1 Kings 18:29
And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
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(29) They prophesied—raved in their frenzy; like Saul in the hour of madness (1Samuel 18:10), or of overpowering religious excitement (1Samuel 19:20-24). As a rule, not perhaps without some rare exceptions, the true prophetic inspiration, even if felt as overmastering the will (see Jeremiah 20:7-9), gave no place to frenzy. “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”

1 Kings 18:29. They prophesied, &c. — That is, prayed to, or sung hymns in honour of their god, falling into strange contortions, as if they were excited and actuated by some divine power. Until the time of the evening sacrifice — Here termed the sacrifice by way of eminence, (for in the Hebrew there is nothing for evening,) because it was more solemn and public, and more frequented than the morning sacrifice; of which divers reasons may be given. See Exodus 12:6; Psalm 141:2; Acts 3:1. Nor any that regarded — Hebrew, אין קשׁב, ein kasheb, there was no attention; either of their god who was so far from answering that he did not mind any of their words or actions; or of the people, who were now tired out with so long attention and expectation; and therefore, more readily deserted them, and drew near to Elijah and his altar at his call.

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.And they prophesied - Compare 1 Kings 22:12. The expression seems to be used of any case where there was an utterance of words by persons in a state of religious ecstasy.

Until the time of the offering etc - Rather, "Until toward the time." Elijah had built his altar by the actual time of the offering 1 Kings 18:36.

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. They prophesied, i. e. praised, and prayed unto, and worshipped their god; for so the word prophesying is used, 1 Samuel 10:10 19:20 1 Chronicles 25:2,3 Mt 7:22 1 Corinthians 11:4 14:5,6, &c.

Of the evening sacrifice, Heb. of the sacrifice; which being here opposed to the time of their offering, which was the morning, 1 Kings 18:26, must needs be meant of the evening sacrifice; of which see Exodus 29:39, &c.; which is called the sacrifice, by way of eminency, because it was more solemn, and public, and frequented than the morning sacrifice; of which divers reasons may be given. See Exodus 12:6 Psalm 141:2 Acts 3:1.

Nor any that regarded, Heb. there was no attention; either, first, Of their god, who was so far from answering, that he did not mind any of their words and actions. Or, secondly, Of the people, who were now tired out with so long attention and expectation; and therefore more readily deserted them, and approached to Elijah and his altar, at his call, 1 Kings 18:30.

And it came to pass when midday was past,.... And nothing done, no fire descended:

and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; continued praying to Baal, and singing his praises, but all to no purpose; or they behaved like madmen, as the Targum; thus they went on until it was time to offer the evening sacrifice; so that they had no interruption in their service, and had all the time they could desire to have to importune their god to do the favour for them they requested:

that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded; no voice was heard that returned them any answer; nor was any answer made by fire, nor any regard shown to their mad gestures, and barbarous actions; and very likely the people also, by this time, paid no regard unto them, perceiving they were not able, by all their cries and methods they took, to obtain an answer.

And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
29. And it came to pass [R.V. it was so], when midday was past, and [R.V. that] they prophesied] The word used for the wild raving of these heathen priests is the same which is employed for the most solemn utterances of the prophets of Jehovah (cf. Ezekiel 37:10). The thought which connects the two uses seems to be of a person acting under some influence which he cannot control. In both cases the external manifestation was in a degree alike, for Jehovah’s prophets were moved at times by great outward excitement. In these Baal-prophets it appears to have been of the nature of raving. On the bodily agitations of the prophets Maimonides (de Fundam. Legis VII. 3) writes ‘The limbs of all the prophets, during the time of their prophetic inspiration, are agitated, their strength of body fails, their thoughts are snatched aside, and their intellect is left free to understand what is shewn to them.’ Then he quotes the instances of Abraham (Genesis 15:12) and of Daniel (Daniel 10:8).

the offering of the evening sacrifice] R.V. oblation. The Hebrew word מנחה here used signifies that offering of fine flour mixed with oil, salt and frankincense, which was the accompaniment at times of sacrifices, but which at times was offered alone. It is generally rendered in A.V. ‘meat offering,’ and R.V. has changed this to ‘meal offering’ that the nature of the oblation might be more nearly described in the translation. ‘Sacrifice’ here is misleading, for the offering was without blood.

that [R.V. but] there was neither voice … regarded] The change in R.V. follows on the alterations made in the first half of the verse. The sense then is given more clearly. What is meant to be expressed is, that though they went on the whole day through, yet there was no result of their cries and lacerations.

The LXX. omits this clause, and gives instead ‘And Elijah the Tishbite spake to the prophets of the abominations, saying, Stand aside now, and I will offer my burnt offering. And they stood aside and went away.’

Verse 29. - And it came to pass, when midday was past [Elijah allowed them all the time he could, consistently with the great work he had himself to do, which would absorb all the rest of the day], and they prophesied [Notice the striking coincidence with the description of the worship of Ashtoreth given above. We are not to think of vaticinations, but of frenzied cries, etc. It is not clear, however, that any fresh element in their worship is intended, as Keil imagines. Their service as a whole, seeing they were prophets, would be called a "prophesying," and the word, consequently, may merely mean "they pursued their calling," "they cried and prayed," etc.] until the time of the offering [Keil and Rawlinson would translate, "until towards the time," etc. There is certainly some indefiniteness in the words עַד לַעֲלות, until [the hour] for placing, etc., but we may well believe that their dances and cries continued up to the moment of Elijah's prayer (ver. 36)] of the evening sacrifice [Heb. the Minchah, i.e., the meat offering or unbloody sacrifice. In Genesis 4:3-6 the word would appear to be used of any offering; but at a later day it was restricted to bloodless offerings, and was opposed to זֶבַח Cf. Psalm 40:7; Jeremiah 17:26. Directions as to the offering of the Minchah are given, Exodus 29:38-41; Numbers 28:3-8. The evening sacrifice was probably offered then, as it certainly was at a later day, at the ninth hour. Cf. Acts 3:1; Acts 10:3, 30, and see Jos., Ant. 14:04.3. Wordsworth think, this synchronism very significant, as suggesting that the true worship of God was that of the temple in Jerusalem], that there was neither voice, nor any to answer [as in ver. 26], nor any that regarded. [Heb. and not attention. The LXX has a curious variation and addition here: "And Elijah the Tishbite said to the prophets of the idols, Stand back; I will now make ready my offering."] 1 Kings 18:29As no answer had been received before noon, Elijah cried out to them in derision: "Call to him with a loud voice, for he is God (sc., according to your opinion), for he is meditating, or has gone aside (שׂי, secessio), or is on the journey (בּדּרך, on the way); perhaps he is sleeping, that he may wake up." The ridicule lies more especially in the הוּא אלהים כּי (for he is a god), when contrasted with the enumeration of the different possibilities which may have occasioned their obtaining no answer, and is heightened by the earnest and threefold repetition of the כּי. With regard to these possibilities we may quote the words of Clericus: "Although these things when spoken of God are the most absurd things possible, yet idolaters could believe such things, as we may see from Homer." The priests of Baal did actually begin therefore to cry louder than before, and scratched themselves with swords and lances, till the blood poured out, "according to their custom" (כּמשׁפּטם). Movers describes this as follows (Phnizier, i. pp. 682,683), from statements made by ancient authors concerning the processions of the strolling bands of the Syrian goddess: "A discordant howling opens the scene. They then rush wildly about in perfect confusion, with their heads bowed down to the ground, but always revolving in circles, so that the loosened hair drags through the mire; they then begin to bite their arms, and end with cutting themselves with the two-edged swords which they are in the habit of carrying. A new scene then opens. One of them, who surpasses all the rest in frenzy, begins to prophesy with signs and groans; he openly accuses himself of the sins which he has committed, and which he is now about to punish by chastising the flesh, takes the knotted scourge, which the Galli generally carry, lashes his back, and then cuts himself with swords till the blood trickles down from his mangled body." The climax of the Bacchantic dance in the case of the priests of Baal also was the prophesying (התנבּא), and it was for this reason, probably, that they were called prophets (נביאים). This did not begin till noon, and lasted till about the time of the evening sacrifice (לעלות עד, not עלות עד, 1 Kings 18:29). המּנחה עלות, "the laying on (offering) of the meat-offering," refers to the daily evening sacrifice, which consisted of a burnt-offering and a meat-offering (Exodus 29:38.; Numbers 28:3-8), and was then offered, according to the Rabbinical observance (see at Exodus 12:6), in the closing hours of the afternoon, as is evident from the circumstances which are described in 1 Kings 18:40. as having taken place on the same day and subsequently to Elijah's offering, which was presented at the time of the evening sacrifice (1 Kings 18:36).
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