Inductive Bible Studies,

[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]

PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).


Nineteenth Study.—Elijah, Elisha, and Their Fellow-Prophets.

[The material of this " study " is furnished by Professors Beecher and Harper. It is edited by Professor Harper.]



1. It should be the chief aim in the work of such a " study " as that which follows, to have as a result of it not only a certain comprehensive knowledge of the facts, but also a clear understanding of the relation of these facts to each other. In other words, one must not allow the philosophy of the history to be ignored.

2. Facts, but also their philosophy. Too many students stop after having gained possession of the facts. In doing this they lose sight of the work which they set out to accomplish.

3. In a "study" covering so many disconnected facts, there will surely be a disappointment unless something satisfactory in the way of a chain linking these facts together be obtained.

4. In connection with this "study" the following literature is suggested:

(1) Geikie, "Hours with the Bible," vol. IV. chs. 3,4,5;

(2) Stanley, " History of the Jewish Church," second series, Lectures XXX., XXXI.;

(3) articles on Elijah, Elisha, and otherprophets named, in Smith's Bible Dictionary;

(4) Lange's Commentary on Kings, particularly the historical and ethical comments in connection with various passages;

(5) various Jewish and Old Testament Histories in loc.


Prepare for recitation the biblical material as arranged according to the following topics:

1. Prophets besides Elijah and Elisha of the Times of the Dynasties of Jeroboam, Baasha, and Omri.

(1) Shemaiah, 1 Kgs. 12:22, seq.; 2 Chron. 11:2; 12:5,7,15;

(2) Ahijah, 1 Kgs. 11:29,30; 12:15; 14:2-18; 15:29; 2 Chron. 10:15; 9:29;

(3) Jadon, 1 Kgs. 13, cf. Jos. Ant. VIII., viii., ix. (perhaps the Jedo of 2 Chron. 9:29, margin of Revised Version);

(4) Azariah and Oded, 2 Chron. 15:1,8;

(5) Hanani and Jehu, 2 Chron. 16:7; 19:2; 20:34; 1 Kgs. 16:1,7,12;

(6) Jahaziel, 2 Chron. 20:14;

(7) Eliezer, 2 Chron. 20:37;

(8) Micaiah, 1 Kgs. 22: 8-28; 2 Chron. 18:7-27. How many of these prophesied for both the northern and the southern kingdoms?

2. "Schools of the Prophets," at Bethel, Jericho, Gilgal, etc.:

(1) 2 Kgs. 2-9, a general statement;

(2) Were the "sons of the prophets" lads or grown men? 2 Kgs. 2:15-18; 4:1, etc. (2) Did they form communities by themselves? 2 Kgs. 6:1-7.

(3) Information as to their means of subsistence? 6:1-7; 4:42-44,8-10, 38-41, etc.

(4) Did they engage in public affairs? 1 Kgs. 20:35-43; 2 Kgs. 9:1-12, etc.

(5) What about their other occupations? 1 Sam. 10:5-13; 19:18-21; 1 Chron. 25:1,2,3,5. Note also that literary authorship is attributed to Shemaiah, Ahijah, Jedo, Jehu, and Elijah, as well as to the prophets before and after them.

3. The Character of the Prophets of this Period.

(1) The number of Jehovah's prophets? 1 Kgs. 18:4; 19:14, etc.

(2) Were most of these "sons of the prophets," or prophets in the stricter sense? 20:35,38,41, etc.

(3) How about prophets of Baal? 1 Kgs. 18:19,22; 2 Kgs. 10:19.

(4) How about false prophets prophesying in the name of Jehovah? 1 Kgs. 22, especially vs. 6-8,11,12,24.

4. Elijah and Elisha.

(1) Their relation to the other prophets of Jehovah? 2 Kgs. 2:3,5,15,16, etc.; 1 Kgs. 19:16,19-21.

(2) Their relation to whatever political movement there may have been in Israel against Jezebel and her innovations?

5. The Famine in the time of Elijah.

(1) Its duration? 17:1; 18:1; Luke 4:25; Jas. 5:17.

(2) The abrupt words of Elijah, 17:1, may naturally be understood as the ultimatum of Elijah, the envoy of Jehovah, terminating negotiations that had been going on between him and Ahab (cf. 18:10,17,18, etc.); the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah took place about 67 A. Di., and the birth of Ahaziah,1 heir to the throne of Judah, perhaps a year later, and Ahab's first defeat of Ben-hadad probably six or seven years later (see last "study "); supposing the three and a half years of the famine to have occurred within this interval, what explanation have we for Elijah's abrupt ultimatum? 18:4,13,21,22; 19:2,10,14,17.

(3) How does the same hypothesis agree with the theory that Ps. 45 was written by some prophet of Judah in sympathy with Elijah, to celebrate the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah?

6. Persecution of Elijah and the Worshipers of Jehovah.

(1) 17, Elijah in hiding;

(2) 18:1-16, his return;

(3) 18:17-46, the affair at Carmel;

(4) 19, his flight to Horeb, and return thence.

7. Jehovah's Worshipers tolerated, and his Prophets honored (though grudgingly, as if by compulsion).

(1) 1 Kgs. 20:13,14,22,28,35,38,41-43, the prophets here mentioned;

(2) 21:17-29, Elijah in the case of Naboth;

(3) 22:1-28, Micaiah and the others;

(4) 2 Chron. 21:12-15, Elijah's letter;

(5) 2 Kgs. 1, fire from heaven;

(6) 2 Kgs. 2:1-18, ascension of Elijah;

(7) 2:19-25, Elisha succeeds Elijah.

8. The Rest of Elisha's Career.

(1) 2 Kgs. 3:11-20, in the Moabite war;

(2) 2 Kgs. 4-7 and 13:20,21, the miracles of the pot of oil, the Shunamite's son, the "death in the pot," the multiplying of food, Naaman the Syrian, the iron that swam, the Syrians smitten with blindness, the siege of Samaria raised, the dead man revived;

(3) 4:13; 8:1-6, his political standing;

(4) 8: 7-15, his dealings with Hazael;

(5) 9:1-12, his connection with Jehu's rebellion;

(6) 13;14-21, his death.


1. 1 Kgs. 17:1. "The Tishbite;" the form of oath.  

2. 1. Kgs. 17:4. "The ravens," other interpretations.  

3. 1 Kgs. 17:9. Zarephath (cf. Luke 4:26), of what nationality?  

4. 1 Kgs. 17:17,18. Was the lad really dead? " bring my sin to remembrance."  

5. 1 Kgs. 18:9. What is the ground of his fear?  

6. 1 Kgs. 18:17-40. If this is taken as an account of a battle in a civil war, in defence of the prophets and worshipers of Jehovah, did it accomplish its purpose? Would this view justify Elijah's conduct in the matter? Can 2 Kgs. 1:9-14 be explained as a second and less severe battle in the same war; and 2:23-25 as a third affair of similar significance?  

7. 1 Kgs. 18:19,22. Prophets of Baal; prophets of the Asherah; was Elijah the only true prophet?  

8. 1 Kgs. 18:26-29. "And they leaped about the altar;" "for he is a god;" "cut themselves;" "they prophesied."  

9. 1 Kgs 18:30. Is the altar here mentioned (cf. 19:10,14) consistent with Deut. 12:10-14.  

10. 1 Kgs. 18:32-35. "Trench;" purpose of the water.  

11. 1. Kgs. 18:42,43. His attitude; why toward the sea?  

12. 1 Kgs. 18:45. "Hand of the Lord was on Elijah;" his running; his stopping outside; the purpose of his journey.  

13. 1 Kgs. 19:2. Form and significance of the oath.  

14. 1 Kgs. 19:4. Occasion of his despondency; parallel case of Jonah.  

15. 1 Kgs. 19:8,11,12. Purpose of visit to Horeb; forty days and forty nights; the meaning of these manifestations.  

16. 1 Kgs. 19:15-18. Connection of the contents of these verses with what precedes; the number "seven thousand;" "kissed him," Hos. 13:2; Ps. 2:12.  

17. 1 Kgs. 19:20,21. Elisha's attitude; Elijah's words; the feast.  

18. 2 Kgs. 2:1. The source of the following narrative.  

19. 2 Kgs. 2:2,4. Why does Elijah visit Bethel and Jericho?  

20. 2 Kgs. 2:9,10. "Double portion of thy spirit;" why a " hcird" thing? Meaning of the test.  

21. 2 Kgs. 2:12. The title " my father;" the following expression.  

22. 2 Kgs. 2:23-25. Various questions suggested by this narrative; does this account say that the bears either ate, or killed, or seriously maimed all the forty-two children, or any of them? In view of the number of bears and that of the children, how is it most naturally to be understood?  

23. 2 Kgs 4:1. What inference to be taken from this verse?  

24. 2 Kgs. 4:19. Symptoms of what disease? cf. Ps. 121:6 and Judith 8:2,3.  

25. 2 Kgs. 4:23. What inference as to regular assemblies for worship?  

26. 2 Kgs. 4:25. Distance of the journey  

27. 2 Kgs. 4:27,28,29. "Hid it from me and hath not told me;" abruptness; purpose of sending Gehazi with staff.  

28. 2 Kgs. 5:7. " He rent his clothes."  

29. 2 Kgs. 5:10. The purpose of this command.  

30. 2 Kgs. 5:15,17. "No God in all the earth but in Israel;" "two mules' burden of earth."  

31. 2 Kgs. 5:18. "House of Rimmon;" the principle here involved.  

32. 2 Kgs. 6:23. Reconcile the last clause with the following verse.  

33. 2 Kgs. 6.30. "Sackcloth within upon his flesh."  

34. 2 Kgs. 6:33. Whose words, and what do they imply?  

35. 2 Kgs. 7:6. The Hittites in Scripture.2


1. Elijah.

(1) Uniqueness of his case;

(2) significance of his Gileadite origin;

(3) person and dress;

(4) his preparation for his work.

2. Baal-worship.

(1) The fundamental principle;

(2) priests and priestesses;

(3) rites and ceremonies;

(4) extent and influence;

(5) Elijah's work in opposition to it.

3. Elijah's Earlier Work.

(1) Before Ahab;

(2) at brook Cherith;

(3) at Zarephath;

(4) toward end of famine again with Ahab;

(5) the sacrifice on Mt. Carmel, importance of this day in his career;

(6) journey to Horeb;

(7) divine manifestation there;

(8) commands respecting Hazael, Jehu, Elisha;

(9) still again before Ahab in Naboth's vineyard.

4. Elijah's Later Work.

(1) After three or four years, message to Ahaziah;

(2) the parties of fifty consumed by fire;

(3) his letter to Jehoram (2 Chron. 21:12-15), difficulties suggested by this.

5. Elijah's Removal.

(1) The facts as stated;

(2) the realistic view which interprets the narrative literally;

(3) the rationalistic view which seeks to explain it in some natural way or takes it as mythical;

(4) the idealistic view.

6. Elijah's Life and Character.

(1) Elements in his character as exhibited on particular occasions;

(2) his slaughter of the priests of Baal;

(3) his fierceness, harshness;

(4) his adaptation to his times;

(5) references to his life and character in later history and tradition;

(6) Elijah in the New Testament.

7. Elisha.

(1) His call;

(2) his relation to Elijah;

(3) the important acts of his life;

(4) character of these acts as compared with those of Elijah;

(5) his work as a supporter of his countrymen against their enemies;

(6) his attitude toward Baal-worship;

(7) evidence of the incompleteness of the records concerning his life.

8. Comparisons and Contrasts.

(1) Compare and note points of similarity and contrast between the life and work of Elijah and

(a) that of Moses,

(b) that of Samuel,

(c) that of Elisha,

(d) that of John the Baptist,

(e) that of Christ.

(2) Compare and note points of similarity and contrast between the life and work of Elisha and

(a) that of Moses,

(b) that of Samual,

(c) that of John the Baptist,

(d) that of Christ.


1) The names of the three children of Ahab were Ahaziah, "whom Jehovah holds," Jehoram, "whom Jehovah has exalted," and Athaliah, "whom Jehovah afflicts." Too much stress should not be put upon the significance of these names, as an acknowledgment of Jehovah by Ahab; but they agree with all the other facts of the history in suggesting that the earlier part of Ahab's reign was full of promise to the worshipers of Jehovah. This would of course intensify their disappointment and indignation when this policy was changed into one which attempted to extirpate them.

2) See Wright, Empire of the Hittites, Scribner and Welford, N. Y.; also the article on the Hittites, in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, and the literature there described.