Only the foreigner returned (Lk 17:18-17:18)

“None of them


To give praise

To God

Except this foreigner.”


οὐχ εὑρέθησαν ὑποστρέψαντες δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος;


Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that none of the others could be found (οὐχ εὑρέθησαν) to return (ὑποστρέψαντες) and give glory or praise (δοῦναι δόξαν) to God (τῷ Θεῷ), except this foreigner (εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος).  Luke was the only biblical writer to use this word ἀλλογενὴς, that means of another race or another nation, a foreigner.  Clearly, Luke indicated that Jesus was steeped in racial animosity, since he considered these Samaritans as foreigners, another race of people.  However, Jesus had more compassion for them in the stories of Luke than in the other gospel stories, where they are ignored.  The prophet Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 5, had also cured a foreign leper, Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army in a fairly complicated story.  Do you have racial animosity towards those not of your culture?

A great prophet (Lk 7:16-7:16)

“Fear seized

All of them.

They glorified God.


‘A great prophet

Has arisen among us!

God has looked favorably

On his people!’”


ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας, καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ.


Luke said that fear seized all the people (ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας) there in Nain.  They glorified God (καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν).  They said that a great prophet had arisen among them (λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν).  God had visited or looked favorably on his people (καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ).  This was truly a shocking development.  The people of Nain were fear struck and felt privileged at the same time.  They began to praise God.  They called Jesus a great prophet like Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 17:17-24, and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 4:32-37, who restored life to dead young people about 1,000 years prior.  This was a big deal.  Would you be afraid or amazed if you saw a dead man rise up from a casket?

The evil in Gilgal (Hos 9:15-9:15)

“Every evil

Of theirs

Began at Gilgal.

There I began

To hate them.

Because of the wickedness

Of their deeds,

I will drive them

Out of my house.

I will love them

No more.

All their officials

Are rebels.”

Gilgal was the original west bank camping grounds, east of Jericho, in Joshua, chapters 4-5. There Saul was also anointed king in 1 Samuel, chapter 11, despite the fact that Samuel was opposed to him. Gilgal was, nevertheless, the home of the prophets Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 2. Yahweh, via Hosea, said that all the evil things began here at Gilgal, as they entered the promised land. Yahweh began to hate the Israelites there, because of their wicked deeds. Yahweh was going to drive them out of his house, because he was not going to love them anymore. All their officials were rebels against Yahweh.

The Twelve prophets (Sir 49:10-49:10)

“May the bones

Of the twelve prophets

Send forth new life

From where they lie.

They comforted

The people of Jacob.

They delivered them

With confident hope.”

Finally we have the 12 prophets without mentioning their specific names. Just as there were 12 tribes so there also were 12 prophets. Sometimes they are referred to as the 12 Minor Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. They were important enough for Sirach to mention them so that this book of 12 or series of books about 12 prophets might have been considered canonical by the time of the writing of Sirach. Sirach wanted them to be like Elisha, whose dead body revived another dead person. These prophets gave comfort to the people of Jacob. They gave the Israelites hope.

Infidelity and punishment (Sir 48:15-48:16)

“Despite all this,

The people did not repent.

They did not forsake their sins,

Until they were carried off

As plunder

From their land.

They were scattered

Over all the earth.

The people were left,

Very few in number,

But with a ruler

From the house of David.

Some of them did

What was right,

Pleasing to God.

But others sinned

More and more.”

Despite the warnings of these two great northern prophets of Israel, Elijah and Elisha, the northern Israelites did not repent. They did not give up their sinning ways. Only when they were carried off as plunder in the captivity did they realize how bad they had been. They were scattered all over the earth. Only a few people were left. However, there was a ruler from the house of David in Judah. Some people did what was right and pleased the Lord, but many others continued to multiply their sins.

Elisha (Sir 48:12-48:14)

“When Elijah was enveloped

In the whirlwind,

Elisha was filled

With his spirit.

He performed

Twice as many signs.

He performed marvels

With every utterance of his mouth.

Never in his lifetime

Did he tremble before any ruler.

No one could intimidate him at all.

Nothing was too hard for him.

When he was dead,

His body prophesied.

In his life,

He did wonders.

So in death

His deeds were marvelous.”

The story of this prophet Elisha takes up 13 chapters in 2 Kings, 1-13. He follows in the spirit of Elijah with many miracles and confrontations with the various Israelite kings. However, he died a natural death. Nevertheless, he performed twice as many miracles as Elijah. Also he spoke quite a lot to the various rulers. He was never intimidated, as Elijah had occasionally been. Nothing was too hard for him. Even in his death, he was able to perform a miracle. When a dead man was thrown into his grave, the dead man came alive by touching his dead body in 2 Kings, chapter 13. Thus he continued in the spirit of his spiritual father, Elijah.

The taking up of Elijah (Sir 48:9-48:11)

“You who were taken up

By a whirlwind of fire.

You were taken up

In a chariot

With horses of fire.

At the appointed time,

It is written,

That you are destined

To calm the wrath of God

Before it breaks out in fury.

You are destined

To turn the hearts of parents

To their children.

You are destined

To restore the tribes of Jacob.

Blessed are those

Who saw you.

Happy are those

Who were adorned

With your love.

We also shall surely live.”

The story of the taking up of Elijah is recorded 2 Kings, chapter 2, in the so-called Elisha cycle. Elijah, like Enoch, was taken up to heaven without dying, being the only 2 in all these biblical stories. Not even Moses, Aaron, David, or any other of the patriarchs, prophets, or kings had this privilege. Thus near the Jordan River, the chariots of fire came and took Elijah away in a whirlwind of fire. Elisha took Elijah’s place, as he was able to part the waters of the Jordan River. Other prophets went looking for Elijah, but to no avail. However, it is not clear where the idea of the second coming of Elijah comes from at some appointed hour. For many Christians, Jesus was the Messiah of the Second Coming. However, some believe it was John the Baptist, or as the Mormons believe with Joseph Smith in 1836. At the appointed hour, Elijah will calm the wrath of God, turn parents to their children, and restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy and blessed are those who saw and loved Elijah for they will live on.

My Understanding of 2 Kings

The second book of Kings is a follow up to the first book of Kings. Originally this was one book. Thus most people believe that it was the same author who wrote both of these books, 1 and 2 Kings. 2 Kings used some of the same sources, the lost “Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah” and the “Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.” Despite the fact that this book was called “kings,” there was quite a lot about the prophet Elisha, who was a disciple of Elijah, and his relationship to the kings. This 2 Kings followed the exploits of the kings in Israel and Judah. This book ended with the capture and destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the leaders in Judah. Earlier in this book of 2 Kings, the Assyrians captured Samaria and transported the people out of Israel. Then the final conclusion was the Babylonian defeat of Judah and Jerusalem with the deportation of the people to Babylon. Thus this is not a book with a happy ending. Throughout this book we see the history of the kings of Israel and Judah as each king was mentioned.

2 Kings started out with the prophet Elijah and King Ahaziah of Israel. Elijah kept burning up the men that King Ahaziah sent to bring him back to the king, until finally the last group was successful. Then the two prophets Elijah and Elisha went to Bethel, Jericho, and the Jordan River as Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. The prophet Elisha picked up the mantel of Elijah as they searched in vain for Elijah. The prophet Elisha then performed a few miracles.

During the reign of King Jehoram in Israel, there was a revolt of King Mesha of Moab. King Jehoshaphat of Judah joined King Jehoram against Moab. They picked up the king of Edom as these three kings set out, despite a lack of water. In order to get help they decided to consult with the prophet Elisha. Meanwhile, the people of Moab thought that the three kings had attacked each other so they simply came to loot their camp. However, the Moabites suffered a bad defeat when the three kings were still there willing to fight.

The prophet Elisha continued to perform miracles with a widow and the never ending oil. He also had a second home at Shumen, where a Shunammite woman was very kind to him. When her son died, Elisha came and restored her dead son. Elisha made a bad poisonous stew good as well as multiplied barley loaves. He even cured Naaman, the commander of the Aramean forces, who had leprosy. However, his servant Gehazi tried to get money for this cure so that he ended up with the leprosy himself.

The prophet Elisha warned the king of Israel that the Arameans were coming. Somehow Elisha knew their plans, so the Arameans went after Elisha. However, Elisha had Yahweh strike them blind. He then led the blind Arameans to Samaria where they were captured but were treated fairly well.

Meanwhile there was a siege and famine in Samaria so that some of the people resorted to cannibalism. The king was mad at the prophet Elisha since he blamed Elisha for the famine. However, Elisha announced the imminent end of the crisis. Four lepers discovered that the Aramean camp had been abandoned because Yahweh made them think that a great army was attacking them. The four lepers told the king, but he was skeptical about the deserted Aramean camp. Finally, the Israelites plundered the abandoned Aramean camp. The Shunammite woman and her son had avoided the famine by going to a different country. However, when she returned, the king helped the Shunammite woman and her son. The prophet Elisha went to Damascus where he met Hazael who then killed King Ben-hadad and became king himself.

Then King Ahaziah in Judah went to war with King Hazael of Aram. The prophet Elisha sent a disciple to anoint Jehu the new king. King Jehu then murdered King Jehoram of Israel in the Naboth vineyard, King Ahaziah of Judah, and the Queen mother Jezebel. King Jehu sent letters to the seventy sons of King Ahab. He then asked for their heads so this led to a complete massacre of the royal family of Israel and Judah. Thus the complete family of King Ahab was wiped out. King Jehu then assembled all the Baal believers for a great worship service, where he massacred them also. However, King Jehu was not perfect as he lost some territories.

Queen Athaliah tried to destroy the royal family, but the people crowned her hidden grandson Joash as the king in Judah. Then she was killed as they destroyed the temple of Baal. As king, King Joash wanted money to repair the temple. Then King Joash sent gifts to King Hazael before he defeated the new king of the Arameans. Finally, Elisha the prophet died after his last request with a prophecy and a miracle.

King Amaziah in Judah killed the murders of his father. He also killed the Edomites. He had a war of words King Joash of Israel so that Israel defeated Judah. Under King Jeroboam II in Israel, there was a restoration of the Israelite territory. King Azariah in Judah was the leper king with his son Jotham. Meanwhile there were a series of three kings in Israel as they each killed each other. Finally King Menahem in Israel paid off the king of Assyria. However, the king of Assyria attacked King Pekah in Israel. Hoshea revolted and then became King Hoshea. King Ahaz in Judah withstood the siege of Jerusalem and made a treaty with Assyria. He even had an altar built in Jerusalem based on one he saw in Damascus, as he removed things from the temple in Jerusalem.

During the reign of King Hoshea in Israel, Samaria was taken by the Assyrians in 724 BCE. Of course, this was due to the evils of the people in the Israelite kingdom, as they did not follow the prophets and commandments of Yahweh. Thus they were wiped out. The leaders were taken into captivity in Assyria. This led to the repopulation of Israel and the introduction of foreign gods into Samaria. The origins of the Samaritans can be traced back to these foreigners in Samaria intermarrying with the poor people who stayed behind.

The Kingdom of Judah was to last about a hundred and forty years longer. The good King Hezekiah of Judah withstood the invasion of King Sennacherib of Assyria, who had taken over Israel in the north. A number of officials met in Jerusalem where they were warned about making treaties with Egypt. King Hezekiah sent his advisors to the prophet Isaiah, who told them to stand firm. King Sennacherib sent a letter to King Hezekiah, who then prayed to Yahweh. Yahweh responded that the king of Assyria would not attack Jerusalem. Yahweh instead killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers as King Sennacherib also died.

The prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah that he was going to die, but then reversed himself as he healed King Hezekiah. Meanwhile, the ambassadors of Merodach came to King Hezekiah who showed them everything about Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah was upset at King Hezekiah for doing this and predicted the downfall of Jerusalem to Babylon. Eventually King Hezekiah died.

Following King Hezekiah were two bad kings. King Manasseh ruled for forty-five years. During his time, he desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. Yahweh was not happy about this. Eventually King Manasseh died and King Amon ruled Judah for two years.

Then the good King Josiah led a religious reform in Judah for over thirty years as he made repairs to the temple. During these repairs, they discovered the book or scroll of the law. They read this book and consulted with the prophetess Huldah. She told them to have a solemn reading of the law with a covenant renewal. Thus there was a religious reform at the temple, the house of Yahweh. They destroyed all the high places in Judah and the foreign god’s worship places. They even went north to Bethel to destroy the altar and tombs there and also the high places throughout Samaria. Then they held a public celebration of the Passover as they concluded the year of religious reform. Despite all this reform of King Josiah, the Day of Judgment for Judah was coming as King Josiah died.

King Jehoahaz, his son ruled for only a year. His brother King Jehoiakim in Judah then ruled for ten years as the invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took place. King Jehoiakim died, as the extensive kingdom of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem and the first deportation to Babylon took place. The Babylonian king named King Zedekiah as king in Judah until finally Jerusalem was captured and destroyed. The Babylonians took all the valuable things from the temple and killed all the leaders of Judah at Riblah. King Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as the governor of Judah, but a revolt by Ishmael put an end to that. Meanwhile King Jehoiachin lived in exile under pleasant circumstances. So the end of Israel and Judah was complete as the Exiles of the eighth and sixth centuries BCE were in full swing.

The king helps the Shunammite woman and her son (2 Kings 8:4-8:6)

“Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying. ‘Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.’ While he was telling the king how Elisha had restored a dead person to life, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. Gehazi said. ‘My lord king, here is the woman. Here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’ When the king questioned the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying. ‘Restore all that was hers, together with all the revenue of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”

Once again, the unnamed king consults with Elisha’s servant who had been struck with leprosy. Perhaps this happened before the later incident or he had a mild form of leprosy. Anyway, the king called in Gehazi to find out what Elisha had done for her. He would have been familiar with Elisha since he had a minor dispute with him during the famine. However, this is after the famine has ended. While the king and Gehazi were talking, the Shunammite woman showed up to appeal her land claim. After the king questioned her, he decided to have all her land restored, including the revenue during the last 7 years. So I think we have come to the end of the story about the Shunammite woman and her son.


The Shunammite woman and her son avoided the famine (2 Kings 8:1-8:3)

“Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life. ‘Get up. Go with your household. Settle wherever you can. Yahweh has called for a famine. It will come on the land for seven years.’ So the woman got up and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and settled in the land of the Philistines for seven years. At the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she set out to appeal to the king for her house and her land.”

Now we are back to the wealthy unnamed Shunammite woman. Obviously this belongs with the section in chapter 4. Elisha told her to leave her town since a great 7 year famine was coming. Once again, notice the prominent role of the number 7. She went to live in the Philistine territory with her son. There is no mention of her husband, who either died or stayed in Shunem. At the end of 7 years she wanted to return, but somehow the caretakers of her land now said that it was theirs. She then appealed to the king to have her land restored.