Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
THE FOURTH BOOK OF KINGS.
This Book brings us to the conclusion of the kingdom of Israel, (chap. xvii.) and to the captivity of Juda, at Babylon, chap. xxv. We behold some virtuous princes reigning over the two tribes [of Juda and Benjamin], while the ten were uniformly governed by men of perverse morals. (Worthington) --- Yet there were some who adhered to the Lord in both kingdoms. David and his descendants (Haydock) occupy the throne near 480 years; and, after the captivity, continue in some degree of honour till the coming of Christ. (Worthington) --- But various families rule over Israel; some by usurpation, (Haydock) others by God's appointment: who thus chooses to chastise the wicked. He still watches over his Church, and sends his prophets for the instruction of all. (Worthington) --- We have enquired in the preface of the former Book, who composed this. (Haydock) --- The kingdom of Israel subsists about 250, (Worthignton) or 254 years. This Book contains the transactions of 308 years. (Calmet) --- But the chronology is extremely perplexed. To the sixth year of Ezechias, when Israel was led away captive, the kingdom of Juda seems to have lasted 260, and that of Israel only 241 years, though they both commenced at the same period. The errors regard the kings of Isreal, according to Houbigant, who would assign the following years to the respective kings of Juda and Israel. 1. Of Juda: Solomon, 40; Roboam, 17; Abiam, 3; Asa, 41, Josaphat, 25; Joram, 8; Ochozias, 1; (the same is said to have begun to reign in the preceding year, the 11th of Joram, 4 Kings ix. 29, incorrectly) Athalia, 6; Joas, 40; Amasias, 29p; (he reigns 15 after the death of Joas, king of Isreal) Azarias, 52; Joatham, 16; Achaz, 16; Ezechias, 6; in which year, the three hundredth from the commencement of Solomon's reign, and the two hundred and sixtieth of the kingdom of Juda, Samaria was taken. 2. The kings of Israel: Jeroboam, 22; Nadab, 2; Baasa, 24; Ela, 2; Zambri, 7 days; Amri, 12; Achab, 22; Ochozias, 2; Joram, 12; Jehu, 28; Joachaz, 17; Joas, 16; Jeroboam, 41; Zacharias, 10½; (in the text 10 is omitted.; Haydock) Sellum, 1 month; Manahem, 10; Phaceia, 2; Phacee, 30; (in the text, 20.; Haydock) Osee, 9; in all, 261½ years, (Houbigant, Chron. Sac.) or 261 years and 7 months. The variation of 19 months, which still appears, may be owing to some of the years being incomplete. (Haydock) --- 3. After a reign of 28 years over Juda, Ezechias is succeeded by Manasses, who reigns 55: Amon, 2; Josias, 31; Joachaz, a few months; Eliacim, or Joakim, 11; Joachin, Conias, or Jechonias, had reigned ten years with his father. After three months and ten days reigning alone, he is led away to Babylon with part of the people. Matthanias, or Sedecias, is appointed in his stead; but proving refractory, is also, after nine years, deprived of his sight, and conducted with 832 of his subjects to Babylon. Nabuchodonosor had already led away 3023, under Joachin. After the death of Godolias, who was left to govern the miserable remains of the people, the year of the world 3417, he made 745 more captives, and thus an end was put to the kingdom of Juda. The scourge had been retarded for some time, by the repentance of Manasses, and the prayers of the prophets. (Calmet)
Rebelled: literally, "prevaricated." (Haydock) --- The kings of Israel kept some of the nations, which David had conquered, in subjection, while the kings of Juda ruled over the others. In consequence of the late disaster, these people began to throw off the yoke. (Tirinus) --- Joram made war upon Moab, chap. iii. 5. God began to punish the house of Achab, by these means. (Calmet) --- The Moabites refused to pay tribute, (Menochius) as the Israelites would not acknowledge the divine authority. (Haydock)
Lattices, by a skylight, (Haydock) or trap-door, designed to give light to the room below, into which the king fell. The roofs are generally flat in the East, and covered with earth mixed with straw, with the light at the top, to prevent the excessive heats. --- Of. Hebrew, &c., "into." (Calmet) --- If the lattices be understood to mean the rails, which were ordered to be placed round the roof, (Deuteronomy xxii. 8.) Ochozias might fall into the street. (Menochius) --- Josephus thinks he fell from the staircase. At any rate, he was much hurt, (Haydock) and thus was made to feel the indignation of God. (Tirinus) --- God. Septuagint, "Baal, the god-fly;" (Calmet) the Jupiter of the Greeks, or their chief god; and the prince of devils, Matthew xii. --- Accaron. Hence Pliny ([Natural History?] viii. 29.) styles the god Achor, (Tirinus) and Myiodis, (B. xxxvi.) which is the name given to him by Josephus, ix. 2. (Haydock) --- He was supposed to free the people of the country from being infested with flies; or the many victims offered up to him, drew those insects together. (Vatable) --- Grotius supposes that the Phœnicians styled their god, Beelsemen, (Balssomin) "God of heaven;" and that the Hebrews called him, Balzobub, "god of flies," out of contempt. But perhaps his is too favourable to the idolaters. (Du Hamel) --- Selden is convinced that Ochozias gives the idol its real name. Scaliger rather thinks that Balzobeim, "the lord of victims," was the original title. (Haydock)
Away; probably to his usual abode, at Carmel, where the king sent to seize him.
Messengers. They were perhaps citizens of Accaron, who had extolled the sagacity of their god, but were totally unacquainted with Elias. Yet as he shewed his knowledge of secret things, by telling them what they were going about, (Salien) and spoke with such assurance, (Haydock) they thought proper to return, lest they should incur a similar punishment. (Menochius)
Man. Hebrew ish bahal sehar, "a man lord of hair," or all covered with it, having a long beard, like the ancient sages, (St. Jerome, in Ezechiel xxxv.) and clothed with a skin, (Bochart) as the first inhabitants of the earth, the heroes, prophets and St. John the Baptist, are described, Hebrews xi. 37., and Matthew iii. 4. So Statius (ii., and iv.) says:Tiresiæ vultus, voces et vellera nota
The monks imitated this poverty and simplicity of clothing; and it is still common among Arabs, who wear a sheep's skin, with the shorn side inwards in hot weather. (Calmet) --- Elias. He was known by his long hair and distinct garment, from ordinary men. (Worthington) --- Hence none ought to blame priests and monks, for wearing clothing which may designate their profession. (Haydock)
Under him; his own guards. The captain was to request him to pray for the king's recovery; (Calmet) or rather, (Haydock) to punish him for what he had said to the messengers. (Calmet) --- Of God. Procopius and others think that he spoke contemptuously, and was therefore punished. (Menochius) --- Down. The prophets are not bound to obey kings, in the exercise of their ministry. (Grotius) --- Elias complies as soon as he had orders from God. (Calmet)
Let fire, &c. Elias was inspired to call down fire from heaven upon these captains, who came to apprehend him; not out of a desire to gratify any private passion, but to punish the insult offered to religion, to confirm his mission, and to shew how vain are the efforts of men against God and his servants, whom he has a mind to protect. (Challoner) --- The Roman laws authorized a person, in authority, to punish those who refuse to obey. (Ulpin 1 D.) Si quis jus dicenti non obtemperaverit, omnibus concessum est suam jurisdictionem defendere pœnali judicio. Elias acted as God's envoy, and the insult reverted upon him. (St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae] 2. 2. q. 108, a. 2.) --- The Manichees have blamed the conduct of the prophet: but the miracle justifies him, as God would never countenance the private revenge of any one; and the Holy Ghost places this transaction on a level with that when Elias shut up the heavens, Ecclesiasticus xlviii. 3. St. Peter was moved with the like zeal, Acts v. 5. The sons of Zebedee gave way to some private indignation, when they wished our Saviour to call down fire from heaven upon a city of Samaria, Luke ix. 54. But he reprimanded them for it; as the citizens might not be so well acquainted with him, as these soldiers must have been with Elias: and he came to display the spirit of mildness, (Calmet) to attract all to his holy religion; while Elias had manifested the severity of the divine judgments, conformably to the law of terror, under which he lived. (Haydock) --- In zeal of justice, Elias procured fire to burn these wicked men, as he had done for the holocaust. (St. Augustine) (Worthington)
Another, not knowing what was become of the first, or why he did not return; as Ochozias was eager to have the prophet in his power. (Menochius) --- If he were acquainted with his fate, (Haydock) this second captain was guilty of greater insolence. But there are such generally to be found at courts; men who are ready to execute the king's orders, without considering whether they be contrary to God's law or not.
Again. This third captain is commonly supposed to be Abdias, (3 Kings xviii. 3.) though without much reason. (Calmet) --- John of Jerus, (c. 15) says he left the court, and became a disciple of Elias, and a prophet. (Menochius) --- But he is very different from the prophet, whose writings are still extant. (Calmet) --- The report of the two miracles had come to his ears, and filled him with fear. (Menochius) --- Despise not. Hebrew, "let my life....be precious in thy sight," 1 Kings xxvi. 21., and Psalm cxv. 15.
The second year of Joram, &c., counted from the time that he was associated to the throne of his father Josaphat; (Challoner) so that it is said that he reigned also in the 18th year of Josaphat, chap. iii. 1. See also chap. viii. 16. To obviate there apparent contradictions, chronologists suppose that Joram reigned over Israel in the 18th of Josaphat, king of Juda, and in the second year after the latter had appointed his son Joram viceroy. He was associated with his father on the throne two years before his death, and in the 5th of Joram, king of Israel. Examples of this kind are frequent among the Hebrews, and particularly among the Persians, whose chronology is thus rendered very difficult. Why should we allow that the numbers are erroneous, when this explanation will suffice? (Calmet) --- Grotius leaves the matter undecided. (Du Hamel) --- Capel (Crit. p. 414.) maintains that the numbers have been ill transcribed; and so does Houbigant, who asserts that such a mode of writing whould not be tolerated in a profane author; thus the mention of different dates, without intimating how they are to be reconciled. If we should read, that Heraclius began to reign "in the 18th year of Chosroes," and a little after, that he ascended the throne "in the second year of the son of Chosroes," without ever specifying how Heraclius began his reign at two different periods, who would not suspect a mistake? Is it not more rational to throw the blame on the transcriber, than on the author? The modern chronologists seem to have invented the idea of viceroys and simultaneous kings, among the Hebrews, merely to get over difficulties; though the Scripture be entirely silent on this head. Houbigant would therefore read, "in the 22d year of Josaphat," as the mention of Joram seems here improper, (absurda) his father reigning 25 years. Ochozias began to reign when Josaphat had almost completed his 17th year. See 3 Kings xxii. 52. (Haydock) --- His brother is not specified in Hebrew, Chaldean, Arabic, and in some copies of the Septuagint, but it is in most others, as well as in the Syriac, (Calmet) Josephus, &c., (Haydock) and this is the common opinion. The Roman edition here inserts (Calmet) after Elias spoke, (18) "And the, &c....and Joram," &c., nearly as chap. iii. 1, 2, 3; only for father, it substitutes, "not like his brothers;" and adds, "the wrath of the Lord was enkindled against the house of Achab." No mention is made of the second year of Joram, &c., (Haydock) in any edition of the Septuagint. (Capel) --- In the mean time Josaphat, being returned from the unfortunate expedition with Achab, set his kingdom in order, purifying it from all the vestiges of idolatry, as much as he was able, and appointing proper judges, 2 Paralipomenon xix.