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2 Kings 4:1-7 – Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

Summary

Elisha ministers to the desperate need of a widow.

Analysis

Just as Elijah had ministered to the desperate need of a widow at the point of death in Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16), so now Elisha helps the widow of one of the company of the prophets struggling to pay off her husband's debts. With no husband to provide for her, she was in danger of debt slavery, as permitted in Exodus 21:7. In Elisha's ingenious solution, the single oil jar that symbolized the widow's poverty miraculously became the instrument of her deliverance. The story testifies to Elisha's concern for the poor and the empowerment of the widow without abrogating the legal strictures of the culture.

2 Kings 4:1-7

Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

4Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets* cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.’ 2Elisha 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.’ 3He said, ‘Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbours, empty vessels and not just a few. 4Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.’ 5So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. 6When 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. 7She came and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest.’

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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