Elisha and the miraculous oil jugs of the widowed woman

Melchaim 2 Chapter 4

Elisha miraculously helps a destitute widow:

  • A destitute widow cries to Elisha for help against her creditors: A woman, who was the widow of one of the disciples of the prophets [i.e. Ovadyah[1]], cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant, my husband, has died, and you know that your servant feared Hashem; and now the creditor [i.e. Yehoram the son of Achav, who would lend him money with interest] has come to take my two children for himself as slaves [in exchange for payment of the debt].”
  • Elisha blesses her jugs to constantly refill with oil: Elisha said to her, “What can I do for you? Tell me what you have in your house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing at all in the house except for a jug of oil.” He said to her, “Go borrow many empty vessels from all your neighbors and do not suffice with borrowing only a few vessels. After you borrow the vessels, and bring them home, you shall then close the door with you and your sons inside your house [as miracles are to take place in modest settings[2]] and you shall then pour from your jug of oil into all these vessels, and carry away the vessels that are filled with oil [to fill up the next jug].” So, she [borrowed the vessels from her neighbors] and went away from Elisha and closed the door with her and her sons inside. They kept on bringing her empty vessels and she kept on filling them with oil until there were no more vessels left to fill and so the oil stopped. [In addition to this miracle, God caused the price of oil to go up in order to help the poor widow make a nice profit on the sale of her oil.[3]]
  • She sells the oil and makes enough money to pay her creditors: After the jugs of oil were filled, she came back to Elisha for further instructions [as she was unsure if she should sell now or wait for the price to further go up[4]], and he told her that she should go sell the oil in order to pay her debt, and then use the remaining oil for her and her sons to live off [for the rest of their lives until the resurrection[5]].

[1] Rashi 4:1

[2] Rashi 4:4

[3] Rashi 4:6

[4] Rashi 4:7

[5] Rashi 4:7

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