1 Kings 18:1
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
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(1) The third year.—By the accurate tradition, preserved in Luke 4:25, James 5:17, it would seem that the drought lasted “three years and six months.” If, therefore, the expression in the text is to be taken literally, it must be reckoned from the beginning of the visit to Zarephath.

1 Kings 18:1. The word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year — Our Lord and St. James say, the drought continued three years and six months, (Luke 4:25; James 5:17;) nor do they contradict what is here asserted: for, we must remember, that as Egypt had usually no rain, but was watered by the river Nile, so the land of Canaan had generally none, except twice a year, which they called the early and latter rain. The former of these, termed יורה, joree, quod terram quasi erudiat et informet ad producendam semen, because it, as it were, instructed and taught, that is, prepared, the earth to bring forth the seed, was the autumnal rain, and fell in the month answering to our October. The latter was termed מלקושׁ, malkosh, quasi collectionis pluvia, the rain of reaping and ingathering, because, falling about the vernal equinox, in the month answering to our March, it prepared the corn for harvest, by causing the ears to fill and ripen. Now, at the beginning of the drought, Ahab might very probably impute the want of rain to natural causes; but when, after six months, neither the former nor the latter rain fell in its season, he began to be enraged at Elijah, as the cause of this national judgment; which forced him, at God’s command, to save his life by flight. And from that time the three years here mentioned are to be computed; though from the first notice which Elijah gave to Ahab of this approaching calamity, to the expiration of it, were certainly three years and a half. During the first of the three years here referred to by the historian, Elijah was by the brook Cherith, and the two latter at Zarephath; near the end of which God took pity on the country, having fulfilled the threatening denounced by his prophet, and thereby set his seal to the truth of his word. Saying, Go show thyself to Ahab — It does not appear that either the miraculous increase of the provision, or the raising of the dead child, had caused Elijah to be taken notice of at Zarephath, otherwise Ahab would easily have discovered him: but now the days appointed for his concealment being finished, he is commanded to come out of his obscurity, and to show himself to the king; in consequence of which, his appearance soon became as public as before his retirement was close. I will send rain on the earth — According to thy word, and in answer to thy prayer. He was to acquaint Ahab with the cause of the judgment, and to advise him to remove that cause; and on that condition to promise him rain. Thus God took care to maintain the honour of his prophet, and in judgment remembered mercy to Israel, for the sake of the holy seed yet left among them, who suffered in this common calamity.

18:1-16 The severest judgments, of themselves, will not humble or change the hearts of sinners; nothing, except the blood of Jesus Christ, can atone for the guilt of sin; nothing, except the sanctifying Spirit of God, can purge away its pollution. The priests and the Levites were gone to Judah and Jerusalem, 2Ch 11:13,14, but instead of them God raised up prophets, who read and expounded the word. They probably were from the schools of the prophets, first set up by Samuel. They had not the spirit of prophecy as Elijah, but taught the people to keep close to the God of Israel. These Jezebel sought to destroy. The few that escaped death were forced to hide themselves. God has his remnant among all sorts, high and low; and that faith, fear, and love of his name, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will be accepted through the Redeemer. See how wonderfully God raises up friends for his ministers and people, for their shelter in difficult times. Bread and water were now scarce, yet Obadiah will find enough for God's prophets, to keep them alive. Ahab's care was not to lose all the beasts; but he took no care about his soul, not to lose that. He took pains to seek grass, but none to seek the favour of God; fencing against the effect, but not inquiring how to remove the cause. But it bodes well with a people, when God calls his ministers to stand forth, and show themselves. And we may the better endure the bread of affliction, while our eyes see our teachers.The third year - i. e., in the third year of his sojourn with the widow. The whole period of drought was three years and a half Luke 4:25; James 5:17 : of this, probably about one year was passed by Elijah in the torrent-course of Cherith, and two years and a half at Sarepta. CHAPTER 18

1Ki 18:1-16. Elijah Meets Obadiah.

1. the third year—In the New Testament, it is said there was no rain "for the space of three years and six months" [Jas 5:17]. The early rain fell in our March, the latter rain in our October. Though Ahab might have at first ridiculed Elijah's announcement, yet when neither of these rains fell in their season, he was incensed against the prophet as the cause of the national judgment, and compelled him, with God's direction, to consult his safety in flight. This was six months after the king was told there would be neither dew nor rain, and from this period the three years in this passage are computed.

Go, show thyself unto Ahab—The king had remained obdurate and impenitent. Another opportunity was to be given him of repentance, and Elijah was sent in order to declare to him the cause of the national judgment, and to promise him, on condition of his removing it, the immediate blessing of rain.Elijah in the extremity of famine is sent to Ahab; meeteth good Obadiah, 1 Kings 18:1-7; chargeth him to certify the king of his coming: he bringeth Ahab to him, 1 Kings 18:8-16. He reproveth Ahab and the congregation: by fire from heaven convinceth Baal’s prophets: they are slain, 1 Kings 18:17-40. Elijah by prayer obtaineth rain; runs before Ahab to Jezreel, 1 Kings 18:41-46.

In the third year; either,

1. From the time when he went to hide himself by the brook Cherith; six months before which time the famine might begin, though it was not yet come to extremity. And so this being in or towards the end of the third year, it makes up these three years and six months, Jam 5:17. Or,

2. From the time of his going to Sarepta, which probably was a year after the famine began; See Poole "1 Kings 17:7"; and so this might be in the middle of the third year, which also makes up the three years and six months.

Show thyself unto Ahab; to acquaint him with the cause of this judgment, 1 Kings 18:18, and to advise him to remove it, and upon that condition to promise him rain.

I will send rain upon the earth, according to thy word and prayer, which thou shalt make for it. Thus God takes care to maintain the honour and authority of his prophet, and in judgment remembers mercy to Israel for the sake of the holy seed yet left among them, who suffered in this common calamity.

And it came to pass after many days,.... When two years and more were gone from the time the drought and famine began; or rather from the time of the prophets departure to the brook Cherith, which might be six months after the famine began:

that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year; of his absence from Ahab:

saying, go show thyself unto Ahab; whom he had not seen so long, and who had been seeking for him, but to no purpose:

and I will send rain upon the earth; the term of three years and six months being almost expired, see James 5:17.

And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the {a} third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

(a) After that he departed from the river Cherith.

Chap. 1 Kings 18:1-6. Ahab and Obadiah search the land for grass. Elijah goes to meet Ahab (Not in Chronicles)

1. in the third year] According to the tradition preserved in the New Testament (Luke 4:25; James 5:17) these three years cannot be reckoned from the beginning of the drought: for that is said to have lasted for three years and six months. The Jewish tradition reckons this third year to be the third year after the restoration of the widow’s son.

shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain] Hence the LXX. on 1 Kings 17:1 explains that the rain would not come εἰ μὴ φανέντος αὐτοῦ. See note there.

Verse 1. - And it came to pass after [This word is wanting in the Heb. except in a few MSS.] many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year [From what date is this "third year" to be counted? The prima facie view is that the words refer to "these years" mentioned in 1 Kings 17:1, i.e., to the date of the announcement of the drought, and this is the interpretation of the Rabbins and some of the moderns. But it is almost fatal to this view that the duration of the drought is distinctly stated in the New Testament to have been "three years and six months" (Luke 4:25; James 5:17). It is every way better, therefore, to connect the words with 1 Kings 17:7, i.e., with the date of the sojourn at Zarephath. It follows hence that the prophet spent about one year in the Wady Cherith, and two and a half in the house of the widow], saying, Go, show thyself [Heb. be seen] unto Ahab; and I will send [Heb. give] rain upon the earth. [Heb. on the face of the ground. Cf. 1 Kings 17:14.] 1 Kings 18:1Elijah's meeting with Ahab. - 1 Kings 18:1, 1 Kings 18:2. In the third year of his sojourn at Zarephath the word of the Lord came to Elijah to show himself to Ahab; since God was about to send rain upon the land again. The time given, "the third year," is not to be reckoned, as the Rabbins, Clericus, Thenius, and others assume, from the commencement of the drought, but from the event last mentioned, namely, the sojourn of Elijah at Zarephath. This view merits the preference as the simplest and most natural one, and is shown to be the oldest by Luke 4:25 and James 5:17, where Christ and James both say, that in the time of Ahab it did not rain for three years and six months. And this length of time can only be obtained by allowing more than two years for Elijah's stay at Zarephath. - From 1 Kings 18:2 to 1 Kings 18:6 we have parenthetical remarks introduced, to explain the circumstances which led to Elijah's meeting with Ahab. The verbs ויּקרא, ויהי, ויּאמר ,ויהי , and ויחלּקוּ (1 Kings 18:3, 1 Kings 18:4, 1 Kings 18:5, 1 Kings 18:6) carry on the circumstantial clauses: "and the famine was..." (1 Kings 18:2), and "Obadiah feared..." (1 Kings 18:3), and are therefore to be expressed by the pluperfect. When the famine had become very severe in Samaria (the capital), Ahab, with Obadiah the governor of his castle (הבּית על אשׁר, see at 1 Kings 4:6), who was a God-fearing man, and on the persecution of the prophets of Jehovah by Jezebel had hidden a hundred prophets in caves and supplied them with food, had arranged for an expedition through the whole land to seek for hay for his horses and mules. And for this purpose they had divided the land between them, so that the one explored one district and the other another. We see from Obadiah 1:4 that Jezebel had resolved upon exterminating the worship of Jehovah, and sought to carry out this intention by destroying the prophets of the true God. The hundred prophets whom Obadiah concealed were probably for the most part pupils ("sons") of the prophets. אישׁ חמשּׁים must signify, according to the context and also according to Obadiah 1:13, "fifty each," so that חמשּׁים must have fallen out through a copyist's error. מן נכרית ולוא, that we may not be obliged to kill (a portion) of the cattle (מן partitive). The Keri מהבּהמה is no doubt actually correct, but it is not absolutely necessary, as the Chethb בּהמה מן may be taken as an indefinite phrase: "any head of cattle."
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