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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 4


1 A certain woman, the widow of one of the guild prophets, complained to Elisha: "My husband, your servant, is dead. You know that he was a God-fearing man, yet now his creditor has come to take my two children as his slaves."


"How can I help you?" Elisha answered her. "Tell me what you have in the house." "This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil," she replied.


"Go out," he said, "borrow vessels from all your neighbors - as many empty vessels as you can.


Then come back and close the door on yourself and your children; pour the oil into all the vessels, and as each is filled, set it aside."


She went and did so, closing the door on herself and her children. As they handed her the vessels, she would pour in oil.


When all the vessels were filled, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." "There is none left," he answered her. And then the oil stopped.


She went and told the man of God, who said, "Go and sell the oil to pay off your creditor; with what remains, you and your children can live."


One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine.


So she said to her husband, "I know that he is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often,


let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there."


Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.


Then he said to his servant Gehazi, "Call this Shunammite woman." He did so, and when she stood before Elisha,


he told Gehazi, "Say to her, 'You have lavished all this care on us; what can we do for you? Can we say a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?'" She replied, "I am living among my own people."


Later Elisha asked, "Can something be done for her?" "Yes!" Gehazi answered. "She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years."


"Call her," said Elisha. When she had been called, and stood at the door,


Elisha promised, "This time next year you will be fondling a baby son." "Please, my lord," she protested, "you are a man of God; do not deceive your servant."


Yet the woman conceived, and by the same time the following year she had given birth to a son, as Elisha had promised.


The day came when the child was old enough to go out to his father among the reapers.


"My head hurts!" he complained to his father. "Carry him to his mother," the father said to a servant.


The servant picked him up and carried him to his mother; he stayed with her until noon, when he died in her lap.


The mother took him upstairs and laid him on the bed of the man of God. Closing the door on him, she went out


and called to her husband, "Let me have a servant and a donkey. I must go quickly to the man of God, and I will be back."


"Why are you going to him today?" he asked. "It is neither the new moon nor the sabbath." But she bade him good-bye,


and when the donkey was saddled, said to her servant: "Lead on! Do not stop my donkey unless I tell you to."


She kept going till she reached the man of God on Mount Carmel. When he spied her at a distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi: "There is the Shunammite!


2 Hurry to meet her, and ask if all is well with her, with her husband, and with the boy." "Greetings," she replied.


But when she reached the man of God on the mountain, she clasped his feet. Gehazi came near to push her away, but the man of God said: "Let her alone, she is in bitter anguish; the LORD hid it from me and did not let me know."


"Did I ask my lord for a son?" she cried out. "Did I not beg you not to deceive me?"


3 "Gird your loins," Elisha said to Gehazi, "take my staff with you and be off; if you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff upon the boy."


But the boy's mother cried out: "As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not release you." So he started to go back with her.


Meanwhile, Gehazi had gone on ahead and had laid the staff upon the boy, but there was no sound or sign of life. He returned to meet Elisha and informed him that the boy had not awakened.


When Elisha reached the house, he found the boy lying dead.


He went in, closed the door on them both, and prayed to the LORD.


Then he lay upon the child on the bed, placing his mouth upon the child's mouth, his eyes upon the eyes, and his hands upon the hands. As Elisha stretched himself over the child, the body became warm.


He arose, paced up and down the room, and then once more lay down upon the boy, who now sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.


Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, "Call the Shunammite." She came at his call, and Elisha said to her, "Take your son."


She came in and fell at his feet in gratitude; then she took her son and left the room.


When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. Once, when the guild prophets were seated before him, he said to his servant, "Put the large pot on, and make some vegetable stew for the guild prophets."


Someone went out into the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine, from which he picked a clothful of wild gourds. On his return he cut them up into the pot of vegetable stew without anybody's knowing it.


The stew was poured out for the men to eat, but when they began to eat it, they exclaimed, "Man of God, there is poison in the pot!" And they could not eat it.


"Bring some meal," Elisha said. He threw it into the pot and said, "Serve it to the people to eat." And there was no longer anything harmful in the pot.


A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barely loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear. "Give it to the people to eat," Elisha said.


But his servant objected, "How can I set this before a hundred men?" "Give it to the people to eat," Elisha insisted. "For thus says the LORD, 'They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'"


And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.



1 [1] His creditor . . . slaves: Hebrew law permitted the selling of wife and children as chattels for debt; cf Exodus 21:7; Amos 2:6; 8:6; Isaiah 50.

2 [26] Greetings: the conventional answer to Gehazi's question, which tells him nothing.

3 [29] Do not greet him: the profuse exchange of compliments among Orientals meeting and greeting one another consumed time. Urgency necessitated their omission, as our Lord counseled his disciples ( Luke 10:4).

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