2 Kings 4:1-6:7 – Elisha’s Miracles


2 Kings 4:1-6:7


A collection of six episodes presents Elisha as a worker of miracles.


The miracles in 2 Kings 4:1-6:7 form a distinct unit within the Elisha cycle, as shown by their overall structure and individual character. The six episodes have a more “wonder-working” quality than the other miracles attributed to Elisha in 6:8-8:15, which are generally more politically relevant and associated with Syria (Aram). This is especially true of the four episodes that anchor the unit (4:1-7; 38-41; 42-44; and 6:1-7). The episodes also fall into a tight concentric structure:

A    The Widow’s Oil (4:1-7)
    B    The Shunammite Woman (4:8-37)
        C    Feeding Miracle (4:38-41)
        C′    Feeding Miracle (4:42-44)
    B′    Naaman the Syrian (5:1-27)
A′    The Floating Ax Head (6:1-7)

The A and A′ sections are linked by the prominent appearance of a “borrowed” (sha´al) utensil (4:3; 6:5). The long narratives in B and B′ share many mots crochets (hook words): great woman (“wealthy woman” in NRSV) (4:8) // great man (5:1); small room as means of introduction (4:10) // small girl (“young girl” in NRSV) as means of introduction (5:2); commander of the army (4:13) // commander of the army (5:1); “Is your husband all right?” (4:26) // “Is everything alright? (5:21); oath formula (4:30) //oath formula (5:16, 20); flesh (4:34) // flesh (5:14); seven times (4:35) // seven times (5:10, 14); and the presence of Gehazi in both. The central sections C and C′ are both brief feeding miracles that share the phrase, “serve/give it to the people and let them eat” (4:41; 42, 43).