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1Ki 17:1 Elijah the Tishbite, who was among the foreigners of Gilead, said to Ahab-
This could imply Elijah was a Gentile (s.w. Lev. 25:47), who named himself after Yahweh, 'My God is Yah'.

As Yahweh, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand-
‘Standing before the Lord’ refers to prayer- Ps. 106:23; Ezra 9:15; Jer. 15:1; 18:20. To live a life standing before the Lord is to live a life of prayer. Hence David and Paul say that prayer can be continual- in that life becomes a lived out prayer, with the practice of living in the presence of God. And straight away we ask ourselves, in lives just as busy as those of David and Paul, whether our self-talk, our minute by minute inner consciousness, is “before the Lord”...or merely the sheer and utter vapidity of the modern mind.  

There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word-
Here is an example of being sure of God’s will in what we pray for. If the Lord’s words abide in us, then we will ask what we will and it will be done; yet John also records that if we ask according to God’s will, it will be done for us. Our will and that of the Father come to coincide as His word takes an ever deeper lodgment in our consciousness. And this is how close Elijah must have been to knowing the will of God. Elijah alludes to Dt. 28 in saying there would be no rain (and 1 Kings 19:14 forsaken thy covenant= Dt. 32)- therefore he could be so sure of being heard. His request that there be “no dew” was inspired by the prayers of Gideon and David, who had prayed just the same things (Jud. 6:37; 2 Sam.1:21; and 1 Kings 18:33 = Jud. 6:20). Likewise the two witnesses of the last days will be inspired in their turn by Elijah’s example to pray that Heaven will be stopped. When it comes to prayer, there clearly is a positive pattern of influence and example both amongst us and from our absorbing the spirit of countless Biblical examples. The righteous man ‘decrees a thing in his heart and it is done’ through his prayers (Job 22:28). The same Hebrew words for ‘according’ and ‘word’ occur in both 1 Kings 17:1 and 24: “There shall not be dew nor rain but according to my word...The word of the Lord in [according to] thy mouth”. Elijah’s word and will had become parallel with those of the Father. This was taken to the ultimate extent by the Lord, in whom the Father’s word was made flesh. But that same word slowly becomes flesh in us too. No longer do we request things that are not the Father’s will as through His word we become more attune to Him. Our experience of answered prayer becomes increasingly positive, reinforcing our faith in Him and our attention to prayerfulness. And this dovetails with our increasingly sensitive reading of His word daily. The Lord intended that we should all pray the prayer of command as Elijah did; for He taught that with faith, we should be able to tell a sycamore tree to be rooted up and planted in the sea (Lk. 17:6). He doesn’t advise that we pray to the Father that the tree, according to His will, be rooted up and transplanted. He wants us to come to so know the will of the Father that we can pray the prayer of direct command. And this is quite some challenge. 

Elijah could be so sure his prayer would be hear because he knew that he was genuinely motivated. His reason for withholding the rain and dew was so that Israel would come to repentance (James 5:16-18)- perhaps through them perceiving that lack of rain was a sign that they had broken the covenant. In this case, Elijah was somewhat harsher than God Himself, who had not yet withdrawn rain from His people. Elijah “shut the heavens”, even though Israel rejected him at that time (Lk. 4:25,26). Their rejection of him is unrecorded in the Kings record, but we are left to reflect upon the wonder of the fact that Elijah’s response to reaction was not to merely hurt back, but to earnestly seek their restoration to God. He “prayed in his prayer” (James 5:17 Gk.)- there was a deep prayer going on within his prayer, words and feelings within words- the prayer of the very inner soul. This was how much he sought their repentance. The James passage sets Elijah up as a pattern for our prayer for our wayward brethren. He really is our pattern here. He clearly saw prayer as requiring much effort; and the way he prays at the time of the evening sacrifice on Horeb suggests that he saw prayer as a sacrifice (1 Kings 18:36).  

A lack of rain was one of the Law’s curses for idol worship (Dt. 11:10-12,17). Elijah’s response to Israel’s idolatry was to tell them there would be no rain (1 Kings 17:1 cp. 1 Kings 16:32,33). Those reflective upon God’s Law would have realized the implied criticism which this carried; the more unspiritual would have just cursed Elijah for bringing about a devastating drought. Elijah had to pray daily for the lack of bread and water in Israel (so 1 Kings 17:1 implies). He suffered himself because of this. He was prepared to forego quite legitimate blessings in order to lead an apostate ecclesia back to God.


1Ki 17:2 The word of Yahweh came to him saying-
There seems to be a contrast between this, and how Elijah dogmatically declares his own word in :1, confident Yahweh would confirm it as his word, rather than giving a "Thus says Yahweh".


1Ki 17:3 Go away from here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan-
The whole incident on Horeb was to make Elijah see the supremacy of the still small voice; that it is in humble, quiet service rather than fiery judgment of others that the essence of God and spirituality is to be found. But God had prepared Elijah for this earlier. Elijah had to hide by the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:3) for three and a half years (Lk. 4:25,26). Elijah was characterized by wearing a hairy garment like sackcloth (2 Kings 1:8 RV). In Rev. 11:3,6 we meet another Elijah figure- also clothed in sackcloth, with the power to bring fire down from Heaven, who for three and a half years…prophesies / preaches. We would expect Elijah to have been preaching during his time hidden by Cherith- but there is not a word of this in the record, indeed he is told to hide himself away from people. Could it not be that the Father wishes to show us what He was then trying to teach Elijah- that the essential prophetic witness is through us being as we are, the still small voice of witness through example…?


1Ki 17:4 It shall be, that you shall drink of the brook. I have commanded the ravens to feed you there-
Elijah was being paralleled with an apostate Israel, who were also sustained by food ‘commanded’ by God (s.w. Neh. 9:21); the brook is described as “dried up”, using the same word about the Red Sea drying up. Yet Elijah felt himself to be so superior to Israel generally. But God was trying to teach him that in essence, he wasn’t. We have shown earlier that God sought to again show Elijah the same lesson when he went into the Sinai wilderness and was fed by an Angel. Perhaps he did learn the lesson when he says that he felt that he was not better than the Jewish fathers? For they walked 40 years as he walked 40 days in the very same place, also fed by Angels. God told Elijah that He had commanded unclean ravens to feed him; and thus He reminded Elijah of a basic fact, that God speaks to even unclean animals (Gen. 1:22; Job)- and they obey him. The ravens not only obeyed Yahweh in going to Elijah, but in not eating the food they were carrying. Elijah likely considered that the fact God spoke to him meant that he must therefore have some automatic superiority over others. But not so. It’s the same with us. We can consider that because we have heard God’s true voice, we thereby are justified before Him. But He speaks to and uses all, clean and unclean.  


1Ki 17:5 So he went and did according to the word of Yahweh; for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan-
Elijah is commended for his obedience to Yahweh's word, even though as explained on :3,4, it was humiliating for him. "Brook" is literally a torrent bed; "Cherith" means a "cut" or ravine. There would only be water in the deep ravine immediately after times of torrential rain. Seeing there was no such rain, it could be that the water in the torrent bed was therefore provided by God miraculously.   


1Ki 17:6 The ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook-
As a hyper observant Jew, evening and morning were the times when Elijah ought to have been sacrificing to God. But God's intention was to teach him of His grace. Instead of Elijah offering food to God, God was giving food to him- and food made unclean by contact with unclean ravens. LXX has "loaves" for "bread", which would mean a possible connection with the loaves of the tabernacle rituals.


1Ki 17:7 It happened after a while, that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land-
As noted on :1, Elijah himself suffered the effects of the drought he had called upon Israel in order to lead them to repentance. Our efforts to help our brethren are often at deep personal cost to ourselves. I suggested on :5 that the water he drunk there was miraculously provided, because "brook" means 'torrent bed' and was a ravine which would only have water after torrential rains. So the translation here may be to the effect that 'The torrent bed had dried up because there had been no rain in the land, and after a while the word of Yahweh came to him...' (:8).  


1Ki 17:8 The word of Yahweh came to him saying-
This is as in :2, we get the sense that God meant Elijah to learn in stages. His time at Cherith was to develop him to accept God's grace and realize that ritual purity was not going to save anyone of itself. 

1Ki 17:9 Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to sustain you-
God had sought to gently teach Elijah his need for others when He told Elijah to go to the widow woman in Zarephath who would “sustain you"; it worked out that Elijah sustained her. And he must have reflected upon this. But perhaps, therefore, God’s intention was that spiritually, Elijah's experience with that woman would sustain him. "Zarephath" means 'place of refinement' and clearly Elijah's time there was intended for his refinement. It is emphasized that Zarephath belonged to Sidon because this was where Jezebel's father reigned (1 Kings 16:32). Even in the heart of apostacy, Elijah was to encounter obedience and commitment to Yahweh's word. But his later insistence that he alone remained faithful was effectively his trashing the woman's faith and commitment as not enough to count as faithfulness to Yahweh.

There is no evidence that the woman was commanded to feed Elijah by some specific revelation to her. Rather, the commandment may refer to the word of potential command which God had given the woman. But it came to her through circumstances.


1Ki 17:10 So he arose and went to Zarephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks: and he called to her and said, Please get me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink-
The woman “gathering sticks” (1 Kings 17:10) would likely have stimulated his Bible-steeped mind to think of the illegal gathering of sticks in Num. 15:32,33. For this is the only other Biblical reference to gathering sticks.


1Ki 17:11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand-
See on :12. On :13 I discuss whether these demands were simply part of God's demand upon the woman, or whether they also simply reflect Elijah's arrogance and inappropriate sense of entitlement.


1Ki 17:12 She said, As Yahweh your God lives-
Perhaps she had experienced a specific revelation from Yahweh about Elijah (:9). Or maybe Elijah was well known in the area. Or again, perhaps we are only reading a tiny part of their conversation, and the woman may have realized that the drought was because of Elijah's prayer to Yahweh.


I don’t have a cake, but a handful of flour in a pitcher, and a little oil in a pitcher. Behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die-
1 Kings 17:11 in Hebrew has Elijah asking the woman: ‘Bring me a handful of bread’- and she replies that she has only a handful of flour (1 Kings 17:12). Yet even this is demanded of her. Her handful of flour in a pitcher gives the impression of a handful of meal in a very large container; it’s an eloquent picture of her poverty, and how she was down to the last little bit of flour in a large container that was once full. And the Lord through Elijah demanded this of her, that He might save her. 

Later, the Angel gave Elijah cake and water (1 Kings 19:6) just as the unclean ravens and Gentile widow woman had done- to teach Elijah that God works through those people.

There were two occasions in which God fed Elijah with a cake when he was hungry. Once when the widow woman baked him one (1 Kings 17:13), and once when the Angel did (1 Kings 19:6). Surely God was trying to show Elijah that He was manifested through that desperately poor, weak, sick, starving widow woman who was at the point of death from starvation. It was the same message- that God wasn’t in the earthquake and fire, but in the still small voice.

The widow woman was prepared to die. The tragedy of that gaunt woman touches me deeply. I imagine her tidying the house, and then walking out into the blazing heat to gather sticks. But she gave her last bit to God's man Elijah; not, it seems, with any hope of getting out of her plight. She gave of her very last, her best, her all, not expecting anything back. Another widow, centuries later, threw her two mites into the collection bag of a fabulously rich, doctrinally corrupt, hypocritical ecclesia. The implication is that she died even more pathetically, perhaps tossed onto Gehenna with the starving cats. There seems to have been no happy ending- in this life. And she absolutely understood that.

LXX "sons", which would explain why she and her family ate many days (:15).


1Ki 17:13 Elijah said to her, Don’t be afraid. Go and do as you have said; but make me of it a little cake first, and bring it out to me, and afterward make some for you and for your son-
Elijah asked the widow woman to first feed him, and after feed herself and her son. The Hebrew word translated “after” is that translated “last”- ‘put me first and yourself last’, Elijah is saying. Wasn’t this arrogant? He was so sure he was manifesting God that he could demand that she put him first and herself last. But God is demanding, and yes He worked through Elijah. But one does get the sense that Elijah felt he  should be put first. God can be demanding, but we don’t have the same right to be upon others.


1Ki 17:14 For thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not empty, neither shall the jar of oil fail, until the day that Yahweh sends rain on the earth’-
See on :16. The food and water of condemned Israel did "fail" (s.w. Ez. 4:17), but that of the revived remnant didn't (s.w. Is. 51:14). Israel faithful to the covenant suffered no lack (Ex. 16:18; Dt. 2:7 s.w. "fail"). This woman was being treated like the faithful in Israel, although she was a Gentile. 


1Ki 17:15 She went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, ate many days-
She was responsible for more than just one son; hence :12 LXX says she had "sons", plural. The end result of all this was that she was converted to Yahweh (see on :24). And Lk. 4:26 notes that there was no starving widow in Israel who was so open to conversion as this Gentile woman. The Lord again alludes to her in saying that who ever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet, receives a prophet’s reward; even if they give a little one a cup of cold water, just as the woman gave water to Elijah (Mt. 10:41,42). This would equate Elijah with a "little one". His spirituality was as immature as that of the disciples, whom the Lord also called "little ones". Faith is not the same as hope and love, and Elijah's faith was not the same as spirituality.


1Ki 17:16 The jar of meal didn’t empty, neither did the jar of oil fail, according to the word of Yahweh, which he spoke by Elijah-
We note that it was not the meal or oil which is described as not finishing, but rather the containers of those products. We see the similarity with how the extent of Elijah's miracle of multiplying the widow's oil depended upon the number of pots borrowed.


1Ki 17:17 It happened after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so severe, that there was no breath left in him-
The idea is, that he died (:18). Perhaps death is described in this way because Elijah was to breath the breath of life back into him.


1Ki 17:18 She said to Elijah, What have I to do with you-
The idiom means 'Go away!' (2 Sam. 16:10; Lk. 5:8). She had hosted Elijah and cared for him, and now she feels his presence has brought about the death of her son. And so she wants him to leave.


You man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to memory, and to kill my son!-
In her desperation, the woman felt that Elijah's presence had attracted God's attention to her, and brought some personal sin to His memory. Perhaps her son had been conceived out of wedlock. Many times we read of God being provoked to remember someone, for good or for evil (Lev. 24:7 LXX "that God may mercifully remember"; Ps. 69:1 LXX; 37:1 LXX; Zech. 6:14; 1 Kings 17:18). We could accept this as mere anthropomorphism. Or we could reflect deeper, and wonder whether this language of limitation suggests that the God who could be omniscient over time, not needing to have anything brought back to His memory, allows Himself to 'forget' so that sin or righteousness again brings things to His remembrance. And it can work positively too. Thus generosity and prayer is a memorial before God in the sense that it brings a person to His memory or attention (Acts 10:4), and He appropriately responds in their lives. When sin gets to a certain point, it causes other sins to be remembered by God, and thus judgment comes (Rev. 18:5). It has been suggested by Joachim Jeremias that the Lord's command to break bread in remembrance of Him can mean 'that God may remember me'.


1Ki 17:19 He said to her, Give me your son. He took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into the room where he stayed, and laid him on his own bed-
The focus of the Divine cameraman is zoomed in upon the woman holding the dead child to her breast, and Elijah prizing the child away from her. He performs the healing miracle on the bed she had provided for him, in order to demonstrate that in fact the child was not slain because of Elijah's presence in the house; see on :18. 


1Ki 17:20 He cried to Yahweh and said, Yahweh my God, have You also brought evil on the widow with whom I stay, by killing her son?-
The force of "also" is that Elijah perhaps considered that the drought that affected Phoenicia was not what he had intended, as he wished the drought to bring Israel to repentance. But he was being taught that God wanted idolatrous Gentiles such as the Sidonians, of whom Jezebel was one, to also repent. And not just be witnessed against for their sins. He struggles to understand how the child of the widow who had cared for him should be slain. He was being given the problem of evil to struggle with, just as we are, in order to humble him. For he needed that. He was being forced to recognize he did not know all about God. There were things he didn't understand. Our inability to immediately attach meaning to event is intended likewise. 

Despite his union with the Father, this didn’t preclude Elijah questioning God. So in the midst of this tremendously powerful prayer, Elijah remonstrates with God: ‘Have You brought evil...?’­. The Hebrew for ‘evil’ usually means evil  in the sense of sin- ‘have You brought the result of sin... on her as well as upon this people?’.  This is all part of a passionate, living relationship with a living God.


1Ki 17:21 He stretched himself on the child three times, and cried to Yahweh and said, Yahweh my God, please let this child’s soul come into him again-
"Soul" would be better rendered 'life'. The soul typically refers to the person. The spirit of life which animates people is that which animates all of creation, and it returns to God, not in the sense of an immortal soul or conscious existence after death. Perhaps the way that the first six prayers of Elijah for rain went unanswered, his need to pray three times for the child to resurrect, were all part of God teaching Elijah that no matter how close we are to Him, we have no right to expect automatic answers to prayer, even if they are according to God’s will. 


1Ki 17:22 Yahweh listened to the voice of Elijah-
Just as He had done in :1 when it was Elijah's voice which brought forth the drought that slew so many. But his voice likewise had the power of revival. And that is what God wanted to teach Elijah out of all this; not to simply judge for sin, but to ever seek revival.

 
And the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived-
“When Jesus saw the faith of the friends, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mk. 2:5). That man was healed for the sake of the faith of others. The widow woman’s son was resurrected because God heard Elijah’s faithful prayer; and thus Heb. 11:35 alludes to this incident by saying that through faith- in this case, the faith of Elijah, a third party- women received their dead raised to life. The Centurion’s servant was healed for the sake of his faith; Jairus’ daughter was healed because of his faith (Mk. 5:36). This inspires us to endless effort for the sake of others. Clearly God worked through Elijah giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It was Elijah's breath which entered the child, but it was the source of the child's new life. There is no teaching here about immortal souls returning into bodies. The soul [effectively, the life] came from Elijah's breath / spirit. Which represented God's Spirit reviving the dead.


1Ki 17:23 Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the room into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Elijah said, Behold, your son lives-
The Lord Jesus quotes Elijah’s words “Your son lives” (1 Kings 17:23 = Jn. 4:50-53). He also, however, shows that Elijah's "spirit" wasn't always correct, although it was used by God. For in the context of Elijah, He rebukes the disciples for having the wrong spirit, in seeking to have the spirit of Elijah. The idea of fire from Heaven, which Elijah called down, is found in the Lord’s teaching in Lk. 12:49-54, where He associates it with division in the brotherhood. And the Lord went on to say that the Pharisees could interpret a cloud arising in the West as a sign that rain was coming, but they could not forgive their brethren, which was what was essential (Lk. 12:54). This just has to be a reference to Elijah, who saw a cloud arising from the West as a sign of rain. The Lord is, it seems, sadly associating Elijah with the Pharisees. And yet... despite all this,  Jesus likens Himself to Elijah. Jesus sent fire on earth as Elijah did (Lk. 12:49). And the context of the Lk. 9:54 reference to Elijah is that the Lord’s time had come that he should be “received up”, and “he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51). This is all very much the language of Elijah (2 Kings 2:1). The Lord Jesus quotes Elijah’s words “Your son lives” (1 Kings 17:23 = Jn. 4:50-53). What this shows is that the Lord saw what was good in Elijah, and He didn’t separate Himself from someone who didn’t have His Spirit. He simply wanted His followers to learn better from him.

Jewish tradition claims that the boy became Elijah's servant of whom we will later read, and that he was the prophet Jonah.


1Ki 17:24 The woman said to Elijah, Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of Yahweh in your mouth is truth
-
This means more than 'God's word is true'; it is an expression of faith that Yahweh is the one true God. The way the woman talks about “Yahweh your God”, to which Elijah responds by speaking of “Yahweh, the God of Israel”, implies that she did not even believe in Israel’s God (1 Kings 17:12,14). She didn’t even initially believe at that time that Elijah was a man of God (so :24 implies); and so, we can conclude, the daily miracle of the meal and oil not drying up did not deeply touch her, just as the daily provision of manna did not seem to register with most of Israel in the wilderness. She even seems to have been cynical in earlier calling him a “man of God”, because only later did she say that she really believe he was this (1 Kings 17:18, 24). But now she was his first recorded convert. This was all to teach Elijah that God works not only with the clean, and not only with those in covenant with Him. And as noted in :22, Elijah was being taught that he was to make converts and revive people, not merely judge them as sinners.