The First Book of Samuel The Second Book of Kings

THE FIRST BOOK OF THE KINGS

In the most correct and ancient editions of the Hebrew Bible, the two Books of Kings make but one, with sometimes a little break, the first book beginning with 1 Sam. 22:40. Some of the ancient fathers seem to have begun the First Book of Kings at the death of David, chap. 2:12. The more modern copies of the Hebrew Bible have the same division as ours; but in the time of the Masoretes they certainly made but one book; as both, like the Books of Samuel, are included under one enumeration of sections, verses, etc., in the Masora.

The titles to these books have been various, though it appears from Origen that they had their name from their first words, vehammelech David "and King David," as Genesis had its name from bereshith, "in the beginning." The Septuagint simply term it "of reigns," or kingdoms; of which it calls Samuel the first and second, and these two the third and fourth.

The author of these books is unknown. That they are a compilation out of public and private records, as the Books of Samuel are, there is little doubt; but by whom this compilation was made nowhere appears. Some have attributed it to Isaiah and to Jeremiah, because there are several chapters in both these prophets which are similar to some found in the First and Second Books of Kings; cf. 2 Kings 18-20 with Isaiah 37-39; and 2 Kings 24:18 and 25:1, etc., with Jer. 52:1, etc. But rather than allow those prophets to be the authors or compilers of these books, some very learned men have judged that the chapters in question have been taken from the Books of Kings in after times and inserted in those prophets. It is worthy of remark that the fifty-second chapter found in Jeremiah is marked so as to intimate that it is not the composition of that prophet; for at the end of chapter 51 we find these words, "Thus far are the words of Jeremiah," intimating that the following chapter is not his.

But the most common opinion is that Ezra was the author, or rather the compiler of the history found in these books. Allowing only the existence of ancient documents from which it was compiled, it appears: (1) That it is the work of one person, as is sufficiently evident from the uniformity of the style and the connection of events; (2) That this person had ancient documents from which he compiled, and which he often only abridged, is evident from his own words, "The rest of the acts" of such and such a prince, "are they not written in the chronicles of the kings of Judah?" or "of Israel?" which occur frequently; (3) These books were written during or after the Babylonish captivity, as at the end of the second book that event is particularly described; (4) That the writer was not contemporary with the facts which he relates is evident from the reflections he makes on the facts that he found in the memoirs which he consulted (see 2 Kings 17 from v. 6 to v. 24); (5) There is every reason to believe that the author was a priest or a prophet; he studies less to describe acts of heroism, successful battles, conquests, political address, etc., than what regards the Temple, religion, religious ceremonies, festivals, the worship of God, the piety of princes, the fidelity of the prophets, the punishment of crimes, the manifestation of God's anger against the wicked, and His kindness to the righteous. He appears everywhere strongly attached to the house of David; he treats of the kings of Israel only accidentally; his principal object seems to be the kingdom of Judah, and the matters which concern it.

Now all this agrees well with the supposition that Ezra was the compiler of these books. He was not only a priest, a zealous servant of God, and a reformer of the corruptions which had crept into the divine worship, but is universally allowed by the Jews to have been the collector and compiler of the whole sacred code, and author of the arrangement of the different books which constitute the Old Testament. If some things be found in these Books of Kings which do not agree to his time, they may be easily accounted for on his often taking the facts as he found them in the documents which he consults, without any kind of alteration; and this is so far a proof of his great sincerity and scrupulous exactness.

The First Book of Kings contains the history of 119 years. it contains a great variety of interesting particulars, the chief of which are the following: The death of David; the reign of Solomon; the building and dedication of the Temple; the building of Solomon's palace; an account of his great wisdom; his magnificence, and his fall; the division of Israel and Judah under Rehoboam; the idolatry of the ten tribes over whom Jeroboam became king. it states how Judah, Benjamin, and Levi attached themselves to the house of David; how Rehoboam was attacked by Shishak, king of Egypt, who pillaged the Temple; how Baasha destroyed the house of Jeroboam, and seized on the government of Israel; how Jehu predicted the ruin of Baasha; how Ahab married the impious Jezebel, and persecuted the prophets of the Lord. It relates the acts of Elijah; the destruction of the prophets of Baal; the cruel death of Naboth; the death of Ahab; the good reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah; and the wicked reign of Ahaziah, king of Israel, etc.

1 Kings 1:5-6. Who was Adonijah?

1 Kings 1:11-21. Why did Bath-sheba go to David?

1 Kings 1:28-30. What did David swear to Bath-sheba?

1 Kings 1:33-35. What did David command be done with Solomon?

1 Kings 1:38. Who Were the Cherethites and the Pelethites?

The Cherethites were "a people who were settled alongside the Philistines in southern Palestine [see 1 Samuel 30:14; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5]. In the reign of David they formed, with the Pelethites, his private bodyguard under the command of Benaiah the son of Jehoida [see 2 Samuel 8:18; 20:23; 1 Chronicles 18:17]. They remained loyal to him through the rebellions of Absalom [see 2 Samuel 15:18] and Sheba [see 2 Samuel 20:7], and were present when Solomon was anointed for kingship [see 1 Kings 1:38, 44]." (J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Cherethites.")

1 Kings 1:42-28. What news did Jonathan give to Adonijah?

1 Kings 1:49. What did the guests of Adonijah do? Why?

1 Kings 1:50-53. What did Solomon say about Adonijah?

1 Kings 2:2-4. What did David charge Solomon to do?

1 Kings 2:4. What was required if the kings of Israel were to be descendants of David?

1 Kings 2:5-9. List three things David charged Solomon to do after his death?

1 Kings 2:17-22. Why Was Solomon Upset by Adonijah's Request?

"Amongst Eastern nations the wives and concubines of a deceased or dethroned king were taken by his successor [see 2 Samuel 12:8; 16:21-22]; and so Adonijah's request for Abishag was regarded as tantamount to a claim on the throne" (Dummelow, Commentary, p. 212).

Solomon knew and understood this law, as 1 Kings 2:22 makes clear. At first it may seem puzzling that Bath-sheba would take Adonijah's request to Solomon since she almost certainly knew and understood this law. Perhaps she, knowing how Solomon would react, recognized an opportunity to rid Solomon of the threat that Adonijah continued to be to the throne of Israel. Solomon did react quickly, for this was the second time Adonijah had attempted to take the throne by subtlety.

1 Kings 2:23. Adonijah Had Spoken "against His Own Life"

Solomon meant that Adonijah's request was either treason or a plan to commit treason and was therefore worthy of death. (Note 1 Kings 2:15, which records that Adonijah knew that the Lord had given the throne to Solomon.)

1 Kings 2:18-25. What happened to Adonijah? Why?

1 Kings 2:26-36. Were Abiathar and Joab Still Conspiring against Solomon?

Abiathar and Joab were still conspiring to put Adonijah on the throne (see 1 Kings 2:22). Solomon banished Abiathar from Jerusalem and took from him the office of high priest in Israel. Abiathar was a great-grandson of Eli, who was both priest and judge in Israel, and the last of his descendants to hold a priestly office. This punishment and restriction of Abiathar fulfilled the prophecy announced to Eli by the Lord (see 1 Samuel 2:31-36).

Abiathar probably escaped with the punishment of exile only because Solomon was reluctant to execute a high priest. Joab, however, was a much more dangerous enemy because he had commanded the army. There was no question concerning Joab's guilt. Because of the murders he had committed, he was indeed worthy of death (see Exodus 21:12-14). Thus, he had no right to claim the sanctuary of the altar, and Solomon was not obligated to honor his claim to sanctuary.

1 Kings 2:26-27. What happened to Abithar? Why? (See also 1 Kings 1:18-19)

1 Kings 2:38-34. What happened to Joab? Why? (See also 2 Samuel 18:10-17)

1 Kings 2:36-44. The Punishment of Shimei

Continuing to follow the final counsel of his father (see Notes and Commentary on 1 Kings 2:7-8), Solomon now undertook to punish Shimei. At first this punishment may seem vindictive on David's part and cruel for Solomon to follow through with it, since all Shimei had done was to curse David and throw rocks at him (see 2 Samuel 16:5-11). At that time, however, David's kingdom was rent by civil war. Shimei's action was therefore equivalent to treason against the government.

There may have been an additional reason for David's counsel to Solomon. Shimei was from Bahurim, which was a short distance east of Jerusalem. The Ammonites and Moabites who lived across the River Jordan were traditional enemies of Israel. To have a known enemy of the crown in a city where the Ammonites and Moabites could easily go to conspire with him would have provided future opportunity for treason. This situation may explain David's counsel.

Solomon's treatment of Shimei was just and tolerant. He could have had Shimei executed by royal order. Instead, Solomon brought him to Jerusalem and made him swear on oath that he would not cross the Brook Kidron, the eastern boundary of Jerusalem. This restriction lends further support to the idea that Solomon did not want Shimei collaborating with the eastern enemies of Israel.

Three years later, because Shimei violated his oath, Solomon had him executed. Keil and Delitzsch noted that "this punishment was also just. As Solomon had put Shimei's life in his own hand by imposing upon him confinement in Jerusalem, and Shimei had promised on oath to obey the king's command, the breach of his oath was a crime for which he had no excuse. There is no force at all in the excuses which some commentators adduce in his favour, founded upon the money which his slaves had cost him, and the wish to recover possession of them, which was a right one in itself. If Shimei had wished to remain faithful to his oath, he might have informed the king of the flight of his slaves, have entreated the king that they might be brought back, and have awaited the king's decision; but he had no right thus lightly to break the promise given on oath. By the breach of his oath he had forfeited his life. And this is the first thing with which Solomon charges him, without his being able to offer any excuse; and it is not till afterwards that he adduces as a second fact in confirmation of the justice of his procedure, the wickedness that he practised towards his father." (Commentary, 3:1:27.)

1 Kings 2:36-46. What happened to Shimei? Why? (See also 2 Samuel 16:5-13)

1 Kings 3:5. What did the Lord say when he appeared to Solomon in a dream?

1 Kings 3:6-9. What did Solomon desire?

1 Kings 3:10-13. What did the Lord do for Solomon? Why?

1 Kings 3:14. What was required of Solomon for him to have a long life?

1 Kings 3:23-27. How did Solomon determine who was the mother of the living child?

1 Kings 4:21. Who "brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life"? (1 Kings 4:21; see also Map 8)

1 Kings 4:29-31. What had God given to Solomon?

1 Kings 4:34. Why did the "kings of the earth" visit Solomon? (V. 34)

1 Kings 5:1. Who sent his servants to Solomon?

1 Kings 5:3. What could David not do?

1 Kings 5:5. What did Solomon propose to do?

1 Kings 5:6. Why did Solomon desire to hire the servants of Hiram?

1 Kings 5:7-10. What did Hiram do when he "heard the words of Solomon"? (1 Kings 5:7)

1 Kings 5:12. What did Solomon and Hiram make together? (See v. 12b)

1 Kings 5:15-16. About how many men did Solomon employ? (See also v. 15b)

1 Kings 6:7-9, 21-22. List three items that were used to build the temple?

1 Kings 6:11-13. What did the Lord require Solomon to do?

1 Kings 6:37-38. How many years did it take Solomon to build the temple?

1 Kings 7:1. How long did it take Solomon to build his house?

1 Kings 7:2, 8. What other houses did Solomon build?

1 Kings 7:13-14. Why did Solomon hire Hiram the brassworker? (See also Bible Dictionary, p. 703, s.v. "Hiram")

1 Kings 7:23. What was the "molten sea"? (1 Kings 7:23)

1 Kings 7:25. What did the molten sea rest upon?

1 Kings 7:40-46. List seven things Hiram cast "in the clay ground". (V. 46)

1 Kings 7:48-50. List five things Solomon had made of pure gold.

1 Kings 7:51. What did Solomon put "among the treasures of the house of the Lord"? (V. 51)

1 Kings 8:1. Whom did Solomon assemble? Why?

1 Kings 8:9. What was in the ark?

1 Kings 8:10-11. Why were the priests unable to minister?

1 Kings 8:10-11. The Glory of God

Before Solomon gave the dedicatory prayer, a cloud of glory filled the house of God, indicating the very presence of God. That this glory should accompany the dedication exercises is interesting for Latter-day Saints, since a similar glory attended the dedication of the Kirtland Temple on 27 March 1836. Many present reported seeing angels and hearing the "sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple," and many in the community reported "seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple" (History of the Church, 2:427). The special events attending the dedication of both temples are signs of the Lord's divine acceptance of the houses built in His name to His honor.

1 Kings 8:12-53. What is recorded in verses 12 through 53?

1 Kings 8:28. What did Solomon ask the Lord to hearken to?

1 Kings 8:29-49. What did Solomon ask the Lord to do for any man who prayed toward the temple? the people when there was no rain because of sin? any man who prayed for help? the stranger who came and prayed to the Lord? the people who went to battle? the people who were carried away captive and repent?

1 Kings 8:57-58. Why did Israel want the Lord to be with them?

1 Kings 8:61. What were the people to let their hearts become?

1 Kings 8:66. What did the people do after the temple dedication and the feast?

1 Kings 9:1-2. When did the Lord appear to Solomon a second time? (See also 1 Kings 3:5)

1 Kings 9:4-5. What was Solomon to do in order for the Lord to "establish the throne of [his] kingdom upon Israel for ever"? (1 Kings 9:5)

1 Kings 9:6-9. What would the Lord do if Solomon did not follow him?

1 Kings 9:11. What did Solomon give to Hiram, king of Tyre, for his help?

1 Kings 9:12-13, 13a. How was Solomon's gift received by Hiram? (See v. 13a)

1 Kings 9:20-21. Who were Solomon's bondsmen?

1 Kings 9:22. What positions did the children of Israel hold?

1 Kings 9:26-28. Israel's Navy

Hiram's people, the Phoenicians, were masters of the sea, whereas the Israelites were not. First Kings 9:26-28 indicates that Hiram's servants taught Solomon's men the seafaring trade. As a result, Solomon was able to secure gold from Ophir (thought to be a port in southern Arabia) to be used to build the temple. (See also 1 Kings 10:23.)

1 Kings 9:26-28. How did Hiram help Solomon?

1 Kings 10:1. Why did the queen of Sheba visit Solomon?

1 Kings 10:2. What did the queen tell Solomon?

1 Kings 10:3. What did Solomon tell the queen?

1 Kings 10:4-10. How impressed was the queen with Solomon?

1 Kings 10:13. What did Solomon give the queen?

1 Kings 10:19. What Were the Stays Attached to the Throne?

The description here indicates that the throne was similar to a round-topped, two-armed chair. The stays, or hands, were armrests on which the king could lean.

1 Kings 10:23. How did Solomon exceed all the kings of the earth?

1 Kings 11:4. How did the wives of Solomon turn away his heart? (See also D&C 132:38)

1 Kings 11:5-10. Why was the Lord angry with Solomon?

1 Kings 11:11-13. What did the Lord tell Solomon he would do? When?

1 Kings 11:14-22. Who was Hadad?

1 Kings 11:28. Why did Solomon make Jeroboam ruler "over all the charge of the house of Joseph"? (1 Kings 11:28)

1 Kings 11:33, 33c. Why could the Lord not forgive Solomon? (See v. 33c)

1 Kings 11:34-38, 38c. What did the prophet Ahijah tell Jeroboam about his future? (See v. 38b)

1 Kings 11:40. Why did Jeroboam flee to Egypt?

1 Kings 12:1. Who Was Rehoboam?

Rehoboam was the son and successor of King Solomon (see 1 Kings 11:43). The Bible does not mention any other sons or daughters of Solomon. Since Rehoboam's mother, Naamah, was an Ammonite (see 1 Kings 14:21), he was only half Israelite. But his mother's ancestry was Semitic since the Ammonites were descendants of Lot, Abraham's nephew.

1 Kings 12:1. Why had all Israel gone to Shechem?

1 Kings 12:1. Why Did Israel Gather at Shechem to Support Rehoboam Instead of Gathering at Jerusalem?

From the early years after the settlement of Israel in Canaan, there had been jealousy between the two most powerful tribes, Ephraim and Judah. Solomon's son Rehoboam was the rightful successor to the throne, but northern Israel did not support him. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch explained why:

"Apart from the fact that the tribes had no right to choose at their pleasure a different king from the one who was the lawful heir to the throne of David, the very circumstance that the tribes who were discontented with Solomon's government did not come to Jerusalem to do homage to Rehoboam, but chose Sichem [Shechem] as the place of meeting, and had also sent for Jeroboam out of Egypt, showed clearly enough that it was their intention to sever themselves from the royal house of David ...

"Rehoboam went to Shechem, because all Israel had come thither to make him king. 'All Israel,' according to what follows [compare 1 Kings 12:20-21], was the ten tribes beside Judah and Benjamin. The right of making king the prince whom God has chosen, i.e. of anointing him and doing homage to him ..., was an old traditional right in Israel, and the tribes had exercised it not only in the case of Saul and David [see 1 Samuel 11:15; 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3], but in that of Solomon also [see 1 Chronicles 29:22]. The ten tribes of Israel made use of this right on Rehoboam's ascent of the throne; but instead of coming to Jerusalem, the residence of the king and capital of the kingdom, as they ought to have done, and doing homage there to the legitimate successor of Solomon, they had gone to Sichem, the present Nabulus [see Genesis 12:6; 33:18], the place where the ancient national gatherings were held in the tribe of Ephraim [see Joshua 24:1] ... On the choice of Sichem as the place for doing homage Kimchi has quite correctly observed, that 'they sought an opportunity for transferring the government to Jeroboam, and therefore were unwilling to come to Jerusalem, but came to Sichem, which belonged to Ephraim, whilst Jeroboam was an Ephraimite.' If there could be any further doubt on the matter, it would be removed by the fact that they had sent for Jeroboam the son of Nebat to come from Egypt, whither he had fled from Solomon [see 1 Kings 11:40], and attend this meeting, and that Jeroboam took the lead in the meeting, and no doubt suggested to those assembled the demand which they should lay before Rehoboam." (Commentary on the Old Testament, 3:1:191-93.)

This national meeting in which Rehoboam sought a vote of confidence was an important event. Life in Israel was never to be the same thereafter.

1 Kings 12:2–3. Who was Jeroboam and What Important Part Did He Play in the Division of Israel?

Jeroboam was the son of Nebat (see 1 Kings 12:15), an Ephraimite. He was one of Solomon's twelve superintendents and had jurisdiction over all the taxes and labors exacted from the house of Joseph (see 1 Kings 11:28). The prophet Ahijah had prophesied that Jeroboam would someday take over much of the Israelite nation. To illustrate his prophecy, Ahijah tore a cloak in twelve pieces, gave ten to Jeroboam, and said: "Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: (but he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:)” (1 Kings 11:31-32.) Thus, he prophetically outlined events which would soon transpire.

1 Kings 12:3-4. Upon what condition would Jeroboam and all Israel serve Rehoboam?

1 Kings 12:4. Why Did Israel Want to Lighten the Yoke Imposed by Solomon?

All of Samuel's prophecies about Israel's having a king were fulfilled in Solomon's reign. Israel desired relief from the burdens of Solomon's extravagance, which had brought upon them exorbitant taxes and conscript labor. The yoke mentioned here was symbolic of that burden.

One scholar noted that "Solomon's kingdom barely outlived him. At his death his son and heir, Rehoboam, sought to ascend the throne of Israel and Judah. There was no difficulty in the south. The elders of Judah were no doubt pleased to anoint another native son to continue the rule which had favored Judah in so many ways. In the north, in Israel, it was a different story altogether. Before there was to be an acclamation of any son of Solomon, there must be some plain talk about certain policies of state which the men of the northern hills and valleys thought discriminatory if not unbearable. Forced labor gangs for royal building projects simply must not continue. Heavy and inequitable taxation favoring Judah would have to be modified. The new king would either have to find other ways to carry out his personal and imperial ambitions or else temper his desires. In any case, the northern tribes were clearly unwilling to bear the brunt of the monarchical burden. Underlying these real grievances was the reviving strength of the tribal elders. Solomon had not completely destroyed their power after all.” (Harry Thomas Frank, Discovering the Biblical World, p. 99.)

1 Kings 12:4-14. Is It Folly to Reject the Counsel of the Aged?

The episode recorded in these verses demonstrates the value of age when wise counsel is needed. Because of their experience, older people are generally wiser than younger people. But because of their great energy and ability to adapt, youth can be very effective leaders. It is often best to allow the wisdom of the aged to guide the energy of youth. (Concerning the wisdom of the counsel given to Rehoboam by the old men, compare 1 Kings 12:7; Matthew 20:25-28; 23:11-12; Mosiah 2:9-18.)

The reference to scorpions (see 1 Kings 12:14) seems to be an allusion to scourges or whips made of several thongs of leather which had metal barbs embedded in the ends (see William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. "scorpion”). Rehoboam was simply announcing that he would deal even more sternly with the tribes of Israel than Solomon had.

1 Kings 12:6-7. What counsel did the elders give Rehoboam?

1 Kings 12:10-11. What counsel did the young men give Rehoboam? (See also 1 Kings 12:11b)

1 Kings 12:13-16. Why did Israel rebel against Rehoboam? (See also Map 9; Bible Dictionary, p. 708, s.v. "Israel, kingdom of")

1 Kings 12:16. What Does the Phrase "What Portion Have We in David? ... See to Thine Own House, David” Mean?

Those assembled made it clear that they no longer considered themselves to be part of the house of David (Judah). They rebelled against the dominion of Rehoboam and moved to establish their own kingdom. "To your tents” is an idiom meaning "Let's go home!” (D. Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 337; see also 1 Kings 12:19; 2 Samuel 20:1-2; 2 Chronicles 10:16). The northern tribes withdrew their allegiance from Rehoboam and the house of David and said in essence, "David, you take care of your own house. We will no longer be associated nor have an inheritance with you” (see Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible … with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 2:436).

1 Kings 12:17. Who Were the "Children of Israel Which Dwelt in the Cities of Judah”?

"These 'sons of Israel' are members of the ten tribes who had settled in Judah in the course of ages [compare 1 Kings 12:23]; and the Simeonites especially are included, since they were obliged to remain in the kingdom of Judah from the very situation of their tribe-territory, and might very well be reckoned among the Israelites who dwelt in the cities of Judah, inasmuch as at first the whole of their territory was allotted to the tribe of Judah, from which they afterwards received a portion [see Joshua 19:1].” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:196.)

1 Kings 12:17 has particular interest for students of the Book of Mormon. This passage helps to explain why such men as Lehi and Nephi, who were descendants of Manasseh (see Alma 10:3), and the family of Ishmael, who were descendants of Ephraim (see 1 Nephi 7:2; Erastus Snow, in Journal of Discourses, 23:184), were living in the land of Jerusalem several generations after Rehoboam. Laban, a record-keeper for the tribe of Joseph, also lived in Jerusalem at the time of Lehi and Ishmael (see 1 Nephi 3:2-4). This matter is explained more fully in 2 Chronicles 11:13-17and 15:9 than in 1 Kings.

1 Kings 12:18. What Was the Significance of the Stoning of Adoram?

Rehoboam must not have thought the people were serious about their rebellion, for he sent Adoram to them. Since Adoram "was the person who was superintendent over the tribute, he was probably sent to collect the ordinary taxes; but the people, indignant at the master who had given them such a brutish answer [to their request for relief from burdens], stoned the servant to death. The sending of Adoram to collect the taxes, when the public mind was in such a state of fermentation [particularly after they had disavowed any allegiance to Rehoboam], was another proof of Rehoboam's folly and incapacity to govern.” (Clarke, Commentary, 2:436.)

1 Kings 12:20. Whom did Israel make their king?

1 Kings 12:20. Which tribe followed Rehoboam?

1 Kings 12:20. Was the Tribe of Judah Left by Itself?

The statement "there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only" is true only in very general terms. The members of the tribe of Benjamin, long associated with the tribe of Judah, and the Levites already living in and near Jerusalem and serving in the temple must also be included with Judah (see 1 Kings 12:21). Also, once Jeroboam established idolatry, many Levites and no doubt righteous individuals from all of the northern tribes migrated to the kingdom of Judah.

1 Kings 12:21-24. Why did Rehoboam refrain from fighting against the house of Israel?

1 Kings 13:22. "Thy Carcase Shall Not Come unto the Sepulchre of Thy Fathers"

This passage means that the "man of God that came from Judah" (1 Kings 13:21) would meet an untimely death and not be buried in his homeland. The ancient Hebrews believed it a great tragedy not to be buried properly.

1 Kings 12:25–32. Why Did Jeroboam Lead His People into Idolatry?

With the kingdom divided, the ten tribes could not conveniently worship in the temple at Jerusalem because Judah controlled the city. Jeroboam, concerned with keeping Israel under his control, devised a new scheme for worship that would cause his people to worship away from Jerusalem. He built two golden calves in northern cities and invited his people to worship them. Adam Clarke said that Jeroboam "invented a political religion, instituted feasts in his own times different from those appointed by the Lord, gave the people certain objects of devotion, and pretended to think it would be both inconvenient and oppressive to them to have to go up to Jerusalem to worship. This was not the last time that religion was made a state engine to serve political purposes." (Commentary, 2:437.)

Even though he made golden calves, "that Jeroboam had in his mind not merely the Egyptian Apis-worship generally, but more especially the image-worship which Aaron introduced for the people at Sinai, is evident from the words borrowed from [Exodus 32:4], with which he studiously endeavoured to recommend his new form of worship to the people: 'Behold, this is thy God, O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt' ... What Jeroboam meant to say ... was, 'this is no new religion, but this was the form of worship which our fathers used in the desert, with Aaron himself leading the way' ... And whilst the verbal allusion to that event at Sinai plainly shows that ... Jehovah was worshipped under the image of the calves or young oxen; the choice of the places in which the golden calves were set up also shows that Jeroboam desired to adhere as closely as possible to ancient traditions. He did not select his own place of residence, but Bethel and Dan. Bethel, on the southern border of his kingdom, which properly belonged to the tribe of Benjamin [see Joshua 18:13, 22], the present Beitin, had already been consecrated as a divine seat by the vision of Jehovah which the patriarch Jacob received there in a dream [see Genesis 28:11, 19], and Jacob gave it the name of Bethel, house of God, and afterwards built an altar there to the Lord [see Genesis 35:7] ... Dan, in the northern part of the kingdom, ... was also consecrated as a place of worship by the image-worship established there by the Danites, at which even a grandson of Moses had officiated; and regard may also have been had to the convenience of the people, namely, that the tribes living in the north would not have to go a long distance to perform their worship.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:198–99.)

In ordaining a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, Jeroboam subverted the great feast of Tabernacles (which was held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month). He held a similar feast but at the same time undermined the ordinance. (See Clarke, Commentary, 2:437-38.)

Jeroboam cast off the Levite priests (see 2 Chronicles 11:14; 13:19) and ordained "priests of the lowest of the people" (1 Kings 12:31), allowing any to be appointed if they would just consecrate themselves by offering "a young bullock and seven rams" (2 Chronicles 13:9). He also assumed priestly functions himself (see 1 Kings 12:33). His rejection of the Levites resulted in their evacuation from his kingdom and uniting themselves with the kingdom of Rehoboam in Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 11:13-16).

1 Kings 12:26-33. What did Jeroboam do to anger the Lord? Why?

1 Kings 13:1-2. What did the prophet prophesy would happen on the altar?

1 Kings 13:3, 5. What sign did the prophet give that this event would happen?

1 Kings 13:3, 5. What Was the Significance of Pouring the Ashes Out?

"The pouring out of the sacrificial ashes in consequence of the breaking up of the altar was a penal sign, which indicated, along with the destruction of the altar, the desecration of the sacrificial service performed upon it" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:204).

The fulfillment of 1 Kings 13:1-10 is recorded in 2 Kings 23:15-20.

1 Kings 13:4. What happened to Jeroboam when he ordered his servants to seize the prophet?

1 Kings 13:6. How was Jeroboam healed?

1 Kings 13:11-34. Do Prophets Ever Lie or Disobey the Lord?

True prophets obey the word of God; false prophets do not. In this story are two prophets, one pictured as lying and the other pictured as disobeying God's instructions. Ellis T. Rasmussen wrote: "There are some problems in this story of the man of God who came from Judah to warn the king of northern Israel and lost his life in the mission. Some help is available in the [Joseph Smith Translation] of verse 18, which indicates that the old prophet said, ‘Bring him back ... that I may prove him; and he lied not unto him.' Also there is a change in verse 26, in which the last part reads: '... therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto me.' These make the account more understandable and more acceptable. The young prophet should have obeyed God." (An Introduction to the Old Testament and Its Teachings, 2:4; emphasis added.)

1 Kings 13:20-30. What happened to the prophet after he came back? Why?

1 Kings 13:22. "Thy Carcase Shall Not Come unto the Sepulchre of Thy Fathers"

This passage means that the "man of God that came from Judah" (1 Kings 13:21) would meet an untimely death and not be buried in his homeland. The ancient Hebrews believed it a great tragedy not to be buried properly.

1 Kings 13:33-34. What was to happen to the house of Jeroboam because of his evil ways?

1 Kings 14:1-3. Why Did Jeroboam Send His Wife to the Prophet Ahijah Instead of Going Himself?

Perhaps Jeroboam felt that the prophet of the Lord would listen or yield more to a mother’s enticings than to a father’s. Certainly he knew that he was not worthy to ask for any blessings from the Lord. This incident teaches the great lesson that one should live so that in a crisis he can call upon the Lord with confidence and faith. Jeroboam could not do so, and so he sent his wife instead. He also caused her to be disguised so that she might not be recognized as his wife. He had her take a gift to the prophet, as was considered proper in such instances, but the gift was the kind that a common citizen’s wife would take, thus adding to the deception.

1 Kings 14:4. What Does It Mean That Ahijah "Could Not See; for His Eyes Were Set"?

Ahijah was blind, or at least his eyes had become so weak with his old age that he could hardly see. The phrase "his eyes were set" indicates that he could not properly focus and follow images.

1 Kings 14:6-13. What did Ahijah say would happen to Jeroboam's house? Why?

1 Kings 14:9. "Hast Cast Me Behind Thy Back"

"The expression, to cast God behind the back, which only occurs here and in [Ezekiel 23:35], denotes the most scornful contempt of God, the strict opposite of 'keeping God before the eyes and in the heart'" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:210-11).

1 Kings 14:10. Isn't This Phrase Inappropriate for the Bible? Why Was It Used, and What Does It Mean?

Though this phrase is offensive to modern readers, it was not so when the King James Version was translated, nor was it in ancient times. The Hebrew idiom originally meant "every male." The phrase "is only met within passages which speak of the destruction of a family or household to the very last man [see also 1 Kings 14:10; 16:11; 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8]" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:242). The same idea occurs in modern revelation without the offensive expression in Doctrine and Covenants 121:15.

1 Kings 14:14-16. What would the Lord do to Israel? Why?

1 Kings 14:15. What Did the Lord Mean When He Said He Would "Root Up Israel out of This Good Land ... and Shall Scatter Them beyond the River"?

This passage refers to the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel: "After many minor losses in war the kingdom of Israel met an overwhelming defeat at the hands of the Assyrians, in or about the year 721 BC. We read that Shalmanezer IV, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria, the third and last capital of the kingdom, and that after three years the city was taken by Sargon, Shalmanezer's successor. The people of Israel were carried captive into Assyria and distributed among the cities of the Medes. Thus was the dread prediction of Ahijah to the wife of Jeroboam fulfilled. Israel was scattered beyond the river, probably the Euphrates, and from the time of this event the Ten Tribes are lost to history." (James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, pp. 322-23.)

1 Kings 14:19. Where were the acts of Jeroboam recorded? (See also 1 Kings 14:19a)

Second Chronicles 13:1-20 records some of the "rest of the acts of Jeroboam." Reference is made in 1 Kings 14:19and other places to "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (or Judah; see 1 Kings 14:29). These references are not to the present books of Chronicles but to official records kept by the kings, which were used as source books by the author or authors of the present books of Kings. These records are lost to us.

1 Kings 14:20. Who replaced Jeroboam as king of Israel?

1 Kings 14:22-24. What did Judah do to anger the Lord? (See also v. 24a)

1 Kings 14:22-24. What Were the Abominable Practices of Judah?

After the Israelites settled in the land of Canaan, they began to adopt many of the practices and religious rites of the corrupt heathen nations that surrounded them. For example, they followed many of the aspects of Baalism. The sun god Baal, the supreme god of the Phoenicians, was a fertility god. Those who worshiped Baal felt that such worship would ensure the generative and reproductive power of the soil and their animals as well as themselves. Settled in Canaan, Israel became a more sedentary, agricultural people, whereas before they had been more nomadic. Their dependence upon the productivity of the soil enticed them to turn to the worship of Baal. In such worship, with its emphasis on fertility, such practices as ritual prostitution of both sexes became rampant. Those who engaged in such practices were referred to by the Lord as sodomites. Other terms, such as high places, images (idols), groves, high hills, green trees, were all associated with the false and reprehensible forms of worship that often led Israel far from the Lord and that Judah, too, practiced under Rehoboam and at other times: "Among early nations it was the custom to erect altars on hilltops (Gen. 12:7-8; 22:2-4; 31:54). After the settlement in Canaan heathen altars were found set up on various hills and were ordered to be destroyed (Num. 33:52; Deut. 12:2-3). Altars to Jehovah were built at several high places (Judg. 6:25-26; 1 Sam. 9:12-25; 10:5, 13; 1 Chr. 21:26; 1 Kgs. 3:2-4; 18:30). Such altars became local centers of the worship of Jehovah. When idolatry came in, many of these altars were desecrated and used for heathen worship." (Bible Dictionary, s.v. "high places.")

Concerning the sanctuaries wherein worship of Baal took place, one author explained: "Each place has its own Baal, who is worshipped at the local sanctuary. The sanctuary is at an elevated spot outside the town or village, either on a natural eminence or on a mound artificially made for the purpose; these are the ‘high places' of the Old Testament; originally Canaanite places of worship, they drew to themselves also the worship of Israel. The apparatus of worship at these shrines is of a very simple nature. An upright stone represents the god ... He was supposed to come to the stone when meeting with his worshippers; and in the earliest times of Semitic religion this stone served the purpose of an altar: the gifts, which were not originally burned, were laid upon it, or the blood of the victim was applied to it. But besides the altar and the upright stone of massebah the Canaanite shrine had another piece of furniture. A massive tree-trunk, fixed in the ground and with some of its branches perhaps still remaining, represented the female deity who is the invariable companion of the Baal. This is the Ashera of Canaan, a word which in the Authorized Version is translated 'grove,' after an error of the Vulgate, but which in the Revised Version is rightly left untranslated. [Judges 3:7; 6:25, 2 Kings 23:6.] The word Ashera is in such passages the designation of the tree which stood to represent the goddess." (Allan Menzies, History of Religion, 172; see also Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel [religion 301, 2003], pp. 245-48, 255.)

1 Kings 14:22. What Does the Scripture Mean When It Says God Was Jealous? Why Was He Jealous?

The word jealousy used here means much the same as it did in Exodus 20:5. The Hebrew root kanah denotes "ardour, zeal, jealousy" (William Gesenius, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 888). The implication is that the Lord possesses sensitive and deep feelings about false and degrading forms of worship (see Exodus 20:5b ). The reason seems clear: the only power to save mankind from sin lies with God. Any false worship, therefore, cuts the sinner off from that power. Since God loves His children and wishes only their best eternal welfare, He is jealous (that is, feels very strongly) about any vain or false worship they perform.

The Lord was jealous of the sins of Judah because by these sins they, like Israel, were being turned from Him to a course that would deprive them of the salvation that only He could offer.

1 Kings 14:25. Who Was Shishak?

The king of Egypt referred to here as Shishak was most probably the "Libyan prince who founded Egypt's XXIInd Dynasty as the Pharaoh Sheshong I. He reigned for 21 years c. 945-924 BC. He harboured Jeroboam as a fugitive from Solomon, after Ahijah's prophecy of Jeroboam's future kingship [see 1 Kings 11:29-40]. Late in his reign, Shishak invaded Palestine in the fifth year of Rehoboam, 925 BC. He subdued Judah, taking the treasures of Jerusalem as tribute [see 1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chronicles 12:2-12], and also asserted his dominion over Israel, as is evidenced by a broken stele of his from Megiddo. At the temple of Amun in Thebes, Shishak left a triumphal relief-scene, naming many Palestinian towns." (J. D. Douglas, ed., The New Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Shishak"; see also 2 Chronicles 12:5-12for a detailed account of Shishak's invasion.)

1 Kings 14:25-26. What did Shishak, king of Egypt, do in the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign?

1 Kings 14:31. "Rehoboam Slept with His Fathers"

The phrase "slept with his fathers" is a euphemism that means that someone has died and his spirit has passed on to join the other departed spirits. The phrase is also used to indicate burial in the family tomb. (See Guthrie and Motyer, Commentary, p. 326).

1 Kings 14:31. Who replaced Rehoboam on the throne?

1 Kings 15:3. How did Abijam follow his father?

1 Kings 15:4. What Does It Mean That "for David's Sake" God Gave Abijam a "Lamp in Jerusalem"?

Abijam was unrighteous, as his father had been. "But for David's sake," for the sake of the promises made about the house of David and to preserve the royal lineage through which the Messiah would come (see Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:32; Acts 13:22-23), the Lord did not reject Abijam, who was David's great-grandson, but allowed the throne to pass to him and then to his son (see Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:217). The word lamp refers to the idea of a light or a candle that continues to burn rather than being put out. Symbolically, then, Abijam's line, or light, was allowed to continue rather than being extinguished. (Concerning Christ as the Son of David, see Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 188-95).

For an account of Abijam's reign, see 2 Chronicles 13 (where he is called Abijah). Although he was not a righteous man, neither was he completely unrighteous, for he called Jeroboam and his army to repentance (see 2 Chronicles 13:4-12), and his army prevailed over Jeroboam's "because they relied upon the Lord" (v. 18).

1 Kings 15:5. Did David Always Do Right Except in the Case of Uriah?

See Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Kings 15:5, for a clarified translation of this verse. The statements throughout the Bible that credit David with being perfect, except for the one episode with Bath-sheba, are correct in that David was no idolator, nor did idolatry prosper while David was king. Idolatry and its accompanying vices were the greatest sin of Israel and the one least excused by the Lord. Although David succumbed to personal temptation and brought spiritual tragedy upon himself, he was faithful to the Lord in the sense that he did not tolerate idolatry in Israel.

1 Kings 15:9-10. Was Maachah Asa's Mother?

Since Abijam's mother was Maachah and Asa was a son of Abijam, it is highly likely that the word mother as used here was intended to be grandmother. She was still queen because she was still alive during Asa's reign.

1 Kings 15:11-13. What Project Did Asa Undertake after the Death of His Father Abijah?

Asa came to the throne of Judah after his father's death. He had seen the tragic consequences of sin and had also seen his father start a reform from these sinful practices. Asa launched an all-out campaign to complete the job his father had begun. He had idolatrous altars and images torn down. He also began to eliminate the male and female prostitutes who attended the pagan temples, groves, altars, and shrines. The reforms soon brought peace among the people, which made them more happy and content. He realized that the pagan peoples might again try to impose their false religious practices on his people, so he also used this interval of peace to build up his territorial defenses (see 2 Chronicles 14:7).

Asa's actions towards his mother are important (see 1 Kings 15:13), for, although family ties are of great importance, allegiance to God is more so (see Matthew 10:34-35; Luke 12:51-53).

1 Kings 15:11-14. What did Asa do as king of Judah "which was right in the eyes of the Lord"? (1 Kings 15:11)

1 Kings 15:16. Who fought against each other all their days?

1 Kings 15:17. What Was Ramah?

Adam Clarke explained: "As the word signifies a high place, what is here termed Ramah was probably a hill, (commanding a defile through which lay the principal road to Jerusalem,) which Baasha fortified in order to prevent all intercourse with the kingdom of Judah, lest his subjects should cleave to the house of David. Ramah was about two leagues [six miles] northward of Jerusalem." (Commentary, 2:446-47.)

1 Kings 15:23-24. The Final Years of Asa's Life

First Kings 15:23 says that Asa "was diseased in his feet" during "his old age." 2 Chronicles 16:12says the disease began in the thirty-ninth year of Asa's reign and became "exceeding great." Asa relied solely upon physicians rather than turning to the Lord for help. He seems to have moved further from the Lord as he grew older (see 2 Chronicles 16:10). He died in the forty-first year of his reign, and the people "made a very great burning [of sacrifices] for him" (2 Chronicles 16:13–14).

1 Kings 15:24. Who replaced Asa as king of Judah?

1 Kings 15:25-26. How did Nadab, king of Israel and son of Jeroboam, anger the Lord?

1 Kings 15:27-28. What happened to Nadab?

1 Kings 15:28. Who Did Baasha Slay?

The antecedent of him in verse 28 is Nadab. Baasha slew Nadab, not Asa.

1 Kings 15:29-30. What did Baasha do to the house of Jeroboam?

1 Kings 15:33-34. What did Baasha do as king of Israel "in the sight of the Lord"? (V. 34)

1 Kings 16:1-2. Did God Raise Up a Wicked Man to Be King over Israel?

Concerning the Lord's message to Baasha, "I ... made thee prince over my people Israel" (1 Kings 16:2), Clarke commented: "That is, in the course of my providence, I suffered thee to become king; for it is impossible that God should make a rebel, a traitor, and a murderer, king over his people, or over any people. God is ever represented in Scripture as doing those things which, in the course of his providence, he permits to be done." (Commentary, 2:448.)

1 Kings 16:1-4. What did Jehu prophesy would happen to Baasha? Why?

1 Kings 16:2-13. Prophecy Concerning Baasha's Posterity

Jehu prophesied that Baasha's posterity would be totally cut off -- a consequence considered by Hebrews to be one of the greatest evils that could come upon a person. Zimri fulfilled this prophecy (see 1 Kings 16:11-13), but even though Zimri "did as had been prophesied and wiped out the house of Baasha, it is not to be supposed that he was ordained of the Lord to do so. Prophets can prophesy what men will bring upon themselves without necessitating the Lord's predestining and controlling them to make it so." (Rasmussen, Introduction to the Old Testament, 2:5.)

1 Kings 16:6, 8. Who replaced Baasha as king of Israel?

1 Kings 16:9-10. How and by whom was Elah, king of Israel, replaced?

1 Kings 16:11-12. What did Zimri do as soon as he became king of Israel?

1 Kings 16:16-18. What did Zimri do when the people made Omri king?

1 Kings 16:21-22. How were the people of Israel divided?

1 Kings 16:21-23. What Is Known about Omri's Reign as King over Israel?

Rasmussen wrote of Omri: "Non-Biblical sources tell more about his eleven years of reign than does the Bible. In addition to his procuring Samaria and building it into a well-fortified capital city for northern Israel, the stone inscription of Mesha, King of Moab, admits that he [Omri] conquered Moab and exacted tribute all his days. And later inscriptions, such as the annals of Shalmaneser III, designated Israel as the 'land of the house of Omri,' and its kings were called in that text 'sons of Omri' even after his dynasty had been long replaced by another ruling family. Ben Hadad of Syria said his father took certain cities from Omri and forced him to allow free trade in Samaria. Omri made an alliance with Ethbaal, King of Tyre (Phoenicia), and took the Phoenician princess Jezebel for his son Ahab to marry. That alliance had deep and serious results in the religion and politics of Israel for forty-five years, and also in Judah some fifty years later." (Introduction to the Old Testament, 2:5-6.)

1 Kings 16:24. Of What Significance Was the "Hill Samaria Shemer"?

Josephus wrote that the city built on this hill was called "by the Greeks Samaria; but he [Omri] himself called it Semareon, from Semer, who sold him the mountain whereon he built it" (Antiquities of the Jews, bk. 8, chap. 12, par. 5). Today the ruins of the city are called both Samaria and Sebastia, a name given to the city by Herod. The city, located six miles northwest of Shechem, remained the capital of the ten tribes until they were carried away captive. It was rebuilt into a city of great magnificence by Herod but was destroyed by the Romans in the First Jewish Revolt about AD 68 or 69.

1 Kings 16:25-26. What did Omri do in the sight of the Lord?

1 Kings 16:29-30. Who Were Ahab and Jezebel?

Ahab, son of Omri, was even more evil than his father, who had "[done] worse than all that were before him" (1 Kings 16:25). The scripture states that Ahab "did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him" (1 Kings 16:30). Ahab married Jezebel, daughter of King Ethbaal of Phoenicia, who practiced idolatry of a most depraved kind. Ahab built a house of Baal in the capital city of Samaria and placed an altar to the Phoenician sun god inside it (see 1 Kings 16:32). He then made a grove in which the people could indulge themselves in immoral practices around a symbol dedicated to the fertility goddess Ashtaroth. Four hundred priests, who ate at Jezebel's table at state expense, assisted her in the extravagant and unholy religion she had brought into Israel.

1 Kings 16:30-33. What did Ahab, Omri's son, do in the sight of the Lord?

1 Kings 16:31. How Offensive to the Lord Was Ahab's Marriage to Jezebel?

Clarke summed up this marriage, as well as Jezebel's life, in these words:

"This was the head and chief of his offending; he took to wife, not only a heathen, but one whose hostility to the true religion was well known, and carried to the utmost extent. 1. She was the idolatrous daughter of an idolatrous king; 2. She practised it openly; 3. She not only countenanced it in others, but protected it, and gave its partisans honours and rewards; 4. She used every means to persecute the true religion; 5. She was hideously cruel, and put to death the prophets and priests of God; 6. And all this she did with the most zealous perseverance and relentless cruelty.

"Notwithstanding Ahab had built a temple, and made an altar for Baal, and set up the worship of Asherah, the Sidonian Venus, ... yet so well known was the hostility of Jezebel to all good, that his marrying her was esteemed the highest pitch of vice, and an act the most provoking to God, and destructive to the prosperity of the kingdom." (Commentary, 2:450-51.)

1 Kings 17:1. What Is a Tishbite?

Elijah is here called "the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead." Some scholars say that Elijah came from Tishbeh, in upper Galilee (see C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 3:1:234). Adam Clarke suggested a different place. Elijah came, he said, from Gilead beyond the Jordan in the land given to the tribe of Gad (see The Holy Bible ... with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 2:452). Whichever is correct, it is clear that the title Tishbite refers to the place from which Elijah came.

1 Kings 17:1. Elijah Sealed the Heavens against Rain by Priesthood Power

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith found a special significance in verse 1:

"The first appearance of Elijah we read of is in the 17th chapter of 1st Kings, when he came before the king and said, 'As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.'

"There is something very significant in that edict. I want you to get it. Follow me again closely: 'As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.' The reason I put emphasis upon this is to impress you with the sealing power by which Elijah was able to close the heavens, that there should be no rain or dew until he spoke." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:102.)

1 Kings 17:1. What did Elijah say to Ahab, king of Israel?

1 Kings 17:3. Where Is the Brook Cherith?

"We do not know which of the Jordan tributaries the brook Cherith might have been, but apparently it was an obscure and isolated place where Elijah could hide safely without being accidentally discovered by soldiers, shepherds or passersby. It was also a desolate place where no animal life existed, therefore Elijah was completely dependent upon the Lord for his sustenance." (W. Cleon Skousen, The Fourth Thousand Years, p. 336.)

1 Kings 17:6. What did the ravens do for Elijah?

1 Kings 17:9. The Widow of Zarephath

Zarephath was on the coast of the Mediterranean between Tyre and Sidon, in what is now Lebanon and was then Phoenicia, outside the boundaries of Israel. The poor widow had only a little flour with which to make a patty to fry. Her barrel would have been an earthen jar and her cruse a clay bottle. Wooden barrels are not suitable for storing flour in the Middle East because they do not protect the flour from insects.

Elijah's request for the widow to prepare his food was not a selfish request but rather a test of her faith. Because she passed the test, Elijah's promise that her barrel of flour and cruse of oil would not fail for the duration of the famine was fulfilled. This widow not only provided for her own needs in a time of great distress but provided for others an example of great faith. In an attempt to open the eyes of his prejudiced countrymen, Jesus spoke of this Sidonian woman who obeyed God's command and physically sustained His prophet. "But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Serepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow" (Luke 4:25-26).

1 Kings 17:10-13. What did Elijah ask the widow to do?

1 Kings 17:14. What did Elijah tell her about the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil?

1 Kings 17:17-24. Elijah Raised the Dead

This is the fourth miracle mentioned in this chapter which Elijah performed by means of his priesthood power. First he brought famine by his word (see v. 1), then he was fed by ravens (see v. 6), then he caused the widow's food supply to miraculously continue (see vv. 13–16). Then he worked another mighty miracle through the power of God. The widow's cry (see v. 18) was more a plea for help than a criticism. In essence she was saying, "I thought sheltering a prophet would bring blessings and protection; instead, tragedy has struck my home."

1 Kings 17:17-24. How as the widow's son raised from the dead?

1 Kings 18:1. To whom did the Lord send Elijah?

1 Kings 18:1-16. Elijah Was Sent to Meet Ahab

Obadiah was the king's chamberlain, or governor of his house. As such it was his responsibility to arrange the king's appointments. That is why Elijah told Obadiah to set up an interview between the prophet and King Ahab. The fact that a king and his chief steward had to look for water and grass by themselves shows that the famine had become acute (see vv. 5-6).

Ahab knew that Elijah had brought this distress, so he searched for him. Apparently Ahab had considerable power and authority among surrounding nations, for he was able to exact promises for them that they were not concealing Elijah or that they knew of his whereabouts (see v. 10). Sometimes, however, someone would see the prophet. But when he reported seeing Elijah, the prophet had disappeared by the time Ahab got there. Ahab then killed the person who said he had seen Elijah. Obadiah's fear that Elijah would disappear again was caused by his awareness that Ahab would not hesitate to have him executed if he failed to deliver Elijah (see vv. 12-16). Elijah promised Obadiah that he would appear before Ahab (see v. 15).

Whether this Obadiah, who "feared the Lord greatly" (v. 3), is the author of the Old Testament book of the same name is not known, but it is doubtful.

1 Kings 18:4. How had Obadiah saved the prophets from Jezebel?

1 Kings 18:17. What did Ahab say to Elijah about the drought?

1 Kings 18:17-18. Who Has Troubled Israel?

These verses have inspired many sermons, for the wicked usually blame someone else for their misfortunes. Elijah had no power by himself to bring on the famine. He was only the agent of the Lord. Ahab and his policies were the true cause of Israel's distress, but the king refused to accept that responsibility.

1 Kings 18:18. What was Elijah's response?

1 Kings 18:19. What did Elijah tell Ahab to do?

1 Kings 18:21. Whom did Elijah challenge the people to follow?

1 Kings 18:21. "How Long Halt Ye between Two Opinions?"

Clarke offered the following comment on Israel's indecision: "Literally, [the phrase means] 'How long hop ye about upon two boughs?' This is a metaphor taken from birds hopping about from bough to bough, not knowing on which to settle. Perhaps the idea of limping through lameness should not be overlooked. They were halt, they could not walk uprightly; they dreaded Jehovah, and therefore could not totally abandon him; they feared the king and queen, and therefore thought they must embrace the religion of the state. Their conscience forbade them to do the former; their fear of man persuaded them to do the latter; but in neither were they heartily engaged; and at this juncture their minds seemed in equipoise, and they were waiting for a favourable opportunity to make their decision. Such an opportunity now, through the mercy of God, presented itself." (Commentary, 2:457.)

1 Kings 18:22-24. The Challenge

The contest that Elijah proposed should have appealed to the prophets of Baal, since their god, the "Sun-god," could surely send down fire if anyone could. Added to the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal were four hundred priests of his female counterpart, Ashtoreth, or Venus, whom Jezebel worshiped. Elijah commented on the number of prophets of Baal in contrast to the number of prophets of the Lord (see v. 22).

1 Kings 18:25-29. How Long Did the Priests of Baal Call upon Their God? Why?

Elijah's mocking words recorded in verse 27 furnished cause for a renewed frenzy among Baal's prophets. Elijah was really saying, "Cry louder; if he is a god, he can surely hear you. But then, perhaps, he's away on a trip, or he's out hunting (pursuing game), or maybe he's asleep." Such taunting kept the priests of Baal in action all day long. Clarke commented: "From morning even until noon. It seems that the priests of Baal employed the whole day in their desperate rites. The time is divided into two periods: 1. From morning until noon; this was employed in preparing and offering the sacrifice, and in earnest supplication for the celestial fire. Still there was no answer, and at noon Elijah began to mock and ridicule them, and this excited them to commence anew. And, 2. They continued from noon till the time of offering the evening sacrifice, dancing up and down, cutting themselves with knives, mingling their own blood with their sacrifice, praying, supplicating, and acting the most frantic manner." (Commentary, 2:457.)

1 Kings 18:28. Why Did the Priests of Baal Cut Themselves as They Called Out to Their God?

Apparently they thought this act of self-abasement would endear them to their god, get his attention, and prove their sincerity. One ancient author told of antics very similar to these that he observed in Gaza in Roman times:

"'A trumpeter went before them who proclaimed their arrival in the villages, the farmyards, or the streets of towns, by flourishes on his instrument -- a twisted horn. The begging Galli followed in fantastic array, after a leader: an ass in their midst, carrying their begging bag and a veiled image of the goddess … They danced along the streets to the sound of wild music, holding huge swords and bills, with whips for scourging themselves, in their hands, and making a hideous noise with rattles, fifes, cymbals or kettle-drums. When they came to a farmyard they began their ravings. A wild howl opened the scene. They then flew wildly one past the other: their heads sunk low towards the earth, as they turned in circles: their loose hair dragging through the dust. Presently they began to bite their arms, and next to hack themselves with the two-edged swords they carried' …

"Then began a new scene. 'One of them, the leader in this frenzy, commenced to prophesy, with sighs and groans, lamenting aloud his past sins, which he would now avenge by the chastisement of his flesh. He then took the knotted whip and lashed his back, cutting himself also with his sword till the blood ran down.'" (In Cunningham Geikie, Hours with the Bible, 3:399-400.)

1 Kings 18:33-35. Why Did Elijah Have the Place of Sacrifice Drenched with Water?

The priests of Baal were so unscrupulous that they rigged their altars with fires beneath them to make the sacrifices appear to ignite spontaneously. One ancient writer said he "had seen under the altars of the heathens, holes dug in the earth with funnels proceeding from them, and communicating with openings on the tops of the altars. In the former the priests concealed fire, which, communicating through the funnels with the holes, set fire to the wood and consumed the sacrifice; and thus the simple people were led to believe that the sacrifice was consumed by a miraculous fire." (In Clarke, Commentary, 2:459.)

Elijah undoubtedly drenched the altar and sacrifice with water as much for the heathen priests as for the people. He wanted to convince them that there was no trickery and to show them that the power of the Lord was manifest. It was a bold and dramatic move that demonstrated his absolute confidence in the power of the true God.

1 Kings 18:36-37. What did Elijah say to the Lord to cause the fire to fall?

1 Kings 18:38. What did the fire do?

1 Kings 18:38. What Was the Fire of the Lord?

"The fire proceeding from Jehovah, was not a natural flash of lightning, which could not produce any such effect, but miraculous fire falling from heaven, as in [1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1] (see [Leviticus 9:24]), the supernatural origin of which was manifested in the fact, that it not only consumed the sacrifice with the pile of wood upon the altar, but also burned up … the stones of the altar and the earth that was thrown up to form the trench, and licked up the water in the trench. Through this miracle Jehovah not only accredited Elijah as His servant and prophet, but proved Himself to be the living God, whom Israel was to serve; so that all the people who were present fell down upon their faces in worship, as they had done once before, viz. at the consecration of the altar in [Leviticus 9:24], and confessed 'Jehovah is God.'" (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 3:1:249.)

1 Kings 18:39. What did the people do when they saw the fire?

1 Kings 18:40. What happened to the priests of Baal?

1 Kings 19:2. What message did Jezebel send to Elijah?

1 Kings 19:2-8. Elijah Fled Jezebel

These verses show how powerful and corrupt Jezebel was. Even after the miraculous fire from heaven, this woman was moved only to anger and swore she would take Elijah's life in revenge. Elijah fled, first into the territory of Judah (at Beersheba) and then to Mount Horeb (or Sinai) 150 miles further south.

Elijah was either fasting or receiving food provided by the Lord during this period. If Elijah truly went without food for forty days, as verse 8 suggests, then he had an experience similar to that of Moses (see Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9-25) and the Savior (see Matthew 4:2). And like Moses at Sinai, Elijah there received revelations.

It must have been very lonely for Elijah during this period. Men were seeking his life, he felt himself to be the only faithful prophet left in Israel, and he was hiding in a cave. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "When he was there, the Lord called upon him and asked him what he was doing there; and in his sorrow, because of the hardness of the hearts of the people, he told the Lord the condition, that he alone remained, that they sought his life to take it away. But the Lord showed him that there were others who had remained true unto him, even 7,000." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:106.)

Those who listen for God's voice know that it is not in the power to break rocks and earth (see v. 11), nor in the fire, but in the "still small voice" that speaks to the heart of man. When Elijah heard the still small voice, he "went out" to converse with the Lord (v. 13). Encouraged, Elijah returned at the Lord's request and completed his assigned mission. The word jealous as used in verses 10 and 14 means diligent. The new prophet chosen to succeed Elijah was Elisha.

1 Kings 19:3-4. How did Elijah respond?

1 Kings 19:4-16. Where Did Elijah's Travels Take Him?

The accompanying map shows the journeys of Elijah from the time he left the Brook Cherith until he arrived at Damascus, Syria, where he anointed an earthly king in a foreign country. It provides a picture of how far-reaching his ministry was.

1 Kings 19:8, 8a.. What did Elijah do for forty days and forty nights on Mount Horeb? (See 1 Kings 19:8a; see also Bible Dictionary, p. 664, s.v. Elijah")

1 Kings 19:9-10. What did Elijah tell the Lord?

1 Kings 19:12-13. How did the Lord speak to Elijah?

1 Kings 19:15-16. List three things the Lord commanded Elijah to do.

1 Kings 19:17. Whom Did Elisha Slay?

There is no record of Elisha slaying anyone. This passage may mean that Elisha would prophesy the death of certain people. Of course, the Bible record as it is now is fragmentary at best, and the details of the incident referred to here may be lost.

1 Kings 19:18. How many Israelites had not worshipped Baal?

1 Kings 20:6, 9. What request of Ben-hadad did Ahab refuse?

1 Kings 20:13-14. What message from the Lord did a prophet deliver to Ahab?

1 Kings 19:19. What Was the Mantle of the Prophet That Was Placed on Elisha?

A mantle is a coat or similar covering.

"When Elijah walked up to the plow where Elisha was standing the prophet simply removed his rough mantle and placed it across the shoulders of Elisha. The astonished Elisha seemed to have known exactly what this emblematic gesture meant. He was being designated for the prophetic calling and being chosen as the understudy and future successor of Elijah. No lengthy discussion or art of persuasion was employed to induce Elisha to accept the call. It was not needed. He was one of the choice 7,000 referred to by the Lord who had not bowed the knee to Baal but respected the Holy Priesthood of God and accepted with enthusiasm the discipline and obedience required by such a calling." (Skousen, Fourth Thousand Years, p. 359.)

Out of this simple act, the phrase "mantle of the prophet" has come to mean the calling and office of the prophet.

1 Kings 20:11. "Let Not Him That Girdeth on His Harness Boast"

This is like saying "Don't boast of the deed until it is done." The imagery comes from the harnessing of work animals. It would be easy for an ox to boast of how much he can plow while he is being harnessed in the morning, but the boast would be meaningful only after the work was done, that is, when the harness is taken off.

1 Kings 20:19-21. What did Israel do to the Syrians?

1 Kings 19:19-21. Twelve Yoke of Oxen

Elisha must have been wealthy to have been plowing with twelve yokes of oxen, for each yoke pulled a plow and was driven by a servant. The feast of two oxen also indicates wealth. Eating the oxen and burning their equipment symbolically represents Elisha's rejection of worldly wealth as Elisha prepared to follow Elijah and to make the considerable material sacrifice involved in responding to the prophetic call.

1 Kings 20, 22. Battles with Syria

These chapters detail two separate battles between Israel and Syria. Israel won the first battle but lost the second.

1 Kings 20:28. What message from the Lord was given to Ahab before the second fight?

1 Kings 20:28. What Is Meant by the Phrase "the Lord Is God of the Hills, but He Is Not God of the Valleys"?

"There seems to be an allusion here to the opinion, prevalent among all heathen nations, that the different parts of the earth had different divinities. They had gods for the woods, for the mountains, for the seas, for the heavens, and for the lower regions. The Syrians seem to have received the impression that Jehovah was specially the God of the mountains; but he manifested to them that he ruled every-where." (James M. Freeman, Manners and Customs of the Bible, p. 165.)

1 Kings 20:30-34. How did Ahab show mercy to Ben-hadad?

1 Kings 20:38-43. Ahab's Death Pronounced

In his encounter with the prophet of the Lord, Ahab unwittingly pronounced his own doom. The prophecy was fulfilled in the next battle with the Syrians (see 1 Kings 22:34-35). That was his reward for failing to slay Ben-hadad as the Lord had commanded.

1 Kings 20:42. How did Ahab incur the anger of the Lord?

1 Kings 21:2-24. Naboth's Vineyard

Ahab's offer to buy Naboth's vineyard may seem fair at first glance, but Naboth could not sell. His land had been inherited from his forefathers, and the law of Moses did not permit the sale of one's inheritance, except in cases of extreme destitution, and then it could be sold or mortgaged only until the time of jubilee, when it would be reclaimed. Ahab wished to acquire the land permanently. Hence Naboth's reply: "The Lord forbid it me" (v. 3). Ahab's tantrum over being refused (see v. 4) gives an insight into the character of Ahab. The king owned ten-twelfths of the land of Israel already, but he was miserable because he could not get everything he wanted.

These verses also show how Ahab's wife, Jezebel, arranged her husband's affairs without hindrance of any sort (see v. 16). The phrase "sons of Belial," was a catch-all term that applied to almost any evil persons -- liars, thieves, murderers. Notice how the punishment pronounced on Ahab and Jezebel matched their character (see vv. 19, 23).

1 Kings 21:3. Why did Naboth refuse to sell his vineyard to Ahab?

1 Kings 21:8-16. How did Jezebel obtain the vineyard for Ahab?

1 Kings 21:19-24. What did Elijah tell Ahab would happen to him and Jezebel? Why?

1 Kings 21:27. What did Ahab do when he heard this message? (See also 1 Kings 21:27b)

1 Kings 21:27-29. Sins of the Fathers and the Sons

Because of Ahab's wicked life, the Lord prophesied that he would lose his posterity (see 1 Kings 21:21). Verses 27 through 29 show the relationship between repentance and the consequences of sin. Because Ahab repented, the "evil" was delayed until Ahab's son was king.

1 Kings 21:28-29. What did the Lord tell Elijah?

1 Kings 22:2-4. With whom did the king of Israel and the king of Judah desire to fight? Why?

1 Kings 22:2-16. Ahab and Jehoshaphat

The friendship between Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, may have developed because Jehoram, Jehoshaphat's son, had married Ahab's daughter Athaliah. This friendship did not please the Lord, and Jehoshaphat was severely rebuked for encouraging it (see 2 Chronicles 19:1-3).

Ahab and Jehoshaphat were considering whether they should combine to fight against the Syrians. Ahab's false prophets, or counselors, said yes, but Micaiah, a prophet of God, said no. The words of Micaiah in verse 15, "Go and prosper," were said with great sarcasm. It is as though Micaiah said: "All your false prophets have predicted success. You want me to do the same, so I will: 'Go and prosper.'" This was said scornfully to let King Ahab know that it was contrary to Micaiah's true advice. Hence the King's response in verse 16.

1 Kings 22:5-6, 11-12. What did the prophets of Ahab prophesy?

1 Kings 22:17, 23-28. What did Micaiah prophesy?

1 Kings 22:23-24. Did the Lord Place a "Lying Spirit" in Ahab's Prophets?

The Lord does not place a lying spirit in anyone. As Clarke explained, the Hebrew expression means that the Lord "hath permitted or suffered a lying spirit to influence thy prophets. Is it requisite again to remind the reader that the Scriptures repeatedly represent God as doing what, in the course of his providence, he only permits or suffers to be done? Nothing can be done in heaven, in earth, or hell, but either by his immediate energy or permission. This is the reason why the Scripture speaks as above." (Commentary, 2:476.)

1 Kings 22:31. What did the king of Syria command his captains of chariots to do?

1 Kings 22:34. What Are the "Joints of the Harness"?

An ancient warrior was covered with armor. To kill him, an arrow had to pass through the spaces where one piece of armor joined another.

1 Kings 22:34-37. What happened to Ahab?

1 Kings 22:43-46. What did Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, do "in the eyes of the Lord"? (1 Kings 22:43)

1 Kings 22:51-53. What did Ahaziah, son of Ahab, do "in the sight of the Lord"? (V. 52)


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