And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Forty days and forty nights.—Unless this time includes, as has been supposed by some, the whole journey to and from Horeb, and the sojourn there, it is far in excess of what would be recorded for a journey of some two hundred miles. It may, therefore, be thought to imply an interval of retirement for rest and solitary meditation, like the sojourn of Moses in Horeb, and the sojourn of our Lord in the wilderness (Exodus 24:18; Matthew 4:2) during which the spirit of the prophet might be calmed from the alternations of triumph and despondency, to receive the spiritual lesson which awaited him. During all that time he went “in the strength” of the Divine food, that he might know that “man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3).1 Kings 19:8. He went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights — Observe here, how many different ways God took to keep Elijah alive: he was fed by ravens, by a miraculous increase of meal and oil, by an angel, and now, to show that man lives not by bread alone, he is kept alive forty days without meat, while in the mean time he was not resting and sleeping, which might have made him the less to crave sustenance, but continually traversing the mazes of the desert, a day for each year of Israel’s wanderings; yet he neither needs food, nor desires it. The place, no doubt, reminds him of the manna, and encourages him to hope that God would sustain him here, and in due time bring him hence, as he did Israel. Unto Horeb, the mount of God — Which, in the direct road, was not above four or five days’ journey from Beer-sheba: but he wandered, it seems, hither and thither in the wilderness, till the Spirit of the Lord led him, probably beyond his intention, to this noted mountain, that he might have communion with God in the same place where Moses had; the law, that was given by Moses, being revived by him.
4-18. went a day's journey into the wilderness—on the way from Beer-sheba to Horeb—a wide expanse of sand hills, covered with the retem (not juniper, but broom shrubs), whose tall and spreading branches, with their white leaves, afford a very cheering and refreshing shade. His gracious God did not lose sight of His fugitive servant, but watched over him, and, miraculously ministering to his wants, enabled him, in a better but not wholly right frame of mind, by virtue of that supernatural supply, to complete his contemplated journey. In the solitude of Sinai, God appeared to instruct him. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" was a searching question addressed to one who had been called to so arduous and urgent a mission as his. By an awful exhibition of divine power, he was made aware of the divine speaker who addressed him; his attention was arrested, his petulance was silenced, his heart was touched, and he was bid without delay return to the land of Israel, and prosecute the Lord's work there. To convince him that an idolatrous nation will not be unpunished, He commissions him to anoint three persons who were destined in Providence to avenge God's controversy with the people of Israel. Anointing is used synonymously with appointment (Jud 9:8), and is applied to all named, although Jehu alone had the consecrated oil poured over his head. They were all three destined to be eminent instruments in achieving the destruction of idolaters, though in different ways. But of the three commissions, Elijah personally executed only one; namely, the call of Elisha to be his assistant and successor [1Ki 19:19], and by him the other two were accomplished (2Ki 8:7-13; 9:1-10). Having thus satisfied the fiery zeal of the erring but sincere and pious prophet, the Lord proceeded to correct the erroneous impression under which Elijah had been laboring, of his being the sole adherent of the true religion in the land; for God, who seeth in secret, and knew all that were His, knew that there were seven thousand persons who had not done homage (literally, "kissed the hand") to Baal.In the strength of that meat; God giving that food a far greater and more durable virtue than ordinary.
Unto Horeb: he wandered hither and thither for forty days, till at last he came to Horeb, which in the direct road was not above three or four days’ journey.
and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God; for so long he was going to that place, though it might have been gone in three or four days; but he went in byways, and wandered about in the wilderness, as the Israelites did, and that for the space of forty days, as they did near forty years; and all this while he had no other sustenance than what he had taken under the juniper tree, from whence he set out, which must be supernatural; for it is said (t), a man cannot live without food beyond seven days; see Gill on Exodus 24:18 the food either staying in his stomach all this while, or however the nutritive virtue of it, by which he was supported, and held out till he came to Horeb or Sinai; called the mount of the Lord, because here he had appeared to Moses in the bush, and from hence gave the law to the children of Israel. Abarbinel is of opinion that this term of forty days was consumed in his whole journey to Horeb, his stay there, and return to the land of Israel.And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. in the strength of that meat] As Moses had been forty days on Sinai and had taken no food with him, so now Elijah, who was to be in many ways a counterpart of Moses, is divinely sustained by the food which had been supplied to him while he rested. The fasting of Jesus at the time of His temptation lights up these Old Testament histories, which were meant to preach to former ages the lesson which the Lord emphasises, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’
forty days and forty nights] A great deal has been written to shew that the journey from the edge of the wilderness of Paran to Mount Horeb could not have occupied forty days, even of very slow walking. But there is nothing in the verse to make it necessary to suppose that the writer intended such a sense. Elijah was wandering in despondency and seeking to hide himself. The time spent was not what was required for the journey only, but far more in meditation and prayer, and seeking from God a reason why all the toiling and testimony, which the prophet had bestowed, had proved so unproductive. The spiritual conflict of Elijah prefigures the spiritual conflict of Jesus.
unto Horeb the mount of God] So called because, above all other places, it was distinguished through God’s manifestations of His power and glory. The LXX. (Vat.) does not represent ‘of God.’Verse 8. - And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights [Cf. Exodus 24:18; Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9, 25; Jonah 3:4; Matthew 4:2; Acts 1:3. But the primary reference is perhaps to the "forty days and forty nights" which Moses spent in Horeb, during which he "neither did eat bread nor drink water" (Deuteronomy 9:9), or to the forty years during which Israel was sustained in this same desert with "angels' food" (Psalm 78:25). It is noteworthy how both Moses and Elias were precursors of our Lord in a forty days' fast. "The three great fasters met gloriously on Tabor" (Hall). It is not implied that it took the prophet the whole of this time to reach Horeb, which is only distant from Beer-sheba some 130 miles. "There are eleven days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnes" (Deuteronomy 1:2). It is of course possible that he wandered aimlessly hither and thither during this period, but it seems better to understand the words of the whole of his desert sojourn] unto Horeb the mount of God. [See note on 1 Kings 8:9. It is just possible that Horeb was already known as "the mount of God" at the time God appeared to Moses there - the whole of the Sinaitic peninsula was sacred in the eyes of the Egyptians; but it is more probable that this designation is used in Exodus 3:1 prophetically, and that it was Bestowed on the Mount of the Law because of the special revelation of the Godhead there (Exodus 3:6; Exodus 19:3, 11, 18; Deuteronomy 1:6; Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:2, etc.)] 1 Kings 19:1, 1 Kings 19:2. When "Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and all, how he had slain all the prophets (of Baal)," she sent a messenger to Elijah in her impotent wrath, with a threat, which she confirmed by an oath (see at 1 Kings 2:23), that in the morning she would have him slain like the prophets whom he had put to death. The early commentators detected in this threat the impotentia muliebris iracundiae, and saw that all that Jezebel wanted was to get rid of the man who was so distressing and dangerous to her, because she felt herself unable to put him to death, partly on account of the people, who were enthusiastic in his favour, and partly on account of the king himself, upon whom the affair at Carmel had not remained without its salutary effect.
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