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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 19

 

 

Verses 1-21


Elijah at Horeb

2. Then Jezebel sent, etc.] Her religious feelings as a votary of Baal and her dignity as the queen had both been outraged by the prophet, and she at once sought revenge.

3. And when he saw that, etc.] In men of impetuous disposition displays of fiery courage often alternate with moods of despondency. Elijah's character resembled that of St. Peter, who first struck a blow in defence of his Master and then denied Him (John 18:10, John 18:15).

Beer-sheba] within the territory of the tribe of Judah, but assigned to Simeon (Joshua 15:28; Joshua 19:2). It was a sanctuary in the time of Amos, and may have been the same in the time of Elijah.

4. Into the wilderness] Since the king of Judah was an ally of Ahab, the prophet did not consider himself safe from Jezebel's fury until he was beyond Judaaan territory. A jumper tree] a kind of broom, with purplish white flowers, that grows to the height of 10 or 12 ft. Requested.. might die] The nervous tension caused by the scene on Carmel was now succeeded by reaction and exhaustion. Elijah felt that he had been no more successful in checking the nation's apostasy than the prophets who had been before him.

6. Coals] perhaps stones heated by a fire of wood, kindled with twigs of broom: cp. Psalms 120:4.

8. Horeb] i.e. Sinai. The forty days and forty nights are not to be taken as a measure of the distance of Horeb from the prophet's starting-point (1 Kings 19:3-4), for this (about 180 m.) could be traversed in a much shorter time, but are meant to associate Elijah with Moses (see Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:11, Deuteronomy 9:18). In solitary communion with God, such as Moses had enjoyed, the prophet would recover his fortitude. The mount of God] cp. Exodus 31. Horeb had probably been a sanctuary even before Moses' time.

10. Thine altars.. thy prophets] cp. 1 Kings 18:30, 1 Kings 18:13.

11. The Lord passed by] All the experiences here described formed part of a single manifestation of the divine presence, but the earlier stages did not reveal God in the same degree as the last. Elsewhere in the OT. wind, fire, and earthquake are frequent accompaniments of a Theophany: see Exodus 19:18; Psalms 18:7-13; Psalms 97:3-5; 2 Samuel 5:24; Job 38:1; Ezekiel 1:4.

12. A still small voice] cp. Job 4:16. The LXX renders, 'the sound of a gentle breeze' The hurricane, the earthquake, the lightning, were all tokens and agencies of God, but none disclosed Him so convincingly as the peaceful calm that followed the tempest. It awakened, and blended with, the prophet's conscience; and he thus came to realise the true value of patience and forbearance in the furtherance of the divine purposes, as compared with the violence which he himself had displayed in his conflict with idolatry (1 Kings 18:40).

13. He wrapped his face in his mantle] in awe at the near presence of God. Moses similarly hid his face when God addressed him out of the bush (Exodus 3:6).

14. I have been very jealous] The prophet, as yet unsubdued by the influences of the scene, returned the same indignant answer as before (1 Kings 19:10).

15. The wilderness of Damascus] i.e. the Syrian desert in which D. is situated. Anoint] not used in a strict sense, since neither Hazael nor Elisha is described as having been anointed, whilst Jehu was anointed not by Elijah but by a young prophet commissioned by Elisha (2 Kings 9). The lesson which the direction given to Elijah in this v. conveyed was that he still had work to do even though he might not see the issue of it. He was not to relinquish it as he had desired (1 Kings 19:4), just because he was himself unsuccessful, but was to transmit it to others, and so pave the way for success in the distant future. Hazael] see 2 Kings 8:8.

16. Jehu the son of Nimshi] He was really son of Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi (2 Kings 9:2).

17. The sword of Hazael] For the calamities brought on Israel by Hazael see 2 Kings 10:32. The sword of Jehu] For the destruction of the house of Ahab by Jehu see 2 Kings 9, 10. Shall Elisha slay] doubtless through the agency of others. The prophets are frequently described as effecting what they enjoin or announce (Hosea 6:5; Jeremiah 1:10).

18. I have left] better, 'I will leave' Elijah was mistaken in thinking that he was the only survivor of the Lord's loyal servants. Jehovah's cause' was not desperate because His prophet had fled from the field of conflict.

Kissed him] For this as an act of devotion see Hosea 13:2. In Job 31:26-27 sun-worshippers are described as kissing their hand to the object of their adoration.

19. With twelve yoke] Elijah himself guided only one 'yoke' (or pair), the remaining eleven being in charge of his servants. His mantle] A hairy mantle was the characteristic garb of the prophets (Zechariah 13:4).

20. What have I done to thee?] whatever sacrifice was involved in the prophetic call was to be made ungrudgingly. Elijah, like our Lord, would have no half-hearted service: cp. Luke 9:59-62.

21. The instruments of the oxen] The wooden yoke and the framework of the plough served as fuel: cp. 2 Samuel 24:22.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/1-kings-19.html. 1909.

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