The World’s First C.P.R.

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation has its origin in the Tanach, our Hebrew Bible, Book of Kings II, chapter 4.

The prophet Elisha, successor to Elijah the Tishbite, was passing through Shunam and an important woman saw him and offered him home hospitality for which he was very grateful. And on every further occasion while passing by in Shunam, the woman greeted him and invited him to her home to eat.

One day she said to her husband “there is a holy man of God who frequently visits in our area. Let’s make him comfortable and build a small room on the roof. We can furnish it with a bed, a table and chair, and a candlestick, so that whenever he is here he will have a place to eat and sleep”.

On Elisha’s next visit he slept in the room that had been prepared for him and he ordered his servant, Gehazi, to meet with the Shunamite woman. When she appeared before Gehazi he asked her what Elisha could do for her to thank her for her great kindness. He said that Elisha was willing to speak directly to the king on her behalf.

But she replied humbly, “I dwell among my own people”, meaning that she lived near her relatives who would care for her and her husband and therefore had no need of royal or military protection.

Elisha was stunned and said “surely we can do something for her”. Gehzai informed his master that the woman had no children and her husband was old. So Elisha called for the woman and he told her that at this time next year she would give birth to a son. The woman replied “O man of God, please do not lie to me”.

And it came to pass that a year later, the woman did give birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

The boy grew up and one day he went out to the field with his father to help the reapers, Soon the boy cried out to his father “roshi, roshi”… my head, my head. The father instructed a servant to carry the child back to his mother.

He sat on her lap for several hours and then he died. She carried him up to the roof chamber and laid him on Elisha’s bed.

Then she saddled her donkey and rode very fast to Mount Carmel, a distance of some twenty miles.

When Elisha saw her in the distance he instructed Gehazi to run to meet her and to inquire if all was well. He returned to Elisha with the bitter news of the boy’s death.

Elisha and the boy’s mother hastened to her home and when he saw the child on his bed, he thought the boy was dead.

He closed the door of the room and prayed to God to bring back life to the child. Then he himself laid on top of the child, put his mouth to the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, his hands on the child’s hands, and he stretched himself on the child a second time and breathed into his mouth. And he felt the child’s flesh becoming warm.

He called his servant, Gehazi, and told him to bring the boy’s mother into the room.

When she entered, Elisha, the man of God said to her “S’ee banaich … pick up your son”. She fell on the ground and bowed before him, and the child and his mother walked out of the room together.

This is the first recorded case of C.P.R. in the history of the world.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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