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a country in Gilead, that came to Ahab, and said he said, “Go on with good courage, and hope for to him, that God foretold, he would not send rain better things: but first of all, make me a little or dew in those years upon the country,* but when cake and bring it to me; for I foretell to thee, that he should appear.† And when he had confirmed this vessel of meal, and this cruse of oil, shall not this by an oath, he departed into the southern fail, until God send rain.” When the prophet had parts, and made his abode by a brook, out of which said this, she came to him, and made the cakes ; he had water to drink; as for his food, ravens of which she had part for herself, and gave
the brought it to him every day. But when that river rest to her son, and to the prophet also. Nor did was dried up, for want of rain, he came to Zare- any thing of this fail, until the drought ceased. I phath, a city between Sidon and Tyre; and this Now Menander mentions this drought, in his acat the command of God. For God told him that count of the acts of Ethbaal, king of the Tyrians: he should there find a woman who was a widow, where he says, “ Under him there was a want of that should give him sustenance. So when he was rain from the month Hyperberetæus, till the month not far off the city, he saw a woman gathering of Hyperberetæus of the year following. But when sticks. So God informed him that this was the he made supplications, there came great thunders. person who was to give him sustenance; so he This Ethbaal built the city Botrys in Phænicia, came and saluted her, and desired her to bring and the city Auza in Libya." By these words he him some water to drink. But as she was going designed this want of rain that was in the days so to do, he called to her, and asked her to bring of Ahab; for at that time it was that Ethbaal also him a loaf of bread also. She affirmed upon oath, reigned over the Tyrians, as Menander wrote. that she had at home nothing more than one hand- Now the son of this woman, who sustained the ful of meal, and a little oil; and that she was going prophet, fell into a distemper, till he gave up the to gather some sticks that she might knead it, and ghost, and appeared to be dead. The mother, make bread for herself and sher son ; after which, therefore, came to the prophet, weeping and beatshe said, they must perish by the famine, for they ing her breast, and uttering such expressions as had nothing for themselves any longer. Hereupon, her passions dictated to her, and complained to
or at least inhabited for some time. Since the Scripture makes his life by flight; and from that time the three years in the hisno mention either of the quality of his parents, the manner of torian are to be computed, though from the first notice which his education, or his call to the prophetic office, some Jewish Elijah gave Ahab of this approaching calamity, to the expiration doctors have been of opinion that he was an angel sent from of it, were certainly three years and a half. This calamity is heaven, in the midst of the general corruption of the world, to said to have been procured by Elijah's prayers: but we must preserve the true worship of God. Others pretend, that he was not therefore imagine that his prayers were spiteful and malia priest descended from the tribe of Aaron; that his father's cious, but necessary rather, and charitable to the offenders; that name was Sabaca, and his birth altogether miraculous: whilst by the sharp and long affliction which they produced, God's others again will needs have it, that he was Phineas the son of honour, and the truth of his word and threatenings (which were Aaron, who, after having lived a long while concealed, appeared now universally contemned) might be vindicated; and that the again in the world under the name of Elijah. But where the Israelites (whose present impunity hardened them in their idolScripture is silent, all particulars of this kind are of small au- atry) might hereby be awakened to see their wickedness, their thority. This, however, may be said with safety of him, that dependence upon God, and the necessity of their returning to he was one of the chief, if not the prince of the prophets of his his religion and worship. Bedford's Scripture Chronology, lib. age; a man of great and elevated soul, of a generous and un- vi. c. 2. and Pool's Annotations. B. daunted spirit, a zealous defender of the cause of God, and a + 1 Kings xvii. 1. just avenger of the violation of his honour. Calmet's Com
# The woman had sufficient reason to believe that Elijah was mentary. B.
a prophet, or person sent from God, when she saw the miracu* St. James's words are these :-Elias was a man subject to lous increase of the meal and oil; but upon his not curing her the like passions as we are; and he prayed earnestly, that it son when he lay sick, but rather suffering him to die, her faith might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for the space of began to droop; whereas, upon seeing him revive, her faith three years and six months. Our blessed Saviour inakes men- revived with him; and through the joy of having him restored tion of the like compass of time, Luke iv. 25; and yet neither to her again, she accounted this latter miracle much greater than of these are contradictory to what the sacred history tells us, the former. Le Clerc's Commentary. B. viz. That the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, Some of the Hebrew doctors (and herein they are followed 1 Kings xviii. 1. For we must remember, that as Egypt had by some Christians) are of opinion, that this widow's son was usually no rain, but was watered by the river Nile; so the land the prophet Jonas ; that after his restoration, his mother gave of Canaan had generally none, except twice a year, which they him to Elijah; that after he attended on the prophet, as long as called the early and latter rain. The former of these was in he lived; and on a certain occasion was dispatched by him to the month Nisan, which answers to our March; and the other | Nineveh, as every one knows. But besides that these traditions in the month Marheshvan, which answers to our October. Now, are destitute of any real proof, Jonah was a Hebrew, as he himat the beginning of the drought, Ahab might very probably im- self declares, chap. i. 9, and a native of Gath-hepher, as we pute the want of rain to natural causes; but when, after six read, 2 Kings xiv. 25; whereas the widow's son was a native of inonths, neither the former nor the latter rain fell in their sea- Zarephtha, a town belonging to the kingdom of Sidon, and by son, he then began to be enraged at Elijah, as the cause of the birth a stranger to the race of Israel. Calmet's Commentary. B. national judgment, and forced him, at God's command, to save
him, that he had come to reproach her for her one way, and the other another. Now it had hapsins, and that on this account it was that her son pened, that at the same time when queen Jezebel was dead. But he bade her be of good cheer, slew the prophets, that this Obadiah had concealed and deliver her son to him; for that he would re- a hundred prophets, and had fed them with bread store him again to her alive. So when she had and water. T But when Obadiah was alone, and delivered her son up to him, he carried him into absent from the king, the prophet Elijah met him, an upper room, where he himself lodged, and laid and asked him who he was? And when he had him down upon the bed; and cried unto God, and learned it from him, he worshipped him. Elijah said that God had not done so well in rewarding then bade him go to the king, and tell him, that the woman who had sustained him, by taking away, he was ready to wait on him. But Obadiah reher son; and he prayed that he would send again plied, “ What evil have I done to thee, that thou the soul of the child into him, and bring him to sendest me to one who seeketh to kill thee; and life again. Accordingly God took pity on the hath sought over all the earth for thee? Or art mother, and was willing to gratify the prophet; thou so ignorant as not to know, that the king that he might not seem to have come to her to do " hath left no place untouched, into which he hath her a mischief: and the child, beyond all expecta- not sent persons to bring thee back, in order, if tion, came to life again. So the mother returned they could take thee, to have put thee to death?” the prophet thanks, and said, she was then clearly He also acknowledged he was afraid lest God satisfied that God did converse with him.* should appear to bim again, and he should go
After a littlef while Elijah came to king Ahab, ! away into another place; and that when the king according to God's will, to inform him that rain should send him for Elijah, and he should not be was coming. Now the famine had seized upon able to find him, he should be put to death. He the whole country; and there was a great want desired him, therefore, to take care of his preserof what was necessary for sustenance; insomuch vation, and told him how diligently he had prothat it was not only men that wanted it, but the vided for those of his own profession, and had earth itself also; which did not produce enough saved a hundred prophets, when Jezebel slew the for the horses, and the other beasts, of what was rest of them, and had kept them concealed ; and useful for them to feed on, by reason of the that they had been sustained by him. But Elijah drought. So the king called for Obadiah, who bade him fear nothing, but go to the king, assuring was steward over his cattle, and said to him, that him upon oath, that he would certainly show himhe would have him go to the fountains of water, self to Ahab that very day. and to the brooks; that if any herbage could be So when Obadiah had informed the king that found for them he might mow it down, and reserve Elijah was there, Ahab met him, and asked him it for the beasts. And when he had sent persons in anger, “ If he were the man that afflicted the all over the ||habitable earth to discover the prophet people of the Hebrews, and was the occasion of Elijah, and they could not find him, he bade Oba- the drought that they lay under ?" but Elijah, withdiah accompany him. So it was resolved they out any Hattery, said, that Ahab was himself the should make a progress, and divide the ways be- man, and his house, which brought such sad afflictween them; and Obadiah and the king went the tions upon them; and that by introducing strange
* See 1 Kings xvii. 17—24.
was a disciple of the prophet Elijah, and the last of the three † Josephus, in his present copies, says, that a little while after captains whom king Ahaziab sent to apprehend him; and that the recovery of the widow's son at Sarepta, God sent rain upon for this reason he had compassion on him, though he had dethe earth ; whereas, in our other copies, it is after many days, stroyed the others that came before him, with fire from heaven, 1 Kings xviii. 1. Several years are also intimated there, as 2 Kings i. 9, &c.; but all these things are pure apocrypha, belonging to this drought and famine. Nay, we have the ex- Obadiah himself, in his discourse with Elijah, sufficiently tells press mention of the third year; which I suppose was reckoned us who he was, viz. a person truly religious, who worshipped from the recovery of the widow's son, and the ceasing of this God alone, and had a singular affection for his servants; enough, drought in Phænicia, which, as Menander informs us here, lasted one would think, to have made Ahab discard, if not persecute one whole year. And both our Saviour and St. James affirm, him, had he not found him so highly useful in the management that this drought lasted in all three years and six months, as of his domestic affairs, as to connive at his not worshipping their copies of the Old Testament then informed them, Luke Baal, or the calves; especially as we read nothing of his going iv. 25. James v. 17. I suspect, therefore, that Josephus's ori. up to Jerusalem, which was a defect that God might perhaps ginal reading was, No small time afterward.
think proper to dispense with. Calmet's and Patrick's Com. † About An. 907.
mentaries. B. There are some Jewish doctors who think that this Obadiah || Josephus here seems to mean, that this drought affected all was the same with him whose writings we bare among the the habitable earth. twelve minor prophets. They pretend that he was married to T 1 Kings xviii. 4. that woman of Shunem, where Elisha used to lodge; that he
gods into their country, and worshipping them ; offer his sacrifice, he bade the prophets go away, and by leaving their own, who was the only true but desired the people to come near and observe God; and having no manner of regard to him. what he did, lest he should privately hide fire However, he bade him go his way, and gather among the pieces of wood. So upon the approach together all the people to Mount Carmel
, with his of the multitude, he took twelve stones, one for own prophets and those of his wife; telling him each tribe of the people of the Hebrews; and how many there were of them; as also the proph- built an altar with them, and dug a very deep ets of the groves, about four hundred in number. trench. And when he had laid the pieces of wood And as all the men whom Ahab sent for ran away | upon the altar, and upon them had laid the pieces to the aforenamed mountain, the prophet Elijah of the sacrifice, he ordered them to fill four barstood in the midst of them, and said: “How long rels of the water of the fountain, and to pour it will
ye live thus in uncertainty of mind and opin- upon the altar, till it ran over it; and till the ion ?” he also exhorted them, that in case they trench was filled with the water poured into it. esteemed their own God to be the true and the When he had done this, he began to pray to God, only Deity, they would follow him and his com- and to entreat him to manifest his power to a peomandments ;. but in case they esteemed him to be ple that had been in an error a long time. Upon nothing, but had an opinion of the strange gods, which words a fire came on a sudden from heaven and that they ought to worship them, his counsel in the sight of the multitude, and fell upon the was that they should follow them. And when the altar, and consumed the sacrifice, till the very multitude made no answer to what he said, Elijah water was set on fire, and the place was become desired, that for a trial of the power of the strange dry. gods, and of their own God, he, who was his only Now when the Israelites saw this, they fell prophet
, while they had four hundred, might take down upon the ground, and worshipped one God, a heifer, and kill it, as a sacrifice, and lay it on and called him the only great and the only true pieces of wood, and not kindle any fire; and that God: but they called the others mere names, they should do the same things, and call upon their framed by the wild opinions of men. So they own gods to set* the wood on fire: for if that caught their prophets; and, at the command of were done, they would thence learn the nature of Elijah, slew them. Elijah also said to the king, that the true God.f This proposal pleased the people. he should go to dinner, without any farther conSo Elijah bade the prophets choose out a heiser cern; for that in a little time he would see God first, and kill it, and to call on their gods. But send them rain. Accordingly Ahab went his way; when there appeared no effect of the prayer, or but Elijah went up to the highest top of Mount invocation of the prophets upon their sacrifice, Carmel, and sat down upon the ground, and leaned Elijah derided them, and bade them call upon their his head upon his knees; and bade his servant go gods with a loud voice; for they might either be up to a certain elevated place, and look towards on a journey, or asleep. And when these prophets the sea : and when he should see a cloud rise any. had done so from morning till noon, and cutf where, he should give him notice of it; for till themselves with swords and lances, according to that time the air had been clear. When the serthe custom of their country, and he was about to vant had gone up, and had said many times that
* This was the ancient way of God's declaring himself pleas- nations than this barbarous custom. To this purpose we may ed with sacrifices. See Gen. xv. 17.
observe, that (as Plutarch, De Superstitione, tells us) the priests † This is not the first time wherein God had declared his ap- of Bellona, when they sacrificed to that goddess, were wont to probation of his worshippers, by sending down fire to consume besmear the victim with their own blood; but the Persian Magi his sacrifices, Lev. ix. 24, and Judges vi. 21, and though per- (according to Herodotus, lib. vii. c. 191.) used to appease temhaps it may be possible for evil spirits, who may have great pests, and allay the winds, by making incisions in their flesh; knowledge how to manage meteors and exhalations to their pur- that they who carried about the Syrian goddess, (as Apuleius, poses, to make fire descend from the clouds; yet, since they can lib. viii. relates,) among other mad pranks, were, every now and do nothing without a divine permission, it is absurd to think, then, cutting and slashing themselves with knives, till the blood that in a matter of competition between him and false gods, he gushed out: and that even to this day some modern travellers should give evil spirits any license to rival him in his miracles. tell us, that in Turkey, Persia, and several parts of the Indies, Le Clerc's Commentary. B.
there are a kind of fanatics, who think they do a very meritorious Ị Mr. Spanheim takes notice here, that in the worship of thing, and what is highly acceptable to the Deity, in cutting and Mithra, the god of the Persians, the priests cut themselves in mangling their own flesh. “Dii autum nullo debent colli gethe same manner as did these priests in their invocations of nere” (says Seneca, as he is quoted by St. Austin, De Civ. Dei. Baal, the god of the Phænicians.
vi. c. 10,) “si et hoc volunt. Tantus est perturbatæ mentis, et § A strange method, one would think, to obtain the favour of sedius suis pulsæ furor, ut sic dii placentur, quemadmodum ne their gods! And yet, if we look into antiquity we shall find, homines quidem sæviunt teterrimi, et in fabulas traditæ crudethat nothing was more common in the religious rites of several | litatis," &c. Calmets and Le Clerc's Commentaries. B.