1 Kings 13:4
And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings 13:4-5. He put forth his hand — To point out the man on whom he would have the people to lay hands. From the altar — Where he stood, and where his hand was employed in offering something upon it. And his hand dried up — Or withered, the muscles and sinews, the instruments of motion, shrinking up or becoming relaxed. This God did, not only to give another token, besides those which the man of God had mentioned, that his words would be fulfilled; but also to chastise Jeroboam for offering violence to the Lord’s prophet; to secure the prophet against further violence, and that in this example God might show how highly he resents the injuries done to his ministers for the faithful discharge of their office. The altar also was rent, &c. — This train of miracles, instantly wrought, and confirming so evidently the prophet’s mission, so amazed all the people, that we do not find any of them attempted to lay hold on him. And Jeroboam himself, for the present, was astonished and confounded at the sight of the effects produced by God’s miraculous power.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.He gave a sign - A sign of this kind - an immediate prophecy to prove the divine character of a remote prophecy - had scarcely been given before this. In the later history, however, such signs are not unfrequent (compare 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 7:14-16).

The ashes ... shall be poured out - i. e., "The half-burnt remains of the offerings shall be ignominiously spilled upon the ground."

2-9. he cried against the altar—which is put for the whole system of worship organized in Israel.

Behold, a child shall be born … Josiah by name—This is one of the most remarkable prophecies recorded in the Scriptures; and, in its clearness, circumstantial minuteness, and exact prediction of an event that took place three hundred sixty years later, it stands in striking contrast to the obscure and ambiguous oracles of the heathen. Being publicly uttered, it must have been well known to the people; and every Jew who lived at the accomplishment of the event must have been convinced of the truth of a religion connected with such a prophecy as this. A present sign was given of the remote event predicted, in a visible fissure being miraculously made on the altar. Incensed at the man's license of speech, Jeroboam stretched out his hand and ordered his attendants to seize the bold intruder. That moment the king's arm became stiff and motionless, and the altar split asunder, so that the fire and ashes fell on the floor. Overawed by the effects of his impiety, Jeroboam besought the prophet's prayer. His request was acceded to, and the hand was restored to its healthy state. Jeroboam was artful, and invited the prophet to the royal table, not to do him honor or show his gratitude for the restoration of his hand, but to win, by his courtesy and liberal hospitality, a person whom he could not crush by his power. But the prophet informed him of a divine injunction expressly prohibiting him from all social intercourse with any in the place, as well as from returning the same way. The prohibition not to eat or drink in Beth-el was because all the people had become apostates from the true religion, and the reason he was not allowed to return the same way was lest he should be recognized by any whom he had seen in going.

He put forth his hand, to point out the man whom he would have the people lay hands on, and to stir them up to do so.

From the altar; where it was employed in offering something upon it. Dried up, or withered; the muscles and sinews, the instruments of motion, were shrunk up. This God did, partly, to chastise Jeroboam for offering violence to the Lord’s prophet; partly, to secure the prophet against further violence; and partly, that in this example God might show how highly he resents the injuries done to his ministers in and for the faithful discharge of their office. And it came to pass, when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who had cried against the altar in Bethel,.... He was highly provoked: so that he put forth his hand from the altar; on which he was burning incense:

saying, lay hold on him; he put forth his hand, and either shook it at the prophet, threatening what he would do to him; or as beckoning to the people to seize him, and which he also expressed:

and his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him; he could not move it one way nor another, but it remained in the same position, the nerves and muscles being shrunk; which was a further confirmation of the prophet's mission from God, being one of those concerning whom he says, "do my prophets no harm", and a fresh token of the certain performance of what he had said.

And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, {d} Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.

(d) The wicked rage against the prophets of God, when they declare God's judgment to them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. he put forth his hand from the altar] He was busy in the operations connected with the sacrifice, but the words of the prophet roused his anger, and the raised hand is the sign of his wrath, as well as a signal to those who were near him, pointing out that the speaker was to be seized. Hence it is said immediately ‘which he put forth against him.’ The R.V. has observed the order of the Hebrew in which the proper name Jeroboam comes in the second clause of the verse and not in the first: thus ‘when the king heard … Jeroboam put forth, &c.’

dried up] The effect described is that of a limb becoming rigid, not so much shrivelling, as stiffening. Josephus says it was ‘numbed and dead’.Verse 4. - And it came to pass when king Jeroboam [The A.V. follows the LXX. The Heb. omits "Jeroboam"] heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand [instinctively. His first thought was, not to wait and see whether the promised sign was given, but to seize and punish the man who had dared thus to denounce and thwart him. And we may imagine how extremely mortifying this interruption must have been to him. It threatened the complete frustration of his policy at the very moment when it seemed certain of suceess] from the altar [the ledge or platform, i.e., where he stood. He did not leave it, but shouted his commands to his servants], saying, Lay hold on him. ["Arrest him," "let him not escape." One word in the Heb.] And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up [Possibly the result of paralysis or tetanus (Ackermann in Bahr). It was like the "withered hand" of the New Testament (Matthew 12:10, etc.) deprived of feeling and vital force, as the next words show], so that he could not pull it in again to him. [It was not only powerless to punish, it was punished. "Now stands the king of Israel, like some antique statue, in a posture of impotent endeavour" (Hall). This was a warning to the king, not so much against his unauthorized and schismatical rites, as against his attempt to avenge himself on the messenger of God (Psalm 105:14, 15).] But this institution became a sin to Jeroboam, because it violated the fundamental law of the Old Testament religion, since this not only prohibited all worship of Jehovah under images and symbols (Exodus 20:4), but had not even left the choice of the place of worship to the people themselves (Deuteronomy 12:5.). "And the people went before the one to Dan." The expression "to Dan" can only be suitably explained by connecting it with העם: the people even to Dan, i.e., the people throughout the whole kingdom even to Dan. The southern boundary as the terminus a quo is not mentioned; not because it was for a long time in dispute, but because it was already given in the allusion to Bethel. האחד is neither the golden calf at Dan nor (as I formerly thought) that at Bethel, but is to be interpreted according to the receding את־האחד ואת־האחד: one of the two, or actually both the one and the other (Thenius). The sin of which Jeroboam was guilty consisted in the fact that he no longer allowed the people to go to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, but induced or compelled them to worship Jehovah before one or the other of the calves which he had set up, or _(as it is expressed in 1 Kings 12:31) made a house of high places, בּמות בּית (see at 1 Kings 3:2), instead of the house of God, which the Lord had sanctified as the place of worship by filling it with His gracious presence. The singular בּית ב may be accounted for from the antithesis to יהוה בּית, upon which it rests. There was no necessity to say expressly that there was a house of high places at Bethel and Dan, i.e., in two places, because it followed as a matter of course that the golden calves could not stand in the open air, but were placed in a temple, by which the sacrificial altar stood. These places of worship were houses of high places, Bamoth, because the ark of the covenant was wanting, and therewith the gracious presence of God, the Shechinah, for which no symbol invented by men could be a substitute. Moreover Jeroboam made "priests from the mass of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi." העם מקצות, i.e., not of the poorest of the people (Luther and others), but from the last of the people onwards, that is to say, from the whole of the people any one without distinction even to the very last, instead of the priests chosen by God out of the tribe of Levi. For this meaning of מקצות see Genesis 19:4 and Ezekiel 33:2, also Lud. de Dieu on this passage. This innovation on the part of Jeroboam appears very surprising, if we consider how the Ephraimite Micah (Judges 17:10.) rejoiced that he had obtained a Levite to act as priest for his image-worship, and can only be explained from the fact that the Levites did not consent to act as priests in the worship before the golden calves, but set their faces against it, and therefore, as is stated in 2 Chronicles 11:13-14, were obliged to leave their district towns and possessions and emigrate into the kingdom of Judah.
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