1 Kings 13:1
And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
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(1) A man of God out of Judah.—Josephus calls him Jadon (Iddo); but from 2Chronicles 13:22 it appears that Iddo was the chronicler of the reign of Abijah, and must, therefore, have lived till near the close of Jeroboam’s reign. Probably the tradition came from a mistaken interpretation of the “visions of Iddo against Jeroboam.”

By the word of the Lord.—A weak rendering of the original, “in the word of the Lord.” The constantly recurring prophetic phrases are, “the word of the Lord came to me,” and “the Spirit of the Lord was upon me,” enabling, or forcing, to declare it. The original phrase here implies both. The prophet came clothed in the inspiration of the word put into his mouth.

1 Kings 13:1. Behold, there came a man of God — A holy prophet; for none are called men of God in the Old Testament, but prophets. By the word of the Lord — By divine inspiration and command. “There is no foundation for so much as conjecture who this prophet was. His prophecy, however, is one of the most remarkable which we have in sacred writ. It foretels an action that exactly came to pass above three hundred and forty years afterward. It describes the circumstances of the action; and specifies the very name of the person who was to do it; and therefore every considerate Jew, who lived in the time of its accomplishment, must have been convinced of the divine authority of a religion founded on such prophecies as this; since none but God could foresee, and consequently none but God could fore-tel events at such a distance.” — Le Clerc, Calmet, and Dodd. Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense — Upon the feast day which he had instituted.13:1-10 In threatening the altar, the prophet threatens the founder and worshippers. Idolatrous worship will not continue, but the word of the Lord will endure for ever. The prediction plainly declared that the family of David would continue, and support true religion, when the ten tribes would not be able to resist them. If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is a spiritual judgment, represented by this, and much more dreadful. Jeroboam looked for help, not from his calves, but from God only, from his power, and his favour. The time may come when those that hate the preaching, would be glad of the prayers of faithful ministers. Jeroboam does not desire the prophet to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, but only that his hand might be restored. He seemed affected for the present with both the judgment and the mercy, but the impression wore off. God forbade his messenger to eat or drink in Bethel, to show his detestation of their idolatry and apostacy from God, and to teach us not to have fellowship with the works of darkness. Those have not learned self-denial, who cannot forbear one forbidden meal.Rather, "in the word of the Lord." The meaning seems to be, not merely that the prophet was bid to come, but that he came in the strength and power of God's word, a divinely inspired messenger. (Compare 1 Kings 13:2, 1 Kings 13:5,1 Kings 13:32.)

By the altar - "On the altar;" i, e. on the ledge, or platform, halfway up the altar, whereupon the officiating priest always stood to sacrifice. Compare 1 Kings 12:32 note.


1Ki 13:1-22. Jeroboam's Hand Withers.

1. there came a man of God out of Judah—Who this prophet was cannot be ascertained, He came by divine authority. It could not be either Iddo or Ahijah, for both were alive after the events here related.

Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense—It was at one of the annual festivals. The king, to give interest to the new ritual, was himself the officiating priest. The altar and its accompaniments would, of course, exhibit all the splendor of a new and gorgeously decorated temple. But the prophet foretold its utter destruction [1Ki 13:3].A prophet of Judah prophesieth against the altar at Beth-el: Jeroboam offering him violence, his hand withereth; and, at the prayer of the prophet, is restored, 1 Kings 13:1-6. He refusing the king’s entertainment, departeth from Beth-el, 1 Kings 13:7-10. An old prophet seducing him, bringeth him back, 1 Kings 13:11-19. He is for it reproved of God by the old prophet; and is slain by a lion; and buried by the old prophet; who confirmeth his prophecy, 1 Kings 13:20-32. Jeroboam’s obstinacy, 1 Kings 13:33,34.

A man of God; a holy prophet. By the word of the Lord; by Divine inspiration and command.

And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah,.... Whom Josephus (x) calls Jadon, perhaps the same with Iddo, who is by the Jewish writers (y) generally thought to be this man of God, and which may seem to be countenanced by 2 Chronicles 9:29 but cannot be, because this man was quickly slain, whereas Iddo lived after Rehoboam, and wrote his acts, first and last, nay, after Ahijah his son, 2 Chronicles 13:22 and for the same reason Shemaiah cannot be the man of God, 1 Kings 12:22, though Tertullian (z) calls him Sameas, and designs Shemaiah: but, whoever he was, he came

by the word of the Lord to Bethel: that is, by his command:

and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense; at the time he came, 1 Kings 12:33.

(x) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 8. sect. 3.) (y) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 20. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 11. 1. Jarch & Kimchi in loc. (z) De Jejuniis, c. 16.

And, behold, there came {a} a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto {b} Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

(a) That is, a prophet.

(b) Not that that was called Luz in Benjamin, but another of that name.

Chap. 1 Kings 13:1-10. Prophecy against Jeroboam’s altar in Bethel. Withering and restoration of Jeroboam’s hand (Not in Chronicles)

1. A man of God] Josephus (Ant. viii. 8, 5) says this prophet whom the narrative does not name was called Jadon (Ἰαδὼν ὄνομα).

out of Judah] Out of Judah to speak the word of the Lord in Israel. Later on Israel had her own prophets. Josephus also says he came from Jerusalem.

by the word of the Lord] Those who would not follow with Jeroboam in his worship of the calves had most likely all departed from the northern kingdom. But if this were not so, God would still choose His special messenger from that portion of the people who still clung to the pure worship at Jerusalem.

and Jeroboam stood by the altar] The Hebrew is better rendered by the R.V. was standing. The appearance of the prophet of Judah took place at the moment when the king was about to engage in the act of worship. We cannot be sure that the offering of incense by one who was not of the priestly race would be counted a sin in the days of Jeroboam. King Solomon (1 Kings 8:62-64) is described as offering sacrifice, peace offerings and burnt offerings, without anything to indicate that it was not lawful. But no doubt as time went on, and probably before the composition of the history before us, the persons who alone were allowed to offer at the altars were the priests and Levites.Verse 1. - And, behold, there came a man of God [see on 1 Kings 12:22. The "man of God" is throughout carefully distinguished from the "prophet." Josephus calls the former Jadon, probably the Grecized form of Iddo, עִדּו, which appears as יֶעְדו Ia'do in the Keri of 2 Chronicles 9:29. Iddo, however, notwithstanding his "visions against Jeroboam the son of Nebat" (2 Chronicles 9:29), it cannot have been, for he survived to the reign of Abijah, and indeed wrote a "story" (Heb. Midrash, i.e., Commentary) of that reign, whereas this man of God died forthwith. For a similar reason, we cannot believe it to have been Shemaiah, the historian of the reign of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:5, 15)] out of Judah [whither, as a rule, both priests and prophets would seem to have retreated (2 Chronicles 11:14, 16). It is clear, however, that the migration of the latter was not so general as that of the former. In ver. 11 we find a prophet at Bethel; in ch. 14. Ahijah is still at Shiloh, and at a later day we find schools of the prophets at Bethel, Jericho, etc. (2 Kings 2:3, 5). Stanley says with truth that "the prophetical activity of the time... is to be found in the kingdom, not of Judah, but of Israel," but omits to add that it was because the northern kingdom more especially needed their ministry. It was just for this reason that Ahijah and others remained at their posts.] by [Heb. in, same word as in vers. 2, 9, 17, 20, 32, etc. Similarly, 1 Samuel 3:21. The ב is not merely instrumental, but, like the ἐν, of the N.T., denotes the sphere or element. "By the word" would imply that he had received a Divine communication; "in the word," that his message possessed him, inspired him, was "in his heart as a burning fire shut up in his bones" (Jeremiah 20:9)] the word of the Lord unto Bethel [It is worth remembering that the new sanctuary at Bethel would probably be visible from the temple (Porter, p. 219; Van de Velds, 2:283), so that this function was an act of open defiance]: and Jeroboam stood by [Heb. upon. See on 1 Kings 12:32, 33. It is the same occasion] the altar to burn incense [or to burn the fat, etc., of the sacrifice. See on 1 Kings 12:33. This altar was clearly, pro hac vice, an altar of burnt offering; not an altar of incense, as is proved by the next verse.] He therefore consulted, sc., with his counsellors, or the heads of the nation, who had helped him to the throne, and made two calves of gold. זהב עגלי are young oxen, not of pure gold however, or cast in brass and gilded, but in all probability like the golden calf which Aaron had cast for the people at Sinai, made of a kernel of wood, which was then covered with gold plate (see the Comm. on Exodus 32:4). That Jeroboam had in his mind not merely the Egyptian Apis-worship generally, but more especially the image-worship which Aaron introduced for the people at Sinai, is evident from the words borrowed from Exodus 32:4, with which he studiously endeavoured to recommend his new form of worship to the people: "Behold, this is thy God, O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." רב־לכם מעלות, it is too much for you to go to Jerusalem; not "let your going suffice," because מן is not to be taken in a partitive sense here, as it is in Exodus 9:28 and Ezekiel 44:6. What Jeroboam meant to say by the words, "Behold thy God," etc., was, "this is no new religion, but this was the form of worship which our fathers used in the desert, with Aaron himself leading the way" (Seb. Schmidt). And whilst the verbal allusion to that event at Sinai plainly shows that this worship was not actual idolatry, i.e., was not a worship of Egyptian idols, from which it is constantly distinguished in our books as well as in Hosea and Amos, but that Jehovah was worshipped under the image of the calves or young oxen; the choice of the places in which the golden calves were set up also shows that Jeroboam desired to adhere as closely as possible to ancient traditions. He did not select his own place of residence, but Bethel and Dan. Bethel, on the southern border of his kingdom, which properly belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:13 and Joshua 18:22), the present Beitin, had already been consecrated as a divine seat by the vision of Jehovah which the patriarch Jacob received there in a dream (Genesis 28:11, Genesis 28:19), and Jacob gave it the name of Bethel, house of God, and afterwards built an altar there to the Lord (Genesis 35:7). And Jeroboam may easily have fancied, and have tried to persuade others, that Jehovah would reveal Himself to the descendants of Jacob in this sacred place just as well as He had done to their forefather. - Dan, in the northern part of the kingdom, on the one source of the Jordan, formerly called Laish (Judges 18:26.), was also consecrated as a place of worship by the image-worship established there by the Danites, at which even a grandson of Moses had officiated; and regard may also have been had to the convenience of the people, namely, that the tribes living in the north would not have to go a long distance to perform their worship.
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