And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye. And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.( 2 Kings 6:1-7)
The revival initiated at Carmel , when Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, has steadily worked it’s way through the nation. The “Sons of the Prophets” are growing in number and an expansion is needed.
Elisha blesses the plan for the construction of a new dwelling place for the growing community of believers, but they want him to come and be with them throughout the construction. Not to supervise or to fell trees, but just to be there, for the presence of Jahweh is with Him, and he (Elisha) is as a spiritual comfort and inspiration to them, just by being in the midst of them.
But there is trouble. An axe head slipped off of a borrowed axe, and fell into the water. This was the early bronze age and axes were rare, iron was expensive and this would have been costly enough to incur debt and possibly debt slavery. So they resort to the “man of God”.
Elisha is taken to where the axehead went into the water. He cut down a stick of wood, and threw it into the water at that place, and the axe head floated to the surface.
There are multiple meanings to this miracle, for all of the miracles of Elisha were ‘signs’ pointing to some greater truth.
- Elisha had earlier thrown Salt into a brackish spring, making it drinkable. He had also thrown flour into a poisoned pot of stew, transforming it into edible food. Now he throws wood into a river to recover a lost axe head, in order to save the young prophet from indebtedness. Once again the Prophet plays the role of a kinsman redeemer, restoring life to those who follow Him.
- The young prophet is told to “take up” the axe head in a similar wording as the women was told to “Take up Her Son” who had been dead, until Elishah prayed for Him. Resurrection is one of the themes of this miracle. That which was lost has re-surfaced.
- The Prophet threw wood into the river, (As Moses once threw a tree into brackish water) in order to recover the unrecoverable. The Wood is a foretaste of the cross of Jesus, by which we die and are resurrected, unto new life.
- The theme of submersion, and return is in this miracle. Those who cling to the Prophet (the Word of God) find that though thrown into the turbulent waters of life, always have a way of resurfacing by the power of God.
- One commentary suggests (rightly) that the future of Israel is in view here, for like Jonah when He was thrown over the side of the boat, Israel would be thrown out of the promised land and cast adrift in the sea (the Gentiles) but that God would cause her to resurface.