Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Year of his sojourning at Sarephta. As other six months elapsed before the drought was removed, it is probable that Elias had spent them at Carith, James v. 17. (Calmet) --- Earth. God is pleased to withdraw his chastisement, though the guilty were not yet reclaimed. (Salien)
Samaria, and the vicinity. The people could procure corn from a distance. But Achab is solicitous to find grass, ver. 5.
Abdias. Some suppose that he was the fourth of the minor prophets, or the husband of the Sunamitess, (4 Kings iv.) or the third of the captains, who were ordered by Ochozias to seize Elias, 4 Kings i. 13. (Tirinus) --- But this is uncertain. He took care of the persecuted prophets, (ver. 4, 13.) judging it better to obey God than man. (Calmet)
Himself. So Providence ordered it, that the prophet might declare his sentiments to him freely. (Haydock) --- Achab would go in person, another way, that he might not be imposed upon. He was more solicitous for his cattle than for his subjects. (Menochius)
Face, to shew him a religious veneration, due to the servant of God. (Worthington)
Kill me, as an impostor, or an accomplice of thy escape, if afterwards thou shouldst disappear, ver. 12. (Calmet)
An oath of every kingdom, adjuring all his neighbours to tell if they knew any thing about Elias. (Haydock) --- Achab wished to make him restore rain, or to punish him for the refusal. (Calmet) --- How stupid he must have been, not to perceive that God was punishing him! (Haydock) --- Elias must have kept himself very retired, not to be discovered at Sarephta, which was so near, (Calmet) and where Jezabel's father reigned. But God could render him invisible, even upon the high road, when he went thither. (Haydock)
Spirit. Abdias supposed that the prophet had been transported to some unknown country, (Calmet) as he was afterwards to paradise. His disciples imagined, by a violent wind, 4 Kings ii. 16. (Haydock) --- Thus the spirit of the Lord took away Philip, (Acts viii. 39,) and conducted Jesus into the desert, Matthew iv. 1., and Mark i. 12. (Calmet) --- Infancy. This he mentions, that the prophet might take pity on him. (Menochius)
A hundred. Hence we may judge how numerous they were. These prophets were not perhaps all inspired: but they had such at their head; and spent their time in working and in the divine praises. They were the salt and light of the earth, the pillars of the true religion, against whom Jezabel bent all her fury, during the first years of the drought. (Calmet)
Kill me. He had expressed this fear twice before. Elias perceiving how much he was agitated, confirmed him with an oath. (Haydock)
Meet Elias, out of respect, (Abulensis) or rather to upbraid him.
Troublest Israel? Thus the wicked esteem those disturbers of the public repose, who will not suffer them to go on in their wickedness unmolested. Thus the Jews complain of Jesus Christ, Luke xxiii. 5. Such a war is better than a false peace: and Achab, in fact, proclaims the praise of Elias, who strove by easy means to make the people open their eyes and return to their God. (Calmet)
House. Your impiety has brought on this scourge. I only denounced it. (Salien)
Fifty, attached to Baal, and fed by the king; while the prophets of the groves, or of Astarte, lived at the queen's expense. They imitated the lives of the true prophets, to delude the people. --- Carmel was long after famous fo the worship of Apollo, who was the same with Baal, or the sun, Josue xix. 26. (Calmet) --- No mention is made of rain: but it was understood that it would be given, when the people should assemble to hear God's determination. (Menochius) --- Achab durst not therefore refuse to convoke them. (Haydock)
Sides: sometimes adoring God; at other times the devil. (Calmet) --- Such an expostulation ought to be made to those who are indifferent about religion. (Worthington) --- You cannot serve two masters. (Calmet) --- They wished to unite the service of both, foolishly supposing that there might be many gods; as some, at present assert that many religions may be pleasing to heaven. (Haydock) --- A word, not knowing the drift of his proposal. But, as they might perhaps rely that they considered Baal also as a god, Elias puts this to the test of a miracle; being convinced that God would never suffer the devils to prevail on this occasion. (Salien) --- They might otherwise have brought down fire, as they will do in the days of Antichrist, Apocalypse xiii. 13. (Menochius)
I. Hebrew repeats "I," to make the contrast more striking. Elias alone was present, in this assembly, as the prophet of the Lord. (Haydock) --- He knew that Abdias had preserved 100: but they were concealed. --- Men. The other 400 of Jezabel did not appear.
Call ye. He does not order them to invoke idols; but challenges them to prove their divinity, if they can. --- By fire. On such trying occasions, it is not tempting God to ask for a miracle. God had given this proof of fire repeatedly, Genesis xv. 17., Leviticus ix. 24., and 2 Paralipomenon vii. 1. He will restrain the devil's power, to confirm the truth, Mark xvi. 20. (Worthington)
That they. Hebrew, "which he (Achaz) had made;" (Calmet) or, "which was made." (Haydock) --- The altar of Elias was erected afterwards, ver. 30. The prophets of Baal acted in a foolish manner, (Calmet) as if in jest, but really despairing of success. (Haydock) --- The pagans were accustomed to dance around their altars: --- Pingues spatiatur ad aras. (Virgil, Æneid iv.) --- and some would translate, "near the altar." We might apply to these prophets, the verses of Horace:---Dedit risusque jocosque,
Dum, flamma sine, thura liquescere limine sacro
Persuadere cupit: credat Judæus Apella
Non ego. (Sat. i. 5.)
Talking to some of his prophets, (Calmet) or in deep contemplation. (Montanus) --- An inn. Septuagint, "giving oracles;" or, "he is pursuing." (Pagnin)
Blood. Strange infatuation! which has nevertheless prevailed in many pagan mysteries and countries. Thus were Bellona, Cybele, the Syrian goddess, &c., honoured and appeased. (Calmet) --- God prohibits this fury, Deuteronomy xiv. 1. The devil always endeavours to destroy or to injure man. (Menochius)"Ipsa bipenne suos cædit violenta lacertos,
Sanguineque effuso spargit inepta deam." (Tebullus)
Prophesying, "acting like fools;" (Chaldean) performing their superstitious rites, and singing the praises of their god, &c. (Calmet) --- Sacrifice, by Elias, who had assigned all the morning to Baal's prophets. Perhaps he waited till the time of the evening sacrifice, Exodus xxix. 38. (Menochius)
Down, by the false prophets, whose fury the people now repressed. (Tirinus) --- The altar might have been erected, under the judges, lawfully. (Calmet)
Twelve stones, (as [in] Exodus xxiv., &c.) intimating that he acted in the name of all; (Menochius) and in order that all Israel might return with one heart to the service of God. (Haydock) --- The prophet did not follow his own spirit in erecting this altar. (Calmet)
Furrows. Hebrew, "of two (sathayim) measures of seed." These furrows Elias filled with water, to impede the natural activity of fire, and to shew the miracle in a more striking light; (Haydock) as also to convince all that there was no deceit. An author quoted, under the name of St. Chrysostom, says that the pagans had sometimes subterraneous passages, by which they kindled the wood on the altar, as if by miracle, ita ut multi decepti ignem illum clestem esse existiment. (ap. Surium iv.)
Time. So that the wood was less disposed to catch fire. (Menochius)
Again. This effect he hoped for from the miracle.
Trench, as if it had been of an inflammable nature. Julian himself was forced to acknowledge this miracle. "This, says he, once happened under Moses, and, a long while after, again under Elias, the Thesbite."
Cison, at the foot of Carmel. (Adrichomius) --- Achab durst not protect his prophets, being confounded by the evidence of the miracle, (Menochius) and the unanimity of the people's cry. (Haydock) --- Killed them, by God's inspiration, (Calmet) as impostors, who had deluded the people, and were worthy of death.
Sound. It will as surely come, as if you heard it falling. (Haydock)
Knees, in fervent and humble prayer. God made his servant wait some time before he granted his request, that he might not give way to vanity. The people were not present, so that there was no danger of their being scandalized. (Menochius)
Sea, the Mediterranean, which could be seen from Carmel. (Haydock) --- Hence the rain commonly came in that country, Luke xii. 54.
Jezrahel, where Achab had a palace, chap. xxi. 1. (Calmet) --- He stopped for shelter, as he had not time to reach Samaria. (Menochius)
Before Achab, notwithstanding the king was drawn by horses, (Calmet) and Elias was advanced in years, chap. xix. 4. (Menochius) --- The invigorating spirit gave him such strength and agility, (Haydock) as Jezrahel was 12 or 15 leagues, (Calmet) or about 36 miles, from Carmel. In the Levant, impostors still run very swiftly before the chariots of princes, to imitate Elias. (Calmet)