1 Kings 20:38
So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes on his face.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) Ashes upon his face.—It should be a “bandage over his head,” to cover his face, and to accord with the appearance of a wounded soldier. Unless the wound had some symbolic significance in application to Ahab or Israel, it is difficult to see what purpose it could serve.

1 Kings 20:38. And disguised himself with ashes upon his face — As a man in a very sorrowful condition. Houbigant reads it, He had his eyes covered with a bandage, supposing that the genuine, reading of the text is, not אפר, apher, but אפד, aphed, which signifies a bandage; whence comes the Hebrew word ephod; something bound round. Several of the versions render it, with a veil: and thus the Hebrew doctors understand it. It is probable, it was a cloth or bandage of some kind, wherewith he bound up his wound, which probably was in his face: for it was made in a conspicuous place, that it might be visible to Ahab and others.20:31-43 This encouragement sinners have to repent and humble themselves before God; Have we not heard, that the God of Israel is a merciful God? Have we not found him so? That is gospel repentance, which flows from an apprehension of the mercy of God, in Christ; there is forgiveness with him. What a change is here! The most haughty in prosperity often are most abject in adversity; an evil spirit will thus affect a man in both these conditions. There are those on whom, like Ahab, success is ill bestowed; they know not how to serve either God or their generation, or even their own true interests with their prosperity: Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. The prophet designed to reprove Ahab by a parable. If a good prophet were punished for sparing his friend and God's when God said, Smite, of much sorer punishment should a wicked king be thought worthy, who spared his enemy and God's, when God said, Smite. Ahab went to his house, heavy and displeased, not truly penitent, or seeking to undo what he had done amiss; every way out of humour, notwithstanding his victory. Alas! many that hear the glad tidings of Christ, are busy and there till the day of salvation is gone.Ashes - Rather, "a bandage" (and in 1 Kings 20:41). The object of the wound and bandage was double. Partly, it was to prevent Ahab from recognizing the prophet's face; partly, to induce him to believe that the man had really been engaged in the recent war. 1Ki 20:35-42. A Prophet Reproves Him.

35-38. Smite me—This prophet is supposed (1Ki 20:8) to have been Micaiah. The refusal of his neighbor to smite the prophet was manifestly wrong, as it was a withholding of necessary aid to a prophet in the discharge of a duty to which he had been called by God, and it was severely punished [1Ki 20:36], as a beacon to warn others (see on [321]1Ki 13:2-24). The prophet found a willing assistant, and then, waiting for Ahab, leads the king unconsciously, in the parabolic manner of Nathan (2Sa 12:1-4), to pronounce his own doom; and this consequent punishment was forthwith announced by a prophet (see on [322]1Ki 21:17).

That he might sooner gain access to the king, and audience from him. See Poole "1 Kings 20:35".

With ashes; whereby he changed the colour of it. Or, with a veil, or cloth, or band, (as the Hebrew doctors understand the word,) whereby he might seem to have bound up his wound, which probably was in his face; for it was to be made in a very conspicuous place, that it might be visible to Ahab and others. So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way,.... As he went from Aphek, the place where the battle had been fought, to Samaria, his royal seat:

and disguised himself with ashes upon his face; the Targum is, he covered his eyes with a vail, or piece of cloth, which he wrapped about his head, as men do when they have got a wound or bruise in such a part, which seems very probable; for had he besmeared his face with ashes, clay, or dust, or any such thing, he could not so easily have got it off, as in 1 Kings 20:41.

So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. waited for the king by the way] He wished to intercept Ahab just as he was coming from his interview with Ben-hadad. A parallel this to the lion meeting the disobedient prophet as soon as he had departed from his fellow.

and disguised himself] With this action may be compared the assumed mourning garb of the widow of Tekoah (2 Samuel 14:2).

with ashes upon his face] R.V. with his head band over his eyes. The A. V. is the rendering of the Vulg. and Syriac, and is the result of taking אֲפֵר in the text as the same אֵפֶר which means ‘dust’, ‘ashes’. The LXX. has the true sense in τελαμών = a bandage, while the Chaldee translates it as ‘a veil’. When the proper meaning is given to the first word, the common rendering ‘eyes’ for the second can be brought in.Verse 38. - So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face. [Rather, a bandage upon his eyes. אֲפֵר there can be no doubt, denotes some sort of covering (LXX. τελαμών), and is probably the equivalent of עֲפֵר. Ashes cannot be put on the eyes, and even on the head would be but a poor disguise. This bandage was at the same time in keeping with the prophet's role as a wounded man, and an effective means of concealment. It would almost seem as if this prophet was personally known to the king.] In this extremity his servants made the proposal to him, that trusting in the generosity of the kings of Israel, they should go and entreat Ahab to show favour to him. They clothed themselves in mourning apparel, and put ropes on their necks, as a sign of absolute surrender, and went to Ahab, praying for the life of their king. And Ahab felt so flattered by the fact that his powerful opponent was obliged to come and entreat his favour in this humble manner, that he gave him his life, without considering how a similar act on the part of Saul had been blamed by the Lord (1 Samuel 15:9.). "Is he still alive? He is my brother!" was his answer to Benhadad's servants.
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