Biblical People

Biblical People: The Widow and Her Oil

The widow of one of Elisha’s followers comes to him for help. Her deceased husband left her with an outstanding debt. She has no means to pay off his loan, and the creditor demands her two sons become his slaves as payment.

Elisha asks what resources she has. “Nothing,” she replies. “Just a small amount of olive oil.”

Elisha has a plan. He tells her to borrow empty jars from her neighbors, lots of them. Then she is to go home, close the doors, and begin pouring olive oil from her small vessel into all the other jars.

She does, and the oil continues to flow until every container is full. When she has no more to fill, the oil stops flowing.

She sells the oil. With the proceeds, she pays off her debt and has extra to live on.

What if she had borrowed more jars? What if she had only borrowed a few? 

When God tells us to do something, do we do it halfway and possibly miss his bounty, or do we go all out?

[Discover more about the poor widow and her oil in 2 Kings 4:1–7.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at