Elisha and the Son of the Shunamite

Introduction

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A Failed Miracle

Like much of the Elisha narrative, the story of the birth and revival of the son of the Shunamite revolves around miracle making.  At first glance, the story is not unique, except perhaps in the scope of the miracle.  The chapter, like others, appears to look favorably on Elisha, highlighting the power of the prophet.  However, on closer inspection, the incident is puzzling, for, in contrast to the rest of Elisha's miracles, this one is nullified. Though Elisha successfully brings a boy into the world, the wonder is short-lived as the boy dies while still a child.  How are we to understand the death of the boy?  What, if anything, does the failure of the miracle say about Elisha?  Is this a story about the greatness of the prophet, or about his limits?

A Long Journey to Success

Though the story ends with the successful revival of the boy, success does not come easily. Time and again, the story hints that something is amiss in Elisha's power:

Additional Questions

Several other questions are raised by the story which might shed light on the above:

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