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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



4 KINGS 2

 

CHAPTER II.

 

Ver. 1.  Heaven.  By heaven here is meant, the air, the lowest of the heavenly regions, (Ch). through which he was carried by the ministry of angels, who directed the storm, (H.) to the place designed for him. --- It is generally supposed to be Paradise, (C.) whither Henoch had been translated.  H. --- They are still living, (C.) and must come again, to invite all to repent.  After which they will die martyrs, in the persecution of Antichrist.  H. --- See S. Aug. de Gen. ad lit. ix. 6. et Apoc. xi.  W. --- Eccli. xlviii. 10.  M. --- They are a proof of a future resurrection.  C. --- To decide where the paradise which they inhabit, (H.) is situated. would be rash.  S. Chrys. hom. 21. in Gen. &c.  Some suppose it is still in some unknown region of the earth: others place it above the sky, (M.) or in the bosom of Abraham.  C. --- The Jews (ap. Munster) assert that Elias penetrated the sphere of fire, where his body was consumed.  Vat. --- The earthly paradise is very probably no longer existing, in its ancient luxuriant state.  H. --- It may now be covered with the waters of the Persian Gulf.  Worthington.

 

Ver. 3.  The sons of the prophets.  That is, the disciples of the prophets; who seem to have had their schools, like colleges or communities, in Bethel, Jericho, and other places, in the days of Elias and Eliseus.  Ch. --- Many of these disciples might be also their children.  Elias collected some fervent souls together even at Bethel, to preserve the true religion, as much as possible.  He visited them before his departure.  C. --- Peace: let not Elias hear us.

 

Ver. 5.  From thee.  Heb. "from thy head," thy superior, and raise him into the air, v. 3.  C.

 

Ver. 6.  Thee.  Elias had tried the constancy of his disciple three times, as Christ required of S. Peter a triple confession of love.  Jo. xxi. 17.  H. --- Humility might also prompt the prophet to desire to be alone.  Salien.

 

Ver. 8.  Mantle.  Sept. mhlwthn, "sheep skin," (M.) such as the prophets wore.  The Syriac explains it of an ornament or bandage of the head; others, of a leathren mantle to keep off rain.  Ad subitas nunquam scortea diset aquas.  Martial xiv.

 

Ver. 9.  Double spirit.  A double portion of thy spirit, as thy eldest son and heir: or thy spirit, which is double, in comparison of that which God usually imparteth to his prophets; (Ch). or the power of working miracles, as well as of prophesying.  W. --- He wishes to excel his fellow disciples, rather than his master.  T.  Cajet.  Amama. --- Double often means, great and perfect.  Jer. xvii. 18.  If Eliseus even begged that he might perform more and greater wonders than his master, (as Christ enabled his disciples to surpass himself, in this particular.  Jo. xiv. 12.  H.) he might do it without pride, purely for the glory of God.  He certainly shone forth with peculiar splendour; and some have enumerated sixteen or twenty-four of his miracles, while they can only find eight (Lyran.) or twelve recorded of Elias.  See A. Lapide, in Eccli. xlviii. 13.  C. --- We read a similar expression in Pindar, (Olym. vi.) where Neptune gave his son Jamus ( Qhsauron didumon mantosunaV) "the double treasure of divination," p. 50. Ed. Step.  H.

 

Ver. 10.  Hard thing.  Heb. lit. "thou art hardened to ask" a thing so difficult, and which I have not the power to grant.  But I will pray that thou mayst receive it; (C.) and I feel confident that thou wilt, if God shall grant thee the power to see me, at my departure.  H. --- This he did, v. 12.  M. --- Elias had perhaps imagined that his disciple would have desired some of his clothes, or some advice.  C. --- He left him his mantle, (v. 13.  H.) and by prayer was enabled to communicate his spirit to him; as Moses and the apostles did to their assistants in the ministry.  C.

 

Ver. 11.  Horses.  Angels assumed these forms, (Grotius) or a cloud, resembling a fiery chariot and horses, was impelled by a strong wind, under their guidance.  Tostat.  M.  Salien, A.C. 914. --- As the name of Elias is very like Helios, "the sun," some have supposed that hey have the same meaning: (Sedulius, pasc. 1.) but the Heb. term signifies, "He is my God."  The pagans have taken occasion from this history to represent the sun drawn in a fiery chariot, by horses composed of the same element.

                            Animosos ignibus illis,

                            Quos in pectore habent, quos ore & naribus efflant.  Metam. xii.  C.

--- Heaven; (see v. 1.) where he lives free from all disturbance.  T. --- It is a constant, that he will come again before the last judgment; as his representative, John the Baptist, announced the first appearance of our Redeemer.  S. Greg. hom. 7. in Ev.  Of this the Jews were convinced.  S. Justin, dial.  See Malac. iv. 5.

 

Ver. 12.  Thereof.  Thou alone wast equal to an army, in our defence.  Chariots were then very common.  C. --- Chal. and Vatab. "Thou wast, by thy prayer, better to Israel than chariots and horses."  So we should call a person, a pillar of the state, &c.  T. --- In giving the character of Elias, the Holy Ghost dwells in a particular manner on his burning zeal.  C. --- Elias stood up as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch...he brought down fire from heaven thrice, on the holocaust, and on the captains.  H. --- Who can glory like to thee?  Eccli. lxviii. 1. 4.  See SS. Amb. and Chrys. on Elias.  His resemblance with Christ is very striking.  His name puts us in mind of Christ's divinity; who burnt with zeal for God's house, (Jo. ii. 17.) was persecuted, (C.) raised the dead to life, rose again and ascended triumphant into heaven, having imparted his blessing (H.) and his sacraments to his disciples.  C. --- No more, as he was taken from the company of men.  H. --- Pieces, to express his grief, at being deprived of so excellent a master.  M.

 

Ver. 13.  Mantle, as an earnest of his affection.  By the imposition of this mantle, he had been called to be a prophet.  3 K. xix. 19.

 

Ver. 14.  Not divided.  God thus prevented him from giving way to vanity, (Abul. q. 28.) or thinking that he could do any thing himself.  H. --- Elias.  Heb. "where is he?"  C. --- The original and Sept. (Alex. and Vat.) do not specify that he struck the waters twice, or that they did not divide at first.  H. --- This is taken from other copies of the Sept.  Amama. --- The exclamation contains a most fervent prayer.  Heb. "he smote the waters, and said: Where is the Lord God of Elias? and when he had stricken the," &c. which removes the idea of presumption, which (H.) some discover in the words of Eliseus.  T.  Sanctius. --- Now.  Heb. aph hu.  Sept. affw, retaining the words which Theodotion renders "the hidden" god.  H. --- "Even he himself."  Aquila.  C. --- When I stand so much in need of his assistance, (M.) having performed his important functions, which cannot be done without his spirit, nor without the confirmation of miracles, before an unbelieving people.  H.

 

Ver. 15.  They worshipped him; viz. with an inferior, yet religious veneration, not for any temporal, but spiritual excellency.  Ch.  W. --- They had stopped on a hill, (M.) to see the event, v. 7.  H. --- Jericho itself is two hours' journey from the Jordan.  Adric. --- The sons of the prophets had seen what had happened at the translation of Elias, and perceiving that Eliseus was invested with his mantle, and with the power of working miracles, they did not hesitate to acknowledge him for their superior, during the absence of Elias, who they expected would return.  C.

 

Ver. 16.  Valley.  It seems such translations were not uncommon.  3 K. xviii. 12.  C.

 

Ver. 17.  Send.  He acquiesces, lest they might think that he was afraid of losing his superiority.  M.

 

Ver. 19.  Barren, owing to the salt or bituminous waters.  Some think that they were muddy and of a loathsome smell.  The fountain is still to be seen very abundant and excellent, watering the plain on the west of the city.  Its source is about two miles distant on the road to Jerusalem.  Maundrell, p. 134.  C. --- Other parts of the environs were very fertile.  M.

 

Ver. 20.  Put salt.  He removes ever suspicion of imposture: if the waters were already saline, the remedy would seem contrary to his design, but it would display the miracle in a stronger light; and if they were only fetid and muddy, (C.) though (H.) salt might rectify a small quantity, (Palladius tit. 9. Vales, &c.) it could never correct the bad qualities of such a fountain for a length of time, by the mere force of nature.  H. --- Josephus (Bel. iv. 8.) represents Eliseus acting like a magician, being desirous to please the pagan readers with various embellishments.  C.

 

Ver. 21.  Barrenness.  By the divine power they are become salubrious.  H.

 

Ver. 23.  Bald-head.  It is not know whether Eliseus was really bald, or only wore his hair short, like the priests of the Lord, and the monks at present.  It may also be a term of reproach, of which the emperors Julius Cæsar, Domitian, and Otho, were very sensible.  Cæsar wore a crown of laurel, and Otho a sort of false hair, to hide this deformity.  Sueton.

                            Quod summum formæ decus est, periere capilli.  Petronius.  C.

 

Ver. 24.  Cursed them.  This curse, which was followed by so visible a judgment of God, was not the effect of passion, or of a desire of revenging himself; but of zeal for religion, which was insulted by these boys, in the person of the prophet, and of a divine inspiration; God being determined to punish in this manner the inhabitants of Bethel, (the chief seat of the calf-worship) who had trained up their children in a prejudice against the true religion and its ministers.  Ch. --- The boys themselves were not so little as not to be aware of the insult they were offering to a minister of the God of Juda; and probably they acted thus out of hatred to him, at the instigation of their idolatrous parents.  Sanc.  C. --- Lord.  He called on him (M.) to revenge his own cause, (H.) "that the people might learn to take care of their souls, by the fear of death."  S. Aug.  D.

 

Ver. 25.  Carmel.  To avoid the indignation of the populace, and to instruct his disciples. --- Samaria.  That he might be ready to give advice to the two kings, who were meditating an expedition against Moab.  M.

 

 








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