That red hooded sweatshirt
Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry land! —2 Kings 2:8
In ancient times, a mantle was an outer cloak worn over other clothing. Used primarily as a means to keep warm, it also served as a symbol of authority.
The mantle described here with Elijah and Elisha is an `adderet, a cloak of distinction worn by kings and especially prophets (1 Kgs. 19:13, 19; 2 Kgs. 2:8, 13-14; Zech. 13:4). A symbol of sacrifice and commitment, this cloak identifies a prophet.
But to use a cloak to divide the Jordan River? Consider a movie director’s struggle. “A cloak. Using a coat to part the river? Uhm. Yeah. Not so much. If anything, could we use a middle school kid’s backpack? At least that has straps.”
Overhearing this, imagine the actor playing Elisha. “No, the cloak is key. It’s power. It’s heritage. It’s what Elisha seeks—and receives—to know that Elijah’s past and God’s presence is upon him.”
While not the choice of a movie director focused on visual effects, the cloak is important. It achieves the same purpose with the Jordan River as Moses’ rod does with the parting of the Red Sea. In addition, the tearing of Saul’s mantle was used by Samuel as an analogy for the removal of power from him. (Saul was succeeded by David.) And the cloak is key for Job who tears his to show humility and distress.
Maybe you have an heirloom piece of clothing—your dad’s jacket, your grandmother’s scarf. These articles aren’t just clothes; they are connections to who you are, and who you love.
I received a red hooded sweatshirt after my grandfather died. It was an incidental toss. I was in the right place at the right time to receive it, and am glad I did. Grandpa Jack’s sweatshirt cannot part a small, drying creek, but holds great value because like Elijah’s cloak to Elisha, it helps me feel who I am. It connects me to a past bigger than me.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us see and value all the ways we are connected to you, our God of love and power. Amen.