Did Elisha strike the water once or twice?


In II Kings 2:14, do you believe Elisha strikes the water twice with the mantle of Elijah or just once?


"Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over" (II Kings 2:14).

The difficulty comes in because the phrase "and he struck the water" appears twice in the same tense. The Latin Vulgate took the position that he struck the water twice and thus rendered it: "And he smote the waters, but they did not divide; and he said, Where is the God of Elijah even now? And he struck the waters and they were divided hither and thither." But notice that the translator added a phrase that is not in the original Hebrew in order to explain why he thought the waters were struck twice. The Catholic Bibles, which rely heavily on the Latin Vulgate, follow suit in their translations.

All other translations that I know of have taken the position that Elisha struck the waters once and thus render the second phrase as a repeat of what Elisha has already done. There is an additional case for this because the word for "also" does appear in the second phrase (something the Latin Vulgate left out).

The translations leaving it slightly vague as to whether the waters were struck once or twice are the most faithful to what the Hebrew states. I doubt it makes too much difference in the understanding of the events, one way or the other.

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