MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti, Ivan Korzun) - The Russian Orthodox Church is marking on Saturday the day of the prophet Elisha, a disciple of the prophet Elijah, with divine services around the country commemorating the miracle-working Old Testament saint.
Elisha, or Eliseus, lived in the ninth century BC in Abel-meholah, near the Jordan River. According to the Second Book of the Kings, his teacher Elijah, also known as Elias, knew God would take him soon, and asked his disciple what he wanted to receive from him.
Elisha asked for twice the power that Elijah possessed. "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me," he said (II Kings, 2:9). Then the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire, and Elisha was given what he had asked for.
He then picked up the mantle of his teacher that fell from the sky, and spent over 65 years serving as a prophet under six Israelite kings, working numerous miracles, including cleansing the waters of a Jericho spring and bringing forth abundant water for soldiers who were about to die in a wilderness.
Elisha also healed Syrian military commander Naaman from leprosy, which prompted Naaman to glorify God. Nine centuries later, Jesus, teaching in a synagogue, said: "And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:27).
The prophet Elisha is also venerated by Roman Catholics and Lutherans, who commemorate him on June 14 due to differences in the calendars used by Eastern and Western Christianity.