King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Kings 17

Elijah fed by ravens. (1-7) Elijah sent to Zarephath. (8-16) Elijah raises the widow’s son to life. (17-24)

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Elijah fed by ravens

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, 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.

2 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

5 So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

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

7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah sent to Zarephath

8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

Elijah raises the widow’s son to life

17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.

22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ver. 17. In him. He died. H. — The Jews, followed by some Christians, assert that this boy was the prophet Jonas. But Jonas was a Hebrew, from Geth-opher. 4 K. xiv. 25. Jon. i. 9. C.

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

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

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

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