1 Kings 14:15
For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) And he shall root up Israel.—The first prophecy of future captivity, and that “beyond the river” (Euphrates), is here pronounced against the kingdom of Israel, on account of their share in the idolatry of Jeroboam, and in the worse abominations of the “groves.” Of all such utterances we must remember the express declaration of Jeremiah 18:7-8 : “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation . . . to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy; if that nation . . . turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” The prophecy uttered does not foreclose the probation of future ages. This is, after all, only one illustration of the great truth that—however impossible it is for us to comprehend the mystery—the foreknowledge of God does not preclude the freedom and responsibility of man.

The metaphor is of the reed shaken to and fro in the river, till at last it is rooted up, swept down the stream, and cast up on some distant shore.

Their groves.—The word rendered “grove” is properly Asherah, an idol: apparently the straight stem of a tree, surmounted by an emblem of the goddess represented (whence, perhaps, the wrong translation which, from the LXX. and Vulgate, has made its way into our version). (See Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:2; Judges 3:7; Judges 6:25; Judges 6:28, &c.) It is thought to have been an image of some deity like Astarte; and Gesenius infers from the derivation of the name that it was dedicated to her, as the goddess of good fortune. But the worship dates from a far earlier time than the introduction of the worship of the Tyrian Astarte, and the word itself is etymologically distinct from Ashtoreth or Ashtaroth. It is notable that in 2Kings 23:15 Josiah is said not only to have destroyed the altar and high places at Bethel, but to have “burned the Asherah;” whence it may probably be concluded that (as is perhaps implied in this passage) the old worship of the Asherah, with all its superstitious and profligate accompaniments, grew up under the very shadow of the newer idolatry. From the worship of images as emblems to superstitious veneration of the images themselves, and thence to worship of many gods, the transition is unhappily only too easy.

1 Kings 14:15-16. For the Lord shall smite Israel — For consenting to that idolatrous worship which Jeroboam set up. As a reed is shaken in the water — Hither and thither, with every wind. So shall the kingdom and people of Israel be always in an unquiet and unsettled state, tossed to and fro by foreign invasions and civil wars; by opposite kings and factions, and by the dissensions of the people. The emblem expresses very forcibly the ease with which God could punish the Israelites and overturn their state, notwithstanding all their greatness, even as easily as a reed is shaken with the wind. He shall root up Israel out of this good land — Which God began to do first by Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29; and then finished it by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:5-6, &c. And shall scatter them beyond the river — That is, Euphrates, so called by way of eminence, they being carried, as the forenamed places tell us, into the country of the Medes. Because they have made their groves — For the worship of their idols. God having before condemned the making and worshipping of the calves, by which they pretended to worship the true God; he now takes notice that they were not contented with the calves, but (as it is in the nature of idolatry, and all sin, to proceed from evil to worse) were many of them fallen into a worse kind of idolatry, even their worship of the heathenish Baals, which they commonly exercised in groves. Who made Israel to sin — By his invention, and making the occasion of their sin, the calves; by his example, encouraging those and only those that worshipped the calves; and by his authority requiring and compelling them to do it. This is mentioned as a monstrous aggravation of his wickedness, that he was not content to sin himself, but was a great author of drawing others into sin, and of corrupting and undoing the whole kingdom; which therefore God would never forgive him, but upon all occasions mentions him with this eternal brand of infamy upon him.14:7-20 Whether we keep an account of God's mercies to us or not, he does; and he will set them in order before us, if we are ungrateful, to our greater confusion. Ahijah foretells the speedy death of the child then sick, in mercy to him. He only in the house of Jeroboam had affection for the true worship of God, and disliked the worship of the calves. To show the power and sovereignty of his grace, God saves some out of the worst families, in whom there is some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. The righteous are removed from the evil to come in this world, to the good to come in a better world. It is often a bad sign for a family, when the best in it are buried out of it. Yet their death never can be a loss to themselves. It was a present affliction to the family and kingdom, by which both ought to have been instructed. God also tells the judgments which should come upon the people of Israel, for conforming to the worship Jeroboam established. After they left the house of David, the government never continued long in one family, but one undermined and destroyed another. Families and kingdoms are ruined by sin. If great men do wickedly, they draw many others, both into the guilt and punishment. The condemnation of those will be severest, who must answer, not only for their own sins, but for sins others have been drawn into, and kept in, by them.The general prophecy of Moses Deuteronomy 29:28, that the disobedient Israelites would be rooted up out of their land, and cast into another land, is here for the first time repeated, and is definitively applied to the ten tribes, which are to be removed "beyond the river" (the Euphrates, 1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 4:24), and "scattered." On the fulfillment of this prophecy, and especially on the "scattering" of the ten tribes, see 2 Kings 17:6 note.

Groves - See Exodus 34:13 note. The grove or, "asherah"-) worship, adopted from the Canaanite nations, appears to have died away after the fierce onslaught which Gideon made upon it Judges 6:25-31. It now revived, and became one of the most popular of the idolatries both in Israel and Judah (1 Kings 14:23, and compare the marginal references).

14. the Lord shall raise him up a king … but what? even now—namely, Baasha (1Ki 15:27); he was already raised—he was in being, though not in power. The Lord shall smite Israel, because they obeyed Jeroboam’s wicked command of worshipping the calves, and that willingly, Hosea 5:11.

As a reed is shaken in the water; easily and variously, hither and thither, with every wind; so shall the kingdom and people of Israel be always in an unquiet and unsettled posture, tossed to and fro by foreign invasions and civil wars, by opposite kings and factions, and by the dissensions of the people. See 2 Kings 17:18.

Beyond the river, to wit, Euphrates, oft so called by way of eminency, as Genesis 15:18 31:21 1 Kings 4:21,24. This was accomplished in part, 2 Kings 15:29, and more fully 2 Kings 17:6.

Because they have made their groves, for the worship of their idols, Exodus 34:13 Deu 16:21. God having before condemned the making and worshipping of the calves, by which they designed or pretended to worship the true God; he now takes notice that they were not contented with the calves, but (as it is the nature of idolatry, and all sin, to proceed from evil to worse) were many of them fallen into another and a worse kind of idolatry, even their worship of the heathenish Baals, which they commonly exercised in groves. See Poole "1 Kings 18:19". And the Lord shall smite Israel as a reed is shaken in the water,.... Either by the wind or by the stream; and may signify the fluctuating and uncertain condition Israel should be in future reigns, through civil wars, and the translation of the kingdom into different families; so that there was continually disquietude and uneasiness, and no settled peace and tranquillity:

and he shall root up Israel out this good land he gave to their fathers; which was brought about, first by Tiglathpileser, and then by Shalmaneser, kings of Assyria, that carried them captives from hence:

and shall scatter them beyond the river; the river Euphrates, as the Targum: or, as others, the river Gozan, 2 Kings 17:6.

because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger: in which groves they placed idols, and worshipped them, which was highly provoking to the Lord, and the cause of their dispersion.

For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the {m} river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.

(m) Meaning the Euphrates.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. as a reed is shaken] For this figure of entire instability, cf. Matthew 11:7 ‘a reed shaken with the wind’. And here the root is planted amid the water, which will make it more tottering still.

beyond the river] i.e. The River, par excellence, the Euphrates.

their groves] R.V. their Ashêrim. This is a plural form of the word Ashêrah, which is the name of a goddess worshipped with rites similar to those of Baal-worship. The plural probably denotes the wooden images of the goddess, which are mentioned as early as Exodus 34:13, and the worship of which was common in the time of the Judges (cf. 1 Kings 3:7), and then for some interval laid aside, but revived under the kings.Verse 15. - For [Heb. And. The prophet now proceeds to state the share of the people in the punishment. They had acquiesced in the wicked innovations of Jeroboam and had joined in the worship of the calves] the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed [קָנֶה κάννα, canna, cane] is shaken [The construction is pregnant, viz., "shall smite Israel so that it shall be shaken as a reed," etc. (cf. Luke 7:24). "The image is very striking, for Israel was brought so low that every political influence bore it along" (Thenius)] in the water, and he shall root up [same word as in Deuteronomy 29:28; Jeremiah 24:6] Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river [i.e., the Euphrates; see on 1 Kings 4:24. This is the first clear prophecy of the captivity foreshadowed by Moses (Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 28:25, 36, 63, 64), and by Solomon (1 Kings 8:46-50). For its fulfilment, see 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11, etc.], because they have made their groves [Heb. their Asherahs, i.e., images of Astarte. The translation "grove" after the LXX. ἄλσος, Vulg. lucus, is now abandoned. It is clear some sort of idol is intended by the term. This is evident from ver. 23, where it is said the Asherahs (A.V. groves) were built "under every green tree" (cf. 2 Kings 17:10); from 1 Kings 15:13 (where see note); from 2 Kings 23:6, which tells how Josiah "brought out the Asherahs out of the house of the Lord," and from the connexion in which the word is found with "molten images, carved images," etc. (ver. 23; 2 Chronicles 33:19; 2 Chronicles 34:3, 4; cf. also Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 18:19). They were doubtless effigies of Ashtoreth, made of wood (Deuteronomy 7:5; cf. 2 Kings 23:6), planted erect in the ground (Deuteronomy 16:21), and were consecrated to her impure and revolting worship. It is clear from this passage that the frightful impurities of the Canaanitish races had subsisted in the new kingdom by the side of the new sacra. They had probably revived under Jeroboam's rule, having apparently been in abeyance since the time of Gideon], provoking the Lord to anger. [1 Kings 14:22; 1 Kings 15:30; 1 Kings 21:22; 2 Kings 17:11, 17; 2 Kings 22:17; Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 32:16, 21; Judges 2:12; Psalm 78:58. The saying was as follows: "Therefore, because thou hast exalted thyself from the people, and I have made thee prince over my people Israel (cf., 1 Kings 11:31), ... but thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments...(cf., 1 Kings 11:34), and hast done worse than all who were before thee (judices nimirum et duces Israelis - Cler.), and hast gone and hast made thyself other gods (contrary to the express command in Exodus 20:2-3), ... and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore I bring misfortune upon the house of Jeroboam," etc. The expression, to cast God behind the back, which only occurs here and in Ezekiel 23:35, denotes the most scornful contempt of God, the strict opposite of "keeping God before the eyes and in the heart." בּקיר משׁתּין, every male person; see at 1 Samuel 25:22. A synonymous expression is ועזוּב עצוּר, the fettered (i.e., probably the married) and the free (or single); see at Deuteronomy 32:36. "In Israel," i.e., in the kingdom of the ten tribes. The threat is strengthened by the clause in 1 Kings 14:10, "and I will sweep out after the house of Jeroboam, as one sweepeth out dung, even to the end," which expresses shameful and utter extermination; and this threat is still further strengthened in 1 Kings 14:11 by the threat added from Deuteronomy 28:26, that of those cut off not one is to come to the grave, but their bodies are to be devoured by the dogs and birds of prey, - the worst disgrace that could befall the dead. Instead of wild beasts (Deuteronomy 28:26) the dogs are mentioned here, because in the East they wander out in the streets without owners, and are so wild and ravenous that they even devour corpses (vid., Harmar, Beobachtungen, i. p. 198). לירבעם with ל of relationship, equivalent to of those related to Jeroboam. It is the same in 1 Kings 14:13.
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