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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 19

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verses 1-2

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 3

And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

And when he saw that, [ wayar' (H7200) The Jews, jealous of ascribing to the prophet the emotion of fear, as derogatory to his high character, have regulated the punctuation of this word so that it is referred to raa'aah (H7200), to see; instead of yaaree' (H3372), to be afraid. But it is evident from the whole tenor of the context that his hasty and distant flight was prompted by the influence of sudden fear].

He arose, and went for his life. He entered Jezreel full of hope. But a message from the incensed and hard-hearted queen, vowing speedy vengeance for her slaughtered priests, dispelled all his bright visions of the future. It is probable, however, that in the present temper of the people, even she could not have dared to lay violent hands on the Lord's server, and purposely threatened him because she could do no more. The threat produced the intended effect, because his faith suddenly failed him. He fled out of the kingdom into the southernmost part of the territories in Judah; nor did he deem himself safe even there, but dismissing his servant, he resolved to seek refuge among the mountain recesses of Sinai, and there longed for death (James 5:17) (Pye Smith's 'Scripture Testimony,' p. 380). This sudden and extraordinary depression of mind arose from too great confidence inspired by the miracles performed at Carmel, and by the disposition the people evinced there. Had he remained stedfast and immovable the impression on the mind of Ahab and the people generally might have been followed by good results. But he had been exalted above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7-9), and being left to himself, the great prophet, instead of showing the indomitable split of a martyr, fled from his post of duty.

Verse 4

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Went a day's journey into the wilderness - on the way from Beer-sheba to Horeb [a wide expanse of sand-hills, covered with the rotem (H7574) (not juniper, but broom shrub), whose tall and spreading branches, with their white leaves, afford a very cheering and refreshing shade]. 'The Rothem, or Retem,' says Robinson ('Biblical Researches,' 1:, p. 299), 'is the largest and most conspicuous shrub of these deserts, growing thickly in the valleys and water-courses. Our Arabs always selected the place of encampment (if possible) in a place where it grew, in order to be sheltered by it at night from the wind; and during the day, when they often went on in advance of the camels, we found them not unfrequently sitting or sleeping under a bush of retem, to protect them from the sun. Its roots are very bitter, and are regarded by the Arabs as yielding the best charcoal. It was in this very desert, a day's journey from Beer-sheba, which gave the name to one of the stations of the ancient Israelites, that Elijah lay, down and slept beneath a shrub of that name.' [The Septuagint retains the original name, hupokatoo Rathmen, under a Rathman; Syriac, under a terebinth tree.] His gracious God did not lose sight of His fugitive servant, but watched over him, and miraculously ministering to his wants, enabled him, in a better, but not wholly right frame of mind, by virtue of that supernatural supply, to complete his contemplated journey.

Verses 5-7

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

He ... did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb.

He re-enacted in his own person the leading of Israel through the wilderness. Trial was the essential quality common to both events. The food which the angel brought him, and which lasted for the whole time, corresponded to the manna. Horeb is called the mount of God, in consequence of the solemn manifestations on its summit (cf. Exodus 3:2 with 23, 34: see further, Hengstenberg, 'Pentateuch.' 1:, p. 172). At the same time, considering that the distance from Beer-sheba to mount Horeb is only a journey of eight or nine days, it is very probable that the number 40 should be understood indefinitely for a great length of time (see the notes at Genesis 8:6; Genesis 17:17).

Verse 9

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

He came thither unto a cave, [ 'el (H413) hamª`aaraah (H4631), to the cave; Septuagint, eis to speelaion; the identical cave in which Moses saw the Lord (Exodus 33:22)]. In the solitude of Sinai God appeared to instruct him. What doest thou here, Elijah? was a searching question addressed to one who had been called to so arduous and urgent a mission as his. By an awful exhibition of divine power he was made aware of the Divine Speaker who addressed him.

Verse 10

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains. He is not a physical agent, great or small. The wind the fire, the electricity, are ministers that do His pleasure, but they do not constitute a part of the nature, nor bear any resemblance to Him who is Lord. God is a spirit; and though the common mass of the Hebrew people might not have realized this great conception, yet there were certain individuals who, like Elijah, had more refined and elevated notions in regard to the pure spirituality of the divine nature. Progress had been made in religious knowledge from the time of the burning bush. The attention of the prophet was arrested by the phenomena that took place. His petulance was silenced, his heart was touched, and he was bid without delay return to the land of Israel, and prosecute the Lord's work there.

The design of this remarkable scene was to show Elijah that it was not according to the character of God to destroy or to coerce, but by the rational weapons of argument and preaching the Word, to persuade, the idolaters to abandon a false and to embrace the true, religion. But, to convince him that an idolatrous nation will not be unpunished, He commissions him to anoint three persons who were destined in Providence to avenge God's controversy with the people of Israel. Anointing is used synonymously with appointment (Judges 9:8), and is applied to all named, although Jehu alone had the consecrated oil poured over his head. 'The symbolical action and the figure are mixed up in a remarkable manner-an evident proof of the little importance attached to the material form, even in the case of the former. In the case of Hazael it was a symbol of the divine power which was to be imparted to him as an instrument of divine justice for the punishment of Israel. In other words, the appointment or exaltation of Hazael had a purely theocratic signification, as we may clearly perceive from the fact that Hazael was to be anointed in conjunction with Jehu and Elisha' (Hengstenberg, 'Christelegy,' 3:, pp. 126-136).

These persons were all three destined to be eminent instruments in achieving the destruction of idolaters, though in different ways. But of the three commissions Elijah personally executed only one-namely, the call of Elisha to be his assistant and successor, and by him the other two were accomplished (2 Kings 8:7-13; 2 Kings 9:1-10). Having thus satisfied the fiery zeal of the erring but sincere and pious prophet, the Lord proceeded to correct the erroneous impression under which Elijah had been labouring, of his being the sole adherent of the true religion in the land; for God, who seeth in secret, and knew all that were His, knew that there were 7,000 persons who had not done homage (literally, kissed the hand) to Baal Osculation was a common form of idolatrous worship (cf. Job 31:27; Hosea 13:2). Clemens Alexandrinus, in the seventh book of his 'Stromata,' gives a lengthened description of the various modes in which it was done.

Verses 12-15

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 16

And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

Abel-meholah - the meadow of dancing, in the valley of the Jordan.

Verses 17-18

And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

Elisha the son of Shaphat (of Abel meholah, the meadow of dancing) - a village of Isaachar, near Scythepolis, situated in a watered district. Most probably he belonged to a family distinguished for piety, and for their opposition to the prevailng calf-worship.

Plowing with twelve yoke of oxen - indicating that he was a man of substance. The eastern plow is a very simple, primitive implement. Usually a man plows with a one-handled plow and two heifers, holding the handle with his right hand and the cord with the left. It is just a part of a tree, very slightly altered, and fitful with an iron shoe or point. Elisha's twelve yoke of oxen can mean only that twelve plows were at work in other parts of the field, or perhaps more probably, as land was anciently measured by 'yokes of oxen,' an extent of soil had been plowed equal to twelve yokes, and he was drawing his labour to a close.

Elijah ... cast his mantle upon him. This was an investiture with the prophetic office. It is in this way that the Brahmins, the Persian Sooffees, and other priestly or sacred characters in the East are appointed-a mantle being, by some eminent priest thrown across their shoulders. The action of Elijah was probably accompanied by a benediction or utterance of some words, intimating to Elisha his call to the prophetic office. Elisha had probably been educated in the schools of the prophets. The anointing spoken of in the case of this prophet (1 Kings 19:16) must be considered a merely figurative term, denoting the impartation to him of the gifts of the Spirit.

Elijah passed by him - or passed on (apparently) without a moment's delay. [The Septuagint has: kai apeelthen ep' auton, and he departed from upon him - i:e., after having performed his commanded duty.]

Verse 20

And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?

What have I done to thee? - i:e., Go, but keep in mind the solemn ceremony I have just performed on thee. It is not I, but God, who calls thee. Do not allow any earthly affection to detain you from obeying His call.

Verse 21

And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Took a yoke of oxen - i:e., not above three years of age (1 Kings 1:9; Proverbs 15:17; Proverbs 22:13), either stall-fed or taken fresh from the pastures (1 Kings 4:23). Such a large preparation of animal food was reserved for festive occasions, and all the friends and domestics partook in succession of the viands. Having hastily prepared (2 Samuel 24:22) a farewell entertainment to his family and friends, he left his native place, and attached himself to Elijah as his minister [ wayªshwarªteehuw (H8334), and waited upon, attended him (2 Kings 3:11), as Joshua did to Moses (Joshua 1:1)]. According to Josephus, he at once received the prophetic afflatus, and commenced prophesying ('Antiquities,' b. 8:, ch. 13:, sec. 7).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-kings-19.html. 1871-8.
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