1 Kings 17:10
So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray you, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings 17:10-12. Behold, the widow woman was gathering sticks — He knew, by some secret divine intimations, that this was the woman that was to sustain him. Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water — Water, in consequence of the long drought, was doubtless scarce there as well as in the land of Israel; yet, being a pious woman, and therefore ready to succour a stranger in distress, she readily goes to fetch it. He called and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand — This he probably said chiefly to try her, and to make way for what follows. She said, As the Lord thy God liveth — By this she discovers, that though she was a Gentile, yet she owned the God of Israel as the true God. I am gathering two sticks — A few sticks, that number being often used indefinitely for any small number. That we may eat it and die — For having no more provision, we must needs perish with hunger. Although the famine was chiefly in the land of Israel, yet the effects of it were felt in Tyre and Sidon, which were supported by the corn of that land. But what a poor supporter was this widow likely to be! who had no fuel, but what she gathered in the streets, and nothing to live upon herself, but a handful of meal and a little oil! To her Elijah is sent, that he might live upon Providence, as much as he had done when the ravens fed him.17:8-16 Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, and some, it is likely, would have bidden him welcome to their houses; yet he is sent to honour and bless with his presence a city of Sidon, a Gentile city, and so becomes the first prophet of the Gentiles. Jezebel was Elijah's greatest enemy; yet, to show her how powerless was her malice, God will find a hiding-place for him even in her own country. The person appointed to entertain Elijah is not one of the rich or great men of Sidon; but a poor widow woman, in want, and desolate, is made both able and willing to sustain him. It is God's way, and it is his glory, to make use of, and put honour upon, the weak and foolish things of the world. O woman, great was thy faith; one has not found the like, no not in Israel. She took the prophet's word, that she should not lose by it. Those who can venture upon the promise of God, will make no difficulty to expose and empty themselves in his service, by giving him his part first. Surely the increase of this widow's faith, so as to enable her thus readily to deny herself, and to depend upon the Divine promise, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the increase of her meal and oil in the kingdom of providence. Happy are all who can thus, against hope, believe and obey in hope. One poor meal's meat this poor widow gave the prophet; in recompence of it, she and her son did eat above two years, in a time of famine. To have food from God's special favour, and in such good company as Elijah, made it more than doubly sweet. It is promised to those who trust in God, that they shall not be ashamed in evil time; in days of famine they shall be satisfied.The dependence of Zarephath (Sarepta) on Sidon is indicated in the inscriptions of Sennacherib, where it is mentioned as belonging to Luliya (Elulaeus), king of Sidon, and as submitting to the Assyrian monarch on Luliya's flight from his capital. Elijah may have been sent to this place, so near the city of Jezebel's father, as one which it was most unlikely that he would visit. 1Ki 17:8-16. He Is Sent to a Widow of Zarephath.

8-16. the word of the Lord came to him—Zarephath, Sarepta, now Surafend, whither he was directed to go, was far away on the western coast of Palestine, about nine miles south of Sidon, and within the dominions of Jezebel's impious father, where the famine also prevailed. Meeting, at his entrance into the town, the very woman who was appointed by divine providence to support him, his faith was severely tested by learning from her that her supplies were exhausted and that she was preparing her last meal for herself and son. The Spirit of God having prompted him to ask, and her to grant, some necessary succor, she received a prophet's reward (Mt 10:41, 42), and for the one meal afforded to him, God, by a miraculous increase of the little stock, afforded many to her.

He called to her; knowing by Divine suggestion that this was the woman designed. So he arose, and went to Zarephath,.... Which, according to Bunting (f), was one hundred miles from the brook Cherith:

and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering sticks: perhaps out of an hedge just without the city this shows her to be a poor woman, who had no other way of coming at fuel but this, and no servant to fetch it for her: Bunting tells us, that now before the gate of the city there is showed a certain chapel, where they say Elias first spoke with the widow:

and he called to her, and said, fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink; being thirsty through travelling, and supposing this to be the woman he was directed to, made trial of her this way; some render it, "in this vessel" (g), which he had with him, and made use of at the brook Cherith.

(f) Ut supra, (Travels, &c.) p. 203. (g) "in hoc vase", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there {e} gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

(e) All this was to strengthen the faith of Elijah, to the intent that he would look for nothing worldly, but only trust God's providence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. gathering of sticks] R.V. modernizes the language by omitting the preposition. The abject poverty of the widow is seen from her coming forth to pick up any chance bits of wood which might have fallen from the trees outside the city walls.Verse 10. - So he arose and went to Zarephath [It does not follow that his route lay over the "White Promontory," or Ladder of Tyre, the way our Lord took when He "departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon" (Matthew 15:21). If his place of concealment was anywhere near 'Abara, or Bethshean, it is probable he would keep east of the Jordan, as far as Banias or Dan, where the river is fordable, and whence a road leads direct to Sidon. He would thus avoid Tyro]. And when he came to the gate of the city [the ruins of Surafend are still very considerable (see Thomson,"Land and Book," 1:235) and prove it to have been a place of importance, a town with gates and walls. "Gate," however, is used somewhat loosely in the O.T. - of the entrance to a village, or even of the place of concourse and of judgment], behold, the [Heb. a. He did not yet know that this was the widow to whom he was sent. Her replies to his requests first informed him that this was the object of his search] widow woman was there [Heb. behold there, a widow woman] gathering of sticks [This was not a promising sign. It only proved her poverty]: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel [Heb. the vessel. Bahr understands the drinking-cup that Elijah had brought with him from the Wady Cherith; but surely it is extremely improbable that he would carry either cup or bottle with him. "The vessel" probably imports the ordinary vessel used for the purpose - the "potter's earthen bottle" Jeremiah 19:1). That this was used for fetching water, we know from Isaiah 30:14], that I may drink. After the announcement of this judgment, Elijah had to hide himself, by the command of God, until the period of punishment came to an end, not so much that he might be safe from the wrath and pursuit of Ahab and Jezebel, as to preclude all earnest entreaties to remove the punishment. "For inasmuch as the prophet had said that the rain would come at his word, how would they have urged him to order it to come!" (Seb. Schm.) He was to turn קדמה, eastward, i.e., from Samaria, where he had no doubt proclaimed the divine judgment to Ahab, to the Jordan, and to hide himself at the brook Cherith, which is in front of the Jordan. The brook Cherith was in any case a brook emptying itself into the Jordan; but whether upon the eastern or the western side of that river, the ambiguity of על־פּני, which means both "to the east of" (Genesis 25:18) and also "in the face of," i.e., before or towards (Genesis 16:12; Genesis 18:16), it is impossible to determine with certainty. That it must signify "to the east of the Jordan" here, does not follow from קדמה with anything like the certainty that Thenius supposes. An ancient tradition places the Cherith on this side of the Jordan, and identifies it with the spring Phasaelis, which takes its rise in the slope of the mountains into the Jordan valley above the city of Phasaelis, and empties itself into the Jordan (cf. Ges. thes. p. 719, and V. de Velde, Reise, ii. pp. 273-4); whereas Eusebius, in the Onom. s.v. Chorat (Chorra'), places it on the other side of the Jordan, and Thenius thinks of the apparently deep Wady Rajib or Ajlun. All that can be affirmed with certainty is, that neither the brook Kanah (Joshua 16:8; Joshua 17:9), which flows into the Mediterranean, nor the Wady Kelt near Jericho, which Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 288) suggests, can possibly come into consideration: the latter for the simple reason, that the locality in the neighbourhood of Jericho was unsuitable for a hiding-place. Elijah was to drink of this brook, and the ravens by divine command were to provide him with bread and meat, which they brought him, according to 1 Kings 17:6, both morning and evening. It is now generally admitted that הערבים does not mean either Arabs or Orebites (the inhabitants of an imaginary city named Oreb), but ravens. Through this miracle, which unbelievers reject, because they do not acknowledge a living God, by whom, as the Creator and Lord of all creatures, even the voracious ravens are made subservient to His plans of salvation, Elijah was not only cut off from intercourse with men, who might have betrayed his place of abode to the king, but was mightily strengthened himself, through the confidence inspired in the almighty assistance of his God, for his approaching contests with the worshippers of idols, and for the privations and sufferings which awaited him in the fulfilment of his vocation.
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