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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 1

 

 

Verse 1

AHAZIAH’S SICKNESS AND REPROOF BY ELIJAH, 2 Kings 1:1-8.

1. Moab rebelled — The Moabites had been subjected to Israel in the time of David, (2 Samuel 8:2,) and until the death of Ahab were a tributary nation. 2 Kings 3:4. This notice of the rebellion seems to be introduced here with an implied reference to the sickness of Ahaziah, which is immediately mentioned, as if it were one reason why no effort was made during this monarch’s reign to subdue the rebellion. The history of this revolt of Moab is resumed again at 2 Kings 3:4.

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Verse 2

2. A lattice in his upper chamber — That is, the latticed window of an upper room. Compare Song of Solomon 2:9. The windows of ancient Eastern houses had no glass. “They were only latticed, and thus gave free passage to the air and admitted light, while birds and bats were excluded. In winter the cold air was kept out by vails over the windows, or by shutters, with openings in them sufficient to admit light.” — Kitto.

And was sick — The consequence of his fall is thus told, but the particulars of his fall are not stated, and conjecture is here useless.

Baal-zebub the god of Ekron — The Fly-god was worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron, and the plague of flies in hot climates serves to account for the worship of a deity of this name. The word Baal in the composition of this idol’s name, taken in connexion with the fact that the king of Israel, who had adopted the Baal worship of Tyre, sends to Ekron to inquire, shows that there was a close relationship between the idolatry of Phenicia and Philistia; and on a silver coin of the Phenician town Aradus (Ezekiel 27:8, Arvad) is engraved the figure of a fly — a device having, probably, some reference to this same idol Baal-zebub. 1 Samuel 6:5, shows how the Philistines of Ekron hastened, in time of suffering, to make images of the things that plagued them. On Ekron, see at 1 Samuel 5:20. It was the chief seat of the worship of this god. The probable reason of Ahaziah’s sending to inquire of the god of Ekron was because of some special fame of this oracle.


Verse 3

3. Not a god in Israel — This inquiry of a strange god was at once a violation of the first commandment of the decalogue (Exodus 20:3) and an utter rejection of Jehovah, and deserved the judgment of death.


Verse 8

8. A hairy man — Literally, a man, a lord, of hair; lord of the hairy mantle. A rough garment, woven of goats’ hair, and fastened with a leather strap about his loins, formed, apparently, the sole dress of Elijah. “Inaccurately as the word mantle represents such a garment, it has yet become so identified with Elijah that it is impossible now to alter it. It is desirable therefore, to substitute “mantle” for “garment” in Zechariah 13:4, a passage from which it would appear that since the time of Elijah his garb had become the recognised sign of a prophet of Jehovah.” — Grove. The prophets were wont to wear a distinctive dress, expressive, in some way, of the nature of their work. Isaiah wore a garment of sackcloth, as a mark of sorrow and self-abasement for the sins of the people. Isaiah 20:2. John the Baptist attired himself like Elijah, (in whose spirit and power he came, Matthew 3:4;) and the outer garb was a representative of his inner character and spirit.


Verse 9

ELIJAH CALLS FIRE FROM HEAVEN, 2 Kings 1:9-16.

9. Sent unto him a captain of fifty — To take him by force, and bring him down.

He sat on the top of a hill — Perhaps it was the top of Carmel, though the place is uncertain.

Come down — This order of the king was haughty and bold, and, being sent with hostile purpose to the prophet, was virtually bidding defiance to the God of Israel, and demanded punishment. The manner and action of the captain and his fifty seem to have been as defiant and insulting as the order itself, and hence one reason of the severe judgment.


Verse 10

10. Let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty — This was a miracle of Divine judgment, and in perfect keeping with the spirit of the old dispensation, as many examples may be cited to show. Exodus 19:13, Exodus 1932; Exodus 10:27; Numbers 14:37; Numbers 16:21; Numbers 16:32; Numbers 16:35; Numbers 16:49; Numbers 25:4; Numbers 25:9. In this respect the new dispensation widely differs from the old. “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:51-56, where see notes. But it must not be understood that when our Lord rebuked the two disciples, and showed them the difference between the Law and the Gospel as to the spirit of each, he thereby blamed this act of Elijah. “He blamed the two disciples who dishonoured Elijah, by endeavouring to pervert his act into a precedent for a proposal which was altogether dissimilar to that act of Elijah, in all the circumstances of the case. Elijah was God’s minister for executing his Divine judgment. The two disciples were but the servants of their own anger. There was a fire in their breasts which God had never kindled; far was it from the Saviour of the world to second their earthly fire with his heavenly.” — Wordsworth.


Verse 11

11. Come down quickly — The manner of this second captain towards the prophet is even more insolent than that of the other.


Verse 12

12. The fire of God — These severe judgments were not the fallible Elijah’s work, but the work of Elijah’s God, who to the incorrigibly wicked is ever “a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29.


Verse 13

13. Fell on his knees before Elijah — This was very different from the manner of the two former.

These fifty thy servants — Not Ahaziah’s servants, but Elijah’s. This humble and reverential manner showed becoming respect for Elijah and his God, and turned away the fierce anger of Jehovah. Had the former captains observed like respect, the penal fire had not fallen.


Verse 15

15. Be not afraid of him — Notwithstanding all the wonders wrought by God through the ministry of Elijah, he ever continued a man of like passions with ourselves, and in this case needed the assuring voice of the angel in order to go with firmness and utter his message to the king himself.


Verse 17

DEATH OF AHAZIAH, 2 Kings 1:17-18.

17. He died according to the word of the Lord — His death, like that of the two companies of fifties, was a judgment from Heaven. It would not do to punish those messengers of the king for insolence towards Jehovah and his prophet, and let the king himself go clear. So this impious monarch is made to drag out his last days under the consciousness of being an object of Jehovah’s wrath.

Jehoram reigned in his stead — This Jehoram was a brother of Ahaziah, and succeeded him on the throne because he had no son.

In the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat — On the probable reason for this likeness of names among the kings of the two rival kingdoms, see note on 1 Kings 22:44. According to 1 Kings 22:42, Jehoshaphat reigned twenty-five years, and according to 2 Kings 3:1, Ahab’s son, Jehoram, began to reign in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat, whence it appears, as our margin expresses it, that Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, was made prorex some years before his father’s death. Compare also 2 Chronicles 21:3. But according to 2 Kings 8:16, Jehoshaphat’s Jehoram began to reign in the fifth year of Ahab’s Jehoram, which, according to the above statements, would be the twenty-third year of Jehoshaphat. Now, how could Ahab’s Jehoram begin to reign in the second year of Jehoshaphat’s Jehoram, and yet the latter begin to reign in the fifth year of the former? A solution of the difficulty, in which Usher, Lightfoot, Patrick, Keil, and Wordsworth substantially agree, is thus stated by the last-named commentator: “Jehoshaphat made two sessions of sovereignty to his son Jehoram — one partial and temporary, the other total and final. The first was made in the seventeenth year of his reign, because he then quitted Jerusalem in order to join Ahab against the Syrians, (1 Kings 22;) he then left his son Jehoram to act as viceroy in his absence. But in the twenty-third year of his reign Jehoshaphat associated his son Jehoram with him in the entire sovereignty, and therefore the eight years of that son (2 Kings 8:17) are not to be reckoned from Jehoshaphat’s death, but from the twenty-third year of his reign, two years before his death.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-1.html. 1874-1909.

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