2 Kings 2:16 MEANING

2 Kings 2:16
(16) And they said unto him.--After he had told them of the Assumption of Elijah (Thenius).

Fifty strong men.--See margin. Perhaps these were attendants on the members of the prophetic guild. (Comp. Elisha's servant Gehazi, and the fifty sons of the prophets, in 2 Kings 2:7.) Their being "sons of valour" was important, as the search in the mountains would involve danger.

The Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up.--Comp. 1 Kings 18:12; Acts 8:39-40. This suggestion of the sons of the prophets is a good comment on 2 Kings 2:11-12. It shows that what is there told is certainly not that Elijah ascended a fiery chariot and rode visibly into heaven, as the popular notion is.

Upon some mountain, or into some valley.--Literally, on to one of the mountains, or into one of the valleys, of the land of Gilead. The motive of the disciples was not a desire to pay the last honours to the body of the departed master, as Keil suggests; for they rather expected to find Elijah alive. After the words "cast him," the LXX. has "into the Jordan," which may be authentic. In that case, the disciples may have thought the prophet was hidden somewhere among the reeds and rushes of the river bank, in order to escape some threatened danger.

Ye shall not send.--Or, Ye must not, ye should not, or ought not, to send.

Verse 16. - And they said unto him. Thenius suggests that Elisha first related to them what had befallen his master; but the impression left by the narrative is rather that they began the conversation, being aware of Elijah's disappearance, which in that clear atmosphere they may have distinctly perceived, though the ascension may not have been visible to them. Keil thinks that they saw the ascension, but supposed that the body, after being taken up a certain height into the air, would necessarily fall to earth, and that they wished to find it and bury it. But the natural interpretation is that they thought the prophet had been "caught away" by a Divine influence, as Philip the evangelist was in later times (Acts 8:39), and would be found somewhere alive, as Philip "was found at Azotus." Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; literally, sons of strength; i.e. stout, active persons, capable of climbing the rough and precipitous rocks among which they thought that Elijah might be east. Let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. On either side of the ciccar, or Jordan plain, are rugged districts, consisting of alternate rocky mountain slopes and narrow gulleys, or water-courses, dry during the greater part of the year. The sons of the prophets think that Elijah has been carried by the Spirit of God into one or other of these mountain tracts, and wish to search them. And he said, Ye shall not send; or, do not send; meaning, "it will be useless - you will find nothing - it is not as you suppose."

2:13-18 Elijah left his mantle to Elisha; as a token of the descent of the Spirit upon him; it was more than if he had left him thousands of gold and silver. Elisha took it up, not as a sacred relic to be worshipped, but as a significant garment to be worn. Now that Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha inquired, 1. After God; when our creature-comforts are removed, we have a God to go to, who lives for ever. 2. After the God that Elijah served, and honoured, and pleaded for. The Lord God of the holy prophets is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; but what will it avail us to have the mantles of those that are gone, their places, their books, if we have not their spirit, their God? See Elisha's dividing the river; God's people need not fear at last passing through the Jordan of death as on dry ground. The sons of the prophets made a needless search for Elijah. Wise men may yield to that, for the sake of peace, and the good opinion of others, which yet their judgment is against, as needless and fruitless. Traversing hills and valleys will never bring us to Elijah, but following the example of his holy faith and zeal will, in due time.And they said unto him, behold, now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men,.... Perhaps meaning themselves, 2 Kings 2:7 who were young, stout, and strong, and able to travel for days together:

let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master; for though they knew he was to be taken away, yet knew not for what time, and imagined he might be found again:

lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up; as it seems he was wont to do, see 1 Kings 18:12.

and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley; where he sometimes had his abode; or they might fancy, if he was taken up to heaven, yet in his soul only, and that, when that was separated, his dead body would be left on a mountain, or in a valley; and therefore they were desirous of seeking and finding it, that it might not be exposed to birds and beasts of prey, but that they might bury it in a decent and honourable manner:

and he said, ye shall not send; he knew it was to no purpose, since he was translated to heaven, body and soul, and which he was an eyewitness of.

Courtesy of Open Bible