2 Kings 1:13
And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight.
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(13) A captain of the third fifty.—Literally, a captain of a third fifty. But 2Kings 1:11, “another captain of fifty,” and the phrase which follows here, “the third captain of fifty,” indicate the right reading, “a third captain of fifty.” (So LXX. and Vulg.)

Fell.—Margin. (Comp. Isaiah 46:1, “Bel boweth down.”)

Besought him.—Begged favour, grace, or compossion of him (Genesis 42:21; Hosea 12:5).

These fifty thy servants.—Or, these thy servants, fifty (men), laying stress on the number of lives.

Be precious in thy sight.—Comp. Psalm 72:14; 1Samuel 26:21.

2 Kings 1:13. And fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him — Expressing both reverence for his person, and a dread of God’s judgments, being struck with the fate of the two other captains and their fifties. There is nothing to be got by contending with God: if we would prevail with him, it must be by supplication. And those are wise that learn submission from the fatal consequences of obstinacy in others.

1:9-18 Elijah called for fire from heaven, to consume the haughty, daring sinners; not to secure himself, but to prove his mission, and to reveal the wrath of God from heaven, against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Elijah did this by a Divine impulse, yet our Saviour would not allow the disciples to do the like, Lu 9:54. The dispensation of the Spirit and of grace by no means allowed it. Elijah was concerned for God's glory, those for their own reputation. The Lord judges men's practices by their principles, and his judgment is according to truth. The third captain humbled himself, and cast himself upon the mercy of God and Elijah. There is nothing to be got by contending with God; and those are wise for themselves, who learn submission from the fatal end of obstinacy in others. The courage of faith has often struck terror into the heart of the proudest sinner. So thunderstruck is Ahaziah with the prophet's words, that neither he, nor any about him, offer him violence. Who can harm those whom God shelters? Many who think to prosper in sin, are called hence like Ahaziah, when they do not expect it. All warns us to seek the Lord while he may be found.The charge of cruelty made against Elijah makes it needful to consider the question: What was Elijah's motive? And the answer is: Sharply to make a signal example, to vindicate God's honor in a striking way. Ahaziah had, as it were, challenged Yahweh to a trial of strength by sending a band of fifty to arrest one man. Elijah was not Jesus Christ, able to reconcile mercy with truth, the vindication of God's honor with the utmost tenderness for erring men, and awe them merely by His presence (compare John 18:6). In Elijah the spirit of the Law was embodied in its full severity. His zeal was fierce; he was not shocked by blood; he had no softness and no relenting. He did not permanently profit by the warning at Horeb (1 Kings 19:12 note). He continued the uncompromising avenger of sin, the wielder of the terrors of the Lord, such exactly as he had shown himself at Carmel. He is, consequently, no pattern for Christian men Luke 9:55; but his character is the perfection of the purely legal type. No true Christian after Pentecost would have done what Elijah did. But what he did, when he did it, was not sinful. It was but executing strict, stern justice. Elijah asked that fire should fall - God made it fall; and, by so doing, both vindicated His own honor, and justified the prayer of His prophet. 10. let fire come down—rather, "fire shall come down." Not to avenge a personal insult of Elijah, but an insult upon God in the person of His prophet; and the punishment was inflicted, not by the prophet, but by the direct hand of God. Fell on his knees, and besought him; expressing both reverence to his person, and a belief of his power, and a dread of God’s judgments.

And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty,.... Which was most daring and insolent, and showed him to be dreadfully hardened, to persist in his messages after such rebuffs: and the third captain of fifty went up; instead of calling to the prophet at the bottom of the hill as the other did, he went up to the top of it:

and came and fell on his knees before Elijah: in reverence of him as a prophet of the Lord, and under a dread of the power he was possessed of, of calling for fire from heaven on him and his men, as the former instances showed:

and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight: he owns their lives lay at his mercy; he begs they might be spared, since it was not in contempt of him, and through ill will to him as the prophet of the Lord, but in obedience to the king's command, that they were come to him.

And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my {k} life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be {l} precious in thy sight.

(k) Which humble myself before God and his servant.

(l) That is, spare my life, and do not let me die as the other two.

13. a captain of the [R.V. a] third fifty] The LXX. omits the number ‘third’, and the grammar in the Hebrew is not quite regular.

came and fell on his knees] He utters no command, but as a suppliant recognises the power of which Elijah was the representative. Josephus makes him admit that he has only come because the king commanded it.

be precious in thy sight] A common phrase about a life that is spared. Cf. 1 Samuel 26:21; Psalm 72:14.

Verse 13. - A captain of the third fifty; rather, the captain of a third fifty (see the Revised Version). This captain went up - i.e. ascended the hill on which Elijah was still seated, and there fell on his knees, or bowed himself down, before the prophet, as suppliants were wont to do, beseeching his compassion. The fate of the two former captains had become known to him by some means or other, and this induced him to assume an attitude, not of command, but of submission. He acknowledged that the prophet held his life and the lives of his fifty men at his free disposal, and begged that they might be precious in his sight, or, in other words, that he would spare them. What response Elijah would have made, had he been left to himself, is uncertain. But he was not left to himself. An angel of God again appeared to him, and directed his course of action. 2 Kings 1:13The king, disregarding the punishing hand of the Lord, which, even if it might possibly have been overlooked in the calamity that befell the captain who was first sent and his company, could not be misunderstood when a similar fate befell the second captain with his fifty men, sent a third company, in his defiant obduracy, to fetch the prophet. (שׁלשׁים after חמשּׁים is apparently an error of the pen for שׁלישׁי, as the following word השּׁלישׁי shows). But the third captain was better than his king, and wiser than his two predecessors. He obeyed the command of the king so far as to go to the prophet; but instead of haughtily summoning him to follow him, he bent his knee before the man of God, and prayed that his own life and the lives of his soldiers might be spared.
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