The widow and the ever flowing oil (2 Kings 4:1-4:7)

“The wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha. ‘Your servant my husband is dead. You know that your servant feared Yahweh, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.’ Elisha said to her. ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me. What do you have in the house?’ She answered. ‘Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.’ He said. ‘Go outside. Borrow vessels of all your neighbors. Empty these vessels and not just a few. Then go in. Shut the door behind you and your children. Start pouring into all these vessels. When each one is full, set it aside.’ So she left him. She shut the door behind her and her children. They kept bringing vessels to her. She kept pouring. When the vessels were full, she said to her son. ‘Bring me another vessel.’ But he said to her. ‘There are no more.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God. He said. ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your children can live on the rest.’”

Elisha was not a lone wolf prophet. He always seemed to be with a group of prophets. As you can see from this story, miss use of credit was a problem some 2,500 years ago. The taking of children as slaves for bad debts was not unknown. Elisha seems to have this rude personality, since he says, what can I do for you? He tells her that she should get all the vessels she can borrow from her friends. She then began to fill up every vessel with the oil from the one jar of oil that she had. Of course, the oil from the one jar never ran out. When they were all full, she went back to Elisha. He told her to sell the oil, pay off her debts, and live on the rest. This never ending supply of the oil jar is like the jug of oil of Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 17.