In my last post, we began our study of Elisha by returning to 2 Kings 2:13-18 where Elisha picks up the mantle of Eliyahu and Parts the Yarden River. In this post, we continue to explore the ministry of Elisha by examining his second miracle in 2 Kings 2:19-22 ~ Healing of Bad Water.
“19 The men of the city said to Elisha, “My lord can see that this is a pleasant city [Yericho] to live in; but the water is bad so that the ground is causing miscarriages.” 20 “Bring me a new jug,” he said, “and put salt in it.” They brought it to him. 21 He went out to the source of the water, threw salt into it and said, “This is what Adonai says: ‘I have healed this water; it will no longer cause death or miscarrying.’” 22 The water was healed and has remained healed to this day, in keeping with Elisha’s spoken word.” ~ 2 Kings 2:19-22 (CJB)
Healing the Bad Water
I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of salt water. We live in an area that has hard water, so we have a water softener. And what do I have to do about every six to eight weeks? Heft forty-pound bags of water softener salt into the tank. Go figure!
The passage describes Elisha’s role as a channel for God’s works by performing his second miracle ” one that demonstrated the practical benefits of God’s great acts. Not only did Elisha enjoy the loyalty of the guild prophets, but the leaders of Yericho also respected him and sought his help. It should be no surprise to us that the water at Yericho was distasteful and the soil unproductive, for the city was under a curse (Joshua 6:26).
The history of the water problem at the Ain es-Sultan spring by Yericho can be reviewed in the comments on Joshua 6:26 and 1 Kings 16:34. An alternative to the parasite theory suggested in those comments is that the geological shifts that could have been related to the fall of Yericho brought the spring water into contact with radioactivity in the rock layers that polluted the water and caused sterility. 1
This miracle reminds us of the miracle at Marah (“bitter“), when Moshe threw in a piece of wood and healed the water (Exodus 15:22-26). At Marah, God revealed Himself to His people as “Adonai Roph’ekha (Rapha) The Lord Who Heals.”
The miracle was an “action sermon” that reminded the people that the blessings of God were for a nation that was loyal to His covenant. To disobey His law meant to forfeit His blessings (Deuteronomy 28:15ff).
If you are permitted to visit Yericho today, tour guides will point out Elisha’s fountain and invite you to take a drink.
In my next post, we continue to explore the life of Elisha. In this post, Elisha curses those who call him Baldy in 2 Kings 2:23-25.
1 The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.