1 Kings 19:2
Verse 2. - Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah [The prophet, wrapped in his abba, was seemingly about to spend the night in the open air, possibly at the gate, or in the plain. There, in the darkness, the messenger found him, Bahr assumes that this message had Ahab's sanction; i.e., that he must have known of it and was too weak to prevent it. But it is just as likely that it was sent without his privity. On the evening of that day he would be afraid to threaten one vested with such tremendous powers as Elijah had just proved himself to possess], saying [Here the LXX. inserts "If thou art Eliou and I Jezebel"], So let gods [As ךאלֹהִים is here found with a the plural verb, it is rightly assumed that the reference is to the divinities of Phoenicia or of paganism generally. Besides, Jezebel would hardly swear by the one God of Elijah and of Israel. The LXX., however, has ὁ θεὸς], do to me, and more also [Heb. and so let them add. See on 1 Kings 2:23. Stanley appositely recalls to our minds "the tremendous vows which mark the history of the Semitic race, both within and without the Jewish pale, the vow of Jephthah, the vow of Saul, the vow of Hannibal." Rawlinson remarks that this oath was "familiar in the mouths of kings about this time" (1 Kings 20:10; 2 Kings 6:31). But it was a standing formula in Israel at all times. See Ruth 1:17; 1 Samuel 3:17; etc.], if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. ["That queen consort, it seems, was, in effect, queen regent" (Henry). What induced the queen to send this message? For it is obvious that if she really meant to slay Elijah, she took the very means to defeat her purpose by thus forewarning him of her intentions. Some of the older expositors (see, e.g., Hall, vol. 2. p. 396) have seen in the act a proof of her blind infatuation, of that infatuation which God often employs to defeat the machinations of wicked men, and this view is not to be lightly rejected. That she fully meant what she said is hardly to be doubted. But later writers, including Keil, Bahr, and Wordsworth, see in the threat nothing more than a scheme for ridding herself of the presence of Elijah. They argue that, finding herself unable to put him to death, partly because of the impression he had made upon the people, and partly, too, because of the ascendancy he had just gained over the king, she resolved, by threatening him with instant death, to give him an opportunity for flight. But this view hardly takes sufficiently into account the exasperation, the blind unreasoning hate, or the reckless and desperate character of the queen. It must be remembered that this message was despatched, not after she had had time for thought and calculation, but on the spur of the moment, as soon as she had heard of the massacre of the priests of Baal. That night she could do nothing, nor perhaps could she see her way clearly to compass his death on the morrow. But she will have him know that he is not going to escape her, and that, whatever the effect on her husband, she is unconquered and unrelenting. She does not stop to argue that he may take the alarm and flee. But she must gratify her impotent rage forthwith by threatening him with death the next day.]

19:1-8 Jezebel sent Elijah a threatening message. Carnal hearts are hardened and enraged against God, by that which should convince and conquer them. Great faith is not always alike strong. He might be serviceable to Israel at this time, and had all reason to depend upon God's protection, while doing God's work; yet he flees. His was not the deliberate desire of grace, as Paul's, to depart and be with Christ. God thus left Elijah to himself, to show that when he was bold and strong, it was in the Lord, and the power of his might; but of himself he was no better than his fathers. God knows what he designs us for, though we do not, what services, what trials, and he will take care that we are furnished with grace sufficient.Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah,.... In Jezreel, or near it, to frighten him away; not caring to seize him, and dispatch him, for fear of the people, in whom he had now a great interest; or otherwise it is not easy to account for it that she should give him notice of it; unless she scorned to do it privately, as some think, and was determined to make a public example of him; but being not as yet prepared for it, sends him word what he must expect, imagining that as he had the courage to appear, he would not flee; no doubt there was an hand of Providence in it, be it which it will, that he might have time to make his escape:

saying, so let the gods do to me, and more also; the gods she served, Baal and Ashtaroth, and by whom she swore:

if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time; as one of the prophets Elijah had slain; she swore by her gods, and wished the greatest evils might befall her, if she did not lodge him in the state of the dead where they were in the space of twenty four hours; though Abarbinel thinks it is not an oath, but that the words and meaning of them are, so the gods do; it is their usual way, and they will go on to do so for the future, because of the holiness of their name; and therefore do not boast of slaying the prophets, or make use of that as an argument of their falsehood, for they will do the same by thee by tomorrow this time.

1 Kings 19:1
Top of Page
Top of Page