I-li´shuh; Heb., “God is salvation”
A prophet of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, who was active for a period of some fifty years (ca. 850–800 BCE) during the reigns of Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Jehoash (Joash). The successor and disciple of Elijah, Elisha is remembered in the biblical stories as a man of wisdom and a worker of miracles. Elisha’s work within Israel operated on both personal and political levels. The purification of a vital spring (2Kgs 2:19-22), the raising of the Shunammite’s only son (2Kgs 4:18-37), the provision of an antidote for the poisonous stew (2Kgs 4:38-41), the healing of Naaman’s leprosy (2Kgs 5:1-19 cf. Luke 4:27), and the recovery of a borrowed axe head (2Kgs 6:1-7) demonstrate Elisha’s ministry on a personal level and also show the power of God over all aspects of nature. Similarly, the increase of the widow’s oil (2Kgs 4:1-7), the multiplication of grain (2Kgs 4:42-44), and the restoration of the Shunammite’s land (2Kgs 8:1-6) demonstrate God’s power in the economic and social spheres. But Elisha’s greatest work was on a political level. He provided water to a thirsty army (2Kgs 3:4-20), was instrumental in routing the Moabites (2Kgs 3:21-27), warned the king of enemy plans more than once (2Kgs 6:8-12), helped avert disaster at the hands of the Syrians (2Kgs 6:13-7:23), was involved in the overthrow of Ben-hadad of Damascus (2Kgs 8:7-15) and Jehu of Israel (2Kgs 9:1-13 see also 2Kgs 9:14-36), and from his deathbed prophesied Joash’s defeat of the Syrians (2Kgs 13:14-19).