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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

1 Kings 20

 

 

Verse 1

And. The Roman Septuagint and Josephus place this war after the account of Naboth, chap. xxi. But the Alexandrian copy follows the order of the Hebrew. (Haydock) --- The style Benadad, "the son of Ader." He succeeded (ver. 34.) the king who attacked Baasa, chap. xv. 18. We know not the time nor the occasion of this war. (Calmet) --- Probably Achab had refused to pay tribute, and God had a mint to try if his obstinacy would yield to kindness, ver. 13., and 28. (Salien, the year before Christ 919.) --- Kings. Almost every city had one.


Verse 3

Mine. He had a desire to dispose of them, as he though proper. Achab was willing to pay tribute, to remove the impending danger. (Calmet)


Verse 4

Have. Achab is not in earnest, but strives to pacify the barbarian. (Menochius)


Verse 6

Servants, or subjects. The king of Israel has thus a plea to interest all his people, as the danger was common. (Salien) --- He assumes the character of disinterestedness, as if he had been willing to abandon all his private property; knowing that Banadad would not accede even to that hard proposal. (Haydock) --- Thus "Nero consulted the first men of the city, whether they would prefer a doubtful war or a disgraceful peace." (Tacitus, An. xv.)


Verse 10

Handfuls. Hebrew shohal. The Septuagint, read "shuhal" and render it, "suffice for the foxes, for all the people, (even for) my infantry;" (Haydock) as if his forces were so numerous as to cover the whole land, and leave no room for even foxes to occupy. The hyperbole is equally great, supposing that his soldiers could by each taking a handful, or what might stick to his feet, (Chaldean) carry off all Samaria. Josephus intimates, that Benadad speaks of erecting terraces of equal height with the walls; others, that he would level the city with the ground, Ezechiel xxvi. 4. (Sanctius)


Verse 11

Let not the girded, &c. Let him not boast before the victory: it will then be time to glory when he putteth off his armour, having overcome his adversary. (Challoner) --- "Let not him who goes to battle, though well armed, boast; but the man who returns victorious." (Chaldean) "Enough: let not the man with a crooked back boast, as one that is upright." (Septuagint) "Let not him that girdeth, (Haydock) or is bound," (Hebrew) or rather "shutteth up, boast, as he that openeth." (Syriac) It is easy to besiege: but the city does not always fall. Neither people in arms, nor the unarmed, have reason to boast; as the former are often made prisoners, as soon as the latter. (Calmet) --- A despised enemy sometimes proves most dangerous. (Haydock) --- Those who distrust in themselves, and place their confidence in God, prevail: a necessary lesson both in temporal and spiritual warfare. (Worthington) --- The fortune of war is very doubtful. (Tirinus)


Verse 12

Pavilion, (umbraculis) or even under "the shade" of the trees, in full security. (Menochius) --- Beset. Hebrew, "set, and they set against the city." Chaldean, "hold yourselves in readiness, and they laid ambushes round the city." The siege had not been yet commenced in form, as it was never expected that Achab would dare to make any resistance.


Verse 13

Prophet. It does not appear who this and the other prophets were who address Achab so boldly during these wars; if indeed they were different persons: Elias is never mentioned. Did Jezabel leave the rest alone? or did these wars break out before she began to persecute them? (Calmet) --- Many suppose that the prophet, who spoke on this occasion, was Micheas. (Menochius) --- But Achab complains that he always brought him evil tidings, chap. xxii. 8. (Salien)


Verse 14

Servants. Literally, "footmen." (Haydock) --- Hebrew means either "sons or servants." The pages of honour, or the menial servants of the lords, were not likely to gain the victory. (Calmet) --- There were 232 in number, ver. 15. Achab followed them, (ver. 19.) with 7000; and this army defeated the Syrians. --- Thou, not in person; but thy men must begin the attack.


Verse 18

Alive. This he said out of contempt, and too great confidence; (Menochius) and this gave occasion to his defeat. For, while his men were endeavouring to execute his orders punctually, the Israelites cut many in pieces, and routed the rest. (Salien)


Verse 21

CHAPTER XX.


Verse 23

Hills. All the high places of Israel were covered with idols. Samaria, Bethel, Dan, &c., were built on eminences. (Menochius) --- Altars had also been erected to the true God on the most famous mountains. The law had been given at Sinai, and promulgated at Garizim. The late miracle at Carmel was known to all. Hence the pagans, (Calmet) conformably to their notions of assigning different parts of the creation to different gods, suspected that the god of Israel might preside only over the mountains. (Haydock) --- People are always ready to blame any but themselves. (Calmet) --- They lay the fault on fortune, &c. (Tirinus) --- The pride of Benadad could not bear to be told that his own temerity had brought on the defeat. (Haydock)


Verse 24

Stead, who may obey thy orders more implicitly. Rex unius esto. (Calmet) --- Captains, who have been inured to warfare, would not so easily run away. (Menochius) --- Thus, in the late French republic, commanders were chosen from the common ranks, while the nobles were neglected. (Haydock)


Verse 26

Aphec, belonging to the tribe of Aser, though it does not appear that they ever obtained possession of it, Josue xix. 30. A subterraneous fire and earthquake have caused the city to sink; and a lake, nine miles in circumference, now occupies its place. The ruins may still be discerned in its waters. It is about two hours walk from the plains of Balbec, (Paul Lucas. Levant i. 20.) at the foot of Libanus. The waters must be very thick and bituminous, if what is related by the ancients be true; namely, that the presents, offered to the Aphacite goddess, were tried by them, and deemed agreeable to her, if they sunk; as wool would do, while tiles, and often metals, would swim. (Calmet) Adrichomius places this Aphec on the great plain of Esdrelon, not far from Jezrahel. (Menochius)


Verse 27

Victuals. Hebrew also, "they were all present." Chaldean, "ready." Syriac, "in battle array." --- Goats. They were comparatively so contemptible, ver. 15. (Haydock) --- At the same time, Josaphat could muster above a million warriors; for piety makes kingdoms prosper. (Salien)


Verse 28

Lord. Many favours were bestowed on Achab, but he died impenitent. (Worthington)


Verse 29

Days. The Syrians durst not begin the attack. (Haydock)


Verse 30

Went, or had gone before, and commanded his men to defend the walls of Aphec. (Haydock) --- But the slaughter of these 27,000 is joined to the preceding. (Menochius) --- God caused the walls to fall, as he had done those of Jericho; or the Israelites beat them down with battering rams, and the defendants perished in the ruins. --- Chamber. Josephus observes that it was under ground. Micheas told Benadad that he would have thus to hide himself again, chap. xxii. 25. (Calmet)


Verse 31

Heads, or necks, to indicate that hey deserved to die. (Haydock) --- The Syrians acted thus, when they came as supplicants. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 14.) --- The son of Psammetichus, king of Egypt, was led in this manner to execution, with 2000 others. (Herodotus iii. 14.) --- Bessus was conducted to Alexander with a chain round his neck. (Curt. vii.) (Calmet) --- What a reverse of fortune do we here behold! (Salien)


Verse 33

Men. Protestants, "Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it, and they said." They heard him mention the title of brother with joy, concluding that he was not so much irritated, as they might have expected. Allied kings style each other brother; those who are tributary, call themselves servants, (like Achaz, 4 Kings xvi. 7.; Calmet) as well as those who seek for favour; as Benadad does at present, ver. 32. (Haydock) --- Luck. The pagans were accustomed to make vain observations. (Menochius)


Verse 34

Thy father. Benadad did not know the changes which had taken place in the royal family of Israel. He speaks of the cities which his predecessor had wrested from Baasa, chap. xv. 20. --- Streets, for merchants, of whom he would receive tribute: or military stations, as David had done, (2 Kings viii. 6.) to prevent any inroads. Benadad does not appear to have complied with these conditions, as the king of Israel had to take Ramath by force, chap. xxii. 2. --- And having. These words seem to be the conclusion of Benadad's proposition: but, according to the Hebrew, they contain Achab's reply. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "The said Achab: I will send thee away with this covenant." (Haydock) --- How generous does the conduct of Achab appear to the world! Yet it displeased God. (Salien) --- He severely punished this foolish pity towards a dangerous foe. (Worthington)


Verse 35

In the word, or by the authority. The person who refused to comply, out of a false compassion, displeased God. The wound of the prophet was a symbol of what would happen to Achab. It was a prophetic action, chap. xi. 30. (Calmet)


Verse 38

Dust. Chaldean and Septuagint, "he tied a veil," &c. Apher has both meanings.


Verse 39

One. Thus God delivered the proud and blasphemous Benadad to Achab. (Haydock)


Verse 40

Decreed. Thou must either die or pay the money. (Menochius) --- Thus the king pronounced sentence against himself, as David had done, 2 Kings xii. 1., and xiv. 4. The Rabbins assert, that Achab had received an express order from God to destroy and subjugate all the Syrians. He ought, at least, to have been consulted, as he had given the enemy into the hands of the Israelites; (Calmet) and thus insinuated, that he would have them punished, (ver. 28.; Rupert v. 13.) for restricting his power to the hills. (Tirinus)


Verse 42

Worthy. Hebrew, "of my anathema;" or, "the man who has fallen into my snares." (Vatable) Cherem is taken in this sense, Micheas vii. 2., &c. He was my prey, and you ought not to have disposed of him without my leave. (Calmet) --- People. This was verified (chap. xxii.; Menochius) within three years. (Salien)


Verse 43

Raging, (furibundus) full of indignation. Hebrew, "went to his house heavy and displeased." Septuagint, "confounded and fainting," through rage; Greek: eklelumenos. (Haydock) --- "Vexed at the prophet, he ordered him to be kept in prison; and confounded at what Micheas had said, he went to his own house." (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 14.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 20:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-20.html. 1859.

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