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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

1 Kings 17



Verse 1

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead [ 'Eeliyaahuw (Hebrew #452) ha-Tishbiy (Hebrew #8664) mitoshaabeey (Hebrew #8453) Gil`aad (Hebrew #1568) The third word may be rendered either from the present Hebrew text, as in the King James Version, or, by a slight change of punctuation, Elijah the Tishbite, from Tisbi of Gilead: so also the Septuagint renders it: Eeliou ho profeetees ho ek Thesboon tees Galaad]. The site of this place has not yet been discovered; but if the latter meaning of the words be adopted, it conclusively settles two points:

(1) That Thisbe was not in Naphtali, as has been supposed (Reland, 'Palaestina,' p. 1035), but in Gilead; and

(2) that Elijah was not a resident merely, being a foreigner by birth, as Keil maintains ('Commentary,' in loco); an Ishmaelite (many of that race being on the confines of Gilead), as Michaelis suggests; but a native Gileadite. Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 8:, ch. 13:, sec. 2) describes him as a native of Thesbon, a district in the Gilead country.' This prophet is introduced as abruptly as Melchizedek-his birth, parents, and call to the prophetic office being alike unrecorded. The commencement of his recorded ministry was at a great public crisis in the national history of Israel, when measures had been adopted by the court of Samaria which threatened to extinguish the very existence of true religion in the land. Jeroboam and his immediate successors had introduced an unhappy innovation in religion, by not only changing the central place of worship and the appointed time of the festivals, but by patronizing the use of Egyptian symbols. Still they adhered to the worship of Yahweh in connection with images. Ahab effected a far worse revolution by the introduction of the pagan or Phoenician idols, Baal and Ashtaroth, and building sanctuaries to them. Through the seductive influence of the court, the people of Israel, previously prone to idolatry, followed the pernicious precedent, and the worship of Yahweh was at a low ebb in the kingdom of Israel. Elijah appeared in this state of affairs.

Said unto Ahab. The prophet appears to have been warning this apostate king how fatal both to himself and people would be the reckless course he was pursuing; and the failure of Elijah's efforts to make an impression on the obstinate heart of Ahab is shown by the penal prediction uttered at parting.

Before whom I stand - i:e., whom I serve (Deuteronomy 18:5).

There shall not be dew nor rain these years. Not absolutely; but the dew and the rain should not fall in the usual and necessary quantities. This was a calamity incident to the land of Israel, and applied for the punishment of sin (cf. 1 Kings 8:33; Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:23). Such a suspension of moisture was sufficient to answer the corrective purposes of God, while an absolute drought must have converted the whole country into an uninhabitable waste. The duration of this drought is stated by the Apostle James (James 5:17), to have been three years and six months.

But according to my word. Not uttered in spite, vengeance, or caprice, but as the minister of God. The impending calamity was in answer to his earnest prayer, and a chastisement intended for the spiritual revival of Israel. Miracles and prophecies are the two grand evidences of a divine revelation. And in particular, the commission of a true prophet was attested steal by the occurrence of extraordinary events in the future, conformably to his announcement. Drought was the threatened punishment of national idolatry (Deuteronomy 11:16-17; Deuteronomy 28:23); and Elijah now made a particular application of the divine denunciation.

Verse 2

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

The word of the Lord came unto him, saying,

Verse 3

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

Get thee hence ... At first the king may spurned the prediction as the utterance of a vain enthusiast; but when he found the drought last, and increase in severity, he sought Elijah, who, as it was necessary that he should be far removed from either the violence or the importunities of the king, was divinely directed to repair to a distant and unknown retreat.

And turn thee eastward , [ qeed

Verse 4

And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there , [ haa`or

Verses 5-7

So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

The word of the Lord came unto him. Zarephath, or Sarepta, now Surafend, where he was directed to go, was far away on the western coast of Palestine, about nine miles south of Zidon, and within the dominions of Jezebel's impious father, where the famine also prevailed. Meeting at his entrance into the town, the very woman who was appointed by Divine Providence to support him, his faith was severely tested by learning from her that her supplies were exhausted, and that she was preparing her last meal for herself and son. The Spirit of God having prompted him to ask, and her to grant, some necessary succour, she received a prophet's reward (Matthew 10:41-42); and for the one meal afforded to him, God, by a miraculous increase of the little stock, afforded many to her.

Verse 9

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

Which belongeth to Zidon , [ '

Verses 10-13

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 14

For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

The barrel of meal shall not waste , [ lo' (Hebrew #3808) tiklaah (Hebrew #3615)] - be ended, consumed.

Verse 15-16

And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

The son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick. A severe domestic calamity seems to have led her to think that as God had shut up heaven upon a sinful land in consequence of the prophet, she was suffering on a similar account.

Verse 18

And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

What have I to do with thee? The phrase is elliptic, and the meaning is, What is there in common to us two-to me, a sinful woman, and thee, a man of God-that we should thus have come together to my harm? (cf. Judges 11:12; 2 Kings 3:13 : see Trench 'On Miracles,' p. 104.) Without answering her bitter upbraiding, the prophet takes the child, lays it on his bed, and, after a very earnest prayer, had the happiness of seeing its restoration, and along with it, gladness to the widow's heart and home.

There is a remarkable difference noticeable between the miracles of the Old and the New Testaments. 'We find,' says Trench, 'the holy men of old sometimes bringing-if one may venture so to speak-hardly, and with difficulty, the wonder-work to pass. It is not born without pangs: there is sometimes a momentary pause, a seeming uncertainty about the issue; while the miracles of Christ and His apostles are always accomplished with the highest ease' (Numbers 12:13-15; 1 Kings 18:42-44; 2 Kings 4:31-35). The prophet was sent to this widow, not merely for his own security, but on account of her faith to strengthen and promote which he was directed to go to her, rather than to many widows in Israel, who would have eagerly received him on the same privileged terms of exemption from the grinding famine. The relief of her bodily necessities became the preparatory means of supplying her spiritual wants, and bringing her and her son, through the teaching of the prophet, to a clear knowledge of God, and a firm faith in His Word (Luke 4:25).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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