Commemorated on June 14
The Holy Prophet
Elisha (Elisei) lived in the IX Century before the Birth of Christ, and was
a native of the village of Abelmaum, near Jordan. By the command of the Lord he
was called to prophetic service by the holy Prophet of God Eliah (Ilias,
Elijah) (Comm. 20 July).
When it became time
for the holy Prophet Eliah to be taken up to Heaven, he said to Elisha:
"Ask, what shalt I do for thee, before that I be taken from thee".
Elisha boldly asked for a double portion of the grace of God: "The Spirit,
which be in thee, let it be upon me twofold". The Prophet Eliah said:
"Thou dost ask the difficult; if thou seest as I be taken from thee, then
so shalt it be for thee, but if thou seest not, it wilt not be"
(4  Kings 2: 12). And when they went along the way and conversed,
there appeared a fiery chariot and horses and parted them both. Elisha cried
out: "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horse!" (4
 Kings 2: 12). Picking up the cloak (mantle) of his teacher which fell from
the sky, Elisha received the power and prophetic gift of Eliah. He spent more
than 65 years in prophetic service, under six Israelite kings (from Ahab to
Joash). "And in those days he trembled not before the prince, and no one
could overcome him" (Sirach 48: 13 ["Sirach" in the canon of Old
Testament books is found in Catholic but not Protestant English translations of
the Bible, rendered as "Ecclesiasticus"]). The holy prophet worked
numerous miracles. He divided the waters of the Jordan, having smitten it with
the mantle of the Prophet Eliah; he made fit for drinking the waters of a
Jericho spring; by an abundant bringing forth of water by his prayer he saved
the armies of the kings of Israel and Judah that stood in an arid wilderness;
he delivered a poor widow from death by starvation through a miraculous
increase of oil in a vessel. The Shunamite woman showing hospitality to the
prophet was gladdened by the birth of a son through his prayer, and when the
child died, he was raised back to life by the prophet. The Syrian
military-commander Namaan was healed from leprosy but the servant of the
prophet, Gehazi, was afflicted since he disobeyed the prophet and on the sly
took money from Namaan. Elisha predicted to the Israelite king Joash the
victory over his enemies and by the power of his prayer worked many other
miracles (4  Kings 3-13). The holy Prophet Elisha died in old age at
Samaria. "And in life he worked miracles, and at death astounding was his
deed" (Sir. 48: 15). A year after his death, a corpse was thrown into the
cave wherein lay his remains, and came alive by a mere touch to his bones. The
Prophet Elisha, just like his teacher the Prophet Eliah, left behind them no
books, since their prophetic preaching was but oral. Jesus, son of Sirach,
inscribed eulogistic praise to both the great prophets (Sir. 48: 1-15).
Saint John Damascene
compiled a canon in honour of the Prophet Elisha, and at Constantinople a
church was built in his name.
Julian the Apostate
(361-363) gave orders to burn the relics of the Prophet Elisha, Abdia (Obadiah)
and John the Forerunner, but the remains of the holy relics were preserved by
believers, and part of them were transferred to Alexandria.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.