future.”
The point here is Israel as firstfruits. When Israel seized kingly authority without priestly deference to God first (as Cain, who made his offering before Abel), the Land would cease to be blessed. Time and again, when Israel shed innocent blood, God sent a famine. The blood cried from the ground and the Land itself would be out to kill them. (We also see this in the famine in Bethlehem at the beginning of Ruth, following the shocking bloodshed at the end of Judges.)
What saves the day is priestly flour, a true firstfruits, the facebread. We can also tie this to Samson, who served grinding in the mill and was then able to judge as a sacrificial king.
It is interesting that the “liturgical ingredient” Elisha used to heal the bitter spring in Jericho was salt. It speaks of barrenness. The children of idolatrous Israel were cut off (like Sodom) and the children of Gentile believers (in Jericho!) were saved.”
• What else stuck out for you in this story?
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor