2 Kings 1-4 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Lord Condemns Ahaziah
1 1-2 Soon after King Ahab of Israel died, the country of Moab rebelled against his son King Ahaziah.[a]
One day, Ahaziah fell through the wooden slats around the porch on the flat roof of his palace in Samaria, and he was badly injured. So he sent some messengers to the town of Ekron[b] with orders to ask the god Baalzebub if he would get well.
3 About the same time, an angel from the Lord sent Elijah the prophet from Tishbe to say to the king’s messengers, “Ahaziah has rejected Israel’s own God by sending you to ask Baalzebub about his injury. 4 Tell him that because he has done this, he’s on his deathbed! And Elijah did what he was told.
5 When the messengers returned to Ahaziah, he asked, “Why are you back so soon?”
6 “A man met us along the road with a message for you from the Lord,” they answered. “The Lord wants to know why you sent us to ask Baalzebub about your injury and why you don’t believe there’s a God in Israel. The man also told us that the Lord says you’re going to die.”
7 “What did the man look like?” Ahaziah asked.
8 “He was hairy[c] and had a leather belt around his waist,” they answered.
“It must be Elijah!” replied Ahaziah. 9 So at once he sent an army officer and fifty soldiers to meet Elijah.
10 “If I am a man of God,” Elijah answered, “God will send down fire on you and your fifty soldiers.” Fire immediately came down from heaven and burned up the officer and his men.
11 Ahaziah sent another officer and fifty more soldiers to Elijah. The officer said, “Man of God, the king orders you to come see him right now.”
12 “If I am a man of God,” Elijah answered, “fire will destroy you and your fifty soldiers.” And God sent down fire[f] from heaven on the officer and his men.
13 Ahaziah sent a third army officer and fifty more soldiers. This officer went up to Elijah, then he got down on his knees and begged, “Man of God, please be kind to me and these fifty servants of yours. Let us live! 14 Fire has already wiped out the other officers and their soldiers. Please don’t let it happen to me.”
15 The angel from the Lord said to Elijah, “Go with him and don’t be afraid.” So Elijah got up and went with the officer.
16 When Elijah arrived, he told Ahaziah, “The Lord wants to know why you sent messengers to Ekron to ask Baalzebub about your injury. Don’t you believe there’s a God in Israel? Ahaziah, because you did that, the Lord says you will die.”
17 Ahaziah died, just as the Lord had said. But since Ahaziah had no sons, Joram[g] his brother[h] then became king. This happened in the second year that Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat was king of Judah.[i] 18 Everything else Ahaziah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Israel.
The Lord Takes Elijah Away
2 Not long before the Lord took Elijah up into heaven in a strong wind, Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “The Lord wants me to go to Bethel, but you must stay here.”
Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I will stay with you no matter what!” And he went with Elijah to Bethel.
3 A group of prophets who lived there asked Elisha, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take away your master?”
“Yes, I do,” Elisha answered. “But don’t remind me of it.”
4 Elijah then said, “Elisha, now the Lord wants me to go to Jericho, but you must stay here.”
Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life, that I will stay with you no matter what!” And he went with Elijah to Jericho.
5 A group of prophets who lived there asked Elisha, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take away your master?”
“Yes, I do,” Elisha answered. “But don’t remind me of it.”
6 Elijah then said to Elisha, “Now the Lord wants me to go to the Jordan River, but you must stay here.”
Elisha replied, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I will never leave you!” So the two of them walked on together.
7 Fifty prophets followed Elijah and Elisha from Jericho, then stood at a distance and watched as the two men walked toward the river. 8 When they got there, Elijah took off his coat, then he rolled it up and struck the water with it. At once a path opened up through the river, and the two of them walked across on dry ground.
9 After they had reached the other side, Elijah said, “Elisha, the Lord will soon take me away. What can I do for you before that happens?”
Elisha answered, “Please give me twice as much of your power as you give the other prophets, so I can be the one who takes your place as their leader.”
10 “It won’t be easy,” Elijah answered. “It can happen only if you see me as I am being taken away.”
11 Elijah and Elisha were walking along and talking, when suddenly there appeared between them a flaming chariot pulled by fiery horses. Right away, a strong wind took Elijah up into heaven. 12 Elisha saw this and shouted, “Israel’s cavalry and chariots have taken my master away!”[j] After Elijah had gone, Elisha tore his clothes in sorrow.
13 Elijah’s coat had fallen off, so Elisha picked it up and walked back to the Jordan River. 14 He struck the water with the coat and wondered, “Will the Lord perform miracles for me as he did for Elijah?” As soon as Elisha did this, a dry path opened up through the water, and he walked across.
15 When the prophets from Jericho saw what happened, they said to each other, “Elisha now has Elijah’s power.”
They walked over to him, bowed down, 16 and said, “There are fifty strong men here with us. Please let them go look for your master. Maybe the Spirit of the Lord carried him off to some mountain or valley.”
“No,” Elisha replied, “they won’t find him.”
17 They kept begging until he was embarrassed to say no. He finally agreed, and the prophets sent the men out. They looked three days for Elijah but never found him. 18 They returned to Jericho, and Elisha said, “I told you that you wouldn’t find him.”
Elisha Makes the Water Pure at Jericho
19 One day the people of Jericho said, “Elisha, you can see that our city is in a good spot. But the water from our spring is so bad that it even keeps our crops from growing.”
20 He replied, “Put some salt in a new bowl and bring it to me.”
They brought him the bowl of salt, 21 and he carried it to the spring. He threw the salt into the water and said, “The Lord has made this water pure again. From now on you’ll be able to grow crops, and no one will starve.”
22 The water has been fine ever since, just as Elisha said.
Some Boys Make Fun of Elisha
23 Elisha left and headed toward Bethel. Along the way some boys started making fun of him by shouting, “Go away, baldy! Get out of here!”
24 Elisha turned around and stared at the boys. Then he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Right away two bears ran out of the woods and ripped to pieces forty-two of the boys.
25 Elisha went up to Mount Carmel, then returned to Samaria.
King Joram of Israel
3 Joram[k] son of Ahab became king of Israel in Jehoshaphat’s eighteenth year as king of Judah.[l] Joram ruled twelve years from Samaria 2 and disobeyed the Lord by doing wrong. He tore down the stone image his father had made to honor Baal, and so he wasn’t as sinful as his parents. 3 But he kept doing the sinful things that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to do.[m]
The Country of Moab Rebels against Israel
4 For many years the country of Moab had been controlled by Israel and was forced to pay taxes to the kings of Israel. King Mesha of Moab raised sheep, so he paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool from one hundred thousand rams. 5 But soon after the death of Ahab, Mesha rebelled against Israel.
6 One day, Joram left Samaria and called together Israel’s army. 7 He sent this message to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, “The king of Moab has rebelled. Will you go with me to attack him?”
“Yes, I will,” Jehoshaphat answered. “I’m on your side, and my soldiers and horses are at your command. 8 But which way should we go?”
“We will march through Edom Desert,” Joram replied.
9 So Joram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom led their troops out. But seven days later, there was no drinking water left for them or their animals. 10 Joram cried out, “This is terrible! The Lord must have led us out here to be captured by Moab’s army.”
11 Jehoshaphat said, “Which of the Lord’s prophets is with us? We can find out from him what the Lord wants us to do.”
One of Joram’s officers answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He was one of Elijah’s closest followers.”
12 Jehoshaphat replied, “He can give us the Lord’s message.”
The three kings went over to Elisha, 13 and he asked Joram, “Why did you come to me? Go talk to the prophets of the foreign gods your parents worshiped.”[n]
“No,” Joram answered. “It was the Lord who led us out here, so that Moab’s army could capture us.”
14 Elisha said to him, “I serve the Lord All-Powerful, and as surely as he lives, I swear I wouldn’t even look at you if I didn’t respect King Jehoshaphat.” 15 Then Elisha said, “Send for someone who can play the harp.”
The harpist began playing, and the Lord gave Elisha this message for Joram:
16 The Lord says that this dry riverbed will be filled with water.[o] 17 You won’t feel any wind or see any rain, but there will be plenty of water for you and your animals.
18 That simple thing isn’t all the Lord is going to do. He will also help you defeat Moab’s army. 19 You will capture all their walled cities and important towns. You will chop down every good tree and stop up every spring of water, then ruin their fertile fields by covering them with rocks.
20 The next morning, while the sacrifice was being offered, water suddenly started flowing from the direction of Edom, and it flooded the land.
21 Meanwhile, the people of Moab had heard that the three kings were coming to attack them. They had called together all of their fighting men, from the youngest to the oldest, and these troops were now standing at their border, ready for battle. 22 When they got up that morning, the sun was shining across the water, making it look red. The Moabite troops took one look 23 and shouted, “Look at that blood! The armies of those kings must have fought and killed each other. Come on, let’s go take what’s left in their camp.”
24 But when they arrived at Israel’s camp, the Israelite soldiers came out and attacked them, until they turned and ran away. Israel’s army chased them all the way back to Moab, and even there they kept up the attack.[p] 25 The Israelites destroyed the Moabite towns. They chopped down the good trees and stopped up the springs of water, then covered the fertile fields with rocks.
Finally, the only city left standing was Kir-Hareseth, but soldiers armed with slings surrounded and attacked it. 26 King Mesha of Moab saw that he was about to be defeated. So he took along seven hundred soldiers with swords and tried to break through the front line where the Edomite troops were positioned. But he failed. 27 He then grabbed his oldest son who was to be the next king and sacrificed him as an offering on the city wall. The Israelite troops were so horrified that[q] they left the city and went back home.
Elisha Helps a Poor Widow
4 One day the widow of one of the Lord’s prophets said to Elisha, “You know that before my husband died, he was a follower of yours and a worshiper of the Lord. But he owed a man some money, and now that man is on his way to take my two sons as his slaves.”
2 “Maybe there’s something I can do to help,” Elisha said. “What do you have in your house?”
“Sir, I have nothing but a small bottle of olive oil.”
3 Elisha told her, “Ask your neighbors for their empty jars. And after you’ve borrowed as many as you can, 4 go home and shut the door behind you and your sons. Then begin filling the jars with oil and set each one aside as you fill it.” 5 The woman left.
Later, when she and her sons were back inside their house, the two sons brought her the jars, and she began filling them.
6 At last, she said to one of her sons, “Bring me another jar.”
“We don’t have any more,” he answered, and the oil stopped flowing from the small bottle.
7 After she told Elisha what had happened, he said, “Sell the oil and use part of the money to pay what you owe the man. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
Elisha Brings a Rich Woman’s Son Back to Life
8 Once, while Elisha was in the town of Shunem,[r] he met a rich woman who invited him to her home for dinner. After that, whenever he was in Shunem, he would have a meal there with her and her husband.
9 Some time later the woman said to her husband, “I’m sure the man who comes here so often is a prophet of God. 10 Why don’t we build him a small room on the flat roof of our house? We can put a bed, a table and chair, and an oil lamp in it. Then whenever he comes, he can stay with us.”
11 The next time Elisha was in Shunem, he stopped at their house and went up to his room to rest. 12-13 He said to his servant Gehazi, “This woman has been very helpful. Have her come up here to the roof for a moment.” She came, and Elisha told Gehazi to say to her, “You’ve gone to a lot of trouble for us, and we want to help you. Is there something we can request the king or army commander to do?”[s]
The woman answered, “With my relatives nearby, I have everything I need.”
14 “Then what can we do for her?” Elisha asked Gehazi.
Gehazi replied, “I do know that her husband is old, and that she doesn’t have a son.”
15 “Ask her to come here again,” Elisha told his servant. He called for her, and she came and stood in the doorway of Elisha’s room.
16 Elisha said to her, “Next year at this time, you’ll be holding your own baby son in your arms.”
“You’re a man of God,” the woman replied. “Please don’t lie to me.”
17 But a few months later, the woman got pregnant. She gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had promised.
18 One day while the boy was still young, he was out in the fields with his father, where the workers were harvesting the crops. 19 Suddenly he shouted, “My head hurts. It hurts a lot!”
“Carry him back to his mother,” the father said to his servant. 20 The servant picked up the boy and carried him to his mother. The boy lay on her lap all morning, and by noon he was dead. 21 She carried him upstairs to Elisha’s room and laid him across the bed. Then she walked out and shut the door behind her.
22 The woman called to her husband, “I need to see the prophet. Let me use one of the donkeys. Send a servant along with me, and let me leave now, so I can get back quickly.”
23 “Why do you need to see him today?” her husband asked. “It’s not the Sabbath or time for the New Moon Festival.”
“That’s all right,” she answered. 24 She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Let’s go. And don’t slow down unless I tell you to.” 25 She left at once for Mount Carmel to talk with Elisha.[t]
When Elisha saw her coming, he said, “Gehazi, look! It’s the woman from Shunem. 26 Run and meet her. And ask her if everything is all right with her and her family.”
“Everything is fine,” she answered Gehazi. 27 But as soon as she got to the top of the mountain, she went over and grabbed Elisha by the feet.
Gehazi started toward her to push her away, when Elisha said, “Leave her alone! Don’t you see how sad she is? But the Lord hasn’t told me why.”
28 The woman said, “Sir, I begged you not to get my hopes up, and I didn’t even ask you for a son.”
29 “Gehazi, get ready and go to her house,” Elisha said. “Take along my walking stick, and when you get there, lay it on the boy’s face. Don’t stop to talk to anyone, even if they try to talk to you.”
30 But the boy’s mother said to Elisha, “I swear by the living Lord and by your own life that I won’t leave without you.” So Elisha got up and went with them.
31 Gehazi ran on ahead and laid Elisha’s walking stick on the boy’s face, but the boy didn’t move or make a sound. Gehazi ran back to Elisha and said, “The boy didn’t wake up.”
32 Elisha arrived at the woman’s house and went straight to his room, where he saw the boy’s body on his bed. 33 He walked in, shut the door, and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he got on the bed and stretched out over the dead body, with his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hand on his hands. As he lay there, the boy’s body became warm. 35 Elisha got up and walked back and forth in the room, then he went back and leaned over the boy’s body. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
36 Elisha called out to Gehazi, “Have the boy’s mother come here.” Gehazi did, and when she was at the door, Elisha said, “You can take your son.”
37 She came in and bowed down at Elisha’s feet. Then she picked up her son and left.
Elisha Makes Some Stew Taste Better
38 Later, Elisha went back to Gilgal, where there was almost nothing to eat, because the crops had failed.
One day while the prophets who lived there were meeting with Elisha, he said to his servant, “Fix a big pot of stew for these prophets.”
39 One of them went out into the woods to gather some herbs. He found a wild vine and picked as much of its fruit as he could carry, but he didn’t know that the fruit was very sour. When he got back, he cut up the fruit and put it in the stew.
40 The stew was served, and when the prophets started eating it, they shouted, “Elisha, this stew tastes terrible! We can’t eat it.”
41 “Bring me some flour,” Elisha said. He sprinkled the flour in the stew and said, “Now serve it to them.” And the stew tasted fine.
Elisha Feeds One Hundred People
42 A man from the town of Baal-Shalishah[u] brought Elisha some freshly cut grain and twenty loaves of bread made from the first barley that was harvested. Elisha said, “Give it to the people so they can eat.”
43 “There’s not enough here for a hundred people,” his servant said.
“Just give it to them,” Elisha replied. “The Lord has promised there will be more than enough.”
44 So the servant served the bread and grain to the people. They ate and still had some left over, just as the Lord had promised.
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