|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:11-22 The old prophet's conduct proves that he was not really a godly man. When the change took place under Jeroboam, he preferred his ease and interest to his religion. He took a very bad method to bring the good prophet back. It was all a lie. Believers are most in danger of being drawn from their duty by plausible pretences of holiness. We may wonder that the wicked prophet went unpunished, while the holy man of God was suddenly and severely punished. What shall we make of this? The judgments of God are beyond our power to fathom; and there is a judgment to come. Nothing can excuse any act of wilful disobedience. This shows what they must expect who hearken to the great deceiver. They that yield to him as a tempter, will be terrified by him as a tormentor. Those whom he now fawns upon, he will afterwards fly upon; and whom he draws into sin, he will try to drive to despair.
Verse 11. - Now there dwelt an old prophet [Heb. a certain (lit. one) old prophet. For this use of אֶחָד ( = τις) cf. 1 Kings 20:13; 1 Kings 19:4] at Bethel [It is at first somewhat surprising to find one of the prophetic order residing here, at the very seat and stronghold of the apostasy, especially after what we read in 2 Chronicles 11:13-16, that the priests and Levites, and it would seem all devout worshippers of the Lord God of Israel, had left the country, and had gone over to Rehoboam. For we cannot suppose that a sense of duty had kept this prophet at his post (see note on ver. 1). The fact that he remained, not only in the kingdom, but at its ecclesiastical capital; that he stood by without protest when the schism was being effected, and that, though not present himself at the sacrifice, he permitted his sons to be there, is a sufficient index to his character. It is quite possible that strong political sympathies had warped his judgment, and that he had persuaded himself that the policy of Jeroboam was necessitated by the division of the kingdom, which he knew to be from the Lord, and which one of his own order had foretold. Or it may be that, despite his better judgment, he had gone with his tribe and the majority of the nation, and now felt it difficult to withdraw from a false position. Or, finally, he may have taken the side of Jeroboam because of the greater honours and rewards that prince had to bestow (see on ver. 18). There is a striking similarity between his position and action and that of Balaam]; and his sons [The Heb. has son; The LXX., Syr., and Vulg., sons. It is quite true that a "very slight change in the Hebrew text would bring it into accordance with the Septuagint here" (Rawlinson, similarly Ewald), but it would be against sound principles of textual criticism to make it. It is much more likely that the LXX. and other versions have been altered already, and that the plural has been introduced here because it is uniformly found in the later narrative. "His son" (בִּנו), as the lectio ardua, is therefore to he retained. The use of the singular indicates that one of them was at first the principal speaker. Perhaps one hastened home with the news before the rest. The sons of the prophet are not to be confounded with "the sons (i.e., disciples) of the prophets" (2 Kings 2:3, 4, passim); not merely because "the latter would scarcely have witnessed the golden calf worship" (Bahr), but also because they would have been differently designated] came and told him all the works [Heb. work] that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they [observe the plural] told also to their father. [It is quite clear that the virtual excommunication which the man of God had pronounced had made as great an impression as the signs which he had showed. The interdict was a matter which came home to the Bethelites, as an affront to the whole community.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel,.... The Targum is, a false prophet, so Josephus (b); it is hard to say what he was, a good man or a bad man; if a good man, he was guilty of many things which are not in his favour, as dwelling in such an idolatrous place suffering his sons to attend idolatrous worship, and telling the man of God a premeditated lie; and yet there are several things which seem contrary to his being a bad man, and of an ill character, since he is called an old prophet, did not attend idolatrous worship, showed great respect to the man of God, had the word of God sent unto him concerning him, believed that what he had prophesied should come to pass, buried the man of God in his own grave, and desired his sons to bury him with him. In some copies his name is said to be Micah, as Kimchi observes, and other Jewish writers (c) say the same; though some take him to be Amaziah the priest of Bethel, and others Gersom the son of Moses (d), but without any foundation; though he now dwelt at Bethel, he was originally of Samaria, 2 Kings 23:18,
and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; that the altar was rent, and the ashes poured out, as he had said, and that Jeroboam's hand withered, and was restored upon his prayer to God:
the words which he had spoken unto the king; that one should be born of the family of David, Josiah by name, that should offer the idolatrous priests, and burn the bones of men upon that altar, and that that should be rent, and its ashes poured forth, which was done:
them they told also their father; gave him a particular account of his actions and words.
(b) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 9. sect. 1.((c) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 104. 1.((d) Shalshalet Hakabala, ut supra. (fol. 11. 1.) Shirhalbirim Rabba, fol. 10. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el—If this were a true prophet, he was a bad man.
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