Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.
THE SECOND BOOK OF THE KINGS, COMMONLY CALLED THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE KINGS. Commentary by Robert Jamieson
2Ki 1:1. Moab Rebels.
1. Then Moab rebelled—Subdued by David (2Sa 8:2), they had, in the partition of Israel and Judah, fallen to the share of the former kingdom. But they took advantage of the death of Ahab to shake off the yoke (see on 2Ki 3:6). The casualty that befell Ahaziah [2Ki 1:2] prevented his taking active measures for suppressing this revolt, which was accomplished as a providential judgment on the house of Ahab for all these crimes.
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.
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].
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?
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.
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.
4. Thou shalt not come down from that bed—On being taken up, he had probably been laid on the divan—a raised frame, about three feet broad, extended along the sides of a room, covered with cushions and mattresses—serving, in short, as a sofa by day and a bed by night, and ascended by steps.
Elijah departed—to his ordinary abode, which was then at Mount Carmel (2Ki 2:25; 1Ki 18:42).
And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back?
5. the messengers turned back—They did not know the stranger; but his authoritative tone, commanding attitude, and affecting message determined them at once to 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.
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.
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.
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.
2Ki 1:9-16. Elijah Brings Fire from Heaven on Ahaziah's Messengers.
9. Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty—Any appearance of cruelty that there is in the fate of the two captains and their men will be removed, on a full consideration of the circumstances. God being the King of Israel, Ahaziah was bound to govern the kingdom according to the divine law; to apprehend the Lord's prophet, for discharging a commanded duty, was that of an impious and notorious rebel. The captains abetted the king in his rebellion; and they exceeded their military duty by contemptuous insults.
man of God—In using this term, they either spoke derisively, believing him to be no true prophet; or, if they regarded him as a true prophet, the summons to him to surrender himself bound to the king was a still more flagrant insult; the language of the second captain being worse than that of the first.
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.
10. let fire come down—rather, "fire shall come down." Not to avenge a personal insult of Elijah, but an insult upon God in the person of His prophet; and the punishment was inflicted, not by the prophet, but by the direct hand of God.
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.
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.
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.
15, 16. he arose, and went down with him—a marvellous instance of faith and obedience. Though he well knew how obnoxious his presence was to the king, yet, on receiving God's command, he goes unhesitatingly, and repeats, with his own lips, the unwelcome tidings conveyed by the messengers.
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.
2Ki 1:17, 18. Ahaziah Dies, and Is Succeeded by Jehoram.
17. Jehoram—The brother of Ahaziah (see on 2Ki 3:1).
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?