But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell on twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A wall—properly, the wall of the city, whether falling by earthquake, or in the storming of the place, by Israel. The numbers in the text are very large, as in many other instances. It is possible (see Introduction) that there may be corruption, although the same numbers are found in the ancient versions. But the massing in small space of Oriental armies, and the extra ordinary slaughter consequent on it, are well illustrated in history; as, for instance, in the Greek wars with Persia or even our own experience in India.1 Kings 20:30. A wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand — The wall of the city under which they lay, ready to defend it; or the walls (the singular number being put for the plural, than which nothing is more frequent) of some great castle or fort, in or near the city in which they were now fortifying themselves; or of some part of the city where they lay. This might possibly happen through natural causes; but most probably was effected by the mighty power of God, sending some earthquake, or violent storm, which threw down the walls upon them: and if ever a miracle was to be wrought, now seems to have been the proper season for it; when the blasphemous Syrians denied the sovereign power of God, and thereby in some sort obliged him to give a proof of it; and to show, that he was the God of the plains, as well as of the mountains; and that he could as effectually destroy them in their strongest holds, as in the open fields; and make the very walls, to whose strength they trusted for their defence, to be the instruments of their ruin. But it may be further observed, that it is not said, that all these were killed by the fall of this wall; but only that the wall fell upon them, killing some, and wounding others.The wall, or, the walls, (the singular number for the plural, than which nothing more frequent,) of the city; or of some great castle or fort in or near the city, in which they were now fortifying themselves; or of some part of the city where they lay. Which might possibly happen through natural causes; but most probably was effected by the mighty power of God, then sending some sudden earthquake, or violent storm of wind, which threw down the wall, or walls, upon them; or doing this by the ministry of angels; which cannot be incredible to any man, except to him that denies the truth of all the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament; which being attested, many of them, by Jews and heathens, it is the height of folly and impudence to deny. For if ever miracle was to be wrought, now seems to have been the proper time and season for it; when the blasphemous Syrians denied the sovereign and infinite power of God, and thereby in some sort obliged him, for his own honour, to give a proof of it; and to show that he was the God of the plains as well as of the mountains, and that he could as effectually destroy them in their strongest holds as in the open fields, and make the very walls, to whose strength they trusted for their defence, to be the instruments of their ruin. But it may be further observed, that it is not said that all these were killed by the fall of this wall; but only that the wall fell upon them, killing some, and wounding others, as is usual in those cases. Nor is it necessary that the wall should fall upon every individual person; but it is sufficient to justify this phrase, if it fell upon the main body of them; for the words in the Hebrew ran thus,
the wall fell upon twenty-seven thousand (not of the men that are left, as we render it, but) which were left of that great army. Into the city; either,
1. Out of the fields, as the rest of his army did; which is distinctly and particularly noted of him, because he was the most eminent person in it, and the head of it. Compare the title of Psalm 18:1. Or,
2. At and from the noise and report of that terrible fall of the wall, or walls; which possibly might be in the outside or suburbs of the city; from whence he fled further into the city.
Into an inner chamber; or, a chamber within a chamber; where he supposed he might lie hid, till he had an opportunity of making an escape, or of obtaining mercy.
and there a wall fell upon twenty seven thousand of the men that were left; not slain in the battle; here again the Lord might be seen, who, as Abarbinel observes, fought from heaven, and either by a violent wind, or an earthquake, threw down the wall upon them just as they had got under it for shelter:
and Benhadad fled, and came into the city into an inner chamber; or, "into a chamber within a chamber" (q), for greater secrecy.But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)30. and there a [R.V. and the] wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the [R.V. omits of the] men] The noun is definite in the original, and must refer to the city wall of Aphek. The narrative gives no clue to the cause of the disaster. But the divine promise of victory seems to warrant us in concluding that it was by divine interposition, through an earthquake it may be, that a destruction so tremendous was wrought among the enemy. The small number of Israel could not have availed even for the slaughter of those who fell in the battle.
And Ben-hadad fled] He was probably on or near the walls when the great disaster occurred, and in terror gat him to the more central parts of the city.
into an inner chamber] Literally, ‘a chamber within a chamber’. The LXX. has εἰς τὸν οἷκον τοῦ κοιτῶνος εἰς τὸ ταμιεῖον, ‘into the bedchamber, even into the innermost room’. Josephus says ‘an underground room’. What is meant is no doubt some room as far removed from the entrance as possible, so that he might be hidden for a good while at all events, and perhaps remain altogether undiscovered.Verse 30. - But the rest [Plainly those not claim It cannot mean those not defeated] fled to Aphek [It is clear that this fortress was then in the possession of the Syrians, as they took refuge within its walls], into the city; and there a wall [Heb. the wall, i.e., the city wall] fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. [The Hebrew implies that these were practically all who survived the battle, הַנּותָרִים is the word translated above, "the rest." We have here surely an exaggeration, even more obvious than that of ver. 39. For even if we suppose an earthquake, it is difficult to believe that the walls of a place like Aphek could bury so large a number in their ruins. Rawlinson suggests that the Syrians at the time were "manning the defences in full force," and that the earthquake "threw down the wall where they were most thickly crowded upon it;" but the question arises whether it is possible to mass 27,000 men upon any part of a wall, or all the walls, especially of an ancient village fortress. Thenius hints that the fall of the wall may have been occasioned by the Israelites undermining it during the night, but it seems hardly likely that so small a force could undertake operations of that kind against so formidable a body of troops. Keil objects to this view on another ground, viz., that its object is to negative the idea of a Divine interposition. But the text does not ascribe the fall of the wall to any such interposition, and we know that the sacred writers are not slow to recognize the finger of God whenever it is exerted.] And Ben-hadad fled, and came into [Heb. to] the city [i.e., Aphek. Rawlinson interprets this statement to mean that he "fled from the wall, where he had been at the time of the disaster, into the inner parts of the city," but this is extremely doubtful. Observe the words, "fled and cane to the city" - words almost identical with those used of the fugitives above], into an inner chamber. [Heb. into a chamber within a chamber, as in 1 Kings 22:25. This cannot mean from chamber to chamber," as marg. It is to be observed that חֶדֶר alone signifies properly an inner chamber. See Genesis 43:30; Judges 16:9, 12. Rawlinson thinks that a secret chamber may be meant "a chamber in the wall, or one beneath the floor of another."] 1 Kings 20:23, 1 Kings 20:24. The servants (ministers) of Benhadad persuaded their lord to enter upon a fresh campaign, attributing the defeat they had sustained to two causes, which could be set aside, viz., to the supposed nature of the gods of Israel, and to the position occupied by the vassal-kings in the army. The gods of Israel were mountain gods: when fighting with them upon the mountains, the Syrians had had to fight against and succumb to the power of these gods, whereas on the plain they would conquer, because the power of these gods did not reach so far. This notion concerning the God of Israel the Syrians drew, according to their ethnical religious ideas, from the fact that the sacred places of this God - not only the temple at Jerusalem upon Moriah, but also the altars of the high places - were erected upon mountains; since heathenism really had its mountain deities, i.e., believed in gods who lived upon mountains and protected and conducted all that took place upon them (cf. Dougtaei Analect. ss. i. 178,179; Deyling, Observv. Songs 3.pp. 97ff.; Winer, bibl. R. W. i. p. 154), and in Syrophoenicia even mountains themselves had divine honours paid to them (vid., Movers, Phniz. i. p. 667ff.). The servants of Benhadad were at any rate so far right, that they attributed their defeat to the assistance which God had given to His people Israel; and were only wrong in regarding the God of Israel as a local deity, whose power did not extend beyond the mountains. They also advised their lord (1 Kings 20:24) to remove the kings in his army from their position, and appoint governors in their stead (פּחות, see 1 Kings 10:15). The vassal-kings had most likely not shown the desired self-sacrifice for the cause of their superior in the war. And, lastly (1 Kings 20:25), they advised the king to raise his army to its former strength, and then carry on the war in the plain. "Number thyself an army, like the army which has fallen from thee." מאותך, "from with thee," rendered correctly de tuis in the Vulgate, at least so far as the sense is concerned (for the form see Ewald, 264, b.). But these prudently-devised measures were to be of no avail to the Syrians; for they were to learn that the God of Israel was not a limited mountain-god.
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