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)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.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.
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 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 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.
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.] 1 Samuel 15:9.). "Is he still alive? He is my brother!" was his answer to Benhadad's servants.
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