Joseph Rawson Lumby.

The first book of the Kings : with map, introduction and notes online

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enthusiasm to put an end, as far as he may, to the false worship.

I. KINGS, XVIII. 41—46. 115

they took them : and Elijah brought them down to the brook
Kishon, and slew them there.

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for 41
there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to 42
eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel ;
and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face
between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look 43
toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There
is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came 44
to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth
a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said,
Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down,
that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean 45
while, that the heaven was black icith clouds and wind, and
there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah ; and he girded up his 4«
loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

the brook Kishon] This is at the foot of Mount Carmel on the
side towards the sea. It was the spot where Sisera was over-
thrown by Barak (Judges iv. 7).

41. Elijah said unto Ahab] The king had been present through
all the events of the day, but had been powerless to stay the
slaughter of the false prophets. Get thee up, eat and drink]
There was probably preparation made for the king's refreshment
on the top of Carmel, where the offerings had been made, and the
woi'ds of the prophet apply to Ahab's return from the Kishon,
which was at a lower level. for there is a [K.V. the] sound
of abundance of rain] The expression is definite in the original.

42. Elijah went vj) to the top of Carmel] To a different point
from that to which Ahab had gone. and he cast [K.V.
bowed] himself] The prophet's attitude was that of prayer. Cf.
Jas. v. 18. 43. look toward the sea] Because from that
quarter would come the indication of the approaching storm.

seven times] Meaning an indefinite number. 'Seven' is thus
used Ps. xii. 6, cxix. 164; Prov. xxiv. 16. 44. there ariseth

a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand] K.V. a cloud out
of the sea as small as a man's hand. This is more in ac-
cordance with the Hebrew construction. The statement was not
meant to describe the shape of the cloud, but the size of it. The
servant returns as soon as there appears the smallest token of a
rain-cloud. Prepare [K.V. make ready] thy chariot]

The change is introduced from 2 Kings ix. 21, where the word
for 'chariot,' which is here understood, stands in the text.

45. in the mean ichile] [K.V. in a little while] The literal
sense is 'until so and until so.' The expression is probably bor-
rowed from a waving of the hand backward and forward, and
means 'before you could do that.' And Ahab rode] Ahab

made his way to his palace (see xxi. 2) at Jezreel, that he might
report to Jezebel what had happened. 46. the hand of the


116 I. KINGS, XIX. 1—6.

19 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal

2 how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then
Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods
do to m-e, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of

3 one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw
that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba,

4 which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he
himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came
and sat down under a juniper tree : and he requested for
himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now,
Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold then,

6 an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And
he looked, and behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and

Lord was on Elijah] A divine impulse which directed and sup-
ported him in what he was to do.

XIX. 1. and withal how] The construction in the original is
here irregular. The English translation gives the sense intended.
He told his wife in general 'all that' Elijah had done, and specially
'all, how' he had slain, &c. 2. Jezebel sent a messenger] The

queen could not restrain herself in her rage. She cannot make
arrangements for seizing Elijah at once, but lets him know that
she is resolved to do so. 3. And when he saw that] Elijah

saw (mentally) from the message which came to him, that he must
be gone, if he would save his life. and went for his life]

i.e. to make sure of saving his life. It was no part of his duty to
expose himself to unnecessary peril. and came to Beer-sheba,

which belongeth to Judah] Beer-sheba was in the tribe of Simeon
(see Josh. xix. 2). Here 'which belongeth to Judah' signifies
'which is part of the kingdom of Judah.' Elijah had thus escaped
from Ahab s dominions. and left his servant there] The

servant must have attended on him from Carmel to Jezreel, and
from thence to the south of Judah. The prophet now desires
solitude, and so dismisses him. 4. a day's journey into the

wilderness] The wilderness here spoken of is the desert of Paran,
through which the Israelites had of old wandered from Egypt
toward the promised land. vnder a juniper tree] The plant

is one of the broom kind. It was stout enough to be used for fuel
(Ps. cxx. 4), and in time of famine its roots could be eaten (Job
xxx. 3, 4). thai he might die] The prophet had probably

had some hope that Ahab would disown the idolatrous worship
after the scene on Carmel. / am not better than my fathers]

Elijah had probably reached a ripe age, and thinking his labours
all fruitless, prays for removal. In the dark moment of seeming
failure his natural feeling of having wrought no reform, wrings
from him the cry in the text. 5. And as he lag and slept]

Better, with R.V., ' And he lay down and slept.' behold then]

B.V. and behold. A change made necessary by the previous alter-
ation. 6. and behold, there was] The R.V., following the
Hebrew order, puts 'at his head' immediately after these words.

I. KINGS, XIX. 7—10. 117

a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and
laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again 7
the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat;
because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and b
did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty
days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there ; and 9
behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto
him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been ifi
very jealous for the Lord God of hosts : for the children of
Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine
altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I,

7. because the journey is too great for thee] No mention has yet
been made of the distance or place to'which Elijah meant to go. It
seems therefore more natural to conclude that the flight into the
wilderness had been undertaken by the prophet merely because he
thought that he would there be less likely to be found. In conse-
quence of direction or prompting given during his rest he went
forward to Horeb. 8. in the strength of that meat] As Moses

had been forty days on Sinai and had taken no food with him, so
now Elijah, who was to be in many ways a counterpart of Moses,
is divinely sustained by the food which had been supplied to him
while he rested. forty dags and forty nights'] A great deal

has been written to shew that the journey from the edge of the
wilderness of Paran to Mount Horeb could not have occupied forty
days, even of very slow walking. But there is nothing in the
verse to make it necessary to suppose that the writer intended
such a sense. The time spent was not what was required for the
journey only, but far more in meditation and prayer. The spiritual
conflict of Elijah prefigures the spiritual conflict of Jesus.

unto Horeb the mount of Hod] So called because, above all
other places, it was distinguished through God's manifestations of
His power and glory.

9. unto a cave] The Hebrew has the article, 'the cave.' It is
very likely that by Elijah's time tradition had fixed on a definite
place as that 'cleft of the rock' in which Moses stood (Exod. xxxiii.
•22) when Jehovah passed by. If this were so the place would be
deemed very sacred, and would be most appropriate to that divine
explanation now to be given to Elijah. What doest thou here t]
i.e. ' Why art thou thus cast down ? ' « Has thy knowledge of Jehovah
gone no farther than to see Him only in works of vengeance ? '

10. I hare been very jealous] There is no boastfulness in these
words. Elijah only opens his grief, and sets forth that he has
done his utmost, but that in spite of all both king and people are
still unrepentant. hare forsaken thy covenant] The portion of
the covenant here referred to is Exod. xx. 3, 'Thou shalt have none
other gods but Me.' thrown dotvn thine altars] Elijah's
language here implies that acceptable sacrifices had been offered
to God in more places than one. slain thy prophets] The
people appear to have assented to such acts of Jezebel and her

118 I. KINGS, XIX. 11—15.

even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it

11 away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount
before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a
great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces
the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind:
and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not

12 in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the
Lord icas not in the fire : and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face
in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of
the cave. And behold, there came a voice unto him, and said,

14 What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very
jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of
Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine
altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I,
even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take

15 it away. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way

agents as are mentioned in xviii. 4. / only, am left] Elijah

speaks according to his own knowledge. No one had stood with
him on Carmel. Elijah's reply seems to indicate that he saw
nothing more which could be done, and for this reason had sought
solitude and refuge in flight. 11. stand upon the mount before

the Lord] Elijah does not go forth (see verse 13) until he recognises
the presence of the Lord in the still small voice. The violence of
the wind and the earthquake and the devouring rage of the fire, he
was made to feel, were not the proper manifestations of Jehovah,
were not those tokens by which He would be known to His people,
and consequently he abode still in the cave while they were raging.
The Lord had not yet appeared. And behold, the Lord passed

by] What appears to be meant is ' the Lord is about to pass by and
you shall be able at that time to recognise something of His true
character, and to gain the instruction which you need from this
revelation.' 12. a still small voice] Literally, as in the margin

of E.V., 'a sound of gentle stillness.' There is nothing to indicate
to us whether the sound was articulate or not, nor is it said that
the Lord was now present, but the action of the prophet shews
that he knew the time was come for him to present himself before
Jehovah. 13. wrapped his face in his mantle] The revelation

was not one for the eye, but for the spirit, of the prophet.

in the entering in of the care] The command given before had
been, 'Go forth and stand upon the mount,' but this only applies to
such an advance as would bring him out of the cave and into the
open air. What doest thou here?] This repeated question

seeks to know whether the prophet has understood the manifesta-
tions that have been made to him, and whether he is able to apply
them. The answer coming in the same words as before seems to
declare that Elijah is still ignorant of what is meant. God there-
fore gives him direct charges which shall make it clear that, though
his own success has not been such as he expected, yet God's
work is still going forward. 15. Go, return on thy way to

I. KINGS, XIX. 16—18. 119

to the wilderness of Damascus : and when thou comest, anoint
Hazael to be king over Syria: and Jehu the son of Nimshi Hi
shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel : and Elisha the son of
Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in
thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth 17
the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth
from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left l«

the wilderness of Damascus] It seems from what follows that the
margin of the R.V. gives the truer sense, viz. 'by the wilderness to
Damascus.' Elijah was to go back the way by which he had come
to Horeb, and we see that he came first to Abel-meholah, which
was on the west of the Jordan, not far from Bethshean (see note
above on iv. 12). anoint Hazael to be ling over Syria] So far

as the Scripture record goes we have no notice that Elijah performed
this command in its literal sense, Hazael being subsequently informed
by Elisha (2 Kings viii. 13) that the Lord had made known that he
should become king over Syria, though even then he was not
anointed. We must interpret the meaning of the command m
accordance with the prophet's action, judging that he understood
what was intended by the words. The word 'anoint' is used
concerning Jehu and Elisha as well as Hazael; and we know that
Elijah did not anoint Elisha, but only made known, by the act
of casting his prophetic mantle upon him, that he was called to
that office. In the same way then we may understand the rest
of the Divine order. Elijah was to receive assurance for himself,
and to make known that assurance to others, that God was still
ruling Israel both from without and from within. For 'anoint
the R.V. reads thou shalt anoint. 16. And Jehu the

son of Nimshi] This was ' Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son ot
Nimshi.' He was one of Ahab's captains, and heard the sentence
which Elijah pronounced against Ahab for the murder of Naboth
(2 Kings ix. 25, 26). When Jehoram had succeeded Ahab, Jehu
was anointed and conspired against him, and slew not only Jeho-
ram but also caused to be slain seventy sons of Ahab, and the
brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and all the worshippers of
Baal. It is clear that Jehu looked upon himself as God's ordained
instrument, and considered his actions as 'zeal for the Lord. VYe
may therefore conclude that there had been made known to him
something of the message which the Lord here gives to Elijah.

of Abel-meholah] See above on iv. 12. At the time of his call
Elisha was probably a young man. His father and mother were
still alive, and he was living with them. prophet in thy room]

These words would teach Elijah that he was not to expect the
accomplishment of all God's purpose during his own hfetune, but
oiilv to prepare a representative to be ready when it was God s will
to call him away. 17. shall Elisha slay] Here we come upon

evidence that the language of these verses (15—18) is not to be
pressed into a literal interpretation. In the second book of lungs
there is nothing which accords with a literal acceptance of tins
verse We read of none that were slain by the hand of Elijah s

120 I. KINGS, XIX. 19— 21.

me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have
not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not
kissed him.

19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat,
who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he
with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his

20 mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah,
and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother,
and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back

21 again: for what have I done to thee? And he returned back

successor. But by the ' sword of his mouth ' he overthrew the foes
of Jehovah. In this sense he fulfilled the declaration in the text,
his work coming in and being effectual in places and ways where
Hazael and Jehu wrought no deliverance. 18. Yet I hart'

left me] E.V. (and margin of A.V.) Yet will I leave me. Elijah
had been witness of God's might and power to execute judgement,
in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, and subsequently of the
true presence of God in the still small voice which spake of mercy.
He is now sent to make known who the ordained ministers of
vengeance shall be, Hazael and Jehu being the embodiment of
what was portrayed in the elemental fury which had passed before
him. But after all came the voice which bare witness of Jehovah's
presence, and this Elijah is now told shall be made known here-
after in the multitude of those who, after all trials, shall still
remain faithful. seven thousand in Israel] Used for an inde-

finite number. hath not hissed him] That such was the nature of

some part of the worship offered to false gods we can see from
Hos. xiii. 2, 'Let the men that sacrifice hiss the calves.'

19. So he departed thence] Josephus says, what the visit to
Abel-meholah shews, that Elijah returned into the land of the
Hebrews. God would not allow him to fall into the hands of his
enemies. plowing with twelve yohe of oxen before him] He

had servants with him to manage all the yokes but one, and to
these people it was that he afterwards made a farewell feast.

Elijah parsed by him] K.V. passed over unto him. Elijah
left the road and crossed into the field where Elisha and his com-
panions were plowing. and cast his mantle upon him] The
prophetic mantle was probably of a special character. Cp. Zech.
xiii. 4. 20. hiss my father and my mother] He was
sensible that the separation was to be permanent, and that a
higher call than that of earthly parentage was laid upon him.

Go bach again: for what have I done to thee?} Elijah grants his
request, but accompanies the permission with words which must
remind Elisha that he cannot now stay amid his home duties, 'Go
back again,' he says, 'but let it be oidy for the filial leave-taking,
for what have I done to thee ? Have I not chosen thee to be my
companion and helper? Is not God's voice calling thee, through
me, to do Him service?' 21". And he returned bach from

[R.Y. from following; him Elisha clearly understood the per-

I. KINGS, XX. 1—5. 121

from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled
their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto
the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after
Elijah, and ministered unto him.

And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host 20
together: and there were thirty and two kings with him,
and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged
Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to 2
Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus
saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine ; thy wives 3
also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the 4
king of Israel answered and said, My lord, king, according
to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have. And the 5
messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad,

mission which was given to him. and took a [E.V. the] yoke

of oxen] The language in the original is definite. and boiled

their flesh] Thus he made a farewell feast to those with whom he
had been working. and gave unto the people] i.e. The plowmen,

and other helpers in the work which they had been doing.

went after Elijah, and ministered unto him] In the Scripture
story he is not mentioned again till the departure of Elijah into
heaven is close at hand (2 Kings ii. 1). But we cannot doubt that
he was the companion of Elijah from that day forward, and we are
shewn something of the nature of the attendance and ministration
here alluded to in 2 Kings hi. 11, where we read of Elisha as he
' which poured water on the hands of Elijah.'

XX. 1. Ben-hadad the king of Syria] See above on xv. 18.
There is nothing to help us to conclude with certainty whether the
Ben-hadad of this verse was the same who made a treaty with Asa
king of Judah against Baasha king of Israel. Between the death
of Baasha and the beginning of Ahab's reign was only about 14
years, but perhaps the probability is in favour of his being a son
or grandson with the same name. thirty and two kings with

him] These would be princes from the different provinces of Aram
(Syria) over whom Ben-hadad at Damascus would be lord superior.

besieged Samaria] Josephus says that Ahab did not feel equal to
meeting his powerful adversary in the field and so shut up himself,
and all that he could collect, in the strongest fortresses in the land,
himself continuing in Samaria as the best defended. and

warred (R.V. fought) against it] The verb is nearly always trans-
lated 'fight' elsewhere. 2. he sent messengers] Sending first, •
no doubt, as Josephus explains, a herald to ask that his ambas-
sadors might be received to explain his demands. 3. even
the goodliest] The claim laid to the wives and children would in
Oriental eyes amount to a deposition of the monarch, or a depriva-
tion of his royal power. It was one of the first acts of a conqueror
to seize the wives of the vanquished opponent. 4. according
to thy saying] The B.V. inserts It is before these words, and thus
brings out the division of the verse as marked in the Hebrew.
The order of words in the original is, 'It is according to thy saying,

122 I. KINGS, XX. 6—12.

saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt
deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy

i; children; yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow
about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the
houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is
pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and

7 take it away. Then the king of Israel called all the elders of
the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man
seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for
my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied

a him not. And all the elders and all the people said unto him,

!» Hearken not unto him, nor consent. Wherefore he said unto
the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that
thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do : but
this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and
io brought him word again. And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and
said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust
of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that

11 follow me. And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell
Mm, Let not him that girdeth on His harness boast himself as

12 he that putteth it off. And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad
heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in

my lord, king.' 5. Although I lure se/it toito thee] The

K.Y. translates I sent indeed unto thee, and begins the 6th verse
with But instead of yet. This brings out the arrogancy of Ben-
hadad more fully. It is as though he said, ' You submitted to my
first demand, but in spite of that I am not satisfied.'

6. to-moirow about this time] The imperious victor (as he thought
himself) would suffer no delay. 7. called all the elder* of the

land] It was more than a gathering of the chief men of the city.
Probably at such a crisis many of the principal persons who dwelt
at other times away from the fortified cities would have gathered
in Samaria for safety. It was with all these that Ahab conferred.
Ahab's sentence is left unconcluded, but the conclusion suggests
itself without being spoken. It would have rim somewhat thus,
"But now he threatens to seize your treasures as well as mine, tell
me what answer I shall send to him." 8. Hearken not unto

him, nor consent] The B.Y. omits the needless italics and reads
neither instead of nor. 9. Tell my lord the king] The picture

of the power of the Israelitish king is not very magnificent. Even
in this final answer he speaks of himself as Ben-hadad's 'servant.'

10. if the dust of Samarid shall suffice for hand/ids for all the
■jieople that foil on- we~] i.e. I will bring such a host that if each man
were but to take with him a handful of earth, Samaria would be all
carried away. The boastful tone is quite of a piece with all Ben-

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Online LibraryJoseph Rawson LumbyThe first book of the Kings : with map, introduction and notes → online text (page 15 of 18)