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2 Kings 1

The revolt of Moab-Sickness of Ahaziah, king of Israel. (1-8) Fire called from heaven by Elijah-Death of Ahaziah. (9-18)

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The revolt of Moab-Sickness of Ahaziah, king of Israel

1 Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.

2 And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.

3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?

4 Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.

5 And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back?

6 And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.

7 And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?

8 And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.

Fire called from heaven by Elijah-Death of Ahaziah

9 Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.

10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

11 Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.

12 And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

13 And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight.

14 Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight.

15 And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.

16 And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.

17 So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.

18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Rebelled: lit. “prevaricated.” H. — The kings of Israel kept some of the nations, which David had conquered, in subjection, while the kings of Juda ruled over the others. In consequence of the late disaster, these people began to throw off the yoke. T. — Joram made war upon Moab. C. iii. 5. God began to punish the house of Achab, by these means. C. — The Moabites refused to pay tribute, (M.) as the Israelites would not acknowledge the divine authority. H.

Ver. 2. Lattices, by a skylight, (H.) or trap-door, designed to give light to the room below, into which the king fell. The roofs are generally flat in the East, and covered with earth mixed with straw, with the light at the top, to prevent the excessive heats. — Of. Heb. &c. “into.” C. — If the lattices be understood to mean the rails, which were ordered to be placed round the roof, (Deut. xxii. 8.) Ochozias might fall into the street. M. — Josephus thinks he fell from the staircase. At any rate, he was much hurt, (H.) and thus was made to feel the indignation of God. T. — God. Sept. “Baal, the god-fly;” (C.) the Jupiter of the Greeks, or their chief god; and the prince of devils. Mat. xii. — Accaron. Hence Pliny (viii. 29.) styles the god Achor, T. and Myiodis, (B. xxxvi.) which is the name given to him by Josephus, ix. 2. H. — He was supposed to free the people of the country from being infested with flies; or the many victims offered up to him, drew those insects together. Vatable. — Grotius supposes that the Phœnicians styled their god, Beelsemen, (Balssomin) “God of heaven;” and that the Hebrews called him, Balzobub, “god of flies,” out of contempt. But perhaps his is too favourable to the idolaters. D. — Selden is convinced that Ochozias gives the idol its real name. Scaliger rather thinks that Balzobeim, “the lord of victims,” was the original title. H.

Ver. 4. Away; probably to his usual abode, at Carmel, where the king sent to seize him.

Ver. 5. Messengers. They were perhaps citizens of Accaron, who had extolled the sagacity of their god, but were totally unacquainted with Elias. Yet as he shewed his knowledge of secret things, by telling them what they were going about, (Salien) and spoke with such assurance, (H.) they thought proper to return, lest they should incur a similar punishment. M.

Ver. 8. Man. Heb. ish bahal sehar, “a man lord of hair,” or all covered with it, having a long beard, like the ancient sages, (S. Jer. in Ezec. xxxv.) and clothed with a skin, (Bochart) as the first inhabitants of the earth, the heroes, prophets and S. John the Baptist, are described. Heb. xi. 37. Matt. iii. 4. So Statius (ii. and iv.) says:

Tiresiæ vultus, voces et vellera nota

Induitur.

The monks imitated this poverty and simplicity of clothing; and it is still common among Arabs, who wear a sheep’s skin, with the shorn side inwards in hot weather. C. — Elias. He was known by his long hair and distinct garment, from ordinary men. W. — Hence none ought to blame priests and monks, for wearing clothing which may designate their profession. H.

Ver. 9. Under him; his own guards. The captain was to request him to pray for the king’s recovery; (C.) or rather, (H.) to punish him for what he had said to the messengers. C. — Of God. Procopius and others think that he spoke contemptuously, and was therefore punished. M. — Down. The prophets are not bound to obey kings, in the exercise of their ministry. Grotius. — Elias complies as soon as he had orders from God. C.

Ver. 10. Let fire, &c. Elias was inspired to call down fire from heaven upon these captains, who came to apprehend him; not out of a desire to gratify any private passion, but to punish the insult offered to religion, to confirm his mission, and to shew how vain are the efforts of men against God and his servants, whom he has a mind to protect. Ch. — The Roman laws authorized a person, in authority, to punish those who refuse to obey. Ulpian 1 D. Si quis jus dicenti non obtemperaverit, omnibus concessum est suam jurisdictionem defendere pœnali judicio. Elias acted as God’s envoy, and the insult reverted upon him. S. Tho. 2. 2. q. 108, a. 2. — The Manichees have blamed the conduct of the prophet: but the miracle justifies him, as God would never countenance the private revenge of any one; and the Holy Ghost places this transaction on a level with that when Elias shut up the heavens. Eccli. xlviii. 3. S. Peter was moved with the like zeal. Acts v. 5. The sons of Zebedee gave way to some private indignation, when they wished our Saviour to call down fire from heaven upon a city of Samaria. Luke ix. 54. But he reprimanded them for it; as the citizens might not be so well acquainted with him, as these soldiers must have been with Elias: and he came to display the spirit of mildness, (C.) to attract all to his holy religion; while Elias had manifested the severity of the divine judgments, conformably to the law of terror, under which he lived. H. — In zeal of justice, Elias procured fire to burn these wicked men, as he had done for the holocaust. S. Aug. W.

Ver. 11. Another, not knowing what was become of the first, or why he did not return; as Ochozias was eager to have the prophet in his power. M. — If he were acquainted with his fate, (H.) this second captain was guilty of greater insolence. But there are such generally to be found at courts; men who are ready to execute the king’s orders, without considering whether they be contrary to God’s law or not.

Ver. 13. Again. This third captain is commonly supposed to be Abdias, (3 K. xviii. 3.) though without much reason. C. — John of Jerus, (c. 15) says he left the court, and became a disciple of Elias, and a prophet. M. — But he is very different from the prophet, whose writings are still extant. C. — The report of the two miracles had come to his ears, and filled him with fear. M. — Despise not. Heb. “let my life…be precious in thy sight.” 1 K. xxvi. 21. Ps. cxv. 15.

Ver. 17. The second year of Joram, &c. counted from the time that he was associated to the throne of his father Josaphat; (Ch). so that it is said that he reigned also in the 18th year of Josaphat. C. iii. 1. See also C. viii. 16. To obviate there apparent contradictions, chronologists suppose that Joram reigned over Israel in the 18th of Josaphat, king of Juda, and in the second year after the latter had appointed his son Joram viceroy. He was associated with his father on the throne two years before his death, and in the 5th of Joram, king of Israel. Examples of this kind are frequent among the Hebrews, and particularly among the Persians, whose chronology is thus rendered very difficult. Why should we allow that the numbers are erroneous, when this explanation will suffice? C. — Grotius leaves the matter undecided. D. — Capel (Crit. p. 414.) maintains that the numbers have been ill transcribed; and so does Houbigant, who asserts that such a mode of writing whould not be tolerated in a profane author; thus the mention of different dates, without intimating how they are to be reconciled. If we should read, that Heraclius began to reign “in the 18th year of Chosroes,” and a little after, that he ascended the throne “in the second year of the son of Chosroes,” without ever specifying how Heraclius began his reign at two different periods, who would not suspect a mistake? Is it not more rational to throw the blame on the transcriber, than on the author? The modern chronologists seem to have invented the idea of viceroys and simultaneous kings, among the Hebrews, merely to get over difficulties; though the Scripture be entirely silent on this head. Houbigant would therefore read, “in the 22d year of Josaphat,” as the mention of Joram seems here improper, (absurda) his father reigning 25 years. Ochozias began to reign when Josaphat had almost completed his 17th year. See 3 K. xxii. 52. H. — His brother is not specified in Heb. Chal. Arab. and in some copies of the Sept. but it is in most others, as well as in the Syriac, (C.) Josephus, &c. (H.) and this is the common opinion. The Roman edition here inserts (C.) after Elias spoke, (18) “And the, &c…and Joram,” &c. nearly as C. iii. 1. 2. 3; only for father, it substitutes, “not like his brothers;” and adds, “the wrath of the Lord was enkindled against the house of Achab.” No mention is made of the second year of Joram, &c. (H.) in any edition of the Sept. Capel. — In the mean time Josaphat, being returned from the unfortunate expedition with Achab, set his kingdom in order, purifying it from all the vestiges of idolatry, as much as he was able, and appointing proper judges. 2 Par. xix.