1 Kings 13:1
And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto 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.] 1 Kings 13:1Prophecy against the idolatrous worship at Bethel. - 1 Kings 13:1, 1 Kings 13:2. Whilst Jeroboam was still occupied in sacrificing by the altar at Bethel, there came a prophet (אלהים אישׁ) out of Judah "in the word of Jehovah" to Bethel, and pronounced upon the altar its eventual destruction. יהוה בּדבר does not mean "at the word of Jehovah" here, as it frequently does, but "in the word of Jehovah," as 1 Kings 13:9, 1 Kings 13:17 more especially show; so that the word of Jehovah is regarded as a power which comes upon the prophet and drives him to utter the divine revelation which he has received. It is the same in 1 Kings 20:35. להקטיר is to be taken as in 1 Kings 12:33. - "Behold a son will be born to the house of David, named Josiah; he will offer upon thee (O altar) the priests of the high places, who burn incense (i.e., kindle sacrifices) upon thee, and men's bones will they burn upon thee." According to 2 Kings 23:15-20, this prophecy was literally fulfilled. The older theologians found in this an evident proof of the divine inspiration of the prophets; modern theology, on the other hand, which denies the supernatural inspiration of prophecy in accordance with its rationalistic or naturalistic principles, supplies that this prophecy was not more precisely defined till after the event, and adduces in support of this the apparently just argument, that the prediction of particular historical events is without analogy, and generally that the introduction either of particular persons by name or of definite numbers is opposed to the very essence of prophecy, and turns prediction into soothsaying. The distinction between soothsaying and prediction, however, is not that the latter merely utters general ideas concerning the future, whilst the former announces special occurrences beforehand: but soothsaying is the foretelling of all kinds of accidental things; prophecy, on the contrary, the foretelling of the progressive development of the kingdom of God, not merely in general, but in its several details, according to the circumstances and necessities of each particular age, and that in such a manner that the several concrete details of the prophecy rest upon the general idea of the revelation of salvation, and are thereby entirely removed from the sphere of the accidental. It is true that perfectly concrete predictions of particular events, with the introduction of names and statement of times, are much more rare than the predictions of the progressive development of the kingdom of God according to its general features; but they are not altogether wanting, and we meet with them in every case where it was of importance to set before an ungodly generation in the most impressive manner the truth of the divine threatenings of promises. The allusion to Coresh in Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1, is analogous to the announcement before us. But in both cases the names are closely connected with the destination of the persons in the prophecy, and are simply a concrete description of what God will accomplish through these men. Hence the name יאשׁיּהוּ occurs primarily according to its appellative meaning alone, viz., "he whom Jehovah supports," from אשׁה, to support, and expresses this thought: there will be born a son to the house of David, whom Jehovah will support of establish, so that he shall execute judgment upon the priests of the high places at Bethel. This prophecy was then afterwards so fulfilled by the special arrangement of God, that the king who executed this judgment bore the name of Joshiyahu as his proper name. And so also כּורשׁ was originally an appellative in the sense of sun. The judgment which the prophet pronounced upon the altar was founded upon the jus talionis. On the very same altar on which the priests offer sacrifice to the עגלים shall they themselves be offered, and the altar shall be defiled for ever by the burning of men's bones upon it. אדם עצמות, "men's bones," does not stand for "their (the priests') bones," but is simply an epithet used to designate human corpses, which defile the place where they lie (2 Kings 23:16).
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