1 Kings 14:3
And take with you ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell you what shall become of the child.
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(3) And take.—The presentation of this offering, designedly simple and rustic in character, accords with the custom (1Samuel 9:7-8) of approaching the prophet at all times with some present, however trifling. In itself an act simply of homage, it would easily degenerate into the treatment of the prophetic function as a mere matter of merchandise. (See above, 1Kings 13:7.)

1 Kings 14:3. Take with thee ten loaves, &c. — It was usual for those that went to inquire of a prophet to make him some present as a token of their respect for him, 1 Samuel 9:7. The present which she was here directed to take, was of such things as suited the disguise in which she was to go, and were calculated to make Ahijah think her a country woman rather than a queen. And go to him — To inquire the event of this sickness, as the following words imply. It would have been more pious to have inquired why God contended with him; to have desired the prophet to pray for him, and to have cast away his idols; then the child might have been restored to him, as his hand was: “but most people,” says Henry, “would rather be told their fortune, than told their faults, or their duty.”14:1-6 At that time, when Jeroboam did evil, his child sickened. When sickness comes into our families, we should inquire whether there may not be some particular sin harboured in our houses, which the affliction is sent to convince us of, and reclaim us from. It had been more pious if he had desired to know wherefore God contended with him; had begged the prophet's prayers, and cast away his idols from him; but most people would rather be told their fortune, than their faults or their duty. He sent to Ahijah, because he had told him he should be king. Those who by sin disqualify themselves for comfort, yet expect that their ministers, because they are good men, should speak peace and comfort to them, greatly wrong themselves and their ministers. He sent his wife in disguise, that the prophet might only answer her question concerning her son. Thus some people would limit their ministers to smooth things, and care not for having the whole counsel of God declared to them, lest it should prophesy no good concerning them, but evil. But she shall know, at the first word, what she has to trust to. Tidings of a portion with hypocrites will be heavy tidings. God will judge men according to what they are, not by what they seem to be.See the marginal reference The presents here were selected for the purpose of deception, being such as a poor country person would have been likely to bring. Jeroboam counted also on Ahijah's blindness 1 Kings 14:4 as favoring his plan of deception (compare Genesis 27:1, Genesis 27:22).

Cracknels - See the margin. The Hebrew word is thought to mean a kind of cake which crumbled easily.

3-11. And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him—This was a present in unison with the peasant character she assumed. Cracknels are a kind of sweet seed-cake. The prophet was blind, but having received divine premonition of the pretended countrywoman's coming, he addressed her as the queen the moment she appeared, apprised her of the calamities which, in consequence of the ingratitude of Jeroboam, his apostasy, and outrageous misgovernment of Israel, impended over their house, as well as over the nation which too readily followed his idolatrous innovations. A cruse of honey; a present, after the manner, Judges 13:17 1 Samuel 9:7,8 2 Kings 5:15 8:8; but mean, as became an ordinary country woman, which she personated.

And go to him, to inquire the event of this sickness, as the following words imply. And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him,.... It being usual to carry a present to a prophet when he was inquired of on any account, see 1 Samuel 9:7 and this being a plain present, and of such things as the country afforded, she might be taken for a plain countrywoman, and not for such a personage as she was: the ten loaves could not be large for a woman to carry, most probably made of wheat; the cracknels, according to the Greek version in Drusius, were for the prophet's children; they very likely were spiced, or were sweetened with honey, and might be somewhat like our simnels; they seem to have their name in Hebrew from having points and pricks in them for the sake of ornament; such as Plautus (h) calls "scribilitae", because as Turnebus (i) says, they were marked and pricked, and seemed as if they were written:

he shall tell thee what shall become of the child; whether it should live or die, for that was all he wanted to know; he did not desire to know what should be done to the child for its recovery, nor to request the prophet's prayers for it.

(h) Prolog. Poenulo, ver. 43. (i) Adversar. l. 23. c. 10.

And take with {b} thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.

(b) According to the custom when they went to ask counsel of prophets, 1Sa 9:7.

3. cracknels] The word so rendered is found only here and in Joshua 9:5, of the bread of the Gibeonites, which became mouldy. Some take the word there in the sense of crumbling, so dry that it crumbled into bits. In the present passage however it must mean a sort of cake, perhaps dry baked. The whole of the present which the queen was to take with her was such as a woman of humble position would bring. The traditional interpretation of the Talmud makes the word to mean small cakes about the size of half an egg. The LXX. (Alex.) adds as explanatory, that they were for the prophet’s children.

and a cruse] The word only occurs here and in Jeremiah 19:1; Jeremiah 19:10, where it is rendered ‘bottle’.

he shall tell thee what shall become of the child] It reveals to us a singular condition of mind, when we see the king confident in the prophet’s power of foretelling the future even in the case of an individual life, and yet thinking that the queen could go to him with her question and he not know who was making the inquiry.Verse 3. - And take with thee [Heb. in thine hand] ten loaves [Ten would seem to have been a usual number (1 Samuel 17:18). On the subject of gifts or fees to prophets, judges, etc., see on ch. 13:7], and cracknels [or cakes, as marg. The original word נִקֻּדִּים (תךגעפעפ נָקַד) means "pricked," or "spotted." It is the word translated "mouldy" in Joshua 9:5, 12, where Gesenius would render "crumbs." Mouldy bread would hardly be taken as a present. These cakes, according to the LXX., Cod. Alex., were for the prophet's children] and a cruse [i.e., leather bottle, בַּקְבֻּק Bakbuk, is clearly an onomatopoetic word, suggested by the bubbling noise of liquids in emptying] of honey [Spices and other delicacies were often given as presents, and honey was a special product of the country (Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 8:8; 2 Samuel 17:29. The honey sent by Jacob to Joseph was probably "honey of grapes"). The present was purposely a poor one, for the sake of maintaining the deception; i.e., it was a part of the disguise], and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of [Heb. be to] the child. [At first it strikes us as strange that Jeroboam merely asks what the result will be. He does not petition, that is to say, as in 1 Kings 13:6, for a cure. But we find the same peculiarity, which some would explain by the fatalism of the East, in 2 Kings 1:2, and ch. 8:9, In the present instance, however, no such explanation is needed. For

(1) Jeroboam could hardly ask a favour of a prophet of Jehovah, or hope that it would be granted if he did, and

(2) if, as he feared, the sickness was judicial, it would be useless to ask for healing. The infatuation which insisted on a disguise for the purpose of deceiving the prophet, who nevertheless was believed to be able to divine the issue of the sickness, is very characteristic, and has had many parallels since. He thereupon had his ass saddled, and went and found the corpse and the ass standing by it, without the lion having eaten the corpse or torn the ass in pieces; and he lifted the corpse upon his ass, and brought it into his own city, and laid the corpse in his grave with the customary lamentation: אחו הוי, alas, my brother! (cf., Jeremiah 22:18), and then gave this command to his sons: "When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried, let my bones rest beside his bones; for the word which he proclaimed in the word of Jehovah upon the altar at Bethel and upon all the houses of the high places in the cities of Samaria will take place" (i.e., will be fulfilled). The expression "cities of Samaria" belongs to the author of these books, and is used proleptically of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which did not receive this name till after the building of the city of Samaria as the capital of the kingdom and the residence of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 16:24). There is a prophetic element in the words "upon all the houses of the high places," etc., inasmuch as the only other erection at that time beside the one at Bethel was a temple of the high places at Dan. But after such a beginning the multiplication of them might be foreseen with certainty, even without any higher illumination.

The conduct of the old prophet at Bethel appears so strange, that Josephus and the Chald., and most of the Rabbins and of the earlier commentators both Catholic and Protestant, have regarded him as a false prophet, who tried to lay a trap for the prophet from Judah, in order to counteract the effect of his prophecy upon the king and the people. But this assumption cannot be reconciled with either the divine revelation which came to him at the table, announcing to the Judaean prophet the punishment of his transgression of the commandment of God, and was so speedily fulfilled (1 Kings 13:20-24); or with the honour which he paid to the dead man after this punishment had fallen upon him, by burying him in his own grave; and still less with his confirmation of his declaration concerning the altar at Bethel (1 Kings 13:29-32). We must therefore follow Ephr. Syr., Theodor., Hengstenberg, and others, and regard the old prophet as a true prophet, who with good intentions, and not "under the influence of human envy" (Thenius), but impelled by the desire to enter into a closer relation to the man of God from Judah and to strengthen himself through his prophetic gifts, urged him to enter his house. The fact that he made use of sinful means in order to make more sure of securing the end desired, namely, of the false pretence that he had been directed by an angel to do this, may be explained, as Hengstenberg suggests (Dissert. vol. ii. p. 149), on the ground that when Jeroboam introduced his innovations, he had sinned by keeping silence, and that the appearance of the Judaean prophet had brought him to a consciousness of this sin, so that he had been seized with shame on account of his fall, and was anxious to restore himself to honour in his own eyes and those of others by intercourse with this witness to the truth. But however little the lie itself can be excused or justified, we must not attribute to him alone the consequences by which the lie was followed in the case of the Judaean prophet. For whilst he chose reprehensible means of accomplishing what appeared to be a good end, namely, to raise himself again by intercourse with a true prophet, and had no wish to injure the other in any way, the Judaean prophet allowed himself to be seduced to a transgression of the clear and definite prohibition of God simply by the sensual desire for bodily invigoration by meat and drink, and had failed to consider that the divine revelation which he had received could not be repealed by a pretended revelation from an angel, because the word of God does not contradict itself. He was therefore obliged to listen to a true revelation from God from the moth of the man whose pretended revelation from an angel he had too carelessly believed, namely, to the announcement of punishment for his disobedience towards the commandment of God, which punishment he immediately afterwards endured, "for the destruction of the flesh, but for the preservation of the spirit: 1 Corinthians 15:5" (Berleb. Bible). That the punishment fell upon him alone and not upon the old prophet of Bethel also, and that for apparently a smaller crime, may be accounted for "not so much from the fact that the old prophet had lied with a good intention (this might hold good of the other also), as from the fact that it was needful to deal strictly with the man who had just received a great and holy commission from the Lord" (O. v. Gerlach). It is true that no bodily punishment fell upon the old prophet, but this punishment he received instead, that with his lie he was put to shame, and that his conscience must have accused him of having occasioned the death of the man of God from Judah. He was thereby to be cured of his weakness, that he might give honour to the truth of the testimony of God. "Thus did the wondrous providence of God know how to direct all things most gloriously, so that the bodily destruction of the one contributed to the spiritual and eternal preservation of the soul of the other" (Berleb. Bible). - Concerning the design of these marvellous events, H. Witsius has the following remarks in his Miscell. ss. i. p. 118 (ed. nov. 1736): "So many wondrous events all occurring in one result caused the prophecy against the altar at Bethel to be preserved in the mouths and memories of all, and the mission of this prophet to become far more illustrious. Thus, although the falsehood of the old man of Bethel brought disgrace upon himself, it injured no one but the man of God whose credulity was too great; and, under the overruling providence of God, it contributed in the most signal manner to the confirmation and publication of the truth."

(Note: Compare with this the remark of Theodoret in his quaest. 43 in 3 libr. Reb.: "In my opinion this punishment served to confirm the declaration concerning the altar. For it was not possible for the statement of such a man to be concealed: and this was sufficient to fill with terror those who heard it; for if partaking of food contrary to the command of God, and that not of his own accord, but under a deception, brought such retribution upon a righteous man, to what punishments would they be exposed who had forsaken the God who made them, and worshipped the likenesses of irrational creatures?")

The heaping up of the marvellous corresponded to the great object of the mission of the man of God out of Judah, through which the Lord would enter an energetic protest against the idolatrous worship of Jeroboam at its first introduction, to guard those who feared God in Israel, of whom there were not a few (2 Chronicles 11:16; 2 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 19:18), from falling away from Him by joining in the worship of the calves, and to take away every excuse from the ungodly who participated therein.

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