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A. M. 2300. A. C. 1003; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4482. A. C. 929, 1 KINGS viii. TO THE END OF 2 CHRON. nestly to God, that he would lay bare his arm, and show The famine had spread itself over the country of Sidon, some visible token of his displeasure against so wicked a as well as the land of Israel ; and therefore, when the people : and accordingly, in a short time, he was sent to prophet drew near the town, he met the widow to whom Ahab to let him know, that God intended to bring a sore he was directed; and when he requested of her to give famine, occasioned by want of rain, a upon the land, which him a little water, and withal a morsel of bread, she should last for above three whole years.
solemnly protested to him, that she had but an handful When the drought had continued some time, and the of meal in a barrel, d and a little oil in a cruise, and was divine threat began to operate, Elijah retired to the come out to pick up some sticks, wherewith to bake a
brook Cherith, where he concealed himself for the space cake e for her and her son, which was to be the last meal of a whole year, and was miraculously fed by the ravens, they were ever like to eat. But the prophet, encouraging which brought him bread and flesh twice every day, and her to do as he bid her, gave her assurance, that her for his drink he had the water of the brook ; but when meal and her oil should not fail as long as the famine the water of the brook began to fail, God directed him lasted ; which accordingly proved true : for of that little to go to c Zarephtha, a town belonging to the territories store, she, and her son, and the prophet, lived for the of Sidon, where he had appointed a widow woman to space of two years; and when, in this space, her son entertain him.
fell sick and died, Elijah by his prayers restored him to
life again, which f gave the mother full conviction, that early and latter rain.' The former of these was in the month he was a person extraordinary sent from God. Nisan, which answers to our March ; and the other in the month After he had lived in this obscurity for above two Marchesvan, which answers to our October. Now, at the beginning of the drought, Ahab might very probably impute the want years, God commanded him to return to the land of Isof rain to natural causes; but when, after six months, neither rael, and to present himself before Abab, because in a the former nor the latter rain fell in their season, he then began short time, he intended to send rain upon the earth. At to be enraged at Elijah, as the cause of the national judgment, this time the famine was so extreme about Samaria, that and forced him, at God's command, to save his life hy flight: the king commanded & Obadiah, one of the officers of and from that ti: ie the three years in the historian are to be computed, though from the first notice which Elijah gave Ahab of his household, and some others with him, to go all over this approaching calamity, to the expiration of it, were certainly the country in quest of some forage for the subsistence three years and a half. This calamity is said to have been pro- of his cattle ; and to see that his orders were fully excured by Elijah's prayers: but we must not therefore imagine, that his prayers were spiteful and malicious, but necessary rather, and charitable to the offenders; that by the sharp and long aftlic- d 1 Kings xvii. 12. As coru is subject to be eaten by worms, tion which they produced, God's honour, and the truth of his the easterns keep what they are spending in long vessels of clay, word and threatenings, which was now universally contemned, (Sandys' Travels, p. 117.) So it appears the woman of Zarephtha might be vindicated; and that the Israelites, whose present im- did. The word translated barrel, properly signifies a jar; and punity hardened them in their idolatry, might hereby be awak- is the same with that used for the vessels in which Gideon's solened to see their wickedness, their dependence upon God, and diers concealed their torches, and which they brake when they the necessity of their returning to his religion and worship. - blew with their trumpets.—Harmer, vol. i. p. 277.-ED. Bedford's Scripture Chronology, b. 6. c. 2; and Poole's Anno- e Some of the Hebrew doctors, and herein they are followed tations.
by some Christians, are of opinion, that this widow's son was the a It is worthy of remark, that according to Menander, there prophet Jonas; that after his restoration, his mother gave him to occurred in the reign of Eth-baal, king of Tyre an extremely Elijah; that ever after he attended on the prophet as long as he severe drought, which lasted from the month Hyperberetæus till lived; and on a certain occasion was despatched by him to the same month in the following year. After prayers were put Nineveh, as every one knows. But besides that these traditions up for averting the judgment with which the land was threaten- are destitute of any real proof, Jonah was an Hebrew, as he ed, there ensued mighty claps of thunder, and, we may presume, himself declares, (i. 9.) and a native of Gath-hepher, as we read a copious rain. As Eth-baal was contemporary with Ahab, the (2 Kings xiv. 25.) whereas the widow's son was a native of Zareader cannot fail to identify the drought now mentioned, with rephtha, a town belonging to the kingdom of Sidon, and by birth that which gave celebrity to the ministerial functions of the pro- a stranger to the race of Israel.—Calmet's Commentary. phet Elijah.-Russell's Connexion, b. 2. c. 2.-ED.
f The woman had sufficient reason to believe, that Elijah was The brook Cherith, and the valley through which it runs, are a prophet, or person sent from God, when she saw the miraculous both very near the river Jordan; but whether on the east or west increase of the meal and oil; but upon his not curing her son side of the river, it is not so well agreed. Eusebius, or at least St when he lay sick, but rather suffering him to die, her faith began Jerome, places it beyond Jordan, and so on the east side of it, to droop; whereas, upon seeing him revive, her faith revived but others generally agree in placing it on the west side, because with him; and through the joy of having him restored to her God, in sending away Elijah, says to him, 'Get thee hence, and again, she accounted this latter miracle much greater than the turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is former.-Le Clerc's Commentary. before Jordan,' (1 Kings xvii. 3,) where the expression “turn 9 There are some Jewish doctors who think that this Obadiah thee eastward,' seems to imply, that Elijah was on the west side was the same with him whose writings we have among the twelve of Jordan, for had he been on the east side, then to have gone to minor prophets. They pretend that he was married to that the brook, which ran on that side Jordan, would have been to woman of Shunem, where Elisha used to lodge; that he was a have turned westward. -Wells' Geography of the Old Testa- disciple of the prophet Elijah, and the last of the three captains ment, vol. iii.
whom king Ahaziah sent to apprehend him; and that for this c Zarephtha, or as it is called in the New Testament, Sarepta, reason he had compassion on him, though he destroyed the others was a town which lay between Tyre and Sidon, but somewhat that came before him, with fire from heaven, (2 Kings i. 9, &c.) nearer to the latter. Mr Maundrell, in his journey from Aleppo but all these things are pure apocrypha. Obadiah himself, in his to Jerusalem, observes, that it is the same with what is now discourse with Elijah, sufficiently tells us who he was, namely, a called Sarphan, distant about tlıree hours' travel from Sidon, in person truly religious, who worshipped God alone, had a singular the way to Tyre. Whatever it was formerly, the same author atfection for his servants; enough, one would think, to have made tells us, that at present it consists of no more than a few houses, Ahab discard, if not persecute him, had he not found him so on the tops of the mountains, about half a mile from the sea; highly useful in the management of his domestic affairs, as to though there is reason to believe, that the principal part of the connive at his not worshipping Baal, or the calves; especially as city stood below, in a space between the hills and the sea, be- we read nothing of his going up to Jerusalem, which was a decause there are still ruins there to be seen of a very considerable fect that God perhaps might think proper to dispense with.-Calextent. Wells' Geography of the Old Testament, part 1.c.5. s. 2. met and Patrick's Commentaries.
A. M. 3001. A. C. 1003 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4482. A. C. 929. 1 KINGS vili. TO THE END OF 2 CHRON. ecuted, himself went along with some of them.” Obadiah, ordered the priests to attend. When they were all met of all the king's domestics, was the niost religious. He together, Elijah, having first upbraided thenı with their in the time of Jezebel's persecuting the prophets of the vile prevarication, in mixing the worship of God and the Lord, concealed an hundred of them, by fifty in a cave, worship of Baal together, made them a fair proposal, to and there sustained them with necessaries. When Elijah this effect. “ Since there can be no more than one mot him, Obadiah saluted him with great respect; but infinite, supreme, almighty, and independent being, let when the prophet required him to go and acquaint the us, at this time, make the experiment who this being is. king that he was there, and desired to speak with him, You, who are the worshippers of Baal, have all the Obadiah at first excused himself, upon apprehension that advantages on your side, the favour and protection of Elijah might vanish, and leave him the object of the king's the court, 450 priests of one kind, and 400 priests of indignation, who had taken such vast pains to find him another ; whereas I, who am the manager of God's cause, out; but when the other assured him that he would not am but one poor banished man; and yet let two oxen be stir, he went and brought the king to him. The king, at brought before us. Let the priests of Baal choose their the first interview, began to upbraid him with being the ox, dress it, cut it in pieces, lay it on the altar; but let cause of the calamity that the nation suffered ; but Elijah there be no fire thereon; and I, in like manner, will do boldly returned the charge, and having taxed him with so to my ox. Let them pray unto their gods, and I the worship of false gods, which was the source of all likewise will call on the name of Jehovah; and then let their wo, he undertook to prove that they were no more the God, who, by consuming the sacrifice c with a sudden than false gods, if so be the king would be pleased to flash of fire, shall make it appear, that he hath heard the summon all the people to meet upon mount Carmel, and prayers, be owned by this whole assembly to be this one, to bring thither the 450 priests of Baal, together with this true, supreme, independent Being." the 400 priests of Astarte, who were supported at This was a proposal that none could gainsay; and Jezebel's table.
therefore the priests of Baal prepared their altar, sacriElijah had told Ahab, that there should be neither ficed their bullock, placed it on the altar, and began to dew nor rain upon the earth, but according to his word;' call upon their god : but Baal continuing deaf to their and therefore the king being persuaded, perhaps, that invocations, they betook themselves to odd gesticulathe national remedy was in his hands, neglected not to tions: they sometimes jumped over the altar, issue out writs for the convention of the people, and
• This is not the first time, wherein God had declared his '1 Kings xvii. 1.
approbation of his worshippers, by sending down fire to consume a of the dreadful extremities to which the inhabitants were it may be possible for evil spirits, who may have great knowledge
the sacrifices, (Lev. ix. 24. and Judg. vi. 21.) and though perhaps reduced, for want of provender for their beasts of burden, an idea how to manage meteors and exhalations to their purposes, te may be formed by the extraordinary circumstance of the haughty make fire descend from the clouds; yet, since they can do Ahab proposing to his prime minister Obadiah, to go in person, nothing without a divine permission, it is absurd to think, that, and by different routes, in search of grass for the horses and mules, both of which were held in the highest estimation. The in a matter of competition between him and false gods, he should places where Obadiah was recommended by his royal master to give evil spirits any license to rival him in his miracles. Le
Clerc's Commentary. look for provender was in the vicinity of springs and running waters--a recommendation founded on a correct knowledge of
d 1 Kings xviii. 26. •They leaped upon the altar which was the state of the parched and barren regions of the east, where the made.' Baal
, whose idolatrous worship is here referred to, was few spots of verdure that occur are found so generally to afford the same as Apollo, or the Sun. Callimachus has given us : water, that the presence of the one is almost always a sure indi- remarkable instance of the miversal veneration which was paid cation of the nearness of the other; and the circumstance of two by the ancient pagans, at his altar in the temple of Delos. personages of such elevated rank setting out from the palace in Amongst other ceremonies in the worship of this idol, it was search of such places, is one of the strongest proofs that could be customary to run round his altar, to strike it with a whip
, and given of the simplicity of ancient manners, when the greatest with their hands or arms bound behind them, to bite the olive. princes were in the habit of stooping to perform the meanest and For of Delos, the poet says:commonest offices. Among the tribes of Asia and Africa, the
Thee, ever-honour'd isle, what vessel dares same habits are to this day observed by the most powerful chiefs,
Sail by regardless ? 'twere in vain to plead who are so far from deeming it derogatory to their royal dignity
Strong driving gales, or, stronger still than they,
Swift-wing'd necessity: their swelling sails to engage in an expedition to obtain either grass or water, that
Here mariners must furl: nor hence depart, no employment could be considered more suitable to their char
Till round thy altar, struck with many a blow, acter, or more likely to secure for them the good will and esteem
The maze they tread, and backward bent their arms, of their subjects.-Jamieson's Eastern Manners.-Ed.
The sacred olive bite. 6 Elijah, in his appeal to the people, tells them, ‘I, even I,
Hymn to Delos, v. 433. only remain a prophet of the Lord,” (1 Kings xviji. 22.) and The former part of this ceremony plainly alludes to singing and therefore we can hardly imagine, that all these hundred, whom dancing round the altar. The latter part seems to accord with Obadiah preserved, were men actually inspired and invested with what is said of Baal, (1 Kings xviii. 26—28.) where we read of a prophetic character, but only such as were the disciples of the the priests of Baal who leaped upon the altar they had made
, prophets, and candidates for that office. For it is not unlikely, which the Septuagint renders ran round; "and they cried aloud, that even to Jezebel's time, there were remaining in Israel schools and cut themselves, after their manner, with knives and lancets, of the prophets, which she endeavoured to destroy, as well as till the blood gushed out upon them. Their running round the those that were bred up in them, that there might be none left altar signified the annual rotation of the earth round the sun. to instruct the people in the true religion. These she certainly Striking with a whip the altar, cutting themselves with knives looked upon as enemies to her idolatry, and might possibly per- and lancets, crying aloud to their deity, were symbolical actions
, suade her husband, that they were disaffected to his government denoting their desire that he would show forth his power upon and favourers of the kings of Judah, because they worshipped the all nature in general, and that sacrifice in particular then before same God, and thought that the proper place of his worship was him. Having thus surrounded the altar of Apollo, and by these Jerusalem: and therefore the greater was the piety and courage actions declared their belief in his universal power, they used to of Obadiah, in rescuing so many victims from the hands of this bend their own arms behind them, and so take the sacred olive furious and enraged woman.— Patrick's and Le Clere's Com- into their mouths: thereby declaring, that not their own arī et mentaries.
power which was bound, but from his whose altar they surround
A, M, 3001. A. C. 1003, OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4482. A. C. 929. I KINGS viii. TO THE END OF 2 CHRON. times danced round it, and, according as their custom This farce of devotion they continued till the day was, began to cut themselves with knives and lancets, was above half spent; when Elijah, desiring the people but all to no purpose : whereupon the true prophet o fell to draw near, and take twelve stones, according to the a bantering and ridiculing them, as justly he might; but number of the tribes, d repaired the altar of the Lord, their senseless idol knew nothing of the matter.c which had been broken down, and then laying his bullock
on the wood, e poured a great quantity of water three ed, and from him they expected to obtain that peace, whereof times on the sacrifice, on the wood, and on the altar ; so the olive was always a symbol. (Gen. viii. 11.) There are some that the water filled the trench, which was dug round the evident allusions to these abominable idolatrous practices in the altar to receive it. It was now much about the time of Old Testament; and for which the Jews are severely reprimanded by the prophets, for following such absurd and wicked ceremonies. Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that be procured, and their presence and attention obtained, by means make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace,' similar to those practised in securing the ear and the good-will of (Micah jii. 5.:) and respecting Ashdod, the prophet says, 'I The heathen deities had all of them certain employments will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations assigned them,-one had the management of the winds, another from between his teeth.' (Zech, ix. 7.) “ Theseus, on his return of the water, the cares of which were supposed necessarily to from Crete, put in at Delos, and having sacrificed to Apollo, occupy and distract their minds at particular periods; and some and dedicated a statue of Venus, which he received from were also engaged in long and distant expeditions, from which Ariadne, joined with the young men in a dance, which the they had to return before they could answer the supplications of Delians are said to practise at this day. It consists in an imi- their votaries.-Even in the present day, the same notions pretation of the mazes and outlets of the labyrinth; and, with various vail among the heathen, of the limited powers of the deities. involutions and evolutions, is performed in regular time. This Thus Siva, the principal god of the Hindoos, once fell into a kind of dance, as Dicæarchus informs us, is called by the profound reverie, which was supposed to be the cause of great Delians the Crane; he danced it round the altar Keraton, which public calamities and portentous occurrences that befell the land. was built entirely of the left side horns of beasts.” (Plutarch vita On a particular season of the year, he is constantly occupied Theseus.) This was a circular dance, and probably called the with the pleasures of the chase, to gratify him with which, his crane, because cranes commonly fly in the figure of a circle. statue, together with that of his favourite wife, is taken from his This dance, after a lapse of 3000 years, still exists in Greece, temple, placed on a car, and carried out to the open fields. under the name of the Candiot. See an account of it in M. Sometimes he suddenly departs on long journeys, and sometimes Guy's Hist. Lit. de la Grece, Lett. 13, and a plate in Leroy he falls asleep, which he did on one occasion particularly, when Baines des plus beaux monumens de la Grece.- Ep.
he had assumed the form of a porter, and, wearied with his task, a A strange method, one would think, to obtain the favour of resigned himself under a tree to the influence their gods! and yet, if we look into antiquity we shall find, that
“Of nature's soft restorer, balmy sleep." nothing was more common in the religious rites of several - From these circumstances, it appears that the sarcastic observanations than this barbarous custom. To this purpose we may. tions of the prophet were thrown out in ridicule of the prevailing observe, that as Plutarch, on Superstition, tells us, the priests of ideas of the priests and devotees of Baal; and they were rendered Belona, when they sacrificed to that goddess, were wont to the more cutting, by his recommending them to cry aloud;' besmear the victim with their own blood; that the Persian the very last attempt to gain the ear of their deity they would Magi, according to Herodotus (h. 7. c. 191.), used to appease have dreamt of making, as it is considered the greatest improtempests, and allay the winds, by making incisions in their priety to disturb any one in a temple or sacred place, when he is flesh; that they who carried about the Syrian goddess, as meditating, or to trouble him when engaged in the pleasures of Apuleius (b. 8.), relates, among other mad pranks, were, every the chase—in prosecuting a journey, or the enjoyment of repose. now and then, cutting and slashing themselves with knives, till The proposal was made by Elijah, as if, in the extremity of their the blood gushed out; and that even to this day, some modern distress, they should break through the ordinary rules of respect travellers tell us, that in Turkey, Persia, and several parts of for their God, more particularly as the occasion so greatly conthe Indies, there are a kind of fanatics, who think they do a very cerned his honour; and, as if he wished to afford the spectators meritorious thing, and what is highly acceptable to the deity, in the strongest proofs, according to the popular notions, of the cutting and mangling their own flesh. “But the gods ought impotence and insignificance of the idol, to whom they had been not to be worshipped at all," says Seneca, as he is quoted by St taught to prostrate themselves with blind homage.-Jamieson's Austin de Civ. Dei (b.6.c. 10.), if they delight in such. The Eastern Manners.-ED. fury of a restless and excited mind to gain the favour of the gods d The altar, which the sacred author here calls the altar of the is so great, that not even the most hideous tyrants can exercise Lord,' was certainly one of those which were built in the time of their cruelty so savagely,” &c. Calmet's and Le Clerc's Com the judges, and first kings of Israel; when, for want of a fixed Thentaries.
place of worship, such structures were perinitted. Both Taci6 The words of the prophet are very cutting and sarcastical. tus (h. 2. c. 74,) and Suetonius, speak of the God of Carmel,
Cry aloud, for he is a god” no doubt, though he may be deaf, whom Vespasian went to consult when he was at Judea. His or a great way off, so that he cannot hear unless you cry aloud; priest Basilides promised him all manner of prosperity and sucor "cither he is talking,” about business, or “ pursuing his cess in his undertakings; but, as the two historians tell us, there pleasures;” or perhaps “he is in a journey, and not at home;" or was neither temple nor statue upon the mountain, but one altar "peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awakened.” The two only, plain but very venerable for its antiquity. Some are of last notions of “ being asleep, and not at home,” how absurd opinion, that this Basilides was a Jew, and priest of the Most soever they may be when applied to the deity, were certainly High God; but it seems more reasonable that he was a pagan such as several idolaters conceived of their gods, as appears from priest, and probably the same who met Vespasian in the temple these passages in Homer. In the former of these, Thetis, says of Serapis in Egypt. However this be, the altar of Carmel he, cannot meet with Jupiter, because he was gone abroad, and seems to have had its origin from this altar of the true God, would not return in less than twelve days. “For Jupiter yes- which the ancient Hebrews first erected, and Elijah afterwards terday went away to a feast among the Æthiopians, and all the repaired ; which even the heathens held in such veneration, that, other gods are along with him, but on the twelfth day he will re- when they came to be masters of the country, they would not turn again to Olympus." And in the conclusion of that book, he place so much as an image by it.- Calmet's Commentary. shows in what manner the gods went to sleep:-“But Jupiter, e This the prophet did to make the miracle more conspicuous the Olympian prince of lightning, went up to his couch, where and convincing, io show, that there was no fallacy in it, no fire it was his wont to repose when gentle sleep hung heavily on his concealed in or about the altar, but that the lightning, which eyelids," &c.
was to consume the sacrifice, came from heaven, and came at his c Elijah's taunts were not the groundless effusions of satire and invocation; for so Josephus tells us, that Elijah invited the peoridicule, but were founded on the absurd and grovelling notions ple to draw near, even that they might search, and spy everyentertained of the objects of their worship by the heathen ; who, where if they could find any fire that was conveyed under the both in ancient and modern times, ascribed to their gods all the altar.—Jewish Antiquitics, b. 8. c. 7; Calmet's aud Le Clerc's attributes of humanity; and considered that their favour was to | Commentaries.