The last request and prophecy of Elisha (2 Kings 13:14-13:19)

“Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, King Joash of Israel went down to him. He wept before him, crying. ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ Elisha said to him. ‘Take a bow and arrows.’ So King Joash took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel. ‘Draw the bow.’ He drew it. Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. Then he said. ‘Open the window eastward.’ He opened it. Elisha said. ‘Shoot!’ He shot it. Then he said. ‘Yahweh’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram! For you shall fight the Arameans in Aphek until you have made an end of them.’ He continued. ‘Take the arrows.’ He took them. He said to the king of Israel. ‘Strike the ground with them.’ He struck it three times. Then he stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him. ‘You should have struck it five or six times. Then you would have struck down the Arameans until you had made an end of them. But now you will strike down Aram only three times.’”

Interesting enough, it is King Joash of Israel who is at his side. You should note that Elisha never did have much to say about the king of Judah. In typical fashion, Elisha seems to know that he is dying since the good death is part of most stories. King Joash is genuinely moved and cries for Elisha. Elisha the prophet has one more request and prophecy for the king. He wants him to shoot an arrow out the east window. This is somewhat reminiscent of the bow and arrow incident with Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel, chapter 20. This shoot was the arrow of victory as the Israelites would prevail at Aphek. Elisha told King Joash to strike the ground with his arrows. The king only strikes the arrows to the ground 3 times. It was not clear how he would know to strike it more times. Nevertheless, the irascible prophet Elisha remained irascible to the very end. He told King Joash that he should have struck the arrows 5 or 6 times. Now he will only be able to defeat the Arameans 3 times instead of total destruction.

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