2 Kings 1:8
And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.
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(8) Answered.—Said unto.

An hairy man.—Literally, a lord of hair. This might refer to length of hair and beard (so LXX., δασὺς, “hirsute,” “shaggy”); or to a hairy cloak or mantle. The second alternative is right, because a hairy mantle was a mark of the prophetic office from Elijah downwards. (Comp. Zechariah 13:4, “a rough garment;” and Matthew 3:4, where it is said of John Baptist—the second Elias—that “he was clad in camel’s hair,” and had “a leather girdle about his loins.”) The girdle, as Thenius remarks, would not be mentioned alone. The common dress of the Bedawis is a sheep or goat’s skin with the hair left on.

Girt with a girdle of leather.—Such as only the poorest would wear. The girdle was ordinarily of linen or cotton, and often costly. The prophet’s dress was a sign of contempt for earthly display, and of sorrow for the national sins and their consequences, which it was his function to proclaim. (Comp. Isaiah 20:2.)

2 Kings 1:8. They answered, He was a hairy man — This may either denote his wearing long hair on his head and beard, according to the manner of the ancient Greek philosophers, or it may signify that he was clad with a hairy garment, that is, with a skin that had not been dressed, such as the prophets were wont to wear, (Isaiah 20:2; Zechariah 13:4; Matthew 3:4,) and eminent persons in Greece in ancient times; and such clothing the poorer Arabians use at this day. The prophets, doubtless, used this habit to show their utter contempt of a luxurious, effeminate life. And girt with a girdle of leather — As John the Baptist also was, that by his very outward appearance he might represent Elijah, in whose power and spirit he came. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite — This conclusion he draws from their description of him, having seen him in this dress in his fathers court.

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.An hairy man - Either in allusion to his shaggy cloak of untanned skin; or, more probably, an expression descriptive of the prophet's person, of his long flowing locks, abundant beard, and general profusion of hair. His costume was that of a thorough ascetic. Generally the Jews wore girdles of linen or cotton stuff, soft and comfortable. Under the girdle they wore one or two long linen gowns or shirts, and over these they had sometimes a large shawl. Elijah had only his leather girdle and his sheepskin cape or "mantle." 8. an hairy man—This was the description not of his person, as in the case of Esau, but of his dress, which consisted either of unwrought sheep or goatskins (Heb 11:37), or of camel's haircloth—the coarser manufacture of this material like our rough haircloth. The Dervishes and Bedouins are attired in this wild, uncouth manner, while their hair flows loose on the head, their shaggy cloak is thrown over their shoulders and tied in front on the breast, naked, except at the waist, round which is a skin girdle—a broad, rough leathern belt. Similar to this was the girdle of the prophets, as in keeping with their coarse garments and their stern, uncompromising office. An hairy man; either,

1. As to his body; the hair of his head and beard being through neglect grown long, and spread over much of his time. Or rather,

2. As to his outward garment, which was rough and hairy, such as were sometimes worn by eminent persons in Greece in ancient times, and were the proper habit of the prophets. See Isaiah 20:2 Zechariah 13:4 Matthew 3:4 Hebrews 11:37.

With a girdle of leather about his loins; as John the Baptist also had, Matthew 3:4, that by his very outward habit he might represent Elias, in whose spirit and power he came.

And they answered him, he was an hairy man,.... Either the hair of his head and beard were grown very long, having been much neglected for a great while; or he had an hairy garment on, either of goats' hair, such as the Chinese wear (f), whose women spin it, see Exodus 35:26 and of which garments are made; or of camels' hair, such as John the Baptist wore, who came in his spirit and power, and imitated him in his dress, being also, as Elijah here:

girt with a girdle of leather about his loins: for more expeditious travelling, not for warmth, the climate being hot:

and he said, it is Elijah the Tishbite; for he had seen him formerly in his father's court in this dress.

(f) Semedo's History of China, part 1. ch. 3.

And they answered him, He was an {e} hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.

(e) Some think that this meant his garments, which were rough and made of hair.

8. He was a hairy man] Literally, ‘lord, i.e. possessor, of hair’. This might equally be used of the long hair of the head and beard, or of the shaggy cloak of hair worn as a garment. But when we know of him who came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ that ‘his raiment was of camel’s hair and a leathern girdle about his loins’, it seems better to accept the expression as a description of Elijah’s dress. We know too that the prophets (Zechariah 13:4) did wear a mantle of hair, probably adopted from the garb of this greatest among them, Elijah.

It is Elijah the Tishbite] Though the messengers might not know the prophet, the king, from his father’s experience, must have heard a great deal about Elijah, and of his appearance and dress.

Verse 8. - A hairy man; literally, a lord of hair (בַּעַל שַׂעָר). Some take the meaning to be that he was rough and unkempt, with his hair and beard long; and so the LXX., who give ἀνὴρ δασύς. But the more usual explanation is that he wore a shaggy coat of untanned skin, with the hair outward. Such a garment seems certainly to have been worn by the later prophets (Zechariah 13:4; Matthew 3:4), and to have been regarded as a sign of their profession. But there is no positive evidence that the dress had been adopted by Isaiah's time. Girt with a girdle of leather. Generally the Israelites wore girdles of a soft material, as linen or cotton. The "curious girdle" of the high priest's ephod was of "fine twined linen," embroidered with gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet (Exodus 28:8). Girdles of leather, rough and uncomfortable, would only be worn by the very poor and by the ascetic. Elijah may have adopted his rough and coarse costume, either to show contempt for things earthly, as Hengstenberg thinks; or as a penitential garb indicating sorrow for the sins of the people, as Keil supposes; or simple to chastise and subdue the flesh, as other ascetics. It is Elijah the Tishbite. The description given is enough. The king has no longer any doubt. His suspicion is turned into certainty. There is no living person but Elijah who would at once have the boldness to prophesy the death of the king, and would wear such a costume as described. Elijah is, of course, his enemy, as he had been his father's "enemy" (1 Kings 21:20), and will wish him ill, and prophesy accordingly, the wish being "father to the thought." It is not improbable that Elijah had withdrawn himself into obscurity on the accession of Ahaziah, or at any rate on his exhibition of strong idolatrous proclivities (Ewald), as he had done on more than one occasion from Ahab (1 Kings 17:10; 1 Kings 19:8-8). Ahaziah may have been long wishing to arrest and imprison him, and now thought he saw his opportunity. 2 Kings 1:8The messengers did not recognise Elijah, but yet they turned back and reported the occurrence to the king, who knew at once, from the description they gave of the habitus of the man in reply to his question, that it was Elijah the Tishbite. האישׁ משׁפּט מה: "what was the manner of the man?" משׁפּט is used here to denote the peculiarity of a person, that which in a certain sense constitutes the vital law and right of the individual personality; figura et habitus (Vulg.). The servants described the prophet according to his outward appearance, which in a man of character is a reflection of his inner man, as שׂער בּעל אישׁ, vir pilosus, hirsutus. This does not mean a man with a luxuriant growth of hair, but refers to the hairy dress, i.e., the garment made of sheep-skin or goat-skin or coarse camel-hair, which was wrapped round his body; the אדּרת (2 Kings 2:8; 1 Kings 19:13), or שׂער אדּרת (Zechariah 13:4, cf. Matthew 3:4; Hebrews 11:37), which was worn by the prophets, not as mere ascetics, but as preachers of repentance, the rough garment denoting the severity of the divine judgments upon the effeminate nation, which revelled in luxuriance and worldly lust. And this was also in keeping with "the leather girdle," עור אזור, ζώνη δερματίνη (Matthew 3:4), whereas the ordinary girdle was of cotton or linen, and often very costly.
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