1 Kings 17:7
And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings 17:7. After a while — Hebrew, at the end of the days; that is, of a year, as that phrase is often used. The brook dried up — For want of rain, and God so ordering it for the punishment of those Israelites who lived near it, and had hitherto been refreshed by it; and for the exercise of Elijah’s faith, and to teach him still to depend on God alone, and not on any natural means for support and preservation. 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!The ravens - This is the translation of most of the ancient versions; others, omitting the points, which are generally allowed to have no authority, read "Arabians;" others, retaining the present pointing, translate either "merchants" (compare the original of Ezekiel 27:9, Ezekiel 27:27), or "Orbites." Jerome took it in this last sense, and so does the Arabic Version. 6. the ravens brought him bread—The idea of such unclean and voracious birds being employed to feed the prophet has appeared to many so strange that they have labored to make out the Orebim, which in our version has been rendered "ravens," to be as the word is used (in Eze 27:27) "merchants"; or Arabians (2Ch 21:16; Ne 4:7); or, the citizens of Arabah, near Beth-shan (Jos 15:6; 18:18). But the common rendering is, in our opinion, preferable to these conjectures. And, if Elijah was miraculously fed by ravens, it is idle to inquire where they found the bread and the flesh, for God would direct them. After the lapse of a year, the brook dried up, and this was a new trial to Elijah's faith. After a while, Heb. at the end of days, i.e. of a year; for so the word days is oft used, as in Exodus 13:10 Leviticus 25:29 Numbers 9:22 Judges 17:10 1 Samuel 1:3 27:7. And this seems to be a convenient time for the drying up of the brook, which was gradually dried up; and so this agrees well with 1 Kings 18:1,

in the third year; of which See Poole "1 Kings 18:1".

The brook dried up; God so ordering it, partly, for the punishment of those Israelites who lived near it, and had hitherto been refreshed by it; partly, for the trial and exercise of Elijah’s faith, and to teach him to depend upon God alone, not on any creature, for his support; and partly, to show his own all-sufficiency in providing for his people. And it came to pass after a while,.... Or "at the end of days" (x), perhaps a year, which sometimes is the sense of this phrase, see Exodus 13:10,

that the brook dried up; through the excessive heat, and for want of supplies from the springs and fountains with which it was fed, and for the following reason:

because there had been no rain in the land; from the time Elijah prayed and prophesied; of this drought mention is made in profane history: Menander, a Phoenician writer, speaks (y) of a drought in the times of Ithobalus (the same with Ethbaal the father of Jezebel), which lasted a whole year, and upon prayer being made there were thunder, &c.

(x) "in, vel a, fine dierum", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (y) Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 8. c. 13. sect. 2.

And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. because there had been [R.V. was] no rain] Not only had there been none, but the drought was continuing.Verse 7. - and it came to pass after awhile, [Heb. at the end of days. Not necessarily post annum. The words no doubt have this force elsewhere, Leviticus 25:29; Judges 11:40; Judges 17:10; 1 Samuel 27:7, etc.; but in all these cases, the meaning is not resident in the words themselves, but in the context. It is impossible to say how long Elijah remained in the Wady. All we can be sure of is that he must have been more than two rears, out of the three and a haft, at Zare-phath. See on 1 Kings 18:1] that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. [גֶּשֶׁם imber, signifies heavy rain. The word used in ver. 1 is מָטָר, rain of any kind.] Elijah the Tishbite is introduced without the formula "The word of the Lord came to ...," with which the appearance of the prophets is generally announced, proclaiming to king Ahab in the name of the Lord the punitive miracle of a drought that will last for years. This abrupt appearance of Elijah cannot be satisfactorily explained from the fact that we have not the real commencement of his history here; it is rather a part of the character of this mightiest of all the prophets, and indicates that in him the divine power of the Spirit appeared as it were personified, and his life and acts were the direct effluence of the higher power by which he was impelled. His origin is also uncertain. The epithet התּשׁבּי is generally derived from a place called Tishbeh, since, according to Tobit 1:2, there existed in Upper Galilee a Θίσβη ἐκ δεξιῶν Κυδίως, "on the right, i.e., to the south of Kydios," probably Kedesh in the tribe of Naphtali, from which the elder Tobias was carried away captive, although this description of the place is omitted in the Hebrew version of the book of Tobit issued by Fagius and Mnster, and in the Vulgate. And to this we must adhere, and as no other Thisbe occurs, must accept this Galilean town as the birthplace of Elijah; in which case the expression "of the settlers of Gilead" indicates that Elijah did not live in his birthplace, but dwelt as a foreigner in Gilead. For תּושׁב in itself by no means denotes a non-Israelite, but, like גּד, simply one who lived away from his home and tribe relations in the territory of a different tribe, without having been enrolled as a member of it, as is clearly shown by Leviticus 25:40, and still more clearly by Judges 17:7, where a Levite who was born in Bethlehem is described as גּר in the tribe of Ephraim.

(Note: The supposition of Seb. Schmidt, with which I formerly agreed, namely, that Elijah was a foreigner, a Gentile by birth, after further examination I can no longer uphold, though not from the priori objection raised against it by Kurtz (in Herzog's Cycl.), namely, that it would show a complete misapprehension of the significance of Israel in relation to sacred history and the history of the world, and that neither at this nor any other time in the Old Testament history could a prophet for Israel be called from among the Gentiles, - an assertion of which it would be difficult to find any proof, - but because we are not forced to this conclusion by either התּשׁבּי or גלעד מתּשׁבי. For even if the Thisbeh in Tob. 1:2 should not be Elijah's birthplace, it would not follow that there was no other place named Thisbeh in existence. How many places in Canaan are there that are never mentioned in the Old Testament! And such cases as that described in Judges 7:7, where the Levite is said to have left his birthplace and to have lived in another tribe as a foreigner or settler, may not have been of rare occurrence, since the Mosaic law itself refers to it in Leviticus 25:41. - Again, the lxx were unable to explain גלעד מתּשׁבי, and have paraphrased these words in an arbitrary manner by ὁ ἐκ Θεσβῶν τῆς Γαλαάδ, from which Thenius and Ewald conjecture that there was a Thisbeh in Gilead, and that it was probably the Tisieh (tsh) mentioned by Robinson (Pal. iii. 153) to the south of Busra equals Bostra. The five arguments by which Kurtz has attempted to establish the probability of this conjecture are very weak. For (1) the defective writing מתּשׁבי by no means proves that the word which is written plene (תּושׁב) in every other case must necessarily have been so written in the stat. constr. plur.; and this is the only passage in the whole of the Old Testament in which it occurs in the stat. constr. plur.; - (2) the precise description of the place given in Tobit 1:2 does not at all lead "to the assumption that the Galilean Thisbeh was not the only place of that name," but may be fully explained from the fact that Thisbeh was a small and insignificant place, the situation of which is defined by a reference to a larger town and one better known; - (3) there is no doubt that "Gilead very frequently denotes the whole of the country to the east of the Jordan," but this does not in the least degree prove that there was a Thisbeh in the country to the east of the Jordan; - (4) "that the distinction and difference between a birthplace and a place of abode are improbable in themselves, and not to be expected in this connection," is a perfectly unfounded assumption, and has first of all to be proved; - (5) the Tisieh mentioned by Robinson cannot be taken into consideration, for the simple reason that the assumption of a copyist's error, the confusion of (Arabic) b with y (Tsieh instead of Thisbeh), founders on the long i of the first syllable in Tsieh; moreover the Arabic t corresponds to the Hebrew E and not to t.)

The expression "as truly as Jehovah the God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand (i.e., whom I serve; see at 1 Kings 1:2), there shall not fall dew and rain these years, except at my word," was a special application of the threats of the law in Deuteronomy 11:16-17; Deuteronomy 28:23-24, and Leviticus 26:19, to the idolatrous kingdom. האלּה השּׁנים, "these (ensuing) years," does not fix any definite terminus. In דברי לפי there is involved an emphatic antithesis to others, and more especially to the prophets of Baal. "When I shall say this by divine authority and might, let others prate and lie as they may please" (Berleb. Bibel). Elijah thereby describes himself as one into whose power the God of Israel has given up the idolatrous king and his people. In James 5:17-18, this act of Elijah is ascribed to the power of his prayers, since Elijah "was also a man such as we are," inasmuch as the prophets received their power to work solely through faith and intercourse with God in prayer, and faith gives power to remove mountains.

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