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As indicated in other passages (such as 2 Kings 2:8), Elijah's status as a prophet endowed his mantle (that is, his cloak) with supernatural powers. By throwing this garment around Elisha, Elijah was providing Elisha with that same status and powers, and designating him as his successor (as God had instructed him to do (1 Kings 19:16)), since Elijah's time to be taken up to heaven was approaching. And, when that event later occurred, Elijah, as he ascended, dropped his mantle. Elisha picked it up, and almost immediately demonstrated its retention of its supernatural powers by striking the Jordan River with it, causing the river to divide so that Elisha was able to walk across on dry ground (2 Kings 2:13-14).
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