Just before God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on a walk out of Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Bethel." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" So they both went to Bethel.
The guild of prophets at Bethel met Elisha and said, "Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?" "Yes," he said, "I know it. But keep it quiet."
Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Jericho." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" So they both went to Jericho.
The guild of prophets at Jericho came to Elisha and said, "Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?" "Yes," he said, "I know it. But keep it quiet."
Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to the Jordan." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" And so the two of them went their way together.
Meanwhile, fifty men from the guild of prophets gathered some distance away while the two of them stood at the Jordan.
Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and hit the water with it. The river divided and the two men walked through on dry land.
When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, "What can I do for you before I'm taken from you? Ask anything." Elisha said, "Your life repeated in my life. I want to be a holy man just like you."
"That's a hard one!" said Elijah. "But if you're watching when I'm taken from you, you'll get what you've asked for. But only if you're watching."
And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven.
Elisha saw it all and shouted, "My father, my father! You - the chariot and cavalry of Israel!" When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces.
Then he picked up Elijah's cloak that had fallen from him, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there.
He took Elijah's cloak - all that was left of Elijah! - and hit the river with it, saying, "Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?" When he struck the water, the river divided and Elisha walked through.
The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, "The spirit of Elijah lives in Elisha!" They welcomed and honored him.
They then said, "We're at your service. We have fifty reliable men here; let's send them out to look for your master. Maybe God's spirit has swept him off to some mountain or dropped him into a remote ravine." Elisha said, "No. Don't send them."
But they pestered him until he caved in: "Go ahead then. Send them." So they sent the fifty men off. For three days they looked, searching high and low. Nothing.
Finally, they returned to Elisha in Jericho. He told them, "So there - didn't I tell you?"
One day the men of the city said to Elisha, "You can see for yourself, master, how well our city is located. But the water is polluted and nothing grows."
He said, "Bring me a brand-new bowl and put some salt in it." They brought it to him.
He then went to the spring, sprinkled the salt into it, and proclaimed, "God's word: I've healed this water. It will no longer kill you or poison your land."
And sure enough, the water was healed - and remains so to this day, just as Elisha said.
Another time, Elisha was on his way to Bethel and some little kids came out from the town and taunted him, "What's up, old baldhead! Out of our way, skinhead!"
Elisha turned, took one look at them, and cursed them in the name of God. Two bears charged out of the underbrush and knocked them about, ripping them limb from limb - forty-two children in all!
Elisha went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)