1 Kings 20:39
And as the king passed by, he cried to the king: and he said, Your servant went out into the middle of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man to me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall your life be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) Thy servant.—The parable is, of course, designed (like those of 2Samuel 12:1-4; 2Samuel 14:5-11) to make Ahab condemn himself. In Ahab, however, it excites not compunction, but characteristic sullenness of displeasure, like that of 1Kings 21:4.

1 Kings 20:39. And he said, Thy servant, &c. — This relation is a parable; a usual way of instruction in the eastern parts, and most fit for this occasion, wherein an obscure prophet was to speak to a great king, impatient of a downright reproof, and exceeding partial in his own cause. A man turned aside and said, Keep, &c. — His commander said this unto him, as the manner of expression shows. The king of Israel said, So shall thy judgment be — Thou hast pronounced thy own sentence. According to your agreement; so shalt thou suffer. Thou shalt lose thy life, or pay the talent or silver. Ahab had forgot how he had dismissed a greater person willingly, or else he could scarcely have been so hard-hearted as to condemn one that had offended unwillingly. But the prophet soon brought it to his remembrance.20:31-43 This encouragement sinners have to repent and humble themselves before God; Have we not heard, that the God of Israel is a merciful God? Have we not found him so? That is gospel repentance, which flows from an apprehension of the mercy of God, in Christ; there is forgiveness with him. What a change is here! The most haughty in prosperity often are most abject in adversity; an evil spirit will thus affect a man in both these conditions. There are those on whom, like Ahab, success is ill bestowed; they know not how to serve either God or their generation, or even their own true interests with their prosperity: Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. The prophet designed to reprove Ahab by a parable. If a good prophet were punished for sparing his friend and God's when God said, Smite, of much sorer punishment should a wicked king be thought worthy, who spared his enemy and God's, when God said, Smite. Ahab went to his house, heavy and displeased, not truly penitent, or seeking to undo what he had done amiss; every way out of humour, notwithstanding his victory. Alas! many that hear the glad tidings of Christ, are busy and there till the day of salvation is gone.Ashes - Rather, "a bandage" (and in 1 Kings 20:41). The object of the wound and bandage was double. Partly, it was to prevent Ahab from recognizing the prophet's face; partly, to induce him to believe that the man had really been engaged in the recent war. 39. a talent of silver—£342. Thy servant went out: this following relation is not an untruth, but a parable; a usual way of instruction in the eastern parts, and ancient times, and most fit for this occasion, wherein an obscure prophet was to speak to a great king; whose ears were tender, and impatient of a downright reproof, and exceeding partial in his own cause; who by this artifice is made to condemn himself before he was aware of it, and so forced to receive the prophet’s just sentence with more patience and moderation: compare 1Sa 12 1Sa 14.

A man turned aside; my commander or superior, as the manner of his expression here following showeth.

Then shall thy life be for his life; thou shalt die in his stead; as below, 1 Kings 20:42: compare Exodus 21:23. And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king,.... With a loud voice, signifying he had something to say unto him, at which he stopped:

and he said, thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; this was not real, but fictitious, an apologue, fable, or parable, by which he would represent to Ahab his own case, and bring him under conviction of his folly, just as Nathan dealt with David:

and, behold, a man turned aside; a superior officer in the army:

and brought a man unto me; he had made a prisoner of:

and said, keep this man; do not let him escape:

if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver; if he let him go willingly, or by any means he should get out of his hands, then he should either die for it, or be fined a talent of silver, which of our money is three hundred and seventy five pounds; and to this it seems he agreed.

And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, {s} Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.

(s) By this parable he makes Ahab condemn himself who made a covenant with God's enemy, and let him escape whom God had appointed to be slain.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
39. cried unto the king] The appeal for the king’s intervention is made with a view of getting free from the punishment which had been threatened to him.

a man turned aside] Evidently meant to indicate one of authority who had a right to command the services which he desires and to impose a penalty if they be not fulfilled. In the interpretation he represents Jehovah.

be missing] i.e. When I come to ask for the prisoner whom I trusted to your hands.

a talent of silver] The fine was large to mark the importance of the trust.Verse 39. - And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king [in his capacity of supreme judge; see on 1 Kings 3:9]: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle [i.e., the recent battle]; and, behold, a man turned aside [סָר; cf. 1 Kings 22:43; Exodus 3:3; Exodus 32:8. But Ewald, al. would read, סַר prince or captain (properly שַׂר), a change which certainly lends force to the apologue, and makes the analogy more complete. Only such an officer was entitled to give such an order. Moreover just as a common soldier ought to obey his captain, so should Ahab have obeyed God. But as our present text yields a good and sufficient meaning, we are hardly warranted in making any change], and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay [Heb. weigh. There was then no coinage. Payments were made by means of bars of silver or gold] a talent of silver. [A considerable sum - about £400. "The prisoner is thus represented to be a very important personage" (Thenius). There is a hint at Ben-hadad. Ewald holds that the wounds represented the penalty inflicted instead of the talent which a common soldier naturally could not pay.] And they laid hold of these words of Ahab as a good omen (ינהשׁוּ), and hastened and bade him explain (i.e., bade him quickly explain); הממּנּוּ, whether (it had been uttered) from himself, i.e., whether he had said it with all his heart (Maurer), and said, "Benhadad is thy brother." The ἁπ. λεγ. חלט, related to חלץ, exuere, signifies abstrahere, nudare, then figuratively, aliquid facere nude, i.e., sine praetextu, or aliquid nude, i.e., sine fuco atque ambagibus testari, confirmare (cf. Frst, Concord. p. 398); then in the Talmud, to give an explanation (vid., Ges. thes. p. 476). This is perfectly applicable here, so that there is no necessity to alter the text, even if we thereby obtained a better meaning than Thenius with his explanation, "they tore it out of him," which he takes to be equivalent to "they laid hold of him by his word" (!!). Ahab thereupon ordered Benhadad to come and get up into his chariot.
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