Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)1 Kings 18:23. Let them therefore give us two bullocks — He proposes to decide the controversy, not by God’s word, because that was either despised and rejected, or grossly neglected, and therefore unknown and of no authority with the king or people; but by a miracle, to the evidence of which all that had common sense must needs submit.1 Kings 18:4) had been forced to fly and hide themselves in dens and caves of the earth; their voices were silenced; they had not ventured to come to Carmel. Elijah contrasts his solitary appearance on the side of Yahweh at the great gathering with the crowd of those opposed to him.
Let them choose one bullock for themselves, which they judge best and fittest for their purpose.
and let them choose one bullock for themselves; which of the two they would, if they thought one was any ways preferable to the other, it was at their option to take it:
and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood; as sacrifices usually were:
and put no fire under; which was wont to be done for burnt offerings, as this was designed to be:
and I will dress the other bullock; by slaying and cutting it in pieces;
and lay it on wood: as for a burnt offering:Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)23. Let them therefore give us] i.e. Let there be given unto us. Let there be provided, for the trial which I am about to propose.
and let them choose one] Elijah yields place to them because of their greater number. So 1 Kings 18:25 ‘for ye are many.’
cut it in pieces] This was a part of the duty of the offerer of a burnt-offering. See Leviticus 1:6; ‘he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into his pieces.’
and I will dress the other bullock] The Hebrew uses for ‘dress’ the verb עשׂה = to make, which, in connexions like this, = ‘to make ready’ a victim for sacrifice. The same word is used Psalm 66:15 ‘I will offer bullocks with goats,’ also Exodus 29:36; Exodus 29:38-39; Exodus 29:41. The LXX. translates by καὶ ἐγὼ ποιήσω τὸν βοῦν τὸν ἄλλον, a sentence from which we may see in what way ποιεῖν came to be used of sacrifice. But by itself ποιεῖν can no more mean ‘to sacrifice’ than could the English verb ‘make.’ The object, the victim, must always be expressed. The same word is employed again in 1 Kings 18:25-26.
and lay it on wood] The LXX. omits these words.
no fire under] Deceit was largely practised in the heathen temples and sacrifices represented as miraculously consumed, for the accomplishment of which preparation was made in the ground beneath the altar.Verse 23. - Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces [same word Exodus 29:17; Leviticus 1:6, 12; Judges 20:6], and lay it on wood [Heb. the woods], and put no fire under [Heb. and fire they shall not set to]: and I win dress [Heb. make, עָשָׂה, like ποιε1FC0;ιν in the LXX., is constantly used in a sacrificial sense = offer. Cf. Exodus 29:36, 38, 41; Leviticus 9:7; Leviticus 15:15; Judges 6:19, etc. This is to be remembered in interpreting our Lord's τοῦτο ποιε1FC0;ιτε κ.τ.λ. (Luke 22:19)] the other bullock, and lay it on wood [the wood], and put no fire under [and fire I will not set to]: 1 Samuel 1:3) that he would show himself to Ahab that day, Obadiah went to announce it to the king; whereupon Ahab went to meet the prophet, and sought to overawe him with the imperious words, "Art thou here, thou troubler of Israel." (עכר, see at Genesis 34:30). But Elijah threw back this charge: "It is not I who have brought Israel into trouble, but thou and thy family, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of Jehovah, and thou goest after Baalim." He then called upon the king to gather together all Israel to him upon Carmel, together with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who ate of Jezebel's table, i.e., who were maintained by the queen.
Carmel, a mountain ridge "with many peaks, intersected by hundreds of larger and smaller ravines," which stands out as a promontory running in a north-westerly direction into the Mediterranean (see at Joshua 19:26), and some of the loftiest peaks of which rise to the height of 1800 feet above the level of the sea, when seen from the northern or outer side shows only "bald, monotonous rocky ridges, scantily covered with short and thorny bushes;" but in the interior it still preserves its ancient glory, which has procured for it the name of "fruit-field," the valleys being covered with the most beautiful flowers of every description, and the heights adorned with myrtles, laurels, oaks, and firs (cf. V. de Velde, R. i. p. 292ff.). At the north-western extremity of the mountain there is a celebrated Carmelite monastery, dedicated to Elijah, whom tradition represents as having lived in a grotto under the monastery; but we are certainly not to look there for the scene of the contest with the priests of Baal described in the verses which follow. The scene of Elijah's sacrifice is rather to be sought for on one of the south-eastern heights of Carmel; and Van de Velde (i. p. 320ff.) has pointed it out with great probability in the ruins of el Mohraka, i.e., "the burned place," "a rocky level space of no great circumference, and covered with old gnarled trees with a dense entangled undergrowth of bushes." For "one can scarcely imagine a spot better adapted for the thousands of Israel to have stood drawn up on than the gentle slopes. The rock shoots up in an almost perpendicular wall of more than 200 feet in height on the side of the vale of Esdraelon. On this side, therefore, there was no room for the gazing multitude; but, on the other hand, this wall made it visible over the whole plain, and from all the surrounding heights, so that even those left behind, who had not ascended Carmel, would still have been able to witness at no great distance the fire from heaven that descended upon the altar." - "There is not a more conspicuous spot on all Carmel than the abrupt rocky height of el Mohraka, shooting up so suddenly on the east." Moreover, the soil was thoroughly adapted for the erection of the altar described in 1 Kings 18:31, 1 Kings 18:32 : "it shows a rocky surface, with a sufficiency of large fragments of rock lying all around, and, besides, well fitted for the rapid digging of a trench." There is also water in the neighbourhood, as is assumed in 1 Kings 18:34. "Nowhere does the Kishon run so close to Mount Carmel as just beneath el Mohraka," which is "1635 feet above the sea, and perhaps 1000 feet above the Kishon. This height can be gone up and down in the short time allowed by the Scripture (1 Kings 18:40-44)." But it was possible to find water even nearer than this, to pour upon the burnt-offering in the manner described in 1 Kings 18:34, 1 Kings 18:35. Close by the steep rocky wall of the height, just where you can descend to the Kishon through a steep ravine, you find, "250 feet it might be beneath the altar plateau, a vaulted and very abundant fountain built in the form of a tank, with a few steps leading down into it, just as one finds elsewhere in the old wells or springs of the Jewish times." - "From such a fountain alone could Elijah have procured so much water at that time. And as for the distance between this spring and the supposed site of the altar, it was every way possible for men to go thrice thither and back again to obtain the necessary supply." Lastly, el Mohraka is so situated, that the circumstances mentioned in 1 Kings 18:42-44 also perfectly coincide (Van de Velde, pp. 322-325).
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