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2 Kings 1:3-17

Context

1:3 But the Lord’s angelic messenger told Elijah the Tishbite, “Get up, go to meet the messengers from the king of Samaria. Say this to them: ‘You must think there is no God in Israel! That explains why you are on your way to seek an oracle from Baal Zebub the god of Ekron. 1  1:4 Therefore this is what the Lord says, “You will not leave the bed you lie on, for you will certainly die!”’” So Elijah went on his way.

1:5 When the messengers returned to the king, 2  he asked them, “Why have you returned?” 1:6 They replied, 3  “A man came up to meet us. He told us, “Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: “You must think there is no God in Israel! That explains why you are sending for an oracle from Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron. 4  Therefore you will not leave the bed you lie on, for you will certainly die.”’” 1:7 The king 5  asked them, “Describe the appearance 6  of this man who came up to meet you and told you these things.” 1:8 They replied, 7  “He was a hairy man 8  and had a leather belt 9  tied around his waist.” The king 10  said, “He is Elijah the Tishbite.”

1:9 The king 11  sent a captain and his fifty soldiers 12  to retrieve Elijah. 13  The captain 14  went up to him, while he was sitting on the top of a hill. 15  He told him, “Prophet, 16  the king says, ‘Come down!’” 1:10 Elijah replied to the captain, 17  “If I am indeed a prophet, may fire come down from the sky and consume you and your fifty soldiers!” Fire then came down 18  from the sky and consumed him and his fifty soldiers.

1:11 The king 19  sent another captain and his fifty soldiers to retrieve Elijah. He went up and told him, 20  “Prophet, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’” 21  1:12 Elijah replied to them, 22  “If I am indeed a prophet, may fire come down from the sky and consume you and your fifty soldiers!” Fire from God 23  came down from the sky and consumed him and his fifty soldiers.

1:13 The king 24  sent a third captain and his fifty soldiers. This third captain went up and fell 25  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, 26  fire came down from the sky and consumed the two captains who came before me, along with their men. 27  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 28  with him to the king.

1:16 Elijah 29  said to the king, 30  “This is what the Lord says, ‘You sent messengers to seek an oracle from Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron. You must think there is no God in Israel from whom you can seek an oracle! 31  Therefore you will not leave the bed you lie on, for you will certainly die.’” 32 

1:17 He died just as the Lord had prophesied through Elijah. 33  In the second year of the reign of King Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat over Judah, Ahaziah’s brother Jehoram replaced him as king of Israel, because he had no son. 34 

1 tn Heb “Is it because there is no God in Israel [that] you are going to inquire of Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron?” The translation seeks to bring out the sarcastic tone of the rhetorical question.

2 tn Heb “to him.”

sn The narrative is elliptical and telescoped here. The account of Elijah encountering the messengers and delivering the Lord’s message is omitted; we only here of it as the messengers report what happened to the king.

3 tn Heb “said to him.”

4 tn Heb “Is it because there is no God in Israel [that] you are sending to inquire of Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron?” The translation seeks to bring out the sarcastic tone of the rhetorical question. In v. 3 the messengers are addressed (in the phrase “you are on your way” the second person plural pronoun is used in Hebrew), but here the king is addressed (in the phrase “you are sending” the second person singular pronoun is used).

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

6 tn Heb “What was the manner…?”

7 tn Heb “said to him.”

8 tn Heb “an owner of hair.” This idiomatic expression indicates that Elijah was very hairy. For other examples where the idiom “owner of” is used to describe a characteristic of someone, see HALOT 143 s.v. בַּעַל. For example, an “owner of dreams” is one who frequently has dreams (Gen 37:19) and an “owner of anger” is a hot-tempered individual (Prov 22:24).

9 tn Heb “belt of skin” (i.e., one made from animal hide).

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

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

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

13 tn Heb “to him.”

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

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

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

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

18 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.

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

20 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.

21 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.

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

23 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.

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

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

26 tn Heb “look.”

27 tn Heb “their fifty.”

28 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.

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

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

31 tn Heb “Because you sent messengers to inquire of Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron, is there no God in Israel to inquire of his word?”

32 sn For the third time in this chapter we read the Lord’s sarcastic question to king and the accompanying announcement of judgment. The repetition emphasizes one of the chapter’s main themes. Israel’s leaders should seek guidance from their own God, not a pagan deity, for Israel’s sovereign God is the one who controls life and death.

33 tn Heb “according to the word of the Lord which he spoke through Elijah.”

34 tn Heb “Jehoram replaced him as king…because he had no son.” Some ancient textual witnesses add “his brother,” which was likely added on the basis of the statement later in the verse that Ahaziah had no son.



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