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A Prophet’s Widow Asks Elisha for Help

A man from the group of prophets[a] had a wife. This man died, and his wife cried out to Elisha, “My husband was like a servant to you. Now he is dead! You know he honored the Lord. But he owed money to a man. Now that man is coming to take my two boys and make them his slaves!”

Elisha answered, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

The woman said, “I don’t have anything in the house except a jar of olive oil.”

Then Elisha said, “Go and borrow bowls from all your neighbors. They must be empty. Borrow plenty of bowls. Then go to your house and close the doors. Only you and your sons will be in the house. Then pour the oil into all the bowls. Fill them, and put them in a separate place.”

So the woman left Elisha, went into her house, and shut the door. Only she and her sons were in the house. Her sons brought the bowls to her and she poured oil. She filled many bowls. Finally, she said to her son, “Bring me another bowl.”

But all the bowls were full. One of the sons said to her, “There aren’t any more bowls.” Then the oil in the jar was finished!

When she told the man of God what had happened, Elisha said to her, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt. You and your sons can live on the money that is left.”

A Woman in Shunem Gives Elisha a Room

One day Elisha went to Shunem, where an important woman lived. She asked Elisha to stop and eat at her house. So every time Elisha went through that place, he stopped there to eat.

The woman said to her husband, “Look, I can see that Elisha is a holy man of God. He passes by our house all the time. 10 Please, let’s make a little room on the roof[b] for him. Let’s put a bed in this room and a table, a chair, and a lampstand. Then when he comes to our house, he can have this room for himself.”

11 One day Elisha came to the woman’s house. He went to this room and rested there. 12 Elisha said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite woman.”

The servant called the Shunammite woman, and she stood in front of Elisha. 13 Elisha told his servant, “Now say to her, ‘Look, you have done your best to take care of us. What can we do for you? Do you want us to speak to the king for you, or to the captain of the army?’”

She answered, “I am fine living here among my own people.”

14 Elisha said to Gehazi, “What can we do for her?”

He answered, “I know! She does not have a son, and her husband is old.”

15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.”

So Gehazi called the woman. She came and stood at his door. 16 Elisha said, “About this time next spring, you will be holding your own baby boy in your arms.”

The woman said, “No, sir! Man of God, don’t lie to me!”

The Woman in Shunem Has a Son

17 But the woman did become pregnant and gave birth to a son that next spring, just as Elisha had said.

18 The boy grew. One day the boy went out into the fields to see his father and the men cutting the grain. 19 The boy said to his father, “Oh, my head! My head hurts!”

The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother!”

20 The servant took the boy to his mother. The boy sat on his mother’s lap until noon. Then he died.

The Woman Goes to See Elisha

21 The woman laid the boy on the bed of Elisha, the man of God. Then she shut the door to that room and went outside. 22 She called to her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey. Then I will go quickly to get the man of God and come back.”

23 The woman’s husband said, “Why would you want to go to the man of God today? It isn’t the New Moon or Sabbath day.”

She said, “Goodbye!”[c]

24 Then she put a saddle on a donkey and said to her servant, “Let’s go, and hurry! Go slow only when I tell you.”

25 The woman went to Mount Carmel to get the man of God.

The man of God saw the Shunammite woman coming from far away and said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, there’s the Shunammite woman! 26 Please run now to meet her! Say to her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?’”

She answered, “Everything is all right.”[d]

27 But the Shunammite woman went up the hill to the man of God. She bowed down and touched Elisha’s feet. Gehazi came near to pull her away. But the man of God said to Gehazi, “Leave her alone! She’s very upset, and the Lord didn’t tell me about it. He hid this news from me.”

28 Then she said, “Sir, I never asked for a son. I told you, ‘Don’t trick me!’”

29 Then Elisha said to Gehazi, “Get ready to go. Take my walking stick and go! If you meet anyone along the way, don’t even stop to say hello to him. If anyone says hello to you, don’t answer. Put my walking stick on the child’s face.”

30 But the child’s mother said, “I promise, as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave without you!”

So Elisha got up and followed her.

31 Gehazi arrived at the house before Elisha and the Shunammite woman. Gehazi laid the walking stick on the child’s face, but the child did not talk or show any sign that he heard anything. Then Gehazi came back to meet Elisha and said, “The child will not wake up!”

The Woman’s Son Comes Back to Life

32 Elisha went into the house, and there was the child, lying dead on his bed. 33 Elisha went into the room and shut the door. He and the child were alone in the room now. Then he prayed to the Lord. 34 Elisha went to the bed and lay on the child. He put his eyes on the child’s eyes, his mouth on the child’s mouth, and his hands on the child’s hands. He lay there on top of the child until the child’s body became warm.

35 Then Elisha turned away and walked around the room. He went back and lay on the child until the child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

36 Elisha called Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman!”

Gehazi called her, and she came to Elisha. Elisha said, “Pick up your son.”

37 Then the Shunammite woman went into the room and bowed down at Elisha’s feet. Then she picked up her son and went out.

Elisha and the Poisoned Soup

38 Elisha went to Gilgal again. There was a famine in the land. The group of prophets was sitting in front of Elisha. Elisha said to his servant, “Put the large pot on the fire, and make some soup for the group of prophets.”

39 One man went out into the field to gather herbs. He found a wild vine and picked the fruit from it. He put that fruit in his robe and brought it back. He cut up the wild fruit and put it into the pot. But the group of prophets did not know what kind of fruit it was.

40 Then they poured some of the soup for the men to eat. But when they began to eat the soup, they shouted out, “Man of God! There’s poison in the pot!” The food tasted like poison, so they could not eat that food.

41 But Elisha said, “Bring some flour.” He threw the flour into the pot. Then he said, “Pour the soup for the people so that they can eat.”

And there was nothing wrong with the soup.

Elisha Feeds the Group of Prophets

42 A man from Baal Shalishah came and brought bread from the first harvest to the man of God. This man brought 20 loaves of barley bread and fresh grain in his sack. Then Elisha said, “Give this food to the people, so that they can eat.”

43 Elisha’s servant said, “What? There are 100 men here. How can I give this food to all those men?”

But Elisha said, “Give the food to the people to eat. The Lord says, ‘They will eat and there will still be food left over.’”

44 Then Elisha’s servant put the food in front of the group of prophets. The group of prophets had enough to eat, and they even had food left over. This happened just as the Lord had said.

Naaman’s Problem

Naaman was the captain of the army of the king of Aram. He was very important to his king[e] because the Lord used him to lead Aram to victory. Naaman was a great and powerful man, but he was also sick with leprosy.

The Aramean army sent many groups of soldiers to fight in Israel. One time they took a little girl from the land of Israel. This girl became a servant of Naaman’s wife. She said to his wife, “I wish that my master would meet the prophet who lives in Samaria. He could heal Naaman of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to the king and told him what the Israelite girl said.

Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So Naaman went to Israel. He took 750 pounds[f] of silver, 6000 pieces of gold and ten changes of clothes as gifts. Naaman took the letter from the king of Aram to the king of Israel. The letter said: “Now this letter is to show that I am sending my servant Naaman to you. Cure his leprosy.”

When the king of Israel had read the letter, he tore his clothes to show he was sad and upset. He said, “Am I God? I don’t have the power over life and death. So why did the king of Aram send a man sick with leprosy for me to heal? Think about it, and you will see that it is a trick. The king of Aram is trying to start a fight.”

Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes. So Elisha sent this message to the king: “Why did you tear your clothes? Let Naaman come to me. Then he will know there is a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots to Elisha’s house and stood outside the door. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman who said, “Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. Then your skin will be healed, and you will be pure and clean.”

11 Naaman became angry and left. He said, “I thought Elisha would at least come out and stand in front of me and call on the name of the Lord his God. I thought he would wave his hand over my body and heal the leprosy. 12 Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than all the water in Israel. Why can’t I wash in those rivers in Damascus and become clean?” He was very angry and turned to leave.

13 But Naaman’s servants went to him and talked to him. They said, “Father,[g] if the prophet told you to do some great thing, you would do it, isn’t that right? But he said, ‘Wash, and you will be pure and clean.’”

14 So Naaman did what the man of God said. He went down and dipped himself in the Jordan River seven times, and he became pure and clean. His skin became soft like the skin of a baby.

15 Naaman and his whole group came back to the man of God. He stood before Elisha and said, “Look, I now know there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now please accept a gift from me.”

16 But Elisha said, “The Lord is the one I serve, and as surely as he lives, I will not accept any gift.”

Naaman tried hard to make Elisha take the gift, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If you will not accept this gift, at least do this for me. Let me have enough dirt from Israel to fill the baskets on two of my mules.[h] I ask this because I will never again offer any burnt offering or sacrifice to any other gods. I will offer sacrifices only to the Lord! 18 And I pray that the Lord will forgive me for this: When my master goes to the temple of Rimmon to worship that false god, he will want to lean on me for support. So I must bow down in the temple of Rimmon. I ask the Lord now to forgive me when that happens.”

19 Then Elisha said to Naaman, “Go in peace.”

So Naaman left Elisha and went a short way. 20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Look, my master has let Naaman the Aramean go without accepting the gift that he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after Naaman and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi ran to Naaman.

Naaman saw someone running after him. He stepped down from the chariot to meet Gehazi. Naaman said, “Is everything all right?”

22 Gehazi said, “Yes, everything is all right. My master has sent me. He said, ‘Look, two young men came to me from the group of prophets[i] in the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them 75 pounds[j] of silver and two changes of clothes.’”

23 Naaman said, “Please, take 150 pounds.[k]” He persuaded Gehazi to take the silver. Naaman put 150 pounds of silver in two bags and took two changes of clothes. Then he gave these things to two of his servants. The servants carried these things for Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took these things from the servants. He sent the servants away, and they left. Then he hid those things in the house.

25 Gehazi came in and stood before his master. Elisha said to Gehazi, “Where have you been Gehazi?”

Gehazi answered, “I didn’t go anywhere.”

26 Elisha said to him, “That is not true! My heart was with you when the man turned from his chariot to meet you. This is not the time to take money, clothes, olives, grapes, sheep, cattle, or men and women servants. 27 Now you and your children will catch Naaman’s disease. You will have leprosy forever!”

When Gehazi left Elisha, his skin was as white as snow! He was sick with leprosy.


  1. 2 Kings 4:1 group of prophets Literally, “sons of the prophets.” These were prophets and those studying to become prophets. Also in verses 38, 39, 44.
  2. 2 Kings 4:10 room on the roof In ancient Israel, houses had flat roofs that were used as an extra room.
  3. 2 Kings 4:23 Goodbye Or “Everything is all right.” Literally, “Peace.”
  4. 2 Kings 4:26 Everything is all right Or “Hello.” Literally, “Peace.”
  5. 2 Kings 5:1 king Literally, “master.”
  6. 2 Kings 5:5 750 pounds Literally, “10 talents” (345 kg).
  7. 2 Kings 5:13 Father Slaves often called their masters “father,” and the masters often called their slaves “children.”
  8. 2 Kings 5:17 Let me have … my mules Naaman probably thought the ground in Israel was holy, so he wanted to take some with him to help him worship the Lord in his own country.
  9. 2 Kings 5:22 group of prophets Literally, “sons of the prophets.” These were prophets and people studying to become prophets. Also in 6:1, 4.
  10. 2 Kings 5:22 75 pounds Literally, “1 talent” (34.5 kg).
  11. 2 Kings 5:23 150 pounds Literally, “2 talents” (69 kg).

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