E is for Elijah and Elisha

a-to-z-letters-eThe Prophet Elijah is one of the bible’s more colorful characters. He seemed to have a problem getting along with folks and spent a good portion of his life “doing battle” with King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. It seems Jezebel introduced the Jewish folk to the god Baal and a good many of them worshiped this new god. Elijah wasn’t about to stand for that, so he cursed Ahab, “As the Lord lives, the God of Israel who I serve, there will be no dew or rain except at my bidding”. (1 Kings 17:1)

Knowing his life was in peril from Ahab, God told Elijah to get out and hide in Wadi Cherith. True to the prophet’s word, the country experienced a serious drought.

There were a great many other confrontations between the two. Thanks, at least in part, to Jezebel the flames of animosity never seemed to burn down. But, ol’ Jezebel is another story, for another time.

During the final ten years of Elijah’s life, he became acquainted with Elisha.

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Photo credit: Wikipedia

One day, Elijah and Elisha were walking together. They reached the Jordan River, near Bethany and Elijah struck the water with his cloak. The river parted and they walked across into what is now known as Jordan.

Leaving the river behind them, Elijah asked his protégé what he could do for him before he left. Elisha asked him for “a double portion of your spirit”. Elijah allowed that it was a difficult request, but “If you see me as I am being taken from you, this will be granted to you; if not, it will not.” (2 Kings 9-10)

Then, what do their dazzled eyes behold, but a fiery chariot, drawn by fiery horses dropping down from the sky. Old Elijah jumped aboard, tossed his cloak to Elisha and took off for the heavens.

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Prophet Elijah site at Bethany beyond the Jordan

Elisha started making his way back to the old country and when he reached the Jordan River, he struck the water and it parted to let him walk back across. Elijah’s followers saw it and proclaimed “Elijah’s spirit now rests on Elisha.” (2 Kings 2:15)

Up north, near Ajlun is a site that has been identified as Tishbe, which is the home town of the Prophet Elijah. A ruined Byzantine church has been located there; the Shrine of Prophet Elyas. It’s yet another beautiful place to see in Jordan. At Mar Elyas, you’ll find tombs, partially intact mosaic floors, religious carvings, baptismal fonts and more.

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Baptismal font at Mar Elyas near Ajlun, Jordan

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Beautifully preserved mosaic floor at Mar Elyas near Ajlun, Jordan

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Ruined Byzantine church at Mar Elyas near Ajlun, Jordan

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Overview of Mar Elyas near Ajlun, Jordan

 

 

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