Bible Commentary for 1 Kings 13 thru 2 Kings 7
1 Kings Chapter 13
Jehovah sent a prophet from Judah to Bethel at a time when Jeroboam was sacrificing there to prophesy against the idolatry being carried on at this altar. The prophet directed his words against the altar saying that a son of David, Josiah who would not appear on the scene until some 290 years later, would desecrate it by sacrificing the priest of this high place and by burning human bones on it. The sign that he gave Jeroboam that this prophecy would come to pass occurred immediately. The altar split apart and the ashes spilled onto the ground. When Jeroboam put out his hand accusatorily to have the prophet arrested, it withered and he could not withdraw it. If he had any doubts that this message was from God, this act should have convinced him. He then implored the prophet to pray for him that his hand might be restored. The prophet did so and he was healed. Jeroboam then invited him to dine with him but the prophet refused saying the he had been instructed not to eat nor drink water in this place nor was he to return to Judah by the same route as he had come.
A footnote to verse 7 in the NIV Study Bible says concerning Jeroboam’s invitation to the prophet to dine with him: “Jeroboam attempted to renew his prestige in the eyes of the people by creating the impression that there was no fundamental break between himself and the prophetic order.” We recall that Saul did a similar thing when Samuel prophesied against him. (1 Samuel 15:30)
An old prophet who lived in Bethel was told by his sons what had happened at the altar and what the prophet from Judah had said about Bethel and he wanted to know which road the prophet of God was returning by. They told him and he asked his sons to saddle his donkey and he rode off to find the prophet. He saw him sitting under a tree and he asked him if he was the man of God who had come from Judah. The prophet answered that he was and the old prophet invited him to come to his home and have a meal. The prophet from Judah refused but the old prophet told him that he was a prophet also and that an angel had brought him a message from God telling him to bring the true prophet back to have a meal with him. When he said this to him the prophet from Judah returned with him to Bethel and dined with him.
Then Jehovah sent word to the old prophet saying that the prophet from Judah had defied his word and had not kept the command that he had given him. Therefore he would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers. After finishing his meal the prophet from Judah left to return home and as he was on his way a lion killed him on the road but it did not attempt to eat the body of the prophet nor did it kill the donkey. There were people who passed by and saw the lion standing by the body but not eating it reported it in Bethel and the old prophet heard about it. He knew that Jehovah’s word to him concerning this prophet from Judah had been fulfilled. He then had his donkey saddled and he went to where the body of the prophet of Judah lay and put it on his donkey and brought it back to Bethel to be buried. He laid it in his own tomb and mourned over his death although he was the one who had been instrumental in deceiving him. He then instructed his sons to bury him next to the prophet from Judah because he knew that the words spoken by this prophet against Bethel would come true.
This old prophet had ulterior motives in bringing the prophet from Judah back with him. He may not have wanted it to appear that he did not have Jehovah’s approval any longer as one of his prophets. So if he prepared a meal for this prophet and they ate together, then it would appear that they were still of the same brotherhood even though Jehovah had not used him to prophesy against Bethel. Since this did not work out, then he wanted to be buried in the same grave, to be united with him in death, if not in life because he recognized him to be a true prophet.
Since Jeroboam knew what the prophet from Judah had told him about God’s command that he not stay in Bethel and hearing that he had disobeyed and had been killed, one would think that he would have given serious consideration to what his own disobedience would mean. But none of this had any affect on Jeroboam. He had the altar repaired and continued to appoint all sorts of people as priest for these high places. His continued defiance of Jehovah would bring divine judgement upon him and would eventually lead to his family line being cut off permanently and his name becoming infamous as the one who set the example of disobedience in Israel.
1 Kings Chapter 14
Jeroboam’s son Abijah became ill and Jeroboam wanted his wife to disguise herself and go to see the prophet who had initially told him he would rule over the ten tribes. He did not want the prophet to recognize her as his wife as he might not give her good news regarding his son. But Jehovah warned Ahijah that she was on her way to see him and as he was now old and blind, he would not have recognized her. When she came to his door, he invited her in and asked her why the pretense as he knew who she was. He than gave her a message to give to Jeroboam from Jehovah. He told her that Jehovah had torn the kingdom away from David’s house and given it to him but he had not been obedient as David had been. In fact, he had done more evil that anyone previous to him in that he had turned to idolatry and put Jehovah behind him. He was now going to bring disaster upon the house of Jeroboam by cutting off every male from his house destroying it completely. Their bodies would not be buried but would be consumed by the dogs and the birds. This was Jehovah’s word to be given to Jeroboam.
He now told the wife of Jeroboam that as soon as she set foot in her city, her son would die. He would be mourned and buried, as he was the only son of Jeroboam who would be. He told her that Jehovah would raise up a king over Israel who would cut of the house of Jeroboam. Israel, itself, would be as unstable as ‘a reed swaying in water,’ and would eventually be completely uprooted from the land and be taken captive by a nation beyond the Euphrates because of their following in the sin that Jeroboam committed. As soon as Jeroboam’s wife returned home, the words of Ahijah concerning her son came true. Jeroboam ruled Israel for twenty-two years, then he died and his son, Nadab, began to rule in his place.
The scene now returns to Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king and he would rule for seventeen years. Under his rulership, Judah turned to idolatry. They set up high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on the high hills and under spreading trees. They had completely reverted to the pagan practices of the nations that Jehovah had removed from the land. By doing this they made Jehovah angrier than even their forefathers had done. Maybe the fact that his mother was from Ammon and his father, Solomon, had already started these detestable practices in Jerusalem made it easy for him to continue them.
But Jehovah would not stand idly by and not take some action. In the fifth year of Rehoboam’s rule, He bought Shishak, Pharoah of Egypt, against them. Shishak attacked Jerusalem and took the treasures from the temple, those found in the royal palace and the gold shields that Solomon had made from the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. 2 Chronicles chapter 12 tells us that because Rehoboam humbled himself when Jehovah sent a prophet to him, Jerusalem was not completely destroyed by Shishak, as Jehovah would deliver them. Rehoboam replaced the gold shields with bronze ones because of their ceremonial use and put them in the charge of the guardsmen who were stationed at the entrance to the royal palace.
The only other significant event recorded in this account of Rehoboam’s rule is that he was at constant odds with Jeroboam although it is not stated that outright warfare ever occurred between the two kings. Finally Rehoboam died and his son Abijah began to rule in his place.
1 Kings Chapter 15
Not much information is given about Abijah’s rule as he was king for only three years. His mother was Maacah, a descendant of Absalom probably through his daughter Tamar. Abijah became king in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s rule. He too was not completely devoted to Jehovah and so he tolerated idolatrous worship. His rule was pronounced by conflict with Israel. 2 Chronicles chapter 13 described one of those battles in which Israel’s army of 800,000 men surrounded Judah’s army of half that size but because Abijah called on Jehovah for help, he was able to rout the larger army. Finally Abijah died and his son, Asa, succeeded him as king.
Asa began his rule in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s and he ruled for forty-one years. His heart was fully committed to Jehovah all his life and he made an effort to remove idolatry from Judah but he did not remove the high places. He even removed his grandmother, Maacah, from being queen mother because she had made an Asherah pole that he cut down and burned.
His first ten years of rule were peaceful (2 Chronicles 14:1) but later he would have to face Baasha, king of Israel. Baasha saw that his people were defecting to Judah and he was determined to stop it. He was determined to keep Judah bottled up by not allowing anyone to enter or leave it. He quickly took Ramah from Judah and began fortifying this city, located about four miles from Jerusalem. He effectively cut off the main road north out of Jerusalem gaining control of the trade routes. Instead of turning to Jehovah for help, Asa sent gold and silver to Aram in order to conclude a treaty with Ben-Hadad and to entice him to break his treaty with Israel. He was agreeable to doing this and he had his army commanders attack and conquer towns in Israel. Baasha then abandoned his fortifications in Ramah and returned to his home in Tirzah. Asa had all Judah go to Ramah and remove the building materials that Baasha had been using and they took them to Benjamin and began fortifying Geba and Mizpah. A more complete account of Asa’s reign is found in 2 Chronicles chapters 14-16.
In his old age, Asa became afflicted with a disease of his feet from which he died. His son, Jehoshaphat, succeeded him as king.
In Asa’s second year as king, Jeroboam died and his son Nadab became king in his place. He ruled two years in Israel and he walked in the ways of his father, Jeroboam. Baasha, of the tribe of Issachar, rose up against him and killed him when Israel was fighting against the Philistines and he became king in his stead. He then proceeded to kill all of the members of Jeroboam’s family leaving him no one in accordance with the word that Jehovah spoke through his prophet. Baasha became king of Israel in the third year of Asa’s reign and he ruled for twenty-four years but he followed in the idolatrous ways of Jeroboam.
1 Kings Chapter 16
Jehovah sent the prophet Jehu to Baasha and reminded him that He had raised him up as leader of his people Israel but he had continued the idolatry begun by Jeroboam causing Israel to sin even more and provoking Him to anger against Israel. Baasha’s house would become just like Jeroboam’s house in that He would not leave a descendant to Baasha and none of those killed would be buried but would be eaten up by the dogs and the birds. Baasha was also charged with the deaths of Jeroboam’s house because he had acted selfishly. (Isaiah 10:5-7, 12)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, page 520 comments this way: “The fact that Baasha did not turn to the Lord in spite of his being God’s instrument of judgement on the house of Jeroboam suggests his complete blindness to the importance of spiritual matters in his own life and in that of his nation. Baasha committed the same sins himself. This indicates that the level of his apostasy was deep.”
In the twenty-sixth year of Asa, Elah son of Baasha became king and he ruled for two years. Zimri, a powerful military officer who commanded half of Elah’s chariots, conspired against him. In the twenty-seventh year of Asa, king of Judah, he killed Elah and began to rule in his place. As soon as he began his rule, he killed all of the members of the house of Baasha just as Jehovah had foretold by Jehu the prophet because of the sins that he had committed and had caused Israel to commit.
Zimri had ruled for only seven days when the news reached the army, which was encamped against the Philistine city of Gibbethon, that Zimri had killed Elah and was now ruling as king. That very day the army proclaimed Omri, commander of the army, as king. They withdrew from Gibbethon and took control of Tirzah. Zimri, seeing that he was not going to hold his position set fire to the palace and he died. He is accused of doing evil before Jehovah in his rebellion.
However, it was not until the thirty-first year of Asa that Omri began to rule in Israel. The nation was divided into two factions, one half supported Omri and the other half supported Tibna for king. After four years of struggle Omri became the victor and Tibni died. Omri ruled from Tirzah for six years and for the remaining six years he set up his capital on a hill that he had purchased and called it Samaria.
The NIV Bible Commentary, page 527, says of this move: “He immediately undertook the building of a new capital that would lie in neutral ground (as David had done in selecting Jerusalem) and would be militarily defensible. He selected a strategic and centrally located hill site overlooking the chief commercial routes of the Esdraelon Plain. There he built his new capital city and named it Samaria, after Shemer, the former owner.”
This commentary further says of Omri himself: “Despite Omri’s forward-looking vision for restoring Israel’s strength and his many accomplishments, spiritually he was more destitute than all his predecessors. Not only did he perpetuate the spiritual sins of Jeroboam, but his ties with Phoenicia were to unleash on Israel the common pagan social band religious practices known to the ancient world. Thus the scriptural record concerning Omri is both brief and condemnatory.”
Omri died in the thirty-eighth year of Asa and his son, Ahab, began ruling as king and he ruled for twenty-two years. Ahab from the beginning of his reign appears to be even more depraved than his father was. Committing the sins of Jeroboam would be trivial in comparison to what he was going to do. He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, during his father’s reign. When he became king, he set up a temple in Samaria expressly for worshipping Baal. He also made an Asherah pole. At the urging of his wife, Ahab elevated the worship of Baal to an official status.
Another example of just how wicked the Israelites had become was their allowing the restoration of the city of Jericho to its former glory even though a curse would come upon anyone who attempted to do it. Hiel rebuilt the city’s walls at the cost of the life of his firstborn son and set up its gates at the cost of the life of his youngest son, which was exactly what the curse stated. Jericho had been an unwalled village up to this point. (Joshua 6:26)
For an in-depth discussion of Baalism and its repercussions upon worshipper of Jehovah, see the Book entitled “The Report,” Volume I, Chapter Three.
1 Kings Chapter 17
Jehovah would now show his extreme displeasure at what Ahab had done. He would now have to show Ahab who the true God was. Baal worshipper believed that Baal was the god of rain. So He sent Elijah the Tishbite to Ahab to tell him that He was going to bring a drought upon the land of Israel for years and the drought would continue until Elijah said it should end. After making this announcement, Jehovah told him to go to and hide in a ravine east of the Jordan River. He would get his water from a brook there and Jehovah had commanded the ravens to bring his food. Elijah did as Jehovah had commanded him and each morning and evening the ravens brought him bread and meat and he drank from the brook.
When the brook dried up because of the lack of rain, Jehovah told him to go to Zarephath in Sidon and stay there and a widow would supply him with food. When he arrived in the city he saw a widow gathering sticks. He asked her for some water and some bread. She then told him that she had just enough flour and oil for one last meal for herself and her son. After eating this they would wait to die. Elijah told her to go and make a small cake for him then she could make a meal for herself and her son. Jehovah had promised that her jar of flour would not be used up nor would her supply of oil dry up until He brought rain upon the land. She did exactly as he told her to do and there was food for them. In Luke 4:25, 26, Jesus made reference to this incident to show that Elijah was not sent to a widow in Israel because none of them were worthy because of their lack of faith. He would find more faith among those who were not Israelites.
Later the woman’s son became ill and died. She thought that Elijah had been sent to her to call her sin to the attention of God and she was now being punished. He took her son into the room that he was staying in and prayed to God to let the boy live, as this would be an unbearable tragedy for this widow and Jehovah heard him and restored the boy’s life to him. Elijah then took him to his mother and told her that he was alive. She then exclaimed that she was now convinced that He was a man of God and that the words he spoke were truth. This is the first recorded instance of a resurrection in the Bible.
1 Kings Chapter 18
In the third year of the drought, Jehovah told Elijah to present himself to Ahab. Because the famine was so severe in the land, Ahab had Obadiah go throughout the land to see if there was any place where he could graze his horses and mules. The two of them went in different directions so as to cover the whole land. As Obadiah was going along Elijah met him and told him to tell Ahab that he was back. But Obadiah was hesitant because he thought that Elijah would somehow disappear again while he was gone to get Ahab and he would be put to death. Ahab had searched all the surrounding kingdoms looking for Elijah and had not found him or anyone who had seen him. So Obadiah wanted to know why Elijah would put him in such a predicament. He had served Jehovah since his youth and even now had put himself in danger because he had hidden the prophets of Jehovah so that Jezebel could not find them as she was killing all of Jehovah’s prophets. He wanted reassurance that Elijah would be there when he returned and Elijah swore he would meet with Ahab.
Obadiah went to Ahab and told him about Elijah and he went to meet with him and referred to him as the one causing all the trouble for Israel. Elijah responded that it was Ahab and his forefathers who had caused the trouble that they were facing because they had abandoned Jehovah’s commands to follow the Baals. Elijah now made a proposal to Ahab that would determine who was really the true god, Baal or Jehovah. He asked him to gather all the people together and all of the prophets of the Baals and they would meet on Mount Carmel where the test would be conducted. Mount Carmel was chosen probably because worshipper of Baals believed that this was the sacred dwelling place of Baal.
Ahab summoned the people and the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel. Elijah then addressed the people asking them how long did they intend to be wavering or ‘dancing’ between two opinions. Either they would serve Baal or they would serve Jehovah. They were obviously trying to serve both the Baals and Jehovah in a sort of religious interfaith. They did not respond to Elijah’s statement, as they knew that he was right. Since he was the only prophet of Jehovah there and Baal had 450 prophets representing him, how Eiljah would triumph against such great odds they were now about to find out. He told them to get two bulls one for Baal’s prophets and he would take one. They would dress them and put them on the altar that had been built, but they would not light the fires under them. The prophets of Baal would then call on their gods, Elijah would call on Jehovah his God and the one who answered by producing fire to consume the sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true God. The people were agreeable to accept this test.
So Elijah had the prophets of Baal prepare their offering, put it on the altar and then petition their god to hear them. They called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying “O Baal, answer us,” but there was no response. At noon, Elijah began to mock them saying that maybe Baal did not hear them so they should shout louder. Maybe he was sleep or busy or he was on a trip. So they shouted louder and began to cut themselves until their blood flowed. They continued this until the time of the evening prayer, but there was still no response.
Then Elijah took twelve stones and built an altar in the name of Jehovah. He used twelve stones to remind them of the fact that they were a covenanted people through their forefather Jacob who had been called Israel by Jehovah. He set the stones up, dug a trench around them and put wood on the stones then the pieces of the bull. He told someone to fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering wetting it and the wood. He had them to do this three times making sure the wood was too wet to burn and filling the trench with water. Then Elijah prayed to Jehovah saying that He, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel should let the people know he represented Him and was obeying His command. So He should answer him so that the people would know that He was God and that He was "turning their hearts back" again.
This expression "turn their hearts back" is found in other verses of the Bible. Malachi 4:5 makes use of it in reference to the work that modern day Elijah would do. The modern day Elijah does a work comparable to that of ancient Elijah, that is, modern-day Israel will break the covenant that Jehovah concluded with them and they will need to repent of their sins so that Jehovah can conclude a new covenant with them.
For more details concerning this covenant, see the article "God's Sacred Secret Revealed in the Scapegoat Covenant" at the address below.
Jehovah’s answer to Elijah was immediate. Fire fell on the sacrifice, the wood, the soil near the altar and the water and it consumed them all. The people were amazed and fell prostrate before Jehovah and declared that Jehovah was the true God. If they truly believed this then it would be no problem for them to get rid of the false prophets of Baal since it had been proven that Baal was no god after all and had no right to be worshipped in the land that Jehovah had given Israel on the basis that they would serve only Him. This is what Elijah asked them to do and they complied. The 450 prophets were taken to the Kishon Valley and killed there. (Deuteronomy 13: 12-18; 17:2-5) Now Ahab is standing there saying nothing while this is going on. Elijah turns to him and tells him that he can go home and eat and drink because the drought is over.
Elijah goes further up Mount Carmel to wait for the rain to start. He sent his servant to look towards the sea for clouds but he saw nothing. He sent him seven times to look for a cloud and on the seventh time he returned to say that he saw "a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea." As the sky grew black, he warns Ahab that he needs to leave before he is unable to travel because of the rain. After Ahab left, Jehovah empowers Elijah so that he catches up with Ahab and runs ahead of him all the way to Jezreel.
1 Kings Chapter 19
When Ahab returned to his home and told Jezebel what Elijah had done to her prophets, she sent a message to Elijah vowing that she would put him to death by the next day. Elijah is afraid of her because he knows that this is no idle threat as she has already killed many of Jehovah’s prophets. So he fled to Beersheba, located at the southern tip of Judah, about a sixty mile trip. He left his attendant there and he traveled into the wilderness and found shelter under a broom tree. He had become so discouraged because his work had borne no fruit that he prayed to Jehovah to let him die. Then he fell asleep and an angel touched him and told him to get up and eat. He saw a round cake of bread and a jar of water and he ate and drank then fell asleep again. He was awaken by the angel a second time and told to eat and drink which he did. He received sufficient nourishment that he would be able to walk all the way to Mount Horeb, a trip that took him forty days and nights. When he arrived, he spent the night in a cave.
Jehovah spoke to him there and asked him what he was doing there indicating that He had not sent him to this mountain. Elijah bemoaned the fact that Israel had rejected Jehovah’s covenant, killed all of His prophets and now that he was the only one left, they wanted to kill him too. Jehovah instructed him to go and stand on the mountain and He would pass by.
A very strong wind shattered rocks, an earthquake shook the mountain, and a fire burned on it, but Jehovah was not in any of these physical manifestations. Then Elijah heard a gentle whisper and he knew that this was God. So he covered his face with his cloak and went outside the cave. God ask him again ‘what are you doing here?’ Elijah gave the same answer as before. Jehovah did not respond directly to his words but He gave him his last assignments. He was to anoint Hazael to be king of Aram, anoint Elisha to replace him and to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel. He then reminded him that he was not the only one left who worshipped Him as He had reserved for himself seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed to Baal or kissed him or offered sacrifices to Baal.
A prophetic reference is made to these seven thousand persons in Revelation 11:13 where it speaks of seven thousand being killed in an earthquake. In the account in Revelation the number seven thousand is not a literal number but represents in our day a remnant of worshippers from the Jehovah’s Witness organization who would be saved after the organization goes off into idolatry.
Elijah now seeks Elisha and when he finds him, he put his cloak around him. Elisha knew that this meant he had been selected as the successor to Elijah. So he told Elijah that he wanted to say good-by to his parents, then he would go with him. Elisha then slaughtered his yoke of oxen and used the plowing equipment to cook the meat for the farewell meal he would share with his relatives and friends. This action served to seal his decision; he was making a complete break with his past or as one commentary stated, ‘he burned his past behind him.’ Afterwards he went with Elijah and became his attendant. The word ‘attendant’ used in this verse is the same one used for Joshua in his relationship with Moses. (Exodus 24:13)
1 Kings Chapter 20
Ben-hadad, king of Aram, accompanied by thirty-two kings, came against Samaria and put it under siege. Ben-hadad sent messengers to Ahab giving him the terms by which he would withdraw from his capital. Ahab agreed to the original terms but Ben-hadad was not satisfied as he thought Ahab agreed because his demand was not difficult for him. Then he increased his demand to include not only his gold and silver, wives and children, but also the opportunity to search the palace and the homes of his official and take whatever he thought valuable, in other words, a complete surrender of the city. Ahab summoned his officials and told them what Ben-hadad was now demanding. They told him not to accede to his demands so the messengers took this message back to Ben-hadad. Ben-hadad then vowed to destroy Samaria and Ahab replied to him that he should not boast until he had won the victory. Ben-hadad then orders his men to prepare for battle.
Jehovah sent a prophet to Ahab to tell him that He would give Ben-hadad and his army into his hands. The reason was not that Ahab had requested Jehovah’s help but because Jehovah was going to show him that He alone was God, a point Ahab missed completely when he saw the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Ahab then asks the prophet who was going to win the victory and he replied that it would be the young officers of the provincial commanders and he, Ahab, would lead them. So Ahab gathered his men and the young officers and marched out to the camp of the Arameans at noon to launch a surprise attack. Ben-hadad and his men were not prepared to fight because during this time of day, they would be resting in their tents and they were also getting drunk. When his scouts told him that there were men approaching from Samaria, he did not take it as a serious threat. So the Arameans were attacked by the Israelites and they routed them. Ben-hadad escaped on horseback.
Later Jehovah sent a prophet to Ahab again to remind him that the Arameans were going to return in the spring, so he should take that time to strengthen his army. At the same time Ben-hadad was being given advice by his officials. They told him that he should change the venue of the fight because Israel’s god was a god of the hills so they could not defeat them on a hill. He must raise his next army and fight them on the plains where they would be stronger.
The following spring, Ben-hadad raised an army and encamped against Israel on flat ground. When the Israelite army camped across from the Arameans, they were small in comparison. But Jehovah told Ahab that he was going to give this army into his hand also because the Arameans thought His power was limited to the mountains. Ahab would also be shown again that He was the true God.
On the seventh day the two armies met and Israel defeated them. Ben-hadad fled to Aphek and hid in an inner room. His officials convinced him that if he humbled himself before Ahab, his life would be spared. They donned sackcloth around their waist and ropes on their heads and came out of the city to Ahab to plead for Ben-hadad’s life. Ahab was surprised that he was still alive and he offered to make peace with him. So they brought him to Ahab and they concluded a trade agreement and a peace treaty in which Ben-hadad would return all the Israelite territory taken by his father, then Ahab allowed him to go to his home.
Jehovah was not pleased with Ahab and He sent a prophet to him to tell him that he should have killed Ben-hadad as Jehovah had told him to. But since Ahab had set him free then he would have to pay with his own life and his people would be taken in place of Ben-hadad’s people.
1 Kings Chapter 21
Naboth had a vineyard next to Ahab’s palace in Jezreel and Ahab desired to have it. He would pay Naboth for it or he would give him an even better vineyard. But Naboth was not willing to give up his land inheritance. Ahab sulked and Jezebel asked him what was wrong and Ahab told her. She then promised to get it for him.
She wrote letters to the elders of the city where Naboth lived and instructed them to call a fast and seat Naboth in the prominent place and have two scoundrels sit before him and accuse him of cursing God and the king. Then they were to take him out and stone him. They did as she asked and Naboth was put to death. They then sent word to her that he was dead and she told Ahab to go and take possession of the vineyard, as the owner was dead.
But Jehovah would have something to say about this travesty of justice. He sent Elijah to the vineyard to meet Ahab and to pronounce His judicial decision on him and his wife. Since he had murdered a man and seized his property then in the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, they would also lick up his blood. Because he had sold himself to do evil, Jehovah was going to bring disaster upon him. Every male of his household would be cut off and none of them would be given a decent burial, as the birds and the dogs would devour their flesh. His house would be like that of Jeroboam’s and Baasha’s, he would have no descendants left. Even Jezebel would be treated in a disgraceful manner. She would not be buried but her body would be devoured by dogs near a wall in Jezreel. Ahab is described as behaving in the vilest manner urged on by his wife in going after idols as did the Amorites who had been destroyed from the land.
When Ahab heard this judgement he put on sackcloth and fasted. Jehovah spoke to Elijah and said that since Ahab had humbled himself, he would not bring the disaster in his day but He would bring it during his son’s rulership.
1 Kings Chapter 22
There was peace between Israel and Aram for three years after Ahab signed a treaty with Ben-hadad. During this period, Ahab had allied with Ben-hadad against the Assyrians in battle and they had defeated them. Then Ahab’s officials reminded him that Ben-hadad had not returned Ramoth Gilead to them as specified in the treaty. Ramoth in Gilead was an important city located in the territory of Gad and was twenty-eight miles directly east of Jezreel. At that time Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was visiting with Ahab. He and Ahab had entered into a marriage alliance where Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, had married Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram. Ahab asked him if he would go with him to retake Ramoth Gilead from the Arameans. He agreed to go but he wanted to seek counsel from Jehovah so Ahab brought in four hundred prophets who served Ahab’s wishes although they claimed to be prophets of Jehovah. When Ahab asked them if he should go up against Ramoth Gilead they answered that he should and God would give him the victory. For some reason Jehoshaphat was not convinced so he asked if there was not a ‘true prophet’ of Jehovah in Israel. Ahab replied that there was one prophet, Micaiah, who always prophesied bad things concerning him. So they sent for Micaiah.
The messenger who went to summon Micaiah told him what the other prophets were saying to Ahab and he urged him to let his word be in agreement with theirs this one time. When he approached Ahab and was asked if they should go to Ramoth Gilead, Micaiah said that they should go. But Ahab recognized that Micaiah was being sarcastic so he asked him to tell him truthfully what he really thought. His purpose in saying this was to show Jehoshaphat that Micaiah never agreed with his other prophets. Then Micaiah said to him: “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD [Jehovah] said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”
Micaiah then described a heavenly scene in which he would show why his prophecy was not in agreement with the other prophets. He said that he saw Jehovah sitting on his throne with all the angels around him and Jehovah asked which of them could come up with a plan that would entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead where he would be killed. One angel came forward and said that he could do it by being a lying spirit in the mouths of all of his prophets. Then Jehovah told him that he would be successful. Micaiah then said that Jehovah had put a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets because He had determined that Ahab should die. Ahab then ordered Micaiah to be put in prison and fed bread and water until he returned from the battle. Micaiah then said that if he did return then Jehovah had not spoken to him.
Jehoshaphat wanted to know what Jehovah counseled and he was told but he did not respond in the appropriate way. He went with Ahab to the battle in spite of what the prophet had said. But Ahab obviously did somewhat believe what Micaiah said about him because he chose to disguise himself but encouraged Jehoshaphat to wear his royal raiment. Ben-hadad had given instructions to his commanders to specifically target the king of Israel when the battle began. They mistook Jehoshaphat for Ahab and begin pursuing him. But when he cried out they realized that he was not their target so they left him alone. But Ahab is not so fortunate as Jehovah has taken a hand in this matter. His word to Ahab recorded at 1 Kings 20:42 is about to be fulfilled. An arrow not especially intended for Ahab hit him in a vulnerable place in his armor and wounded him so he told his driver to remove him from the thick of the fighting. As he sat propped in his chariot his blood was flowing onto the floor of the chariot. When he died that evening the battle ended because his troops turned to go to their homes. They did as Micaiah predicted they would. They said: “Every man to his town; everyone to his land.”
Ahab was taken to Samaria to be buried and when his chariot was being cleaned out, his blood flowed into the streets where the dogs licked it up just as Elijah had prophesied would happen. Ahaziah his son began to rule in his place.
A comment from The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, page 535, has this to say about Ahab’s reign. “In excavating Samaria archeologists discovered more that 200 ivory figures, panels, and plaques in one storeroom. Ahab used large quantities of ivory to beautify his palace in various ways. He also fortified several cities in Israel. In addition to the projects just mentioned, Ahab ruled capably in spite of the gross spiritual apostasy that characterized his administration. He was generally successful militarily because of his own native ability and God’s mercy on Israel. His alliance with Judah under Jehoshaphat began the first real period of peace between the Northern and Southern kingdoms since the monarchy had split and it lasted about 30 years until the reign of Jehu began in 841. But in spite of Ahab’s other accomplishments his building a Baal altar and temple and encouraging Baal worship weakened Israel as never before.”
We are now given a brief account of Jehoshaphat’s rule. He became king in the fourth year of Ahab’s reign and he ruled for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. It is noted that he did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah. However, the people continued to offer sacrifices and to burn incense on the high places even after he removed them. (See 2 Chronicles 17:6) We also learned that he formed a marriage alliance with Ahab, king of Israel, something that would later be detrimental to his descendants. He did rid the land of the male shrine prostitutes that were still in the land after his father died. Edom was still in subjection to Judah. He built a fleet of ships to go to the land of Ophir to bring back gold but the ships were wrecked. (See 2 Chronicles 20:35-37)
Ahaziah became king over Israel in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign and he ruled two years. He followed in the ways of his father, Ahab, in worshipping Baal, and in the ways of Jeroboam, worshipping the golden calves, thus provoking Jehovah to anger.
The Book of 2 Kings
2 Kings Chapter 1
Ahaziah fell from his roof and injured himself and rather than inquire of Jehovah as to whether he would recover, he sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, which means Lord of the flies, the god of Ekron, who is credited with healing powers. Jehovah had Elijah intercept these messengers and ask them if they were going to consult Baal-Zebub because there was no god in Israel. God’s message to Ahaziah was that he would certainly die. When they returned to Ahaziah a bit earlier than they should have, he wanted to know why. They told him that a man had approached them and told them that the king was going to die. Ahaziah, after getting a description of the man, realized that it was Elijah the prophet who had intercepted his messengers. So he sent fifty men to arrest Elijah and forcibly bring him to the king. When the men approached Elijah, the captain ordered him to come with him, saying, “Man of God, the king says ‘come down.’ Elijah responded ‘If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” And it did. The king was not fazed by this event and he sent another fifty men and the same thing happened to them. The king still does not recognize the hand of Jehovah in this and he then sent a third group but the captain of this group is not disrespectful of Jehovah as the king is. He did not order Elijah to come down but fell on his knees before Elijah and spoke to him humbly, beseeching him not to take his life as he was only following orders. Jehovah tells Elijah not to be afraid but to go with these men as He was in control of the situation.
Elijah stood before the king and told him exactly what Jehovah told him to say. The king had disregarded Jehovah in the matter of his illness and had preferred to consult Baal-Zebub; therefore he would not recover from this sickness. True to Jehovah’s word, the king died and since he had no sons, his brother, Joram, began to rule in his place.
2 Kings Chapter 2
Elijah is now aware that his assignment in Israel is finished. He tells Elisha that Jehovah has sent him to Bethel and Elisha is to wait for him to return. But Elisha does not want to leave Elijah so he goes with him. The prophets of Bethel asked Elisha if he is aware that Elijah will be leaving him and he answers that he does know but he didn’t want to talk about it. Elijah again tells Elisha to wait at Bethel because Jehovah was sending him to Jericho and again Elisha dos not wait but goes with him. The prophets in this city asked Elisha if he knows that Elijah was leaving him and he answered yes but does not want to talk about it. Then Elijah tells Elisha Jehovah was sending him to the Jordan and Elisha goes with him. The prophets of Jericho watched them as they went to the Jordan. Elijah used his cloak to divide the waters of the Jordan so that they could cross on dry ground.
Elijah then asked Elisha if there is anything that he wanted him to do for him and Elisha answered that he would like to have a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah said to him that this was a difficult thing but if he saw him as he was taken away from him, he would get his request.
As they walk along a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and Elijah was swept up towards heaven. Elisha watched as Elijah disappeared from sight. He tore his clothes after crying out “My Father! My Father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, page 540, says of this statement: “Elisha’s reference to the chariots and horsemen of Israel shows that he regarded Elijah as a powerful instrument whom God had used to wage war against the idolatry in Israel.” He picked up Elijah’s cloak and struck the water with it to part the waters and he crossed over. This first miracle of Elisha proved that he had now become the successor to the prophet with Jehovah’s approval.
The company of prophets from Jericho who were watching this came to meet Elisha because they recognized that he now had Elijah’s spirit on him. They asked Elisha if he wanted them to go and look for Elijah but he told them not to do that but they persisted and he told them to go ahead. Fifty men searched for three days and found nothing. When they returned Elisha reminded them that he had told them not to search for Elijah.
Elisha was told that the land where the prophets were living was unproductive because the water was bad. Elisha now performed his second miracle by healing the water. He told them that Jehovah had healed the waters and they would never cause death or make the land unproductive again.
Elisha then traveled to Bethel and while on the way there some youths approached him and mockingly said, “Go up baldhead,” a derogatory statement meant to imply impotence or lack of power. The people of Bethel obviously had disdain for God’s representatives and their children reflected this attitude. Elisha pronounced a curse upon them in Jehovah’s name and two bears came out of the woods and killed forty-two of them. This reminds us of what Leviticus 26:21, 22 stated would happen to Israel if they continued hostile to Jehovah. They would learn that God’s prophets were not to be disrespected by anyone.
2 King Chapter 3
Joram, the brother of Azariah, began his rule in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. He did not worship Baal as his father had. He removed the impediments of Baal worship from the land but he did not remove the golden calves that Jeroboam had set up. In this respect he failed Jehovah. After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel and refused to pay the tribute that had been imposed upon them. King Joram enlisted the help of the king of Judah and the deputy of Edom. (1 Kings 22:47) After taking a circuitous route through Judah, around the southern coast of the Dead Sea and into the desert of Edom for seven days, they found that they had no water left. Jehoshaphat inquired as to whether a prophet of God was in the area. An officer responded that Elisha, a former servant to Elijah was in the area and the three men went to see him. Elisha told them that he would approach Jehovah for them only because of the presence of Jehoshaphat.
The word of Jehovah to them was that water would miraculously appear in the valley so that they and their animals could drink. By this means also Jehovah would give Moab into their hands. They would then devastate Moab. The next morning there was water flowing from the direction of Edom. Moab, after hearing that they were about to be attached, mobilized every man who could bear arms and stationed them on their border. When they saw the water, it appeared to be red which they mistook for blood. They assumed that the three armies had turned on each other and slaughtered their fellowman. They could not go and take the plunder. But to their surprise, when they reached the camp, they were met by a live army, who fought them until they retreated. The armies then entered Moab and began to destroy the cultivated fields by covering them with stones. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree, just as Jehovah said they would do.
The king of Moab then tried to break through to the Edomite army taking seven hundred of his best men with him as he believed this was the weakest part of their defense but he was repelled. Then in an attempt to get his gods to lend him support, he sacrificed his first-born son on the walls of the city. This act was so offensive to Israel and Judah that they withdrew from the battle and returned home. Of course, the king thought his gods had delivered him from these armies. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, page 543, had this to say: “A remarkable archeological discovery, the Moabite Stone, contains Mesha’s own record of this battle and other battles with Israel. On this stone the Moabite king claimed to have been delivered from the Israelites by his god Chemosh on this day. Though it is true that he was not captured at Kir Hareseth and the Israelites withdrew, Israel and her allies were the real victors in this campaign.”
2 Kings Chapter 4
Elisha is approached by the wife of a former member of the company of prophets who is afraid that she will lose her two sons to a creditor of her dead husband. Elisha wanted to know the status of her current situation and she told him that all she had was a little oil. He told her to go and borrow as many empty jars from her neighbors as she could get, take them into her house and close the door. She was to pour the oil that she had into the empty jars until they were all filled up. When she had filled the empty jars, the oil stopped flowing and Elisha told her to sell the oil and pay her creditor and she would be able to live off what was left.
Josephus, in his writings, Antiquities of the Jews, page 19, tells us something not reported in the biblical account about this woman. "For they say that the widow of Obadiah, Ahab's steward, came to him and said that he was not ignorant how her husband had preserved the prophets that were to be slain by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab; for she said that he hid a hundred of them and had borrowed money for their maintenance, and that, after her husband's death she and her children were carried away to be made slaves by the creditors; and she desired of him to have mercy upon her on account of what her husband did, and afford her some assistance."
Elisha often passed the home of a certain woman in Shunem. One day she invited him to her home to have a meal with her family and afterwards when he was in the city he would stop to dine with them. One day the woman suggested that they build a room on their roof and furnish it for Elisha’s use. She believed that he was a prophet of God and she wanted him to be comfortable.
Elisha was grateful to the woman for her hospitality and he wondered if he could do something for her. When he asked her how he might be able to help her, she replied that she had all she needed. He later asked Gehazi what he thought she might need and he had observed that she did not have a child. Elisha had Gehazi bring her to him and he told her that at this time next year, she would have a child. Her response showed that she thought this was not possible after the many years that had passed and she was still barren. So she urged him not to mislead her. Elisha’s word came true and she bore a son the next year. (Genesis 18:10-15)
When the child was older, he went to his father complaining of a headache and his father told a servant to take him to his mother. The child died in his mother’s arms later. She took him and laid him on the bed that Elisha used. She then went to find Elisha. She found him at Mount Carmel. Elisha saw her coming and sent Gehazi to find out if there was anything wrong. She refused to tell Gehazi anything but when she came to Elisha, she grabbed hold of his feet and Elisha knew something was terribly wrong. When she finally told him what had happened to her son, he told Gehazi to go to her home and lay his staff on the boy’s face. The woman wanted Elisha to go himself and see about her son, and he agreed to do so. When they neared her home Gehazi met them and told Elisha that the boy had not awakened. So Elisha went into the room alone and he supplicated Jehovah and Jehovah heard him and brought the boy back to life.
Elisha returned to Gilgal to meet with the company of prophets there. He told his servant to cook some food for the men. Someone went to collect some herbs and he also collected some unfamiliar gourds. He put these into the pot and when it was served to the men, it was unpalatable. They believed the food was poisoned. Elisha told them to put some flour into the pot and the stew became edible. At this time there was a famine in the land.
Elisha was given a gift of twenty loaves of bread made from barley and some ears of grain. He instructed his servant to put this before the men who were with him. The servant was sure that it would not be enough to feed them all but Elisha assured him that Jehovah had promised that there would be plenty and some would be left over. It occurred just as Jehovah had said. This event is similiar to the experiences some Israelites had when Jesus fed them. (Mark 6:30-44;8:1-9)
2 Kings Chapter 5
The Arameans continued to send raiding parties into Israel capturing Israelites and using them as servants. On one of these raids a young girl was taken captive and she served the wife of Naaman, who was the commander of the Aramean army and who also had leprosy. She was very familiar with Elisha and knew that he performed miracles. She said to her mistress that if her master would go to see the prophet in Samaria, he would cure him of his disease. Naaman told the king what the Israelite girl had said and he gave him permission to go to see the prophet. He took many gifts with him and a letter from the king of Aram addressed to the king of Israel but it did not mention the prophet Elisha. When the king of Israel read the letter, he thought that the king of Aram was trying to pick a fight with him as he could not heal anyone. He created such a stir over this that Elisha got to hear of it. Obviously King Jehoram did not give any thought to Elisha at all, so Elisha had to remind him that there was a prophet in Israel. Naaman was sent to Elisha but he did not talk to the Aramean. He sent his servant to tell him to go and wash in the Jordan seven times and his flesh would be restored.
Naaman became angry because he expected to be treated more in line with his stature. His servant told him that Elisha’s instructions were simple and it would not cost him anything to try it. Naaman did so and he was healed. He now became convinced that Israel’s God was the true God and he was so grateful that he offered Elisha all of the gifts he brought with him but Elisha refused them. It was Jehovah who had healed Naaman. Then Naaman asked if he could take some of Israel’s soil back with him so that he could use it to build an altar to Jehovah so that he could worship Him. He still had to accompany the king in worship of the god of Aram but he wanted Jehovah to forgive him this one thing. Elisha bid him to go in peace.
The footnote in the NIV Study Bible for verse 17 says this: “In the ancient world it was commonly thought that a deity could be worshiped only on the soil of the nation to which he was bound (see verse 15). For this reason Naaman wanted to take Israelite soil with him in order to have a place in Damascus for the worship of the LORD.”
After he had gone a short distance, Gehazi ran after him and told him that Elisha had just had two unexpected visitors arrive and he needed garments and money for them. Naaman was only too happy to oblige him. Gehazi had two of his servants take the items into the house and he then hides them. When he goes before Elisha, Elisha asks him where had he been to which he answers that he had not been anywhere. Elisha then told him that he is aware of what he has done. He then asks him if this is the appropriate time to be accumulating material possessions. He then tells him that the leprosy of Naaman would be upon him and his descendants forever. Gehazi proved unfit for his responsibility because he craved material possessions.
2 Kings Chapter 6
The company of prophets in a certain city told Elisha that they needed a larger place in which to hold their meetings with him. He agreed with them and they asked him to accompany them in the work of building the place. They were near the Jordan River cutting down trees when their ax head fell into the water. The man was aghast because he had borrowed it from someone. Elisha told him to show him where it had fallen into the water and he took a stick and threw it into the water and the ax head floated and was retrieved. Jehovah is alert to the needs of his servants and he comes to their aid.
Israel is still at war with the Arameans and Jehovah continues to give aid to them, but they don’t respond to his urging to turn away from their idolatry. The Arameans were trying to set up their camp in a strategic location along Israel’s border in order to launch a surprise attack on their army, but each time they moved, the king of Israel was warned to avoid that place. The king of Aram thought there was a traitor in his camp, but was told by an officer that the prophet Elisha was responsible for the intelligence as he knew what the king said in the privacy of his own bedroom. The officer was told to find out where Elisha was located so that he could take him captive.
They found Elisha in Dothan and the king sent a large army to the city to surround it. They came that night and early the next morning, Elisha’s servant saw them and ran and told Elisha. Elisha told him not to be afraid because “those with us are more than those with them.” The servant was allowed to see the angelic forces that Jehovah had sent to protect them. When they came towards Elisha, he prayed to Jehovah to blind their eyes, not a physical blindness, but one where they were not able to perceive what was going on around them. They did not recognize that Elisha was leading them into Samaria or even that he was the one that they were looking for.
When they arrived in Samaria, Joram was flabbergasted and did not know whether to kill them or not. Elisha advised him to feeds them first, then let them return to their king. Joram obeyed Elisha and the raids on Israel stopped. When the king of Aram heard the experience his men had in Samaria he probably concluded that Israel’s God was more powerful than he realized, so he went home and left Israel alone, at least for the time being.
Later Ben-hadad brought his army to besiege Samaria and this caused a famine in Samaria because the siege lasted so long. The famine was so great that women were reported to be eating their children. (Deuteronomy 28:53-57) The king accused Elisha of being responsible for this bad situation and vowed to put him to death. Elisha was in his house talking to the elders and he announced that the king whom he referred to as a murderer, was sending someone to kill him. Elisha would not let the messenger into his house but would wait for the king to arrive. When the king arrived, he asked Elisha why should he continue to wait for Jehovah to deliver him as He was the one who brought this disaster. This is the second time he heas accused Jehovah of being responsible for a situation that this disobedient king has gotten himself into.
2 Kings Chapter 7
Elisha took this opportunity to give the king Jehovah’s message of deliverance. He told him that by the next day the siege would be over and food would be plentiful and affordable. The officer attending the king said that this would be impossible to accomplish even if Jehovah “opened the floodgates of heaven.” Because of his disbelief, Elisha told him that he would see it happen but he would not partake of the plenty.
There were four lepers standing at the city gates who decided that they might as well go over to the Arameans as to stay there and die. So they left at dusk going to the Aramean’s camp but when they arrived, there was no one around, the camp was deserted. Jehovah had caused the Arameans to hear the sounds of a great army coming in their direction. They concluded that Israel had hired a foreign army to fight them so they had fled leaving behind all of their supplies and animals.
The four lepers then began taking items from the tents of the Arameans and hiding them. Their conscience began bothering them and they decided to return to Samaria to let the king know that the camp of the Arameans was deserted. The king was suspicious and he sent some men to the camp to find out what happened to the Arameans. They traveled along the road to the Jordan and found clothing and equipment that had been thrown away by the Aramenas as they fled. So they reported this to the king and he allowed the people to go out and plunder the Aramean camp. Jehovah’s word had come to pass even that concerning the king’s attendant who expressed disbelief. He was standing at the city gate by the king and the people trampled him to death as they rushed out of the city to plunder the Aramean camp.
Note: All cited scriptures in this commentary were taken from the New International Version.
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