Answers on this question conclude that "portion" refers to inheritance. Just before Elijah is taken to Heaven, Elisha asks for a "double portion" of his spirit.

2 Kings 2:9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of the prophetic spirit that energizes you.” 2:10 Elijah replied, “That’s a difficult request! If you see me taken from you, may it be so, but if you don’t, it will not happen.” [NET]

However, this passage does not use either word from the answer. Instead, it uses "peh" in the phrase פִּֽי־שְׁנַיִם pi-shnayim. שְׁנַיִם( shnayim means double.) Peh is used in such a sense (portion) also in Deuteronomy 21:17, where the same phrase occurs, פִּי שְׁנַיִם pi shnayim.

Deuteronomy 21:17 Rather, he must acknowledge the son of the less loved wife as firstborn and give him the double portion of all he has, for that son is the beginning of his father’s procreative power – to him should go the right of the firstborn. [NET]

As there is no other prophet associated with Elijah, what does it mean for Elisha to receive Elijah's double portion?

Pi is translated as "portion" only twice in the KJV. However, a related word appears in 1 Samuel 13:21 (pim). (Both pi and pim are pronounced with long-e vowel sounds.)

13:21 They charged two-thirds of a shekel to sharpen plowshares and cutting instruments, and a third of a shekel to sharpen picks and axes, and to set ox goads.

The NET translators argue for pim meaning "two thirds of a shekel" based on archeology finds of stones marked pim which weigh, on average, 0.268 ounces, about two thirds of a shekel. See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 238; DNWSI 2:910; and G. I. Davies, Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions, 259.

  • 3
    In their day the firstborn son received a double portion of the father's inheritance. Elisha wanted to be counted as Elijah's firstborn son; he wanted to carry on his legacy and receive what belonged to Elijah. In other words, he wanted Elijah's anointing to pass to him so that he could carry on Elijah's work.
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 2:13
  • 2
    @Jas3.1, I'd love to see that as an answer and not a comment.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 3:00
  • Related: youtube.com/watch?v=JPebMvMms40
    – Ruminator
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 18:33

6 Answers 6


In Keil and Delitzsch's Commentary,(2 Kings 2)

The request of Elisha is evidently based upon Deu 21:17, where בּ פּי־שׁנים denotes the double portion which the first-born received in (of) the father's inheritance, as R. Levi b. Gers., Seb. Mnst., Vatabl., Grot., and others have perceived, and as Hengstenberg (Beitrr. ii. p. 133f.) in our days has once more proved. Elisha, resting his foot upon this law, requested of Elijah as a first-born son the double portion of his spirit for his inheritance. Elisha looked upon himself as the first-born son of Elijah in relation to the other "sons of the prophets," inasmuch as Elijah by the command of God had called him to be his successor and to carry on his work.

This is evidenced by his response in vs 12,

And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces

His spiritual father, Elijah, of whom he was no longer a mere servant of, but a son, through God was able to bequeath the "double potion" right of a first-born son of the prophetic ministry, a sign that he had fully stepped into the office of his 'father' Elijah, and what was available to Elijah was now his.

Some commentators have intimated that Elisha's miracles had surpassed Elijah's, giving "proof" to a "double portion", to which Keil and Delitzsch respond,

Moreover, the request itself even on the part of the petitioner presupposes a certain dependence, and for this reason Elisha could not possibly desire that the double measure of Elijah's spirit should be bestowed upon him. A dying man cannot leave to his heir more than he has himself. And, lastly, even the ministry of Elisha, when compared with that of Elijah, has all the appearance of being subordinate to it. He lives and labours merely as the continuer of the work already begun by Elijah, both outwardly in relation to the worshippers of idols, and inwardly in relation to the disciples of the prophets. Elisha performs the anointing of Jehu and Hazael, with which Elijah was charged, and thereby prepares the way for the realization of that destruction of Ahab's house which Elijah predicted to the king; and he merely receives and fosters those schools of the prophets which Elijah had already founded.

Since the measure "Double Portion" is only in measure to the total, not in excess of it, it can be rightly stated that Elisha received his "Double Portion" from God, who accounted him rightly to receive the "first-born"(Double Portion) inheritance from Him.


Through Elisha's receiving of the double-portion anointing from Elijah, there were then twice as many miracles outworked through him, by God, than through Elijah; the final one occurring after Elisha's death, from his anointed bones.

Elisha was intended by God, from the outset, to be a double portion prophet in Elijah's stead, to fulfil God's purposes. We see from the outset, where he was ploughing with (in control of), a double portion of twelve (governmental number of) oxen.

He then sacrifices the natural double portion of twelve oxen, to set himself on course to obtain the spiritual (governmental) double portion:

  • to fulfil God's calling for his life, eventually to authorize the anointing of Jehu, as King over Israel;

  • to finish the work of dealing with Israel's idolatrous Baal contamination; and

  • to outwork the destruction and elimination of Jezebel.

Elisha's final mission was to then prophetically leave Joash, next King of Israel, a legacy of victory for Israel, over all of Aram. Sadly, however, Joash failed to perceive the number of times necessary that he should strike the ground with the arrows, thereby partially nullifying his opportunity.

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A double portion means unlimited anointing. The first-born used to receive a double portion of the inheritance (back to immortality) from the father. He was considered to be the head or the High Priest of the family when the father died.

This double portion is the complete birthright mentioned in Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 1:28: the sceptre of dominion, the high priestly status, the fruitfulness of the seed of YAHWEH multiplication to bring many sons to glory or "Sons of God", and all the blessing attached to the birthright. In other words, he was asking for the fullness of the Holy Spirit to complete what Elijah had ploughed and started.

Under the Old Covenant, the birthright was split among Judah/Sceptre, Levi/Priesthood, and Joseph/Double-fruitfulness. Under the New Covenant, Jesus, the one who reinstated the first-born priesthood, every believer has the potential of receiving the whole double portion.

The sons of Joseph are Ephraim and Menasheh: double fruitfulness and to forget past persecutions.

This double portion is needed to bring the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth and will make us forget (Menasheh) all the tribulations of the past.

Notice that the ministry of Elisha releases the meal of the Messiah to remove poisonous doctrines from the teachings of the prophets of Gilgal. 2 Kings 4:41 "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." KJV


The hebrew word for double in this passage not only translates as 'two' but also as 'another' or 'repeat'. Seems to me more reasonable that Elisha has requested that the same, 'repeat', anointing would rest on him. We see that the responsibility given to Elija is fulfilled by Elisha.

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    – user2672
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 6:16

While translating "double" as "another" does answer the question, a more likely explanation is that Elisha was an expressing a desire to be "doubly blessed."

But in a more literal sense, there are several instances of biblical people being blessed doubly. Isaiah 61:7 promises a double portion of blessing upon Israel. At sacrificial feasts, Hannah’s husband Elkanah gave her double portions because she was not able to conceive (1 Samuel 1:5). In the epilogue to the Book of Job, God gives Job twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).

In a certain sense Elisha was indeed blessed with a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Commentators have noticed that the bible records twice as many miracles conducted by Elisha (28) than by Elijah (14).

However, Elisha's request need not be understood literally. Rather, it could also be a figure of speech conveying the earnest desire of the disciple to follow in the footsteps of his master - to complete the work Elijah had only begun. What good teacher would not want his pupil do become even greater than he is? In the New Testament, Jesus showed the this attitude when he declared:

Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. - John 14:12, CSB:

Elijah's victory over the prophets of Baal was more famous than anything done by Elisha. But according to the author of the Books of Kings, Elisha's ministry effected a more important change. It resulted in a divinely approved regime change in Israel and the elimination of Baal worship there: "Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from Israel." (2 Kings 10:28)


Elisha wanted "a double portion" from Elijah, he simply meant amongst all the students that Elijah had, he wanted to be the chosen one, like the "first born". Sons of a father couldn't inherit land more than the father owned, only the "first born" inherited a double portion. Therefore Elisha didn't mean he wanted twice more powerful than Elijah. If he was, in such a greedy and arrogant mind, the Lord shouldn't grant his wish, as Elijah replied in the follow verse 2 Kings 2:10 NIV that indicated only the Lord could grant his wish.

“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

Elisha was not the only student of Elijah. Many student prophets knew Elijah was going to be taken. Several verses prior to 2 Kings 2:9 reveal this;

3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”

5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”

7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan.

It should not quantify the number of miracles performed to rationalize the meaning of "double portion". The Lord does not use number or greatness to justify the faithfulness of a person.

Therefore the only meaning of "a double portion", is Elisha wished Elijah gave him the blessing as the chosen inheritor of his spirit, like a first born son.

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