Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.2 Kings 1:1. Then Moab rebelled against Israel — Paid them no more tribute, but utterly disclaimed their authority over them. Moab had been subdued by David, as Edom was; and, upon the division of his kingdom, the former was adjoined to that of Israel, and the latter to that of Judah, each to that kingdom upon which it bordered. But when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were weak, and forsaken by God, they took that opportunity to revolt from them: Moab here, and Edom a little after.
And 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, inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.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.
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, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?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.
Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.
And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back?2 Kings 1:5. He said, Why are ye now turned back? — Before you have been at Ekron: which he knew by their quick return. To avoid a repetition, we have no account given of the prophet’s meeting them, other than what they give of it themselves at their return.
And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.2 Kings 1:6. There came a man up to meet us — Elijah was a man of such a venerable presence, and spake to them with such authority, in the name of the Lord, that they were overawed thereby, and induced to obey him rather than the king.
And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?
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.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.
Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.2 Kings 1:9. The king sent unto him a captain of fifty, with his fifty — Undoubtedly with a design to apprehend him, and take away his life: for neither the untimely death of Ahab his father, nor his own late dangerous fall, and his sickness in consequence of it, nor the thoughts of death, had made any good impression on his mind, or possessed him with the fear of God: and he was so far from making any good improvement of the warning now given him, that he was evidently enraged against the prophet for giving it. But how inconsistent was the king’s conduct on this occasion. “Did he think Elijah a prophet,” says Henry, “a true prophet? Why then did he dare to persecute him? Did he think him a common person? What need then was there of such a force to seize him?” Behold, he sat on the top of a hill — Elijah was now so far from absconding, as formerly, in the close recesses of a cave, that he makes a bold appearance on an elevated place. His repeated experience of the divine protection has made him more bold. Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down — He would not be at the pains to go up to the top of the hill, but thought it sufficient to require him in the king’s name to come down and surrender himself.
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.2 Kings 1:10. Elijah said, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down, &c. — This prayer or denunciation of Elijah did not proceed from malice and hatred to his enemies, nor from a desire to secure himself, which he could easily have done some other way; nor to revenge himself, for it was not his own cause he acted in; but from a pure zeal to vindicate God’s name and honour, which were so horribly abused; to prove his mission, and to reveal the wrath of God from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And therefore Christ does not condemn this act of Elijah, but only reproves his disciples for their perverse inclination to imitate it from another spirit and principle, and in a more unseasonable time. There came down fire, and consumed him and his fifty — It is plain, from the address of this captain to Elijah, that he knew him to be a prophet, for he calls him a man of God; and therefore, he must have known that it was unlawful for him to be in any ways aiding, in obedience to an idolatrous king, in ill-treating a man of this sort: for it was no less than insulting and setting at naught the God of Israel, whose prophet he was. The captain, without doubt, knew that Ahaziah was angry with the prophet, and that he sent for him with no other end but to take an unjust revenge of him for having denounced his death. He, therefore, that would rather obey a tyrant than the laws of nature and revelation, which forbid us to be instruments of injustice, well deserved punishment. He who rather chose to secure his life than put it in any danger by refusing to be the executioner of unjust commands, justly deserved to lose it; and what we have said of the captain is likewise to be thought of the men. But, it may be objected, that both the captain and the soldiers were idolaters, and had forsaken the worship of the God of Israel: if this were the case, which perhaps it was, they deserved death for their idolatry, as well as for attempting to put the unjust orders of the king into execution. And we ought to conclude that Elijah’s calling for fire from heaven upon them, was not merely from the impulse of his own mind; but that a divine prophetic influence prompted him to it, God knowing that they deserved, and that it was fit to inflict this punishment upon them. For the actions of the true prophets, in such cases as these, must not be looked upon as merely springing from themselves, but as the effect of divine influences and impulses, which they could not do otherwise than obey.
Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.2 Kings 1:11. Thus hath the king said, Come down quickly — This man was more insolent than the former, charging the prophet to obey without delay, and not make him stay, nor think to dally with him: in which words, he doubtless spoke the sense of the whole company. Whereas the fate of those that went before them, might, and ought to have instructed them that the thing they were attempting to do was displeasing to God.
And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
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.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.
Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight.
And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.2 Kings 1:15-16. He arose and went down with him — Not fearing the rage of the king, nor that of Jezebel, or all their forces: wherein he gives an eminent example of his faith in God’s protection, and obedience to his commands. And he said — To his very face: nor durst the king lay hands on him, being daunted with his presence, and great courage and confidence; and affrighted with the late dreadful evidence of his power with God. Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch, &c. — Probably more discourse passed between them than is here recorded. But this was the conclusion of all, that the sentence which God had pronounced against him was irreversible; and therefore, that he must not expect to live much longer, but make use of the time remaining, to repent of his sins and make his peace with God.
And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.
So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.2 Kings 1:17. Jehoram reigned in his stead — Namely, his brother, because he had no son. In the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat — To avoid confusion, the reader should take notice, that in the course of this history, there is mention made of two Jehorams; one the second son of Ahab, who succeeded Ahaziah, and was king of Israel; the other, the heir of Jehoshaphat, who reigned in Judah. By comparing 2 Kings 3:1, and 2 Kings 8:16, it will appear that there is a considerable difference in the reading of the dates, which made Houbigant suppose that some errors have crept into the text. To reconcile, however, the above-mentioned passages, some have supposed that Jehoshaphat, in his seventeenth year, when he went to Ahab, and with him to Ramoth-gilead, appointed his son Jehoram his viceroy, and (in case of his death) his successor. In the second year from that time, when Jehoram was thus made vice-king in his father’s stead and absence, this Jehoram, Ahab’s son, began to reign: and in the fifth year of the reign of this Jehoram, son of Ahab, which was about the twenty- fourth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign, Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, was made king of Judah, together with his father. This supposition, if allowed, will, in a great degree, clear up the difficulty.
Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?