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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 17

Verses 1-24

Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath

The prophet Elijah, who occupies so large a space in the succeeding history, is, like his successor Elisha, conspicuous among the prophetic figures of the OT. as a worker of miracles; and to him belongs the further distinction of having been removed from earth without dying. His prophecies differed from those of most later prophets in having in view only certain critical occasions of contemporary history, and in having no reference to the remote future or the Messianic age, though the moral and religious principles which they affirmed had, of course, a wide application.

1. Of the inhabitants of Gilead] RM according to LXX, of Tishbeh of Gilead.’ Said unto Ahab] Nothing is related about the reason for the drought which the prophet predicted; but the cause was doubtless Ahab’s idolatry (1 Kings 16:31-33: cp. Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy 11:17). Josephus quotes a Tyrian historian who states that a drought occurred during the reign of Ethbaal (the king of Tyre and Zidon named in 1 Kings 16:31), which lasted a year.

3. Hide thyself] The prophets of the Lord were in danger from the anger of Jezebel: cp. 1 Kings 18:13.

Brook] strictly, a ravine or torrent-valley.

Before Jordan] i.e. E. of Jordan, in the Gilead he was familiar with.

4. The ravens] The original may possibly mean ’traffickers’ (or merchants) or ’Arabians’: if this is the real meaning of the word, the command resembles that given in 1 Kings 17:9.

9. Zarephath] The ’Sarepta’ of Luke 4:26. The modern Sarafend. It lay between Tyre and Zidon, and, from its nearness to these localities, might be a safe, because unsuspected, hiding-place.

12. As the Lord.. liveth] Elijah was probably recognised by speech or dress as an Israelite. May eat it, and die] implying that the drought and consequent famine extended to Zarephath: see on Luke 4:1.

16. The barrel, etc.] cp. the miracle of Elisha (2 Kings 4:42-44).

18. To call.. to remembrance] The presence with her of a prophet whom the divine care watched over might (she feared) attract God’s attention to herself and to some past sin which seemed to have been overlooked.

19. A loft] better, ’the upper chamber’: cp. 2 Kings 4:10.

20. Hast thou.. evil] A like despondency is observable in the prophet’s language in 1 Kings 19:4. Here he complains that evil dogs his steps wherever he turns and fastens even on those who befriend him.

21. Stretched himself] As though to convey the warmth of life from his own frame to that of the dead child: cp. 2 Kings 4:34; Acts 20:10.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.