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2 Kings 1:9-15

Context

1:9 The king 1  sent a captain and his fifty soldiers 2  to retrieve Elijah. 3  The captain 4  went up to him, while he was sitting on the top of a hill. 5  He told him, “Prophet, 6  the king says, ‘Come down!’” 1:10 Elijah replied to the captain, 7  “If I am indeed a prophet, may fire come down from the sky and consume you and your fifty soldiers!” Fire then came down 8  from the sky and consumed him and his fifty soldiers.

1:11 The king 9  sent another captain and his fifty soldiers to retrieve Elijah. He went up and told him, 10  “Prophet, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’” 11  1:12 Elijah replied to them, 12  “If I am indeed a prophet, may fire come down from the sky and consume you and your fifty soldiers!” Fire from God 13  came down from the sky and consumed him and his fifty soldiers.

1:13 The king 14  sent a third captain and his fifty soldiers. This third captain went up and fell 15  on his knees before Elijah. He begged for mercy, “Prophet, please have respect for my life and for the lives of these fifty servants of yours. 1:14 Indeed, 16  fire came down from the sky and consumed the two captains who came before me, along with their men. 17  So now, please have respect for my life.” 1:15 The Lord’s angelic messenger said to Elijah, “Go down with him. Don’t be afraid of him.” So he got up and went down 18  with him to the king.

1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Heb “officer of fifty and his fifty.”

3 tn Heb “to him.”

4 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the captain) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 sn The prophet Elijah’s position on the top of the hill symbolizes his superiority to the king and his messengers.

6 tn Heb “man of God” (also in vv. 10, 11, 12, 13).

7 tn Heb “answered and said to the officer of fifty.”

8 tn Wordplay contributes to the irony here. The king tells Elijah to “come down” (Hebrew יָרַד, yarad), but Elijah calls fire down (יָרַד) on the arrogant king’s officer.

9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tc The MT reads, “he answered and said to him.” The verb “he answered” (וַיַּעַן, vayyaan) is probably a corruption of “he went up” (וַיַּעַל, vayyaal). See v. 9.

11 sn In this second panel of the three-paneled narrative, the king and his captain are more arrogant than before. The captain uses a more official sounding introduction (“this is what the king says”) and the king adds “at once” to the command.

12 tc Two medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, and the Syriac Peshitta have the singular “to him.”

13 tn Or “intense fire.” The divine name may be used idiomatically to emphasize the intensity of the fire. Whether one translates אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) here as a proper name or idiomatically, this addition to the narrative (the name is omitted in the first panel, v. 10b) emphasizes the severity of the judgment and is appropriate given the more intense command delivered by the king to the prophet in this panel.

14 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

15 tn Heb “went up and approached and kneeled.”

16 tn Heb “look.”

17 tn Heb “their fifty.”

18 sn In this third panel the verb “come down” (יָרַד, yarad) occurs again, this time describing Elijah’s descent from the hill at the Lord’s command. The moral of the story seems clear: Those who act as if they have authority over God and his servants just may pay for their arrogance with their lives; those who, like the third commander, humble themselves and show the proper respect for God’s authority and for his servants will be spared and find God quite cooperative.



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