Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. 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)
Ver. 2. 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, (Bálssomin) “God of heaven;” and that the Hebrews called him, Bálzobub, “god of flies,” out of contempt. But perhaps he is too favourable to the idolaters. (Du Hamel) — Selden is convinced that Ochozias gives the idol its real name. Scaliger rather thinks that Balzobéim, “the lord of victims,” was the original title. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Away; probably to his usual abode, at Carmel, where the king sent to seize him.
Ver. 5. 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)
Ver. 8. 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:
Tiresić vultus, voces et vellera nota
Ver. 9. 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)
Ver. 10. 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 authorize 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, 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)
Ver. 11. 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.
Ver. 13. 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.
Ver. 17. 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 these 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 would not be tolerated in a profane author; thus to mention 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.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Ochozias sendeth to consult Beelzebub: Elias foretelleth his death: and causeth fire to come down from heaven, upon two captains and their companies.
1 And Moab rebelled against Israel, after the death of Achab.*
2 And Ochozias fell through the lattices of his upper chamber, which he had in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, saying to them: Go, consult Beelzebub, the god of Accaron, whether I shall recover of this my illness.
3 And an angel of the Lord spoke to Elias, the Thesbite, saying: Arise, and go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them: Is there not a God in Israel, that ye go to consult Beelzebub, the god of Accaron?
4 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord: From the bed, on which thou art gone up, thou shalt not come down, but thou shalt surely die. And Elias went away.
5 And the messengers turned back to Ochozias. And he said to them: Why are you come back?
6 But they answered him: A man met us, and said to us: Go, and return to the king, that sent you, and you shall say to him: Thus saith the Lord: Is it because there was no God in Israel, that thou sendest to Beelzebub, the god of Accaron? Therefore thou shalt not come down from the bed, on which thou art gone up, but thou shalt surely die.
7 And he said to them: What manner of man was he who met you, and spoke these words?
8 But they said: A hairy man, with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said: It is Elias, the Thesbite.
9 And he sent to him a captain of fifty, and the fifty men that were under him. And he went up to him, and as he was sitting on the top of a hill, said to him: Man of God, the king hath commanded that thou come down.
10 And Elias answering, said to the captain of fifty: If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume thee, and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven and consumed him, and the fifty that were with him.
11 And again he sent to him another captain of fifty men, and his fifty with him. And he said to him: Man of God, Thus saith the king: Make haste and come down.
12 Elias answering, said: If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee, and thy fifty. And fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
13 Again he sent a third captain of fifty men, and the fifty that were with him. And when he was come, he fell upon his knees before Elias, and besought him and said: Man of God, despise not my life, and the lives of thy servants that are with me.
14 Behold fire came down from heaven, and consumed the two first captains of fifty men, and the fifties that were with them: but now I beseech thee to spare my life.
15 And the angel of the Lord spoke to Elias, saying: Go down with him, fear not. He arose therefore, and went down with him to the king,
16 And said to him: Thus saith the Lord: Because thou hast sent messengers to consult Beelzebub, the god of Accaron, as though there were not a God in Israel, of whom thou mightest inquire the word; therefore, from the bed on which thou art gone up, thou shalt not come down, but thou shalt surely die.
17 So he died, according to the word of the Lord, which Elias spoke; and Joram, his brother, reigned in his stead, in the second *year of Joram, the son of Josaphat, king of Juda, because he had no son.
18 But the rest of the acts of Ochozias, which he did, are they not written in the Book of the words of the days of the kings of Israel?
1: Year of the World 3108, Year before Christ 896.
17: Year of the World 3108, Year before Christ 896.