1 Kings 17:17
And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
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1 Kings 17:17. There was no breath left in him — No soul or life, as the Hebrew word here used properly signifies. For, says Buxtorf, “The Hebrews by נשׁמה, neshama, understand the rational and immortal soul, whence they are wont to swear by it: and he quotes Aben Ezra as an authority for rendering the word, anima, sed humana tantum; the soul, but only the human. The expression, however, here only means that he died, as is manifest from the following verses. This was a terrible and unexpected stroke to this widow, and, no doubt, was sent for the further trial of her faith and patience. She had received a great prophet into her house, was employed to sustain him, and had reason to think that surely the Lord would do her good; yet now she loses her son. We must not think it strange if we meet with very sharp afflictions, even when we are in the way of duty, and of eminent service to God: nay, and when we have the clearest manifestations of God’s favour and good-will toward us, even then we should prepare for the rebukes of his providence; our mountain never stands so strong but it may be moved, and therefore, in this world, we ought always to rejoice with trembling.17:17-24 Neither faith nor obedience shut out afflictions and death. The child being dead, the mother spake to the prophet, rather to give vent to her sorrow, than in hope of relief. When God removes our comforts from us, he remembers our sins against us, perhaps the sins of our youth, though long since past. When God remembers our sins against us, he designs to teach us to remember them against ourselves, and to repent of them. Elijah's prayer was doubtless directed by the Holy Spirit. The child revived. See the power of prayer, and the power of Him who hears prayer.No breath - Or, "no spirit," "no soul." (Compare Genesis 2:7). The word used is translated "spirit" in Proverbs 20:27; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Job 26:4; and elsewhere. 1Ki 17:17-24. He Raises Her Son to Life.

17-24. the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick—A severe domestic calamity seems to have led her to think that, as God had shut up heaven upon a sinful land in consequence of the prophet, she was suffering on a similar account. Without answering her bitter upbraiding, the prophet takes the child, lays it on his bed, and after a very earnest prayer, had the happiness of seeing its restoration, and along with it, gladness to the widow's heart and home. The prophet was sent to this widow, not merely for his own security, but on account of her faith, to strengthen and promote which he was directed to go to her rather than to many widows in Israel, who would have eagerly received him on the same privileged terms of exception from the grinding famine. The relief of her bodily necessities became the preparatory means of supplying her spiritual wants, and bringing her and her son, through the teachings of the prophet, to a clear knowledge of God, and a firm faith in His word (Lu 4:25).

Or, no soul, or life, as this Hebrew word oft signifies, i.e. he died, as is manifest from the following verses. See also Hebrews 11:35. And it came to pass after these things,.... Not only after the conversation that passed between the prophet, and the widow, but after they had lived together many days, a year or years, upon the miraculous provision made for them:

that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; that is, the son of the widow woman in whose house the prophet dwelt; the Jews say (h) this woman was the mother of Jonah, and that he was this son of her's:

and his sickness was so sore that there was no breath left in him: it was a sickness unto death, it issued in it; for that he was really dead appears from all that follows.

(h) Pirke Eliezer, c. 33.

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no {i} breath left in him.

(i) God would test whether she had learned by his merciful providence to make him her only stay and comfort.

17–24. Death and restoration of the widow’s son (Not in Chronicles)

17. his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him] Josephus interprets this expression as if the youth were only seemingly dead; τὴν ψυχὴν ἀφεῖναι καὶ δόξαι νεκρόν. Yet both the mother and the prophet speak in the narrative of the ‘slaying’ of the son. The soul was departed, and it is the breathing into man of the breath of life, which makes him ‘a living soul.’ All the language of Scripture speaks in the same tone. ‘When the breath of man goeth forth, he shall turn again to his earth.’Verse 17. - And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. [Does this mean that he was dead? Keil thinks it perfectly clear that it does. Bahr is as firmly persuaded that it does not. He justly remarks

(1) that the same expression occurs in Daniel 10:17 (cf. 1 Kings 10:5) where it does not imply death.

(2) That as the text does not say, "and he died," we must conclude that it did not mean to say it.

(3) Verses 18, 20 do not necessitate the belief that he was dead (see below).

(4) Josephus, who was not afraid of the miraculous, has interpreted the words thus: ὡς καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἀφεῖναι καὶ δόξαι νεκρον. To this it may be added that נְשָׁמָה simply means breath, and that where it is desired to convey the idea of rife, additional words are used (as in Genesis 2:7, "the breath of life; Genesis 7:22, "the breath of the spirit of life." Cf. Job 27:3, Proverbs 20:27 (where the intelligence or reason appears to be meant), Ecclesiastes 3:21. It must be confessed also that the statement, "his sickness was so sore," etc., is quite apropos and intelligible, if we may understand that he lay in a state of coma, but would be an extremely roundabout way of affirming that he was dead. When Elijah arrived at the city gate, he met a widow engaged in gathering wood. To discover whether it was to her that the Lord had sent him, he asked her for something to drink and for a morsel of bread to eat; whereupon she assured him, with an oath by Jehovah, that she had nothing baked (מעוג equals עגּה, ἐγκρυφίας, a cake baked in hot ashes), but only a handful of meal in the כּד (a pail or small vessel in which meal was kept) and a little oil in the pitcher, and that she was just gathering wood to dress this remnant for herself and her son, that they might eat it, and then die. From this statement of the widow it is evident, on the one hand, that the drought and famine had spread across the Phoenician frontier, as indeed Menander of Ephesus attests;

(Note: Josephus gives this statement from his Phoenician history: ἀβροχία τε ἐπ ̓ αὐτοῦ (sc., Ἰθοβάλου) ἐγένετο ἀπὸ τοῦ Ὑπερβερεταίου μηνὸς ἕως τοῦ ἐρχομένου ἔτους Ὑπερβερεταίου (Ant. viii. 13, 2). Hyperberetaeus answers to Tishri of the Hebrews; cf. Benfey and Stern, die Monatsnamen, p. 18.)

on the other hand, the widow showed by the oath, "as Jehovah thy God liveth," that she was a worshipper of the true God, who spoke of Jehovah as his God, because she recognised the prophet as an Israelite.

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