Part 4 – Is Elijah in Heaven?
The Conflict of Scriptures
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and separated them both; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2:11
“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” John 3:13
The Scripture in 2nd Kings says Elijah is in heaven, but over in the book of John 3 written in red, it says no one is in heaven but Jesus.
It’s pretty clear here what Jesus said. So, should I believe Him? What do you believe? Jesus continues to speak to us in verses 14-16.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I don’t know of any Christian who doesn’t believe in verse 16, which says Yahweh sent His Son to die for us. Matter of a fact, most us have this scripture memorized and are standing firmly on it, but what about verse 13? How can verse 16 be true and verse 13 be false?
What do we do when something like this happens?
Well, for me, I’m going to believe what Jesus said first and look for other Scriptures to confirm it and expose the truth about Elijah and just who is in heaven. I am going to trust Jesus will reveal the truth, because I am asking and seeking Him.
I’m going to put on the mind of Christ and take another look at the Elijah Scriptures in context and ponder… 2 Kings 2:1-5:
And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
Doesn’t it seem a bit strange to you Elisha and the prophets at Bethel and Jericho all knew God was going to take Elijah away from them, but no clue of where or when He was going to take him? And another thing, no one seems really upset about this, except maybe Elisha and we know he was intense and staying on Elijah’s heels, because he wants to make sure he gets Elijah’s mantle and a double portion of his spirit (9), but other than that, this doesn’t seem to be something scary or even extraordinary to everyone else. It’s just odd to me that everybody knows Elijah is going to be taken away.
The next scripture reveals the chariot and horses of fire separate Elijah and Elisha.
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and separated them both; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2:11
The first thing for me is to believe what Jesus said, which was no man ascended to heaven but Him. So, I don’t believe Elijah is present with God in heaven or anyone else for that matter, except Jesus.
However, Scriptures do not lie. So, it is up to me to study and solve the mystery of where Elijah really is and what is meant by him being taken up to heaven.
Defining Heaven & Where It Is
In seeking the definition of heaven, there are three (3) mentioned in the Bible.
The fact there is more than one ‘heaven’ can be shown by Psalm 115:16, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S.” There are obviously two different ‘heavens’ being addressed in this one verse, but there are three given in the Scriptures. So get ready, here we go.
The word translated as ‘heaven’ in 2 Kings 2, our verse with Elijah, comes from the Hebrew shamayim (Strong’s Concordance Number #H8064). Shamayim, plural of the original language word shameh and means the sky above us or the arch we see clouds moving in around the earth. It is decidedly NOT in reference to the ‘heaven’ we commonly think of when we refer to where the throne of God exists.
The Heaven of God’s Throne – The 3rd Heaven
The Third Heaven is where Jesus is today. Jesus being the High Priest of God, The only One who has the right, to be in that heaven, with the Father. 2 Cor 12:2
This is where God and the heavenly sanctuary exist. Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. I Peter 3:22
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 2 Cor 12:2.
Hebrews 8:1-5 explains the original earthly tabernacle under the Old Covenant with its most holy place, or compartment – the type of the throne of God in heaven. Only the high priest – type of Christ as High Priest now, was allowed to enter.
This is the place Christ calls His “Father’s House.”
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2
It is also called by Christ and the Apostle Paul “paradise.”
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor 12:2-4
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Rev 2:7
This third heaven is also known as the “heaven of heavens“
Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Deut 10:14
Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Psalms 148:4
The Universe – The 2nd Heaven
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, Genesis 1:14-17
The word “heaven” also means the expanse of this great universe, where we find the sun, moon, stars, comets and planets and the Psalmist admiring the work of thy fingers, the moon, and the stars which thou has ordained. Psalm 8:3; Gen 15:5.
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; Gen 22:17
And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; Deut 17:3
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: Matthew 24:29
The Second Heaven is usually described by the term, “host of heaven,” or “the firmament of the heaven.”
The Atmosphere/Sky – The 1st Heaven
Besides the heaven of the stars, we also find the air that surrounds this world, is also called heaven. Birds fly in the midst of heaven, certainly not God’s throne in heaven – for we read in Gen 1:20 of “fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”
In blessing Jacob, Isaac said: “God give thee of the dew of heaven” and Moses joyed that the heavens shall drop down dew.” (Gen 1:8, Gen 27:28, Deut. 33:28)
Here heaven can mean only the atmosphere where the clouds and the wind roam. Every one of us is right now breathing the air of the 1st heaven!
One of the Hebrew words for “heaven” is “shamayim.” This is the same word translated as “sky” in the Scripture, as can be seen by comparing Gen 7:23, “fowl of the heaven.”
The word sky and heaven are used interchangeably from the same Hebrew word (The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. Psalm 8:8). So the first heaven is synonymous with “heights” or “elevations.”
Check this out. In Exodus 19:20, this is where the Lord came down upon the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses up to Him (Ex. 19:20) and God describes Mount Sinai as “heaven:”
And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven Exodus 20:22,
And then God says: Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire Deuteronomy 4:36.
So, everything above the ground is called “heaven.” And head’s up at Amos 9:1-3:
I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.
2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: 3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:
The word “shachaq” is also translated as “sky” or “skies.”
There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. Deut 33:26
The word is also translated as “clouds.”
Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. Job 35:5
What Heaven Did Elijah Go To?
Since Elijah could not have gone to the heaven of God’s throne (3rd), then to which heaven did he go? The Scripture reads, “and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:1, 11).
The answer ought already be quite obvious, as he “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
There could be no whirlwind in any other place, but in the atmosphere of (the 1st heaven) surrounding this earth – in the heavens in which the birds fly.
A whirlwind is something normally found in our atmosphere. You don’t hear, well I don’t hear of whirlwinds being seen in space or written about in heaven. I am not saying it could not happen, but it just seems to make sense a whirlwind is more suited to the realm of our ground and sky area.
I am sure most of us have all seen the great lifting power of a whirlwind rip roofs off buildings and oak trees up by their roots, either in person or on TV. It would not be any great feat for the Omni-Potent Yahweh, to take Elijah up by such means.
When Christ and the apostle Peter state that not ONE human being is now in heaven, they are referencing the location of God’s throne, which is the center of the entire universe. When the book of Hebrews says Elijah was “translated” or “taken” (the same thing which occurred to Enoch), it is not stating that the Eternal somehow took him ‘early’ because of his righteousness to receive his eternal award AHEAD of countless other people who also deserve eternal life, for even David is still both dead and buried in his sepulchre. (Acts 2:29)
For Your Consideration and Prayerful Thought
What was the reason for this unusual act of God in taking Elijah up into the atmosphere? Some say to make him immortal? No! The Scripture says nothing about that! In Hebrews 11:13,32,39, we read about the prophets who lived by faith and died without receiving the promises and Elijah was not to be made Immortal, as wouldn’t that give him pre-eminence above Jesus? After all Elijah was taken up over 900 years before Jesus ever told us no man had ascended or descended to heaven, not even Him.
But what does the Scripture reveal as the reason for this removal? 2 Kings 2:3 and 5 might hold the answer.
Notice what the sons of the prophets said to Elisha: “Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day?” (Kings 2:3). Elijah was the leader of the sons of the prophets in that day. God had sent Elijah as His prophet to wicked king Ahab and to his son Ahaziah. Now God wanted Elisha to direct His work, as Ahaziah the king had died and a new king was ruling. So what did God do?
He could not allow Elijah to be among the people with Elisha directing the work now. That would have been the same as disqualifying him. God never takes an office from a man when that man has been performing his duty well. The only thing God could do would have been to remove Elijah, so that another would fulfill the office. This God did do. When he was taken up, Elijah’s mantle dropped from him and Elisha picked it up (2 Kings 2:12-15).
Remember what Elijah said when Elisha asked for his mantle and a double portion of his “spirit?” What did Elijah say?
9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
And what did the mantle mean? In Clarke’s Commentary we note that it was “worn by prophets and priests as the simple insignia, of their office” (Vol.2, p.484)
The purpose of God in removing Elijah was to replace him with another man who would occupy Elijah’s office in Israel for another fifty years. This work had to start under a new king, for Ahaziah had just died, and Elijah was already aging.
So, as not to disqualify Elijah in the sight of the people, God took him away allowing the mantle, which signified the office of Elijah to drop into the hands of Elisha.
Thus, God preserves the name and office of His prophet.
What About the Phrases Translated or Taken Away?
The phrases “translated” or “taken away” come from the Greek word metatihemi, which means to transfer to another place” (Vine’s expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1997, Translate/Translation).
Elijah traveled WITHIN what we today call the sky to another location on planet earth, which God decided not to name, in order that he should not die at that time. Just like the Lord in His wisdom, decided to transport Enoch and Elijah away from where they were originally located so that someone (or something) would not be able to physically kill or murder them at that particular time.
Elijah was already known to have been transported by the Spirit during his adult life many times. (See text below) This was not a new experience to him or those who knew him.
They did NOT go to heaven, but continued to live the SAME kind of fleshly existence we do after they moved until they died.
In Hebrews Chapter 11, we read of all those who were faithful and are still waiting for the promise. Verse 13 These ALL died in faith, not having received the promies, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. In Hebrews 11:38 Clarke makes the commentary of those waiting for the promise of eternal life.
Of whom the world was not worthy – Yet they were obliged to wander by day in deserts and mountains, driven from the society of men, and often obliged to hide by night in dens and caves of the earth, to conceal themselves from the brutal rage of men. Perhaps he refers here principally to the case of Elijah, and the hundred prophets hidden in caves by Obadiah, and fed with bread and water. 1 Kings 18:4.
This chapter is in agreement with other scriptures that state ALL men must die a physical death. Read through this chapter and make note of those mentioned who have “died.” Hebrews 11.
Reincarnation – Really?
There are some folks who believe that Elijah was later reincarnated
As John the Baptist
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. Matthew 11:13-14
But, John denied this in John 1:19-21.
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
It is wise to remember our faith believes in the Resurrection Power of Christ, not in reincarnation. Jesus Christ shall resurrect the saints, not reincarnate them.
So, if Elijah is not in heaven and he did not come back as John the Baptist, is there no other information in the Scriptures where all the Scriptures come together as Truth and make Sense?
Teleportation and Transporting
One is wise who looks at the Scriptures which reveal how the spirit of the Lord used teleportation and transported people from one place to another. In Ezekiel 3:12-14 it is written:
12 Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place.
13 I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing.
14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
And in Ezekiel 1:11
Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord‘s house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
When I read Acts 8:39-40 Philip was teleported away after he baptized the Enoch.
“the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more.”
More than that, I found other Scriptures, which seem to reveal Elijah “could teleport and did so often.” This is just too cool. Look at I Kings 18:12, where Obadiah reveals:
“the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not.”
Evidently, it was well known throughout Elijah’s adult life that no one knew for sure when he might go missing: he seemed to be sporadically “carried by the spirit” to various locations throughout the East, which sometimes made him impossible to find (I Kings 18:7-12).
In the following episode Obadiah (not the prophet of that name) was out on an errand for the king, and came upon Elijah, whore recognized him immediately.
And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? vs 7
When Elijah tells him to inform the king of his presence, Obadiah becomes fearful that he might tell the king that Elijah “is here”; but that before the king got the message the spirit would again “carry him away” (as had happened before) and the king would kill him for misinforming him.
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? (vs 8-9)
Obadiah protests to Elijah that many times the king had sent to other kingdoms for him, and when they said “He is not here,” in a mild rage the king would demand an oath from them.
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. 11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
No wonder, then, that Obadiah feared for his life should Elijah suddenly be “carried away” (vs. 12) to some undisclosed location.
And no wonder the sons of the prophets were not upset knowing Elijah was getting ready to be taken, in fact a group of them stood only a short distance away viewing the entire episode. (2:7).
And now I understand why only a few verses after the Chariot of Fire incident, the sons of the prophets send fifty volunteers to go search for him, “lest peradventure the spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley” (II Kings 2:16), because this was not the first time this happened. Elisha knew God would preserve Elijah from falling, but at their insistence, he permitted the men to go in search for him, to no avail.
It seemed to be a recurring issue that Elijah was transported from one place to another through the supernatural power of the spirit. So it was understandable they were concerned and wanted to go look for him, but Elisha knew, because he had Elijah’s mantle.
Once again, as in most of the other occasions, they could not find Elijah; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he had left the earth permanently to be in a spiritual heaven with God.
There are many well known Bible scholars who believe Elijah just went for a trip across the sky and set down in another place, including the Jewish great Maimonides, some of his contemporary scholars, and the Christian Bible scholar Eadie.
It appears through the Scriptures, wherever Elijah was, he was not finished with his mission here on earth, for the Bible records subsequent activities long after this most famous incident.
The Chariot of Fire incident occurred in the 2nd year of Jehoram, King of Judah (2 Kings 1:17-18).
This new king of Israel was another son of Ahab, Jehoram, or Joram as he is sometimes called. The beginning of his reign marked the year of his removal of Elijah (2 Kings 1:18 and 3:1).
During this king’s reign, Elisha was the recognized prophet of God (2 Kings 3:11). In the fifth year of Joram king of Israel, the son of the king of Judah began to reign along with his father in Judah (2 Kings 8:16). His name also was Jehoram. The first thing he did to establish his kingdom rule was to put his relatives to the sword, lest they should claim the throne from him (2 Chronicles 21:4). For nearly six years he followed the ways of the nations about him and did evil in the sight of God.
Almost ten years had now expired since Elijah was taken from the people. After this wicked rule by the Jewish king, God chose Elijah to write a letter and have it sent to the king! The contents of the letter are found in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15. From the wording of this letter, it is clear that Elijah wrote it after these events had occurred, for he speaks of them as past events, and of the diseases as future,
The letter: 2 Chron 21:12-15
12 And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself:
14 Behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: 15 And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.
Neglecting to mend his ways, King Jehoram falls ill and dies shortly afterward. As a result he reigned for only 8 years (vs. 16-20).
16 Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians: 17 And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.
18 And after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. 19 And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.
20 Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.
Two years after the king became diseased the king died, having reigned only eight short years (2 Chronicles 21:18-20). This proves the letter was written about ten years after Elijah had been taken to another location by the whirlwind. God used Elijah to convey the message because he was the prophet of God in the days of the present king’s father, and the son was not going in the ways of his obedient father, Jehosophat. This letter proves that he was alive someplace else. The Bible does not reveal how much longer Elijah lived after writing the letter, but it does say that it is appointed for all men to die once (Romans 5:12,14, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Hebrews 9:27).
So, roughly 6 years after Elijah’s so-called “translation” the king of Judah did indeed receive the dire letter from the prophet. Did some cohort of Elijah delay the letter for that period of time before sending it? I don’t think so. Such a possibility exists, of course; but such an action would make no sense, and there is not a word anywhere in Holy Writ, which even hints at such a thing.
A similar incident to Elijah’s took place in Acts 8:39, 40. Phillip was caught up into the first heaven, as Elijah was, and was transported to another location approximately 30 miles away.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Another similar incident happened to Ezekiel, in which the spirit took him away (Ezekiel 3:12).
Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place.
The spirit lifted him up “between the earth and the heaven” and brought him “to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate” (Ezekiel 8:3).
3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
Afterwards, the spirit took him up to Chaldea (Ezekiel 11:24).
24 Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.
Elijah may not have been found because he was transported further away than the fifty men searched (2 Kings 2:17). And, as far as being taken into heaven where God’s throne is, we can know that neither Elijah nor Enoch nor Moses were taken into God’s heavenly abode, because Jesus said, while he was on this earth, that “no man hath ascendeth to heaven” (John 3:13), and “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18). AMEN – SO BE IT!
For the Record and Clarity
“Now Jehoram . . . reigned twelve years”, one cannot simply take it at face value. There was more than one king at that time named Jehoram—a king over Israel and a king over Judah—and sometimes it can be a little obscure, which king is being referred to. Failing to distinguish between these two can lead to error.
Many have conflated the two Jehoram’s (not realizing there were two), confusing the lengths of their reigns, and have come up with a 10-year lapse between the so-called “translation” of Elijah and the latter’s “warning letter” to Jehoram, the “wicked” king of Judah.
Even though Elijah was associated with the sons of the prophets centered at Mount Carmel in northern Israel, King Jehoram of Israel, who indeed reigned twelve years (2Kings 3:1), he was in no way involved in any of the incidents under discussion.
One of a large number of Dead Sea Scrolls (among which is the story of Elijah) both kings are mentioned in a single verse (2 Kings 1:17): first, Jehoram, king of Israel who ruled from Samaria; then king Jehoram, who ruled the southern kingdom of Judah from its capital city Jerusalem—otherwise the verse makes little sense.
However, surrounding allusions clarify any confusion. But, failure to take notice of these can cause calculations to go awry.
Since the so-called “translation” of Elijah is described as occurring in the 2nd year of the reign of Jehoram—and, according to 2 Kings 3:1 Jehoram (king of Israel, not of Judah) reigned a total of 12 years—some have simply subtracted 2 years from the 12-year reign and (erroneously) come up with a 10-year lapse between the two events.
If the two Jehoram’s, mentioned in 2 Kings 1:17 are conflated into one person, one might be led into such a conclusion.
The record in question reads as follows: So he [Ahaziah, king of Israel] died according to the word of the Lord, which Elijah had spoken.
And Jehoram [the king of Israel] reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah because he [Ahaziah] had no son. Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah, which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. (2 Kings 1:17-18, KJV)
That Ahaziah is the unspoken antecedent in verse 17 above is confirmed by the verses relevant to the quote (viz., vss 2 & 18).
Verse 2 reads as follows: “And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber . . . and was sick” which is continued at the beginning of verse 17, thus: “So he died.”
The intervening verses are concerned only with Elijah and his dealings with the Philistine men from Ekron.
Verse 17 makes it clear that the second “Jehoram” mentioned in the verse is the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah; so being of the Judean dynasty, he would naturally inherit the throne of Judah.
It is also stated that Jehoram, king of Israel, began his reign (i.e., following Ahaziah’s untimely death) in the 2nd year of the Judean king.
These two verses (17-18) conclude chapter 1, and Elijah’s “translation” episode begins with the very next verse (verse 1 of chapter 2). This indicates that Elijah’s famous flight took place at that time.
So, it was in the 2nd year of Jehoram, king of Judah—not the king of Israel—that Elijah was translated; and that king reigned for only 8 years (2 Kings 8:17; 2 Chron. 21:18-20), allegedly because of the sins listed in Elijah’s letter (2 Chron. 21:12-15).
Subtract 2 years from the 8-year reign of the accused (i.e., Jehoram, king of Judah), and the result is a total of 6 years between the two events in question.
Jewish Heritage Online Magazine, “Elijah’s mysterious appearances and disappearances,” JHOM, Havdala, 2012. New Bible Dictionary (2nd edition), J.D. Douglas (organizing editor), Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1982. New Standard Encyclopedia, (vol. iv) Standard Education Society Inc., Chicago, 1958 edition. Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, (ce-arah, entry 5591), MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia. The Interlinear Bible (Hebrew – English), J.P. Green, Sr. (editor), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983. The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament (Greek – English), Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1970. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Pfeiffer & Harrison (editors), Moody Press, Chicago, 1990. KJV,