1 Kings 22 – “Ahab Dies in Battle; The Reigns of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Ahab is killed in an unsuccessful battle with the Arameans. The reigns of Jehoshaphat king of Judah and Ahaziah king of Israel are described.

II. Photo
Micaiah relates a frightening vision about the battle: “Then he said, ‘I saw all Israel scattered over the hills like sheep without a shepherd!’”

III. Important Verses
2: In the third year, King Jehoshaphat of Judah came to visit the king of Israel.
6-9: So the king of Israel gathered the prophets, about four hundred men, and asked them, “Shall I march upon Ramoth-gilead for battle, or shall I not?” “March,” they said, “and the LORD will deliver it into Your Majesty’s hands.” Then Jehoshaphat asked, “Isn’t there another prophet of the LORD here through whom we can inquire?” And the king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man through whom we can inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he never prophesies anything good for me, but only misfortune — Micaiah son of Imlah.” But King Jehoshaphat said, “Don’t say that, Your Majesty.” So the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”
19-23: But [Micaiah] said, “I call upon you to hear the word of the LORD! I saw the LORD seated upon His throne, with all the host of heaven standing in attendance to the right and to the left of Him. The LORD asked, ‘Who will entice Ahab so that he will march and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ Then one said thus and another said thus, until a certain spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ ‘How?’ the LORD asked him. And he replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You will entice and you will prevail. Go out and do it.’ So the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours; for the LORD has decreed disaster upon you.”
34-35: Then a man drew his bow at random and he hit the king of Israel between the plates of the armor; and he said to his charioteer, “Turn the horses around and get me behind the lines; I’m wounded.” The battle raged all day long, and the king remained propped up in the chariot facing Aram; the blood from the wound ran down into the hollow of the chariot, and at dusk he died.
37-38: So the king died and was brought to Samaria. They buried the king in Samaria, and they flushed out the chariot at the pool of Samaria. Thus the dogs lapped up his blood and the whores bathed [in it], in accordance with the word that the LORD had spoken.
44: However, the shrines did not cease to function; the people still sacrificed and offered at the shrines.
47: [Jehoshaphat] also stamped out the remaining male prostitutes who had survived in the land from the time of his father Asa.
54: [Ahaziah] worshiped Baal and bowed down to him; he vexed the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.

IV. Outline

1-40. Ahab’s Death
    1. Three years of peace
    2-5. Jehoshaphat’s tentative agreement to join Israel’s attack on Aram
    6. The prophets agree to the plan
    7-9. Micaiah is summoned
    10-12. The prophets agree to the plan
    13-15. Micaiah feigns agreement
    16. The king demurs
    17-23. Micaiah augurs doom for Israel
    24-28. Micaiah is beaten and sentenced to prison
    29-36. Ahab is killed; The Israelites are defeated
    37. Ahab’s burial
    38. Fulfillment of the prophecy
    39-40. Summary statement
41-51. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah
    41-42. Introductory statement
    43. Jehoshaphat follows God
    44. Criticism for shrines
    45. Criticism for joining Ahab
    46. Summary statement
    47. Annihilation of male prostitutes
    48. Historical background
    49-50. Jehoshaphat rejects Ahaziah’s invitation to sail to Ophir
    51. Second summary statement
52-54. Ahaziah, king of Israel
    52. Introductory statement
    53-54. Ahaziah’s evil ways

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Photo taken from http://farm1.static.flickr.com/3/4173262_40621549cb.jpg

1 Kings 21 – “Naboth’s Vineyard”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Jezebel murders Naboth for his vineyard. God promises to annihilate Ahab’s family, but Ahab postpones the punishment by repenting.

II. Photo
Naboth is murdered for his vineyard: “When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite to take possession of it.” (v. 16)

III. Important Verses
1-3: [The following events] occurred sometime afterward: Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel, adjoining the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it as a vegetable garden, since it is right next to my palace. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange; or, if you prefer, I will pay you the price in money.” But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give up to you what I have inherited from my fathers!”
7-10: His wife Jezebel said to him, “Now is the time to show yourself king over Israel. Rise and eat something, and be cheerful; I will get the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”  So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived in the same town with Naboth. In the letters she wrote as follows: “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the front of the assembly. And seat two scoundrels opposite him, and let them testify against him: ‘You have reviled God and king!’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”
23-24: “And the LORD has also spoken concerning Jezebel: ‘The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the field of Jezreel. All of Ahab’s line who die in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and all who die in the open country shall be devoured by the birds of the sky.’”
27-29: When Ahab heard these words, he rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his body. He fasted and lay in sackcloth and walked about subdued. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:  “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the disaster in his lifetime; I will bring the disaster upon his house in his son’s time.”

IV. Outline
1-3. Naboth rejects Ahabs offer for his vineyard
4-7. Jezebel encourages Ahab to take charge
8-10. Jezebel arranges Naboth’s death
11-13. Naboth’s death
14-16. Ahab possesses Naboth’s field
17-19. God sends Elijah to confront Ahab
20-24. Elijah’s augurs doom for Ahab and his family
25-26. A note about Ahab’s evil ways
27. Ahab repents
28-29. God decides to delay Ahab’s punishment

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Photo taken from http://www.straight.com/files/images/wide/TOTA_Vineyard-Rows-Russel.jpg

1 Kings 20 – “Ahab’s War with Ben-Hadad”

Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

After laying siege to Samaria, Ben-hadad is defeated by Ahab’s small army. A second battle ensues and Ahab is once again victorious. Ahab is rebuked by an unnamed prophet for letting Ben-hadad go.

II. Photo
Ahab fights against all odds: “When the Israelites encamped against them, they looked like two flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the land.” (v. 27b)

III. Important Verses
1-4: King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered his whole army; thirty-two kings accompanied him with horses and chariots. He advanced against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it. And he sent messengers to Ahab inside the city to say to him, “Thus said Ben-hadad: Your silver and gold are mine, and your beautiful wives and children are mine.” The king of Israel replied, “As you say, my lord king: I and all I have are yours.”
8: All the elders and all the people said, “Do not obey and do not submit!”
11: The king of Israel replied, “Tell him: Let not him who girds on his sword boast like him who ungirds it!”
23: Now the ministers of the king of Aram said to him, “Their God is a God of mountains; that is why they got the better of us. But if we fight them in the plain, we will surely get the better of them.
29-30: For seven days they were encamped opposite each other. On the seventh day, the battle was joined and the Israelites struck down 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day. The survivors fled to Aphek, inside the town, and the wall fell on the 27,000 survivors. Ben-hadad also fled and took refuge inside the town, in an inner chamber.
42-43: [The prophet] said to him, “Thus said the LORD: Because you have set free the man whom I doomed, your life shall be forfeit for his life and your people for his people.” Dispirited and sullen, the king left for home and came to Samaria.

IV. Outline
1. Ben-hadad lays siege to Samaria
2-6. Ben-hadad’s terms; Ahab’s capitulation
7-9. Ahab reneges his surrender
10. Ben-hadad’s anger
11. Ahab’s insult
12. Ben-hadad prepares for war
13-14. God tells Ahab to go to war
15-21. Ahab’s forces crush the Arameans
22. Preparations
23-25. Ben-hadad’s conception of the Israelite deity; Preparation for battle in the plain
26-27. Preparations
28. God’s promise to deliver for Ahab
29-30a. The Israelites prevail:
30b-34. Ben-hadad and Ahab parley
35-42. A prophet rebukes Ahab for letting Ben-hadad go
43. Ahab returns to Samaria in a sullen mood

V. Comment
Chapter 20 relates how Ahab king of Israel defeats Ben-hadad king of Aram in two separate battles. Cogan notes a similar structure between the two battle accounts. He writes: “The descriptions of the two battles are built up of similar elements: a description of the Aramean advance against Israel (vv. 12, 26); a prophetic promise of victory to the king (vv. 13-14, 28); the battle and its outcome in Israel’s favor (vv. 20-21, 29-30). The triumph of ‘the few over the many’ manifests, as it does in the other contexts in which this motif is employed (e.g. Judg 7:1-8), that it is [God] who grants victory to Israel (cf. 1 Kgs 20:13, 28).” (471)

Verse 1 mentions Ben-hadad’s union of kings: “King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered his whole army; thirty-two kings accompanied him with horses and chariots. He advanced against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it.” Who were these 32 kings? Cogan writes: “This large number of allied kings cannot be confirmed by extrabiblical sources. Other coalitions were of smaller proportion; e.g., at Qarqar, Adad-idri f Damascus was supported by 11 Kings; according to the Zakir stela, Ben-hadad III led a force of 7 kings (ANET, 501). A fragment of a stela from Zinjirli contains a reference to ‘thirty kings,’ but the context is not recoverable (KAI 219, line 3). Moreover, the authority that Ben-hadad exercised over these kings (cf. v. 24) indicates that the 32 were most likely tribal chieftains, perhaps in the vicinity of Damascus, rather than heads of large kingdoms.” (462) For a similar idea, reference the “kings” mentioned in Numbers 31:8: “Along with their other victims, they slew the kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. They also put Balaam son of Beor to the sword.”

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Photo taken from http://www.smoothsoapsandlotions.com/files/QuickSiteImages/pretty_goat_in_grass_field.jpg

1 Kings 19 – “Elijah’s Theophany at Horeb”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah. With the help of an angel, Elijah travels to Horeb where he encounters God. He returns to Israel and accepts Elisha as his apprentice.

II. Photo
Elijah, who is being pursued by Jezebel, begs for death: “He came to a broom bush and sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. ‘Enough!’ he cried. ‘Now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’” (v. 4b)

III. Important Verses
1-2: When Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had put all the prophets to the sword, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “Thus and more may the gods do if by this time tomorrow I have not made you like one of them.”
3-4: Frightened, he fled at once for his life. He came to Beer-sheba, which is in Judah, and left his servant there; he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush and sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. “Enough!” he cried. “Now, O LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
7-9a: The angel of the LORD came a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.”  He arose and ate and drank; and with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb. There he went into a cave, and there he spent the night.
9b-12: Then the word of the LORD came to him. He said to him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” He replied, “I am moved by zeal for the LORD, the God of Hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and put Your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they are out to take my life.”  “Come out,” He called, “and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And lo, the LORD passed by. There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind — an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake — fire; but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire — a soft murmuring sound.

IV. Outline
1-2. Jezebel threatens Elijah
3-4a. Elijah flees to the wilderness
4b. Elijah’s petition
5-8a. An angel sustains Elijah
8b-9a. Elijah travels to Horeb
9b-14. Elijah experiences the power of God
15-18. God gives Elijah a mission
19-21. Elisha becomes Elijah’s attendant

V. Comment
Chapter 19 relates how Elijah, who is being pursued by Jezebel, travels to Horeb and experiences God’s presence. In discussing this chapter, scholars point to the many similarities between Moses and Elijah. For example, note the following parallels:

Horeb:

  • He arose and ate and drank; and with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb. (1 Kgs 19:8)
  • Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (Ex 3:1)

Forty days:

  • He arose and ate and drank; and with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb. (1 Kgs 19:8)
  • Moses went inside the cloud and ascended the mountain; and Moses remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Ex 24:18)

Abstaining from food and drink:

  • He arose and ate and drank; and with the strength from that meal he walked forty days and forty nights as far as the mountain of God at Horeb. (1 Kgs 19:8)
  • And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water; and he wrote down on the tablets the terms of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. (Ex 34:28)

Standing in a cave as God passes by:

  • There he went into a cave, and there he spent the night. Then the word of the LORD came to him. He said to him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” (1 Kgs 19:9)
  • And, as My Presence passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with My hand until I have passed by. (Ex 33:22)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Photo taken from http://www.floradecanarias.com/imagenes/spartium_junceum.jpg

1 Kings 18 – “Elijah Defeats the Prophets of Baal”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Elijah duels with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. After Baal is shown to be an inefficacious deity, God miraculously consumes Elijah’s sacrifice. The people kill the prophets of Baal, Ahab flees, and Elijah brings the rain.

II. Photo
Elijah brings the much-needed rain: “Meanwhile the sky grew black with clouds; there was wind, and a heavy downpour fell.” (v. 45a)

III. Important Verses
3-4: Ahab had summoned Obadiah, the steward of the palace. (Obadiah revered the LORD greatly. When Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and provided them with food and drink.)
25-29: Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull and prepare it first, for you are the majority; invoke your god by name, but apply no fire.” They took the bull that was given them; they prepared it, and invoked Baal by name from morning until noon, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound, and none who responded; so they performed a hopping dance about the altar that had been set up. When noon came, Elijah mocked them, saying, “Shout louder! After all, he is a god. But he may be in conversation, he may be detained, or he may be on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and will wake up.” So they shouted louder, and gashed themselves with knives and spears, according to their practice, until the blood streamed over them. When noon passed, they kept raving until the hour of presenting the meal offering. Still there was no sound, and none who responded or heeded.
33-35: [Elijah] laid out the wood, and he cut up the bull and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it over the burnt offering and the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. “Do it a third time,” he said; and they did it a third time. The water ran down around the altar, and even the trench was filled with water.
38-39: Then fire from the LORD descended and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the earth; and it licked up the water that was in the trench. When they saw this, all the people flung themselves on their faces and cried out: “The LORD alone is God, The LORD alone is God!”
40: Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal, let not a single one of them get away.” They seized them, and Elijah took them down to the Wadi Kishon and slaughtered them there.
42b-45a: Elijah meanwhile climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, crouched on the ground, and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up and look toward the Sea.” He went up and looked and reported, “There is nothing.” Seven times [Elijah] said, “Go back,” and the seventh time, [the servant] reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising in the west.” Then [Elijah] said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” Meanwhile the sky grew black with clouds; there was wind, and a heavy downpour fell;

IV. Outline
1-2a. God sends Elijah to stop the famine
2b-6. Ahab and Obadiah search for water; Obadiah saves 100 prophets
7-14. Elijah tells Obadiah to summon Ahab; Obadiah’s protest
15-19. Elijah arranges a meeting with the Baal-prophets
20-24. Elijah and the Baal-prophets arrange a test
25-29. Baal does not respond; Elijah mocks the deity
30-35. Elijah drenches his sacrifice in water
36-37. Elijah’s prayer
38. A heavenly fire consumes the sacrifice, the altar, and the water
39. The people believe in God
40. Elijah kills the prophets of Baal
41-45. Elijah brings the rains
46. Elijah and Ahab leave

V. Comment
Chapter 18 relates how Elijah proves that God, and not Baal, is the one and only deity. Who was Baal? The word Baal is a common Semitic word for “owner, master, husband.” According to the Ugaritic texts, Baal was also the name of the most active and prominent of all deities. The text titled The Baal Cycle depicts him as a warrior; at times he brandishes two clubs, one representing thunder and the other lightning, to defeat his enemies. His primary consort was Anath, but at times he is helped by another goddess called Astarte. His dwelling was 25-30 miles to the north of Ugarit on Mt. spn, which is today called Jebel al-Aqra (1,780 m high). Jebel al-Aqra is the tallest mountain in Syria.

It seems that the Israelites practiced Baal worship from the beginning of their desert wanderings until the destruction of the first Temple. In Numbers 25:1-11 the Israelites “attached themselves to Baal-Peor, ate sacrifices for the dead, and indulged in sacred sexual orgies.” They also worshipped Baal during the period of the Judges (Judg 6:25-32). 2 Kings 11:18 describes the aftermath of Queen Athalia’s execution (835 BCE): “All the people of the land came to the Temple of Baal and tore it down; they smashed its altars and images; and Mattan, priest of Baal, they slew in front of the altars.” 2 Chronicles 28:2 describes how Baal worship was again taken up in the days of Ahaz (r. 732-716 BCE): “He went in the ways of the kings of Israel; he even made molten idols for Baal.” Manasseh (r. 697-643 BCE) gave Baal worship royal support (2 Kgs 21:3) and was presumably followed by many of his successors until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE. Thus, Baal worship is well attested to in biblical literature.

One might wonder: If there were so many ancient Near Eastern deities, why were the Israelites so enticed by Baal worship? Based on Ugaritic texts, Marvin Pope proposes the following answer: “The worship of Baal in Syria-Palestine was inextricably bound to the economy of the land which depends on the regularity and adequacy of the rains. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which depend on irrigation, the Promised Land drinks water from the rain of heaven (Deut. 11:10-11)… Thus in any year anxiety about the rainfall would be a continuing concern to the inhabitants which would suffice to give rise to rites to ensure the coming of the rains. Thus the basis of the Baal cult was the utter dependence of life on the rains which were regarded as Baal’s bounty.” (89) Thus, the Israelites were attracted to Baal worship because of their dependence on rain for survival. It was Baal, they believed, who could deliver the much-needed rain.

It is in this light that the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal should be understood. As Ulf Oldenberg writes, “To many Israelites it became a question who was the stronger god, [Israel’s God] or Baal. Only a contest between the two gods could decide this question, who was the most efficient god to provide the rain upon which their welfare depended.” (179) Thus, immediately after demonstrating how the prophets of Baal were fraudulent, “Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up and eat and drink, for a rumbling sound of rain [is coming]!” (1 Kgs 18:41). Elijah is making the point that it is the Israelite God, and not Baal, who delivers the rains.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Day, John. “Baal.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), p. 545.
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Oldenburg, Ulf. The Conflict Between El and Ba’Al in Canaanite Religion. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1969.
Pope, Marvin H. “Probative Pontificating in Ugaritic and Biblical Literature” (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1994) 89.
Photo taken from http://www.exhibit5a.com/images/blog/umbrella_rain.jpg

1 Kings 17 – “Elijah and the Widow”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Elijah promises to stop the rains. He performs two miracles for a widow, granting her an unlimited supply of food and healing her son.

II. Photo
Elijah performs a miracle for the widow: “The jar of flour shall not give out and the jug of oil shall not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the ground.” (v. 14b)

III. Important Verses
1:  Elijah the Tishbite, an inhabitant of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD lives, the God of Israel whom I serve, there will be no dew or rain except at my bidding.”
10-16: So he went at once to Zarephath. When he came to the entrance of the town, a widow was there gathering wood. He called out to her, “Please bring me a little water in your pitcher, and let me drink.” As she went to fetch it, he called out to her, “Please bring along a piece of bread for me.”  “As the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I have nothing baked, nothing but a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just gathering a couple of sticks, so that I can go home and prepare it for me and my son; we shall eat it and then we shall die.”  “Don’t be afraid,” said Elijah to her. “Go and do as you have said; but first make me a small cake from what you have there, and bring it out to me; then make some for yourself and your son. For thus said the LORD, the God of Israel: The jar of flour shall not give out and the jug of oil shall not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the ground.” She went and did as Elijah had spoken, and she and he and her household had food for a long time. The jar of flour did not give out, nor did the jug of oil fail, just as the LORD had spoken through Elijah.
22-24: The LORD heard Elijah’s plea; the child’s life returned to his body, and he revived. Elijah picked up the child and brought him down from the upper room into the main room, and gave him to his mother. “See,” said Elijah, “your son is alive.” And the woman answered Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD is truly in your mouth.”

IV. Outline
1. Elijah warns Ahab about the rains
2-4. God tells Elijah to travel to Wadi Cherith
5-6. Elijah travels to the wadi and is fed by ravens
7. The wadi dries up
8-9. God tells Elijah to travel Zarephath
10-16. Elijah is miraculously supported by a widow
17-24. Elijah heals the widow’s son

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
Photo taken from http://www.bakesourdough.com/images/uploads/one%20cup%20of%20flour.jpg

1 Kings 16 – “The Reigns Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab, Kings of Israel”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The reigns of Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab – all kings of Israel – are described. Baasha’s family is wiped out, Omri forces Zimri to commit suicide, and Ahab sins with ardor.

II. Photo
Jehu augurs doom: “Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and anyone belonging to him who dies in the open country shall be devoured by the birds of the sky.” (v. 4)

III. Important Verses
1-4: The word of the LORD came to Jehu son of Hanani against Baasha:  “Because I lifted you up from the dust and made you a ruler over My people Israel, but you followed the way of Jeroboam and caused My people Israel to sin, vexing Me with their sins — I am going to sweep away Baasha and his house. I will make your house like the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and anyone belonging to him who dies in the open country shall be devoured by the birds of the sky.”
9-11: His officer Zimri, commander of half the chariotry, committed treason against him while he was at Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was in charge of the palace at Tirzah. Zimri entered, struck him down, and killed him; he succeeded him as king in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa of Judah. No sooner had he become king and ascended the throne than he struck down all the House of Baasha; he did not leave a single male of his, nor any kinsman or friend.
17-18: Omri and all Israel then withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah. When Zimri saw that the town was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and burned down the royal palace over himself. And so he died.
30-33: Ahab son of Omri did what was displeasing to the LORD, more than all who preceded him. Not content to follow the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Phoenicians, and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar to Baal in the temple of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made a sacred post. Ahab did more to vex the LORD, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel who preceded him.

IV. Outline

1-6. Baasha, king of Israel
    1-4. Jehu’s augury
    5-6. Summary statement
7-14. Elah, king of Israel
    7. Jehu’s augury
    8. Introductory statement
    9-13. Zimri carries out Jehu’s augury
    14. Summary statement
15-20. Zimri, king of Israel
    15. Introductory statement
    16. The Israelites follow Omri
    17. Omri sieges Tirzah
    18-19. Zimri commits suicide
    20. Summary statement
21-22. Omri’s followers overpower Tibni’s followers
23-28. Omri, king of Israel
    23. Introductory statement
    24. Omri builds Samaria
    25-26. Omri’s sins
    27-28. Summary statement
29-34. Ahab, king of Israel
    29. Introductory statement
    30-33. Ahab’s sins
    34. Hiel builds Jericho, loses two sons

V. Comment
Chapter 16 relates how power is transferred from one king to the next in the kingdom of Israel. Zimri, the man who had betrayed Elah, commits suicide in v. 18: “When Zimri saw that the town was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and burned down the royal palace over himself. And so he died.”

Suicide occurs at least four other times in the Hebrew Bible. Judges 9:53-54 records Abimelech’s suicide: “But a woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and cracked his skull. He immediately cried out to his attendant, his arms-bearer, ‘Draw your dagger and finish me off, that they may not say of me, ‘A woman killed him!’ So his attendant stabbed him, and he died.” Saul and his arms-bearer also committ suicide: “Saul said to his arms-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and run me through, so that the uncircumcised may not run me through and make sport of me.’ But his arms-bearer, in his great awe, refused; whereupon Saul grasped the sword and fell upon it. When his arms-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him ended his life early.” (1 Sam 31:4-5) The final case is Ahitophel in  2 Samuel 17:23: “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his ass and went home to his native town. He set his affairs in order, and then he hanged himself. He was buried in his ancestral tomb.” (Another possible case is Samson in Judges 16.)

Arthur Droge makes an important point about the tacit acceptance of suicide in the Hebrew Bible: “The important point is that none of these biblical figures receives censure; indeed, their suicides are scarcely commented on, leading one to conclude that in ancient Israel the act of suicide was regarded as something natural and perhaps heroic (Daube 1962: 83–87). The only instance in the Hebrew Bible where an individual considered death and perhaps wished to kill himself, but did not, is Job (7:15; 13:15).” (Arthur J. Droge, “Suicide” in the ABD)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
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