And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be your name:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Twelve stones.—The emphatic notice of these, as emblematic of the twelve tribes, is significant. In spite of political division, and even religious separation, the tribes were still united in the covenant of God.1 Kings 18:31. Elijah took twelve stones — This he did, with a view to renew the covenant between God and all the tribes, as Moses did, Exodus 24:4; to show, that he prayed and acted in the name and for the service of the God of all the patriarchs, and of all the tribes of Israel, and for their good: and to teach the people, that though the tribes were divided as to their civil government, they ought all to be united in the worship of the same God, and in the same religion. Israel shall be thy name — Jacob was graciously answered by God when he prayed to him, and was honoured with the glorious title of Israel, which noted his prevalency with God and men. And I, calling upon the same God, doubt not of a gracious answer; and if ever you mean to have your prayers granted, you must seek to the God of Jacob. And if you would recover the honour which was once conferred on Jacob, and continued a long time to his posterity, you must return to that God from whom you are revolted.1 Kings 22:12. The expression seems to be used of any case where there was an utterance of words by persons in a state of religious ecstasy.
Until the time of the offering etc - Rather, "Until toward the time." Elijah had built his altar by the actual time of the offering 1 Kings 18:36.Exodus 24:4; partly, to show that he prayed and acted in the name and for the service of the God of all the patriarchs, and of all the tribes of Israel, and for their good; and partly, to teach the people, that though the tribes were divided as to their civil government, they ought all to be united in the worship of the same God, and in the same religion.
Unto whom the word of the Lord came; which Jacob was graciously answered by God when he prayed to him, and was honoured with the glorious title of Israel, which noted his prevalency with God and men. And I, calling upon the same God, doubt not of a like gracious answer; and if ever you mean to have your prayers granted, you must not seek to Baal for it, who, as you now see, neither hears nor regards his most devout worshippers; but unto the God of Jacob; and if you would recover the honour which was once conferred upon Jacob, and continued a long time to his posterity, you must return to that God from whom you are revolted.
unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name, which signifies one that has power with God, as Jacob had, when the word came to him to make a change in his name at Penuel, Genesis 32:28, and as Elijah hoped and believed he should have at this time, being a prophet, and a worshipper of Israel's God.And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)31. Elijah took twelve stones] On a similar preparation for an altar, compare the command of Joshua (Joshua 4:5) where the stones are also taken ‘according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel.’ In this way the unity of worship of the same one God was signified. Elijah’s prayer also recalls the still earlier memories of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
of the sons of Jacob] The LXX. reads τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, thus making the expression more nearly to accord with the passage of Joshua just quoted. Also instead of ‘he built an altar’ the LXX. has ‘he built the stones,’ in the next verse.Verse 31. - And Elijah took twelve stones [This number, too, was full of significance. Not only would it carry back their thoughts to the giving of the law (Exodus 24:4; Exodus 28:21), and to their fathers' entrance into the promised land (Joshua 4:3, 9), but it would remind them of the essential unity of the people, notwithstanding the division of the kingdom. The act was thus a protest against the schism. We cannot hold with Keil, Wordsworth, al. that it was "a practical declaration on the part of the prophet that the division of the nation into two kingdoms was at variance with the will of God," because we are distinctly told that that division was "from the Lord" (1 Kings 12:15). But it was certainly a witness against a divided Church, and a reminder of the unity of the race], according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came [Genesis 32:28], saying, Israel shall be thy name. [He thus protests against the exclusive assumption of the name of Israel, and the exception of the southern kingdom from the glorious heritage and calling of Israel, by the ten tribes. But we cannot follow Bahr in the belief that Jacob received "from Jehovah the name of Israel," i.e., the "soldier of God," because he commanded his house to "put away the strange gods" (Genesis 35:2, 10 sqq.), or that Elijah would teach that "only those who did as Jacob did had a claim to his name." The great idea is that the people are one, and are the Lord's.] Leviticus 9. As Jehovah had there manifested Himself as the God of Israel by causing fire to fall from heaven upon the first sacrifice presented in front of the tabernacle and to consume it, Elijah hoped that in like manner Jehovah would even now reveal Himself as the living God. And the form of decision thus proposed would necessarily appear all the fairer, because Elijah, the prophet of Jehovah, stood alone in opposition to a whole crowd of Baal's prophets, numbering no less than 450 men. And for that very reason the latter could not draw back, without publicly renouncing their pretensions, whether they believed that Baal would really do what was desired, or hoped that they might be able to escape, through some accident or stratagem, from the difficult situation that had been prepared for them, or fancied that the God of Elijah would no more furnish the proof of His deity that was desired of Him than Baal would. In order, however, to cut off every subterfuge in the event of their attempt proving a failure, Elijah not only yielded the precedence to them on the occasion of this sacrifice, but gave them the choice of the two oxen brought to be offered; which made the fairness of his proposal so much the more conspicuous to every one, that the people willingly gave their consent.
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