Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 13:2

He cried against the altar by the word of the Lord , and said, "O altar, altar, thus says the Lord , ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.'"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Beth-El;   Calf;   Intercession;   Jeroboam;   Josiah;   Judgments;   Prophecy;   Reproof;   Rulers;   Thompson Chain Reference - Births Foretold;   Children;   Home;   Idolatrous;   Israel;   Israel-The Jews;   Josiah;   Kings of Israel;   Leaders;   Manifestations, Special Divine;   Mysteries-Revelations;   Priests;   Religious;   Signs Given;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Calves of Jeroboam;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Iddo;   Josiah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Jeroboam;   Josiah;   Prophecy, prophet;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Jeroboam;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Elijah;   Jeroboam;   Prophet;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   High Place;   Jeroboam;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jadon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethel ;   Josiah ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Josiah;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Law of Moses;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Jeroboam;   Prophecy;   Prophets;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Cremation;   High Place;   Josiah;   Old Prophet, the;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Cremation;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He cried against the altar - He denounced the destruction of this idolatrous system.

A child shall be born - Josiah by name - This is one of the most remarkable and most singular prophecies in the Old Testament. It here most circumstantially foretells a fact which took place three hundred and forty years after the prediction; a fact which was attested by the two nations. The Jews, in whose behalf this prophecy was delivered, would guard it most sacredly; and it was the interest of the Israelites, against whom it was levelled, to impugn its authenticity and expose its falsehood, had this been possible. This prediction not only showed the knowledge of God, but his power. He gave, as it were, this warning to idolatry, that it might be on its guard, and defend itself against this Josiah whenever a person of that name should be found sitting on the throne of David; and no doubt it was on the alert, and took all prudent measures for its own defense; but all in vain, for Josiah, in the eighteenth year of his reign, literally accomplished this prophecy, as we may read, 2 Kings 23:15-20. And from this latter place we find that the prophecy had three permanent testimonials of its truth.

  1. The house of Israel;
  • The house of Judah; and,
  • 3. The tomb of the prophet who delivered this prophecy, who, being slain by a lion, was brought back and buried at Beth-el, the superscription on whose tomb remained till the day on which Josiah destroyed that altar, and burnt dead men's bones upon it. See above, 2 Kings 23:16-18.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-13.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    A child shall be born … Josiah by name - Divine predictions so seldom descend to such particularity as this, that doubts are entertained, even by orthodox theologians, with respect to the actual mention of Josiah‘s name by a prophet living in the time of Jeroboam. Only one other instance that can be considered parallel occurs in the whole of Scripture - the mention of Cyrus by Isaiah. Of course no one who believes in the divine foreknowledge can doubt that God could, if He chose, cause events to be foretold minutely by his prophets; but certainly the general law of his Providence is, that He does not do so. If this law is to be at any time broken through, it will not be capriciously. Here it certainly does not appear what great effect was to be produced by the mention of Josiah‘s name so long before his birth; and hence, a doubt arises whether we have in our present copies the true original text. The sense is complete without the words “Josiah by name;” and these words, if originally a marginal note, may easily have crept into the text by the mistake of a copyist. It is remarkable that, where this narrative is again referred to in Kings (marginal reference), there is no allusion to the fact that the man of God had prophesied of Josiah “by name.”

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-13.html. 1870.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord,.... By his order and command:

    and said, O altar, altar; addressing himself not to Jeroboam, but the altar, thereby reproving his stupidity, the altar being as ready to hear as he; and because that was what moved the indignation of the Lord; and the word is repeated, to show the vehemency of the prophet's spirit, and his zeal against it; though the Jews commonly say it respects both altars, that at Dan, as well as this at Bethel:

    thus saith the Lord, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; who was not born until three hundred years after this, according to the Jewish writersF1Pirke Eliezer, c. 17. : but it is generally reckoned to be more, even three hundred and fifty or three hundred and sixty years; this is a clear proof of the prescience, predetermination, and providence of God with respect to future events, contingent ones, such as depend upon the will of men; for what more so than giving a name to a child?

    upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee; all which was fulfilled by Josiah, 2 Kings 23:15, it may be read, "the bones of a man", which the Jews understand of Jeroboam; but may only signify that, instead of the bones of beasts, which were burnt on it, the bones of men should be burnt, and even of the priests themselves; a glaring proof this of the truth of prophecy, and of divine revelation.

    Copyright Statement
    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-13.html. 1999.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.

    The altar — And consequently, against all that worship.

    O altar — He directs his speech to the altar, because the following signs were wrought upon it.

    Josiah — Which being done above three hundred years after this prophecy, plainly shews the absolute certainty of God's providence; and fore-knowledge even in the most contingent things. For this was in itself uncertain, and wholly depended upon man's will, both as to the having of a child, and as to the giving it this name. Therefore God can certainly and effectually over-rule man's will which way he pleaseth; or else it was possible, that this prediction should have been false; which is blasphemous to imagine.

    The priests — The bones of the priests, 2 Kings 23:15,16, whereby the altar should be defiled. How bold was the man, that durst attack the king in his pride, and interrupt the solemnity he was proud of? Whoever is sent on God's errand, must not fear the faces of men. It was above three hundred and fifty years ere this prophecy was fulfilled. Yet it is spoken of as sure and nigh at hand. For a thousand years are with God as one day.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-13.html. 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    1 Kings 13:2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.

    Ver. 2. And he cried against the altar.] Directing his speech to it out of detestation of such an abomination: and as having no hope to prevail with Jeroboam, who stood by it, and was more insensible than that altar, or than the heap of stones that Bede once preached unto.

    Behold, a child shall be born.] Above three hundred years hence. Future events - such as are contingent - are known to God only. For prophecies this rule is given; when the prophets foretold things ut futura in seipsis, then they always fell out; but when they foretold them only as in their causes, they might fall out, or not, as Isaiah 38:1, 1 Kings 21:20, John 3:4.

    And men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.] Other men’s bones beside priests’. Jeroboam’s likely, who upon this prophecy should have made all "the stones of his altars as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder: this is all the fruit, to take away his sin,." [Isaiah 27:9]

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-13.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    1 Kings 13:2

    These words are a prophecy against the form of worship set up in the kingdom of Israel. Consider what this kingdom and this worship were, and how this woe came to be uttered by a prophet of God.

    I. When Solomon fell into idolatry, he broke what may be called his coronation oath, and at once forfeited God's favour. In consequence a message came from Almighty God revealing what the punishment of his sin would be. He might be considered as having forfeited his kingdom for himself and his posterity. In the reign of his son Rehoboam ten tribes out of twelve revolted from their king. In this they were quite inexcusable. Because the king did not do his duty to them, this was no reason why they should not do their duty to him. Say that he was cruel and rapacious, still they might have safely trusted the miraculous providence of God to have restrained the king by His prophets and to have brought them safely through.

    II. That Jeroboam was an instrument in God's hand to chastise Solomon's sin is plain; and there is no difficulty in conceiving how a wicked man, without its being any excuse for him, still may bring about the Divine purposes. God had indeed promised him the kingdom, but He did not require map's crime to fulfil His promise. Jeroboam ought to have waited patiently God's time; this would have been the part of true faith. But he had not patience to wait; he was tried and found wanting.

    III. It is not surprising, after such a beginning, that he sinned further and more grievously. His sins in regard to religious worship depended on this principle, that there is no need to attend to the positive laws and the outward forms and ceremonies of religion so long as we attend to the substance. He was but putting another emblem of God in the place of the cherubim. Yet after all his wise counsels and bold plans he has left but his name and title to posterity, "Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin."

    J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. III., p. 60.


    References: 1 Kings 13:6.—R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 92. 1 Kings 13:7, 1 Kings 13:8.—A. Rowland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 165. 1 Kings 13:7-15.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 23. 1 Kings 13:8, 1 Kings 13:16, 1 Kings 13:19.—Ibid., vol. ix., p. 23. 1 Kings 13:18.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 3rd series, p. 72.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/1-kings-13.html.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    He cried against the altar; and consequently, against all that worship, which is oft signified by the name of the altar. See Isaiah 19:19 1 Corinthians 9:13 Hebrews 7:13 13:10. O altar, altar; he directs his speech to the altar, partly because the following signs were wrought upon it, and partly to signify that Jeroboam would no more regard his words than the altar did, and yet they should take effect.

    A child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; which being done above three hundred years after this prophecy, plainly shows the absolute certainty of God’s providence and foreknowledge, even in the most contingent things. For this was in itself uncertain, and wholly depended upon man’s will, both as to the having of a child, and as to the giving it this name. Therefore God can certainly and effectually overrule man’s will which way he pleaseth; or else it was possible that this prediction should have been false, which is blasphemous to imagine.

    Upon thee shall he offer the priests; synecdoehically, the bones of the priests, 2 Kings 23:15,16, whereby the altar should be defiled.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-13.html. 1685.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    2.Josiah by name — This precise description of a future event, and naming of the chief person, is, of course, with the rationalists, ample proof that the whole thing was written after the events had occurred. But all their reasoning proceeds from the gratuitous assumption that such predictions could never have thus occurred, and that all such records of the supernatural are mythical or legendary. The devout believer sees in this accurate portrayal of a future event only one instance out of many in the chain of Old Testament history and revelation. Isaac, (Genesis 17:19,) Solomon, (1 Chronicles 22:9,) and Cyrus, (Isaiah 45:1,) were also named before their birth. For the literal fulfilment of this prophecy, see 2 Kings 23:15-20.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-13.html. 1874-1909.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    1 Kings 13:2. He cried against the altar — And consequently against all the worship performed at it. O altar, altar — He directs his speech against the altar, because the following signs were to be wrought upon it. Behold, a child shall be born, &c. — This prophecy is the more wonderful, because it foretels of what family the child should spring, and what should be his name; and in the accomplishment of it we see the absolute certainty of God’s providence and foreknowledge, even in the most contingent things. For the particulars here mentioned, namely, the having a child, and the giving it this name, were in themselves things as uncertain, dependent on man’s will, and contingent as any events can be: and yet God exactly foretold them, and they came to pass accordingly. God therefore can foresee how the will of man, and of numbers of men, whose wills are dependant on each other, will be influenced in all possible circumstances, and that for ages to come; or, he can certainly and effectually, and yet without infringing or violating man’s liberty, overrule his will which way he pleaseth; otherwise it was possible this prediction might have been false, which it would be blasphemy to assert. Upon it shall he offer the priests — The meaning is not that he should offer or burn the priests alive, but that he should slay the priests of the high places, and then burn their bones, as he did the bones of those that had been buried, and thereby should defile this altar. How bold was the man that durst thus attack the king in his pride, and interrupt the solemnity in which he gloried! Those who are sent on God’s errand, must not fear the faces of men. Although it was so many ages ere this prophecy was to be fulfilled, the time is spoken of as sure and nigh at hand. For a thousand years are with God as one day.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-13.html. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Altar, in which the prodigy was to take place, for the instruction of all. (Menochius) --- Name: 340 (Calmet) or 350 years after. (Salien) --- This prediction proves the truth of the religion; for, though the author of this book might have seen it verified, yet he would undoubtedly insert the very words of the prophet, which were known to all the people, 4 Kings xxiii. 15. In this passage we do not read that Josias destroyed the priests. But ver. 19., and 20., it is clearly insinuated. (Calmet) --- Who now. He will reduce their bones to ashes upon this altar; or, those who shall imitate these priests, shall be there burnt alive. (Haydock)

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-13.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    O altar, altar. Figures of speech Apostrophe and Epizeuxis.

    child = son.

    Josiah by name. Cyrus is the only other so foretold (177 years before). Josiah knew (2 Kings 23:17, 2 Kings 23:18). Cyrus knew (2 Chronicles 36:22, 2 Chronicles 36:23. Isaiah 44:28).

    offer (in sacrifice) = slay, or slaughter. App-43.

    men"s: human. Hebrew. "adam. App-14.

    shall be. This was fulfilled in 2 Kings 23:16 (360 years later).

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-13.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.

    He cried against the altar - which is put for the whole system of worship organized in Israel.

    Behold, a child shall be born ... Josiah by name - (see the notes at 2 Kings 23:15.) This is one of the most remarkable prophecies recorded in the Scriptures; and in its clearness, circumstantial minuteness, and exact prediction of an event that took place 360 years after it, stands in striking contrast to the obscure and ambiguous oracles of the pagan. Being publicly uttered, it must have been well known to the people; and every Jew who lived at the accomplishment of the event must have been convinced of the truth of a religion connected with such a prophecy as this. A present sign was given of the remote event predicted, in a visible fissure being miraculously made on the altar. Incensed at the man's license of speech Jeroboam stretched out his hand, and ordered his attendants to seize the bold intruder: that moment the kings arm became stiff and motionless, and the altar split asunder, so that the fire and ashes fell on the floor. Overawed by the effects of his impiety, Jeroboam besought the prophets prayer. His request was acceded to, and the hand was restored to its healthy state.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-13.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (2) Thus saith the Lord.—This is one of those rather unfrequent prophecies found in Holy Scripture, which, not content to foreshadow the future in general outline, descend to striking particularity of detail. It has been indeed suggested that the words. “Josiah by name” are a marginal gloss which has crept into the text, or the insertion of the chronicler writing after the event, and not a part of the original prophetic utterance. The latter supposition is in itself not unlikely. But the mention of the name in prediction is exemplified in the well-known reference to Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28; and in this instance, as perhaps also in that, the name is significant (for Josiah means “one healed” or “helped by Jehovah”), and is not, therefore, a mere artificial detail. The particularity of prediction, which is on all hands recognised as exceptional, will be credible or incredible to us, according to the view which we take of the nature of prophetic prediction. If we resolve it into the intuitive sagacity of an inspired mind forecasting the future, because it sees more clearly than ordinary minds the germs of that future in the present, the particularity must seem incredible. If, on the other hand, we believe it to be the supernatural gift of a power to enter, in some measure, into “the mind of God,” in whose fore- knowledge all the future is already seen and ordained, then it will be to us simply unusual, but in no sense incredible, that from time to time foreknowledge of details, as well as generalities, should be granted. It is beyond controversy that the latter view is the one put forward in Holy Scripture, both in the Old Testament and in the New. Prophecy is, indeed, something higher and greater than supernatural prediction; but it claims to include such prediction, both as a test of mission from God, and as a necessary part of its revelation of the dispensations of God. On the fulfilment of this prediction, see 2 Kings 23:15-20.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-13.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
    O altar
    Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; 58:1; Jeremiah 22:29; Ezekiel 36:1,4; 38:4; Luke 19:40
    Josiah by name
    2 Kings 22:1,2; 23:15-18; 2 Chronicles 34:1,4-7; Isaiah 42:9; 44:26-28; 46:10; Isaiah 48:5-7
    offer
    2 Kings 23:15-17
    Reciprocal: Leviticus 10:1 - put incense;  Leviticus 26:30 - I will destroy;  1 Kings 13:32 - the saying;  1 Kings 20:35 - in the word;  2 Kings 2:2 - Bethel;  2 Kings 17:23 - as he had said;  2 Kings 17:27 - one of the priests;  2 Kings 23:16 - burned;  2 Kings 23:20 - he slew;  2 Chronicles 34:5 - he;  Ecclesiastes 3:2 - time to be born;  Isaiah 7:2 - the house;  Jeremiah 8:1 - GeneralEzekiel 6:4 - and I;  Ezekiel 37:4 - Prophesy;  Hosea 10:8 - their altars;  Amos 3:14 - I will;  Matthew 1:10 - Josias

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-13.html.