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The division of the Book of Kings at this point is inartificial and arbitrary. The present narrative obviously continues that of 1 Kings xxii. 51–53.


(1) Then.-And.

Moab rebelled against Israel.-David reduced Moab to vassalage (2 Sam. viii. 2; comp. chap. xxiii. 20). After that event, Scripture is silent as to the fortunes of Moab. It probably took occasion of the troubles which ensued upon the death of Solomon, to throw off the yoke of Israel. The famous Moabite stone supplements the sacred history by recording the war of liberation which Mesha, king of Moab, successfully waged against the successors of Ahab. The inscription opens thus: "I am Mesha, son of Chemosh-gad, king of Moab the Dibonite. My father reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father. And I made this bamah ("high place," "pillar") for Chemosh in Korha, a bamah of salvation, for he saved me from all the assailants, and let me see my desire upon mine enemies. . . Omri, king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. And his son (i.e., Ahab) succeeded him, and he, too, said, 'I will oppress Moab.' In my days he said (it), but I saw my desire upon him and his house, and Israel perished utterly for ever. And Omri occupied the land of Medeba, and dwelt therein, and (they oppressed Moab he and) his son forty years. And Chemosh looked (?) on it (i.e., Moab) in my days." From this unique and unhappily much injured record it appears that Omri had reduced Moab again to subjection, and that Ahab, who, like his father, was a strong sovereign, had maintained his hold upon the country. The death of Ahab and the sickness of Ahaziah would be Moab's opportunity. The revolt of Moab is mentioned here parenthetically. The subject is continued in chap. iii. 4-27. (See the Notes there.) (2-16) A new and (according to Ewald and Thenius) later fragment of the history of Elijah.

(2) Through a lattice.-Rather, the lattice, i.e., the latticed window of the chamber on the palace roof, looking into the court below. The word rendered "through" (bead) implies that Ahaziah was leaning

Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. (3) But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baal-zebub

out over the window-sill. (Comp. chap. ix. 30; Ps. xiv. 2.) He perhaps fell into a gallery underneath, as the palace would be several storeys high, and he was not killed by his fall. The word sebākhāh means "net" in Job xviii. 8, and decorative "network' in metal in 1 Kings vii. 18; 2 Chron. iv. 12. The Rabbis explain it here as a sort of skylight to the chamber beneath the upper chamber, or a spiral stairway; both improbable. He sent messengers.-By Jezebel's advice. (S Ephrem.)

Baal-zebub.-Here only in the Old Testament. "Lord of Flies" is generally compared with the Greek Zeùs àñoμvîos, or μvíaypos, the "fly-averting Zeus" of the Eleans (Paus., viii. 26, 4), and it is no doubt true that flies are an extraordinary pest in the East. But when we remember that "myiomancy," or divination by watching the movements of flies, is an ancient Babylonian practice, we can hardly doubt that this is the true significance of the title "Baal-zebub." In the Assyrian deluge tablet the gods are said to have gathered over Izdubar's sacrifice "like flies" (kima zumbie). The later Jewish spelling (Beeλ(eBoùλ) pro. bably contains an allusive reference to the Talmudic words zèbel ("dung”), zibbûl (“ dunging ").

Ekron.-Akir (Josh. xiii. 3). Of the five Philistine cities it lay farthest north, and so nearest to Samaria. Recover.-Literally, live from, or after.

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Disease. Sickness, viz., that occasioned by his fall. The LXX. adds, "and they went to inquire of him." (3) But the angel said.-Rather, Now the angel... had said. "The angel" is right. (Comp. chap. xix. 35.) Reuss strangely renders: révélation de l'Eternel parla;" and adds the note, "Et non pas un ange (!).

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Arise, go up.-Samaria lay on a hill, and the prophet was to meet the messengers at the gates.

King of Samaria.-Not Israel, a mark of Judæan feeling.

And say.-Literally, speak. LXX., Vulgate, and Arabic add "saying," but comp. 1 Kings xxi. 5, 6. Is it not because.-Omit "not." So verse 6. Ye go. Are going.

A God in Israel.-Comp. Micah iv. 5: "For all peoples will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever."

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the god of Ekron? (4) Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.

(5) And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back? (6) And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to enquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up,

1 Heb., The bed,

whither thou art
down from it.

gone up,

to Ahaziah.

but shalt surely die. (7) And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? (8) And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.

(9) Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath the manner of the said, Come down. (10) And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down.

2 Heb., What was


(4) Now therefore.-For this act of faithlessness, and to prove by the event that there is a God in Israel, whose oracle is unerring. (Comp. 1 Kings xviii. 24, seq.) Thus saith.-Or, hath said. After these words the prophetic announcement comes in rather abruptly. Perhaps the verse has been abridged by the compiler, and in the original account from which he drew, the words of verse 6 may have followed here, "Go, return to the king .. Ekron."

And Elijah departed.-On the Lord's errand. The LXX. adds, "and said unto them," or "told them," which is perhaps due to a copyist's eye having wandered to the words "unto him," or "unto them," in next verse (Thenius).

(5) Turned back unto him.-Unto Ahaziah, as the Syriac and Vulgate actually read. Literally, And the messengers returned unto him, and he said, &c. Though Elijah was unknown to the envoys, such a menacing interposition would certainly be regarded as a Divine warning, which it was perilous to disregard. Why are ye now turned back? Why have ye returned? with emphasis on the "Why."

(6) Thou sendest.-Art sending. Elijah had said, ye are going, in his question to the messengers (verse 3). (See Note on verse 4.) Bähr is wrong in supposing the servants anxious to shift the prophet's blame from themselves to their lord, or that Elijah had addressed them as accomplices in the king's guilt. They had no choice but to obey the royal mandate.


(7) He said.-Spake. (See Note on verse 3.) What manner of man ?-See margin. word mishpat here denotes the external characteristics and visible peculiarities by which a man is distinguished (shaphat) from his fellows. (Comp. our expressions "sort," "fashion," "style," and the Vulgate, Cujus figuræ et habitus est vir ille ?" LXX., кpíσis. Syriac, appearance," "look." Targum, vóμos.)

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(8) Answered.-Said unto.

An hairy man.-Literally, a lord of hair. This might refer to length of hair and beard (so LXX., daoùs, "hirsute," " "shaggy"); or to a hairy cloak or mantle. The second alternative is right, because a hairy mantle was a mark of the prophetic office from Elijah downwards. (Comp. Zech. xiii. 4, "a rough garment;" and Matt. iii. 4, where it is said of John Baptist-the second Elias-that " he was clad in camel's hair," and had " a leather girdle about his loins.") The

girdle, as Thenius remarks, would not be mentioned alone. The common dress of the Bedawis is a sheep or goat's skin with the hair left on.

Girt with a girdle of leather.-Such as only the poorest would wear. The girdle was ordinarily of linen or cotton, and often costly. The prophet's dress was a sign of contempt for earthly display, and of sorrow for the national sins and their consequences, which it was his function, to proclaim. (Comp. Isa. xx. 2.)

(9) Then the king sent.- Heb., And he sent. With hostile intentions, as is proved by his sending soldiers, and by the words of the angel in verse 15. (Comp. 1 Kings xviii. 8, xxii. 26, seq.)

He sat.-Was sitting. The LXX. has "Elias was sitting," which is probably original.

A captain of fifty.-The army of Israel was organised by thousands, hundreds, and fifties, each of which had its "captain" (sar). (Comp. Num. xxxi. 14, 48; 1 Sam. viii. 12.)

On the top of an hill.-Rather, the hill, i.e., above Samaria. Others think, Carmel, from 1 Kings xviii. 42; chap. ii. 25.

He spake.-LXX., "the captain of fifty spake." Thou man of God.-Heb., man of the god, i.e., the true God. (So in verses 11, 13, infra.)

The king. In the Hebrew emphatic, as if to say, the king's power is irresistible, even by a man of God. The true God was thus insulted in the person of His prophet.

Come down.—Or, Pray come down-in a tone of ironical politeness (redah, precative).

(10) And Elijah answered and said. So Syriac and LXX. Heb., and spake.

If.-Heb., And if a man of the god I (truly be). This "and" closely connects the prophet's reply with the captain's demand. All the versions except the LXX. omit it, with some Hebrew MSS.

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fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. (11) Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. (12) And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy 1 Heb., bowed. fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. (13) And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. (14) Behold, there came fire down from heaven,

cating His own cause by the means most adequate to the necessities of the time, viz., a manifest miracle.

(11) Again also he sent.-Although he had heard what had befallen his former envoys.

He answered.-LXX., "went up" (way-yaʻal for way-ya'an), as in verses 9 and 13. And said.-Heb., spake. Yet some MSS., and Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, as Authorised Version. Thus hath the king said.-Or, commanded ('āmar).

Come down quickly.-"Impudentior fuit hic ... priore; tum quia audito ejus supplicio non resipuit, tum quia auxit impudentiam addendo 'Festina' (a Lapide). (But see Note on verse 12.)

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(12) Said (spake) unto them.-LXX. and Syriac, "unto him," which seems original.

The fire of God.-"The " is not in the Hebrew. The LXX., Vulgate, Arabic, and Targum, with some MSS., omit "of God." The phrase occurs in the sense of lightning (Job i. 16).

Consumed him and his fifty.-According to Thenius, the story of the destruction of the captains and their companies emphasises (1) the authority properly belonging to the prophet; (2) the help and protection which Jehovah bestows on His prophets. The captains and their men are simply conceived as instruments of a will opposing itself to Jehovah, and are accordingly annihilated. These considerations, he thinks, render irrelevant all questions about the moral justice of their fate, and comparative degrees of guilt. (Comp. chaps. ii. 23, seq., vi. Î7.)

(13) A captain of the third fifty.-Literally, a captain of a third fifty. But verse 11, "another captain of fifty," and the phrase which follows here, "the third captain of fifty," indicate the right reading, “ a third captain of fifty. (So LXX. and Vulg.)

Fell.-Margin. (Comp. Isa. xlvi. 1, "Bel boweth down.")

Besought him.-Begged favour, grace, or compassion of him (Gen. xlii. 21; Hosea xii. 5).

These fifty thy servants.-Or, these thy servants, fifty (men), laying stress on the number of lives. Be precious in thy sight.-Comp. Ps. lxxii. 14; 1 Sam. xxvi. 21.

B.C. 896.

Elijah and the King.

and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. (15) And the angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.

(16) And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.

(17) So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he

(14) Burnt.-Eat, or devoured (verses 10, 12). The two captains of the former fifties.Rather, the former two captains of fifties.

Therefore let my life now. And now (i.e., this time) let my life. Some MSS., and LXX., Vulg., and Arabic add the precative "now," that is, "I pray," as in verse 13 ("I pray thee "na').

(15) Said. So LXX. (elπe). Heb., spake. Vulgate and Arabic add "saying." (See Note on verse 3.) Go down.-From the mountain top into the city. With him.-'Othô, later form for 'ittô, which some MSS. read here.


Be not afraid of him-i.e., the captain. former two, as being the willing tools of the king, might have shown their zeal by instantly slaying the prophet. (Comp. the case of the knights who murdered St. Thomas of Canterbury.)

(16) And he said.-Heb., spake. The LXX. adds, “and Elijah said."

Is it not because.-Omit "not." The question is here parenthetic, the connection of the main sentence being, "Forasmuch as thou hast sent . . . therefore thou shalt not come down," &c.

Off.-From, as in verses 4 and 6. The words of the oracle are thrice repeated verbally.


"Here, just as in other cases," says Bähr, " Elijah reappears suddenly and disappears again, and no one knows whence he comes or whither he goes." peculiar form of the story suggests that it was derived in the first instance from oral tradition rather than from a written source.

(17, 18) Concluding remarks added by the compiler. (17) And Jehoram.-LXX. (Alex.), Syriac, and Vulgate add "his brother," an expression which has fallen out of the Hebrew text, owing to its resemblance to the next (tahtāw, “ip his stead"). (Comp. chap. iii. 1, "son of Ahab.")

In the second year of Jehoram.-Vat. LXX., "in the eighteenth year," which is probably right. (Comp. 1 Kings xxii. 52, "Ahaziah reigned over Israel in. the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat. and he reigned two years." Either, therefore, our present Heb. text is corrupt, or the compiler followed a different source in this place.) Thenius proposes the

Elijah and Elisha


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(1) And it came to pass The compiler has prefixed this heading to the following narrative by way of connection with the general thread of the history. It seems to be indicated that the event happened in the beginning of the reign of Jehoram; but see Note on 2 Chron. xxi. 12.

When the Lord would take up.- When Jehovah caused Elijah to go up, or ascend. This anticipates the conclusion of the story.

Into heaven.-Heb., accusative of direction, as in verse 11. The LXX. renders, &s els tòv oùpavóv, “as into heaven," perhaps to suggest that not the visible heavens, but God, was the real goal of the prophet's ascension.

By a whirlwind.-In the storm.

Gilgal.-Heb., the Gilgal, i.e., the Ring (comp. Isa. xxviii. 28, "wheel "), a descriptive name of more than one place. Here, Gilgal in Ephraim, the present Jiljilia, which stands on a hill south-west of Seilun (Shiloh), near the road leading thence to Jericho. (See Deut. xi. 30; Hosea iv. 15; Amos iv. 4.) Hosea and Amos connect Gilgal with Bethel, as a sanctuary. It was probably marked by a ring of stones like those at Stonehenge and Avebury. From this spot the mountain land of Gilead, the Great Sea, and the snowy heights of Hermon, were all visible; so that the prophet could take from thence a last look at the whole country which had been the scene of his earthly activity.

(2) Said. Not spake, as throughout the account in chap. i. 2-16; a mark of different origin.

Tarry here, I pray thee.-This was said, not to test Elisha's affection, nor from a motive of humility, that Elisha might not witness his glorious ascension, but because Elijah was uncertain whether it was God's will that Elisha should go with him. (Comp. verse 10.) Elisha's threefold refusal to leave him settled the doubt. (Comp. John xxi. 15, seq.)

at Beth-el. soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. (3) And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. (4) And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

The Lord hath sent me to Beth-el.-Why? Not merely to "see once more this holiest place in Israel, the spiritual centre of the kingdom of the ten tribes" (Ewald), but to visit the prophetic schools, or guilds, established there, and at Gilgal and Jericho, and to confirm their fidelity to Jehovah. Gilgal and Beth-el, as ancient Canaanite sanctuaries, were centres of illegal worship of the God of Israel. The guilds of the prophets may have been intended to counteract this evil influence at its head-quarters (Bähr).

As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth.— Chap. iv. 30; 1 Sam. xx. 3. A more solemn and em. phatic oath than "As the Lord liveth" (Judges viii. 19), or As thy soul liveth" (1 Sam. i. 26). Literally, By the life of Jehovah and by the life of thy soul (i.e., of thyself, thine own life).


They went down.-From Gilgal. The phrase proves that the Gilgal between the Jordan and Jericho cannot be meant in verse 1. (See Josh. iv. 19, v. 10.)

(3) The sons of the prophets.-See Notes on 1 Kings xx. 35; 1 Sam. x. 10, xix. 20. There was a guild of prophets at Beth-el.

Came forth to Elisha.-Who probably walked a little way before his master, to announce his approach. And said unto him.-The prophetic college had been divinely forewarned of Elijah's departure.

The Lord will take away. . . to day.-"To day" is emphatic. "Knowest thou that this day Jehovah is about to take away thy lord from beside thee?" The word "head" may signify self, or person, like the word "soul," and other terms. (Comp. Gen xl. 13; 1 Sam. xxviii. 2; 2 Sam. i. 16.) Others explain 'from over thy head," i.e., from his position of superiority over thee as thy master and teacher. (Šee 1 Kings xix. 21; Acts xxii. 3.) Others again, but very improbably, take the words literally as a reference to Elijah's ascension, “away over thine head."

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Yea, I know.-Rather, I, too, know.

Hold ye your peace.-Elisha says this, not to prevent the gathering of a crowd to witness the spectacle of Elijah's departure, nor yet to intimate that his master's modesty will be shocked by much talk of his approaching exaltation, but simply to suggest that the subject is painful both to him and to his beloved master. The Hebrew term, hehěshû, imitates the sound, like our "hush!"

(4) And Elijah said.-The exact repetition of the language of verses 2, 3 in this and the next two verses, appears to indicate that the narrative had originally been handed on by oral tradition, probably in the prophetic guilds at the local sanctuaries.

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