The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison
The Prophet Elisha
II Kings iv: 1 to
7; iv: 38 to 44; vi: 1 to 7
places in the land of Israel there were living
families of people who listened to the teaching of
the prophets, and worshipped the Lord. They were
among the seven thousand in Israel who never bowed
their knees to the images of Baal. Elisha went
through the land meeting these people, and teaching
them, and leading them in their worship. They were
called the "sons of the prophets," and among them
were some to whom God spoke, men who themselves
became prophets of the Lord.
The wife of one of these men, the sons of the
prophets, came one day to Elisha, and said, "O man
of God, my husband is dead; and you know that he
served the Lord while he lived. He was owing some
money when he died; and now the man to whom he owed
it has come, and he says that he will take my two
sons to be his slaves, unless I pay the debt."
For in those lands, when a man owed a debt, he could
be sold, or his children, that the debt might be
paid. Elisha said to the woman, "What shall I do to
help you? What have you in the house?"
"I have nothing in the house," answered the woman,
"except a pot of oil."
Then Elisha said to her, "Go to your neighbors and
borrow of them empty jars, and vessels, and bowls;
borrow a great many. Then go into the room, and shut
the door upon yourself and your sons; and pour out
the oil into the vessels, and as each vessel is
filled set it aside."
The woman went out, and borrowed of all her
neighbors vessels that would hold oil, until she had
a great many. Then she went into the house, and shut
the door, and told her sons to bring the vessels to
her one by one; and she poured out oil, filling
vessel after vessel until all were full. At last
they said to her, "There is not another vessel that
can hold oil."
And then the oil stopped running. If she had
borrowed more vessels there would have been more
oil. She came and told Elisha, the man of God; and
he said, "Go and sell the oil; pay the debt, and
keep the rest of the money for yourself and your
sons to live upon."
At another time Elisha came to Gilgal among the
mountains, near Bethel, and with him were some of
these men, the sons of the prophets. It was a time
when food was scarce, and they sought in the field
for vegetables and green things to be eaten. One man
by mistake brought a number of wild gourds, which
were poisonous, and threw them into the pot to be
cooked with the rest of the food.
While they were eating they felt suddenly that they
had been poisoned, and they cried out, "O man of
God, there is death in the pot! The food is
Then Elisha took some meal, and threw it into the
pot with the poisoned food. And he said, "Now take
the food out of the pot, and let the people eat of
They did so; and there was no longer any poison in
At one time a man came bringing to the prophet a
present of loaves of barley-bread, and some ears of
new corn in the husks. There were with Elisha that
day a hundred men of the sons of the prophets, and
Elisha said to his servant, "Give this to the people
for their dinner."
The servant said, "What, should I give this for a
meal to a hundred men?"
And Elisha said, "Yes, set it before them, and let
them eat. For thus saith the Lord, ‘They shall eat,
and shall have enough, and shall leave some of it.'
So he gave them the food; and every man took as much
as he wished, and some was left over, according to
the word of the Lord.
Once a company of these sons of the prophets went
down from the mountains to a place near the river
Jordan, and began to build a house; and Elisha was
with them. As one of the men was cutting down a tree
the head fell off from his axe, and dropped into the
water. In those times iron and steel were very
scarce and costly. The man said, "O my master, what
shall I do? For this was a borrowed axe!"
Then Elisha asked to be shown just where the
axe-head had fallen into the water. He cut off a
stick of wood, and threw it into the water at the
place. At once the iron axe-head rose to the surface
of the water, and floated, as if it were wood. The
prophet said, "Reach out and take it," and the man
took the iron, fitted it to the handle, and went on
with his work.
By these works of power all the people came to know
that Elisha was a true prophet of the Lord, and
spoke as with the voice of the Lord to Israel.
The Prophet Elisha