|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-8 When Ahaziah rebelled against the Lord, Moab revolted from him. Sin weakens and impoverishes us. Man's revolt from God is often punished by the rebellion of those who owe subjection to him. Ahaziah fell through a lattice, or railing. Wherever we go, there is but a step between us and death. A man's house is his castle, but not to secure him against God's judgments. The whole creation, which groans under the burden of man's sin, will, at length, sink and break under the weight like this lattice. He is never safe that has God for his enemy. Those that will not inquire of the word of God for their comfort, shall hear it to their terror, whether they will or no.
Verse 8. - A hairy man; literally, a lord of hair (בַּעַל שַׂעָר). Some take the meaning to be that he was rough and unkempt, with his hair and beard long; and so the LXX., who give ἀνὴρ δασύς. But the more usual explanation is that he wore a shaggy coat of untanned skin, with the hair outward. Such a garment seems certainly to have been worn by the later prophets (Zechariah 13:4; Matthew 3:4), and to have been regarded as a sign of their profession. But there is no positive evidence that the dress had been adopted by Isaiah's time. Girt with a girdle of leather. Generally the Israelites wore girdles of a soft material, as linen or cotton. The "curious girdle" of the high priest's ephod was of "fine twined linen," embroidered with gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet (Exodus 28:8). Girdles of leather, rough and uncomfortable, would only be worn by the very poor and by the ascetic. Elijah may have adopted his rough and coarse costume, either to show contempt for things earthly, as Hengstenberg thinks; or as a penitential garb indicating sorrow for the sins of the people, as Keil supposes; or simple to chastise and subdue the flesh, as other ascetics. It is Elijah the Tishbite. The description given is enough. The king has no longer any doubt. His suspicion is turned into certainty. There is no living person but Elijah who would at once have the boldness to prophesy the death of the king, and would wear such a costume as described. Elijah is, of course, his enemy, as he had been his father's "enemy" (1 Kings 21:20), and will wish him ill, and prophesy accordingly, the wish being "father to the thought." It is not improbable that Elijah had withdrawn himself into obscurity on the accession of Ahaziah, or at any rate on his exhibition of strong idolatrous proclivities (Ewald), as he had done on more than one occasion from Ahab (1 Kings 17:10; 1 Kings 19:8-8). Ahaziah may have been long wishing to arrest and imprison him, and now thought he saw his opportunity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they answered him, he was an hairy man,.... Either the hair of his head and beard were grown very long, having been much neglected for a great while; or he had an hairy garment on, either of goats' hair, such as the Chinese wear (f), whose women spin it, see Exodus 35:26 and of which garments are made; or of camels' hair, such as John the Baptist wore, who came in his spirit and power, and imitated him in his dress, being also, as Elijah here:
girt with a girdle of leather about his loins: for more expeditious travelling, not for warmth, the climate being hot:
and he said, it is Elijah the Tishbite; for he had seen him formerly in his father's court in this dress.
(f) Semedo's History of China, part 1. ch. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. an hairy man—This was the description not of his person, as in the case of Esau, but of his dress, which consisted either of unwrought sheep or goatskins (Heb 11:37), or of camel's haircloth—the coarser manufacture of this material like our rough haircloth. The Dervishes and Bedouins are attired in this wild, uncouth manner, while their hair flows loose on the head, their shaggy cloak is thrown over their shoulders and tied in front on the breast, naked, except at the waist, round which is a skin girdle—a broad, rough leathern belt. Similar to this was the girdle of the prophets, as in keeping with their coarse garments and their stern, uncompromising office.
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