2 Kings 2: Elijah Taken into Heaven

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 111–112

When we first met Elijah in 1 Kings 17, he already held the power and authority to seal shut the heavens, creating a drought in Israel. But unlike Isaiah, Jeremiah, or another of the well-known prophets, Elijah left no writings that we know of to tell us more about him. We do know that the prophet Malachi said Elijah would come before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5) to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah.Because of Malachi’s prophecy, people of some other faiths today still await his coming. The New Testament records, however, that Elijah, as a translated being, appeared on a mountaintop to Peter, James, and John, three of Jesus’ Apostles (see Matthew 17:1–4). In addition, Elijah, as a resurrected being, appeared in our dispensation on 3 April 1836 in the Kirtland Temple shortly after it was dedicated. He said he came in fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, and he restored the keys of the sealing power to the earth in preparation for the coming of the Lord (see D&C 110:13–16).No one could be resurrected until Christ came forth from the tomb. So Elijah, in order to perform his special mission, needed to be translated. Translation means to be changed in a way that your body is no longer subject to sickness, death, or physical pain. Translation is not resurrection. This condition allows individuals to continue performing ministries that require a physical body, such as the laying on of hands for priesthood authority. Later, translated individuals will be “changed” again to be resurrected. In 3 Nephi 28:36–40, Mormon described some Nephites who were translated. In 2 Kings 2 we read the story of Elijah being translated.
Elijah in a chariot of fire

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Kings 2

Hold ye your peace (vv. 3, 5)Don’t speak of it. 
Mantle (vv. 8, 13)Cloak or outer robe that signifies a prophet, or a prophet’s authority 
Parted them both asunder (v. 11)Went between them 
Naught (v. 19)Bad 
Barren (vv. 19, 21)Unable to grow things 
Cruse (v. 20)Container 

2 Kings 2:8–15—Elijah’s Mantle Falls upon Elisha

Elijah’s mantle symbolized his power and authority. This experience was necessary since Elijah was such a great prophet and the people needed some extra help understanding that Elisha would take his place. A similar situation happened in our dispensation. After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, there was some confusion about who should lead the Church. At a meeting in Nauvoo, Brigham Young told the Church that the keys of authority were with the twelve Apostles. As he spoke, many testified that the sound of his voice—and even his appearance—resembled the Prophet Joseph’s. This experience was a special testimony to those present that the “mantle” had fallen on Brigham Young.

2 Kings 2:9—“Let a Double Portion of Thy Spirit Be upon Me”

When Elisha asked for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit, he was asking to receive Elijah’s same power and authority to act as a prophet to the people. The “double portion” statement refers to the idea that the birthright son received a double inheritance from his father for the purpose of taking care of the father’s posterity.

2 Kings 2:23–24—“Go up, Thou Bald Head”

Having more details to the story in 2 Kings 2 would be very helpful. The “children” referred to were extremely disrespectful to the Lord’s appointed servant, telling him, in effect, to leave. Notice that Elisha simply cursed them in the name of the Lord, which God’s servants are authorized to do (see D&C 24:15–16), and then the Lord determined the punishment.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you study 2 Kings 2.

Activity A icon “If Ye Have Desires”

  1. 1.

    Write about at least two things that show how much Elisha wanted to serve the Lord in the way Elijah did.

  2. 2.

    Identify qualities of leadership you see in the life of the Savior or the prophet and explain why these qualities are important.

Activity B iconRespecting the Lord’s Servants

  1. 1.

    What does the story in 2 Kings 2 teach us about the Lord and His servants?

  2. 2.

    Name at least three things you can do to show respect and reverence for the Lord’s chosen servants.