1 Kings 17:9
Arise, get you to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you.
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(9) Zarephath—the Sarepta of the LXX. and of the New Testament (Luke 4:26). It is said by Josephus to have lain between Tyre and Sidon, and by St. Jerome to have been on the great coast-road. Hence it has been identified with a modern village, Surafend, in that position. The words, “which belongeth to Zidon,” appear to be emphatic, marking the striking providence of God, which, when the land of Israel was apostate and unsafe, found for the prophet a refuge and a welcome in a heathen country, which was moreover the native place of his deadliest enemy.

1 Kings 17:9. Arise, get thee to Zarephath — A city between Tyre and Sidon, called Sarepta by St. Luke 4:26, and others. Which belongeth to Zidon — To the jurisdiction of that city, which was inhabited by Gentiles. And God’s providing for his prophet, first, by an unclean bird, and then by a Gentile, whom the Jews esteemed unclean, was a presage of the calling of the Gentiles, and rejection of the Jews. So Elijah was the first prophet of the Gentiles. Commanded a widow woman — That is, appointed or provided; for that she had as yet received no revelation or command of God about it, appears from 1 Kings 17:12.17:8-16 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.

Zarephath; a city between Tyrus and Sidon, called Sarepta by Luke 4:26, by Pliny, and others.

To Zidon; to the jurisdiction of that city, which therefore was inhabited by Gentiles. See Luke 4:25. And God’s providing for his prophet, first by an unclean bird, and then by a Gentile, whom the Jews esteemed unclean, was a notable presage of the calling of the Gentiles, and of the rejection of the Jews.

I have commanded, i.e. appointed or provided, as before, 1 Kings 17:4; for that she had as yet no revelation or command of God about it, appears from 1 Kings 17:12. Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there,.... This might be a trial of the prophet's faith, to be sent to dwell in a place belonging to the Zidonians, among whom Jezebel had an interest, being the daughter of their king, 1 Kings 16:31, the place is so called, to distinguish it from another Zarephath, Obadiah 1:20, Kimchi interprets it, near to Zidon, yet not as belonging to it, but of the land of Israel; though it rather seems to be a Gentile city; it is called, in Luke 4:26 Sarepta of Sidon; and also by Pliny (z); according to Josephus (a), it was not far either from Sidon or Tyre, and lay between them; it was three quarters of a mile from Sidon; and so Mr. Maundrell (b) speaks of it as in the way from Sidon to Tyre, and which is now called Sarphan; of which he says, the place shown us for this city consisted only of a few houses, on the tops of the mountains, within about half a mile from the sea; but it is more probable the principal part of the city stood below in the space between the hills and the sea, there being ruins still to be seen in that place of a considerable extent; and a traveller into those parts many years before him says (c), that he saw nothing of any building on the shore, but some small houses in the place where formerly the town of Sarepta did stand; and Bunting says (d), there are at this time but eight houses in all the town, though by the ruins it seems to have been in times past a very fair city; and another (e) observes, that it is about three miles from Berytus:

behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee; not that this was declared to the woman, or that she had any orders from the Lord to support him; but that he had determined it in his mind, and would take care in his providence that he should be supplied by her: this was another trial of the prophet's faith, that he should be sent to a poor widow woman for his support, and she a Gentile; but he that had been so long fed by ravens, could have no reason to doubt of his being provided for in this way.

(z) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19. (a) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 13. sect. 2.) (b) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 48. (c) Rauwolff's Travels, par. 3. ch. 22. p. 326. (d) Ut supra. (Travels, &c. p. 205.) (e) Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 3. c. 9. p. 126.

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
8–16. Elijah sent to Zarephath and sustained by a widow woman (Not in Chronicles)

9. get thee to Zarephath] This was the city which was known in later times (Luke 4:26) as Sarepta. Josephus says it lay between Sidon and Tyre. There the enemy of Baal-worship would hardly be expected to have sought refuge.

and dwell there] These words are omitted in the LXX.

I have commanded a widow woman] A source of sustenance hardly less precarious than the supply of the ravens. As in the former case, so here, the command implies that God has prompted her to fulfil His purpose. Elijah has been called, from this event, the first Apostle to the Gentiles.Verse 9. - Arise, get thee to Zarephath [Cf. Obadiah 1:20. The name points to furnaces or workshops for the refining of metals, צָרַפ, liquavit. LXX. Σαρεπτὰ; cf. Luke 4:26. It is now represented by an insignificant village, Surafend, which, however, preserves the original name. It lies still, as no doubt it did then, on the high road between Tyre and Sidon, and on the shore. The prophet would thus be in the lion's den, in the very heart of the dominions of Ethbaal. See Porter, 2:397. Stanley (S. and P. p. 268) shows how the memory of this visit still lingers in the traditions of the neighbourhood], which belongeth to Zidon [Sidon is visible from a spot a quarter of an hour distant. "The dependence of Sarepta on Sidon is indicated in the inscriptions of Sennacherib, where it is mentioned as belonging to Luliya, king of Sidon," Rawlinson], and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee [In considering these words the generally destitute condition of the widow of the East should be borne in mind (Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:3-5, etc.) We gather from Luke 4:25, 26, that it was for her sake as well as his that the prophet was sent thither. Matthew 15:21-28 tells of another Syro-Phoenician woman.] 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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