1 Kings 13


A Prophet Confronts Jeroboam

      • Just as Jeroboam was standing beside the altar to make an offering, a man of God arrived from Judah with the word of Yahweh to Bethel. By the word of Yahweh he cried out against the altar, “Altar, altar! This is what Yahweh says: ‘Look, a son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you, he will will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings on you. Human bones will be burned on you.’” That same day the man of God gave a sign. He said, “This is the sign that Yahweh has said: ‘Look, this altar will split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.’” When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand that he had stretched out toward the man stiffened up so that he couldn’t pull it back to himself. Meanwhile, the altar split apart and the ashes poured out of it, fulfilling the sign that the man of God had announced by the word of Yahweh.

        • Different translations describe what happened to Jeroboam’s hand differently. NET Bible’s text critical notes explain, “Heb The verb…(yavesh) usually describes water sources as dry or plants as dry and withered. Applied to a hand or an arm (Zech 11:17), it probably means to be(come) stiff, feeble, or both. TEV and NLT interpret this as ‘became paralyzed.’”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The prophetic words about the future king Josiah point forward to a time when all the northern Israelite dynasties have come to an end, and only the house of David remains to take action against Bethel (2 Kings 22:1-23:30). Since Josiah’s reign is still a long way off, a sign is also described and then enacted, indicating that the prophecy is true…This demonstration of God’s power strikingly illustrates the truth that God is not under Jeroboam’s control just because he has invented a new worship system, any more than God’s prophet is under royal control when the king’s hand stretches out to capture him, and the king experiences immediate judgment from God…”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “The test of a prophet’s veracity was whether or not the prediction came true, or more dramatically, the production of a miraculous sign, in this case the destruction of both the altar and (the ashes of) the gift that had been offered on it…”

        • Guzik notes, “Jeroboam’s reaction was immediate – he sought to silence the messenger rather than respond to the message. The prophecy from the man of God was like most every message of coming judgment – an implicit invitation to repentance. Jeroboam obviously did not accept this invitation.”

      • The king said to the man of God, “Please plead for the favor of Yahweh your God and pray for me so that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God pleaded for the favor of Yahweh, and the king’s hand was restored, and became just as it had been before. Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and eat a meal, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God replied, “Even if you gave me half your house, I wouldn’t go in with you. Nor would I eat bread or drink water here, because I was commanded by the word of Yahweh: ‘You must not eat bread, drink water, or go back by the same way you came.’” So he went another way and didn’t go back by the same way he had come to Bethel.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “God showed mercy toward Jeroboam; his restored hand should have reminded Jeroboam that it was still possible to serve God properly.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “Middle Eastern hospitality was as central in Biblical times as it is today. The sharing of a meal signified a bond of friendship that was not easily broken. The host typically shared his finest produce…Gifts were often exchanged at such gatherings. Given this cultural setting, the prophet’s rejection of hospitality is jarring and signifies overt hostility…”

The Prophet’s Disobedience

      • Now there was an old prophet who lived in Bethel. His sons came home and told him all that the man of God had done in Bethel that day, and the things that he had said to the king. Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” His sons showed him the road the man of God from Judah had taken. He told his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they did, and he mounted the donkey. He went after the man of God, found him sitting under an oak tree, and asked him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” He answered, “I am.” So he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” But he replied, “I cannot go back with you, or eat bread or drink water with you here because I was commanded by the word of Yahweh: ‘You must not eat bread, drink water, or go back by the same way you came.’” The old man said to him, “I am also a prophet, like you. An angel spoke to me by the word of Yahweh, saying: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he was lying. The man of God went back to the old man’s house with him, and ate bread and drank water.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Whatever the old prophet’s motives were for seeking out the man of God, he clearly lied about receiving God’s message through an angel. The old man knew that what the old prophet said was contrary to the Lord’s instructions…”

        • Guzik says, “The man of God from Judah listened to the lie from the prophet of Bethel. He did this for several reasons: the prophet from Bethel was probably older (an old prophet, 1 Kings 13:11) and had the respect of the man of God; the prophet from Bethel identified with the man of God (I too am a prophet as you are); the prophet from Bethel claimed a spectacular experience (an angel spoke to me); the prophet from Bethel claimed to speak for the LORD (by the word of the LORD); the prophet from Bethel did not seem to be an idolater who should be shunned (Bring him back with you to your house); the prophet from Bethel offered no reward, other than simple food (he may eat bread and drink water).”

      • While they were sitting at the table, the word of Yahweh came to the old prophet who had brought the man of God back, and he cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘You have disobeyed the word of Yahweh and not kept the commandment that Yahweh your God commanded you- to eat no bread nor drink any water here. Instead you have gone back, eaten bread, and drunk water here. Therefore, your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “Although the old prophet had lied, God communicated through him. The severe pronouncement against the man of God was that because of his disobedience, he would be denied burial in his ancestral tomb. The death sentence was quickly carried out. Disobedience to a clear command of God is a serious offense (Num 14:21-23; Deut 11:26-28).”

      • So after he had eaten bread and drunk water, the old prophet saddled the donkey for the man of God he had brought back. As the man of God went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him. His body was thrown in the road and both the donkey and the lion stood beside the corpse. Some people passed by and saw the body lying in the road with the lion standing beside it, and they went and reported what they had seen in the city where the old prophet lived.

      • When the prophet who had brought the man of God to his house heard the report, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of Yahweh. Yahweh has given him over to the lion and it has mauled him and killed him in accordance with the word that Yahweh spoke to him.” He told his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” They did, and he went and found his body lying in the road with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had not eaten the body, nor had it attacked the donkey. The prophet picked up the body of the man of God, placed it on the donkey, and brought it back to the city to mourn and to bury him. He put the body in his own tomb and they mourned over him saying, “Oh, my brother!” After burying him, he told his sons, “When I die, bury me in the tomb where the man of God is buried. Lay my bones right beside his bones. The message he declared by the word of Yahweh against the altar in Bethel and against all of the houses of the high places that are in all the cities of Samaria will certainly come true.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The donkey did not run away and the lion did not eat the man’s body, a supernatural event. The old prophet immediately understood that God had clearly fulfilled his word…by judging disobedience…The Lord’s swift judgment convinced the old prophet that the oracle of judgment pronounced by the man of God against Jeroboam’s altar would be fulfilled. The prophecy came true years later during Josiah’s reforms (2 Kgs 23:15-18).”

        • The same source explains, “Samaria was established as the capital city of Israel during the reign of Omri, first king of Israel’s third dynasty (1 Kgs 16:24, 29-33). The name Samaria sometimes refers to the capital city and sometimes to the northern kingdom in general (2 Kgs 17:24; Amos 6:1). Samaria’s mention here reflects the perspective of an author living at a later time. Similar use of location names elsewhere reflect editorial updating…”

      • Even after this Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. He continued to appoint priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to be a priest, he ordained, and they became priests of the high places. This became the sin of Jeroboam’s house that caused it to be cut off and destroyed from the face of the earth.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Apparently, Jeroboam knew what had happened to the man of God, but did nothing to change his spiritual outlook. Jeroboam’s persistently apostate religion, despite God’s denunciation of it, doomed his dynasty to destruction (14:7-11, 15-16; 15: 27-30). As succeeding Israelite kings perpetuated his sin, it brought about the complete demise of the northern kingdom (2 Kgs 17:20-23).”

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