2 Kings 1:2
And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said to them, Go, inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.
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(2) Through a lattice.—Rather, the lattice, i.e., the latticed window of the chamber on the palace roof, looking into the court below. The word rendered “through” (bĕ‘ad) implies that Ahaziah was leaning out over the window-sill. (Comp. 2Kings 9:30; Psalm 14:2.) He perhaps fell into a gallery underneath, as the palace would be several storeys high, and he was not killed by his fall. The word sĕbākhāh means “net” in Job 18:8, and decorative “network” in metal in 1Kings 7:18; 2Chronicles 4:12. The Rabbis explain it here as a sort of skylight to the chamber beneath the upper chamber, or a spiral stairway; both improbable.

He sent messengers.—By Jezebeľs advice. (S Ephrem.)

Baal-zebub.—Here only in the Old Testament. “Lord of Flies” is generally compared with the Greek Ζϵὺς ὰπομυῖος, or μυίαγρος, the “fly-averting Zeus” of the Eleans (Paus., viii. 26, 4), and it is no doubt true that flies are an extraordinary pest in the East. But when we remember that “myiomancy,” or divination by watching the movements of flies, is an ancient Babylonian practice, we can hardly doubt that this is the true significance of the title “Baal-zebub.” In the Assyrian deluge tablet the gods are said to have gathered over Izdubar’s sacrifice “like flies” (kîma zumbie). The later Jewish spelling (Βεελζεβοὺλ) probably contains an allusive reference to the Talmudic woras zébel (“dung”), zibbûl (“dunging”).

Ekron.Akir (Joshua 13:3). Of the five Philistine cities it lay farthest north, and so nearest to Samaria.

Recover.—Literally, live from, or after.

Disease.Sickness, viz., that occasioned by his fall. The LXX. adds, “and they went to inquire of him.”

2 Kings 1:2. Ahaziah fell through a lattice in his upper chamber — Houbigant renders it, Through the lattice into his upper chamber. He thinks that as Ahaziah was walking upon the top of the house, the wooden lattice gave way, and he fell through. Go and inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron — The word Baal-zebub, properly means the god of flies. This idol was so called, because it was supposed to deliver the Ekronites from flies, with which they were much pestered, being situated on a moist and hot soil, near the sea. Jupiter and Hercules were called by a like name among the Greeks; and it is evident, both from sacred and profane histories, that the idol-gods, or, rather, Satan by them, did sometimes give answers, through God’s permission, though these answers were generally observed, even by the heathen themselves, to be dark and doubtful.1:1-8 When Ahaziah rebelled against the Lord, Moab revolted from him. Sin weakens and impoverishes us. Man's revolt from God is often punished by the rebellion of those who owe subjection to him. Ahaziah fell through a lattice, or railing. Wherever we go, there is but a step between us and death. A man's house is his castle, but not to secure him against God's judgments. The whole creation, which groans under the burden of man's sin, will, at length, sink and break under the weight like this lattice. He is never safe that has God for his enemy. Those that will not inquire of the word of God for their comfort, shall hear it to their terror, whether they will or no.A lattice - The "upper chamber" had probably a single latticed window, through which Ahaziah fell. Windows in the East are to this day generally closed by lattices of interlaced wood, which open outward; so that, if the fastening is not properly secured, one who leans against them may easily fall out.

Baal-zebub - literally, "Lord (i. e., averter) of flies." Flies in the East constitute one of the most terrible of plages Psalm 105:31; Exodus 8:24; and Orientals would be as likely to have a "god of flies" as a god of storm fand thunder. To inquire 2 Kings 1:3 of Baal-zebub was practically to deny Yahweh. Ahaziah cast aside the last remnant of respect for the old religion, and consulted a foreign oracle, as if the voice of God were wholly silent in his own country.

For Ekron see the marginal reference.

2Ki 1:2-8. Ahaziah's Judgment by Elijah.

2-8. Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber—This lattice was either a part of the wooden parapet, or fence, which surrounds the flat roofs of houses, and over which the king was carelessly leaning when it gave way; or it might be an opening like a skylight in the roof itself, done over with lattice-work, which, being slender or rotten, the king stepped on and slipped through. This latter supposition is most probably the true one, as Ahaziah did not fall either into the street or the court, but "in his upper chamber."

inquire of Baalzebub—Anxious to learn whether he should recover from the effects of this severe fall, he sent to consult Baalzebub, that is, the god of flies, who was considered the patron deity of medicine. A temple to that idol was erected at Ekron, which was resorted to far and wide, though it afterwards led to the destruction of the place (Zec 9:5; Am 1:8; Zep 2:4). "After visiting Ekron, 'the god of flies' is a name that gives me no surprise. The flies there swarmed, in fact so innumerably, that I could hardly get any food without these troublesome insects getting into it" [Van De Velde].

In his upper chamber; in which the lattice might be left to convey light into the lower room; which if it now seem to be absurd in a king’s palace, we must not think it was so then, when the world was not arrived to that height of curiosity and art in which now it is. But the words may be, and are by some, rendered, through the battlements (or through the lattice in the battlements) of the roof of the house; where being first walking, after the manner, and then standing and looking through, and leaning upon this lattice, which was grown infirm, it broke, and he fell into the court or garden belonging to the house.

Baal-zebub; properly, the god of flies; an idol so called, because it was falsely supposed to deliver those people from flies, which were both vexatious and hurtful to them; as Jupiter and Hercules were called by a like name among the Grecians for thee same reason. And it is evident, both from sacred and profane histories, that the idol gods, being consulted by the heathens, did sometimes through God’s permission and just judgment give them answers, though they were generally observed, even by the heathens themselves to be dark and doubtful. And Ahaziah fell down a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria,.... Which was either a window or lattice in the form of network, to let in light; or rather were the rails of a balcony or battlement on the roof of his palace, in this form, on which leaning, it broke down, and he fell into the garden or court yard; or walking on the roof of his house, and treading unawares on a sky light, which let in light into a room underneath, he fell through it into it:

and was sick; the fall perhaps threw him into a fever, and which seemed threatening, being violent:

and he sent messengers, and said unto them, go inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover of this disease; not to heal him of it, but to know the issue of it; a vain curiosity this! Ekron was one of the principalities of the Philistines, and this idol was the god they worshipped, which signifies a master fly: which some think was a large metallic fly; made under a planet that rules over flies; and the Heathens had deities they called Myiodes, Myagros, and which signifies a driver away of flies; as Jupiter and Hercules were called by the Eleans and Romans, and worshipped and sacrificed to by them on that account (a); and so the Cyreneans, a people of Lybia, worshipped the god Achor, which seems to be a corruption of the word Ekron, because he freed them from flies, after they had been infested with a pestilence through them (b); and Ekron being a place near the sea, and both hot and moist, might be much infested with those creatures. Within the haven of Ptolemais, or Acco, was formerly a temple of Baalzebub, called in later times "the tower of flies", and used as a Pharus (c).

(a) Pausan. Eliac. 1. sive, l. 5. p. 313. & Arcadica, sive, l. 8. p. 491. Clement. Alex. Admon. ad Gentes, p. 24. (b) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 27. Vid. Chartarii Imagines Deorum, p. 151. & Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 26. (c) Adrichom. Theatrum Ter. Sanct. fol. 6. 1.

And {a} Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of {b} Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.

(a) So that he was punished for his idolatry in two ways: for the Moabites which were wont to pay him tribute rebelled and he fell out a window which was high in his house to give light beneath.

(b) The Philistines who lived at Ekron worshipped this idol, the god of flies, thinking that he could preserve them from the biting of flies: or else he was so called, because flies were drawn in great abundance by the blood of the sacrifices that were offered to that idol.

2. And Ahaziah fell down through a [R.V. the] lattice] From the use of the word rendered ‘lattice’ elsewhere (cf. Job 18:8), it must mean some kind of net or trellis-work put in front of an open space, a window or a balcony. As it is said the king fell through it, we may most probably conclude that an Oriental window space with its trellis-work is intended. The description of it as ‘in his upper chamber’ shews that it cannot have been a palisade round the flat roof of the house, as some have thought, which broke away as he was leaning on it, and let him fall down. Josephus (Ant. IX. 2. 1) represents the king as having fallen as he was coming down from the housetop.

and was sick] The verb is employed, as here, of sickness caused by wounds, and also of ordinary disease (cf. 2 Kings 13:14) as in the case of Elisha. It is also used metaphorically (cf. Song of Solomon 2:5; Song of Solomon 5:8).

inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron] The son of Jezebel follows his mother’s example in his adherence to false gods. It was probably because Ekron was the nearest shrine of such a divinity that Ahaziah was sending thither. Ekron was the most northern of the five great Philistine cities, and so most easily within reach from Samaria. It is not possible to say, from the form of the two Hebrew words which make up the name Baal-zebub, whether they are in construction or in apposition. The latter word signifies ‘a fly’, and the LXX. taking them as in apposition rendered ‘Baal, the fly’, as though the image of the god had been in that form, just as Dagon’s image, in the neighbouring Ashdod, was in part at least like a fish. But it seems more natural to regard the words as in construction, so that ‘the Baal (or lord) of flies’ would be an epithet implying that the god was supposed to be an averter of flies, these insects being, especially in hot countries, a very serious pest. Such among the Greeks was Ζεὺς ἀπόμυιος (Paus. v. 14. 2), and among the Romans a deity supposed to possess this fly-dispelling power was named ‘Myiagrus’ and ‘Myiodes’ = the fly catcher. (Plin. x. 28. 40; xxix. 6. 34.)

whether I shall recover of this disease] R.V. sickness. The noun is from the same root as the verb rendered ‘was sick’, just before. There must have been some oracle at Ekron, for it was an answer that Ahaziah sought. He did not send his messengers to make supplication for his recovery. The LXX. adds at the close of this verse ‘and they went to inquire concerning him’.Verse 2. - Ahaziah fell down through a lattice; rather, through the lattice. It is implied that the upper chamber had a single window, which was closed by a single lattice, or shutter of interlaced woodwork. The shutter may have been insufficiently secured; or the woodwork may have been too weak to bear his weight, Compare the fall of Eutychus (Acts 20:9), where, however, there is no mention of a "lattice." Was sick; i.e. "was so injured that he had to take to his bed." Inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron. As a worshipper of Baal, bent on walking in the evil way of his father and of his mother (1 Kings 22:52), Ahaziah would naturally inquire of some form of the Baal divinity. Why he chose "Baal-zebub the god of Ekron," it is impossible to say. Perhaps Baal-zebub had at the time a special reputation for giving oracular responses. Perhaps the Ekron temple was, of all the ancient sites of the Baal-worship, the one with which he could most readily communicate. Philistia lay nearer to Samaria than Phoenicia did, and of the Philistine towns Ekron (now Akir) was the most northern, and so the nearest. "Baal-zebub" has been thought by some to be equivalent to "Beel-samen," "the lord of heaven" - a divine title well known to the Phoenicians; but this view is etymologically unsound, since zebub cannot possibly mean "heaven." "Baal-zebub" is "the lord of flies " - either the god who sends them as a plague on any nation that offends him (setup. Exodus 8:21-31), or the god who averts them from his votaries and favorites, an equivalent of the Greek Ζεὺς ἀπόμυιος, or the Roman "Jupiter Myiagrus," flies being in the East not infrequently a terrible plague. The Septuagint translation, Βάαλ μυι'αν, though inaccurate, shows an appreciation of the true etymology. Of this disease; rather, of this illness (ἐκ τῆς ἀρρωστίας μου ταύτης, LXX.). The brief notice concerning Jehoshaphat's attempt to build Tarshish ships (for the word, see pp. 105f) for the voyage to Ophir is expanded in 2 Chronicles 20:36-37, where we learn that Jehoshaphat had allied himself with Ahaziah of Israel for this purpose, and that the prophet Eliezer predicted the destruction of his ships on account of this alliance. When the ships had been broken in pieces in Eziongeber, no doubt by a storm, Ahaziah made this fresh proposal to him: "Let my people sail with thy people;" but Jehoshaphat would not. Ahaziah evidently wanted to persuade Jehoshaphat to make another attempt, after the destruction of the ships which were first built; but Jehoshaphat did not agree to it any more, because it was impossible for him, after the fulfilment of Eliezer's prediction, to expect a more favourable result. Thus the two accounts can be harmonized in a very simple manner, with the exception of the words "to go to Tarshish," which we find in the Chronicles in the place of "to go to Ophir," the reading in our text, and which sprang from an erroneous interpretation of the expression "ships of Tarshish" (see above, pp. 105f). The Chethb עשׂר is an error of the pen for עשׂה (Keri); but נשׁבּרה (Chethb) is not to be altered into נשׁבּרוּ, since the construction of a singular verb with the subject following in the plural is by no means rare (vid., Ewald, 317, a.). On Eziongeber and Ophir, see at 1 Kings 9:26 and 1 Kings 9:28.
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