1 Kings Chapter 13  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 13
1Ki 13:1

“out of Judah to Bethel.” In this context, “Judah” most likely refers to the kingdom of Judah, which had stayed more faithful to the Law than Israel, the kingdom north of Judah. The man of God came from Judah, but would have had to travel through the tribal area of the tribe of Judah to get to Bethel. The town of Bethel originally was given to the tribe of Benjamin, but became part of Ephraim over time (see commentary on 1 Kings 12:29).

Bethel was a place of the perverted worship of Yahweh. Jeroboam had recently set up a golden calf there and manned its worship sites with priests who were not Levites (1 Kings 12:28-31). God called a man of God out of Judah to confront the false and perverted worship of Yahweh. That perverted worship was so new that it seemed logical that at least some of the people would return to Yahweh, and perhaps they did.

1Ki 13:2

“Josiah.” The Hebrew text uses the longer name of Josiah here: “Yoshiyyahu.”

“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

1Ki 13:3

“ash-heap.” The Hebrew word is hard to translate into English because it is related to “fat” and refers to the ashes mixed with animal fat that clump up and collect at the bottom of the altar. Although “ash-heap” is not exactly correct, it gives more of the idea of the chunks of ash, fat, and animal parts that end up on the altar.

1Ki 13:4

“Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, ‘Seize him!’” Jeroboam was an ungodly person at this point in his life, but an effective leader. He realized that if his leadership, decisions, and the worship he had initiated was allowed to be challenged that his kingdom, which was only a couple of years old at this point, would be in danger of collapsing, so he ordered the man from Judah to be arrested, but God intervened.

“but his hand dried up.” This is almost certainly the more inclusive use of “hand” that is allowed by the Hebrew language, which includes the hand and forearm at least up to the elbow. That is why the king could not draw his arm back to himself.

1Ki 13:5(top)
1Ki 13:6(top)
1Ki 13:7(top)
1Ki 13:8

“nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place.” To God, Bethel was an abomination, a place that turned people away from the worship of God and led them astray to the point that no doubt many of them would not be saved and live forever. What Jeroboam did at Bethel was a terrible sin in God’s eyes, incredibly evil, and God did not want to legitimize it in any way. So he commanded the man of God from Judah not even to drink water in Bethel. The man of God would have understood God’s command, a point that is made even clearer by the fact that this man of God is never named in Scripture, but instead is called the “man of God” 14 times in 1 Kings 13 alone. It is also clear that the man of God knew how serious in God’s eyes it would have been for him to stay and eat in Bethel because he said that even if Jeroboam would give him half his house, i.e., half his kingdom, he would not eat or drink in Bethel.

The man of God was clear about what God had commanded him to do. He told it to King Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:8-9), and he told it to the old man who lied to him (1 Kings 13:16-17). Yet in spite of the revelation that he received from God, he disobeyed it when the old man lied to him. The Bible does not explain why he did that, and it does not seem logical, but clearly, the man of God knew he was disobeying God when he returned to the idolatrous city of Bethel because when God gave the prophecy to the lying old man, he called what the man of God did “rebellion” against the mouth of God (1 Kings 13:21).

For a man of God to rebel against God is very serious. And that is particularly the case if that rebellion could possibly play a part in people not obeying God—in fact abandoning God—and thus not receiving everlasting life, which is the case in this record. By returning to the town of Bethel and eating and drinking in it, and especially sharing a meal with that old “prophet” who had apparently quit representing Yahweh years before, the man of God contributed to the legitimization of the idolatrous activities going on in Bethel. Bethel was not a very large town, and people would have known this old lying prophet and seen how he had not stood up against Jeroboam and his evil activities. So when the man of God from Judah went to his house and shared a meal with him, that would have seriously weakened the effect of the miraculous signs that God had done in Bethel and the prophecies the man of God has spoken. Furthermore, it would have made it seem like less of a sin to follow King Jeroboam in his idolatrous practices.

The rebellion of the man of God led to his death. The fact that it was a lion that killed the man of God, yet the lion did not eat the man of God or his donkey, sent a clear message to the people in Bethel—as it should to us today—that there are severe consequences for disobeying God. Sadly, the most severe consequence for disobeying God and abandoning God is not receiving everlasting life on Judgment Day, and that consequence cannot be seen in this life. But what often can be seen is the “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and the death of the man of God portrayed that, and hopefully some people learned a lesson about the seriousness of disobeying God from what happened to him and then took God and His commandments more seriously as a result.

1Ki 13:9

“the road.” The “road” would have been just a dirt road or path.

1Ki 13:10(top)
1Ki 13:11(top)
1Ki 13:12(top)
1Ki 13:13

“Saddle the donkey.” The “saddle” that we have today, complete with stirrups, was a late invention, after the time of Christ. People rode donkeys and horses on blankets like the American Indians did.

1Ki 13:14

“an oak.” The Hebrew reads “the oak,” which could possibly refer to a well-known oak. The exact type of tree is debated. For example, the CJB has “pistachio” tree.

1Ki 13:15(top)
1Ki 13:16(top)
1Ki 13:17(top)
1Ki 13:18(top)
1Ki 13:19(top)
1Ki 13:20(top)
1Ki 13:21(top)
1Ki 13:22(top)
1Ki 13:23(top)
1Ki 13:24

“When he went, a lion found him on the road and killed him.” On the surface, this seems like too severe a consequence for disobeying God, but the sin of the man of God was very, very serious (see commentary on 1 Kings 13:8).

1Ki 13:25(top)
1Ki 13:26(top)
1Ki 13:27(top)
1Ki 13:28

“went...found.” The same two verbs are in 1 Kings 13:24.

1Ki 13:29(top)
1Ki 13:30(top)
1Ki 13:31(top)
1Ki 13:32

“all the temples at the shrines.” The Hebrew is more literally, “the houses of the shrines,” and it refers to the temples that were built at the local shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

“come, yes, come.” The Hebrew uses the figure of speech polyptoton for emphasis (see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

1Ki 13:33

“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).

“ordained.” The Hebrew uses an interesting idiom, “he filled his hand.”

1Ki 13:34(top)

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