Studying the Old Testament Narratives

Categories: BibleLoveStudying

For this assignment, you will be studying the Old Testament story of Elisha and the Widow's Oil found in 2 Kings 4:1-7. You will use the template below in order to complete a study of this passage. In your study, you will use the skills of Observation, Interpretation, Correlation, and Application that you have become familiar with through your reading in Everyday Bible Study.


A. I have read 2 Kings 4:1-7 in both a formal translation (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, or CSB)

and a functional translation (NIV, NLT, or NCV).

Highlight the correct answer. You will find a copy of the NASB, ESV, CSB, and NLT in your myWSB Library.

  • o Yes
  • o No

B. Identify the basic elements of the story you are studying

1. Main characters: (List them)

Elisha, The Widow, The Widow's two sons, God.

2. Plot: (50-100 words)

A Prophet died and left debts that his widow and two sons could not pay. The creditor was going to take her two sons as salves in payment of the debt.

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When the widow begged for Elisha's help, the Lord miraculously provided them with enough oil to sell and pay off the debt.

3. Narrative structure: (50-100 words)


There were debts left to the Prophet's widow that she and her sons could not pay for.

Inciting incident:

The creditor is coming to take the Widow's two sons to be his slaves.

Rising action:

Elisha told the Widow to borrow all the empty jars from her neighbors.


The Widow began to pour the olive oil from her jar into all the borrowed jars, and did

not run out of olive oil until all the jars were full.

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Falling Action:

As she obeyed, the Widow saw that God provided enough oil to fill all the jars.


Elisha told the Widow to go outside and sell the oil and pay your debt, and she had enough to do so.

C. List basic observations about this passage using the "Key Question" for observation.

· Who:

  • · Elisha
  • · The Widow
  • · The Widow's two sons
  • · God

· What:

Elisha was a prophet of God. God would give him messages to tell the people and Elisha would preach the messages to them. Elisha passed through a town when he saw a woman with two sons. The woman said I am a widow; my husband was a prophet. When he was alive, he borrowed money from someone. He knew he could work to pay the man back. Then a terrible thing happened, he died.

The Widow didn't have the money to pay back the debt, all she had in her house was a little olive oil. The man that her husband borrowed the money from said that if she did not pay him back, he would make her sons his slaves.

God's servant, Elisha, told the woman to borrow all the empty jars from her neighbors that she could possibly get, close her doors, and begin pouring the oil from her jar into the borrowed jars.

· Where:

  • · Northern Kingdom of Israel
  • · Where schools of prophets were situated


· The 9th century before Christ

· Why:

Why was the widow with two sons so sad?

She could not pay her husband's debts, so the person they owed was going to take her sons as slaves.

Why did the widow shut the door during the miracle?

To keep the mockers and non-believers out, or the distractions out while the "oil flows"

Why was the widow stuck with debt?

Her husband, a prophet died, and she had no money to pay it.

· How:

How did the widow get the money to pay the debt?

She sold the jars of oil.

How did the widow get so many vessels and jars?

She borrowed them from her neighbors


A. Determine the author's main point. In 1-2 paragraphs (100-400 words) explain what you think the author is trying to communicate in this passage. Remember, the Old Testament narratives frequently communicate truth by showing it to us in story form instead of telling it to us by way of teaching or sermon.

The story of Elisha and the Widow's oil is about a woman who was the wife of a man that feared, deeply revered, the Lord. Unfortunately, her husband died leaving to his family a debt that they could not afford. As a result, the creditor was coming to take her two sons to be his slaves. From this we can easily understand the emergency of the situation, the woman because of unpaid debt was about to lose her two sons. To face this problem, she cried out to Elisha, the man of God. The man she believed could help her was Elisha. Evidently, she had determined to fight this difficulty and to fight it with God.

B. Based on your answer above, write out one principle from this passage. You should be able to express this principle in 1-3 sentences.  God invited this woman to be a part of his plan, and her actions gave proof of her trust in God. No problem is too great or too small for our loving God. Jesus taught his disciples how much God cares for each of us! You reap what you sow, love thy neighbor and do unto others and you want them to do unto you.


A. How does this Old Testament narrative fit within the metanarrative of the Bible? State what

type of story you believe this to be (creation, fall, redemption, or new creation) and explain why you believe this to be so. Your explanation should be 1 paragraph (100-200 words) in length.

The story of Elisha and the Window's oil fits within the "redemption" theme of the metanarrative of the Bible. This woman was in a very desperate situation. God chose to rescue her. She was in debt. Back then, when someone had a debt they could not pay, they had to offer themselves or their children as slaves to work until the debt was paid off. The only thing she owned that had any value was some oil, but it was almost gone. Then she would have nothing. With nowhere else to turn she went to Elisha, the greatest Prophet. Elisha told the woman to start collecting jars from her neighbors, she poured a very small amount of oil into the first jar. Miraculously, the oil kept on pouring until the jar was filled. One by one she filled each jar until there were no empty jars left.

B. How does your principle fit with the rest of the Scripture? This principle is the one you have

written out in 1-3 sentences in the Interpretation section. If your principle is a true Biblical principle it will be reflected throughout the Scriptures. Where is the principle discovered in this Old Testament narrative found elsewhere in the Scriptures? Your explanation should be 1 paragraph (100-200 words) in length.

As a Christian, we must let the light of Jesus shine in our life so that even our neighbors would be able to see Jesus in us. The man of God told her to borrow empty vessels from everywhere she could, not excluding her neighbors, because he knew she could get them quick and easy. She may not have gotten them if she was unfriendly with her neighbors or have bad character. There is no second-best option for disobedience, not even sacrifice. If the woman had not obeyed all of what she was ordered to do, her two sons would have been caught into slavery until the debt had been fully paid. If the woman had rubbished what the man of God had said and later went her way to look for a solution herself, she would have fully paid the price of disobedience with her sons, by sacrificing her sons for a debt. When one doesn't obey, the outcome is always bad. No amount of sacrifice is the alternative to a simple disobedience.

C. How does this Old Testament narrative reflect the person and work of Jesus Christ? State

and explain at least one way that the principle of this narrative can be identified in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Your explanation should be 1 paragraph (100-200 words) in length.

Whatever you sow, you shall reap. Any seed of faithfulness you sow, God sees it, it doesn't matter if anybody saw it, God sees it and he will reward you. Elisha was able to help the woman because her husband was a faithful man. The faithfulness of her husband saved his entire family from poverty. If her husband had been an evil worker of God, Elisha may have found it hard to attend to her or might not even attend to her at all. God rewarded the faithfulness of the man's service to him by blessing his family with overflowing blessing. I want to let you know that God is not a robber, he will reward every bit of your faithfulness towards men and for his service, and he will not forget your labor of love.


What points of application can be made using the Four Questions for Application? State and explain 1 point of application for each of these four questions. Your explanation for each of these points should be 1 paragraph (100-200 words) in length.

A. The question of duty

We have the responsibility of taking care of our neighbors. God cares about our attitudes toward the actions regarding the hungry, the oppressed, the widows, the strangers, and the orphans. Do not take advantage of a widow or orphan (Exodus 22:22). If you do not love God, then you will have difficulty loving your neighbor. Why does Jesus say that loving God and loving thy neighbor are the greatest? Clearly, that means they are the most important commandments. One example is we know that God's will for us is not to sin, but we can sin by despising our neighbor and having regard for that person. The duty to take care of your neighbors is one that is shown in this story, where the widows neighbors provided her enough jars to fill with olive oil and sell to pay off her creditor.

B. The question of character

Through the examples of Elisha, we see how he performed God's miracle. Elisha was the leader of the communities of prophets who look at him for their protection and provision. A widow of a member of the brother hood is in so much debt that she fears her sons will be sold into servitude to pay her creditors. Elisha could have ignored the widows cry for help, but Elisha had a love for the poor. Elisha ministered to anyone and everyone who came to him for help. He wasn't choosy, he helped the helpless, he helped those who couldn't pay him back. Elisha is a great example of someone who followed God without looking back. He sacrificed things that supplied his livelihood.

C. The question of goals

Elijah was the spiritual father of Elisha. After Elisha closely observed the life of the man of God in his life and saw all the miracles that God performed through Elijah, he understood that the key to Elijah's success was his love and total commitment to God. So, Elisha desired and became hungry for the same anointing and lifestyle of Elijah his mentor. But more interestingly is the fact that Elisha wasn't satisfied to do just what Elijah did; he craved for the double portion of Elijah's anointing. He wanted to live like his spiritual father. He wanted to have Elijah's anointing. He wanted to move in the same power of God as he on Elijah. Elisha was obsessed with the idea of reaching his goal and he was totally committed to it. Such tenacity disciplines a person and helps him from being distracted by anything. If necessary, Elisha was ready or willing to sacrifice his life in order to fulfill his life mission.

D. The question of discernment

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every evil. The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one's ability to exercise discernment in every area of life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all matter of false teaching. Discernment also acts as an instrument of healing, when exercised in grace. I have known a small number of people whose ability to diagnose the spiritual needs of others has been remarkable. Such people seem able to penetrate the heart issues someone else faces better than the person can do.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).

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Studying the Old Testament Narratives. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Studying the Old Testament Narratives
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