On one of Elisha’s journeys, he stops in to visit the Shunamite woman. He tells his servant, Gehazi, to call her. As an FYI, this is the first record that Elisha has a servant. It seems he followed in the footsteps of his master. Just like Elisha served Elijah so also is Gehazi serving Elisha. Who is this guy? There is nothing about him in the Bible Dictionary. I guess we’ll just have to use the scriptures that mention him as a reference.
A Reward for the Woman’s Kindness
The woman comes and Elisha asks her what he can do for her since she has taken care of them will all her might. Would she have him speak to kings or captains for her? Her reply is simple, “I dwell among my own people.” I think I’m beginning to see why this woman is so remarkable. Her hospitality is an example to all. She takes no thought of herself save it be how she can help her guests be comfortable during their stay. I think that hospitality, good hospitality is the mark of a truly wonderful person. Not everyone offers their home to complete strangers and is willing to provide for them without thought of anything to gain. It seems to me, that this is what this woman was like. I am reminded of another woman in the Old Testament who acted in a similar way. Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Although childless herself, she was a mother to thousands through her open doors and hospitality to the guests that came through them. Maybe this woman whom Elisha stayed with was cognizant of Sarah’s example and sought to emulate it. It wouldn’t surprise me if she knew about Sarah, both may not have been so different as we’ll soon see.
The woman is also humble. The humility of her reply leaks through the pages and strikes the very heart of the reader. She has a prophet of God in her house, a personal representative of Jesus Christ and when asked what she wants, says what I believe to mean, “I am content with what I have. I ask nothing in return.” She’s probably in the Celestial Kingdom. I’d let her in. She has every right to ask something of Elisha. She didn’t prepare just a bed, but a bedroom for him to rest. Not to mention the labor spent in making food, cleaning the blankets, and other accounts of selfless service. She could have asked for anything! Elisha probably came through a few times. I don’t think it was in her nature to ask things in return. She derived her reward from the opportunity to service. that is a noble characteristic. Indeed, this unnamed woman is great.
Apparently, after her humble reply, she left the presence of Elisha. He continued to talk about it with Gehazi, asking what is to be done for her? Gehazi answers and says that she does not have a child and her husband is old. Elisha has an idea, as I think this would click with anyone after hearing your servant say such a thing. He is going to promise this woman a child! he calls her back into his presence!
A Miracle Child
Verse 15 says that she came back and stood in the doorway. Signifying that she thought this conversation was going to be short and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But oh-hoh-hoh, she could not be further from the truth. She had no idea what was coming her way. Elisha says to the woman, “About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son.” Can you imagine the look on her face? Maybe her reply will tell a little better how she is feeling about the news. “Nay, my lord, man of God, do no lie unto thine handmaid.” She doesn’t believe him! Either that or she is too humble to think that such a gift is deserved by her. This account is highly abridged I should think because the conversation ends there and the next verse skips to the birth.
How old was the woman? I don’t know. I don’t think she’s young because it said her husband is old. She’s probably middle-aged or starting to become grandma age. She’s gone a long time without the blessing of a child. Like another woman, I know about. I mentioned her earlier. Do you remember? Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Sarah had no children but through patience and ever abounding faith, she was promised one by the Lord. Until that time, she became like a mother to all those who entered into her home taking care of them, serving them and doing all manner of good works. I imagine Elisha wasn’t the only guest of the Shunamite woman. For when we feel the love of God and have charity, we are not content with just blessing ourselves and our families but all of mankind. Maybe I’m making her out to be more than she was. Nah.
The Story of Sarah
Cross reference Genesis 18:14. I think this cross reference does say indeed the woman who allowed Elisha in was old. This is a funny story, the cross reference I mean. Abraham is entertaining three holy men (who they were is a topic for another time.). Anyway, one of the holy men promises Abraham that Sarah will bear a child. Apparently, Sarah was in the tent eavesdropping and begins to laugh quietly to herself at the absurdity of the statement. Actually, maybe she laughed because she was happy. You kind of go crazy with laughter when you are so happy. The Lord whispers to Abraham that Sarah is there hiding and that she laughed. He calls her out and she denies laughing. You know the rest of the story, she conceives. Perhaps a similar thing happened to this woman? She laughs with happiness or surprise and then it ends up happening! Do you think this woman realizes the parallels between what is happening here and what happened to Sarah? I wonder how much history repeats itself through different people. If we could connect what happens in our lives with someone else’s life, living or dead, that would probably help us, make us feel a little better that someone went through the same thing we did.
The Prophecy Comes to Pass
Elisha’s prophecy comes to pass approximately a year from that day, she bears a son. This was a not by natural means son. This was an Anakin Skywalker, Isaac or Jesus baby. Ones that just make you pregnant all of sudden. It makes me wonder. When people are born like this, like all three of the aforementioned people, do they all do great things? Anakin Skywalker was the greatest Jedi. he brought balance to the Force. He was the chosen one but he failed (a topic of discussion for another notebook). Isaac was the son of Abraham. he bore Jacob, through whom, we have the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus, the son of God, did all sorts of amazing miracles, died on the cross, and suffered in the garden of Gethsemane for our sins. Everyone that is conceived by the spirit (or Force) accomplishes great things during their lifetime. I wonder if this theory holds true for the son of this woman. If so, I want to know what he did. My other thought is, does this continue to happen today? Does God bless couples with children in the same way he did this example? I don’t know for sure but I can imagine so.
The Death of the Child
The lad grows up. One day, though, he runs to his father in the fields yelling about his head. He must have fainted because the father has someone carry him back to his mother. The boy sits on her lap until noon and then passes away. There is zero evidence for what this boy’s affliction could have been. Anything from a migraine to…I don’t know, a stroke! Whatever it was, it was bad enough to kill him. Can you imagine how the mother and father must be feeling now? especially the mom. This boy comes so miraculously into the world, a promise given by a prophet. How could it be that he was taken away so quickly? In her hot tears, she probably remembered something Elisha had told her. Maybe a prophecy about the boy living until he was able to have a family of his own. Maybe it was the mother’s desperation. Could the man of God who promised her life, promise her son life again? I don’t know for sure.
I am reminded however of a certain family who became pioneers depicted in the movie 17 Miracles. Before they left for Zion, Wilford Woodruff (I believe) gave her a blessing that all the members of the family would make it to Zion. When, along the trail with the Willie handcart company, her youngest daughter dies. They buried her in the snow as best they could. But then she remembered the promise made unto her by the servant of the Lord. She turns back despite her brother’s protests. She prays to Heavenly Father to bring her back and to hold true to the promise she received. She was directed what to do in order to bring her child back to life. Warming up the feet and joints. Her baby was brought back to life in fulfillment of that prophecy. Maybe something similar happened? But instead of calling God, she runs off to get Elisha?
The Woman is on a Mission
She tells her husband to saddle a donkey so that she may, “Run to the man of God.” he does and she tells the driver, “Drive and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.” This woman is on a mission! Ain’t nobody gonna stop her! If they do, oh howdy man, they better watch out!
While I can crack jokes at her, what she is doing is really noble. When she is going through a tribulation, who is the first person she thinks of? God, or rather, God’s mouthpiece on Earth. How many miracles could be wrought in our lives today if during any and every tribulation, we “ran to” God and “slacked not”? If we were as eager as this woman of faith to have help from God, I believe we would see a lot more miracles in our lives.
As she travels to Mount Carmel, quite a distance mind you, Elisha see her afar off. He says to Gehazi, “Behold, yonder is that Shunammite woman.” He tells Gehazi to run to meet her. I think it’s cool that he told Gehazi to run to her. We are told that is we draw near unto God, he will draw near to us. In the case of this story, it is happening in a very literal sense.
Gehazi asks if her family is ok. She says it is. But she continues to seek out Elisha. She draws near to the hill and catches Elisha by the feet. Did she trip him?? That could be why Gehazi drew near to her to thrust her away. I don’t really like Gehazi that much. He doesn’t seem too nice. Maybe I’m jumping to a conclusion because I have only met him for about 12 verses or so. I don’t know, though. The woman didn’t tell Gehazi what was up and lied to his face. Does not trust Gehazi? Why did Elisha pick Gehazi? I want to know THAT story. Why, how, and what did Elisha do to pick him up?
As I said, the woman grabs Elisha by the feet. Gehazi goes to thrust her away but Elisha says, “Let her alone, for her soul is vexed within her and the Lord hath hid it from me and hath not told me. ” Cross reference D&C 6:16. Weird cross reference. It falls under, “hid it from me.” This cross reference says that only God knows the thoughts and intents of people. Why did God hide this knowledge from him then? Like the scripture says, only God knows. Zero room for conclusions. Perhaps I may offer a speculation.Maybe God hid the knowledge of why she had come from Elisha, not because of anything Elisha did or the woman did wrong. Maybe both Elisha and the woman needed to learn something about themselves that day. That only would be accomplished through these very circumstances.
The mother tells Elisha, I’m not sure how she is feeling now. She says, “Did I desire a son of my Lord? Did not I say, do not deceive me?” I think it may take a girl or a mother to decipher this one. Maybe she’s feeling betrayed? Definitely sad. Maybe a little angry? Tired from the journey. In short, emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. Elisha tells Gehazi to take the woman and his staff back to her house immediately without delay and lay the staff upon the child’s face.
Cross reference Acts 19:12. This answers the question of why the staff. This verse in Acts talks of Pual. God, through the hands of Paul, wrought miracles among the people. Insomuch that a handkerchief or apron, taken from the body of Paul would cast out devils and heal diseases. It appears the same thing applies with Elisha. Elisha is so righteous and faithful God honors the presence of his clothes as a curing. Reminds me of a similar story when a woman reaches out and touched the robes of Jesus and was healed. THAT is an interesting connection! As I read the scriptures and make more of these connections you can see parallels in the New Testament and Book of Mormon. It provides those witnesses to the truth and divinity of this work. It also makes me more rich in understanding of how God, his priesthood, his gospel, his church all work. I’m so grateful I had the inspiration to do all this. A thought I had while in the temple to study a book of scripture in-depth, has led to an opening of the scriptures like I have never before seen in my entire life. As I have tried to not only understand the scriptures but the names, locations, ideas, everything. It blows my mind. It’s so good! You can’t make this stuff up. The nature of the scriptures does not leave the door open for the speculation that they are of earthly origin. There is something too sacred about them to be considered “man-made”.
Random Tangent: Casting Out Devils
Now I’m going on a slightly random tangent that has nothing to do with the story but rather a continuation of the cross reference of Acts 19:12. A few verses later, after talking about the miracles of Paul, it talks about the Jewish exorcists who tried casting devils out of people. One specific incident it tells of:
A group of exorcists gathered to cast out a devil. The words they used were,”We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth [leave the man etc.]” Now, what the devil says is interesting. The devil replies to this group of exorcists, “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are ye?” Chills down your spine I know. Jesus and Paul had the priesthood of God, they had the authority to cast out devils. These exorcists imitated that authority by invoking the name of Jesus and Paul, two people with authority. The devil called them out on it. What happened next would be a frightening scene. The devil leaped out of the possessed man and possessed the group of exorcists and they fled the house naked and wounded. Reader, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has the priesthood authority restored upon the Earth again today. And all males who worthily exercise that priesthood may cast out devils in the name of Jesus Christ and by authority and power of that priesthood. I am humbled and grateful to hold that priesthood and I strive to be worthy of exercising it.
Elisha Comes to Minister
Alright, back to the story. Gehazi and the woman go. Gehazi does as Elisha said and lays the staff upon the child’s face. Nothing happens. If I was Gehazi, I would be a little panicky. It probably would be a slightly awkward situation. He probably said to the woman,” Uhh, we should go back and tell Elisha this isn’t working.” They return to him and tell him what has happened. Elisha himself comes to the house to minister unto the child.
Elisha walks into the room and closes the door to be alone. He begins praying to the Lord. I bet in the prayer, the Lord told him what to do to restore life to the child. What he does at first seems a little strange but it seems similar to how ou treats hypothermia. Obviously, this kid doesn’t have hypothermia, he’s dead. But his skin is still cold due to lack of blood circulation. What Elisha does is doing is warming up the kids’ body with his own body heat. Exactly what some pioneers had to do when their little girl died in order to bring her back to life. He does this, the child sneezes 7 times and wakes up. Probably sneezing because he was a little cold still 🙂
Elisha calls to Gehazi to get the Shunamite woman. He does and Elisha tells her to take up her son. She comes and bows herself at his feet and takes up her son and leaves. I think that is a little abridged. She was probably crying with joy and gratitude. I can only imagine what she felt at the restoration of her son. I wonder what Elisha was feeling. I bet he felt the same way I felt after I participate in any way in a priesthood blessing or ordinance, humbled and grateful to God for his infinite mercy in blessing the lives of those people around me. And grateful that I can be trusted enough of the Lord to have that priesthood and be a proxy on behalf of the Lord to work those miracles.
That’s the end of the story. Tune in two weeks for the nex installment!