The Shulamite Woman is the primary female protagonist in the Song of Solomon, and she is portrayed as a woman of great beauty, sensuality, and charm. The term “Shulamite” refers to the woman’s place of origin, which is believed to be the town of Shunem, situated
The Shulammite (from Hebrew shulammit, “woman of Jerusalem”) is the central figure in the Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs or Canticles) and one of the most positive representations of young womanhood in the Hebrew Bible.
The Shunammite woman had a kind heart. Keeping your heart right, full of love and empty of bitterness is the secret of receiving from God. The Shunammite woman used her kindness and wealth to entertain a prophet (2 Kings 4:8-10). She got blessed with a child because of her kindness.
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The Shulamite Woman In The Bible
The Shunammite woman is a character in the Hebrew Bible, specifically in 2 Kings 4:8–37. She is described as a wealthy married woman in the village of Shunem. The woman showed hospitality to the prophet Elisha by constructing a room for him to stay in. She is also shown as the head of her household and an independent decision-maker. Her name is not recorded in the biblical text. The story of the Shunammite woman is a powerful reminder of the love and grace of God, and it is a symbol of hope for all who seek Him.
The Shunammite woman is celebrated by the Rabbis for her generosity and righteousness. The story of her hospitality towards Elisha portrays these traits, but the midrash also celebrates her for cautiousness, as shown by the narrative of her son.
Despite her anonymity, the Shunammite woman exhibits several admirable qualities. She offers hospitality to Elisha by offering him food and shelter, with no expectation of a reward in return. She acts assertively and confidently on behalf of her son.
Shunammite Woman Bible Verse
|2 Kings 4:8–37|
Integral to understanding this event in Elisha’s life are the various characters involved, as well as the scene of the action. The story takes place in the territory of Issachar in northern Israel. Shunem overlooks the fertile Plain of Esdraelon (Jezreel) toward Mount Carmel, more than 15 miles distant, where the prophet has a home. It is just a few miles from the towns of Jezreel to the south, En-Dor to the east, and Megiddo to the west.This episode occurs during the reign of Jehoram (or Joram), the second son of Ahab and Jezebel, roughly 850 BC. From all indications, Jehoram gave lip service to God, allowing Elisha freedom to preach and travel while granting similar freedom to pagan religions. As the writer of II Kings explains, “And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not like his father and mother… Nevertheless, he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam” (3:2–3). The story unfolds among four principal characters: Elisha, God’s prophet; Gehazi, his assistant; the Shunammite woman, a wealthy and pious woman; and her young son, miraculously born. The interaction of these four people, each with his or her modern-day counterparts, constructs an intriguing parable with pointed lessons for Christians today. The prophet Elisha is God’s servant, Elijah’s successor, upon whom God’s Spirit rests and by whom God does great miracles. He is a man of God, presented very positively in the biblical record; it is difficult to find a negative description of him or his actions. He represents all of God’s true ministers. Gehazi, on the other hand, stands for the hirelings (John 10:12–13; Zechariah 11:16–17), who set themselves up as ministers of God yet care only for themselves and their well being. This man’s greed rises to the surface in the next chapter when he takes Naaman’s money and gifts after Elisha refuses to take them as payment for the Syrian commander’s healing (II Kings 5:20–27). For this, God struck Gehazi and his descendants with Naaman’s leprosy. The Shunammite woman is described as “notable” (II Kings 4:8), a Hebrew word that can connote wealth, piety, renown, or elements of each. In the text, however, her piety predominates, as she sets aside a room for Elisha and cares for him whenever he comes to Shunem (verses 9-10). Evidently, she keeps the Sabbaths fastidiously, and her husband shrugs off her visiting Elisha on a normal day (verses 22-24). She is a type of the church as a whole (see Galatians 4:21-31; Revelation 12:1-2; 19:7-8).Her offspring, a boy, is born as the result of an Abraham-and-Sarah-like miracle (II Kings 4:14-17). Other than that he seems to get along well with his father and mother’something read between the lines’the Bible tells us very little else about this child. To use a literary term, he is Everyman, and as the child of the type of the church, he represents the individual Christian.Interestingly, the boy’s father is an incidental character; he is involved but only in the background. Normally, we might think he represents God the Father, but this conclusion makes no sense in this case. The boy’s father plays his bit part because he existed in the historical reality. Parables do not demand that each detail have an exact antitype, for as we all know, all analogies break down if taken too far.
Elisha And The Shunammite Woman KJV
2 Kings 4:21-24
Although she is aware that her child is dead, the Shunammite woman does a strange thing. Rather than weeping or grieving in any way, she quietly takes the boy’s body up to Elisha’s room, lays him on the bed, shuts the door behind her and goes out to her husband. She shouts to him from a distance, “Send me one of the servants and a donkey. I want to go see the man of God” (verses 21-22). Oddly, the father does not inquire about his only child’s health. He simply asks her why she wants to do such a thing, since it is just an ordinary day. She replies, also rather curiously, “Peace” (verse 23).
Whatever her frame of mind, she obviously does not accept her child’s death—in fact, she does not even tell anyone that he has died! She puts him in a room that would probably not be disturbed, for superstitious fear of the prophet, and closes the door. In effect, she hides his condition from everyone else, even from her husband—even from herself, to some extent!
She formulates a plan to confront Elisha about this matter, for he was the one who had miraculously given her child to her in the first place (see verse 28). God’s servant had made her son possible and had given her a few good years of his life, but now he was to be taken away? It did not make sense, and who better to make some sense of it than Elisha the prophet? Maybe she even thought, “If he can miraculously help me give life to my son, maybe he can miraculously return his life to him.” However, the biblical account does not indicate that she ever asked this of Elisha.
Her curious reply to her husband is more of an evasion than an answer. Hebrews often responded to an inquiry about their health with shalom, meaning “all is well,” thus the rendering in most versions. However, the Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on this verse suggests another understanding: “For this word… is apparently also used, as Clericus has correctly observed, when the object is to avoid giving a definite answer to any one and yet at the same time to satisfy him” (vol. 3, p. 311). We can infer from her terse shalom that she either does not want to explain her actions or cannot reasonably explain them. In her suppressed grief, disbelief, and confusion, she avoids even attempting to clarify matters.
Her only thought is, “I’ve got to get to Elisha. He’ll know what to do.” She mounts the donkey and commands the servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you” (verse 24). She wants answers fast, thinking that God’s minister will be able to give them to her. She drives the poor servant—most likely running beside the donkey and goading it with a stick—to keep up a brisk pace over the entire 15-plus-mile journey to Mount Carmel.
Single-minded as she is, her determined course is the proper reaction. In times of trouble, especially during spiritual drowsiness or famine, God says through Amos, “Seek Me and live; but do not seek [counterfeits]. Seek the LORD and live” (Amos 5:4-6; 8:11–12). In a similar vein, Isaiah writes:
Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
God says in Malachi 2:7, “For the lips of a priest [a minister of God] should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” Jeremiah 18:18 shows that the prophets functioned similarly, and II Timothy 2:24–26 gives New Testament verification that the ministry of the church should as well.
Elisha and the Shunammite Woman
8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
11 One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there. 12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.” 14 And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.” 17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.
Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son
18 When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” 23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.” 27 And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment, take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.