2 Kings 1:3
But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?
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(3) But the angel . . . said.—Rather, Now the angel . . . had said.The angel” is right. (Comp. 2Kings 19:35.) Reuss strangely renders: “Mais une révélation de l’Eternel parla;” and adds the note, “Et non pas un ange” (!).

Arise, go up.—Samaria lay on a hill, and the prophet was to meet the messengers at the gates.

King of Samaria.—Not Israel, a mark of Judæan feeling.

And say.—Literally, speak. LXX., Vulgate, and Arabic add “saying,” but comp. 1Kings 21:5-6.

Is it not because.—Omit “not.” So 2Kings 1:6.

Ye go.—Are going.

A God in Israel.—Comp. Micah 4:5 : “For all peoples will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever.”

2 Kings 1:3. Is it not because, &c. — There are two negatives in the Hebrew text, which increase the sense, Is it not because there is no God, none in Israel? That is, Do you not plainly declare that you think there is no God, none at all in Israel? That he knows nothing, and can do nothing? which makes you send to Ekron, as if there were a more knowing and mighty, if not the only God there. God had expressly said, that he had given prophets to the Israelites to inform them of future events, that they might not be tempted to go to inquire of strange gods, Deuteronomy 18:14-15. 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.

3. the angel of the Lord—not an angel, but the angel, who carried on all communications between the invisible God and His chosen people [Hengstenberg]. This angel commissioned Elijah to meet the king's messengers, to stop them peremptorily on the idolatrous errand, and convey by them to the king information of his approaching death. This consultation of an idol, being a breach of the fundamental law of the kingdom (Ex 20:3; De 5:7), was a daring and deliberate rejection of the national religion. The Lord, in making this announcement of his death, designed that he should see in that event a judgment for his idolatry. Is it not because there is not a God in Israel? Dost thou not by this action cast contempt upon the God of Israel, as if he were either ignorant of the event of thy disease, or un able to give thee any relief, and as if Baal-zebub had more skill and power than he? But the angel of the Lord said unto Elijah,.... One of the ministering spirits sent by the Lord to him:

arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria: that is, the king of Israel, whose capital city was Samaria:

is it not because there is not a God in Israel; known, acknowledged, and worshipped there, of whom there had been sufficient proof of his deity and divine perfections, as omniscience, omnipotence, &c.

that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? about future things, when they had God nigh unto them, fully acquainted with them, as this message shows.

But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, {c} Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?

(c) He shows that idolaters do not have the true God, or else they would seek none but him alone.

3. Elijah the Tishbite] See on 1 Kings 17:1. For a similar message to the prophet cf. 1 Kings 21:17. We know from 2 Kings 4:25 that Elisha was often to be found on Mt Carmel where there was most likely a school of the prophets (see 2 Kings 2:25). It may be that Elijah also made his most settled dwelling there. At this time he went and took up a position on some height (see below, verse 9) which commanded the road by which the messengers were journeying from Samaria to Ekron.

the king of Samaria] When the city of Samaria had been built and made the royal residence, the name ‘Samaria’ soon came to be used as the equivalent of ‘Israel’ for the kingdom of the ten tribes. See before 1 Kings 21:1.

Is it not because there is not a God in Israel] R.V. Is it because there is no God in Israel. The Hebrew could employ a double negative, as the Greek sometimes does, but the sense intended is given in English by the single one. This rendering the A.V. employs in Exodus 14:11 where the original is in the same form as in the verse before us: ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt’; and for a similar double negative in the Hebrew of Ecclesiastes 3:11 the A.V. gives ‘so that no man can find out’. The same form of phrase is repeated below in verses 6 and 16.

The LXX. takes away the first word of the Hebrew in the next sentence, וִלָכֵן = Now therefore, from its connexion and renders it as a separate phrase, and as if it had been וְלֹא כֵן = καὶ οὐχ οὔτως, putting ὄτι, which has nothing to represent it in the Hebrew, as the connecting particle of the next clause. The same misreading occurs in verses 6 and 16.Verse 3. - The angel of the Lord. It would be better to translate, with the LXX., an angel (ἄγγελος, not ὁ ἄγγελος). An angel had appeared to Elijah on a previous occasion (1 Kings 19:5, 7). Elijah the Tishbite (comp. 1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 21:17, 28; 2 Kings 1:8; and for the meaning of the expression, hat-Tishbi, see the comment on 1 Kings 17:1). Arise, go up. Elijah was, apparently, in the low tract of the Shefelah, or in Sharon, when the messengers started, and was thus commanded to go up and meet them, or intercept them on their journey before they descended into the plain. God would not have the insult to his majesty, carried out. Is it not because there is not a God in Israel? rather, Is it that there is no God at all in Israel? The double negative is intensitive, and implies that the king's consultation of Baal-zebub, god of Ekron, is a complete and absolute denial of the Divinity of Jehovah. To consult a foreign oracle is equivalent to raying that the voice of God is wholly silent in one's own land. This was going further in apostasy than Ahab had gone (see 1 Kings 22:6-9). 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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