1 Kings 17:3
Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
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(3) The brook Cherith—properly “the torrent (or valley) Cherith, facing the Jordan;” evidently one of the ravines running into the Jordan valley; probably on the east from the prophet’s own land of Gilead.

1 Kings 17:3-4. Hide thyself by the brook Cherith — A brook, no doubt, well known to Elijah: both it and the valley through which it runs, are near the river Jordan; but whether on the east or west side, is not so well agreed. By sending him to this remote and retired place, where he was to lie concealed, so that neither friends nor foes might know where he was, God rescued him from the fury of Ahab and Jezebel, who, he knew, would seek to destroy him. That Ahab did not seize him immediately upon hearing the forementioned prediction and warning, must be ascribed to God’s overruling providence. I have commanded the ravens to feed thee — Or, I shall command; that is, effectually move them by instincts, which shall be as forcible with them, as a law or command is to men. God is said to command both brute creatures and senseless things, when he causeth them to do what he intends to effect by them. The ravens being birds of prey, and very voracious, were more likely to rob the prophet than to bring him food; but God’s command suspended their natural instinct, and made them act contrary to it. They are said to be unnatural to, and to neglect their young ones; yet, when God pleaseth, they shall feed his prophet. God could have sent angels to minister to him; but he chose winged messengers of another kind, to show that he can serve his own purposes as effectually by the meanest as by the mightiest creatures; and to give Elijah such a proof of his power and care in providing for him, as should effectually teach him to trust in God in those many and great difficulties to which he was to be exposed: and the more unfit instruments the ravens seemed to be, the more was his almighty power magnified, who controlled their natural inclinations while he employed them; and the greater encouragement was given to his prophet to rely on that power, thus engaged for him in his greatest straits and dangers. This, however, may be said for the choice of ravens for this work; that, as they are solitary birds, and delight to live about brooks of water, so are they accustomed to seek out for provisions, and to carry them to the places of their abode; on which account they were nor improper creatures for God to employ upon his service. To suppose, as some have done, that the ravens, being unclean birds, (Leviticus 11:15,) would defile and render unclean the food they brought, is to mistake the meaning of the law in that case. The flesh of unclean animals was not to be eaten by the Israelites; but their touch, while living, communicated no ceremonial uncleanness either to food or any thing else: for asses and camels were also unclean, and yet the Jews constantly used them for carrying provisions, as well as for other purposes.

17:1-7 God wonderfully suits men to the work he designs them for. The times were fit for an Elijah; an Elijah was fit for them. The Spirit of the Lord knows how to fit men for the occasions. Elijah let Ahab know that God was displeased with the idolaters, and would chastise them by the want of rain, which it was not in the power of the gods they served to bestow. Elijah was commanded to hide himself. If Providence calls us to solitude and retirement, it becomes us to go: when we cannot be useful, we must be patient; and when we cannot work for God, we must sit still quietly for him. The ravens were appointed to bring him meat, and did so. Let those who have but from hand to mouth, learn to live upon Providence, and trust it for the bread of the day, in the day. God could have sent angels to minister to him; but he chose to show that he can serve his own purposes by the meanest creatures, as effectually as by the mightiest. Elijah seems to have continued thus above a year. The natural supply of water, which came by common providence, failed; but the miraculous supply of food, made sure to him by promise, failed not. If the heavens fail, the earth fails of course; such are all our creature-comforts: we lose them when we most need them, like brooks in summer. But there is a river which makes glad the city of God, that never runs dry, a well of water that springs up to eternal life. Lord, give us that living water!Brook Cherith - Rather, "the torrent course," one of the many which carry the winter rains from the highlands into that stream. 2, 3. the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, &c.—At first the king may have spurned the prediction as the utterance of a vain enthusiast; but when he found the drought did last and increase in severity, he sought Elijah, who, as it was necessary that he should be far removed from either the violence or the importunities of the king, was divinely directed to repair to a place of retreat, perhaps a cave on "the brook Cherith, that is, before [east of] Jordan." Tradition points it out in a small winter torrent, a little below the ford at Beth-shan. Thus God rescues him from the fury of Ahab and Jezebel, who he knew would seek to destroy him.

Quest. Why did not Ahab seize upon him immediately upon these words?

Answ. 1. This must be ascribed to God’s overruling providence, who hath the hearts of all men in his hands, and hath oft protected his prophets and servants in such cases.

2. He might say this not by word of mouth, but by letter and message sent to him; as that word is sometimes used, as Exodus 18:6.

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward,.... From the place where he was, being in danger from Ahab and Jezebel, provoked by his reproofs, threatenings, and prophecies:

and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan; in some wood or cave near it, or among the reeds and rushes that grew on the banks of it; and Bochart (o) takes it to be the same with the river Kanah, on the borders of Ephraim, which has its name from reeds, Joshua 16:8, and Cherith by anticipation, from the prophet's being fed there; and Adrichomius (p) places this brook in the tribe of Ephraim; though Fuller (q) in the half tribe of Manasseh, beyond Jordan; but Bunting says (r) it runs from Mount Ephraim between Bethel and Jericho, eight miles from Jerusalem towards the north, and so, passing along towards the east, falls into Jordan.

(o) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 13. col. 216. (p) Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 26. (q) Pisgah-Sight, &c. B. 2. c. 3. p. 97. (r) Travels, &c. p. 205.

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
3. and hide thyself] The prophet’s life would be in danger from the anger of the king and Jezebel, who would consider Elijah not merely the announcer but the cause of the drought.

by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan] The rendering gives a fair representation of what was commanded, but the word rendered ‘brook’ is נחל nahal, which is really a torrent-bed, a deep ravine down which in rainy times a strong stream flowed, but which at others was nearly if not entirely dry. Such would make a good hiding-place. The situation of Cherith has not been identified. Josephus gives no form of the name, only saying that Elijah stayed παρὰ χειμάρρῳ τινί = ‘by a certain torrent-bed.’ Nor does the description ‘that is before Jordan’ help us. It probably implies that the stream from the ravine emptied itself into the Jordan, and hence the valley looked towards the river. But whether on the west side or the east we cannot tell. If the interview with Ahab was in Samaria, and Elijah travelled thence toward the east (Josephus says in contradiction of the text ‘towards the south’) it appears most likely that he crossed the Jordan, and found his retreat in the wilder parts of Gilead, which would be more distant from Ahab and less frequented than any of the ravines in the hill country of Ephraim on the east of Jordan, and with which the prophet would most likely be familiar.

Verse 3. - Get thee hence, and turn thee [for the construction (dat. commodi) cf. Genesis 12:2; Genesis 22:2; Song of Solomon 2:11] eastward [This he must do, whichever side of the Jordan, east or west, the brook Cherith was, for his interview with Ahab had probably taken place at Samaria. But the word would be specially appropriate, if the Cherith was beyond Jordan. Ewald, indeed, holds that our text is decisive on this point], and hide thyself [Heb. be hid, i.e., lie hid, Niphal. It does not seem to have occurred to the prophet that such a calamity as he had denounced against the country almost made his disappearance from the scene a necessity, or if it did, he still waited for instructions. Cf. ver. 9; 1 Kings 18:1, etc. Not merely was his flight necessary in order to escape persecution or punishment - the search which Ahab instituted for him in part explains his disappearance - but to avoid importunity. It would have been morally impossible for him, though a man of inflexible will (Bahr) to dwell among the people, while the land groaned under the terrible burden which he had laid upon it, and which he alone was able to remove. His life would not have been safe - see 1 Kings 18:4 - and the ordeal would have been intolerable. And 1 Kings 19:2 shows that the prophet's nature had its weaker side. Wordsworth observes that Elijah's escapes and departures into unknown places are "faint resemblances of the mysterious vanishings of our blessed Lord, after He had delivered some of His Divine messages which excited the anger of the people;" Luke 4:29; John 8:59; John 10:39] by [Heb. in] the brook [Heb. נַחַל; i.e., watercourse, wady. This word has two meanings. Its primary meaning is torrent; its secondary and, from the fact that the torrents of the East are for the most part dried up during the greater part of the year, its common meaning is torrent-bed, or ravine, valley. Both meanings are brought out here. Elijah should dwell in and drink of the נַחַל. Cf. 1 Kings 15:3] Cherith [The word means separation, a name which may possibly indicate that it was extremely secluded, or it may have been a boundary line of some sort. Tradition identifies the brook Cherith with the Wady-et-kelt, i.e., the great valley, west of the Jordan, which debouches into the Ghor, half a mile south of Jericho, and Robinson and Porter pronounce in its favour. Van de Velde (2. 310, 311) suggests the Wady Fasael, a few miles to the north. But it is much more probable that it is to be sought in the region east of the Jordan, where, indeed, Eusebius and Jerome place it. It is extremely doubtful whether the Wady-el-kelt, or any Cis-Jordanic ravine, would afford sufficient privacy. Probably Jericho was already rebuilt. As we cannot decide with certainty, we may reasonably conjecture that it is to be sought in Elijah's own country of Gilead, and probably in the Waddy Alias, i.e., at no great distance from Abara (Conder, "Tent-work," p. 230), the Jordan ford nearly opposite Bethshan, where, indeed, an old tradition places it] that is before [Nothing positive can be concluded from עַל פְנֵי. In Genesis 16:12; Genesis 23:19; Genesis 25:18; Joshua 18:14, etc., it means eastward. But this meaning is gathered from the context] Jordan. [The Cherith was clearly one of the lateral valleys which run into the Ghor. It is just possible that the name may be recovered by the survey of the country east of the Jordan, which is now (1880) being organized.] 1 Kings 17:3After 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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