1 Kings 13:29
And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.
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1 Kings 13:29-30. The prophet, (namely, the old prophet,) took up the carcass of the man of God — “If there were any truth,” says Henry, “in the vulgar opinion, sure the corpse bled afresh when he touched it; for he was, in effect, the murderer.” He laid his carcass in his own grave — A poor reparation this of the injury done him in deceiving him, and persuading him to disobey the command of God to his ruin. Hereby, however, the divine threatening, (in 1 Kings 13:22,) was fulfilled; and withal, the memory of his prophecy was revived from time to time, by the sight of his grave, and preserved among them; and even his carcass, resting there, might be a witness of their madness and desperate wickedness, in continuing to practise their abominable, idolatrous worship, after such an assurance of the dreadful effects of it. They mourned over him — Namely, the old prophet and his sons, and others, whom common humanity taught to lament the untimely death of so worthy a person. Saying, Alas! my brother Which was a usual form of expression in funeral lamentations. “The case, indeed, was very piteous,” says Henry, “that so good a man, so faithful a prophet, and one so bold in God’s cause, should, for one offence, die as a criminal, while an old, lying prophet lived at ease, and an idolatrous prince in pomp and power. Thy way, O God, is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters! We cannot judge of men by their sufferings, nor of sins by their present punishments. With some the flesh is destroyed, that the spirit may be saved; while, with others, the flesh is pampered, that the soul may ripen for hell.” The reader will be pleased to see a similar reflection by Dr. Dodd. “Upon a review of this narrative, who can fail to admire the unsearchable secrets of the divine justice? Jeroboam revolts from his lawful sovereign, forsakes the worship of the true God, engages the people in gross idolatry, and is himself hardened by the menaces and miracles of the prophet, who wits sent to him; a false prophet deceives an innocent man with a lie, and draws him into an act of disobedience, contrary to his inclination; yet this wicked Jeroboam, and this seducing prophet, escape immediate punishment, while the other, who might mean no ill, perhaps, in turning back, is slain by a lion, and his body deprived of the sepulchre of his fathers! We must acknowledge, indeed, that the depths of the judgments of God are an abyss which our understandings cannot fathom; but nothing certainly can be a more sensible proof of the certainty of another life, and of the eternal recompenses or punishments which attend it, than to see the righteous so rigorously treated here, for slight offences, while, sentence not being speedily executed against evil men, we have an assurance from thence that God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil, Ecclesiastes 12:14.”

13:23-34 God is displeased at the sins of his own people; and no man shall be protected in disobedience, by his office, his nearness to God, or any services he has done for him. God warns all whom he employs, strictly to observe their orders. We cannot judge of men by their sufferings, nor of sins by present punishments; with some, the flesh is destroyed, that the spirit may be saved; with others, the flesh is pampered, that the soul may ripen for hell. Jeroboam returned not from his evil way. He promised himself that the calves would secure the crown to his family, but they lost it, and sunk his family. Those betray themselves who think to support themselves by any sin whatever. Let us dread prospering in sinful ways; pray to be kept from every delusion and temptation, and to be enabled to walk with self-denying perseverance in the way of God's commands.The lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass - These strange circumstances were of a nature to call men's attention to the matter, and cause the whole story to be bruited abroad. By these means an incident, which Jeroboam would have wished hushed up, became no doubt the common talk of the whole people. 24. a lion met him by the way, and slew him—There was a wood near Beth-el infested with lions (2Ki 2:24). This sad catastrophe was a severe but necessary judgment of God, to attest the truth of the message with which the prophet had been charged. All the circumstances of this tragic occurrence (the undevoured carcass, the untouched ass, the passengers unmolested by the lion, though standing there) were calculated to produce an irresistible impression that the hand of God was in it. No text from Poole on this verse.

And the prophet took up the carcass of the man of God,.... The lion perhaps made off as soon as he came, or, if he stayed, the prophet was not afraid of him, seeing he did not attempt to devour the carcass, nor touch the ass, nor do any hurt to those that passed by:

and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back; to his own city:

and the old prophet came to the city to mourn, and to bury him; to perform the funeral rites, according to the custom of the place.

And the prophet took up the carcass of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.
29. to mourn and to bury him] These words are also left out in the LXX. (Vat.).

Verse 29. - And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass [i.e., the one standing by], and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. [The mourning is specially mentioned, because in the East professional wailers were and are employed at funerals. The Jew, no less than the Greek and Roman, esteemed it a great misfortune and disgrace to be deprived of decent burial: Isaiah 14:19; Jeremiah 22:19; and especially 2 Kings 9:10.] 1 Kings 13:29He thereupon had his ass saddled, and went and found the corpse and the ass standing by it, without the lion having eaten the corpse or torn the ass in pieces; and he lifted the corpse upon his ass, and brought it into his own city, and laid the corpse in his grave with the customary lamentation: אחו הוי, alas, my brother! (cf., Jeremiah 22:18), and then gave this command to his sons: "When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried, let my bones rest beside his bones; for the word which he proclaimed in the word of Jehovah upon the altar at Bethel and upon all the houses of the high places in the cities of Samaria will take place" (i.e., will be fulfilled). The expression "cities of Samaria" belongs to the author of these books, and is used proleptically of the kingdom of the ten tribes, which did not receive this name till after the building of the city of Samaria as the capital of the kingdom and the residence of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 16:24). There is a prophetic element in the words "upon all the houses of the high places," etc., inasmuch as the only other erection at that time beside the one at Bethel was a temple of the high places at Dan. But after such a beginning the multiplication of them might be foreseen with certainty, even without any higher illumination.

The conduct of the old prophet at Bethel appears so strange, that Josephus and the Chald., and most of the Rabbins and of the earlier commentators both Catholic and Protestant, have regarded him as a false prophet, who tried to lay a trap for the prophet from Judah, in order to counteract the effect of his prophecy upon the king and the people. But this assumption cannot be reconciled with either the divine revelation which came to him at the table, announcing to the Judaean prophet the punishment of his transgression of the commandment of God, and was so speedily fulfilled (1 Kings 13:20-24); or with the honour which he paid to the dead man after this punishment had fallen upon him, by burying him in his own grave; and still less with his confirmation of his declaration concerning the altar at Bethel (1 Kings 13:29-32). We must therefore follow Ephr. Syr., Theodor., Hengstenberg, and others, and regard the old prophet as a true prophet, who with good intentions, and not "under the influence of human envy" (Thenius), but impelled by the desire to enter into a closer relation to the man of God from Judah and to strengthen himself through his prophetic gifts, urged him to enter his house. The fact that he made use of sinful means in order to make more sure of securing the end desired, namely, of the false pretence that he had been directed by an angel to do this, may be explained, as Hengstenberg suggests (Dissert. vol. ii. p. 149), on the ground that when Jeroboam introduced his innovations, he had sinned by keeping silence, and that the appearance of the Judaean prophet had brought him to a consciousness of this sin, so that he had been seized with shame on account of his fall, and was anxious to restore himself to honour in his own eyes and those of others by intercourse with this witness to the truth. But however little the lie itself can be excused or justified, we must not attribute to him alone the consequences by which the lie was followed in the case of the Judaean prophet. For whilst he chose reprehensible means of accomplishing what appeared to be a good end, namely, to raise himself again by intercourse with a true prophet, and had no wish to injure the other in any way, the Judaean prophet allowed himself to be seduced to a transgression of the clear and definite prohibition of God simply by the sensual desire for bodily invigoration by meat and drink, and had failed to consider that the divine revelation which he had received could not be repealed by a pretended revelation from an angel, because the word of God does not contradict itself. He was therefore obliged to listen to a true revelation from God from the moth of the man whose pretended revelation from an angel he had too carelessly believed, namely, to the announcement of punishment for his disobedience towards the commandment of God, which punishment he immediately afterwards endured, "for the destruction of the flesh, but for the preservation of the spirit: 1 Corinthians 15:5" (Berleb. Bible). That the punishment fell upon him alone and not upon the old prophet of Bethel also, and that for apparently a smaller crime, may be accounted for "not so much from the fact that the old prophet had lied with a good intention (this might hold good of the other also), as from the fact that it was needful to deal strictly with the man who had just received a great and holy commission from the Lord" (O. v. Gerlach). It is true that no bodily punishment fell upon the old prophet, but this punishment he received instead, that with his lie he was put to shame, and that his conscience must have accused him of having occasioned the death of the man of God from Judah. He was thereby to be cured of his weakness, that he might give honour to the truth of the testimony of God. "Thus did the wondrous providence of God know how to direct all things most gloriously, so that the bodily destruction of the one contributed to the spiritual and eternal preservation of the soul of the other" (Berleb. Bible). - Concerning the design of these marvellous events, H. Witsius has the following remarks in his Miscell. ss. i. p. 118 (ed. nov. 1736): "So many wondrous events all occurring in one result caused the prophecy against the altar at Bethel to be preserved in the mouths and memories of all, and the mission of this prophet to become far more illustrious. Thus, although the falsehood of the old man of Bethel brought disgrace upon himself, it injured no one but the man of God whose credulity was too great; and, under the overruling providence of God, it contributed in the most signal manner to the confirmation and publication of the truth."

(Note: Compare with this the remark of Theodoret in his quaest. 43 in 3 libr. Reb.: "In my opinion this punishment served to confirm the declaration concerning the altar. For it was not possible for the statement of such a man to be concealed: and this was sufficient to fill with terror those who heard it; for if partaking of food contrary to the command of God, and that not of his own accord, but under a deception, brought such retribution upon a righteous man, to what punishments would they be exposed who had forsaken the God who made them, and worshipped the likenesses of irrational creatures?")

The heaping up of the marvellous corresponded to the great object of the mission of the man of God out of Judah, through which the Lord would enter an energetic protest against the idolatrous worship of Jeroboam at its first introduction, to guard those who feared God in Israel, of whom there were not a few (2 Chronicles 11:16; 2 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 19:18), from falling away from Him by joining in the worship of the calves, and to take away every excuse from the ungodly who participated therein.

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