3 Kings xvii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Elias means, “the strong God.” Some Greeks derive the name of the prophet from elios, “the sun,” improperly. His parentage is not known, nor even his tribe. Thesbe was situated in the tribe of Gad. The Fathers agree that Elias never was married. He seems to have had no fixed abode; but was sent to the house of Israel, to maintain the cause of the true God, with the most active and generous zeal. He may have presided over the colleges of the prophets, (Calmet) which were then numerous in Israel, particularly at Mount Carmel, (Tirinus) notwithstanding the general corruption, chap. xviii. 13., and xix. 10. (Haydock) — I stand, to serve (Numbers iii. 6.) and pray, James v. 17., and Luke iv. 25. He calls God to witness, like St. Paul, Galatians i. 20. — Mouth. Stupendous power and assurance of the prophet, with which the pagans have nothing to compare. (Calmet) — God had threatened his people with drought, if they proved faithless, Deuteronomy xxviii. 24. Elias begs that this punishment may now serve to open their eyes. (Tirinus)

Ver. 3. Carith, between Samaria and the Jordan. It was a torrent or valley. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Ravens. Hebrew horebim, (Haydock) is sometimes rendered “Arabs,” by the Vulgate, 2 Paralipomenon xxi. 16. Others would translate, “merchants,” or the inhabitants of Arabo, which was near Carith. They suppose that the ravens, being unclean birds, would never have been employed. But they were only forbidden to be eaten or touched, when dead; and God is not restricted by his own laws. He might thus chose to display his wonderful providence. St. Jerome relates how St. Paul, the first hermit, was fed thus by a raven, with half a loaf a day; and a whole one was sent, when St. Anthony went to see him. (Calmet) — Yet Kennicott mentions this as one of the improvements which might be now made in the Protestant version, “the Orbim,” or inhabitants of Oreb, or Orbo. Orbim, accolę villę in finibus Arabum Elię dederunt alimenta. (Jerom iii. 119.) — It is not clear to what passage he refers. (Diss. ii. p. 581.) Another instance occurs, Judges xv. 4., where instead of foxes, he would substitute “300 sheaves of corn, placed end to end.” But if there were no mistranslations of great importance, the version might subsist. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. And flesh. So the Hebrew, &c. But some copies of the Septuagint have, “bread in the morning, and flesh in the evening.” (Theodoret, q. 52.) — It is idle to inquire whence the ravens took this food. (Calmet) — Some say from the kitchen of Achab. (Abulensis) — The minister of angels undoubtedly intervened. (Tirinus) — God provides his servant with what may support nature, without any wine or delicacies. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Some time. Literally, “after days,” (Haydock) which some explain of a year; others, of half that time, or less, as the torrent would not be long supplied with water.

Ver. 9. Sidonians, and nearer their city than it was to Tyre. (Calmet) — Commanded, or provided that she shall feed thee. So he commanded the ravens, ver. 4. (Menochius) — It appears that the widow had received no precise intimation, ver. 12. She was not an Israelite, (Luke iv. 25.) but probably a pagan. (St. Chrysostom, &c.) — Many suppose that Elias did not know, at first, that she was to entertain him. (Calmet) — But both the one and the other might be divinely instructed how to act. In due time the widow and the prophet became acquainted with the will of God, and complied with it. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. First. He puts the faith of the widow to a severe trial; and the gospel requires nothing more perfect than what she practised. The true faith, which she then received, was her first and most precious recompense; and we shall soon see, that her guest drew down blessings upon her. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Until, nor for some time afterwards; otherwise they would still have been in danger of perishing, as the corn could not grow immediately. (Salien, the year before Christ 929.)

Ver. 17. In him. He died. (Haydock) — The Jews, followed by some Christians, assert that this boy was the prophet Jonas. But Jonas was a Hebrew, from Geth-opher, 4 Kings xiv. 25., and Jonas i. 9. (Calmet)

Ver. 18. Remembered. Have I not waited upon thee with sufficient attention? or have not thine eyes been able to bear with my imperfections? (Haydock) — Before thy arrival, God seemed not to notice my transgressions. She is convinced that “all just punishment presupposes an offence.” (St. Augustine, Retract. i. 9.) This child died like Lazarus for the greater glory of God. (St. Augustine, ad Simp. ii. 5.) (John xi. 4.) (Worthington)

Ver. 20. Her son. He speaks in the most earnest and familiar manner, shewing his confidence in God. (Salien)

Ver. 21. Times, in honour of the blessed Trinity. (Menochius) — He puts himself in this posture, as if to co-operate with God in warming the child; as Eliseus did, (4 Kings iv. 34,) as well as St. Paul, (Acts xx. 10,) and St. Benedict. (St. Gregory, Dial. ii. 32.) This posture represented the condescension of Jesus Christ in assuming our nature, to give us life; and the Old Testament affords few more striking figures of this union. (Calmet) (St. Augustine, ser. 201. de Temp.; St. Bernard xvi. in Cant.) (Tirinus)

Ver. 24. True. She saw the force of miracles; (Haydock) and was now, at least, thoroughly converted. (Salien)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Elias shutteth up the heavens from raining. He is fed by ravens, and afterwards by a widow of Sarephta. He raiseth the widow’s son to life.

1 And *Elias the Thesbite, of the inhabitants of Galaad, said to Achab: As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel, in whose sight I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to the words of my mouth.

2 And the word of the Lord came to him, saying:

3 Get thee hence, and go towards the east, and hide thyself by the torrent of Carith, which is over-against the Jordan;

4 And there thou shalt drink of the torrent: and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

5 So he went, and did according to the word of the Lord: and going, he dwelt by the torrent Carith, which is over-against the Jordan.

6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the torrent.

7 But *after some time the torrent was dried up: for it had not rained upon the earth.

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying:

9 Arise, and go to Sarephta, of the Sidonians, and dwell there: for I have commanded a widow-woman there to feed thee.

10 *He arose, and went to Sarephta. And when he was come to the gate of the city, he saw the widow-woman gathering sticks, and he called her, and said to her: Give me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

11 And when she was going to fetch it, he called after her, saying: Bring me also, I beseech thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand.

12 And she answered: As the Lord thy God liveth, I have no bread, but only a handful of meal in a pot, and a little oil in a cruise: behold I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it, for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.

13 And Elias said to her: Fear not; but go, and do as thou hast said: but first make for me of the same meal a little hearth-cake, and bring it to me, and after make for thyself and thy son.

14 For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: The pot of meal shall not waste, nor the cruise of oil be diminished, until the day wherein the Lord will give rain upon the face of the earth.

15 She went, and did according to the word of Elias: and he ate, and she, and her house: and from that day

16 The pot of meal wasted not, and the cruise of oil was not diminished, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke in the hand of Elias.

17 And it came to pass after this, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and the sickness was very grievous, so that there was no breath left in him.

18 And she said to Elias: What have I to do with thee, thou man of God? art thou come to me, that my iniquities should be remembered, and that thou shouldst kill my son?

19 And Elias said to her: Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him into the upper chamber where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

20 And he cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son?

21 And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body.

22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elias: and the soul of the child returned into him, and he revived.

23 And Elias took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber to the house below, and delivered him to his mother, and said to her: Behold thy son liveth.

24 And the woman said to Elias: Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.



1: Ecclesiasticus xlviii. 1.; James v. 17.; Year of the World about 3092, Year before Christ 912.

7: Year of the World 3093.

10: Luke iv. 26.