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1 Kings 15-17, Bible Highlights: Week Starting July 27

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Highlights From Bible Reading: 1 Kings 15-16-17. Information for personal study.

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Research for Highlights of : 1 Kings 15-17


(1 KINGS 15:12)

“He expelled the male temple prostitutes from the land and removed all the disgusting idols that his forefathers had made.”

*** w12 8/15 p. 8 “There Exists a Reward for Your Activity” ***
1 Ki. 15:12,

*** w12 8/15 p. 8 “There Exists a Reward for Your Activity” ***
Asa also ousted from the kingdom of Judah “the male temple prostitutes,” who practiced sodomy in the name of religion.

(1 KINGS 15:13)

“He even removed Maʹa•cah his grandmother from her position as queen mother, because she had made an obscene idol for the worship of the sacred pole. Aʹsa cut down her obscene idol and burned it in the Kidʹron Valley.”

*** it-1 p. 183 Asa ***
He removed his grandmother, Maacah, from her position as a sort of ‘first lady’ of the land because of her making “a horrible idol” to the sacred pole, or Asherah, and he burned the religious idol.—1Ki 15:11-13.

(1 KINGS 15:14)

“But the high places were not removed. Nevertheless, Aʹsa’s heart was complete with Jehovah all his life.”

*** it-1 pp. 183-184 Asa ***
The record at 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 states that Asa “removed the foreign altars and the high places and broke up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles.” However, 1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 15:17 indicate that “the high places he did not remove.” It may be, therefore, that the high places referred to in the earlier Chronicles account were those of the adopted pagan worship that infected Judah, while the Kings account refers to high places at which the people engaged in worship of Jehovah. Even after the setting up of the tabernacle and the later establishment of the temple, occasional sacrificing was done to Jehovah on high places, which was acceptable to him under special circumstances, as in the cases of Samuel, David, and Elijah. (1Sa 9:11-19; 1Ch 21:26-30; 1Ki 18:30-39) Nevertheless, the regular approved place for sacrifice was that authorized by Jehovah. (Nu 33:52; De 12:2-14; Jos 22:29) Improper modes of high-place worship may have continued in spite of the removal of the pagan high places, perhaps because the king did not pursue their elimination with the same vigor as he did the removal of the pagan sites. Or Asa may have effected a complete removal of all high places; but if so, such cropped up again in due time and had not been removed by the time of the conclusion of his reign, allowing for their being smashed by his successor Jehoshaphat.

*** it-1 pp. 1108-1109 High Places ***
Asa, who succeeded Abijam to the throne, served Jehovah in faithfulness and put forth decisive efforts to rid the kingdom of all appendages of false worship. (1Ki 15:11-13) “He removed from all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense stands.” (2Ch 14:2-5) However, 1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 15:17 apparently indicate that the high places were not removed. It may be that, although Asa removed the high places for worship of false gods, he left those at which the people worshiped Jehovah. Or, perhaps, high places cropped up again toward the end of his reign and were thereby present for his successor Jehoshaphat to destroy. But even during Jehoshaphat’s reign the high places did not fully disappear. (1Ki 22:42, 43; 2Ch 17:5, 6; 20:31-33) So entrenched was Judah’s worship at high places that the reforms of both Asa and Jehoshaphat could not remove all of them permanently.

(1 KINGS 15:16)

“There was constant warfare between Aʹsa and Baʹa•sha the king of Israel.”

*** it-1 p. 184 Asa ***
So, too, the apparent difference between the statement at 2 Chronicles 15:19 to the effect that, as for “war, it did not occur down to the thirty-fifth [actually, the fifteenth] year of Asa’s reign,” and the statement at 1 Kings 15:16 to the effect that “warfare itself took place between Asa and Baasha the king of Israel all their days,” may be explained in that once conflicts began between the two kings they were thereafter continuous, even as Hanani had foretold.—2Ch 16:9.

(1 KINGS 15:17)

“So King Baʹa•sha of Israel came up against Judah and began to build up Raʹmah to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to King Aʹsa of Judah.”

*** it-2 p. 42 Jerusalem ***
During faithful King Asa’s reign, King Baasha of the northern kingdom made an unsuccessful attempt to build up strength on Judah’s northern frontier in order to seal it off and prevent communication with Jerusalem (and possibly expressions of loyalty to the Judean kingdom by any of his subjects). (1Ki 15:17-22)

(1 KINGS 15:19)

““There is a treaty between me and you and between my father and your father. I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Come, break your treaty with King Baʹa•sha of Israel, so that he will withdraw from me.””

*** it-1 p. 184 Asa ***
Intrigue and Warfare Against Baasha. King Baasha of Israel set out to block the path of any inclining toward a return to Judah by fortifying the frontier city of Ramah, located on the main road to Jerusalem and only a short distance N of that city. Asa, by some process of human reasoning or because of heeding bad counsel, now failed to rely solely on Jehovah and resorted to diplomacy and conspiratorial maneuvering to remove this threat. He took the temple treasures and those from the royal house and sent them as a bribe to King Ben-hadad I of Syria to induce him to divert Baasha’s attention through an attack on Israel’s northern frontier. Ben-hadad I accepted, and his raid on Israelite cities in the N disrupted Baasha’s building work and brought a withdrawal of his forces from Ramah. Asa now conscripted all the available manpower from the entire kingdom of Judah and carried off all Baasha’s supplies of building materials, using them to build up the cities of Geba and Mizpah.—1Ki 15:16-22; 2Ch 16:1-6.

(1 KINGS 15:20)

“Ben-haʹdad listened to King Aʹsa and sent the chiefs of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they struck down Iʹjon, Dan, Aʹbel-beth-maʹa•cah, all Chinʹne•reth, and all the land of Naphʹta•li.”

*** it-1 p. 437 Chinnereth ***
2. A district or region of Israel attacked by Syrian King Ben-hadad I at the instigation of King Asa of Judah. (c. 962 B.C.E.) (1Ki 15:20; compare 2Ch 16:4.) The expression “all Chinnereth” is usually considered to refer to the fertile Plain of Gennesaret.

(1 KINGS 15:23)

“As for all the rest of the history of Aʹsa, all his mightiness and all that he did and the cities that he built, is it not written in the book of the history of the times of the kings of Judah? But in his old age he suffered from a disease in his feet.”

*** it-1 p. 184 Asa ***
Illness and Death. Asa’s last three years brought suffering due to an illness of the feet (perhaps gout), and he unwisely sought physical healing over spiritual healing.

(1 KINGS 15:33)

“In the third year of King Aʹsa of Judah, Baʹa•sha the son of A•hiʹjah became king in Tirʹzah over all Israel and reigned for 24 years.”

*** it-1 p. 184 Asa ***
The statement at 2 Chronicles 16:1 that Baasha came up against Judah “in the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa” has caused some question, since Baasha’s rule, beginning in the third year of Asa and lasting only 24 years, had terminated about 10 years prior to Asa’s 36th year of rule. (1Ki 15:33) While some suggest a scribal error and believe the reference is to the 16th or the 26th year of Asa’s reign, the assumption of such error is not required to harmonize the accounts. Jewish commentators quote the Seder Olam, which suggests that the 36th year was reckoned from the existence of the separate kingdom of Judah (997 B.C.E.) and corresponded to the 16th year of Asa (Rehoboam ruling 17 years, Abijah 3 years, and Asa now in his 16th year). (Soncino Books of the Bible, London, 1952, ftn on 2Ch 16:1) This was also the view of Archbishop Ussher.

*** it-1 p. 947 Divided Kingdom ***
Tirzah 1Ki 15:33

(1 KINGS 16:4)

“Anyone belonging to Baʹa•sha who dies in the city the dogs will eat; and anyone belonging to him who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat.””

*** it-1 p. 644 Dog ***
Dogs (Canis familiaris), like carrion birds, were scavengers, particularly in the cities. The Law directed throwing to the dogs flesh that had been torn by a wild beast. (Ex 22:31) At times Jehovah’s judgment against his enemies was that their dead bodies would be eaten or their blood licked up by scavenger dogs. Because of the course of gross unfaithfulness followed by Kings Jeroboam, Baasha, and Ahab, any who belonged to their respective households and who died in the city were to be devoured by dogs. (1Ki 14:11; 16:4; 21:24)

(1 KINGS 16:9)

“His servant Zimʹri, the chief of half of his chariot forces, conspired against him while he was in Tirʹzah drinking himself drunk at the house of Arʹza, who was over the household in Tirʹzah.”

*** it-1 p. 427 Chariot ***
After Solomon’s death, chariots were common in both the northern and southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom had a “chief of half the chariots,” indicating that there were two principal divisions of chariots. (1Ki 16:9)

(1 KINGS 16:16)

“In time the troops who were encamped heard it being said: “Zimʹri has conspired and has also struck down the king.” So all Israel made Omʹri, the chief of the army, king over Israel on that day in the camp.”

*** it-2 p. 554 Omri ***
Omri came to the throne, not by inheritance, but by the sword. He had been chief of Israel’s army under King Elah (and perhaps under his predecessor Baasha) when Zimri, chief of half the chariots, overthrew Elah, took the kingship for himself, and wiped out the house and friends of Baasha. As soon as this was reported to the Israelite army, at the time camped against the Philistines at Gibbethon, “all Israel,” doubtless the tribal heads “in the camp,” made Omri their king. At once they withdrew from Gibbethon and stormed Zimri’s capital Tirzah. Zimri, seeing the hopelessness of his cause, burned down the king’s house over himself, tragically ending his seven-day rule.—1Ki 16:8-20.

(1 KINGS 16:23)

“In the 31st year of King Aʹsa of Judah, Omʹri became king over Israel, and he reigned for 12 years. In Tirʹzah he reigned for six years.”

*** it-1 p. 947 Divided Kingdom ***
Samaria 1Ki 16:23, 24

(1 KINGS 16:24)

“He bought the mountain of Sa•marʹi•a from Sheʹmer for two talents of silver, and he built a city on the mountain. He named the city that he built Sa•marʹi•a, after Sheʹmer the owner of the mountain.”

*** it-1 p. 947 Divided Kingdom ***
Samaria 1Ki 16:23, 24

(1 KINGS 16:31)

“As if it were a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jer•o•boʹam the son of Neʹbat, he also took as wife Jezʹe•bel the daughter of Eth•baʹal, the king of the Si•doʹni•ans, and began to serve Baʹal and to bow down to him.”

*** it-1 p. 59 Ahab ***
Condones False Worship. Ahab’s record was one of the worst as regards the vital area of true worship. Not only did the corrupted worship of Jehovah by means of Jeroboam’s golden calves continue but Ahab also allowed Baal worship to infect Israel on an unprecedented scale due to his early marriage to Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. Josephus, quoting ancient historian Menander, refers to Ethbaal as Ithobal, and the account (Against Apion, I, 123 [18]) relates that he was the priest of Astarte before ascending the throne by murdering the king.
Ahab allowed his pagan wife Jezebel to lead him into Baal worship, to build a temple for Baal, and to erect a sacred pole in honor of Asherah. (1Ki 16:30-33) Before long there were 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the sacred pole, all being fed from Jezebel’s royal table. (1Ki 18:19)

*** it-1 p. 230 Baal ***
A different Baal cult was introduced into Israel in King Ahab’s day (c. 940-920 B.C.E.), that of Melkart, the Baal of Tyre. (PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 532) Ahab formed a marriage alliance with the daughter of the king of Tyre, named Ethbaal (meaning “With Baal”). This resulted in Ethbaal’s daughter, Jezebel, importing this more virile cult into Israel, with many priests and attendants. (1Ki 16:31-33)

*** it-1 p. 766 Ethbaal ***
ETHBAAL
(Eth•baʹal) [With Baal].
King of the Sidonians, the father of Jezebel the wife of King Ahab. (1Ki 16:31) By giving his daughter in marriage to Ahab, Ethbaal entered into a political alliance with him. Ethbaal is evidently the Ithobal mentioned in Josephus’ quotation of historian Menander as being the priest of the goddess Astarte (Ashtoreth). This priest got the kingship by murdering Phelles, a descendant of Hiram the king of Tyre with whom Solomon had had dealings in connection with the building of the temple. Ethbaal is said to have ruled for 32 of the 48 years of his life. (Against Apion, I, 123 [18]) Indicative of the commercial expansion carried on during his reign is Menander’s reference to Ethbaal’s building Auza in Libya. Menander also mentions that a one-year drought occurred during Ethbaal’s reign.—Jewish Antiquities, VIII, 324 (xiii, 2).

(1 KINGS 16:34)

“In his days, Hiʹel the Bethʹel•ite rebuilt Jerʹi•cho. At the cost of A•biʹram his firstborn he laid its foundation, and at the cost of Seʹgub his youngest he put up its doors, according to the word of Jehovah spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.”

*** w98 9/15 pp. 21-22 Is God Real to You? ***
For example, read the prophecy about the penalty for rebuilding Jericho and then consider its fulfillment. Joshua 6:26 states: “Joshua had an oath pronounced at that particular time, saying: ‘Cursed may the man be before Jehovah who gets up and does build this city, even Jericho. At the forfeit of his firstborn let him lay the foundation of it, and at the forfeit of his youngest let him put up its doors.’” Fulfillment came some 500 years later, for we read at 1 Kings 16:34: “In [King Ahab’s] days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho. At the forfeit of Abiram his firstborn he laid the foundation of it, and at the forfeit of Segub his youngest he put up its doors, according to Jehovah’s word that he spoke by means of Joshua the son of Nun.” Only a real God could inspire such prophecies and see to their fulfillment.

*** si p. 42 par. 4 Bible Book Number 6—Joshua ***
4 At the time of Jericho’s destruction, Joshua placed a prophetic curse on the rebuilding of the city, which had a remarkable fulfillment in the days of Ahab king of Israel, some 500 years later. (Josh. 6:26; 1 Ki. 16:33, 34)

*** it-1 pp. 25-26 Abiram ***
2. The firstborn son of Hiel the Bethelite. At Joshua 6:26 Joshua’s oath is recorded concerning the destroyed city of Jericho, foretelling that whoever should rebuild it would do so at the loss of his firstborn son. Abiram’s father, Hiel, ignored this oath and, during the reign of King Ahab (c. 940-920 B.C.E.) some five centuries after Joshua’s time, he laid Jericho’s foundations. Abiram, his son, died, evidently prematurely as a historically recorded fulfillment of the prophecy.—1Ki 16:34.

*** it-1 p. 60 Ahab ***
Moabite and Assyrian Inscriptions. Mention is made of the rebuilding of Jericho during Ahab’s reign, perhaps as part of a program for strengthening Israel’s control over Moab. (1Ki 16:34; compare 2Ch 28:15.) The Moabite Stone by King Mesha of Moab speaks of the domination of Moab by King Omri and his son.

*** it-1 p. 1106 Hiel ***
HIEL
(Hiʹel) [shortened form of Ahiel, meaning “My Brother Is God; Brother of God”].
A Bethelite who rebuilt Jericho during Ahab’s reign in the tenth century B.C.E. In fulfillment of the oath Joshua had pronounced at the destruction of Jericho over 500 years earlier, Hiel laid the foundation of the city at the forfeit of Abiram his firstborn and put up its doors at the forfeit of Segub his youngest child.—Jos 6:26; 1Ki 16:33, 34.

(1 KINGS 17:1)

“Now E•liʹjah the Tishʹbite, an inhabitant of Gilʹe•ad, said to Aʹhab: “As surely as Jehovah the God of Israel whom I serve is living, during these years there will be no dew or rain except by my word!””

*** w92 4/1 p. 17 Do You Have Faith Like Elijah’s? ***
Elijah Proclaims a Drought
It was probably at the end of a long, rainless summer season—just when the people were beginning to expect Baal to usher in the life-giving rains—that Elijah appeared on the scene. He bursts into the Bible record with the suddenness of a thunderclap. We are told little of his background, nothing of his parentage. But unlike thunder, Elijah was not the harbinger of a rainstorm. He announced to Ahab: “As Jehovah the God of Israel before whom I do stand is living, there will occur during these years neither dew nor rain, except at the order of my word!”—1 Kings 17:1.
Picture this man, clad in his rustic garment of hair. He is a native of the rugged hills of Gilead, likely raised among humble shepherds of the flocks. He stands before the mighty king Ahab, perhaps right in his vast palace, with its fabled house of ivory, its rich and exotic decorations and imposing idols. There, in the bustling fortified city of Samaria, where the worship of Jehovah is all but forgotten, he tells Ahab that this god of his, this Baal, is impotent, a nonentity. For this year and for years to come, Elijah declares, there will be neither rain nor dew!
Where did he get such faith? Did he not feel intimidated, standing there before this arrogant, apostate king? Perhaps. Over a thousand years later, Jesus’ half brother James assures us that Elijah was “a man with feelings like ours.” (James 5:17) But note Elijah’s words: “As Jehovah the God of Israel before whom I do stand is living.” Elijah kept in mind that as Jehovah’s servant, he was standing before a much higher throne than Ahab’s—the throne of the Sovereign Lord of the universe! He was a representative, an emissary, of that throne. With this perspective, what had he to fear from Ahab, a puny human monarch who had lost Jehovah’s blessing?

*** w90 11/1 p. 16 Samaria—Capital Among Northern Capitals ***
Excavations have revealed the ruins of Ahab’s palace, shown on the next page. That palace was known for luxury and exceeding wickedness. (1 Kings 16:29-33) Picture the prophet Elijah climbing to this city and walking the broad road to the palace, there to denounce Ahab’s Baal-centered evil.—1 Kings 17:1.

*** it-1 p. 230 Baal ***
Likely because Baal, believed to be the owner of the sky, was regarded by his worshipers as the giver of rains and fertility, a drought was ordered by Elijah in the name of Jehovah. (1Ki 17:1)

(1 KINGS 17:3)

““Leave here, and turn eastward and hide at the Valley of Cheʹrith, east of the Jordan.”

*** w92 4/1 p. 18 Do You Have Faith Like Elijah’s? ***
Faith Expressed in Following Direction
For the moment, though, Elijah’s proclamation put him in mortal danger. It was time for another aspect of his faith to come into play. In order to stay alive, he had to be faithful in following Jehovah’s instructions: “Go away from here, and you must turn your way eastward and conceal yourself at the torrent valley of Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And it must occur that from the torrent valley you should drink, and the ravens I shall certainly command to supply you food there.”—1 Kings 17:3, 4.
Elijah obeyed immediately. If he wanted to survive the drought and famine that befell his land, he had to rely on whatever provisions Jehovah made for him. This was by no means easy. It meant concealing himself, living in complete isolation for months on end. It meant eating meat and bread carried to him by ravens—carrion-eating birds deemed unclean in the Mosaic Law—and trusting in Jehovah that such meat was not carrion but meat that had been properly bled according to law. So unlikely does this extended miracle seem to some Bible commentators that they suggest that the original word here must have meant “Arabs” and not “ravens” at all. But ravens were the ideal choice. No one would suspect that these lowly, unclean birds flying off into the wilderness with their scraps of food were actually feeding Elijah, whom Ahab and Jezebel were seeking in all the kingdoms round about!—1 Kings 18:3, 4, 10.
As the drought dragged on, Elijah may well have grown concerned over his water supply in the torrent valley of Cherith. Most of Israel’s torrent valleys dry up in times of drought, and “at the end of some days,” this one did too. Can you imagine Elijah’s feelings as the water gradually slowed to a trickle and the pools sank lower day by day? Surely he must have wondered what would happen when the water was gone. Nonetheless, Elijah faithfully stayed put.

(1 KINGS 17:4)

“You should drink from the stream, and I will command the ravens to supply you food there.””

*** w92 4/1 p. 18 Do You Have Faith Like Elijah’s? ***
Faith Expressed in Following Direction
For the moment, though, Elijah’s proclamation put him in mortal danger. It was time for another aspect of his faith to come into play. In order to stay alive, he had to be faithful in following Jehovah’s instructions: “Go away from here, and you must turn your way eastward and conceal yourself at the torrent valley of Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And it must occur that from the torrent valley you should drink, and the ravens I shall certainly command to supply you food there.”—1 Kings 17:3, 4.
Elijah obeyed immediately. If he wanted to survive the drought and famine that befell his land, he had to rely on whatever provisions Jehovah made for him. This was by no means easy. It meant concealing himself, living in complete isolation for months on end. It meant eating meat and bread carried to him by ravens—carrion-eating birds deemed unclean in the Mosaic Law—and trusting in Jehovah that such meat was not carrion but meat that had been properly bled according to law. So unlikely does this extended miracle seem to some Bible commentators that they suggest that the original word here must have meant “Arabs” and not “ravens” at all. But ravens were the ideal choice. No one would suspect that these lowly, unclean birds flying off into the wilderness with their scraps of food were actually feeding Elijah, whom Ahab and Jezebel were seeking in all the kingdoms round about!—1 Kings 18:3, 4, 10.
As the drought dragged on, Elijah may well have grown concerned over his water supply in the torrent valley of Cherith. Most of Israel’s torrent valleys dry up in times of drought, and “at the end of some days,” this one did too. Can you imagine Elijah’s feelings as the water gradually slowed to a trickle and the pools sank lower day by day? Surely he must have wondered what would happen when the water was gone. Nonetheless, Elijah faithfully stayed put.

(1 KINGS 17:6)

“And the ravens were bringing him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream.”

*** it-2 p. 754 Raven ***
The raven also has the practice of storing surplus food in rock crevices or burying it beneath leaves. These birds were thus an apt selection when God used them miraculously to carry in bread and meat twice daily to Elijah while the prophet was concealed in the torrent valley of Cherith.—1Ki 17:2-6.

(1 KINGS 17:9)

““Rise up, go to Zarʹe•phath, which belongs to Siʹdon, and stay there. Look! I will command a widow there to supply you with food.””

*** w14 2/15 p. 13 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
After Elijah announced the drought, God hid him from Ahab and miraculously fed the prophet with bread and meat brought to him by ravens. Jehovah then told Elijah: “Rise up, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Look! I will command a widow there to supply you with food.”—1 Ki. 17:1-9.

*** w14 2/15 p. 14 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
She lived in Zarephath, a town that ‘belonged to,’ or was apparently dependent upon, the Phoenician city of Sidon. Very likely, Zarephath was inhabited by Baal worshippers. Nevertheless, Jehovah had seen something exceptional in this widow.
Although the poor widow of Zarephath lived among idolaters, she exercised faith. Jehovah sent Elijah to her for the sake of both the woman and the prophet. From this, we can draw a vital lesson.
Not all the inhabitants of Baal-worshipping Zarephath were completely corrupt. By sending Elijah to this widow, Jehovah showed that He takes note of well-intentioned individuals who are not yet serving Him. Indeed, “in every nation the man who fears [God] and does what is right is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:35.

*** w92 4/1 pp. 18-19 Do You Have Faith Like Elijah’s? ***
It was not until the stream was dry that Jehovah gave him his next set of instructions. Go to Zarephath, the prophet was told. There he would find sustenance at the home of a widow.—1 Kings 17:7-9.
Zarephath! That town belonged to the city of Sidon, where Jezebel hailed from and where her own father had ruled as king! Would it be safe? Elijah may have wondered. But “he rose up and went.”—1 Kings 17:10.

(1 KINGS 17:10)

“So he rose up and went to Zarʹe•phath. When he came to the entrance of the city, there was a widow gathering pieces of wood. So he called to her and said: “Please, bring me a little water in a cup so that I may drink.””

*** w14 2/15 p. 13 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
When Elijah arrived at Zarephath, he saw a poor widow collecting pieces of wood. Could she be the woman who would provide food for the prophet? How could she do so, since she herself was so poor? Despite any misgivings Elijah may have had, he began a conversation with the woman. “Please,” he said, “bring me a little water in a cup so that I may drink.”

(1 KINGS 17:11)

“As she went to get it, he called to her: “Please, bring me a piece of bread in your hand.””

*** w14 2/15 pp. 13-14 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
When she went to get him some water, Elijah added: “Please, bring me a piece of bread.” (1 Ki. 17:10, 11) Giving the stranger a drink did not trouble the widow, but giving him bread was a problem.

(1 KINGS 17:12)

“At this she said: “As surely as Jehovah your God is living, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the large jar and a little oil in the small jar. Now I am gathering a few pieces of wood, and I will go in and make something for me and my son. After we have eaten, we will die.””

*** w14 2/15 p. 14 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
“As surely as Jehovah your God is living,” she replied, “I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the large jar and a little oil in the small jar. Now I am gathering a few pieces of wood, and I will go in and make something for me and my son. After we have eaten, we will die.” (1 Ki. 17:12) Let us reflect on what this exchange reveals.
The widow recognized Elijah as a God-fearing Israelite. This is evident from her words “as surely as Jehovah your God is living.” It appears that while she had some knowledge of Israel’s God, it was not to the point of using the words “my God” when referring to Jehovah.

*** it-1 p. 1030 Hand ***
“a handful” may mean only a little (1Ki 17:12) or a modest portion (Ec 4:6), according to the context.

*** it-2 p. 952 Everyday Life in Ancient Israel ***
[Picture on page 952]
Vessels were of many sizes and shapes, usually earthenware, sometimes made of stone (1Ki 17:12)

(1 KINGS 17:13)

“Then E•liʹjah said to her: “Do not be afraid. Go in and do as you said. But first make me a small round loaf of bread with what is there, and bring it out to me. Then you can make something afterward for you and your son.”

*** w14 2/15 p. 14 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
‘FIRST MAKE ME A SMALL LOAF OF BREAD’
Consider carefully what Elijah asked the widow to do. She had just told him that after she made one more meal for her and her son, they would eat it and die. Yet, what did Elijah say? “Do not be afraid. Go in and do as you said. But first make me a small round loaf of bread with what is there, and bring it out to me. Then you can make something afterward for you and your son. For this is what Jehovah the God of Israel says: ‘The large jar of flour will not run out, and the small jar of oil will not run dry until the day Jehovah makes it rain on the surface of the ground.’”—1 Ki. 17:11-14.
‘Give away our last meal? You must be joking,’ some might have said. But that was not this widow’s reaction. Despite her limited knowledge of Jehovah, she believed Elijah and did what he asked of her. What a momentous test of faith that was—and what a wise decision she made!

(1 KINGS 17:14)

“For this is what Jehovah the God of Israel says: ‘The large jar of flour will not run out, and the small jar of oil will not run dry until the day Jehovah makes it rain on the surface of the ground.’””

*** w14 2/15 p. 14 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
‘FIRST MAKE ME A SMALL LOAF OF BREAD’
Consider carefully what Elijah asked the widow to do. She had just told him that after she made one more meal for her and her son, they would eat it and die. Yet, what did Elijah say? “Do not be afraid. Go in and do as you said. But first make me a small round loaf of bread with what is there, and bring it out to me. Then you can make something afterward for you and your son. For this is what Jehovah the God of Israel says: ‘The large jar of flour will not run out, and the small jar of oil will not run dry until the day Jehovah makes it rain on the surface of the ground.’”—1 Ki. 17:11-14.
‘Give away our last meal? You must be joking,’ some might have said. But that was not this widow’s reaction. Despite her limited knowledge of Jehovah, she believed Elijah and did what he asked of her. What a momentous test of faith that was—and what a wise decision she made!

(1 KINGS 17:15)

“So she went and did as E•liʹjah said, and she together with him and her household ate for many days.”

*** w14 2/15 pp. 14-15 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
Despite her limited knowledge of Jehovah, she believed Elijah and did what he asked of her. What a momentous test of faith that was—and what a wise decision she made!
God did not abandon that poor widow. Just as Elijah promised, Jehovah multiplied her meager supplies so that they sustained Elijah, the widow, and her son until the drought ended. Indeed, “the large jar of flour did not run out, and the small jar of oil did not run dry, according to Jehovah’s word that he had spoken through Elijah.” (1 Ki. 17:16; 18:1) If that woman had acted differently, the loaf of bread that she made from her meager supply of flour and oil may well have been her last meal. Instead, she acted in faith, trusted in Jehovah, and fed Elijah first.
A lesson that we can learn from this is that God blesses those who exercise faith. When you face a test of integrity and exercise faith, Jehovah will help you. He will be a Provider, a Protector, and a Friend in order to help you cope with your trial.—Ex. 3:13-15.
In 1898, Zion’s Watch Tower drew this lesson from the widow’s story: “If the woman had the faith necessary to obey, then she would be esteemed worthy of the Lord’s assistance through the Prophet; if she did not exercise the faith, another widow might have been found who would. Thus it is with us,—at various steps in the journey of life the Lord brings us to the place where he tests our faith. If we exercise the faith we will get the blessing; if we do not, we will lose it.”
When we face specific trials, we need to seek divine guidance from the Scriptures and from our Bible-based publications. Then we should act in harmony with Jehovah’s direction regardless of how difficult it may be to accept it. We will indeed be blessed if we act in harmony with this wise proverb: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.”—Prov. 3:5, 6.

(1 KINGS 17:16)

“The large jar of flour did not run out, and the small jar of oil did not run dry, according to Jehovah’s word that he had spoken through E•liʹjah.”

*** w14 2/15 pp. 14-15 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
Despite her limited knowledge of Jehovah, she believed Elijah and did what he asked of her. What a momentous test of faith that was—and what a wise decision she made!
God did not abandon that poor widow. Just as Elijah promised, Jehovah multiplied her meager supplies so that they sustained Elijah, the widow, and her son until the drought ended. Indeed, “the large jar of flour did not run out, and the small jar of oil did not run dry, according to Jehovah’s word that he had spoken through Elijah.” (1 Ki. 17:16; 18:1) If that woman had acted differently, the loaf of bread that she made from her meager supply of flour and oil may well have been her last meal. Instead, she acted in faith, trusted in Jehovah, and fed Elijah first.
A lesson that we can learn from this is that God blesses those who exercise faith. When you face a test of integrity and exercise faith, Jehovah will help you. He will be a Provider, a Protector, and a Friend in order to help you cope with your trial.—Ex. 3:13-15.
In 1898, Zion’s Watch Tower drew this lesson from the widow’s story: “If the woman had the faith necessary to obey, then she would be esteemed worthy of the Lord’s assistance through the Prophet; if she did not exercise the faith, another widow might have been found who would. Thus it is with us,—at various steps in the journey of life the Lord brings us to the place where he tests our faith. If we exercise the faith we will get the blessing; if we do not, we will lose it.”
When we face specific trials, we need to seek divine guidance from the Scriptures and from our Bible-based publications. Then we should act in harmony with Jehovah’s direction regardless of how difficult it may be to accept it. We will indeed be blessed if we act in harmony with this wise proverb: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.”—Prov. 3:5, 6.

(1 KINGS 17:18)

“At this she said to E•liʹjah: “What do you have against me, O man of the true God? Have you come to remind me of my guilt and to put my son to death?””

*** w14 2/15 p. 15 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
‘HAVE YOU COME TO PUT MY SON TO DEATH?’
The widow’s faith was about to undergo another test. “After these things,” says the Bible account, “the son of the woman who owned the house fell sick, and his sickness became so severe that he stopped breathing.” Searching for a reason for this tragedy, the grieving mother said to Elijah: “What do you have against me, O man of the true God? Have you come to remind me of my guilt and to put my son to death?” (1 Ki. 17:17, 18) What do those bitter words mean?
Had the woman recalled a sin that troubled her conscience? Did she think that her son’s death was divine retribution and that Elijah was God’s messenger of death? The Bible does not tell us, but one point is clear: The widow did not accuse God of any unrighteousness.
Elijah must have been shocked by the death of the widow’s son and by her idea that the prophet’s very presence was responsible for her heartbreaking bereavement.

(1 KINGS 17:19)

“But he said to her: “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her arms and carried him up to the roof chamber, where he was staying, and he laid him on his own bed.”

*** it-1 p. 1155 House ***
Often a roof chamber or upper chamber was built on the housetop. This was a pleasant, cool room that often served as a guest room. (Jg 3:20; 1Ki 17:19; 2Ki 1:2; 4:10)

(1 KINGS 17:20)

“He called out to Jehovah: “O Jehovah my God, are you also bringing harm to the widow with whom I am staying by putting her son to death?””

*** w14 2/15 p. 15 The Widow of Zarephath Was Rewarded for Her Faith ***
After carrying the boy’s limp body to the roof chamber, Elijah cried out: “O Jehovah my God, are you also bringing harm to the widow with whom I am staying by putting her son to death?” The prophet could not bear the thought that reproach would be cast on God’s name if He were to allow this kind and hospitable woman to suffer further. So Elijah begged: “O Jehovah my God, please, let this child’s life come back into him.”—1 Ki. 17:20, 21.

(1 KINGS 17:21)

“Then he stretched himself out over the child three times and called out to Jehovah: “O Jehovah my God, please, let this child’s life come back into him.””

*** it-2 p. 1006 Soul ***
Similarly, when the prophet Elijah performed a miracle regarding the dead son of the widow of Zarephath, the child’s neʹphesh (“soul,” or life as a creature) came back into him and “he came to life,” was again a living creature.—1Ki 17:17-23.

(1 KINGS 17:22)

“Jehovah listened to E•liʹjah’s request, and the life of the child came back into him, and he revived.”

*** w07 7/15 pp. 4-5 Do You Have an Immortal Soul? ***
But what about Bible texts that speak of the going out and the coming back of the soul? Concerning what happened to Rachel when she gave birth to a son, the Bible says: “As her soul was going out (because she died) she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” (Genesis 35:18) And referring to the resurrection of a widow’s son, 1 Kings 17:22 states: “Jehovah listened to Elijah’s voice [in prayer], so that the soul of the child came back within him and he came to life.” Do these passages indicate that the soul is some invisible, shadowy part that can escape from or enter a body?
Well, remember that one meaning of the word “soul” is “life.” Hence, Rachel’s soul was going out in that her life was going out. In fact, some Bibles render the phrase “her soul was going out” as “her life was ebbing away” (Knox) and “she breathed her last” (Jerusalem Bible). Similarly, in the case of the widow’s son, it was life that returned to the boy.—1 Kings 17:23.

*** w99 4/1 p. 16 par. 10 Life After Death—What Does the Bible Say? ***
10 It is similar with the resurrection of a widow’s son, recorded in 1 Kings chapter 17. In verse 22, we read that as Elijah prayed over the young boy, “Jehovah listened to Elijah’s voice, so that the soul of the child came back within him and he came to life.” Once again, the word “soul” means “life.” Thus, the New American Standard Bible reads: “The life of the child returned to him and he revived.” Yes, it was life, not some shadowy form, that returned to the boy. This is in harmony with what Elijah said to the boy’s mother: “See, your son [the whole person] is alive.”—1 Kings 17:23.

*** ie p. 23 par. 7 What Happens to the Soul at Death? ***
7 It is similar with the resurrection of a widow’s son, recorded in 1 Kings chapter 17. In verse 22, we read that as Elijah prayed over the young boy, “Jehovah listened to Elijah’s voice, so that the soul of the child came back within him and he came to life.” Once again, the word “soul” means “life.” Thus, the New American Standard Bible reads: “The life of the child returned to him and he revived.” Yes, it was life, not some shadowy form, that returned to the boy. This is in harmony with what Elijah said to the boy’s mother: “See, your son [the whole person] is alive.”—1 Kings 17:23.

*** it-1 p. 711 Elijah ***
During Elijah’s stay in her home her son dies. Elijah prays to God, who brings him to life, the first recorded resurrection and the third of Elijah’s eight miracles.—1Ki 17.

*** it-2 p. 1006 Soul ***
Similarly, when the prophet Elijah performed a miracle regarding the dead son of the widow of Zarephath, the child’s neʹphesh (“soul,” or life as a creature) came back into him and “he came to life,” was again a living creature.—1Ki 17:17-23.

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