Sunday, April 06, 2014

Elisha's Double Portion

At the beginning of Sefer Melachim Bet (Kings II 2:9), as Eliyahu (Elijah) prepares to leave the world he asks his talmid (student) Elisha if he has any last requests, and Elisha asks him for a doubling of Elijah’s spirit.  It seems like an odd request, given that prophecy is not passed from one prophet to the next but from God to his selected instrument.  One interpretation is that he’s asking for the double portion of the ben habechor (the double portion that the firstborn son inherits on his parents’ passing.)  What he seems to be saying is, “For me to continue, you need to make it absolutely clear that I am your chosen successor.”  A reasonable request given the difference in methodology and attitude between the two of them, which might raise doubts.

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