« PreviousContinue »
listines: in a word from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim one way, from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea another. The Levites also, whom Jeroboam thrust out, joined themselves to Judah; and multitudes of other persons, who abhorred idolatry, followed them from all parts of Israel. There were, besides, great numbers of foreigners in Judah; so that we may easily conceive Jehoshaphat's kingdom to have been as populous as it is here represented.
The great pains this good king took to propagate religion, not only procured him the favour of GOD, but gained the hearts of his subjects; and the LORD struck such a dread of him into his enemies, that instead of invading his dominions, the Philistines came voluntarily, and paid him a tribute which had been suspended for many years; and the Arabians also sent a great number of flocks and herds, as an acknowledgment of their homage.
We find that GOD was perfectly true to his promises; for whenever the king and people, either of Israel or Judah, were mindful of their duty, he blessed them with prosperity; and as constantly brought adversity upon them, when they forsook his worship: if they would but have been a righteous people, what happiness might they have enjoyed! what miseries would they have escaped!
THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF AHAB KING OF
ISRAEL AND OF THE HISTORY OF
From 1 Kings, Chap. xvi, xvii.
AND in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel in Samaria.
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, above all that were before him.
And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
And he reared up an altar for Baal, in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD GOD of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
In his days did Hiel the Beth-elite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his first-born, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
And Elijah the Tishbite who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
And the word of the LORD came unto Elijah, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be that thou shalt drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
So he went, and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
And it came to paas after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
And Jezebel sent to destroy all the prophets in the
land. And Obadiah hid an hundred of them in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
We find that there was at this time a great contrast between the two kingdoms: for whilst the king of Judah was using every means for propagating true religion, the king of Israel employed himself in exalting idols. Ahab not only continued the worship of the calves, which Jeroboam had set up, but he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre, whom he suffered to introduce new abominations; and to gratify her impiety, he built an altar to Baal in Israel.
That Ahab might not plead the example of his father, and pretend ignorance of the LORD, Elijah the prophet was graciously sent to warn and admonish him. Thesbe, the birth-place of this extraordinary person, was on the other side Jordan in the land of Gad. He is supposed to have been the father or chief of the prophets of that age, a man of great and elevated soul, of a ge nerous and undaunted spirit, a zealous defender of the laws of GOD, and a just avenger of a violation of His honour.
It was the LORD's will to send a famine on Israel; and that Ahab might not impute it to natural causes, Elijah was inspired to inform him, that it was inflicted by the hand of God, who withheld the usual refreshments from the earth for the wickedness of him and his people, and that the drought should continue.
As the LORD foresaw that the completion of this prediction would draw Ahab's resentment upon Elijah, in order to preserve this prophet from the cruel effects of the king's rage, and to shew his almighty power, He м 5. commanded
commanded Elijah to retire to the brook Cherith, which was near the river Jordan..
If we had not been told that the LORD sent the ravens which fed Elijah, it would be quite astonishing to think, that creatures so voracious, and seemingly of such a cruel nature, should perform so kind an office; but with this explanation the wonder ceases, for all things are possible to God.
ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW OF ZAREPHATH.
From 1 Kings, Chap. xvii.
AND the word of the LORD came unto Elijah, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there; behold I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
So he arose, and went to Zarephath: and when he came to the gate of the city, behold the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, hat I may drink.
And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
And she said, as the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in, and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: Lut make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
For thus saith the LORD GOD of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
And she went and did eat according to the saying of Elijah and she and her house did eat many days.
And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD which he spake by Elijah.
And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of GOD? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son ?
And he said unto her, Give me thy son. took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my GOD, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow, with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my GoD, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.
And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again; and he revived.
And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of GOD, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.