Death in the Pot! (A Christian Exposition of 2 Kings 4:38-41)

Above image caption: Wild Gourds as Found in the Arabian Desert


2 Kings, Chapter 4, verses 38-41 Provides Another “Historical Parable” Pointing to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ to Save His People for Himself

What Are “Historical Parables”?

Historical parables are factual historical events that are found in the Bible, which were also precisely crafted and recorded/inscribed by God in the Bible, via God The Holy Spirit, in allegorical manners that convey important Spiritual Truth. And that Spiritual Truth is that Eternal Salvation is only a gift of grace by God, paid for in full for the sins of God’s Elect by Jesus’ eternal Sacrifice and obtainable through the hearing of, and responding repentant faith in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ; which is the true purpose and lasting substance of the Bible.

The majority of the Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) contains these historical parables, which, in one way or another, all point to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, that truth is not always readily apparent, and can even be deliberately hidden by God to an unbeliever. It will also be hidden to a professing Christian, if the Bible is read by that person in a careless manner, or if such persons are basing their understanding on the wisdom of men rather than the Wisdom of God.

There are many “historical parables” in the Bible, found in both the Old and New Testaments, which can be easily missed in casual reading. This is because the majority of them are veiled in “allegory”. Some of them are more intrinsically obvious than others. Here are just two examples of fairly obvious ones:

  1. Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac, his only son from Sarah, said in Genesis 22:8, “… My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:…” The specific phraseology tells us that God would “provide Himself” (in the Form of Jesus) as the Lamb as the Only Acceptable Sacrifice for sin.
  2. Joseph (who was raised from a pit and prison and servitude up to the right hand of Pharaoh) provided bread to his unworthy brethren who had thrown him in a pit and sold him into slavery in Egypt in Genesis 50:20But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.” Those sad events served to create an historical parable for the purpose of pointing to Jesus’ Atoning Sacrifice in Hell, and Jesus’s Resurrection to the Right Hand of God the Father, to provide Salvation for His erstwhile enemies.

Some of the historical parables in the Old Testament have the benefit of New Testament exposition. The Brass (Brazen) Serpent is one such example. And Galatians 4:21-31 not only points us back to Sarah and Haggar, but specifically states that those two women were used of God to serve as an “allegory”, Which Things Are an Allegory“. Nonetheless, the majority of historical parables require diligent, prayerful, comparison of scripture with scripture to be understood, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, “which the Holy Ghost teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual“. In all cases, however, a “True” understanding of historical parables is entirely dependent on God Alone, through His Holy Spirit.

It should also be noted that the parables spoken by Jesus are not to be considered the same as “historical” parables, in that Jesus’ parables cannot be related to a specific factual historical account as is recorded in the Bible, but rather were “earthly stories” intended to teach a “Heavenly/spiritual” lessons. See for example The Good Samaritan, the Talents, the Sower. Nonetheless, all parables, whether historical or not, ultimately lead to the same understanding and conclusion. They all lead us to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the role of His saints in honoring and serving Him.

We know from Proverbs 1:5 that, “A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

And Jesus deliberately spoke in parables, so that those who only had carnal eyes, would see and not perceive. In Mark 4:11+12 we read, “And he (Jesus Christ speaking to His disciples) said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables:  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them.” 

Moreover, in John 3:12, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things?

For more on Biblical understanding, please see the The Key of Knowledge for Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible.

Elisha and the Poison Pottage

In 2 Kings 4:38-41 we read, “¶And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and [there was] a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets [were] sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred [them] into the pot of pottage: for they knew [them] not. So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O [thou] man of God, [there is] death in the pot. And they could not eat [thereof]. ¶But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast [it] into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

If one looks only at the “plain sense” of this text in only a cursory perusal, the text will provide the reader with a general “feel good” sense that the God of the Bible works miracles through His Prophets. And while there is not question that God, through Elisha, did miraculously heal, or purify, an otherwise poisonous soup by the casting of some “meal” into the pot. But is that all there is to this historical account? Is there something more than just the “plain sense” would indicate? Let us look more closely at the key elements of this short text by comparing scripture with scripture (“spiritual things with spiritual“).

1. Elisha

It is interesting to note that Elisha in Hebrew (אֱלִישָׁע (‘ĕlîšāʿ)) H477 means “God Is Salvation”, somewhat similar to Elijah (אֵלִיָּה (‘ēlîyâ))H452, which means “God of Jehovah”, from whom Elisha received his mantle. More significantly, Though Elisha is clearly differ in its spelling and pronunciation, “Elisha” does effectively have nearly identical meaning as that for “Joshua”, hence “Jesus”, as described below.

2. Gilgal

Elisha came again to Gilgal.” Clearly Elisha had been there before. We also know that this is the case, as we read a little earlier in 2 Kings 2:1 “¶And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

Now, “Gilgal” (גִּלְגָּל (gilgāl))H1537 in the Bible is a name of great significance, because it is the name that God Himself gave to that specific place where we learn of the following:

  1. It is the first encampment of the people of Israel after crossing, and “coming up out” of, the River Jordan into the Promised Land (pointing to the Salvation of the saints of God coming through untouched by the Flood (representing Hell) and up into Heaven, because the Ark of the Covenant, representing the Body of Jesus Christ, was there the whole time).
  2. It occurred on the tenth day of the first month! The children of Israel came up out of the River Jordan on the very day that the Passover Lamb was to be selected for the Passover according to Exodus 12:1-3, (and the same day that Jesus triumphantly entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday about 1500 years later). See also Ezra 10:16.
  3. It is where Joshua erected a monument of twelve stones (representing the twelve tribes of Israel) as a memorial to Israel’s deliverance and salvation (which points to the Eternal Israel’s Salvation).
  4. It is where the children of Israel who made it through the wilderness were circumcised (which points to the Eternal Israel’s Salvation by the shedding of blood, Jesus Christ’s blood).
  5. It is where they observed the Passover Feast (again pointing to the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ).
  6. It is where the manna ceased, marking the end of the wilderness sojourn period (pointing to the fact that in Heaven we only need Jesus, the Bread of Life of which the manna was just an earthly “Type” but not the substance).
  7. It is where God announced that He had “rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off” national Israel (which points to the eternal salvation of the eternal Israel in Christ Jesus)

Gilgal Is Intimately Linked With the Salvation of God’s People by the Atoning Sacrifice of The Lord Jesus Christ!

The very first place in the Bible where we find the name Gilgal is in Joshua 4:19, where we read,

¶ And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come,saying, What [mean] these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over. That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it [is] mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.

More information is provided by God later in Joshua 5:8-12, where God specifically declares that Gilgal is where God “rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off” national Israel. We read : ¶And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. And the LORD said unto JoshuaThis day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day. ¶And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat off the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched [corn] in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

Gilgal, which literally means “wheel”, or “wheel that rolls”, and as noted above, Gilgal is spiritually identified by God with the rolling away of the “reproach of Egypt” from off of His people. And of course, the phrase, “the reproach of Egypt“, is a typological/allegorical representation of fallen mankind’s spiritual enslavement to sin and Satan. Egypt (the land of Israel’s captivity for 400 years) is notably identified in the Bible as the “iron furnace” in Deuteronomy 4:20, 1Kings 8:51, and Jeremiah 11:4 and is therefore a typological/allegorical spiritual reference for Hell.

Rolled Away

Do not the words “rolled away” also bring to mind something else that the Bible tells us was also rolled away? Yes, it was the stone that sealed the tomb where Jesus’ Body lay, as we read in both Mark 16:4, “And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.” and Luke 24:2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

Yes, the reproach of Egypt (Hell) was eternally removed from off the Eternal Israel, as was exemplified by the rolling away of the stone that sealed the tomb of Jesus’, showing that Jesus had been resurrected and that Jesus was the “first begotten of the dead.”

Revelation 1:5, “And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” and

1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The Spiritual Symbolism of Gilgal

Gilgal thus symbolizes the Atoning Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which God provides salvation for His people, and thus spiritually represents the place where God removes the reproach for their sin together with the death penalty in Hell that the payment for that sin requires.

The Circumcision in Gilgal

And just as national Israel received the physical circumcision at Gilgal, so to does it symbolize the spiritual “circumcision of the hearts” by God for (Deuteronomy 10:16) of all His children of the eternal Israel. The shedding of blood and the cutting off of the foreskins pointed to the fact that a transition had taken place and those who were circumcised had come under the Abrahamic covenant by the shedding of blood related to the “seed” and ultimately Blood of Christ, because Jesus had to be cut-off and was the Seed of Abraham and David. Jesus is also typified by the Passover lamb sacrifice, which also was partaken of in Gilgal. But what are the other spiritual implications of circumcision? The physical circumcision of the flesh avails nothing, because God talks of the spiritual circumcision of the heart.

In Deuteronomy 30:6, we read, “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” God provides the exposition of this in describing how the saints are made complete in Christ, “Colossians 2:11-13, “¶ In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” So the “rolling away of the reproach of Egypt” is intimately linked to circumcision at Gilgal.

This is also why Joshua, during much of his campaign to conquer the promised land, set up his camp in Gilgal. It was from Gilgal that Joshua was used by God to save Israel from its enemies, and from which Joshua “ascended” (compare with Ephesians 4:7-16) as we find in the following verses:

Joshua 9:6, “And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us“.

Joshua 10:6 &7, “¶”And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. ¶ So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.

Joshua 10:9, “Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, [and] went up from Gilgal all night.”

Joshua 10:15, “¶And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

Joshua 10:43, “And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.”

Joshua 14:6. “Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal:and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.”

Joshua, of course, is a clear “Type” of the Lord Jesus Christ, The Savior.

Please note that Jesus (Ἰησοῦς (iēsous))G2424 is Greek for the Hebrew, Joshua (יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (yᵊhôšûaʿ)) H3091, which means “Jehovah is Salvation” (or “Savior”) and therefore effectively is the same as Elisha, which means “God Is Salvation”.

3. Dearth in the Land

2 Kings 4:38 informs that there was a “dearth” in the land. The Hebrew word translated as “dearth” is רָעָב (rāʿāḇ) H7458 is most generally translated “famine”, and famine in the Bible is used as a metaphor or allegory for a period in which the Word of God is lacking.

We know this, because we read in Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine (רָעָב (rāʿāḇ)) H7458 in the land, not a famine (רָעָב (rāʿāḇ)) H7458 of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” There, God was warning Israel of the 400-year period during which God did not send any more word to them at all. And it is quite notable that of the 101 times we find this same Hebrew word for “famine” in the Old Testament, this is the very last time and therefore further corroboration of the interpretation.

A dearth in Gilgal thus refers to the period when the true Word of God, the Gospel of Salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ Alone is largely, if not completely, absent from the earthly representation of God’s Kingdom, the corporate church. That was the condition prevailing in Israel when Elisha succeeded Elijah as the prophet of God. It can also be expected to be characteristic of the short end-time period that immediately precedes Judgment Day. For more on the spiritual meaning of a dearth in the land and the end times implications, please see: Famine in the Land

4. The Great Pot

The word “pot” appears five times in these four verses. We are told that it was also a “great”pot. The word translated as “pot” is the original Hebrew word (סִיר (sîr)) H5518. That Hebrew word is found 34 times in the Old Testament and is translated into English variously as pot (21x), caldron (5x), thorns (4x), washpot (with H7366) (2x), pans (1x).

In Psalm 58:1&2, God is pronouncing judgment on the “wicked congregation” where we read, “¶[[To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David.]] Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” And then in Psalm 58:9, “Before your pots (סִיר (sîr)) H5518 can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in [his] wrath.

God would seem therefore to be referring to a congregation, and in this instance, the congregation of the wicked, and likening the congregations to vessels. In Ecclesiastes 7:6 we also see, “For as the crackling of thorns (סִיר (sîr)) H5518 under a pot (סִיר (sîr)) H5518, so [is] the laughter of the fool: this also [is] vanity.” This would seem to indicate that the condemnation is upon the fools who do not see the imminent judgment, they being both the thorns and the pot. In Isa 34:1-15, we see God’s condemnation of apostate Israel, especially in verse 13 associating them with “thorns”, which will be consumed by God’s wrath. “And thorns (סִיר (sîr)) H5518 shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, [and] a court for owls. (note that the thorns, nettles and brambles remind us of the curse upon Adam in Genesis 3:18, “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

In Jeremiah 1:13&14, God refers to Babylon as the “seething pot”, referring to that angry nation, that God was about to use to bring judgment upon Judah. “¶And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot (סִיר (sîr)) H5518; and the face thereof is toward the north. ¶Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

And in Ezekiel 11:1-3, the “cauldron” is again a reference to a pot under judgment. “¶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. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these [are] the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: Which say, [It is] not near; let us build houses: this [city is] the caldron (סִיר (sîr)) H5518, and we [be] the flesh.

Ezekiel 24:3-14, God declares a parable of judgment against Jerusalem (the day when Babylon attacks it) in which Jerusalem is compared to a seething pot (סִיר (sîr)) H5518.

Although in both Psalm 60:8 and Psalm 108:9 where we see that the cursed nation of Moab is called a “washpot” by God, “Moab [is] my washpot;” The word translated as “washpot” is the same word in the original Hebrew for “pot” (סִיר (sîr)) H5518.

Finally, the very last time that the word translated from the original Hebrew as “pot” is found in the Bible is in Zechariah 14:20&21, “¶In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots (סִיר (sîr)) H5518 in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot (סִיר (sîr)) H5518 in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hostsand all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.” These prophetic verses indicate that there will be dedication to God in His Holy Temple involving the pots and a seething sacrifice that ensures a cleansing for the people.

It would therefore seem fair to say that, overall, the “pot” refers to all vessels of humanity, which are, by their nature, cursed and under the judgment of God, like Babylon, especially because of the poisonous cursed ingredients, producing the death in the pot. However, we shall see that the “meal” (actually flour, see below under “Meal”) refers to the foundational element of bread, which we know refers to the Body of Jesus Christ, such that when it is added to the pot, makes the pot free from the curse of sin and death and destruction on the evil day, Judgment Day.

5. Pottage

We soon learn that the “sons of the prophets” were “sitting before” Elisha. Given the context of this historical account and the meaning of the name Elisha being essentially the same as Jesus, that Elisha, much like his predecessor Elijah, is being used by God as a “Type” to represent Jesus. Moreover, the “sons of the prophets” are representative of all of the true believers. They were representative of the children of God sitting before Jesus to seek for spiritual food from Christ, even as Mary (Martha’ sister) sat at Jesus’ feet to listen to Him speak (Luke 10:39).

To underscore this point, let us look at the very last words of Moses before his death in Deuteronomy 33:2&3, “And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand [went] a fiery law for them.  Yea, he loved the people; all his saints [are] in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; [every one] shall receive of thy words.” All the saints are also the sons of the prophets who are sitting at the feet of Jesus for His Words.

Elisha subsequently said to his servant, “Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.” Elisha told his servant to boil some kind of soup, or stew, in a pot (like a kettle/cauldron) for the men to eat. This is representative of how when believers humbly come before God, prayerfully expressing their hunger for His Word, God will see to it that we are spiritually fed from His Word. And that will be the case even when the majority of corporate Christian congregations are beset by a famine of the hearing of the Word.

The believers are assured in Psalm 33:18&19, “Behold, the eye of the LORD [is] upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”, and in Psalm 37:19, “They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

6. Field

The word translated as “field” is from the original Hebrew word, שָׂדֶה (śāḏê)H7704, which is first found in the Bible (where God was cursing Adam for his original sin) in Genesis 3:18, “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field (שָׂדֶה (śāḏê))H7704;”

In the 2nd Kings chapter 4 account, we read that one of the servants went out to gather herbs, or vegetables, for the soup/stew to seethe in the pot. But that servant went to the wrong place. He went into “the field”, which, according to the Bible, is a picture of “the world” as we are told by Jesus in His explanation of the Parable of the “Wheat and the Tares” (see also the Parable of the Sower).

In Matthew 13:38, Jesus said, “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked [one];”

And in John 4:35, Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fieldsfor they are white already to harvest.” The fields are those parts of the world in which the remnant chosen by grace have been scattered. Hence, He tells us to ask God to send out workers into the harvest field.

But we must remember getting back to the Parable of the Wheat and Tares that the time is growing short because the ultimate Harvest is at the end of the world. In Matthew 13:39 Jesus said, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

7. Wild Gourd From a Wild Vine

Nevertheless, the sin-cursed world is not the right place to find food for believers. Not surprisingly, therefore, all this servant could gather were wild gourds from a wild vine. The word translated as “wild” in this account is from the original Hebrew word, שָׂדֶה (śāḏê) H7704, which is translated as “field” 292 times in the Bible and only eight times as “wild“. As was noted above, In Matthew 13:38, Jesus said, “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked [one];”

The “True Vine”, Is Jesus Himself, as we read in John 15:1-8, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruitof itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye,except ye abide in me. ¶I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Contrariwise, a wild vine represents something that is sinful and opposed to God. Remember the apostle Paul says in Romans 11:2 is addressing the Gentile believers, “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural [branches], be graffed into their own olive tree?

Parable of the Vineyard: Another source of “Wild” Fruit

Similarly we read in Isaiah 5:1-7, where God was lamenting over Israel’s failure to bear good fruit despite God’s loving care,

Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard:I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged;but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

It should be noted that the single word translated as “wild grapes” in the original Hebrew is בְּאֻשִׁים (bᵊ’ušîm) H891, is only used these two times in the entire Bible. The word actually means, “poisonous berries“, but given the context, it makes sense that they were translated in the King James Bible as “wild grapes”.

This parable is already explained for us by God in the last verse above. Israel and Judah were represented by “the vineyard” and “the vine”, respectively, and they should have brought forth righteousness, but instead brought forth poison in the form of rebellion, which, according to 1 Samuel 15:23For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry.” God makes clear that He will bring judgment upon them for their iniquities.

There was clearly no shortage of such “wild gourds” or “wild grapes” in the world back then, and that is still the case in our world today. The lone servant, who went out into the world, was able to gather a lap full (a garment full) of of “wild gourds”. By shredding them into the pot of pottage, he effectively introduced worldly, and therefore unBiblical, ideas into that from which the church would normally, faithfully, feed the flock.

8. Deadly poison (“Death in the Pot!)

And they knew them not.” When false prophets first begin to infiltrate the various congregations of the corporate church and bring in heresies and false gospels that are injected and mixed into the church’s teaching, the people in the pews will not often realize it. The devil is very cunning. 2 Corinthians 11:14&15 tell us, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Thankfully, and most mercifully, God protects His own from being snared by such false gospels. Describing believers as His sheep, Jesus says in the Parable of the Good Shepherd in John 10:5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers“.

In other words, true believers, having the indwelling Holy Spirit as their Counselor. and Guide, know that and gospel other than that of the Bible will not bring salvation, but rather lead only to eternal death and destruction. Therefore, when “the sons of the prophets” began to eat off the pottage, they cried out, “There is death in the pot!” They realized immediately that there was poison in the food. They had Spiritual Discernment.

9. Meal 

To provide the necessary cure, Elisha asked for “meal” and then cast the meal into the pot. What does that represent?

The Hebrew word translated as “meal” קֶמַח (qemaḥH7058 is sometimes translated in the Bible as “flour”, and in the Books of Exodus 29:2 , Leviticus 2:1 and Numbers 6:15 are typical of many verses where God commands the children of Israel to offer “fine flour” or cakes baked from “fine flour” as offerings. Like the lambs and bulls and grains and other sacrifices offered at the temple, the “meal” is a symbol pointing to the body of the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is the “true bread from heaven” (John 6:32), “the bread of life” (John 6:35). Partaking of the Word of God will keep us from being harmed by any false teaching. Thus, God declares in Mark 16:18, “They (the believers) shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

10. No “Harm” in the Pot

This historical account, which is indeed another “historical parable”, ends with this marvelous statement: “And there was no harm in the pot.” It should be noted however that the word “harm”, as is translated into English by the King James translators, is actually derived from two key words in the original Hebrew.

The first word is רַע (raʿ)H745, means “evil“, and it is the very same Hebrew word that we found all the way back in the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2:9, “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (רַע (raʿ)) H7451“.

The second word in the original Hebrew is דָּבָר (dāḇār)H1697, which means “word(s)“. (To see just how important that the word “dabar” is in the Bible, which is translated over 800 times as “word” or “words” (and over 200 times as “thing(s) and over 60 times as “matter”, but sometimes erroneously as is shown in the Appendix Below.)

So then, God is telling us that when it says “no harm”, when we look closely at the original Hebrew, we find that “no harm” is really saying that there are “no evil word(s)” in the pot. Is that not most interesting? Since when do “words” go into a pot? This is why at least one translator (e.g., Young’s Literal Translation) felt compelled to substitute “thing(s)” to say “no evil thing” in the pot, because it would seem, from a human perspective, to better conform to the “plain sense”. However, such a translation effectively nullifies the “spiritual sense”, which God has imbedded in His Word. This is just more evidence of how God has perfectly, magnificently, and supernaturally crafted the historical events of the Bible, and the recording of them, to convey spiritual truth to those to whom God graciously grants the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

And as a result, we can more clearly see how this historical parable is really telling us that, even in a time of famine, the “sons of the prophets” were nonetheless adequately and safely nourished, just as in the Final Tribulation, the true believing Christians will be spiritually fed with the True Word of God (Jesus Christ) and that there will be no evil, or false, words/gospels to poison them.


The historical account in 2 Kings 4:38-41 is more than just another intriguing miraculous story in the Old Testament. And the truth that it reveals is highly pertinent for anyone who believes that the Bible is God’s Word and that Jesus Christ Is our Only Hope for salvation from sin.

We are living in a day when there is indeed a famine in the land, “a dearth in Gilgal”. By and large, the corporate church has ceased to faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God. The True Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ Alone, along with the key doctrines from the Bible on which it is based, have become so perverted that most congregations are, for all practical purposes, just playing church with worldly ideas.

For the unsaved, these congregations offer nothing but “death in the pot”. But true believers will not be fooled. It is not that they are any more intelligent than other churchgoers. Rather, God Is Faithful. Jesus Christ has promised that He shall not lose any of the children that the Father has given Him. John 6:39This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day.”

Meanwhile, we must sit humbly before God, ever seeking wisdom from His Word. Instead of believing everything we hear from the pulpit, we must strictly rely on the Bible itself to bring us truth (and be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11,”These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.“)

By the grace of God, thankfully, we will then be well equipped by God to go through the Final Tribulation period, and we can confidently hope to see Jesus face to face immediately afterwards on Judgment Day.

APPENDIX: Jesus is the Personification of The Word

In Proverbs 25:2 (KJV) we find this extraordinary verse, “[It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter.” If we look carefully at the text as it reads in the original Hebrew using an Interlinear Bible or Online cross-reference like this:, we find that it can also read like this…”[It is] the glory of God to conceal a word” (because it is from the Hebrew דָּבָר (dāḇār)H1697, a masculine noun): but the honour of kings[is] to search out a “word” (because the word that was translated into English as “matter” is also the same word found in the original Hebrew to be דָּבָר (dāḇār) H1697, which is translated more than eight hundred times in the Old Testament as “word.”)*.  It appears, therefore, that God is telling us that He is glorified by the concealing of The Word (Jesus Christ) in the Bible, and the believers are “honored” by being made able to search out The Word (Who is Jesus Christ) when reading the Bible. Remember what we are told in Acts 10:43, “To him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” And let us not forget what Jesus said in John 5:39: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me


The above study provides an allegorical interpretation of the 2 Kings text, and it shows how if we prayerfully read the Bible to search beyond just a surficial level…not stopping at only the “plain sense”, then, by God’s grace, alone, the deep richness and hid treasures of God’s Word can be revealed. Those hid treasures will consistently point us to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’s own exposition of Old Testament Scriptures validate this point, as we find in the account on the Road to Emmaus.  In Luke 24:27, we read of Jesus teaching his disciples, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Please see this exposition: The-Road-To-Emmaus

NOTE To The Reader: The above exposition builds upon a study previously published by Jesse Gistand in 1992.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Studies

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