The Mantle Passes

In the first reading today we witness the passing of the mantle (אַדֶּרֶת addreth in Hebrew) from Elijah to Elisha. What is a mantle? Although there are variations of the meaning of mantle in the Bible, the main idea is that of a covering such as a cloak or covering as outerwear appearing in the OT (e.g. Joshua 7:21) and NT (e.g. Hebrews 1:12, in the Greek). In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment made of animal skin, probably sheepskin. Several people are mentioned as wearing a mantle, including Job (Job 1:20) and Ezra (Ezra 9:5). The mantle served the practical purpose of keeping people warm and protecting them from the elements. It also served a symbolic purpose, in the case of the prophets, showing they were wrapped in God’s authority – a sign of their calling from God (1 Kings 19:13). Continue reading