1 Kings 21:27
And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth on his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
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(27) And went softly.—The translation seems correct; the meaning is variously conjectured. The LXX. (in some MSS.) has “bent down” in sorrow; the Vulgate similarly “with head bent down;” the Eastern versions and Josephus, “barefooted,” which seems far the most probable meaning.

1 Kings 21:27. He rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, &c. — These were expressions of great sorrow and heaviness, and usual in mourning: for, notwithstanding that Ahab was drawn, by the persuasions of his wife, to idolatry and other great crimes; yet he was sensible that many of Elijah’s prophecies had been fulfilled, and therefore he was much disturbed at what he now heard from that prophet. And went softly — Slowly and silently, after the manner of mourners, or those who are under a great consternation.21:17-29 Blessed Paul complains that he was sold under sin, Ro 7:14, as a poor captive against his will; but Ahab was willing, he sold himself to sin; of choice, and as his own act and deed, he loved the dominion of sin. Jezebel his wife stirred him up to do wickedly. Ahab is reproved, and his sin set before his eyes, by Elijah. That man's condition is very miserable, who has made the word of God his enemy; and very desperate, who reckons the ministers of that word his enemies, because they tell him the truth. Ahab put on the garb and guise of a penitent, yet his heart was unhumbled and unchanged. Ahab's repentance was only what might be seen of men; it was outward only. Let this encourage all that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe the holy gospel, that if a pretending partial penitent shall go to his house reprieved, doubtless, a sincere believing penitent shall go to his house justified.The repentance of Ahab resembles that of the Ninevites Jonah 3:5. It has the same outward signs - fasting and sackcloth - and it has much the same inward character. It springs, not from love, nor from hatred of sin, but from fear of the consequences of sin. It is thus, although sincere and real while it lasts, shallow and exceedingly short-lived. God, however, to mark His readiness to receive the sinner who turns to Him, accepted the imperfect offering (as He likewise accepted the penitence of the Ninevites), and allowed it to delay the execution of the sentence 1 Kings 21:29. So the penitence of the Ninevites put off the fall of Nineveh for a century.

And lay in sackcloth - In this particular he seems to have gone beyond the usual practice. We do not read elsewhere of mourners passing the night in sackcloth.

And went softly - "As if he had no heart to go about any business" (Patrick).

27-29. Ahab … rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly—He was not obdurate, like Jezebel. This terrible announcement made a deep impression on the king's heart, and led, for a while, to sincere repentance. Going softly, that is, barefoot, and with a pensive manner, within doors. He manifested all the external signs, conventional and natural, of the deepest sorrow. He was wretched, and so great is the mercy of God, that, in consequence of his humiliation, the threatened punishment was deferred. i. e. Slowly and silently, after the manner of mourners, or those who are under a great consternation, and in deep consideration. Delivered in 1 Kings 21:21,

that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon, his flesh, tore off his clothes, and stripped himself of all, even of his very shirt, and put sackcloth on his bare flesh, a coarse cloth made of hair, and such as sacks are made with:

and fasted, how long it is not said:

and lay in sackcloth; in the night on his bed, would have no linen on him day nor night:

and went softly: step by step, as persons mourning, grieving, and pensive, do; the Targum renders it "barefoot", and so Jarchi.

And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went {k} softly.

(k) In token of mourning, or as some read, barefooted.

27. The LXX. gives for this verse ‘And when Ahab was pricked (in his heart) on account of this word (coming) from the presence of the Lord, he went and wept, and rent his robe, and girded sackcloth upon his body, and fasted. And he put on sackcloth in the day on which he slew Naboth the Jezreelite, and went [softly]’. There is nothing to represent the last word, which is in brackets, and thus the sentence is incomplete. Josephus explains that the king went barefoot. On the mention of the day of Naboth’s murder, see above on 1 Kings 21:16.Verse 27. - And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those [Heb. these] words [vers. 21-24, and others not recorded], that he rent his clothes [cf. 2 Samuel 13:19; Job 1:20; Job 2:12; Jeremiah 36:24, etc.], and put sackcloth upon his flesh [1 Kings 20:31; 2 Kings 6:30; Joel 1:8; 2 Samuel 21:10, Heb.], and fasted, and lay [i.e., slept] in sackcloth, and went softly. [All these were signs of contrition and humiliation (ver. 29). The "going softly" - Josephus says he went barefoot - is especially characteristic of the subdued and chastened mind.] Ahab answered, "Hast thou found me (met with me), O mine enemy?" (not, hast thou ever found me thine enemy? - Vulg., Luth.) i.e., dost thou come to meet me again, mine enemy? He calls Elijah his enemy, to take the sting from the prophet's threat as an utterance caused by personal enmity. But Elijah fearlessly replied, "I have found (thee), because thou sellest thyself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord." He then announced to him, in 1 Kings 21:21, 1 Kings 21:22, the extermination of his house, and to Jezebel, as the principal sinner, the most ignominious end (1 Kings 21:23). הרע לעשׂות חתמכּר to sell one's self to do evil, i.e., to give one's self to evil so as to have no will of one's own, to make one's self the slave of evil (cf. 1 Kings 21:25, 2 Kings 17:17). The consequence of this is πεπρᾶσθαι ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν (Romans 7:14), sin exercising unlimited power over the man who gives himself up to it as a slave. For 1 Kings 21:21, 1 Kings 21:22, see 1 Kings 14:10-11; 1 Kings 15:29-30; 1 Kings 16:3, 1 Kings 16:12-13. The threat concerning Jezebel (1 Kings 21:23) was literally fulfilled, according to 2 Kings 9:30. חל, written defectively for חיל, as in 2 Samuel 20:15, is properly the open space by the town-wall, pomoerium. Instead of בּחל we have בּחלק in the repetition of this threat in 2 Kings 9:10, 2 Kings 9:36-37, and consequently Thenius and others propose to alter the חל here. But there is no necessity for this, as בּחלק, on the portion, i.e., the town-land, of Jezreel (not, in the field at Jezreel), is only a more general epithet denoting the locality, and חל is proved to be the original word by the lxx.
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