he Shunammite woman is an emblematic character of the Old Testament, but there is no record of her name in the Bible. She was mentioned only as an inhabitant of the city of Sunem. According to the Bible, she was a woman with land and good conditions. Despite not having his name highlighted in the Word, his actions leave us with great teachings regarding faith, determination and care for the work of God.
Where was the city of Suném?
Sunem comes from the Hebrew original Shunem which means “resting place”. The city was southeast of the Sea of Galilee, located on the Jezreel plain between the Gilboa and Tabor mountains. It was part of the domains of the tribe of Issachar. It was a fertile place with a good vocation for agriculture.
She was a woman of initiative
When the prophet Elisha was in Sunem, the wealthy Sunamite insisted that he eat at his home. After that, whenever he passed through the city he stopped there for a meal. We see his initiative in inviting him, to have lunch at his house, more than that, continuing to feed him by helping Elisha’s ministry in the city. She recognized the man of God and shared with her husband, “I know that this man who always comes here is a holy man of God” ( 2 Kings 4: 8-9 ).
See also: Who was Elisha in the Bible?
Another initiative that we can see is how she involved her home with God’s work. She makes a suggestion to her husband: “We are going to build a little brick room up there and put a bed, table, chair and lamp for him in it. So, whenever he visits us he can occupy it” ( 2 Kings 4 : 10 ).
The Shunammite thought of all the details; he thought of a space where Elisha could rest – a small room with a bed – and also a structure where the prophet could exercise his ministry with a table, a chair and a lamp. She did not just want to serve, but to serve with excellence, and so she honors the very meaning of the term Suném, place of rest.
Another notable attitude was that at no time did she bargain “blessing” with the prophet. His will was really to contribute to the work and God. It is evident at the moment when Gehazi at the behest of Elisha asks what he could do for her. The Shunammite simply replies, “I am well among my own people” ( 2 Kings 4:13 ).
She understood that the prosperity in her home was in contributing to the Father’s will and she understood that God was already supplying her life. Although her husband is very old, Elisha prophesied a son to the couple. The following year the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
She was a woman of faith and determination
Another characteristic that draws attention in the Shunammite woman was her faith. Her grown son was in the field and went to find his father who was with the reapers. “Suddenly he started calling his father, shouting:” Oh, my head! Oh, my head! “The father said to a servant,” Take him to his mother. “The boy stayed on her lap until noon and died ( 2 Kings 4: 19-20 ).
Did she go into despair? Did you come out screaming? No. She went up to Elisha’s room, laid the boy on the bed, went out and closed the door. And she spoke to her husband that she needed a servant and a donkey to go and speak to the man of God. It implies that even her husband does not say that her son had died. He even asked her: “But why today? It’s not a new moon or a Saturday!” But she told him not to worry.
Determined to find the prophet she climbs Mount Carmel which means “Presence of God”. The same mountain where the battle between the prophet Elijah and the 400 prophets of Baal took place. It was not a low hill, according to the topography of the region, Mount Carmel is exactly 525 meters high; a little over half a kilometer high. Upon seeing her, the prophet Elisha sends Gehazi to receive her and he asks: ‘Are you all right? Is everything okay with your husband? And with your son? ‘ “She replied to Gehazi,” Everything is fine. “Even in the face of an extreme situation and great anguish, she remains in control.
The resurrection of the son of the Shunammite
Elisha went home accompanied by the Shunammite and Gehazi, the prophet’s servant, ran ahead. Arriving before everyone, Gehazi put the staff on the boy’s face as the prophet had instructed, but the boy did not answer. When Elisha arrived, he closed the door to his room and prayed to the Lord. Then he lay on the boy twice and the body warmed up. When Elisha gets up and starts walking around the room, the boy sneezes seven times and opens his eyes. The prophet opens the door of the room and the Sunamite prostrates himself at his feet and picks up his son. ( 2 Kings 4: 33-36 ).
Restoration of their lands and testimony to the king
Years after her son’s resurrection, she and her home received God’s deliverance. Elisha had warned the Shunammite about famine in his land: “Leave the country with your family and go to live where you can, for the Lord has determined a famine for this land, which will last seven years” ( 2 Kings 8: 1 ). The Sunamite followed his advice and spent seven years in the land of the Philistines with his family ( 2 Kings 8: 2 ).
Upon returning to Israel, his lands and properties had been invaded. She made an appeal to the king to repossess his lands. The king was talking to Gehazi who testified about the life of the Shunammite interceding on his behalf. The king asked her to tell everything that happened and confirmed everything that Gehazi had witnessed. With that, she had the value of the compensated harvest and her land restored. In addition, he had the opportunity to witness to the king what God was doing in his life. ( 2 Kings 8: 3-6 ).
Abisag, the young Shunammite
In the Bible there is also another Sunamite called Abisag . A young woman who was brought in from Sunem to serve King David in his old age ( 1 Kings 1: 1-3 ). With David’s death, Adonijah his son requested Abisag through Bathsheba. The request generated the ire of King Solomon who ordered his death, and was executed by Benaiah the son of Priest Jehoiada.