3 Kings xiii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. A man. Some suppose his name was Addo, 2 Paralipomenon ix. 29. But this is quite uncertain. — Incense, or victims. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Altar, in which the prodigy was to take place, for the instruction of all. (Menochius) — Name: 340 (Calmet) or 350 years after. (Salien) — This prediction proves the truth of the religion; for, though the author of this book might have seen it verified, yet he would undoubtedly insert the very words of the prophet, which were known to all the people, 4 Kings xxiii. 15. In this passage we do not read that Josias destroyed the priests. But ver. 19., and 20., it is clearly insinuated. (Calmet) — Who now. He will reduce their bones to ashes upon this altar; or, those who shall imitate these priests, shall be there burnt alive. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Sign. This would take place immediately, to convince the king that what he had said would be accomplished. So Moses and Achaz were treated, Exodus iii. 2, 12., and Isaias vii. 14, 16. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Thy God. He does not say my, being conscious that he had abandoned his service. (Menochius) — Before. We may be surprised that God thus heals a man, whose heart was not changed, ver. 33. (Estius) — But miracles do not always work a conversion. Pharao, Saul, and Achaz beheld them in vain: only one of the ten lepers returned to give thanks, Luke xvii. 17. This miracle rendered Jeroboam still more inexcusable. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. With thee. He considers the king as one excommunicated, that he may thus be induced to repent. (Salien)
Ver. 10. Bethel, which was defiled, 1 Kings xxi. 5. God would thus caution us to keep at the greatest distance (Tirinus) possible from evil company, (Haydock) and from whatever may lead to sin. (Menochius) — Besides the literal sense, Sanchez believes that the prophet was thus admonished to comply exactly with his injunctions, and to leave nothing unfinished; as God says, by the way that he came, he shall return, (Isaias xxxvii. 34.) to denote that Sennacherib’s attempts should be frustrated. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Bethel, originally (Haydock) from Samaria, 4 Kings xxiii. 18. (Menochius) — Josias would have burnt his bones, like those of the false prophets, if they had not be blended with those of the man of God. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. An angel spoke to me, &c. This old man of Bethel was indeed a prophet, but he sinned in thus deceiving the man of God; the more, because he pretended a revelation for what he did; (Challoner; Worthington) though he did it with a good intention, and supposed that the prophet had only been forbidden to eat with Jeroboam and his followers. (Theodoret, q. 42.) — This lie might cause him to be styled, “a false prophet,” by Josephus. Abulensis thinks he was a wicked man, like Balaam; and many suppose that he was the chief instrument in deluding the king. (Josephus; St. Gregory, &c.) — After the man of God had been torn to pieces, he might easily persuade the people that he was only an impostor, and that the pretended miracles were merely the effects of natural causes. It is not certain that this man was inspired by God, ver. 20. — Deceived. Hebrew, “he lied unto him, (Calmet) and thus caused him to transgress. (Worthington)
Ver. 20. Table. After this the Masorets place a piska, or circle, to denote some omission, which the Syriac version alone supplies; “and did eat.” (Kennicott) — Back. Some translate, “whom he had brought back.” (Junius; Syriac, &c.) — This would destroy the principal proof of those who esteem the man of Bethel to have been a true prophet. (Calmet) — Protestants agree with us; and the context seems to assert, that God addressed his servant by another’s mouth. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Fathers. This was a great punishment for the Hebrews, Genesis xlix. 29.
Ver. 23. For. Some Latin manuscripts read propheta, as if the prophet saddled his own ass. But he probably came on foot, and the man of Bethel lent him one. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Killed him. Thus the Lord often punishes his servants here, that he may spare them hereafter. For the generality of divines[theologians] are of opinion, that the sin of this prophet, considered with all its circumstances, was not mortal. (Challoner) — He had received a positive order, and ought to have tried the spirits, whether they were from God, 1 John iv. 1., and Galatians vi. 18. Every prophecy which contradicts the word of God, comes from an evil principle. (Calmet) — The prophet might suppose, however, that some cause had intervened, which authorized him to eat with this his brother, (ver. 30.) whom he probably revered as a true prophet. Many of God’s commands are conditional. (Haydock) — Serenus observes, that God often inflicts death for the smallest faults. (Cassian vii. 26.) (St. Gregory, Dial. iv. 24.) — St. Augustine (cura, c. 7.) doubts not of the prophet’s salvation. — Body, without even hurting the ass, ver. 28. (Haydock) — God protected the relics of his servant, by stationing the lion for a guard. (Procopius) (Menochius) — How impenetrable are the counsels of God! He suffers Jeroboam, and the prophet who had seduced his servant, to live; while he punishes the latter for a fault which he had committed undesignedly. But he thus purified him from guilt, (Calmet) while he reserved Jeroboam for more lasting torments in another world. (Haydock) — Nothing could prove more forcibly the existence of future rewards and punishments. (Calmet) — Not only the deceiver, but he also who is deceived, so as to transgress God’s orders, must be punished. (Worthington)
Ver. 30. Brother. Such titles were customary, Jeremias xxii. 18. (Menochius)
Ver. 31. Bones. Septuagint add, “that my bones may be saved along with his.” The conduct and faith of this man would lead us to conclude that he had done wrong, without any malicious design, ver. 18. (Haydock)
Ver. 32. Samaria. The city was built by Amri, fifty years after the death of Jeroboam, chap. xvi. 24. But the sacred writer speaks of places by the names which they bore in his time. (Calmet) — If this man was a prophet, he might easily mention Samaria, which would give its name to the kingdom of Israel. There was also probably a village of this name long before, on the mountain Samir, where one of the judges was buried, Judges x. 2. (Haydock)
Ver. 33. Way. Every thing promotes the salvation of the just, while the wicked pervert the most gracious designs of Providence to their own ruin. The king concluded that the prediction deserved no regard, ver. 18. (Calmet) — Meanest. Chap. xii. 31. Thus he wished to eradicate all sense of religion. (Haydock) — His, suam, “own.” Any person who brought the oil and the necessary victims, might assume the office of priest. See Exodus xxviii. 41. (Haydock)
Ver. 34. Earth. Hebrew, “to destroy it from the face of the earth.” The Vulgate insinuates that it had taken place before the author wrote. In the third year of Asa, 22 years after this revolt, Bansa slew the whole family, chap. xv. 29.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A prophet sent from Juda to Bethel, foretelleth the birth of Josias, and the destruction of Jeroboam’s altar. Jeroboam’s hand, offering violence to the prophet, withereth, but is restored by the prophet’s prayer: the same prophet is deceived by another prophet, and slain by a lion.
1 And *behold there came a man of God out of Juda, by the word of the Lord, to Bethel, when Jeroboam was standing upon the altar, and burning incense.
2 And he cried out against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said: O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord: *Behold a child shall be born to the house of David, Josias by name, and he shall immolate upon thee the priests of the high places, who now burn incense upon thee, and he shall burn men’s bones upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying: This shall be the sign, that the Lord hath spoken: Behold the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it, shall be poured out.
4 And when the king had heard the word of the man of God, which he had cried out against the altar in Bethel, he stretched forth his hand from the altar, saying: Lay hold on him. And his hand which he stretched forth against him, withered: and he was not able to draw it back again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes were poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given before in the word of the Lord.
6 And the king said to the man of God: Entreat the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me. And the man of God besought the face of the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before.
7 And the king said to the man of God: Come home with me to dine, and I will make thee presents.
8 And the man of God answered the king: If thou wouldst give me half thy house I will not go with thee, nor eat bread, nor drink water in this place:
9 For so it was enjoined me by the word of the Lord, commanding me: Thou shalt not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way that thou camest.
10 So he departed by another way, and returned not by the way that he came into Bethel.
11 Now a certain old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came to him, and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: and they told their father the words which he had spoken to the king.
12 And their father said to them: What way went he? His sons shewed him the way by which the man of God went, who came out of Juda.
13 And he said to his sons: Saddle me the ass. And when they had saddled him, he got up,
14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under a turpentine-tree: and he said to him: Art thou the man of God who camest from Juda? He answered: I am.
15 And he said to him: Come home with me, to eat bread.
16 But he said: I must not return, nor go with thee, neither will I eat bread, nor drink water in this place:
17 Because the Lord spoke to me, in the word of the Lord, saying: Thou shalt not eat bread, and thou shalt not drink water there, nor return by the way thou wentest.
18 He said to him: I also am a prophet like unto thee: and an angel spoke to me, in the word of the Lord, saying: Bring him back with thee into thy house, that he may eat bread, and drink water. He deceived him,
19 And brought him back with him: so he ate bread, and drank water in his house.
20 And as they sat at table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried out to the man of God who came out of Juda, saying: Thus saith the Lord: Because thou hast not been obedient to the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 And hast returned, and eaten bread, and drunk water in the place wherein he commanded thee that thou should not eat bread, nor drink water, thy dead body shall not be brought into the sepulchre of thy fathers.
23 And when he had eaten and drunk, he saddled his ass for the prophet, whom he had brought back.
24 And when he was gone, a lion found him in the way, and killed him, and his body was cast in the way: and the ass stood by him, and the lion stood by the dead body.
25 And behold, men passing by, saw the dead body cast in the way, and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city, wherein that old prophet dwelt.
26 And when that prophet, who had brought him back out of the way, heard of it, he said: It is the man of God, that was disobedient to the mouth of the Lord, and the Lord hath delivered him to the lion, and he hath torn him, and killed him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke to him.
27 And he said to his sons: Saddle me an ass. And when they had saddled it,
28 And he was gone, he found the dead body cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcass: the lion had not eaten of the dead body, nor hurt the ass.
29 And the prophet took up the body of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and going back brought it into the city of the old prophet, to mourn for him.
30 And he laid his dead body in his own sepulchre: and they mourned over him, saying: Alas! alas, my brother.
31 And when they had mourned over him, he said to his sons: When I am dead, bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried: lay my bones beside his bones.
32 For assuredly the word shall come to pass which he hath foretold in the word of the Lord, against the altar that is in Bethel: and against all the temples of the high places, that are in the cities of Samaria.
33 After these words, Jeroboam came not back from his wicked way: but on the contrary, he made of the meanest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he filled his hand, and he was made a priest of the high places.
34 And for this cause did the house of Jeroboam sin, and was cut off, and destroyed from the face of the earth.
1: Year of the World 3030.
2: 4 Kings xxiii. 16.