“So, he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat … Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him.” (1 Kings 19:19)
God has told Elijah to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria and Jehu to be king over Israel. However, he only seems to obey God’s third commission to call Elisha the son of Shaphat as his successor.
(Later in 2 Kings 8:13, Elisha tells Hazael: “The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Syria”. And in 2 Kings 9:1-13, we read how Elisha anoints Jehu.)
Elijah does not literally anoint his successor with oil, but he casts his cloak on him. This cloak, also described as “a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist”, is so characteristic for Elijah that people recognize him by it (see 2 Kings 1:7-8). It even seems to be the typical clothing for a prophet, since centuries later John the Baptist also wears “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist” (Matthew 3:4).
So, the gesture of casting the garment on Elisha’s shoulders is significant. He is called to become Elijah’s assistant and successor. After Elijah’s death, Elisha will wear this cloak as a sign that he is the new prophet and that the spirit of Elijah rests upon him (2 Kings 2:15).
Elijah and Elisha are clearly recognizable as prophets. What does your outward appearance indicate about you?
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