1 Kings 18:23
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.

18:21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.I, even I, only remain - He means, "I only remain in the exercise of the office of a prophet." The others (Compare 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. 21-40. Elijah said unto all the people, How long halt ye?—They had long been attempting to conjoin the service of God with that of Baal. It was an impracticable union and the people were so struck with a sense of their own folly, or dread of the king's displeasure, that they "answered not a word." Elijah proposed to decide for them the controversy between God and Baal by an appeal, not to the authority of the law, for that would have no weight, but by a visible token from Heaven. As fire was the element over which Baal was supposed to preside, Elijah proposed that two bullocks should be slain and placed on separate altars of wood, the one for Baal, and the other for God. On whichever the fire should descend to consume it, the event should determine the true God, whom it was their duty to serve. The proposal, appearing every way reasonable, was received by the people with unanimous approval. The priests of Baal commenced the ceremony by calling on their god. In vain did they continue invoking their senseless deity from morning till noon, and from noon till evening, uttering the most piercing cries, using the most frantic gesticulations, and mingling their blood with the sacrifice. No response was heard. No fire descended. Elijah exposed their folly and imposture with the severest irony and, as the day was far advanced, commenced his operations. Inviting the people to approach and see the entire proceeding, he first repaired an old altar of God, which Jezebel had demolished. Then, having arranged the cut pieces of the bullock, he caused four barrels or jars of water to be dashed all over the altar and round in the trench. Once, twice, a third time this precaution was taken, and then, when he had offered an earnest prayer, the miraculous fire descended (Le 9:24; Jud 6:21; 13:20; 1Ch 21:26; 2Ch 7:1), and consumed not only the sacrifice, but the very stones of the altar. The impression on the minds of the people was that of admiration mingled with awe; and with one voice they acknowledged the supremacy of Jehovah as the true God. Taking advantage of their excited feelings, Elijah called on them to seize the priestly impostors, and by their blood fill the channel of the river (Kishon), which, in consequence of their idolatries, the drought had dried up—a direction, which, severe and relentless as it seems, it was his duty as God's minister to give (De 15:5; 18:20). The natural features of the mount exactly correspond with the details of this narrative. The conspicuous summit, 1635 feet above the sea, on which the altars were placed, presents an esplanade spacious enough for the king and the priests of Baal to stand on the one side, and Elijah on the other. It is a rocky soil, on which there is abundance of loose stones, to furnish the twelve stones of which the altar was built—a bed of thick earth, in which a trench could be dug; and yet the earth not so loose that the water poured into it would be absorbed; two hundred fifty feet beneath the altar plateau, there is a perennial fountain, which, being close to the altar of the Lord, might not have been accessible to the people; and whence, therefore, even in that season of severe drought, Elijah could procure those copious supplies of water which he poured over the altar. The distance between this spring and the site of the altar is so short, as to make it perfectly possible to go thrice thither and back again, whereas it would have been impossible once in an afternoon to fetch water from the sea [Van De Velde]. The summit is one thousand feet above the Kishon, which nowhere runs from the sea so close to the base of the mount as just beneath El-Mohhraka; so that the priests of Baal could, in a few minutes, be taken down to the brook (torrent), and slain there. He attempts the decision of this controversy, not by God’s word, which was either rejected, or despised, or grossly neglected by the generality of that people; but by a miracle, to which all that had common sense must needs submit.

Let them choose one bullock for themselves, which they judge best and fittest for their purpose.

Let them therefore give us two bullocks,.... Who, being so many, were better able to be at the expense of them, and having the king on their party too; though perhaps no more is meant than that two bullocks should be brought thither, and presented before them:

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:

and put no fire under; to consume it.

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 Kings 18:23As the people adhered to their undecided double-mindedness, Elijah proposed to let the Deity Himself decide who was the true God, Jehovah or Baal. The prophets of Baal were to offer a sacrifice to Baal, and he (Elijah) would offer one to Jehovah. And the true God should make Himself known by kindling the burnt-offering presented to Him with fire from heaven, and in this way answering the invocation of His name. This proposal was based upon the account in Leviticus 9. As Jehovah had there manifested Himself as the God of Israel by causing fire to fall from heaven upon the first sacrifice presented in front of the tabernacle and to consume it, Elijah hoped that in like manner Jehovah would even now reveal Himself as the living God. And the form of decision thus proposed would necessarily appear all the fairer, because Elijah, the prophet of Jehovah, stood alone in opposition to a whole crowd of Baal's prophets, numbering no less than 450 men. And for that very reason the latter could not draw back, without publicly renouncing their pretensions, whether they believed that Baal would really do what was desired, or hoped that they might be able to escape, through some accident or stratagem, from the difficult situation that had been prepared for them, or fancied that the God of Elijah would no more furnish the proof of His deity that was desired of Him than Baal would. In order, however, to cut off every subterfuge in the event of their attempt proving a failure, Elijah not only yielded the precedence to them on the occasion of this sacrifice, but gave them the choice of the two oxen brought to be offered; which made the fairness of his proposal so much the more conspicuous to every one, that the people willingly gave their consent.
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