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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 17

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-6

Elijah’s Prophecy Concerning a Drought In 1 Kings 17:1-6 we have the story of Elijah the prophet proclaiming a drought unto King Ahab over the land and fleeing to the brook Cherith. This drought would last three and a half years as a form of divine judgment upon the wicked kingdom of northern Israel.

1 Kings 17:1 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.

1 Kings 17:1 Word Study on “Elijah” Strong says the Hebrew name “Elijah” “'Eliyah” ( אֵלִיָּה ) (H452) means, “God of Jehovah.” PTW says the name means, “Jehovah is my God.”

1 Kings 17:1 Word Study on “the Tishbite” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “Tishbite” ( תִּשְׁבִּי ) (H8664) refers to a town of Naphtali. He concludes this from the reference to this town in the Apocrypha writing of Tobit, who was also from the town of “Thisbe” ( Θισβή ) ( Tob 1:1-2 ). However, James Montgomery believes Elijah was from a town called “Tishbe” in Gilead, east of Jordan, rather than from Naphtali in the region of northern Israel west of Jordan. [35]

[35] James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Kings, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), 294.

Tob 1:1-2 , “The book of the words of Tobit, son of Tobiel, the son of Ananiel, the son of Aduel, the son of Gabael, of the seed of Asael, of the tribe of Nephthali; Who in the time of Enemessar king of the Assyrians was led captive out of Thisbe , which is at the right hand of that city, which is called properly Nephthali in Galilee above Aser.”

Strong tells us it refers to Tishbeh (in Gilead), and it literally means, “recourse.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 6 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “Tishbite 6.” It is only used in the phrase “Elijah the Tishbite” (1 Kings 17:1; 1Ki 21:17 ; 1 Kings 21:28; 2 Kings 1:3; 2 Kings 1:8; 2 Kings 9:36).

1 Kings 17:1 Comments We might ask the question as to what provoked the Lord to send a famine upon the land of Israel at this time in their history. The answer can be found in the preceding verses, which describes King Ahab as most wicked king that had yet ruled over His people Israel (1 Kings 16:29-34). Thus, God’s anger had been provoked to action in the form of a famine.

1 Kings 17:3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

1 Kings 17:3 Word Study on “Cherith” Strong says the Hebrew word “Cherith” “ker-eeth'” ( כְּרִית ) (H3747) means, “cut.”

1 Kings 17:6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

1 Kings 17:6 Comments - The ravens are scavengers by nature. We can see how God used their natural instincts to find food and then commanded them to carry it to Elijah rather than consuming in on themselves. I have watched the

1 Kings 17:6 Comments - When we are obedient to the Lord and put His Word first in our lives, He always meets our needs (Matthew 6:33), as He did with Elijah.

Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Verses 1-24

1 Kings 17:1 - 2 Kings 9:37 - The Ministry of Elijah and Elisha the Prophets - 1 Kings 17:1 to 2 Kings 9:37 records the ministries of Elijah and Elisha the prophets, who ministered under the Israeli kings Ahab (874-853 B.C.), Ahaziah (853-852 B.C.), and Jehoram (852-841 B.C.), which reflects a thirty-year period. It is important to note that the primary prophetic ministries of all of the prophets discussed in the books of 1 and 2 Kings were directed towards the kings (Nathan under King David, Ahijah the Shilonite and a man of God from Judah under King Jeroboam, Jehu the son of Hanani under King Baasha, Elijah and Elisha under Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram, an unnamed prophet under King Ahab, Micaiah the son of Imlah under King Jehoshaphat and King Ahab, Isaiah under King Hezekiah). However, Elijah and Elisha occasionally ministered to individuals, such as the widow of Zarephath, the widow of a prophet, and the noble woman of Shunem.

Of these prophets, Elijah was clearly given a divine commission to anoint new kings over Syria and Israel (1 Kings 19:15-17), of which his successor Elisha fulfilled. These two prophets fulfilled their ministries by anointing kings and prophesying into their lives, which is evident by the fact that the narrative material for these two prophets ends when Elisha completes this commission by predicting the rise of Hazael as king over Syria, whom Elijah had anointed (2 Kings 8:0), and anointing Jehu as king over Israel (2 Kings 9:0). The following outline reveals the fact that Elijah’s divine commission was given to him close to the beginning of his ministry and finds its fulfilment at the close of Elisha’s ministry.

The Ministry of Elijah

1 Kings 17:1-7 Elijah Prophesies a 3½ Year Drought

1 Kings 17:8-16 Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath

1 Kings 17:17-24 Elijah Raises the Widow’s Son

1 Kings 18:1-46 Elijah Confronts Prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel

1 Kings 19:1-21 Elijah’s Divine Commission on Mount Horeb

1 Kings 20:1-35 Israel Defeats the Syrians

1 Kings 20:36-43 A Prophet Judges King Ahab

1 Kings 21:1-29 King Ahab Murders Naboth for His Vineyard

1 Kings 22:1-40 King Ahab Killed in Battle

1 Kings 22:41-50 Jehoshaphat Reigns Over Judah

1 Kings 22:51 -2 Kings 1:18 The Reign of Ahaziah Over Israel

2 Kings 2:1-18 Elijah’s Rapture

The Ministry of Elisha

2 Kings 2:19-22 The Healing of the Water

2 Kings 2:23-25 The Bears Maul the Youths

2 Kings 3:1-27 The Rebellion of the Moabites

2 Kings 4:1-7 The Widow’s Multiplication of Oil

2 Kings 4:8-37 The Resurrection of the Shunammite’s Son

2 Kings 4:38-41 The Healing of the Pot of Stew

2 Kings 4:42-44 The Feeding of One Hundred Prophets

2 Kings 5:1-27 The Healing of Naaman’s Leprosy

2 Kings 6:1-7 The Floating Axe Head

2 Kings 6:8-23 The Blinding of the Syrian Army

2 Kings 6:24 to 2 Kings 7:20 The Besiege of Samaria by Syria

2 Kings 8:1-6 The Widow of Shunammite’s Land Restored

2 Kings 8:7-15 The Prediction of Hazael’s Reign over Syria

2 Kings 8:16-24 The Reign of Jehoram Over Judah

2 Kings 8:25 to 2 Kings 9:37 Ahaziah’s Reign Over Judah & Jehu Over Israel

This outline reveals that Elisha, having received a double anointing from Elijah, performed approximately doubled the number of miracles performed by Elijah. Although both prophets worked numerous miracles among the Israelites, their primary role was to speak God’s Word to anoint new kings to reign over Syria and Israel.

The Ministries of Elijah and Elisha Reflected in the New Testament We find a number of references to the ministry of Elijah in the New Testament. Luke refers to the famine prophesied by Elijah and the healing of Naaman by Elisha (Luke 4:25-27), and to Elijah calling fire down from heaven (Luke 9:54); and the epistle of James refers to Elijah’s earnest prayer (James 5:17-18). In addition, because of his rapture, the first-century Jews believed Elijah would return again and restore the kingdom of Israel. Therefore, Jesus Christ taught in the Gospels that Elijah served as a type and figure of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:11-13), and the angel Gabriel told Zacharias that John the Baptist would go forth in the power and spirit of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Those who stood at the Cross believed Jesus was calling for Elijah to deliver Him (Matthew 27:47-49).

Luke 9:54, “And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?”

Matthew 17:11-13, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”

Luke 1:17, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Elijah’s prayer to God on Mount Horeb regarding Israel’s backsliding and God’s reply that He has a remnant is mentioned within the context of Israel’s future redemption (Romans 11:3-4), where Paul explains that there is a remnant of Jews who believe in the Messiah just as there was a remnant during the time of Elijah (Romans 11:5).

Verses 7-16

Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath 1 Kings 17:7-16 gives us the account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

1 Kings 17:7-16 Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath In his message The God of the Breakthrough Jerry Savelle tells the story of one of his divine visitations in which the Lord explained to him that the Church was living in a mode of lack, getting by financially from week to week. He was in his hotel room while ministering in Liberty, Texas and the Lord appeared to him. Jesus said to him that there were three things required for anyone to receive a supernatural breakthrough. The Lord took him to the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

1. One Must Have A Prophetic Word from God - The first thing that is required for a breakthrough is a prophetic word from God, a “Thus saith the Lord!” This comes most often from spending time in prayer so that we can know God’s mind. The widow of Zarephath was in lack to the point of dying. She intended on dying after her day’s meal (1 Kings 17:12). Elijah’s word was intended to change her situation drastically from “I have not” (1 Kings 17:12) to having more than enough (1 Kings 17:15-16).

2. One Must Have a Willingness to Obey - Once a prophet word comes, there must be a willingness to obey that word. The Scripture says, “And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah.” (1 Kings 17:15)

3. One Must Sow a Seed - Obedience will require the sowing of a seed. People are often “need-minded” while God is “seed-minded.” The widow had to sow a significant seed in order to release her faith. The word “significance” means that something has special meaning to you. She gave all that she had.

Jesus went on to tell Jerry Savelle that if God’s people will apply these laws of prosperity, the God of the breakthrough would visit their house. When Jerry asked the Lord for a Scripture to support this statement, the Lord gave him Genesis 50:24, which says, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” The last thing that the Lord said to Jerry was to tell them that once they release that seed, the depth of their praise would determine the magnitude of their breakthrough. [36]

[36] Jerry Savelle, interviewed by Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

1 Kings 17:10-11 Comments Giving and Receiving - Elijah asked for a drink of water and a morsel of bread so that she might be able to give what little affection she had to God. In return, God could pour out His divine love into her life. It is the same principle that we find when Jesus asked the woman at the well to give him a drink. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts:

“‘Give and ye shall receive’ is a spiritual law that holds true as much between thyself and God as between man and his fellowman. Even more so, for this is a higher plane of operation. Learn it on the highest plane, and it will become simple and automatic at the human level. Even as I said to the woman at the well (knowing her need of true satisfaction) ‘Give Me a drink’, so I say to you, Give Me a portion of the love ye have even though it be limited and natural, and I will give you My love in return. Love that is infinite. Love that is abounding. Love that will gush forth from thy life to refresh others. Give Me just a cupful of your limited affection. I long for it. I weep for it as I wept for the love of Jerusalem. I will pour out upon you such love as ye have never known. Love that will flood your whole being with such satisfaction as ye never dreamed possible to experience except in Heaven. Lo, I beg of thee, ‘Give Me a drink; Or in the language of Elijah, ‘Bake me a little cake first’, and thou wilt never lack for meal and oil.” [37]

[37] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 45-6.

1 Kings 17:12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

1 Kings 17:12 “I am gathering two sticks” Comments - Peter Pett, in his work “The Use of Numbers in the Ancient Near East and In Genesis,” studies the use of numbers in the ancient world by looking at modern-day primitive tribes. He suggests that the woman in 1 Kings 17:12 is really saying, “I am gathering a few sticks.” If she were gathering many sticks, she would have said, “I am gathering three sticks.” He supports this statement by noting that in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, the symbol that was later used for the number three originally represented the concept of “many.” Pett also refers to Neugebauer’s work, “In the Exact Sciences in Antiquity,” where he describes the growth of numbers in ancient Sumer. Pett says, “He points out that the word used for ‘one’ (as) is the same word as that for ‘man,’ the word for ‘two’ (min) is the same as that for ‘woman,’ and the word for ‘three’ is the same as that for ‘many.’” Thus, Pett suggests that “two sticks” is used as a generality for the concept of “few.” [38]

[38] Peter Pett, “The Use of Numbers in the Ancient Near East and in Genesis,” [on-line]; accessed 3 August 2009; available from http://www.geocities.com/genesiscommentary/numbers.html; Internet.

Another example of the use of the number “two” is found in 2 Kings 5:10, where we are told that Elisha saved the king of Israel “not once nor twice.” Here again, the number two represents a few times, while anything above it represents many times.

2 Kings 6:10, “And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.”

In contrast, the number “ten” is used throughout the Scriptures to represent the concept of “many.” This is probably because someone finishes counting when he has counted all of his fingers.

Genesis 31:7, “And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times ; but God suffered him not to hurt me.”

Genesis 31:41, “Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times .”

Numbers 14:22, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times , and have not hearkened to my voice;”

Nehemiah 4:12, “And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times , From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.”

Job 19:3, “These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.”

Daniel 1:20, “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”

Daniel 7:10, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.”

Revelation 5:11, “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ;”

1 Kings 17:15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

1 Kings 17:15 Comments - Each day the widow had to go to the barrel of meal and cruse of oil and make Elijah a meal by faith.

1 Kings 17:16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

1 Kings 17:16 Comments - Each day the widow sowed a seed by giving to Elijah the prophet of God, and each day the Lord multiplied her seed.

Verses 17-24

Elijah Raises the Widow’s Son From the Dead 1 Kings 17:17-24 records the story of Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead. We have a similar story in 2 Kings 4:8-37 where Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead.

The death of a son meant that there would be no provision for a mother when she becomes widowed. Therefore, in one aspect of her request the widow of Zarephath was asking for provisions from him since she had provided for Elisha.

1 Kings 17:18 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?

1 Kings 17:18 “art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance” Scripture References -

Psalms 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

1 Kings 17:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.

1 Kings 17:21 Comments - We find a similar story in 2 Kings 4:34 where Elisha raised a child from the dead. Elisha used the same procedure that he has learned from Elijah of lying prostrate upon the child’s body.

2 Kings 4:34, “And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.”

1 Kings 17:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.

1 Kings 17:24 Comments The purpose of the narrative material that describes the miracles of Elijah and Elisha is to serve as testimonies to the fulfilment of God’s Word in their ministries, thus, qualifying them as genuine prophets of the Lord God of Israel. For example, 1 Kings 17:24 closes its narrative story with the widow of Zarephath testifying that Elijah was truly a prophet of God. In a similar manner, the Elijah-Elisha narrative material will close with a final declaration of the fulfilment of Elijah’s word (2 Kings 9:36-37).

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-kings-17.html. 2013.
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