3 Kings xix.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 3. Afraid. Hebrew, “he saw, arose, and went for his life.” (Haydock) — He was aware of a woman’s anger, Ecclesiasticus xxv. 23. Though he goes intrepidly to meet Achab, he flees before a woman, God being desirous that he should exercise humility, (Theodoret, q. 57, &c.) though some think that he had given way to a secret fault; (Calmet) which is a groundless assertion. (Haydock) — He must confess that all his strength is from above. (Tirinus) — Mind, to escape notice. (Menochius) — Bersabee, at the southern extremity of the kingdom of Juda, perhaps fifty leagues from Samaria, and five more from Jezrahel. (Calmet) — Servant, the boy whom he had raised to life. (Abulensis)
Ver. 4. Desert. It seems, towards Horeb. (Calmet) — Tree. Hebrew Rothem, which term the Septuagint retain, “Rathmen.” Symmachus has, “a shade.” (Haydock) — Die. Elias requested to die, not out of impatience or pusillanimity, but out of zeal against sin; and that he might no longer be witness of the miseries of his people, and the war they were waging against God and his servants. See ver. 10. (Challoner) — He does not wish to fall into the hands of Jezabel, lest the idolaters should triumph: but he is willing to die, if God so order it. (Calmet) — Mathathias entertained the like sentiments, 1 Machabees ii. 7. — Fathers: that I should live longer than they did. (Menochius) (Ecclesiasticus xxx. 17.) — If he had been weary of life, why did he flee? His answer to Achab shews that he was by no means timid. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Cake, baked in a hollow stone, covered with fire. The Arabs call such cakes, Ridpha. An angel brought this nourishment. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Go. Hebrew, “the journey is too great for thee,” without this support. (Haydock) — He spent forty days in this journey, as he did not follow the straitest road. Horeb is only about fifty leagues from Bersabee. (Calmet) — He might have travelled thither in four or five days. (Menochius)
Ver. 8. In the strength of that food, &c. This bread with which Elias was fed in the wilderness, was a figure of the bread of life, which we receive in the blessed sacrament [of the Eucharist]: by the strength of which we are to be supported in our journey through the wilderness of this world, till we come to the true mountain of God, and his vision in a happy eternity. (Challoner) — Horeb signifies “a rock, or dry wilderness.” (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Here. Thy presence is necessary in Israel. (Tirinus) — Elias had been guided by a natural fear. (Menochius) — “With how great familiarity is he received by God!” (Tertullian, contra Psychic. vi.)
Ver. 10. Zeal; ordering the idolatrous prophets to be destroyed, (Menochius) which has enkindled the rage of Jezabel against me. I cannot bear to see the general corruption. (Calmet) — Covenant; neglecting circumcision, (Rabbins) and almost the whole law. (Haydock) — Altars. Some had been erected by the prophets, (Estius) as the king would suffer none to go to Jerusalem. (Haydock) — The idolaters threw them down, chap. xviii. 30. Such altars would have been unlawful in Juda. (Calmet) — I alone am left; viz., of the prophets in the kingdom of Israel, or of the ten tribes; for in the kingdom of Juda, religion was at that time in a very flourishing condition, under the kings Asa and Josaphat. And even in Israel there remained several prophets, though not then known to Elias. See chap. xx. 13, 28, 35. (Challoner) (Worthington) — Hebrew repeats I, as [in] ver. 14, and chap. xviii. 22. He might justly fear that those had been destroyed at last, whom Abdias had protected. At any rate, none durst appear in public to assist Elias. (Haydock) — God informs him (ver. 18.) that all is not yet lost.
Ver. 11. Lord; the angel, his representative. (Menochius) — God had formerly granted the like favour to Moses, in the same place, Exodus xxxiii. 21.
Ver. 12. Air. Something similar happened at the giving of the law, and at the propagation of the gospel, Exodus xix. 9, 16., and Acts ii. 2. The Lord was pleased to shew his prophet the difference between the two laws: the one was full of terror, the other of mildness. (Grotius) — He insinuated likewise, that he could easily exterminate the offenders, but he chose to bear patiently with them; (Tirinus) and taught his prophet to moderate his zeal, and, after terrifying sinners, to being them to a sense of their duty by gentle means. (Sanctius) (Calmet) — “His spirit is most indulgent and mild.” ….est tenerę serenitatis, apertus et simplex. (Tertullian, contra Marcion xxiii.)
Ver. 13. Mantle, out of respect, like Moses, Exodus iii. 6. So the cherubim veil their faces with their wings, Isaias vi. 2. (Menochius) — Among the Orientals, to cover the face has the same import as when we pull of our hats. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Desert, avoiding the towns as much as possible, (Calmet) and travelling through the country of Ammon to Damascus. (Menochius) — God does not send Elias again into the midst of danger, at Achab’s court. (Haydock) — Hazael. God exercises his authority over all nations, and disposes of crowns. He appoints Hazael to punish his people. It does not appear that Elias performed this commission in person, but by the hand of Eliseus, 4 Kings viii. 12. Neither do we find that Hazael was anointed, but he was “declared king;” in which sense the term is used, Judges ix. 8. (Salien) (Calmet) — Yet Torniel believes, that Elias really anointed both Hazael and Jehu. He foretold, at least, (Haydock) that they should reign. (Worthington)
Ver. 16. Jehu, the son of Jospahat, (4 Kings ix. 2.) and grandson of Namsi. (Menochius) — Eliseus sent one of his disciples to anoint him, (4 Kings ix. 1.; Calmet) with common oil; the sacred was reserved for priests and the kings of Juda, according to the Rabbins. — Anoint, or call to the ministry, perhaps by placing a mantle on his head, ver. 19. No mention is made of unction. (Calmet) — Yet the Fathers have hence inferred that prophets received it, as well as priests and kings. (Sanctius) — Elias had complained that he was left alone. God appoints him a coadjutor, and successor; a person who seemed to have yet made no immediate preparation for the office. His parents were probably known for their probity, and had taken no part in the worship of idols. (Calmet) — Abelmeula was in the great plain, ten miles south of Scythopolis. (Eusebius)
Ver. 17. Shall be slain by Eliseus. Eliseus did not kill any of the idolaters with the material sword; but he is here joined with Hazael and Jehu, the great instruments of God in punishing the idolatry of Israel, because he foretold to the former his exaltation to the kingdom of Syria, and the vengeance he would execute against Israel, and anointed the latter by one of his disciples to be king of Israel, with commission to extirpate the house of Achab. (Challoner) — They left nothing imperfect in the vengeance, 4 Kings viii., and ix. Eliseus sent bears to destroy forty-two children of Bethel; (4 Kings ii. 23.; Calmet) and Abulensis (q. 23.) thinks that he might put many false prophets to death, as the Scripture does not mention every thing, (Menochius) and as Elias had done himself. (Haydock) — Eliseus may also be the name of some general. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 18. Will leave. Hebrew also, “I have left,” as Romans xi. 4. Septuagint, “thou shalt leave.” (Haydock) — After answering the first part of the prophet’s complaint, and informing him that the guilty should not pass unpunished, God lets him know that he is not left alone, but that many thousands (Calmet) even in Israel still continue faithful; so far was the true Church from being in danger of perishing entirely. (Haydock) — Seven is often put for a great number, Proverbs xxiv. 16. Yet some suppose, (Calmet) that only this number served God out of 1,110,000 men in Israel, 1 Paralipomenon xxi. 5. (Grotius, &c.) — Hands. To this custom the word adore owes it rise. (Haydock) — The pagans kissed their right-hand, or the statue itself, when they could reach it, to testify their veneration. Inter adorandum, dexteram ad osculum referimus. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxviii. 2.) Cicero (in Ver. 4.) mentions a beautiful statue of Hercules, the cheeks and beard of which had been rather worn with kissing; non solum id venerari, sed etiam osculari solent. See Genesis xviii. 2. (Calmet) — Job xxxi. 27. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. Mantle, perhaps to signify that he must change his manner of living. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Kiss, and bid them adieu. (Menochius) — To thee. I have no farther orders. Obey the Spirit of God. Hoc age. Hebrew, “for what have I done to thee?” Did I require thee to follow me? Act as God may direct thee. Yet remember the ceremony which thou hast seen, and do not turn back (Calmet) to neglect thy office. (Haydock) (Matthew viii. 22., and Luke ix. 62.)
Ver. 21. Oxen, to shew that he had relinquished his profession. (Menochius) — “He makes a vow of them.” (St. Jerome, ep. xxviii.) — Elias waited for him in the field, while he made a feast for his fellow-citizens, at parting. (Calmet) — Then both probably retreated to Carmel, (Salien) to watch over the instruction of the college of prophets. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Elias, fleeing from Jezabel, is fed by an angel in the desert; and by the strength of that food walketh forty days, till he cometh to Horeb, where he hath a vision of God.
1 And Achab told Jezabel all that Elias had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 And Jezabel sent a messenger to Elias, saying: Such and such things may the gods do to me, and add still more, if by this hour to-morrow I make not thy life as the life of one of them.
3 Then *Elias was afraid, and rising up, he went whithersoever he had a mind: and he came to Bersabee of Juda, and left his servant there,
4 And he went forward, one day’s journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper-tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord; take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers.
5 And he cast himself down, and slept in the shadow of the juniper-tree: and behold an angel of the Lord touched him, and said to him: Arise and eat.
6 He looked, and behold there was at his head a hearth-cake, and a vessel of water: and he ate and drank, and he fell asleep again.
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go.
8 And he arose, and ate and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb.
9 And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave: and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias?
10 And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.
11 And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake.
12 And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air.
13 And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth, stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered:
14 With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: *because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword; and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.
15 And the Lord said to him: Go, and return on thy way, through the desert, to Damascus: and when thou art come thither, thou shalt anoint Hazael to be king over Syria;
16 *And thou shalt anoint Jehu, the son of Namsi, to be king over Israel: and Eliseus, the son of Saphat, of Abelmeula, thou shalt anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall escape the sword of Hazael, shall be slain by Jehu: and whosoever shall escape the sword of Jehu, shall be slain by Eliseus.
18 *And I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed before Baal, and every mouth that hath not worshipped him, kissing the hands.
19 And Elias departing from thence, found Eliseus, the son of Saphat, ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen: and he was one of them that were ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen: and when Elias came up to him, he cast his mantle upon him.
20 And he forthwith left the oxen, and ran after Elias, and said: Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said to him: Go, and return back: for that which was my part, I have done to thee.
21 And returning back from him, he took a yoke of oxen, and killed them, and boiled the flesh with the plough of the oxen, and gave to the people, and they ate: and rising up, he went away, and followed Elias, and ministered to him.
3: Year of the World 3097, Year before Christ 907.
14: Romans xi. 3.
16: 4 Kings ix. 1.
18: Romans xi. 4.