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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 18
|1Ki 18:1||- (top)|
“Samaria.” This use of “Samaria” likely referred to the region around Samaria; it would not have referred to the city of Samaria. However, the horrific sin against Yahweh was headquartered in the capital city, Samaria, so the use of Samaria is well justified here.(top)
“Over the House.” Obadiah was the palace administrator. The word “house” was often used in more contexts in the biblical culture than it is today. The “house” of God was the Temple, the “house” of the king was the palace, and so the “household” was the palace and all the goings on there. “Over the House” was most likely a title for the person who was the palace administrator, like being the Chief of Staff in the White House today.
“Obadiah feared Yahweh greatly.” The great reverence that Obadiah had for Yahweh is that he hid the prophets of Yahweh and sustained them at the risk of his life. Had he been discovered he would have certainly been executed.(top)
“cut off.” Killed. Jezebel was a murderer. The Devil and his people hate truth, and will kill to suppress it. There is no freedom of religion with the Devil or his people. However, all kinds of witchcraft, superstitions, and hurtful beliefs are allowed. Jesus said we would know them by their fruit and that is certainly true with religion.(top)
“brooks.” The Hebrew is nahal (#05158), the wadi, the riverbed that can flow with water but is usually dry during the dry season.
“so that we do not have to slaughter some of the animals.” The Hebrew word translated “slaughter” is the same root as “cut off” in 1 Kings 18:4 when Jezebel “cut off” (killed) the prophets of Yahweh. Ahab knew if the animals were starving that they would slaughter them (cut them off; kill them) so that at least they could get meat from them rather than let them starve to death and be of no value to anyone. Although some versions read “lose” (“that we lose not all the beasts,” KJV), the idea in the text is not just that the animals would die, but rather that some of them would have to be slaughtered (cp. NAB: “and not have to slaughter any of the beasts.” See also NASB; NET; NIV; NJB).(top)
|1Ki 18:6||- (top)|
“Obadiah.” The Hebrew text reads “he,” but that could be confusing in this sentence, so we substituted the name for the pronoun.
“Is it you, my lord Elijah?” This is a rhetorical question. Obadiah recognized Elijah. This is more like, “Wow! Is it really you, here now? Now what?”(top)
“your lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, “lords.”(top)
|1Ki 18:9||- (top)|
“swear that they had not found you.” The nature of the imperfect verb, “find” in the Hebrew text is that Elijah had not been found, but if he was found in the future that the nation who found him would turn him over to Ahab. Finding Elijah was an international issue for Israel.(top)
“your lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, “lords,” but it refers to the singular lord, Ahab.(top)
|1Ki 18:12||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:13||- (top)|
“your lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, “your lords,” but referring to just King Ahab.(top)
“before whom I stand.” This is an idiom meaning “whom I serve.” The servants stood before their lord.(top)
|1Ki 18:16||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:17||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:18||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:19||- (top)|
“So Ahab sent.” Ahab offers no resistance to Elijah’s demand. He was overconfident of the power of Baal and his prophets.(top)
“leap.” This same word is used in 1 Kings 18:26 for the false prophets leaping on the altar they made.
“the two sides.” The Hebrew word can mean “branches” (YLT) or crutches made from branches (HALOT), which seems unlikely here. The ASV uses “two sides,” which makes sense. The idea seems to be the very concrete mind picture of a person leaping back and forth between two branches in a tree or two sides of an issue. One thing seems clear from the context, and that is that no one can support both sides because the sides are opposed.
“Baal.” The Canaanite god of rain and fertility. See commentary on 1 Kings 17:1.(top)
“I am left of the prophets of Yahweh.” This was not true, and no doubt Elijah knew that. For example, not long before this event, a servant of Ahab, Obadiah, hid 100 prophets in a cave and told Elijah about it (1 Kings 18:4, 13). Elijah’s statement could easily have been hyperbole (exaggeration), which was common in the culture, mixed with Elijah’s feelings that no other prophet of Yahweh was taking a stand against the king and queen like he was doing, and so in that sense, he was the only prophet of Yahweh around. Also, however, and easily as likely, Elijah may have been purposely hiding what he knew about other prophets of Yahweh, knowing that if Jezebel knew that there were other prophets of Yahweh alive who had escaped her persecution she would try to find them and kill them. In that case, Elijah was only repeating what Ahab and Jezebel thought, that Elijah was the last prophet of Yahweh left, which would help to keep the other prophets safe.(top)
|1Ki 18:23||- (top)|
“the name of your god.” The word “god” is Elohim, a grammatical plural, and here it refers to the singular god Baal.(top)
“your god.” The word translated “god” is elohim, which can be translated as “god” or “gods,” but here, even though Elohim is a grammatical plural, the scholars realize that Elijah is referring to Baal, a singular god in the Canaanite pantheon, and so they translate it as “god” (see commentary on 1 Kings 18:27).(top)
|1Ki 18:26||- (top)|
“Either he is thinking.” The Hebrew can also mean, “he is in a discussion.” The Hebrew word can refer to thinking and also to discussing something.
“or he stepped out for a moment.” Some scholars take this as a euphemism for going to the bathroom, but that may be taking the text too far.
“he is a god.” Here we have the grammatical plural elohim with the singular pronoun “he.” The translators realize that this is referring to the singular god Baal, and so translate the phrase as “he is a god.”(top)
“cut themselves.” God made humans in His own image, and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (or “remarkably and wonderfully made” HCSB; Ps. 139:14). It seems to be both logical and instinctual to protect one’s body and feel good and healthy, yet the Devil has been successful in getting humans to practice self-mutilation under a number of circumstances.
Self-mutilation is an attack on God’s love for people and a person’s relationship with God. It never makes a person more righteous or holy in God’s sight, and it does not bring His grace or favor to bear in any situation. Neither does God want people to somehow punish themselves for being “not good enough” or for any other reason. It is also important to keep in mind that in that culture, cutting oneself not only needlessly harmed the person, and from the Devil’s point of view defaced God’s wonderful creation, but it was a genuine danger because the people had no effective way to fight infection if the wound should become infected. Thus every cut was a very real danger to the person. The custom of cutting oneself for various “religious” reasons was so widespread that there can be little doubt that occasionally someone would get infected and die—a great coup for the Devil who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
Self-mutilation is practiced in a number of religions, just as human sacrifice is, usually in the name of a god or as a demonstration of devotion or piety. Here in 1 Kings 18:28, the pagan priests used self-mutilation to get the attention of Baal and win his favor. Cutting oneself was also a pagan custom that was done as part of mourning for the dead (Jer. 16:6; 41:5; 47:5; 48:37; see commentary on Jer. 41:5), but God never wanted people to mourn that way and forbade it in the Law of Moses: “do not cut yourselves…for the dead” (Deut. 14:1).
The Devil works hard behind the scenes to get to the point that people call good “evil,” and evil “good” (Isa. 5:20). Often he gets “evil” to become embedded in the culture as something “good.” That is clearly the case with many superstitions, which honor him and take glory away from God. The wise Christian studies the Scripture to get to know the character of God and His commands, and thus can avoid participating in the evils the Devil has managed to embed in the culture. For example, Jesus knew the character and commands of God, so he did not keep the cultural dictate not to heal people on the Sabbath—he just ignored it (Luke 13:10-17).
The pagans, worshiping the Devil in disguise, had various religious reasons for cutting themselves. Sadly, the Jews did not understand the character of God and some of those pagan and demonic practices became part of the customs of Israel.(top)
“the evening offering.” The evening sacrifice and offering included the sacrifice of a lamb and a grain offering and also a drink offering (Exod. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-8).(top)
|1Ki 18:30||- (top)|
“sons of Jacob.” God does not call them “the tribes of Israel” here. They are the “sons of Jacob;” Jacob, that “heel snatcher,” who was on and off for Yahweh and wavered just as his descendants were now doing toward Yahweh.
“to whom the word of Yahweh came.” God chose Israel as His people and guided them with His Word, which was a special blessing to those people (cp. the special blessing on people who received specific revelation (John 10:35; Jer. 1:2)).(top)
“and he built the stones.” In the Hebrew text, the “stones” are the direct object of the verb “built.”(top)
|1Ki 18:33||- (top)|
“a third time.” So he used twelve stones for the twelve tribes of Israel, and now he had used twelve jars of water, no doubt also pointing to the twelve tribes of Israel.(top)
|1Ki 18:35||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:36||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:37||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:38||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:39||- (top)|
“slaughtered.” The Hebrew word is usually used in a sacrificial sense, to kill as a sacrifice, although it is sometimes used for just “killing” people.(top)
“there is the sound.” At this point, there was not even a cloud in the sky, as we learn a couple of verses later (1 Kings 18:43), but God showed Elijah there was going to be an abundance of rain by making him hear the sound. This is audible revelation; revelation hearing.(top)
“So Ahab went up to eat and to drink.” Ahab shows no reaction to the fact that 450 prophets of Baal were just executed.(top)
|1Ki 18:43||- (top)|
|1Ki 18:44||- (top)|
“in a little while.” The Hebrew text is idiomatic, literally, “by then, by then,” referring to a little while.(top)
“And the hand of Yahweh was on Elijah.” This phrase indicates that Elijah was under the direction and empowerment of Yahweh.
“tucked his cloak into his belt.” The custom was to lift up the long robe one was wearing and tuck it into a sash of some sort to keep it up, and the shorter robe allowed the man to run (Luke 12:35; 1 Pet. 1:13).
“to the entrance of Jezreel.” This is a long run. It would have been at least 15 miles, and it could have been even more.(top)