God’s lessons from history

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of 1 Kings

www.easyenglish.info

Philip Smith

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible. In the Bible text, words in [ ] are part of the Bible text. Words in ( ) are explanations.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings

Author

We do not know who wrote the books. Some people say that Jeremiah did. He lived just before Jerusalem’s enemies overcame the city. 2 Kings 24:18-25:30 is the same as Jeremiah chapter 52. There is nothing about Jeremiah in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings. However, Jeremiah went to Egypt. 2 Kings ends with the events in Babylon. An unknown *prophet in Babylon probably wrote both 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

The writer or writers used a lot of information from other books. These books probably included Isaiah, Jeremiah and Chronicles. The book refers to an unknown book called the ‘Book of the acts of Solomon.’ It also mentions the ‘Books of the chronicles of the kings of *Israel and *Judah’. (A chronicle is a record of events in the order in which they happened.) It also uses collections of stories about the *prophets Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah and Isaiah.

Purpose

The author gave a message. He did not just write history. He follows what the Book of Deuteronomy taught. Deuteronomy contains God’s law for his people. It directs how they should live. But most of the kings in *Judah and *Israel did not obey these instructions. (In fact, none of the kings in the northern *kingdom (called *Israel) were good kings.) And when the kings were evil, most of the people in their *kingdoms became evil too.

For example, the Book of Deuteronomy explains how the people should *worship God. But most kings and most people did not want to *worship the real God. They preferred to *worship images of false gods. Much of this evil *worship had a relationship with sex. People believed that such gods would give them large families and successful farms. And agriculture was very important in *Judah and *Israel.

So the kings and the people neglected the *worship of the real God. But there were important exceptions. *Judah had some good kings. And these kings had a good effect on their entire nation. In fact, Hilkiah the chief priest rediscovered the Book of Deuteronomy in the *Temple when Josiah was king (2 Kings chapter 22). Then Josiah stopped the *worship of false gods. He taught the people to obey God. And Josiah himself obeyed God completely. But Josiah’s son would be an evil king.

Deuteronomy taught the people about God’s laws. God intended his people to obey his laws and his *covenant. He intended that they would make his *worship pure. If they did, they would receive *blessing. If not, they would suffer a terrible punishment (Deuteronomy chapter 28).

The Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings tell us about a period of nearly 400 years. This was from the time when David died to the *exile in Babylon. In 930 *B.C. (years before Christ) the *kingdom divided into two parts. This happened after the death of Solomon. This is the most important event in the book.

There is more about the northern kings (*Israel) than about the southern kings (*Judah.) The author writes a great deal about the kings who affected the religion of the country. He does not say much about the other kings. For example, he says a lot about Ahab who made people *worship *Baal. He says very little about Ahab’s father Omri, who was a much better king.

The author also says a lot about the *prophets, in particular Elijah and Elisha. He explains why God allowed his people to go into *exile. The book speaks badly about the people in the northern *kingdom. They did not give honour to God at Jerusalem. The kings of the southern *kingdom either obeyed or did not obey the laws in Deuteronomy. The book’s opinion of them depends on what they did.

The dates in 1 Kings and 2 Kings

The books describe the history of the kings and queens of *Israel and *Judah. They begin with the last days of David. They include Jeroboam’s revolution, when the *kingdom became divided. And they end with the *exile in Babylon.

After the *kingdom divided, the author writes about each part of the *kingdom in turn.

For example, he describes the rule of a king of *Judah. Then he describes the rule of the king of *Israel. He tells us in which year of one king’s rule the other king’s rule begins. Sometimes these numbers do not match. There are various reasons:

·    Sometimes they count the year that a king began to rule as a complete year. In fact, he may have begun his rule part of the way through the year.

·    Sometimes two kings ruled at the same time. For example, Uzziah became ill. Then his son ruled while he was still alive.

·    Also, the northern and southern *kingdoms began their years in different months. The northern *kingdom began its year in the month called Nisan (March/April.) The southern *kingdom began its year in the month called Tishri (September/October.)

For kings of *Israel, the author adds the name of the capital city where he ruled. He then says how long that king ruled. He also says what that king was like.

For the kings of *Judah, the author mentions the age at which each king started to rule. He also mentions the name of the queen mother (that is, the mother of the king). He tells us if the king obeyed God’s law. And he compares that king with David.

Plan of the Books

1 Kings 1:1-2:46 – The last days of David and how Solomon became king

1:1-53 The struggle for power

2:1-12 David gives advice to Solomon. The death of David

2:13-46 Solomon becomes king and he makes himself strong.

1 Kings 3:1-11:43 – The rule of Solomon

3:1-28 Solomon’s wisdom

4:1-34 Solomon’s government and his riches

5:1-7:51 Solomon builds his *temple and his palace.

8:1-66 Solomon gives the *temple to God.

9:1-28 God answers Solomon’s prayer. Solomon’s buildings and trade

10:1-29 The visit of the Queen of Sheba

11:1-43 Solomon loses much of his power and then he dies.

1 Kings 12:1-14:31 – The *kingdom divides

12:1-24 Rehoboam becomes king after Solomon.

12:25-33 Jeroboam *rebels and he persuades the northern *tribes to support him.

13:1-32 Jeroboam appoints priests. A *prophet warns him about *disaster.

13:33-14:20 Ahijah warns Jeroboam’s wife about *disaster. Jeroboam dies.

14:21-31 Egypt attacks Rehoboam. Rehoboam dies.

1 Kings 15:1-16:28 – The wars between *Israel and *Judah

15:1-8 Abijam, king of *Judah

15:9-24 Asa, king of *Judah

15:25-32 Nadab, king of *Israel

15:33-16:7 Baasha, king of *Israel

16:8-14 Elah, king of *Israel

16:15-20 Zimri, king of *Israel

16:21-28 Omri, king of *Israel

1 Kings 16:29 - 2 Kings 1:18 – Ahab and Elijah

16:29-34 Ahab, king of *Israel

17:1-19:21 God provides for Elijah when there is no rain. Elijah opposes Ahab on *Mount Carmel. Elijah runs away. Elijah appoints Elisha.

20:1-43 Ahab defeats the king of Syria and then makes *peace with him.

21:1-29 Ahab and Naboth’s *vineyard

22:1-40 Ahab’s final war with Syria

22:41 - 2 Kings 1:18 Elijah *challenges Ahaziah.

2 Kings 2:1-10:36 – Stories about Elisha

2:1-25 God takes Elijah to heaven. Elisha becomes a *prophet in his place.

3:1-27 The war with Moab

4:1- 8:15 Elisha’s *miracles

8:16-24 Jehoram, king of *Judah

8:25-29 Ahaziah, king of *Judah

9:1-10:36 Jehu’s revolution. Elisha makes him king. Jehu kills Joram, Ahaziah and Jezebel and the family of Ahab. He removes the *worship of *Baal.

2 Kings 11:1-17:41 – From Jehu’s revolution to the end of the northern *kingdom

11:1-20 Athaliah, queen of *Judah

11:21-12:21 Joash, king of *Judah; Joash repairs the *temple.

13:1-9 Jehoahaz, king of *Israel

13:10-13 Jehoash, king of *Israel

13:14-25 The death of Elisha

14:1-22 Amaziah, king of *Judah

14:23-29 Jeroboam II, king of *Israel

15:1-7 Azariah (Uzziah), king of *Judah

15:8-31 Revolutions in *Israel

15:32-38 Jotham, king of *Judah

16:1-20 Ahaz, king of *Judah

17:1-41 Assyria *captures the Northern *Kingdom. The author explains why it happened.

2 Kings 18:1-21:26 – *Judah and Assyria

18:1-12 Hezekiah, king of *Judah

18:13-19:37 Sennacherib attacks Jerusalem.

20:1-21 God cures Hezekiah. Hezekiah makes a foolish friendship with Babylon. He dies.

21:1-18 Manasseh, king of *Judah

21:19-26 Amon, king of *Judah

2 Kings 22:1-23:30 – The good changes that Josiah made

22:1-20 Josiah repairs the *temple. Someone discovers the book of the law.

23:1-30 Josiah’s improvements and his death

2 Kings 23:31-25:30 – The last years of *Judah

23:31-35 Jehoahaz, king of *Judah goes into *exile in Egypt

23:36-24:7 Jehoiakim, king of *Judah. The rulers of Babylon take control of *Judah for the first time.

24:8-17 Jehoiachin, king of *Judah. The rulers of Babylon take control of *Judah for the second time.

24:18-25:7 Zedekiah, king of *Judah. Soldiers from Babylon take the people from *Judah into *exile.

25:8-30 Soldiers from Babylon destroy Jerusalem. The *exile.

Chapter 1

How Solomon became king

Solomon would become king after his father, David. But this did not happen easily. Two of Solomon’s older brothers also tried to become king. First, Absalom tried to become king by force (2 Samuel chapter 15). His plan failed and he died. So Adonijah made his plans carefully. He waited until David was very old and weak. Then Adonijah found important people who would support him. He intended to appoint himself as king, even before David was dead.

But David was still alive. And he was still the king. The staff in the palace were still loyal to him. And only David could act to prevent the success of Adonijah’s plans.

v1 King David was now a very old man. He could not keep warm, although his servants covered him with blankets. v2 His servants said to him, ‘Let us find a young woman to stay with you and to take care of you. She will lie close to you so that you can keep warm.’

v3 They looked all over *Israel for a beautiful girl. They found Abishag from Shunem and they brought her to the king. v4 She was very beautiful. And she nursed the king and she waited on him. But he did not have sex with her.

David was now about 70 years old. His servants still respected him as the king. So they did not just choose any woman to carry out this task. They selected a woman who was fit to be a queen. They searched across the whole country to find her. In the end, they chose Abishag to be David’s nurse. She looked after the king. But he was too old and weak to have sex with her. People believed that to keep someone warm in that way was a good medical way to look after that person.

v5 Now Adonijah, the son of David and Haggith, wanted to be king. He got *chariots and horses and 50 men to protect him. v6 His father had never interrupted his plans. He never told him that his behaviour was not acceptable. Adonijah was very handsome. He was born after Absalom.

v7 Adonijah talked with Joab, the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest. They agreed to support him. v8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the *prophet did not join him. Neither did Shimei and Rei and the men who protected David.

v9 Adonijah then *sacrificed sheep, cows, and young fat *bulls at Snake Rock. This was near En Rogel. He invited all the other sons of David and the king’s officials who were from *Judah. v10 But he did not invite Solomon, Nathan the *prophet, Benaiah or the men who protected the king.

Adonijah, the fourth son of David decided to become king. He was very handsome. Absalom, one of Adonijah’s brothers had killed his older brother Amnon. And Joab had killed Absalom. We do not know what happened to his other brother. Adonijah was the oldest son who was still alive. Therefore, he thought that he should become king. He made plans. His intentions were clear. Our translation mentions the 50 men who would protect him. But these men were not merely guards. In the original language, the book says that they would run ahead of him. In other words, they would declare him to be king.

It seems that David heard about these plans. But David did nothing to prevent them. Probably David felt too weak to stop the plot. And Adonijah had already become very powerful.

Adonijah knew that his father would die soon. So Adonijah made plans for a ceremony where he would declare himself to be the new king. Joab and Abiathar joined him. In past times, they had helped David. They did not ask God what they should do. Perhaps they did not care what God wanted them to do. Perhaps Abiathar was angry because Zadok was chief priest. Perhaps Joab was angry because Benaiah was important in the army.

Joab had been the loyal captain of David’s army. But Joab was always a selfish and cruel man. David allowed Joab to be powerful because he (David) could not control Joab (2 Samuel 3:39). Like Adonijah, Joab’s ambitions were very strong. Neither man cared about God’s plans. They always chose to follow their own plans.

Many of David’s men did not support Adonijah. Adonijah arranged a *religious meal. He probably burnt the fat of the animals and shared the meat with his guests. He did this to encourage other people to support him. He offered *sacrifices to God. People would then think that he wanted to serve God. He did not invite Solomon, Nathan or Benaiah. Some people think that he intended to kill them later.

v11 Then Nathan spoke to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. ‘Perhaps you have not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has made himself king. King David does not know anything about it. v12 Let me advise you how you can save your life and the life of Solomon. v13 Go to King David and say, “Your *Majesty, you promised me that my son Solomon would be king after you. Why then has Adonijah become king?” v14 While you are still talking to the king, I will come in. And I will give evidence that you are telling the truth.’

Nathan warned Bathsheba about the danger. He realised that Adonijah might kill both her and Solomon. Therefore, he advised Bathsheba to tell the king what Adonijah was doing. He would then come in. He would tell David that her story was true. Nathan knew that God wanted Solomon to be king.

Nathan was an important *prophet. When Solomon was born, God sent a special message to David by means of Nathan. God had chosen Solomon for a special purpose (2 Samuel 12:24-25).

Somehow, Nathan realised that Adonijah’s plans were wrong. Perhaps God had spoken to Nathan. Perhaps Nathan remembered the message that God gave him at Solomon’s birth. Or perhaps Nathan realised that Adonijah’s attitudes were wrong. Adonijah did not respect his father. And Adonijah did not respect God’s special plans for Solomon’s life.

So Nathan sent Bathsheba to David. David was weak. He would find an official meeting difficult. But Bathsheba, whom David still loved, could persuade David to act. Even in his weak state, he still had complete authority as king. His commands would be enough to stop Adonijah’s plot.

v15 Bathsheba went to see the old king in his room. Abishag from Shunem was looking after him. v16 Bathsheba got on her knees in front of the king.

‘What do you want?’ the king asked.

v17 She said, ‘Your *Majesty, you promised me this in the name of the *Lord your God. “Solomon your son shall become king after me.” v18 But Adonijah has become king and you do not know about it. v19 He has made a *sacrifice of many cows, sheep and fat young *bulls. He invited your sons and Abiathar the priest and Joab the leader of the army. However, he did not invite Solomon, who is loyal to you. v20 Your *Majesty, all the people in *Israel are waiting for you. They want you to tell them who will be the next king. v21 If you do not, then this will happen. As soon as you are dead, Adonijah will deal with Solomon and me as criminals.’

Bathsheba immediately went to the king. She showed him great honour. Then she reminded him about his promise to make Solomon king after him. She told him what Adonijah had done. Adonijah did not want Solomon to become king. The fact that he had not invited Solomon to the ceremony showed that.

In fact, she explained, Adonijah was already acting as king. And Adonijah had plans to kill both Solomon and Bathsheba. Then nobody would have any reason to oppose him.

But now, the people in *Israel were waiting. They were waiting to see what would happen. They still respected David’s authority. They wanted to know whether David would allow Adonijah to become king.

So Bathsheba asked David to act immediately. He could declare Solomon to be the next king. And David’s officials could appoint Solomon immediately. They did not need to wait for David’s death. Solomon could begin his rule at once.

v22 She was still speaking to the king when Nathan the *prophet arrived. v23 The king’s servants told him that Nathan was there. Nathan went in and *bowed down in front of the king.

v24 Nathan said, ‘Your *Majesty, have you announced that Adonijah will be the next king after you? v25 Today he has gone and *sacrificed many cows, sheep and fat young *bulls. He invited all your sons, the leaders of the army and Abiathar the priest. Just now, they are having a large meal and they are saying, “We pray that King Adonijah will live for a long time!” v26 But he did not invite Zadok the priest or Benaiah son of Jehoiada. He did not invite Solomon or me, but we are still loyal to you. v27 Is this something that your *Majesty has done? You have not told your loyal servants who will be king after you.’

v28 So King David said, ‘Ask Bathsheba to come back in.’ So she came and she stood in front of him. v29 Then he said to her, ‘I promise you this by the living God who has rescued me from all my troubles. v30 Today I will *keep the promise that I made to you. I made it in the name of the *Lord, the God of *Israel. Solomon your son will be king after me.’

v31 Bathsheba *bowed low on her knees in front of the king and she said, ‘I pray that King David will live for a long time.’

Nathan told David what had happened. The crowds had shouted. ‘We pray that King Adonijah will live for a long time.’ They did this as if David was already dead. Nathan asked David a question. Had he announced that Adonijah would be king? He knew that this would make David angry. Therefore, David would act quickly. David immediately called for Bathsheba. He promised her that Solomon would be king. David would not delay. He would act at once to perform his promise.

v32 King David said, ‘Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the *prophet and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.’ When they came in, v33 he said to them, ‘Take my servants with you and put Solomon on my own *mule. Take him down to the fountain at Gihon. v34 There Zadok the priest and Nathan the *prophet will pour oil upon his head and they will make him king. Blow the *trumpet and shout this. “We pray that King Solomon will live for a long time.” v35 Then you must follow him here. He must sit on my royal seat and be king instead of me. I have chosen him to rule over *Israel and *Judah.’

v36 Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada answered the king. ‘I pray that it will be so. I pray that the *Lord your God will say so too! v37 The *Lord has been with your *Majesty. And we pray that he will be with Solomon in the same way. We pray that God will make his rule even greater than your rule.’

v38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the *prophet and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada left. They went down with the men called Kerethites and the men called Pelethites (the king’s special guards). They put Solomon on David’s *mule. And they went with him to Gihon. v39 Zadok the priest took the oil which he brought from the tent of the *Lord’s *presence. He poured the oil on Solomon’s head. Then they blew the *trumpet. All the people shouted, ‘We pray that King Solomon will live for a long time.’ v40 All the people went up after him. They shouted for joy and they played instruments. They made enough noise to shake the ground.

David ordered Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah to make Solomon king immediately. Benaiah agreed with this. He believed that God wanted Solomon to be king. He wanted God to say so! He prayed that God would *bless Solomon’s rule. He prayed that Solomon’s rule would be even greater than David’s rule. By human standards, Solomon’s rule was greater. By *spiritual standards, it was not. Jesus was the son of David who had the best *spiritual rule.

Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah went down together with the men called Kerethites and Pelethites to Gihon. The Kerethites and Pelethites were special guards who came from Crete and from Philistia. They were soldiers whom people paid to protect the king. Zadok took the *holy oil from the tent that David had erected in Jerusalem. (The *Covenant Box was in this tent.) He poured this oil on Solomon’s head and all the people shouted with joy.

This special ceremony with the oil is called an ‘anointing’. It showed how God’s Spirit was acting to appoint Solomon as the king (1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 16:12-13). Adonijah was trying to appoint himself as the king. But God, by his Spirit, appointed Solomon. Jesus has the name ‘Christ’, which means: ‘He who has received the anointing’. See Acts 10:38.

Solomon received this anointing at the same time as Adonijah’s guests were finishing their party.

v41 Adonijah and his guests heard the noise as they were finishing their party. When Joab heard the sound of the *trumpet, Joab asked, ‘What is the meaning of all the noise in the city?’

v42 Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest arrived while Joab was speaking. Adonijah said, ‘Come in. A good man like you will be bringing good news.’

v43 ‘No’, said Jonathan. ‘His *Majesty King David has made Solomon king. v44 He sent Zadok the priest, Nathan the *prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada. He also sent the men called Kerethites and Pelethites with him. They have put Solomon on the king’s *mule. v45 Zadok the priest and Nathan the *prophet made him king at Gihon. Then they went into the city and they shouted for joy. Now the whole city is full of noise. That is what you can hear. v46 Also, Solomon has sat down on the royal seat. v47 Also, the royal officials have gone to give honour to King David. They have said, “We pray that your God will make Solomon’s name more famous than yours. We pray that his rule will be greater than your rule!” Then the king *bowed in *worship on his bed. v48 He said, “I give honour to the *Lord, the God of *Israel. He has allowed me to see one of my *descendants as king today.” ’

Zadok made Solomon king before Adonijah and his guests had finished their large meal. Joab was very afraid when he heard the sound of the *trumpet. Adonijah thought that Jonathan had come with good news. Instead Jonathan told him that Zadok and Nathan had made Solomon king. Solomon had ridden on the king’s *mule. This was a clear *sign that he was now king. He also sat on the king’s royal seat. King David was glad that Solomon was king. Now Adonijah knew that he would not become king.

v49 Then Adonijah’s guests were all afraid. They got up and they left. v50 But Adonijah was afraid of Solomon. Adonijah went and he held on to the corner of the *altar. v51 People told King Solomon that Adonijah was afraid of him. He had held on to the corners of the *altar. He had asked King Solomon to promise that he would not kill him. v52 Solomon replied, ‘If he is loyal, I will not touch a hair of his head. (In other words, I will not hurt him even slightly.) But if he is not, he will die.’ v53 Then King Solomon sent men to fetch Adonijah from the *altar. Adonijah *bowed to King Solomon. Solomon said to him, ‘Go to your home.’

Adonijah’s guests left quickly. They were afraid that people would punish them. This was because they had helped Adonijah. Adonijah went to hold the corners of the *altar. Exodus 21:14 says that a person would be safe there. However, that was only true if they had not intended to kill someone.

Although Adonijah intended to kill Solomon, Adonijah was not yet guilty of murder. But Adonijah was guilty of other crimes. He had not respected his father, David. Instead, Adonijah had even plotted a revolution against him. David and Solomon were kings whom God had appointed. So when Adonijah tried to appoint himself to be king, he was acting against God. So Adonijah was plotting to destroy God’s purposes.

Adonijah’s actions were terrible, but Solomon decided not to make a judgement about Adonijah’s crimes. Instead, Solomon was wise. He made a sensible political decision. He knew that many people liked Adonijah. So Solomon simply told Adonijah that he must be loyal. If Adonijah obeyed, he would not die.

It is interesting to compare this situation with our *forgiveness in Christ. Solomon did not really forgive Adonijah. But Solomon gave Adonijah the opportunity to avoid punishment. However, Jesus promises us complete *forgiveness and *mercy if we put our trust in him. We must also be loyal to him. 2 Timothy 2:12-13 says, ‘But we must not say that we do not know Christ. Because then he will also say that he does not know us. If we turn away from him, he will never turn away from us. He cannot do anything that is against his own nature.’ Hebrews 3:14 says, ‘We are partners with Christ, if we trust him to the end. We must trust him to the end, as we did at first.’

Chapter 2

David’s instructions to Solomon

Solomon was now the king. But before David died, he gave some special instructions to Solomon. David told Solomon to respect God and to obey his laws. That is a very important lesson for anyone who has authority. A king might make laws for other people to follow. But even a king must obey God’s laws.

v1 When David was near death, he gave these instructions to his son Solomon. v2 ‘I will die soon like everyone else’, David said. ‘Be strong and confident. v3 Do what the *Lord your God orders you to do. Obey all his laws and commands. These are in the book of the Law of Moses. Then wherever you go, you will be successful in all your actions. You will be successful wherever you go. v4 Then God will *keep the promise that he made to me. He told me that my *descendants would always rule *Israel. This would happen if they were careful to obey his commands with all their heart and *soul.’

David is telling Solomon what to do after he dies. Solomon must obey the laws of God that Moses wrote in the Book of Deuteronomy. If Solomon did so, then he would succeed. God had promised David that his *descendants would rule *Israel. This would only happen if they obeyed all his commands.

v5 ‘Now you know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me’, David continued. ‘He killed the two leaders of *Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them in a time of *peace with an act of war. Joab wore his belt and shoes that had the stains of their blood on them. v6 Deal with him wisely. Do not let him die in *peace. v7 Be kind to the family of Barzillai from Gilead. Let them eat with you and share your goods. They helped me when I had to escape from your brother Absalom. v8 Remember that you have with you Shimei, son of Gera, the *descendant of Benjamin. He lived in Bahurim. He *cursed me in an angry way when I went to Mahanaim. However, later I met him at the River Jordan. I promised him this in the name of the *Lord. “I will not kill you.” v9 But now, do not let him go without punishment. You are a wise man. You know what to do. Kill him.’

v10 Then David died. They buried him in David’s city. v11 He ruled *Israel for 40 years. He ruled 7 years in Hebron and 33 years in Jerusalem. v12 So Solomon became king instead of his father. And his rule became strong.

In the ancient world, kings did not just lead the government. They were also the chief judges in their *kingdoms. Fair judgements in the law courts are essential in any country.

David had been a good king. But he was aware that, sometimes, he had not been a good judge. In particular, there were two men whom he ought to have punished. But he was too weak to punish them. And there was one family that deserved special honour. David felt that he had not sufficiently rewarded that family.

David had not been able to carry out these judgements himself. But he saw that Solomon would be a wise king. The beginning of Solomon’s rule would be a good opportunity to act.

David told Solomon that he should kill Joab and Shimei. These were powerful men who had done evil things. But they had managed to avoid punishment.

Joab had killed Abner (2 Samuel chapter 3) and Amasa (2 Samuel chapter 20). He had pretended to be their friend. Afterwards, he wore the belt and shoes that had stains of blood on them. This showed that he was not sorry for his actions. Also, he was not afraid of any punishment. David should have killed Joab himself, but David was not bold enough to do so. David told Solomon that he should kill Joab.

Barzillai was a very old man who gave food to David and his army. David tells Solomon to help Barzillai’s family as a reward. Perhaps Barzillai himself was dead.

Shimei *cursed and threw stones at David. That was when David ran away from Absalom. Kings usually killed people who *cursed them. Shimei later asked David to forgive him. David promised that he would not kill him (2 Samuel chapter 19). It seems that David considered his promise to be unwise. Shimei deserved punishment. David told Solomon that he should kill Shimei. David did not want Solomon to punish Shimei because of what Shimei had done to David personally. But it was God who appointed David to be the king. So a *curse on the king was like a *curse on God. Solomon must punish Shimei.

They buried David in his own city after he had ruled *Israel for 40 years. He achieved many things during his life. He loved God with his whole heart. He was a great king.

v13 Adonijah, son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. She asked him, ‘Is this a friendly visit?’

He answered, ‘Yes it is.’ v14 Then he added, ‘I want to ask you something.’

‘You may’, she replied.

v15 ‘You know this’, he said. ‘I should have become king. Everyone in *Israel expected it. However, things changed and my brother has become king. This is what the *Lord wanted. v16 Now I want to request one thing. Please do not say “No.” ’

‘You may ask’, Bathsheba said.

v17 He answered, ‘Please ask King Solomon to let me have Abishag from Shunem as my wife. He will agree if you ask.’

v18 ‘Very well’, Bathsheba replied. ‘I will speak to the king for you.’

Adonijah wanted to marry Abishag. She had been like David’s mistress. But now David was dead. Abishag was a beautiful young widow.

However, Adonijah had another reason for his request. If he married David’s widow, Adonijah would have the right to be king. There was an ancient custom that a new king had the right to marry the former king’s wives. But God’s law did not allow this.

Adonijah hoped that Bathsheba would help him. He pretended to be pleased that Solomon was king. Adonijah would marry Abishag although he was not king. It was surprising that Bathsheba was happy about his request. She probably did not realise that such a marriage would affect Solomon’s authority. Perhaps she thought that it was a good solution. Perhaps she thought that she was helping Solomon. Adonijah might respect Solomon more, if Solomon was kind to him.

v19 Bathsheba went to Solomon to speak about Adonijah’s request. The king stood up to greet her and he bent down. Then he sat down on his royal seat. People fetched a royal seat for the king’s mother. She sat down at his right side.

v20 ‘I want to make a small request’, she said. ‘Please do not say “No.” ’

The king replied, ‘Ask, mother. I will not refuse.’

v21 So she said, ‘Please let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag from Shunem.’

v22 ‘You should certainly not ask me to give Abishag from Shunem to Adonijah’, answered Solomon. ‘You might as well ask me to give him the *kingdom. He can claim that right because he is my older brother. Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah are on his side.’

v23 Then Solomon made a serious promise in the *Lord’s name. ‘Adonijah will die because of this request. If not, I pray that God will punish me severely. v24 The *Lord has made me king after my father David. He has given the *kingdom to me and to my *descendants, as he promised. I promise by the *Lord who lives. Adonijah will die today.’ v25 So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. He went out and killed Adonijah.

Solomon gave Bathsheba the place of honour at his right side. She did not seem to have understood the meaning of Adonijah’s request. Solomon did, however. He immediately ordered Benaiah to kill Adonijah. Solomon would not be safe as long as Adonijah lived.

Probably, Solomon did not want to kill his brother. But Solomon saw that Adonijah would never be loyal to him. So Solomon had to act in a firm manner.

Sometimes as Christians, we too must act in a firm manner. In particular, we must make a firm decision not to allow *sin to control our lives. In Romans 8:13, Paul says this: ‘If you follow your *sinful character you will die. But if by the *Spirit you kill the *sins of the body you will live.’ We must make God the ruler of our lives. Our *sinful character must not rule our lives.

v26 The king told Abiathar the priest to go back home to work on his farm in Anathoth. ‘You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now. You used to carry God’s *Covenant Box while you were with my father David. You shared all my father’s troubles.’ v27 So Solomon punished Abiathar. He would no longer be a priest of the *Lord. So what the *Lord had said at Shiloh about the family of Eli came true.

Both Abiathar and Joab had helped Adonijah. Solomon only sent Abiathar home. He did not kill him. This was because Abiathar had helped David in his troubles. He had also been a priest to him. Solomon knew that he must respect God’s priests. However, God had told Eli that his sons would no longer be priests. This was because of their *sins (1 Samuel chapter 2). Abiathar was the last priest from the family of Eli. The new priests were from Zadok’s family.

v28 Joab had supported Adonijah although he had not supported Absalom. He ran to the tent of the *Lord when he heard the news about Abiathar. Joab held on to the corners of the *altar. v29 King Solomon heard that Joab had run to the tent. He was next to the *altar. Then Solomon ordered Benaiah the son of Jehoiada to kill Joab.

v30 So Benaiah entered the *Lord’s tent and spoke to Joab. ‘The king says, “Come out!” ’

But Joab answered, ‘No, I will die here.’ Benaiah told the king what his answer was.

v31 Then the king ordered Benaiah. ‘Do as he says. Kill him and bury him. Then my father’s family and I will not be guilty of the deaths of the innocent people whom he killed. v32 The *Lord will punish him for those murders. He killed two men without David’s knowledge. Abner son of Ner was the leader of *Israel’s army. Amasa son of Jether was the leader of *Judah’s army. Both men were innocent. And they were better men than Joab was. v33 The punishment for their murders will fall on Joab and his *descendants for always. But David, his *descendants, his family and his *kingdom will enjoy the *Lord’s *peace for always.’

v34 So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada killed Joab. He buried him at his home in the desert. v35 The king made Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, the leader of the army instead of Joab. He made Zadok the priest instead of Abiathar.

Joab held on to the corners of the *altar. He thought that he would be safe there. Solomon did not kill Adonijah at the time when he went to the *altar for protection (1:51-53). Perhaps Joab hoped that Solomon would be unwilling to kill anyone at such a *holy place. But Joab’s support for Adonijah was not his only crime. The *altar did not protect those who had murdered other people. David did not order Solomon to kill Joab because of his (Joab’s) support for Adonijah. David ordered Solomon to kill Joab because Joab was a murderer.

So Solomon carried out his father’s orders and he made *peace for himself and his family. Now nobody would say that David and his family supported Joab’s murders.

Joab believed that to hold the *altar would keep him safe. He was wrong. The Christian who trusts Christ for *forgiveness will be safe. He will enjoy God’s *peace now and for always.

v36 Then the king sent for Shimei. This is what he said to him. ‘Build a house in Jerusalem and live there. Do not go anywhere else. v37 Do not leave the city and cross the valley called Kidron. If you do, you will die. You will be responsible for your own death.’

v38 Shimei replied, ‘I agree with your decision. I will do what you say.’ So, he stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.

v39 But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to Achish, son of Maacah king of Gath. People told him, ‘Your slaves are in Gath.’ v40 So he got on his *mule. And he went to Achish at Gath in order to find his slaves. He found them and he brought them back.

v41 And Solomon heard what Shimei had done. v42 He sent for him and spoke to him. ‘I made you promise in the *Lord’s name not to leave Jerusalem. I warned you. “If you go anywhere else you will certainly die.” You agreed and you promised to obey me. v43 But now you have not *kept the promise that you made to the *Lord. And you have not obeyed me.’ v44 The king also said to Shimei, ‘You know all the wrong things that you did to my father David. Now the *Lord will punish you for it. v45 But the *Lord will *bless King Solomon and he will make David’s family’s rule certain for always.’

v46 Then Solomon ordered Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, to kill Shimei. He did so.

Solomon was now in complete control.

Solomon ordered Shimei to stay in his own house in Jerusalem. However, when two of his slaves ran away, Shimei left Jerusalem. He found them in Gath and he brought them back. When Solomon heard about this event, he sent for Shimei. He told him that he would punish him. This punishment was also for what he had done to Solomon’s father David. So Benaiah killed Shimei. Solomon said that God would *bless King Solomon. The *curse that Shimei had put upon David could have no effect (2 Samuel 16:7-8).

David knew that Solomon would need wisdom to deal with Shimei. If Solomon had killed Shimei at once, Solomon would have seemed cruel. And Solomon would seem to be acting without honour. David had promised that Shimei would live. So Solomon, who was David’s son, should continue to perform that promise.

Solomon dealt with Shimei in a similar manner to how he dealt with Adonijah. Solomon did not punish either man immediately. Instead, he tested them to see whether they were loyal. So Solomon asked Shimei to promise not to leave Jerusalem. Shimei promised this in the *Lord’s name. So the promise was a sacred, serious promise. But Shimei did not *keep that promise. To *break such a promise was a serious crime. Shimei deserved his punishment.

Chapter 3

God speaks to Solomon

v1 Solomon made an agreement with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter. Solomon brought her to live in David’s city. She lived there until he finished the construction of his palace. He also wanted to finish the *temple of the *Lord and the wall round Jerusalem.

v2 The people still made *sacrifices at different *altars on the mountains. This was because he had not yet built a *temple for the *Lord. v3 Solomon loved the *Lord and he obeyed the commands of his father David. However, he *sacrificed animals and he burned *incense on different *altars. v4 The king went to Gibeon to *sacrifice. That was the most important place for *worship. Solomon offered 1000 *burnt offerings upon the *altar.

Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter. This was probably a political arrangement. Solomon was a skilled politician. The Pharaohs were the most powerful kings in the region. This marriage meant that *Israel would be at peace with Egypt. However, it was against God’s law for Solomon to marry a foreigner. In the end, Solomon would suffer many troubles because of such marriages.

Pharaoh gave the town called Gezer to Solomon. (See chapter 9:16.) This gave Solomon control of some routes for trade. This would help him to get the materials that he needed for the new buildings in Jerusalem. The princess lived in the old city at Jerusalem. Solomon built her palace 20 years later.

There ought to have been only one place where people went to offer *sacrifices (Leviticus 17:3-4). However, Solomon and other people offered *sacrifices on high hills. Many of these places were where people had *sacrificed to other gods. This was wrong. Solomon did not always obey the commands in the Book of Deuteronomy. The tent of meeting that Moses had made was at Gibeon. God allowed Solomon to *worship there. Solomon showed his love for God by means of a special, large *sacrifice.

v5 At Gibeon, the *Lord spoke to Solomon during the night, by means of a dream. ‘What would you like me to give you?’ he asked.

v6 Solomon gave this answer. ‘You were very kind to your servant my father David. He was loyal to you; and he was good and honourable. You continued this kindness. You have given him a son who today rules in his place. v7 Now *Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king instead of my father David. However, I am very young and I do not know how to rule. v8 I, your servant, am here among the people that you have chosen. There are so many people that nobody can count them. v9 Please give me, your servant, the wisdom to rule your people. Help me to know the difference between right things and wrong things. Otherwise, I will never be able to rule your great people.’

After Solomon had given honour to God, God spoke to him in a dream. In reply, Solomon reminded God of his kindness to David and to himself. He recognised that he did not have much experience. (He was probably about 20 years old.) He knew that *Israel was a large nation. He therefore asked God to give him wisdom. Then he would make the right decisions when he ruled the nation.

Solomon was already a wise man (chapter 2:9). And he was a skilled politician (verse 1). That is, he had both human wisdom and political wisdom. But here, he was asking God for something more. He did not want his decisions to be merely the result of his natural wisdom. He wanted to have *spiritual wisdom. Our translation says ‘wisdom’ in verse 9. In the original language, the words are ‘a heart that hears’. Solomon wanted to hear from God. Then, like David his father, Solomon would do what God wanted him to do.

v10 The *Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. v11 So God said to him, ‘You have asked for wisdom to rule in a fair way. You have not asked for long life or wealth or the death of your enemies. v12 So I will do what you have asked. I will give you more wisdom than anyone has ever had before you. Nobody will ever have so much wisdom again. v13 I will also give you what you have not asked for. You will have wealth and honour, more than that of any other king. v14 Obey me. And obey my laws like your father David did. If you do, I will give you a long life.’

v15 Then Solomon woke up. He realised that it had been a dream. He went back to Jerusalem and he stood in front of the *Lord’s *Covenant Box. He offered *burnt offerings and *fellowship offerings to the *Lord. Then he gave a large meal for all his officials.

God was pleased that Solomon asked for wisdom rather than wealth. Because of that, God knew that he could trust Solomon with wealth as well. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, ‘Search for God’s *kingdom. Learn what he wants you to do. He will provide you with all the other things.’

God gave Solomon wisdom because he asked for it. He gave him wealth because he did not ask for it. God promised Solomon a long life if he obeyed God’s commands. But Solomon did not do this. As a result, he died when he was only 60 years old.

After his dream, Solomon went back to Jerusalem and he gave honour to God. He also *celebrated with his officials.

Solomon’s wisdom

v16 One day, two prostitutes came to see the king. (Prostitutes are people who offer themselves for sex with someone in return for money.) These two women stood in front of the king. v17 One of them said, ‘Your *Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. v18 Two days after my child was born she also gave birth to a boy. Only two of us were in the house. There was nobody else. v19 During the night, this woman’s baby died because she lay on him. v20 So she got up during the night while I was asleep. She took my son from my side and she put him by her breast. Then she put her dead son by my breast. v21 The next morning, I got up to feed my baby and I found him dead. But I looked more closely. Then I saw that he was not my child.’

v22 The other woman said ‘No. The child who is alive is my son. The dead child is your son.’ The first woman answered, ‘No. The dead one is your son. The one who is alive is my son.’

So they argued in front of the king.

v23 The king said, ‘This woman says, “My son is alive and yours is dead.” That one says, “No. Your son is dead and my son is alive.” v24 Then the king said, ‘Bring me a sword.’ So they brought a sword for the king. v25 Then the king gave an order. ‘Cut the child who is alive in two. Give each woman half of it.’

v26 The woman whose son was alive was full of love for him. She said to the king, ‘Please, your *Majesty, do not kill the child. Give her the baby.’

But the other woman said, ‘Do not give him to either of us. Cut him in two.’

v27 Then Solomon said, ‘Do not kill the child. Give him to the first woman. She is his real mother.’

v28 When all the *Israelites heard King Solomon’s decision, they respected him. They saw that God had given him wisdom. He would be a good judge.

This story gives an example of Solomon’s wisdom. It is evidence that God answered Solomon’s prayer. Solomon does not merely show human wisdom here. It seemed impossible to decide who was the real mother. Both women seemed to be arguing the same thing. But God showed Solomon what to do. So Solomon knew that the real mother would love the child. She would not want to see someone kill it. She would rather let the other mother have it. This event shows that God was directing Solomon’s judgements.

This judgement impressed the whole nation. They saw that God had given wisdom to their king.

Paul prayed that God might give the Christians at Ephesus the *spirit of wisdom (Ephesians 1:17). James said, ‘Anyone who does not have wisdom should ask God.’ He also said, ‘The wisdom that comes from heaven is in the first place pure. It loves *peace. It is gentle and friendly. It cares about other people. It does good actions’ (James 1:5; 3:17).

Chapter 4

Solomon’s peaceful *kingdom

This chapter shows how successful Solomon’s rule was. The country was wealthy. It was at peace. The farms were successful. Food and drink were plentiful. People lived good lives. Other nations respected Solomon. Some of those nations paid taxes to him.

The Bible said that people will know such a good and peaceful time again. This will happen when Jesus returns to this world. See Isaiah chapter 55. But, of course, Solomon’s rule was not perfect. Jesus’ rule will be perfect. And it will continue beyond the end of time.

v1 Solomon ruled over all *Israel. v2 These were his chief officials.

·    The priest was Azariah son of Zadok.

·    v3 The official writers for the king were Elihoreph and Ahijah sons of Shisha.

·    Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud wrote down the records.

·    v4 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in command of the army.

·    Zadok and Abiathar were priests.

·    v5 Azariah son of Nathan was in command of the officers of each district.

·    Zabud son of Nathan was a priest who also gave personal advice to the king.

·    v6 Ahishar controlled the palace.

·    Adoniram son of Abda controlled slave labour.

Many of these people were officials when David was king. We are not sure if ‘Nathan’ was the *prophet or Nathan the son of David. Unlike his son Rehoboam (see chapter 12), Solomon took advice from men who had experience.

v7 Solomon also had 12 rulers of districts over all *Israel. They supplied food for the king and his family, officials and servants. Each ruler had to provide enough food for one month in the year. v8 These are their names:

·    Benhur ruled in the hill country of Ephraim.

·    v9 Bendeker ruled the cities called Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan.

·    v10 Benhesed ruled the cities called Arubboth and Socoh and all the territory of Hepher.

·    v11 Benabinadab married Solomon’s daughter Taphath. He ruled the whole region called Dor.

·    v12 Baana son of Ahilud ruled the cities called Taanach, Megiddo and all the region called Beth Shan. This was near the town called Zarethan, south of the town called Jezreel. The whole area was as far as the city called Abel Meholah and the city called Jokmeam.

·    v13 Bengeber ruled the city called Ramoth in Gilead. He also ruled the villages in Gilead that belonged to the family of Jair. Jair was a *descendant of Manasseh. He also ruled the district of Argob in Bashan. Its 60 cities had walls and metal gates.

·    v14 Ahinadab son of Iddo ruled the district called Mahanaim.

·    v15 Ahimaaz, who had married Basemath, another daughter of Solomon, ruled the region called Naphtali.

·    v16 Baana son of Hushai ruled the region called Asher and the town called Bealoth.

·    v17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah ruled the territory of Issachar.

·    v18 Shimei son of Ela ruled the territory of Benjamin.

·    v19 Geber son of Uri ruled the territory of Gilead. [This was the land that Sihon and Og used to rule. Sihon was the king of the people called *Amorites. And Og was the king of Bashan.] Geber was the only ruler over the district.

The districts were not quite the same as the territories of the *tribes. This may be to make sure that each district could produce enough food. However, this may have been one of the events that caused the *kingdom to divide. Note that some of these officials had married into Solomon’s family.

v20 The number of people in *Israel and *Judah was very large. They ate and drank. And they were happy. v21 Solomon ruled over all the *kingdoms from the River Euphrates to the land of the people called Philistines. He ruled as far as the border of Egypt. These countries paid him taxes and they belonged to his *kingdom all his life. v22 This is the food that Solomon needed each day. He had 5000 litres (1300 gallons) of flour, 10 000 litres of corn, v23 ten fat *cattle and 20 *cattle from the fields. He also had 100 sheep and goats, *deer, *gazelles, small male *deer and fine birds. v24 He ruled over all the *kingdoms west of the River Euphrates. He ruled the territory from Tiphsah as far west as the city called Gaza. He was at peace with all the other countries.

v25 During Solomon’s life, the people in *Judah and *Israel from north to south lived in safety. Each family had its own *grape plants and fig (kind of fruit) trees. v26 Solomon had 4000 places for his *chariot horses to live and 12 000 men to ride his horses. v27 The district rulers supplied food for King Solomon and all who ate with him. They did this in turn each month. They supplied everything that he needed. v28 Each ruler provided his share. He provided barley (a kind of grain) and straw for the *chariot horses and the other horses. They took it wherever Solomon wanted it.

These verses show Solomon’s wealth and the size of the country that he ruled. Psalm 72 speaks about his rule, especially in verses 8-11. That Psalm is also a *prophecy about Jesus’ rule.

Solomon ruled over the entire land that God promised to Abraham. He was the only king to do this. A large number of people lived in his country. Each family had its own home. Everyone had plenty to eat. It was a time of *peace. Rulers of the countries near him paid him taxes and they obeyed him. Some people say that the rule of Solomon is a physical image of the *spiritual rule of Jesus.

v29 God gave Solomon wisdom and knowledge. Solomon’s knowledge was so great that nobody could measure it. v30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than that of all the men in the East or in Egypt. v31 He was wiser than any other man was. He was wiser than Ethan the son of Zerah was. He was wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol were. His fame spread to all the nations near him. v32 He spoke 3000 proverbs (wise sentences) and he wrote 1005 songs. v33 He spoke about large and small plants. These varied from the *cedar (a tree with sweet smelling wood) of Lebanon to the hyssop (a plant). This plant grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals, birds, things that crawl along and fish. v34 Kings all over the world heard about Solomon’s wisdom and they sent people to listen to him.

The writer describes the greatness of Solomon’s wisdom. He was wiser than people from the countries that were famous for their wisdom. Ethan wrote Psalm 89. We do not know who the other people in verse 31 were. (However, a family with the same names appears in 1 Chronicles 2:6.) Clearly, these people were famous for their wisdom at that time. A proverb is a short sentence that helps people to remember a wise truth. Some of Solomon’s proverbs are in the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. The Song of Solomon is the only one of his songs that we have today. Many of his proverbs are about plants and animals. People came from near and far to hear his wisdom.

Paul says this (in Colossians 2:3). ‘All the valuable things of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ.’ Jesus said about himself that ‘someone greater than Solomon is here’ (Matthew 12:42).

Chapter 5

Hiram assists Solomon

Solomon’s first task as king was the construction of the *temple at Jerusalem. This would be a splendid building to give honour to the *Lord. It would be the only proper place for *worship. And it would replace the tent of meeting that Moses made.

Solomon also had great plans of his own. He would build great palaces and halls in Jerusalem. He would make Jerusalem into a very rich city.

To carry out all these plans, Solomon needed a good supply of fine wood and stone. And he would need thousands of workmen. Solomon used his political skills to make the necessary arrangements.

v1 Hiram, king of Tyre, had always been a friend of David. He heard that Solomon had become king after his father. So he sent people with messages to him. v2 Solomon sent back a message to Hiram. v3 ‘You know that my father David had to fight continuous wars against enemies all round him. The *Lord had not yet given him success over his enemies. Therefore he could not build a *temple to give honour to the *Lord his God. v4 But now the *Lord my God has given me peace on all my borders. I have no enemies and nobody will attack me. v5 So I have decided to build a *temple to give honour to the *Lord my God. The *Lord promised this to my father David. “Your son, whom I will make king after you, will build a *temple for me.” v6 So please order your men to cut down *cedars of Lebanon for me. My men will work with yours. And I will pay your men whatever wages you decide. We do not have anybody who can cut down trees as well as the people in Sidon.’

Hiram had helped David before Solomon was born. Tyre was an important port on the coast to the north of *Israel. Hiram had helped David to build his palace. He had given him wood and he sent men to help him. God did not allow David to build a *temple. But he promised him that his son would build it (1 Chronicles 22:8-10). Solomon asked Hiram for help. He promised to pay him for this help.

v7 Hiram was very pleased when he heard Solomon’s message. He said, ‘I give honour to the *Lord today. He has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.’

v8 So Hiram sent a message to Solomon. ‘I have received your message. And I will do everything that you asked. I will provide *cedar and *pine trees. v9 My men will bring them down from the Lebanon to the sea. And I will float them on rafts (flat boats) by sea to the place that you choose. Then I will unload them and you can take them away. I would like you to provide food for my men.’

v10 So Hiram gave to Solomon all the *cedar and *pine wood that he wanted. v11 Solomon gave to Hiram 2000 tons (2 million kilos) of wheat. He also gave 400 000 litres (100 000 gallons) of *olive oil. These were for food for his men. Solomon did this for Hiram every year. v12 The *Lord gave Solomon wisdom as he had promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon. The two of them made an agreement of friendship.

Hiram agreed to do what Solomon had asked. In addition, he would send the wood by sea, probably to the port called Jaffa. There, Solomon’s men could take it over land to Jerusalem. Solomon supplied Hiram’s men with food as payment. The two kings made a *peace agreement.

v13 King Solomon made 30 000 men work for him. These men came from all over *Israel. v14 He divided them into groups of 10 000 men. They worked for one month in Lebanon and they spent two months back at home. Adoniram controlled them. v15 Solomon also had 80 000 people in the hills to cut stone and 70 000 people to carry it. v16 He had 3300 men to direct the work. v17 At the king’s command they cut large blocks of stone. These were for the foundation (the strong base) of the *temple. v18 Solomon’s and Hiram’s men worked together with men from the city called Byblos. They prepared the stones and wood to build the *temple.

Solomon arranged men to carry out the work. He shared the work among the men in a fair manner. And it seems that they were willing workers. Everyone was excited about the wonderful things that Solomon was doing. During David’s rule, the men had to fight in the army. But during Solomon’s rule, the country had peace. So the men were available for this task. Probably, they were very pleased to be able to build the *temple. It was a great honour to carry out this work for the *Lord.

People who were not *Israelites did some of the work. They cut and carried the stone. Some of this stone was 15 feet (4.5 metres) long. It needed many people to carry it. They used very good stone for the strong base of the *temple.

In Ephesians 2:20 Paul says that Christians are like a *temple. The foundation (strong base of a building) is like the instruction of the apostles and *prophets. (The apostles were the men who first took God’s message about Christ to people.) The most important foundation stone is like Jesus. God was present at the *temple. And God, by his *Spirit, lives in the lives of real Christians.

Chapter 6

The construction of the *temple

Solomon acted as the *temple’s architect. But the plans were not his own. He used the plans that David had already made. And David did not design the plans by means of his own imagination. God’s *Spirit put these plans into his mind (1 Chronicles 28:11-12; 1 Chronicles 28:19). Hebrews 9:24 explains the reason for this arrangement. The *temple that Solomon built was a copy of the real *temple in heaven. So the design had to be God’s design. God was using Solomon to carry out his work on earth. And, by means of Solomon’s *temple, God would show his power and his honour.

The *temple was splendid. But few people would see the beauty of its rooms. Only priests entered the main hall. However, the most special place was the inner room. It was called the most *holy place. And only one man, the chief priest, would enter it. Even he could only enter it once each year (Hebrews 9:7).

v1 Solomon began to build the *temple of the *Lord. This was 480 years after the *Israelites had come out of Egypt. He began to build in the 4th year of his rule over *Israel. He started in the second month, the month called Ziv.

v2 So King Solomon built the *temple for the *Lord. The *temple was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide and 45 feet high. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) v3 The entrance room was in front of the main room of the *temple. The entrance room was 15 feet long and 30 feet wide. It was as wide as the *temple itself. v4 He made windows in the *temple. These were narrow on the outside and wide on the inside. v5 He built rooms onto the sides and back of the *temple. These rooms were three storeys high. Each storey was about 7 and a half feet high. v6 Each room in the lowest storey was 7 and a half feet wide. Each room in the middle storey was 9 feet wide. Each room in the top storey was 10 and half feet wide. The *temple wall on each floor was thinner than on the floor below. So the rooms leaned on the wall. But the builders did not build the beams into the wall itself.

v7 The builders prepared the stones for the *temple at the place where they dug them. Therefore there was no sound from any tools like hammers while they built the *temple.

Solomon began to build the *temple in the year 966 *B.C. This would mean that the people left Egypt in 1447 *B.C. The *temple was a small building by modern standards. It would be a house for God. But it was not like a modern church. It was not a place where a large number of people would *worship. Only the priests would *worship in the *temple, as they carried out their duties. However, the *temple was twice as long and wide as the tent that Moses had erected. They stored goods in the side rooms.

They built the *temple silently. This probably showed that the *temple was different from the buildings of other religions. It was a *holy place, where the God of *peace was present.

v8 The entrance to the lowest storey was on the south side of the *temple. Stairs led up to the middle and top storeys. v9 So King Solomon finished the *temple. He put on a roof that he made with beams and boards of *cedar. v10 He built side rooms all along the *temple. Each room was 7 and a half feet (2.25 metres) high. *Cedar beams joined them to the *temple.

v11 God spoke to Solomon. v12 ‘This is what I will do about this *temple. You must obey all my laws and commands. Then I will carry out through you the promise that I made to David, your father. v13 I will live among the *Israelites. I will never leave them.’

v14 So Solomon finished the *temple.

The staircase wound up from the bottom to the top storey. Solomon made the roof from *cedar wood. The side rooms rested on beams that rested on narrow shelves. The builders attached these shelves to the walls.

God encouraged Solomon to finish the work. He promised Solomon that he would be present with the *Israelites. And God referred to his promise to David. David’s family would always rule *Israel, if they continued to obey him. And that would be God’s promise to Solomon too, if Solomon continued to obey God. The splendid building that Solomon made could not impress God. What mattered to God was the attitude of Solomon’s heart. And if Solomon obeyed God’s law, God would support Solomon and his *kingdom. Hebrews 10:36 says, ‘You need to continue although things are difficult. Then you will receive what God has promised.’

v15 Solomon covered the inner walls with *cedar boards from the floor to the roof. He covered the floor with *pine boards. v16 He built an inner room at the back of the *temple. He called it the most *holy place. It was about 30 feet long. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) He separated it from the rest of the *temple by *cedar boards from the floor to the roof. v17 The main room in front of this was 60 feet long. v18 The inside of the *temple was *cedar. There were *carvings of flowers and fruits. He completely covered the inside with *cedar. So it was not possible to see the stones in the walls.

v19 At the back of the *temple, Solomon had built the inner room. He prepared that room to be the place for the *Lord’s *Covenant Box. v20 This inner room was 30 feet long, 30 feet high and 30 feet wide. He covered the inside of the room with pure gold. He made an *altar with *cedar. v21 Solomon covered the inside of the *temple with pure gold. He put gold chains across the front of the inner room. He covered this with gold. v22 So he covered the whole of the inside of the *temple with gold. He also covered the *altar in the most *holy place with gold.

Solomon covered the building with *cedar wood. He covered the most *holy place with gold. It contained the box of the *Lord’s *covenant which Moses had made. Inside the box were the stones of the 10 *commandments.

v23 Solomon made two *angels out of *olive wood. He put them in the most *holy place. Each one was about 15 feet high. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) v24 One wing of the first *angel was 7 and a half feet long. The other wing was also 7 and a half feet long. It was 15 feet from the end of one wing to the end of the other. v25 The second *angel had the same measurements. They were both the same shape and size. v26 Both *angels were 15 feet high. v27 He put the *angels inside the most *holy place of the *temple. Their wings spread out. The wing of one *angel touched one wall. The wing of the other *angel touched the other wall. The other wings touched each other in the middle of the room. v28 He covered the *angels with gold.

v29 He *carved *angels, palm trees (a tree with very big leaves) and flowers on the walls all round the *temple. He did this in both inner and outer rooms. v30 He also covered the floors of both rooms with gold.

The *angels were like guards for the *Covenant Box. They were half of the height of the room. The room was 30 feet (9 metres) high. There were *carvings of *angels, trees and flowers on the walls. They were like pictures of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8). God sent people out of Eden because of their *sin. They could only come near to God if he forgave their *sin. The most *holy place was the place where they offered *sacrifices for *sin. We can only enter heaven if we trust in the *sacrifice of Jesus for our *sin.

v31 Solomon made a double door out of *olive wood. This was at the entrance to the most *holy place. The top and the sides of the doorway formed a shape with 5 sides. v32 He *carved *angels, trees and flowers on the *olive wood doors. He covered the doors, the *angels and the trees with gold. v33 He made a *frame with four sides out of *olive wood. This was for the entrance to the main room. v34 He also made a double door out of *pine. v35 On it he *carved *angels, trees and flowers. And he covered them with gold.

v36 He built an inner *courtyard. It had three rows of stone and one row of *cedar beams.

v37 Solomon laid the foundation (strong base) of the *Lord’s *temple in the month called Ziv. This was in the 4th year of his rule. v38 He finished the *temple in the 8th month, the month called Bul. This was in the 11th year of his rule. He followed all the original plans completely. Solomon took 7 years to build the *temple.

We are not sure what some of the words in these verses mean. People built such a splendid *temple because they recognised the greatness of God. It also taught people that God was with them. It did not keep God in one place. Solomon says this in chapter 8:27.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:16, tells Christians that they are God’s *temple. The Spirit of God lives in them. In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul says that the church is the *temple of God. Jesus is the foundation (the strong base). Christians are like the stones of the *temple in which the *Holy Spirit lives.

Chapter 7

Solomon’s palaces

v1 Solomon took 13 years to build his palace.

v2 The first great hall that he made was called the ‘Hall of the Forest of Lebanon’. It was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) It had three rows of *cedar columns which supported *cedar beams. v3 He made the roof of *cedar above the beams that the columns supported. There were 45 beams, 15 in each row. v4 The windows were high in sets of three. They were opposite each other. v5 All the doorways had *rectangular *frames. They were in sets of three and they were opposite each other.

v6 The second great hall that Solomon made was called the ‘Hall of Columns’. It was 75 feet long and 45 feet wide. In front of it was a roof that had columns to support it.

v7 Solomon also built the ‘Hall of Judgement’. This is where he would sit on his royal seat to act as judge. He covered this hall with *cedar from the floor to the roof.

v8 The palace where he would live was further back. This was similar in design. Solomon also made a palace like this for the daughter of Pharaoh (king of Egypt). He had married her.

v9 Solomon made all these buildings including the great *courtyard. For all these buildings, he used the finest stone from the base to the roof. His workmen cut the stones to size. And they used a saw to make both the inner and outer surfaces smooth. v10 His workmen laid the foundations (strong bases for the buildings) with large stones of good quality. Some were 15 feet long and some were 12 feet. v11 On top of them were good quality stones, which the workmen had cut to size. There were also *cedar beams. v12 The palace *courtyard had walls with one row of *cedar beams. Then it had three rows of stones, which they had cut. So did the inner *courtyard of the *temple and the entrance room of the *temple.

Solomon took twice as long to build his own house as he did to build the *temple. However, he made sure that he built God’s house first.

Solomon’s own palace had many great halls. The halls had different designs.

·    The ‘Hall of the Forest of Lebanon’ used much *cedar wood. That wood came from the forests in Lebanon. The hall received its name because of the use of the wood. The hall was a large room with an impressive design. Solomon kept much gold in this hall. He held great parties here (1 Kings 10:16-17; 10:21).

·    The next room was the ‘Hall of Columns’. The columns were a very splendid entrance for the room.

·    The ‘Hall of Judgement’ was a very important room. It contained Solomon’s throne (royal seat). Solomon used this throne when he acted as *Israel’s chief judge. The throne itself was magnificent. No other king had ever made such a wonderful throne (1 Kings 10:18-20).

The private rooms where Solomon actually lived were behind these halls. And Solomon built another palace for his wife, who was the daughter of the king of Egypt.

Solomon’s workmen used huge blocks of stone of the best quality to build all these buildings. They prepared the stone before they brought it to Jerusalem. They had to move the stone without any vehicles or motors, of course. The stone had to travel long distances. And Jerusalem is on the top of a mountain. They used carts, horses, and the strength of thousands of workmen.

The most common stone in *Israel is called limestone. There are different types of limestone. But some soft limestones have a useful quality for builders. When people cut this stone at first, it is fairly soft. So, it is easier to make smooth. Later, the weather causes it to become harder.

*Cedar wood is of the best quality. Solomon’s workmen chose very tall trees from the forests in Lebanon. They used some of the wood because of its strength. But they also used the wood for its beauty. In the ‘Hall of Judgement’, they covered the stone walls with wooden boards.

The furniture outside the *temple

v13 King Solomon asked a man called Huram to come from Tyre. v14 Huram’s father had been a man from Tyre who was a skilled worker in bronze (a brown metal). His mother was a widow from the *tribe of Naphtali. Huram was a very skilled worker in all kinds of work with bronze. He came to Solomon. He did all the work that Solomon asked him to do.

Huram’s mother was a widow from Naphtali so she was an *Israelite. After her husband’s death, she married a man from Tyre who became Huram’s father. Both father and son were good workers with bronze (a brown metal). The *Israelites did not know how to work with metal. So Solomon brought this skilled workmen from Tyre. His mother was an *Israelite so he was not a complete foreigner.

The columns

v15 Huram made two columns out of bronze (a brown metal). They were 27 feet high and 18 feet round. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) v16 He also made two tops of bronze on each column. Each top was 7 and a half feet high. v17 He *decorated each top with a design of chains. There were 7 chains for each top. v18 He made two rows in the shape of *pomegranates (round fruit with a thick skin). He made these out of bronze in order to make the tops beautiful. v19 The tops were in the shape of lilies (large flowers) about 6 feet tall. v20 He placed the tops on a round section above the chain design. There were 200 *pomegranates in two rows round each top. v21 Huram placed the columns in front of the entrance to the *temple. The one on the south side he named Jakin. The one on the north he named Boaz. v22 The tops were in the shape of lilies. So he finished the work on the columns.

Physically, the columns were just a way to *decorate the outside *courtyard of the *temple. Their size and beauty were impressive. But the columns also stood as a declaration about the *temple. They would remind people in the future why Solomon built this great *temple.

The names of the columns reminded the people about God. Jakin means ‘He (God) establishes’. That means, God establishes *Israel. In other words, God chose the people in *Israel to be his special people. And Boaz means ‘In him (God) there is strength’. In other words, the people in *Israel should receive their strength from God, not from armies or from wealth. God would keep the people strong in their beliefs. He would also give them the strength to do what he wanted them to do. We should remember these things when we go to give honour to God.

The great basin

v23 Huram made a round basin out of metal. It was 15 feet across, 7 and a half feet deep and 45 feet round. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) v24 All round the edge there were two rows in the shape of gourds (a type of fruit). These were all part of the basin. There were 10 of these to each 18 inches (45 centimetres). v25 The basin rested on the backs of 12 *bulls that he made out of metal. The *bulls looked towards the outside. Three looked towards north, three south, three east and three west. v26 The basin was 3 inches (8 centimetres) thick. Its edge was like the edge of a cup, or, like the flower called the lily. The basin held about 11 000 gallons (44 000 litres) of water.

This was a very large basin, for water. The priests used it to wash themselves before they offered *sacrifices. A gourd was a fruit. Huram chose this shape to *decorate the metal basin. Everything in the *temple and its *courtyard would be beautiful.

The basin reminded people about this fact. They must be clean in order to come in front of God. And that would remind them that they also should be *holy.

The carts and the smaller basins

v27 Huram also made 10 carts out of bronze (a brown metal). Each was 6 feet long, 6 feet wide and about 4 and a half feet high. (One foot is about 30 centimetres.) v28 He made them out of square *panels that he fixed in *frames. v29 On the *panels were pictures of lions, *bulls and special *angels with wings. On the *frames above and below the lions and *bulls there were *spiral designs. v30 Each cart had 4 wheels and *rods which connected the wheels. He made these out of bronze. Each cart had a smaller basin on 4 supports which he *decorated with *spiral designs. v31 On the inside of the cart there was a round *frame. This was about one and a half feet deep. The *frame measured two and a quarter feet, including its base. It had *carvings round it. But the *panels were square; they were not round. v32 The wheels were under the *panels. He attached the *rods which connected the wheels to the cart. The wheels were two and a quarter feet high. v33 The wheels were like *chariot wheels. He made the *rods that connected the wheels out of metal. He made the edges of the wheels out of metal. He also made the *rods that connected the centre of the wheel to its edge. He made the centre part of the wheel. Both of these parts he again made out of metal.

v34 There were 4 handles at the bottom corners of each cart. v35 At the top of the cart there was a round band. This was about three quarters of a foot deep. He attached the supports and *panels to the top of each cart. v36 He *decorated the supports and *panels. He made pictures of *angels with wings, lions and palm trees (a tree with very big leaves). He placed the pictures wherever there was space on the supports and on the *panels. He made *spiral designs all round. v37 That is how he made the carts. They were all alike. They all had the same size and shape.

v38 Huram made 10 smaller basins. There was one for each cart. Each basin was 6 feet across and held about 230 gallons (880 litres). v39 He put 5 of the carts on the south side of the *temple. He put the other 5 on the north side. He put the great basin in the south-east corner of the *temple.

The ceremonies that happened at the *temple were very unlike the ceremonies in a modern church.

People would bring animals to offer as *sacrifices. They would hand over these animals to the priests. The priests would kill the animals at the entrance of the *temple.

Then the priests would prepare the *sacrifices. There were several different types of *sacrifice. The priests had to be careful to obey the right rules for the type of *sacrifice. The law permitted the priests to take some meat for their own use. And the priests would burn other parts of the animals as a gift to God. They would do this on the *altar in front of the *temple.

The priests would cut up the *sacrifices on these carts. They would be careful to obey all the rules in Leviticus chapters 1 to 7.

There were 10 carts (or stands), which Huram made out of bronze (a brown metal). On them, there were smaller basins that would be full of water. These basins contained a supply of water for the priests to use as they worked. They would wash everything constantly as they prepared the *sacrifices. The carts were on wheels so people could move them. Usually they stood in two rows in the *courtyard that surrounded the *temple. There were 5 on one side of the *courtyard and 5 on the other.

The small objects

v40 Huram also made the pots, spades and bowls.

So Huram finished all the work that King Solomon had ordered for the *temple of the *Lord.

Huram also made some small objects for the *temple. The priests would use the spades to remove the ashes from the *altar. They would place the ashes in the pots (Exodus 27:3). The bowls were for the blood of *sacrifices. The priests would scatter some blood during certain ceremonies.

A list of Huram’s work for the *temple

v41 Huram made the two columns and their two tops, which had the same shape as bowls. He also made the design of chains on each top. v42 He made the 400 *pomegranates in two rows on each column. These were round the design on each top. v43 He also made the 10 carts with their 10 basins. v44 He made the great basin and the 12 *bulls under it. v45 He also made the pots, spades and bowls.

Huram made all these objects for King Solomon for the *temple of the *Lord. He made them all out of bronze (a brown metal). v46 The king arranged for the workmen to shape the metal in the valley of the river Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan. They poured the hot metal into holes that they had dug in the ground. v47 Solomon did not weigh any of these objects because there were so many of them. Therefore, they never found out the weight of the bronze.

This was a good area in which to make things from metal. There was plenty of clay (sticky earth) that the workmen dug from the ground. The clay that remained would keep its shape during the process. The workmen heated the metal until it melted. Trees provided fuel for the fires. The north wind would provide a current of air to make the fires hot. The workmen would pour the hot metal into the ground. When the metal was cool again, the workmen would dig it out of the ground. And the metal would now have the right shape.

All these bronze (brown metal) objects were for the *courtyard outside the *temple building. In fact, these verses do not contain a complete list. The most important other object was the *altar. This was also bronze. It stood in front of the entrance to the *temple. Here, the priests would burn the *sacrifices.

These objects were bronze. This metal reminds us about the nature of people. Bronze is not a pure metal. It is a mixture of other metals. It is not a pure, perfect metal like gold or silver. And people are not perfect, because of their *sin. God provided these objects so that people could offer *sacrifices for their *sin. And therefore, they could have a relationship with him. These *sacrifices show God’s plan to free people from *sin. That happened by the death of Jesus, who was the perfect *sacrifice for *sin.

The objects inside the *temple itself would be gold. Gold is a pure metal. It is also very beautiful. It reminds us that God is perfect. God never *sins. He is *holy.

The furniture inside the *temple

v48 Solomon made all the furniture for the *Lord’s *temple. He made the *altar out of gold. He also made the table out of gold. This table was for the bread that the priests offered to God. v49 He also made the lamp holders out of gold. There were 5 on the right and 5 on the left in front of the most *holy place. There were the flowers, lamps and tongs (tools to pick up things) of gold. v50 There were dishes of gold. There were tools to put out lamps. And there were bowls. There were larger spoons to hold *incense and dishes to burn *incense. There were also gold *hinges for the doors of the most *holy place. There were also some *hinges for the outer doors of the *temple.

v51 So Solomon had finished all the work on the *temple. Then he placed in the *temple store-rooms everything that his father David had given to the *Lord. These included the silver, gold and all the furniture.

The *altar of gold was not the same as the bronze (brown metal) *altar that stood outside the building. Outside, the priests offered the *sacrifices for the people. But inside the *temple, the priests gave honour to God. So they offered no *sacrifices on the *altar of gold. Instead, they burned *incense on this *altar. So the *altar of gold was called the *altar of *incense.

Note that Solomon’s workmen made everything out of gold. This meant that the *temple was a place of great beauty and value. Solomon used gold because gold is a pure metal. The workmen would heat this gold in the hottest fires in order to remove any other substances.

This process teaches us how *holy God is. He is even more perfect than the purest gold. He is without any *sin whatever. And the nature of pure gold teaches us about God’s *glory (the splendid beauty and wonderful light of God’s perfect character).

Solomon did not choose himself what objects he would make for the *temple. He made objects like those that Moses had made for God’s sacred tent. And Moses had not chosen those objects himself. God directed Moses what to make (Exodus 35:10-19). So the design of the *temple and its furniture was God’s plan.

Verse 51 mentions David, Solomon’s father. David wanted to build this *temple, but God did not allow him. However, God gave David the plans for the *temple. And David himself was very generous. He gave much for the construction of the *temple (1 Chronicles 29:4). We usually call this building ‘Solomon’s *temple’. But in fact, Solomon was really just obeying his father’s orders.

So the people put the many objects that David gave into the store-rooms at the *temple. And then the *temple was complete. Solomon organised a special ceremony for the opening of the *temple (chapter 8).

Chapter 8

The ceremony at the opening of the *temple

v1 King Solomon called the leaders of the *tribes and the families in *Israel together. They went to Jerusalem to bring the *Lord’s *Covenant Box to the *temple. It had been in Zion, David’s city. v2 All the men in *Israel came together to King Solomon. They came during the *Festival of Shelters in the 7th month.

v3 When all the leaders had arrived, the priests lifted up the box. v4 They carried it to the *temple. The priests and *Levites also carried the tent of the *Lord’s *presence and all the furniture. v5 King Solomon and the *Israelites with him went in front of the *Covenant Box. They *sacrificed so many sheep and *cattle that nobody could count them.

v6 The priests carried the *Covenant Box into the inner room of the *temple. They put it in the most *holy place under the wings of the special *angels. v7 These wings covered the box and the poles that the priests used to carry it. v8 These poles were very long. People could see their ends from the front of the *Holy Place. People could not see them from anywhere else. The poles are still there today. v9 There was nothing in the box except the two large stones. Moses had placed them in it at *Mount Horeb (Sinai). The *Lord made a *covenant there with the *Israelites. This happened after they came out of Egypt.

v10 As the priests left the *Holy Place, a cloud filled the *temple of the *Lord. v11 The priests could not perform their duties. The cloud of the *glory of the *Lord had filled the *temple.

v12 Then Solomon said, ‘The *Lord has said that he would live in a dark cloud. v13 I have built a magnificent *temple for you. It is a place for you to live for always.’

This describes how they brought the *Covenant Box into the *temple. This event happened during the *Festival of Shelters. This happened on the 15th day of the 7th month.

All the leaders of *Israel attended the ceremony. They all brought animals to *sacrifice to God.

The *Covenant Box was the most sacred object in the *temple. It was a wooden box, but gold surrounded the wood. Originally, Moses made it for the inner room of God’s special tent, that is, the tent of the *Lord’s *presence. Nobody would enter that room except for the chief priest. And even he only entered the room once each year.

The only things in the *Covenant Box were the stones of the 10 *commandments. These reminded the *Israelites about the *covenant that God had made with them at *Mount Sinai.

So, at this great ceremony, the priests moved the *Covenant Box into the inner room of the new *temple. This was a very *holy moment. So the priests acted with great care. The *Covenant Box was very sacred. The priests would know about Uzzah’s death (2 Samuel 6:6-7). Uzzah had died because he touched the box. So the priests carried the box on long poles. They offered very many *sacrifices. After they placed the box in its special place, they left the room.

Then the cloud which was a *sign of the *glory of the *Lord filled the *temple. This showed that God accepted the building and furniture of the *temple. Such an event had happened centuries before. It happened when Moses finished the construction of the tent of the *Lord’s *presence. On both occasions, the cloud showed that God was really present. He had been present at the tent. And now he was present at the *temple.

God sent the cloud so that people could not see the wonderful light of his *presence. That light is too bright for people to see, because of their human weakness. Moses briefly saw the light of God’s *presence. But even Moses could not see God’s face. Any person who saw God’s face would die (Exodus 33:20). Afterwards, Moses’ own face shone so brightly that he had to cover it (Exodus 34:24-35). But Paul says that, in the future, we shall see God’s face (1 Corinthians 13:12). This is God’s wonderful promise to every real Christian. And John agrees, in Revelation 22:4. John adds that our future home will not need the sun or the moon. That home will be bright because God is present there. And that light will shine across the whole world (Revelation 21:23-24).

v14 As the people stood there, King Solomon turned. Then he *blessed them. v15 He said, ‘I give honour to the *Lord God of *Israel! He has done what he promised to David my father. He has said, v16 “I brought my people out of Egypt. I did not choose any city or *tribe in *Israel where people could build a *temple to *worship me. But I chose David to rule my people *Israel.”

v17 My father David wanted to build a *temple. This was to give honour to the *Lord God of *Israel. v18 But the *Lord said to my father David, “Your desire to build a *temple for me was a good one. v19 But you shall not build it. Your son who is from your own family will build it for me.”

v20 The *Lord has *kept his promise. I have followed David my father as king, as God promised. I have built a *temple to give honour to the *Lord God of *Israel. v21 I have provided a place for the *Covenant Box. It contains the stone blocks of the *covenant that the *Lord made. He did this when he brought our *ancestors out of Egypt.’

This is what Solomon said to the people. He thanked God for all that he had done. He had *kept his promises to his people. He had helped Solomon to build the *temple. In the Book of Deuteronomy, God promised to choose a place where his people would *worship him (Deuteronomy 12:5). This would be the proper place for them to offer their *sacrifices. God did not need a house to live in. The *temple was a *sign of his *presence among the *Israelites. In those days, God lived with his people. Today he lives in his people. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:16, ‘We are the *temple of the living God.’

Our translation simply mentions the ‘*temple’. But in the original language these verses emphasise that the *temple is ‘for the name of God’. By ‘name’, Solomon did not just mean the word that we use to call someone. ‘Name’ meant the honour, authority and power of a person’s character. So God’s *temple would show God’s wonderful character. Here, God would forgive *sin when people turned to him. Here, God would show his kindness when he answered prayer. Here, God would accept the *sacrifices that his people offered.

v22 Then Solomon stood in front of the *altar of the *Lord. All the *Israelites were there. He raised his hands to heaven v23 and he prayed. ‘*Lord God of *Israel, there is no god like you in heaven above or on earth below. You *keep your *covenant of love with your servants. You do this when they completely obey you. v24 You have *kept your promise to your servant David my father. You yourself promised this and you have *kept your promise. You yourself did what you said. Today you have carried out your promise.

v25 Now *Lord God of *Israel, *keep the other promise. You made it to your servant David my father. You told him, “You will always have a *descendant to rule over *Israel. But this will only happen if your sons obey me. They must do this as carefully as you have done.” v26 So now, God of *Israel, I pray this. I pray that you will perform all your promises to your servant David, my father.

v27 But surely God will not really live on earth! The highest heaven is not great enough for you. This *temple that I have built certainly cannot be great enough. v28 But *Lord, my God, I am your servant. Please listen to my prayer and to my cry for *mercy. Hear my prayer and the requests that I am making to you today. v29 Watch over this *temple day and night. You said that people would give you honour in this place. Hear the prayers that I, your servant, am praying towards this place. v30 Hear my prayers and the prayers of your people [called *Israel] when they turn towards this place. From your home in heaven, hear us. And when you hear, forgive us.’

Solomon stood to pray. In those days, the person who was lower in rank stood. The person of higher rank would sit down. Solomon therefore showed that God is great. And Solomon was humble as he prayed. He was the king. But he even called himself God’s servant. Kings often thought that the people were their servants. But, in this prayer, Solomon says that the people in *Israel were God’s servants.

God had done what he had promised. So Solomon gave honour to him. God had promised that he would choose a place for the *temple (Deuteronomy 12:5). That had happened. Now Solomon prayed that God would *keep his other promise. David’s *descendants would continue to rule *Israel as long as they obeyed God. Solomon then recognised that he could not keep God in the *temple. God is everywhere. But he asked that God would hear. And that God would answer the prayers that people made to him from the *temple. He prayed too that God would forgive them.

For the Christian, God really has come to live on earth in the person of Jesus Christ. *Forgiveness is available for all who put their trust in Jesus. This is because Jesus died for us. He is now in heaven and he is praying for his people. He offers their prayers to his Father.

v31 ‘Suppose that a man does something wrong to his neighbour. People ask him to make a serious declaration. Then he comes and makes this declaration in front of your *altar in this *temple. v32 Listen in heaven and act. Be like a judge between your servants. Say which one is guilty. Punish him as he deserves. Say which one is not guilty. Then everyone will know who is innocent.

v33 Suppose that an enemy defeats your people *Israel. This is because they have *sinned against you. Then they turn to you and *worship you. They pray to you in this *temple. v34 Listen in heaven and forgive the *sins of your people *Israel. Bring them back to the land that you gave to their *ancestors.

v35 Suppose that you do not allow it to rain. This would be because your people have *sinned against you. Then your people turn to this place and they give you honour. They turn from their *sin because you have punished them. v36 Listen in heaven and forgive the *sins of your servants, the people in *Israel. Teach them to do what is right. Then send rain on the land that you gave to your people as a permanent possession.

v37 Suppose that there is no food in the country. Suppose that there is great illness. Perhaps strong winds dry out the crops. Perhaps locusts (insects that fly in large groups) destroy them. Perhaps their enemies attack their cities. Or maybe there is some other disease or *disaster. v38 Perhaps one of your people regrets this and prays to you towards this *temple. v39 Then listen in your home in heaven. Forgive them and help them. You alone know the thoughts of the human heart. Deal with each person as they deserve. v40 Then everyone will respect you all the time that they live in the country of their *ancestors.’

Solomon asked God to listen to people’s prayers when people prayed towards the *temple. He asked that God would be their judge. God would know who was the innocent person or the guilty person.

Solomon also prayed here about many different types of trouble. Perhaps *Israel’s enemies would attack them, or there would be a lack of food. Perhaps there would be a *disaster or some disease. He prayed that God would forgive people. But they had to turn from their *sins.

Today, we do not pray towards a place but towards a person, the *Lord Jesus Christ. We can learn about him as we study the *temple. It is Jesus who can forgive us.

Solomon’s words refer back to Deuteronomy chapter 28. In that chapter, God promised to do good things for the people in *Israel. However, they would only receive the benefit of those promises if they obeyed God’s law. If they did not obey, they would suffer many troubles. Solomon mentions many of these troubles in his prayer.

Of course, many people suffer similar troubles for other reasons. Troubles happen to everyone. These troubles are often not the result of *sin (John 9:1-3). But Solomon knew how God had warned the people in *Israel. And so this prayer was about those troubles that really are the result of *sin. Solomon prayed that the people would not suffer a permanent punishment. God had provided the *temple. And this *temple would be the place where people would pray. They could offer *sacrifices. They could ask God to forgive them. So Solomon prayed that God would forgive them. And he prayed that those troubles would then end. (See Ezekiel chapter 18; James 5:13-20).

v41 ‘Suppose that a foreigner hears about your fame. He does not belong to *Israel. He comes from a distant country. v42 [Many will hear of your great name and the great things that you have done.] He comes and he prays towards your *temple. v43 Then hear from heaven your home. Do whatever that foreigner asks you to do. So all the people in the world may know you and obey you. Your people *Israel do this. Then everyone will know about this *temple that I have built. It is the place for people to give honour to you.

v44 Suppose that you send your people to fight against their enemies. Then they pray to the *Lord. They turn towards this city that you have chosen. They turn towards the *temple that I have built for you. v45 Listen to their prayers and give them success.’

Solomon asked God to accept the prayers of foreigners who came to him. He understood that God’s good news was for all people, not just one nation. Jesus said, ‘My *temple is a house of prayer for the people in all nations’ (Mark 11:17).

Solomon also prayed that *Israel might have success in wars. In 2 Kings chapter 19, Hezekiah went to the *temple to pray for the defeat of Sennacherib’s army.

v46 ‘Suppose that they *sin against you. [There is nobody who does not *sin.] As a result, you become angry with them. You let their enemies defeat them. Then their enemies take them as prisoners to their own countries far or near. v47 Perhaps in that country where people hold them as prisoners they will feel sorry about their *sin. Then they pray to you. They realise how wicked and *sinful they have been. v48 So in the country of their enemies who took them as prisoners they turn back to you. They do this with all their heart and *soul. Then they pray to you towards the country that you gave to their fathers. They pray towards the city that you have chosen. They pray towards the *temple that I have built for your name. v49 Then listen to their prayers from your home in heaven. Show them *mercy. v50 Forgive your people who have *sinned against you. Forgive all the *sins that they have done against you. Make their enemies give them *mercy. v51 Do that because they are your people. You brought them out of Egypt. That was a terrible place, like a burning fire.

v52 I pray that you will always answer with kindness the prayers of me, your servant. And I pray that you will always answer with kindness the prayers of your people called *Israel. Please listen to them whenever they call to you for help. v53 You chose them from all the nations of the world to be your own people. You said this by your servant Moses. You said this, *Lord, when you brought our *ancestors out of Egypt.’

Solomon then prayed for those whom God would punish because of their *sin. God would allow their enemies to *capture them and to take them into *exile. As a result, they would turn from their *sins and look towards their country. They would look towards Jerusalem and the *temple. They could not come to the *temple to pray, because they were in *exile. But they could still turn towards Jerusalem to pray. Daniel actually did this in Daniel 6:10.

He asked that God would pardon them. They were the people whom he brought out of Egypt. He chose them to be his own people. Because of God’s *covenant with them, he would show them *grace.

Romans 5:6 tells us how God shows his *grace to Christians also. ‘When we were still without power, Christ died for wicked people.’ Ephesians 1:4 says, ‘God chose us in Christ before he made the world.’ 1 John 1:9 says, ‘But if we tell God the truth about our *sins then he will forgive us.’

v54 When Solomon had finished his prayer to the *Lord, he stood up in front of the *altar. He had been on his knees there. But he was lifting up his hands towards heaven. v55 He stood and he *blessed all the *Israelites in a loud voice. v56 ‘I give honour to the *Lord. He has given his people *peace. He promised that he would. He has *kept all the wonderful promises that he gave by his servant Moses. v57 The *Lord our God was with our *ancestors. I pray that he will be with us in the same way. I pray that he will never leave us alone. v58 I pray that he will help us to obey him. I pray that we will obey him. I pray that we will obey all his laws and commands. He gave these laws and commands to our *ancestors. v59 I want the *Lord always to remember the prayers and requests that I have made to him. I want him daily to assist me, his servant, and his people *Israel with the help that we need. And I pray that he will do those things. v60 Then all the nations in the world will know that the *Lord is God. There is no other god. v61 But you should always be loyal to the *Lord our God. You should always obey his laws and commands as you do at this time.’

Solomon *blessed the people. He told them to be completely loyal to God. He reminded them how God had helped them in the past. As a result, they must obey God. He prayed that God would assist them daily with their troubles. Then other nations would know that he is the only real God. This is because of what he has done for *Israel.

In Ephesians 1:11-12 Paul says to Christians, ‘God chose us in Christ…. to give honour to his *glory.’ So as God works in our lives, he receives the *glory.

v62 Then the king and all the people with him offered *sacrifices to the *Lord. v63 Solomon offered a *sacrifice of 22 000 *cattle and 120 000 sheep and goats as *fellowship offerings to the *Lord. So the king and all *Israel gave the *temple to God.

v64 On the same day, he made the central part of the square in front of the *temple *holy. There he offered *burnt offerings, grain *offerings, and the fat from the *fellowship offerings. He did this because the *altar of bronze (a brown metal) in front of the *Lord was too small. There were so many *offerings.

v65 So Solomon and the people with him *celebrated the *Festival of Shelters at that time. There was a large crowd of people. Some people came from as far away as Lebo Hamath and the border of Egypt. They *celebrated for 7 days in front of the *Lord our God. Then they continued for another 7 days, 14 days in all. v66 The next day he sent the people away. They *blessed the king. They went home full of joy and happiness because of all the *blessings. The *Lord had given these *blessings to his servant David and to his people *Israel.

There was a large crowd of people when they gave the *temple to God. That is why there were so many *sacrifices. The *celebration lasted 7 days. Then the *Festival of Shelters also lasted 7 days. People came from every part of the *kingdom. They came from the Lebanon in the north to the border of Egypt in the south.

This was the beginning of the daily *sacrifices for *sin at the *temple. These lasted as long as the *temple stood. Today Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus prays to God for us. His prayers for us are also continuous. But Jesus’ death as a *sacrifice only happened once. That one perfect *sacrifice was enough for all our *sin (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:10-12).

Chapter 9

God appears to Solomon again

v1 So Solomon finished the *temple of the *Lord. He finished the royal palace and everything else that he wanted to do.

v2 Then the *Lord appeared to him again as he had at Gibeon. v3 The *Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and all that you asked me to do. I have made this *temple *holy which you have built. People will give honour to me there for always. I will watch over it and I will love it for all time.

v4 Be honest. Have a sincere heart as your father David did. Obey my laws. Obey all the commands that I give you. v5 If you do these things, your own *descendants will always rule *Israel. I promised this to your father David. I said to him, “Your *descendants will always rule over *Israel.”

v6 But suppose that you or your sons turn away from me. Perhaps you do not obey the laws and commands that I have given to you. Then you go and *worship other gods. v7 Then I will remove *Israel from the country that I have given to them. I will *reject this *temple as a place where people *worship me. Then people will laugh at *Israel and it will be like a lesson for other people. v8 This *temple is very great now. But then, people will be full of terror when they see it. They will ask, “Why did the *Lord do this to the land and the *temple?” v9 People will answer. “It is because his people turned away from the *Lord their God. He had brought their *ancestors out of Egypt. But they *worshipped and served other gods. That is why the *Lord brought this *disaster on them.” ’

God appeared to Solomon as he had done in chapter 3. Then he promised to give him the wisdom that he needed to rule the country. Here he made another promise to Solomon. He would *keep the *covenant which he made with David his father. But the promise depended upon whether or not Solomon and his *descendants obeyed God. They might turn away from God and *worship other gods. If so, the *temple would become a ruin (a building that people have broken). Other people would learn a lesson from this.

Jesus promised that he would give his people *everlasting life. ‘They will never die. Nobody can take them away from me’ (John 10:28). However, Colossians 1:23 says this. ‘You must continue to be loyal.’ Some people may turn away from their beliefs. This may show that they were never really Christians at all. We need to have the fruit of God’s *Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

In verse 3, God explains how special the *temple was. It was not merely a place for *worship or for ceremonies. In the original language, God says that his ‘name’, his ‘eyes’ and his ‘heart’ would always be there:

·    The word ‘name’ means God’s honour, character, authority and strength.

·    The word ‘eyes’ means that God would watch his *temple and his people. He would watch them in order to protect them. And he would also watch them in order to show kindness to them.

·    The word ‘heart’ should remind us how much God loves his people. He would show that love to them by means of the *temple.

v10 It took Solomon 20 years to build the *temple and the palace. v11 King Hiram of Tyre had given Solomon all the wood and all the gold that he wanted. So Solomon gave him 20 towns in Galilee. v12 Hiram went to see these towns, but he did not like them. v13 He said, ‘I do not like the towns that you have given me, my brother.’ Therefore, he called the area Cabul (without value). People still call it that today. v14 Now Hiram had sent the king 4 tons (4000 kilos) of gold.

Solomon gave Hiram 20 towns in Galilee. Some people think that he did this in order to *borrow some gold from him. But Hiram did not like the towns. 2 Chronicles 8:2 tells us that Hiram gave them back to Solomon. Some people think that the towns were not very good ones. Other people think that Solomon took the gold from King Hiram. Solomon intended to return it later, so he lent the towns to Hiram. In other words, Hiram would receive income from the towns until Solomon returned the money. And then Solomon got the towns back.

So we cannot be sure about the facts of this matter. But we can see clearly that Solomon was not generous. And that surprises us. We would expect Solomon to be very generous to Hiram. Hiram had done many things to help Solomon when he was building the *temple. And Hiram had either lent or given a large quantity of gold to Solomon. But these towns disappointed Hiram. Clearly, he expected something better.

This chapter continues with an account of how Solomon forced people to work for him. Solomon was learning how to control people. And he was learning how to gain unfair benefits from other people. In the end, such activities would upset people greatly. They were part of the reason why Solomon’s *kingdom divided in two after his death.

v15 Solomon forced people to build the *Lord’s *temple. They also built his palace, the defences and the city wall of Jerusalem. He also built again the cities called Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. v16 The king of Egypt had attacked and *captured Gezer. He had burned the city. He had killed the *Canaanites who lived in it. Then he gave it to his daughter, Solomon’s wife, as a wedding gift. v17 So Solomon built Gezer again. He also rebuilt Lower Beth Horon, v18 Baalath and Tadmor in the desert in his country. v19 He also built all his cities for his stores. He built the towns for his horses and *chariots. He built whatever he wanted in Jerusalem, Lebanon and in all his *kingdom.

v20-21 Solomon used as his slaves the *descendants of the people called *Amorites, *Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. These people were not *Israelites. They were groups of people. These groups had all lived in Canaan before the *Jews lived there. The *Israelites had been unable to kill them all when they *captured the country. They are still slaves today. v22 But Solomon did not make any of the *Israelites into slaves. They were his soldiers, his officials, his officers and his captains. They were the people who controlled his *chariots and horsemen. v23 They were also the chief officials who controlled Solomon’s schemes for building. And 550 officials controlled the men who did the work.

v24 Solomon built the city’s defences. He did this after the king of Egypt’s daughter moved into her palace. Until then, she lived in the city of David. Solomon had built the palace for her.

v25 Three times a year Solomon *sacrificed *burnt offerings and *fellowship offerings. He did this on the *altar that he had built for the *Lord. He also burnt *incense in front of the *Lord when he offered these *sacrifices. So he obeyed God’s instructions about the *temple.

v26 King Solomon also built ships at Eziongeber. That is near Elath in Edom. It is on the shore of the Red Sea. v27 Hiram sent some sailors with experience. They served in the ships with Solomon’s men. v28 They sailed to Ophir and they brought back 14 tons (14 000 kilos) of gold. They gave these to King Solomon.

This section tells us about how Solomon carried out his schemes for buildings. It says that only foreigners were slaves. But the *Israelites had to work as well. They also paid big taxes. These were two of the reasons why the *kingdom divided after Solomon’s death. Note that Solomon built God’s house first, then his own house. Afterwards, he built the one for his wife. He also built defences for Jerusalem city.

Three times a year Solomon offered *sacrifices to God on the *altar. This would be the *Festival of bread that would not rise. It would also be the *Festival of Weeks and the *Festival of Shelters.

Hiram’s workers built the ships and his sailors operated them. Many people think that Ophir was in Southern Arabia. Some people think that it was Sri Lanka. The gold was worth many millions of pounds or dollars in today’s money.

Solomon had become a very wealthy and powerful king.

Chapter 10

The Queen of Sheba’s visit

v1 The Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame and how he gave honour to the *Lord. So she came to test him with difficult questions. v2 She arrived in Jerusalem with a large group of servants. She brought camels that carried *spices and a large amount of gold and valuable stones. She met Solomon. Then she asked him all the questions that she could think of. v3 Solomon answered all her questions. None of her questions was too difficult for him. He explained everything to her. v4 The queen heard Solomon’s wisdom. She saw the palace that he had built. v5 She saw the food that people served at his table. She saw where his officials lived. She saw his servants and the clothes that they wore. She also saw the *burnt offerings that he made at the *temple of the *Lord. These things astonished her.

v6 Then she said to the king, ‘The story that I heard in my own country about you and your wisdom is true. v7 But I did not think that it was true. Now I have come and I have seen it with my own eyes. But I did not hear even half of it. Your wisdom and wealth are much greater than the story that I heard! v8 Your men must be happy. Your officials who always hear your wisdom must be happy. v9 I give honour to the *Lord your God! He has shown how pleased he is with you. He has made you king of *Israel. He has done this because of his love for *Israel that lasts for always. He appointed you to issue good laws and fair judgements.’

v10 She gave the king 4 and a half tons (4500 kilos) of gold. She also gave large amounts of *spices and valuable stones. Nobody else brought Solomon as many *spices as the Queen of Sheba did.

v11 (Hiram’s ships brought gold from Ophir. They also brought wood and valuable stones. v12 The king used the wood to make steps. These were for the *temple of the *Lord and the palace. He also made instruments for the musicians from it. Nobody has imported so much of this wood since that time.)

v13 Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba everything that she wanted. This was in addition to the gifts that he had already given her. Then she and her servants returned to her own country.

This is the famous story of the Queen of Sheba. Sheba was south of *Israel, probably in the south of Arabia. The Queen came to find out about Solomon’s wisdom and perhaps to discuss trade. She had heard stories about Solomon’s wealth and wisdom. She found out that the truth was even greater than the stories. She praised the God who had made Solomon king. She brought great presents with her. Solomon gave great presents to her.

The Queen of Sheba travelled a very long distance to visit Solomon. She very much wanted to see him. Jesus contrasted her with the people in his own time. ‘The Queen of the South and the people who are living now will stand up together on judgement day. She will show that they are guilty. She travelled a long way to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. Now someone who is greater than Solomon is here.’ (See Matthew 12:42.) We will have no excuse if we do not obey the words of Jesus. He is much greater than Solomon was.

Solomon’s wealth

v14 Every year Solomon received 666 *talents of gold. v15 This did not include the money that he received from merchants, kings in Arabia and *Israelite rulers.

v16 King Solomon made 200 large *shields out of gold. Each one contained 7 and a half pounds (3.5 kilos) of gold. v17 He also made 300 small *shields of gold. Each *shield contained about 3 and a half pounds (1.6 kilos) of gold. The king put all these *shields in the Hall of the Forest of Lebanon.

v18 Then the king made a royal seat. He covered part of it with ivory (material from an elephant’s big teeth) and part with gold. v19 It had 6 steps that led up to it. The top of the back of the seat was round. Next to each of the arms of the seat was the form of a lion. v20 At the end of each step was the form of a lion. There were 12 lions in total. Nobody had made anything like it for any other *kingdom. v21 King Solomon made all his cups out of gold. He made all the things that they used at their meals out of gold. [These things were in the Hall of the Forest of Lebanon.] Solomon did not make anything out of silver. Nobody considered it valuable in Solomon’s time. v22 The king had a group of sailing ships that went to sea with Hiram’s ships. Every three years his ships would return and bring goods. They brought gold, silver, ivory (material from an elephant’s big teeth) and monkeys.

v23 King Solomon was richer and wiser than any other king. v24 Everyone wanted to come and listen to the wisdom that God had given to him. v25 Every year people brought him gifts. People had made some of these gifts out of gold and silver. Other gifts included clothes, *weapons, *spices, horses and *mules.

v26 Solomon had 1400 *chariots and 12 000 horses. Some he kept in Jerusalem. The rest he kept in various other cities. v27 Because of Solomon’s great wealth, silver seemed as common in Jerusalem as stone. There was as much *cedar as ordinary wood. v28 He imported his horses from Egypt and Kue (Cilicia). His merchants bought them from Kue. v29 They imported a *chariot from Egypt for 600 shekels (7 kilos or 15 pounds of silver). And they imported a horse for 150 shekels (1.7 kilos or 3.7 pounds of silver). They also exported them to the kings of the *Hittites and the kings of Syria.

This passage shows Solomon’s great wealth. A great deal of it came from taxes that merchants paid. It also came from countries that his father had *conquered (verses 14-15). Much of it came from merchants who explored abroad. Some came from people who paid him for his advice (verses 24-25). He also obtained wealth from trade in horses and *chariots (verses 28-29).

Solomon made some gold *shields that he used in ceremonies. These showed that he protected his people. He also made a royal seat on which he sat to give laws and advice. The dishes and cups in the palace were gold. Silver seemed as common as stones. Note that he asked God for wisdom not wealth. God told him that he would get wealth also. This is because he asked wisely. Some people think that he wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes. If so, he learnt that wealth has no real value. Life has no meaning without God.

The great wealth of Solomon’s *kingdom reminds us about the great wealth of God’s *kingdom (Revelation 21:18-21). But unlike Solomon’s wealth, nothing will ever spoil the precious things in God’s *kingdom (1 Peter 1:4). And the things that God provides are beautiful. Even on this earth, those things are much more beautiful than anything that Solomon could make (Matthew 6:28-29).

But the wealth of Solomon’s *kingdom also reminds us about human desires, and about *sin. God’s law contained rules for the kings of *Israel (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). They must not collect silver and gold. They should not marry many wives. And they should not own great numbers of horses. Solomon did not obey these rules. At this time, Solomon was still serving God. But Solomon had begun to care more about his own wealth than he cared about God’s law.

Chapter 11

Solomon *worships false gods

v1 Solomon, however, loved many foreign women. He married the daughter of the king of Egypt. He also married *Hittite women and women from Moab, Ammon, Edom and Sidon. v2 The *Lord had told the *Israelites not to marry anyone from those nations. They would make the *Israelites turn to other gods. But Solomon chose to love these women. v3 Solomon had 700 wives who had royal rank. And he had 300 mistresses. These wives turned him away from God. v4 As Solomon grew old, his wives caused him to *worship other gods. He was not loyal to the *Lord his God as his father David had been. v5 He gave honour to Ashtoreth, who was the female god of the people in Sidon. He also gave honour to Milcom, who was the disgusting god of the people in Ammon. v6 So Solomon *sinned against the *Lord. He did not follow the *Lord completely as his father David had done.

v7 Solomon built a place to give honour to Chemosh, who was the disgusting god of Moab. He did this on a hill east of Jerusalem. He also built a place for Molech, who was the disgusting god of the people in Ammon. v8 He did the same for all his foreign wives. Then they could burn *incense and offer *sacrifices to their own gods.

v9 The *Lord became angry with Solomon because Solomon had not been loyal to him. The *Lord, who is *Israel’s God, had appeared to Solomon twice. v10 He had told Solomon not to follow other gods. But Solomon did not obey the *Lord’s command. v11 Then the *Lord said to Solomon, ‘You have not obeyed my *covenant and you have not obeyed my commands. Because of your attitudes, I promise that I will take the *kingdom away from you. I will give it to one of your officials. v12 But because of your father David, I will not do this while you are alive. I will do it during the rule of your son. v13 But I will not take the whole *kingdom away from him. I will give him one *tribe. This is because of my servant David and because of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen.’

Solomon married women from foreign countries. These marriages often took place for political purposes. He wanted to make friends with these countries. But such marriages were against God’s law (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). And God told the kings of *Israel not to marry many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). Such wives would make the *Israelites turn away from God.

Solomon built places for the wives to *worship their own gods and he often joined in with them. And Solomon was *worshipping very wicked gods. For example, Ashtoreth was a sex god. And Milcom (also called Molech) demanded human *sacrifice.

God was angry because Solomon had not obeyed him. As a result, God said that Solomon’s family would lose control of the *kingdom. But because of God’s promise to David, it would not happen while Solomon was alive. Even then, there would be one *tribe, *Judah, which Solomon’s son would still control.

It is sad that an old and wise king made such a big mistake. He had warned people about what can tempt them in Proverbs 5:1-14, 22-23. That can happen to people who feel very comfortable. It also attacks people when they are Christian leaders. ‘A person may think that he is standing firm. However, he must be careful. Otherwise he may fall’ (1 Corinthians 10:12). We must depend on God’s *grace right until the end.

Solomon’s enemies

v14 The *Lord caused Hadad, a man from Edom, to oppose Solomon. Hadad belonged to Edom’s royal family. v15-16 Earlier, David was fighting with Edom. Joab, the leader of the army, had gone there in order to bury dead soldiers. He stayed there with the *Israelite army for 6 months until they had killed all the men in Edom. v17 Hadad was only a boy then. He escaped to Egypt with some of his father’s servants from Edom. v18 They left Midian and they went to Paran. Then they took men from Paran and they went to the king of Egypt. The king gave some land and a house to Hadad. And he provided Hadad’s food.

v19 The king of Egypt was very friendly with Hadad. He allowed him to marry the sister of his wife, who was Queen Tahpenes. v20 Queen Tahpenes’s sister gave birth to a son, Genubath. Queen Tahpenes brought him up in the palace. There he lived with the king’s children.

v21 There in Egypt, Hadad heard that David had died. He heard that Joab, the leader of the army, was also dead. So he said to the king of Egypt, ‘Let me go, so that I may return to my own country.’

v22 The king asked, ‘What is wrong with my country? Why do you want to go back to your own country?’

‘Nothing is wrong’, replied Hadad. ‘Just let me go.’

v23 God also caused Rezon son of Eliada to oppose Solomon. He had run away from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah. v24 He became leader of a group of *rebels. When David defeated the armies of Zobah, the *rebels went to Damascus. There they lived and they took control. v25 Rezon was an enemy of *Israel as long as Solomon lived. He added to the trouble that Hadad caused. So Rezon ruled in Syria. He was an enemy of *Israel.

Hadad had escaped from Edom when he was young. He went to stay in Egypt. There he married the sister of the king of Egypt’s wife. The king supported him. He did not want *Israel to become too powerful. However, when Hadad wanted to return home, the king did not want to let him go. The king had good relations with Solomon because Solomon had married his daughter. But Hadad went back and he began to attack Solomon from the south.

Rezon attacked Solomon from the north after his men had *captured Damascus.

All this happened because Solomon turned away from God. God does not allow such troubles merely to hurt someone. Rather, he wants that person to turn back to him. Solomon’s father, David, suffered because of his *sin in 2 Samuel chapter 24. David confessed his *sin and he turned back to God. But Solomon did not do the same.

Jeroboam

v26 Also Jeroboam the son of Nebat *rebelled against Solomon. He was one of Solomon’s officials from Zeredah in Ephraim. His mother was a widow called Zeruah.

v27 This is the account of what he did. Solomon had built the defences of the city of David his father. He had also filled in the gap in the walls. v28 Jeroboam was a young man and he was impressive and strong. Solomon saw how well he worked. So he gave him authority over all the workers from the *tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

v29 One day, as Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, Ahijah the *prophet from Shiloh met him. Ahijah was wearing a new coat. The two of them were alone in the country. v30 Ahijah took off his new coat and he tore it into 12 pieces. v31 Then he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take 10 pieces for yourself. This is what the *Lord the God of *Israel says. “I will take the *kingdom away from Solomon and I will give you 10 *tribes. v32 But Solomon will keep one *tribe. This is because of my servant David and Jerusalem city. I have chosen it out of all the *tribes of *Israel. v33 I will do this because Solomon has *rejected me. He has *worshipped Ashtoreth the female god of Sidon. He has also *worshipped Chemosh the god of the people in Moab and Milcom the god of the people in Ammon. He has not obeyed me. He has done wrong things. He has not obeyed my laws as David his father did.

v34 But I will not take away the whole *kingdom from Solomon. I have made him ruler for as long as he lives. I have done this because of my servant David whom I chose. He obeyed my laws and commands. v35 I will take the *kingdom away from Solomon’s son. I will give you 10 *tribes. v36 I will give one *tribe to his son. So I will always have a *descendant of David as king in Jerusalem. I have chosen this city. People will *worship me here. v37 However, this is my plan for you, Jeroboam. You will rule over *Israel. You will rule over all the territory that you want. v38 You must obey my commands. You must do what is right. Obey me completely as my servant David did. If you do, I will be with you. I will give *Israel to you. And I will establish your *kingdom. I will make sure that your *descendants rule after you. This is what I did for David. v39 I will punish the *descendants of David but not for always.” ’

v40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam but he escaped to King Shishak of Egypt. Jeroboam stayed there until Solomon died.

Jeroboam’s story begins 20 years after the beginning of Solomon’s rule. He was an impressive man and a hard worker. Solomon put him in command of the people from the *tribes of Joseph. Those people had to work for the king. Ephraim and Manasseh were Joseph’s sons. Their families formed 2 of the largest *tribes in *Israel.

The *prophet told Jeroboam that he would rule the 10 northern *tribes of *Israel. This was because Solomon had not obeyed God. This would only happen after Solomon’s death. The two southern *tribes (*Judah and Benjamin) would continue to belong to the family of David. However, Jeroboam’s family would only continue to rule over the north if they obeyed God.

Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam. This shows us how wicked Solomon had become. He even tried to murder Jeroboam because he (Solomon) did not want to lose his *kingdom. But nobody can successfully oppose God’s plans. So Jeroboam went into Egypt. King Shishak was the first king of the 22nd group of rulers. He ruled from 945-924 *B.C.

So God punished Solomon but he *kept his promise to David.

v41 You can read about everything else that Solomon did in ‘The History of the acts of Solomon’. It also tells us about his wisdom.

v42 Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all *Israel for 40 years. v43 Then he died. People buried him in the city of David his father. Solomon’s son, called Rehoboam, became king after him.

The author of the Books of Kings used a book called ‘The History of the acts of Solomon’. That book does not still exist. It contained information about Solomon’s life. Solomon ruled as long as his father did. But he did not live as long. His life was shorter because of his *sin. He ruled from 971-931 *B.C. Solomon’s life warns us about our own lives. It is good to begin well, but we must also end well.

Chapter 12

The *kingdom divides

v1 Rehoboam went to Shechem. All the *Israelites had gone there to make him king. v2 Jeroboam the son of Nebat was still in Egypt. He had gone there to escape from King Solomon. Jeroboam heard what had happened. So he returned from Egypt. v3 The *Israelites sent for Jeroboam. He and they went to Rehoboam. This is what they said to him. v4 ‘Your father Solomon was cruel towards us. Now make these heavy *burdens lighter. Make our work easier and we will serve you.’

v5 Rehoboam replied, ‘Go away for three days. Then come back.’ So they went away.

v6 King Rehoboam asked the older men who had advised his father this question. ‘What answer shall I give to these people?’

v7 This is what they replied. ‘If you want to serve these people well, give them a kind answer. Then they will serve you loyally.’

v8 But he did not listen to what the older men said. Instead, he went to the young men who had grown up with him. The young men were serving him. v9 ‘What is your advice?’ he asked. ‘What shall I say to those people who want me to make their *burdens lighter?’

v10 The young men who had grown up with him said, ‘Say to the people who want you to make their *burdens lighter, “My little finger is stronger and thicker than my father’s thigh (the thickest and strongest muscle in the leg). v11 My father placed heavy *burdens on you. I will make them even heavier. He punished you with a whip. I will punish you with *scorpions.” ’

v12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam as he had told them. v13 The king did not listen to the advice of the older men. Instead, he answered the people in a severe manner v14 as the younger men had advised. ‘My father placed heavy loads on you. I will make them even heavier. He punished you with a whip. I will punish you with *scorpions.’

v15 So the king did not listen to the people. God wanted this to happen. So the message that the *Lord gave to Jeroboam, son of Nebat came true. Ahijah from Shiloh gave this message.

These verses tell us how the *kingdom divided after the death of Solomon. Rehoboam was the son of the wisest of men. But he was not wise. The northern *tribes of *Israel had gone to Shechem to make Rehoboam their king. So Rehoboam went there too.

Rehoboam probably thought that Shechem would be a good place to become king. It was the place where God promised the country called Canaan to Abraham (Genesis 12:6-7). It was in the centre of *Israel. It was not in *Judah, where Rehoboam’s family came from. And Shechem was between two mountains called Ebal and Gerizim. Here, the *Israelites gathered to make their promises to God (Deuteronomy chapter 27; Joshua chapter 24).

If the *Israelites appointed Rehoboam king at Shechem, they would always be loyal to him. However, Shechem was the wrong place for Rehoboam to become king. God had told Solomon that Rehoboam would not rule all *Israel. Rehoboam would only rule one *tribe, that is, *Judah. By his decision to go to Shechem, Rehoboam was trying to make himself more powerful than God intended. And Rehoboam was opposing God’s plans. God had chosen Jerusalem to be his *holy city. God’s *temple was there. Jerusalem was the capital city for David’s family to rule. Rehoboam should have become king there.

When the *Israelites met at Shechem, they were not ready to appoint Rehoboam king. Instead, they started to complain about the government. They did not like Solomon’s high taxes. They did not like the fact that they had to work for the king.

Jeroboam also came to Shechem. The *Israelites respected Jeroboam, although he had opposed Solomon. It seems that they asked Jeroboam to speak on their behalf. The people were willing to make Rehoboam king. They wanted the *kingdom to remain united. But the people would not continue to work so hard for the king. So Rehoboam would have to be a weaker king than his father was.

Rehoboam was foolish. He did not want God’s advice. Rehoboam did not pray. He did not even ask a *prophet or priest to advise him. He did not care that God did not want him to rule the northern *tribes. Rehoboam only cared about his own power.

So instead, Rehoboam chose political advisers. But he did not even choose the best advice that was available to him. He did not take the advice of those who advised his father. Instead, he took the advice of men of his own age. (He was 41 at this time.)

The men who had advised Solomon were very capable men. They had gained much experience in Solomon’s government. And they knew something that Rehoboam did not realise. The people did not respect Solomon just because he was their master and king. First, they saw that God had given wisdom to Solomon. They saw that Solomon’s judgements were fair. They realised that Solomon would be a great king (1 Kings 3:28). And so they were pleased to serve him. But Rehoboam did not have these benefits. Rehoboam would be unable to rule the people unless they supported him. So these older advisers told Rehoboam to agree with the people’s demands.

But the younger men were not wise advisers. They were just Rehoboam’s friends. They had grown up with him. So they had benefited from the luxury in the palace. Perhaps they never had to work hard. It is clear that they did not understand the real situation. They thought that they could control the *Israelites by strong words. These young men clearly did not expect the *Israelites’ strong reaction. But Rehoboam liked his friends’ advice. They were telling him what he wanted to hear.

Rehoboam did not do what the king should have done. Deuteronomy chapter 17 said that the king must follow God’s laws. But Solomon refused to obey God’s law. And then Rehoboam made a foolish decision. The writer here in 1 Kings says that God wanted this to happen. This means that it was part of God’s punishment. Solomon had not obeyed God.

v16 All *Israel saw that the king would not listen to them. So they shouted, ‘We have no share in David’s family. We have no part in the son of Jesse. Let us go home. David’s family can look after itself.’ So the *Israelites (from the north) went home. v17 Rehoboam still ruled over the people in the towns of *Judah.

v18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram. He controlled the people who had to work for the king. The people threw stones at him and they killed him. King Rehoboam managed to get into his *chariot and to escape to Jerusalem. v19 Ever since then the people in northern *Israel have *rebelled against the family of David.

v20 The *Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned. So they made him king. Only the *tribe of *Judah remained loyal to the family of David.

v21 Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem. He called together 180 000 of the best soldiers from the *tribes of *Judah and Benjamin. He wanted to fight against *Israel and to get the *kingdom back.

v22 But God spoke to Shemaiah the *prophet. v23 ‘Give this message to Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of *Judah. Give it also to all the people in *Judah and Benjamin. v24 The *Lord says, “Do not fight against your relatives, the *Israelites. You should all go home. I have brought about these events.” ’ So they obeyed the *Lord’s command and they went home.

These verses describe how the northern *tribes *rebelled against David’s family. The northern *Israelites protested against Rehoboam. Then he sent Adoniram to force them to obey him. Adoniram had been a very powerful man when Solomon was alive. But the situation had changed. People used to be afraid of Adoniram. But they were not still afraid. So they murdered him. Rehoboam’s action was foolish, as people already disliked Adoniram. Rehoboam had to escape to Jerusalem.

Then the northern *Israelites made Jeroboam their king. Probably they chose him because they considered him a good leader. But, of course, God had already chosen Jeroboam to be *Israel’s king. And so God carried out what he had promised in chapter 11.

Rehoboam made plans to fight in order to get the *kingdom back. God told him not to fight against the other *Israelites. This time he listened to God’s *prophet and he obeyed. He and his armies went home. He realised that God would allow him to rule *Judah only. If Rehoboam fought the *Israelites, he would be opposing God’s plan.

By means of these events, the *kingdom had separated permanently. The Book of 1 Kings continues with reports of events in both parts of the country. The northern *kingdom is often called *Israel. The southern *kingdom is called *Judah.

v25 Then Jeroboam made the defences of Shechem strong. This city was in the hill country of Ephraim. He lived there. Then he went out and built up the defences of Peniel. v26 He thought, ‘The *kingdom is likely to go back to the family of David. v27 People will go to the *temple of the *Lord in Jerusalem in order to offer *sacrifices there. If they do, they will support King Rehoboam again. Then they will kill me and return to him.’ v28 So King Jeroboam asked for advice. Then he made two young *bulls out of gold. This is what he told the people. ‘It is too difficult for you to go up to Jerusalem. People in *Israel, here are your gods that brought you out of Egypt.’ v29 He put one of the *bulls in Dan. He put the other *bull in Bethel. v30 So the people *sinned. They went as far as Dan to *worship there.

v31 Jeroboam built places for people to *worship on the tops of the hills. He chose priests from families who were not from the *tribe of Levi. v32 He also established a *festival on the 15th day of the 8th month. This was like the *festival in *Judah. He offered *sacrifices to the gold *bulls that he had made. He also established priests in Bethel. They served at the places of *worship that he had built. v33 On the 15th day of the 8th month, he went to Bethel. He had chosen this day himself. There he offered *sacrifices on the *altar that he had built. So he established a *festival for the *Israelites. He went up to the *altar in order to make *offerings.

Jeroboam made Shechem his first capital city. Abraham had camped there. He had also built an *altar there. Later the *Canaanites had a place of *worship there. There the people had *rejected Rehoboam as king. Peniel was an important city for defence against *Israel’s enemies.

It was God who appointed Jeroboam to be king. But Jeroboam was not loyal to God. Instead, he set up his own religion.

This was a clever political decision. People would not still go to Jerusalem to offer *sacrifices. So the relationship between *Israel and *Judah would become even weaker. And Jeroboam would become a more powerful king. Jeroboam’s religion was like the religion that Aaron set up in Exodus chapter 32. Jeroboam tried to combine the *worship of the *bull with the *worship of the *Lord. Of course, this was against God’s law. Jeroboam did not obey the second *commandment when he did this. Dan was in the far north of northern *Israel. Bethel was near the border with Benjamin and *Judah. The idea was that people would have a place of *worship near them. Then they would not want to go all the way to Jerusalem.

Also, Jeroboam set up other places of *worship on the hills. This is where the *Canaanites had given honour to their gods. He made his own *festival on the 15th day of the 8th month. This would be like the *Festival of Shelters which the people in *Judah *celebrated. They did this on the 15th day of the 7th month. Jeroboam also made priests from families who did not belong to the *tribe of Levi. He also acted as a priest himself. When Jeroboam did these things, he was *rebelling against God. We must give honour to God in the way that he has told us. If we do not, he will not accept our *worship.

In 1 Kings 11:28, God made a wonderful promise to Jeroboam. Jeroboam’s family would always rule *Israel, if only they obeyed God. But Jeroboam did not obey God. Instead, Jeroboam chose his own false gods, and he taught the people in *Israel to serve them.

Chapter 13

A *prophet warns Jeroboam

The *kingdom that David and Solomon used to rule had divided into two *kingdoms. The northern *tribes were not still loyal to David’s family. And those *tribes had chosen a new religion. They were *worshipping the images of *bulls, instead of the *Lord. But, by an extraordinary series of events, God showed that he still had a special relationship with those *tribes. They were *worshipping false gods. But they were still responsible to the real God.

v1 The *Lord ordered a *prophet from *Judah to go to Bethel. He arrived as Jeroboam stood by the *altar to make a *sacrifice. v2 The *prophet spoke against the *altar, as God had ordered him. ‘Oh *altar, *altar, this is what the *Lord says. “The family of David will have a son whose name will be Josiah. He will *sacrifice on you the priests of the high hills. They now make *sacrifices on you. He will burn human bones on you.” ’ v3 Then the *prophet gave a *sign. ‘Here is the *sign that the *Lord has given. This *altar will fall apart. The ashes on it will pour out.’

v4 When King Jeroboam heard this, he was standing by the *altar. He pointed to the *prophet and said, ‘Seize him!’ But then his arm became a dead, dry limb. So he was unable even to move his arm. v5 The *altar fell apart and the ashes poured out. This was the *sign that the *Lord had told the *prophet to give.

v6 Jeroboam said to the *prophet, ‘Please ask the *Lord your God to cure my arm.’ The *prophet prayed to the *Lord and he cured the king’s arm.

v7 Then the king said to the *prophet, ‘Come home with me. Have something to eat and I will give you a gift.’

v8 But the *prophet answered him, ‘No. Even if you gave me half of your possessions, I would not go with you. I would not eat or drink anything here. v9 The *Lord told me that I must not eat or drink anything. And I must not return by the way that I came. He told me that too.’ v10 So he went by another road. He did not go back by the same way that he had come to Bethel.

God warned Jeroboam that he was doing the wrong thing. He sent a *prophet who *prophesied to the *altar. In other words, the *prophet spoke to the *altar. He announced what would happen to the *altar in the future. He even named the king who would destroy that *altar. Josiah would *sacrifice the bones of the priests who had *worshipped other gods on this *altar. (This *worship often happened on high hills.) Josiah did this about 350 years later. We can read about it in 2 Kings 23:15-20.

As a *sign that this would happen, the *altar fell apart. The ashes of the *altar poured out.

Jeroboam tried to arrest the *prophet. But Jeroboam’s arm suddenly became weak. It seemed dry and without life. The king was unable to move it. God was showing everyone that Jeroboam had no power over the *prophet. The *prophet had authority from God. And no king’s authority is ever greater than God’s authority.

Jeroboam asked the *prophet to pray that God would cure him. And God did this. Then Jeroboam invited the *prophet to come home for a meal. He also offered him a gift. Jeroboam was trying to reward the *prophet, because Jeroboam’s arm was well again. The *prophet refused. He said that God had told him not to accept the king’s offer. He wanted to show Jeroboam that God did not want payment, but a change of mind. The *prophet did not want to associate with Jeroboam’s *worship of *idols. God does not forgive us because of the things that we do. He does not forgive us because of the gifts that we bring. We must change our minds. And today we must trust in Jesus.

The special instructions that God gave to this *prophet show the importance of the *prophet’s words. And people continued to remember his words for many centuries because of the strange events that happened next.

v11 Now there was an old *prophet who lived at Bethel. His sons told him what the other *prophet from *Judah had done in Bethel that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. v12 ‘Which way did he go?’ their father asked them. His sons showed him the road that the *prophet from *Judah had gone down. v13 He told his sons to put a saddle on his *mule. When they had done this, he got on the *mule. v14 He rode after the *prophet from *Judah. He found him as he sat under an oak tree (a large tree). He asked him, ‘Are you the *prophet who came from *Judah?’

‘I am’, he replied.

v15 The old *prophet said, ‘Come home and have a meal with me.’

v16 But the *prophet from *Judah said, ‘I cannot turn back. I cannot go with you. I cannot eat or drink anything with you here. v17 God told me not to eat or drink anything. And he said that I must go home by a different way.’

v18 Then the old *prophet from Bethel said to him, ‘I am a *prophet like you. The *Lord ordered an *angel to tell me that I should take you home. He said that I must offer you food and water.’ However, the old *prophet was lying. v19 So the *prophet from *Judah went home with the old *prophet. He had a meal and drank with him.

v20 While they were sitting at the table, God spoke to the old *prophet. v21 He cried out to the *prophet from *Judah, ‘This is what the *Lord says. “You have not obeyed the word of the *Lord. You did not obey the command that he gave to you. v22 Instead, you came back and you ate a meal. You did this in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, you will die. And your family will not bury you in the grave of your *ancestors.” ’

v23 The *prophet from *Judah finished his meal. Then the old *prophet put the saddle on his *mule. v24 On his way home, a lion met him and killed him. His body lay on the road and the *mule and the lion stood next to it. v25 Some people, who passed by, saw the body on the road and the lion next to it. They went and told the people in the city. This was the city where the old *prophet lived.

v26 When the old *prophet heard about it, he said, ‘It is the *prophet who did not obey the *Lord’s command. So the *Lord handed him over to the lion. And the lion attacked and killed him. The *Lord said that he would do this.’

v27 The old *prophet said to his sons, ‘Put the saddle on my *mule.’ So they did. v28 He rode off and he found the body on the road. The lion and the *mule were still standing by it. The lion had not eaten the *prophet’s body. And it had not attacked the *mule. v29 The old *prophet picked up the body and he put it on his *mule. He brought it back to his own city, to show *sorrow over it and to bury it. v30 He put the body in his own family grave. He and his sons showed *sorrow over it. They said ‘Oh my brother!’

v31 After he had buried the *prophet, the old *prophet spoke to his sons. ‘When I die, bury me in this grave. Lay my body next to his. v32 He gave a message from the *Lord against the *altar in Bethel. He also spoke against all the places of *worship on the high hills in Samaria. All that he said will certainly happen.’

This is a very unusual story. The *prophet from *Judah refused the king’s invitation, but he accepted the old *prophet’s invitation. Perhaps he thought that the old *prophet from Bethel was telling the truth. In fact he was lying. He told the *prophet from *Judah that an *angel had told him to give his invitation. When people talk to us about God, we need to be careful. Paul says this in Galatians 1:8. ‘We taught you the good news about Christ. Let God punish us if we teach you something different. Let God punish even an *angel from heaven who teaches something different.’ We must compare everything with what the Bible teaches. People may say that they are teaching God’s truth. But not all of them actually are.

The *prophet from *Judah trusted the old *prophet. And so he (the *prophet from *Judah) did not obey the instructions that God had given to him. That was a very foolish decision. The *prophet from *Judah had received God’s word. And he had seen that the message was right, because of the *sign in verse 5. But the *prophet from *Judah wanted to eat the meal. So he went with the older *prophet. We may often think that God is guiding us. This is often the case when we want to do something. But we should not just follow our own desires. We should find out what God wants.

The old *prophet had lied. But that did not mean that he was unable to *prophesy. He gave a genuine *prophecy from God. The *prophet from *Judah would die because he had not obeyed God.

The *prophet from *Judah should have confessed his *sin to God. (It is a *sin not to obey God.) He should have asked God for *mercy. But for some reason, he did not do this. He even continued to eat after he heard the *prophecy. Then, he prepared to return home.

As the *prophet travelled back towards *Judah, a lion attacked him. Usually a lion eats the bodies of anything that it kills. But the lion did not even damage the *prophet’s body. Instead, the lion stood by the body, like a guard. Usually a *mule would run away from a lion. Otherwise the lion would kill the *mule. But this *mule did not run away. Instead, it stood with the lion by the body. These animals were behaving in a very strange manner. The people who saw this talked about it. The actions of these animals showed that the dead *prophet deserved great honour. He deserved honour because he spoke God’s words.

The death of the *prophet from *Judah caused the old *prophet to turn back to God. The old *prophet buried the *prophet from *Judah with great honour. The grave was in an important position near to Jeroboam’s *altar (2 Kings 23:17). The old *prophet declared to his sons that the *prophet from *Judah gave a genuine message from God. So the old *prophet emphasised the importance of that message.

This event was very unusual. *Prophets did not usually die if they chose not to obey God (Numbers chapter 12; Numbers 20:12; Jonah 1:17). But sometimes they did (1 Kings 20:37). But a *prophet who was not obeying God often lost God’s special protection. (Compare 1 Peter 5:8.) It seems that God allowed the *prophet from *Judah to die for a special reason. Without these events, people would soon forget the *prophet’s message about the *altar. But because of the *prophet’s death, people would remember. Even 350 years later, people still knew about his message (2 Kings 23:17).

v33 Even after these events, Jeroboam still did not change his wicked ways. He chose priests from ordinary families to serve as priests on the high hills. Anyone who wanted could become a priest. v34 This was the *sin of the family of Jeroboam. As a result, it lost power and God *destroyed it completely.

Jeroboam did not change his behaviour even after God warned him. He probably repaired the *altar and *sacrificed on it again. He made priests from families that God had not chosen. In the end, his family were no longer kings of *Israel.

This is very sad, because God gave Jeroboam every opportunity to be a great king. God even made special promises to Jeroboam. His family would always rule, if only they would obey God (1 Kings 12:38). These were like the promises that God gave to David (2 Samuel 7:16) and to Solomon (1 Kings 9:4-5). But Jeroboam’s family would lose everything because of their *sin.

Chapter 14

Ahijah *prophesies the end of Jeroboam’s rule over *Israel

v1 At that time, King Jeroboam’s son Abijah became ill. v2 Jeroboam said to his wife, ‘Dress so that people will suppose you to be someone else. Make sure that nobody will recognise you as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh where Ahijah the *prophet is. He *prophesied that I would be king over this people. v3 Take 10 loaves of bread, some cakes and a jar of honey and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.’ v4 So Jeroboam’s wife did what he said. She went to Ahijah’s house in Shiloh.

Now Ahijah was so old that he could no longer see. v5 However, the *Lord told him that Jeroboam’s wife was coming to ask him about her sick son. He also told Ahijah what to say to her. He said, ‘When she comes, she will pretend to be someone else.’

v6 So, when Ahijah heard her footsteps at the door, he said, ‘Come in, wife of Jeroboam. You should not pretend to be someone else. God has sent me to tell you bad news. v7 Tell Jeroboam what the *Lord the God of *Israel says. “I chose you from among the people. I made you leader over my people *Israel. v8 I took the *kingdom away from David’s family and I gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David. He obeyed my commands and he followed me completely. He only did what was right. v9 You have done more wicked things than anyone who ruled before you. You have made other gods and you have made *idols out of metal. You have not given attention to me. You have made me very angry.

v10 Because of this I shall bring *disaster on Jeroboam’s family. I will kill all the male *descendants of your family. I will do this whether they are slaves or free men. I will burn all the family of Jeroboam as you burn rubbish. v11 Dogs will eat those who die in the city. Vultures (birds that eat dead animals) will eat those who die in the country. The *Lord has spoken.”

v12 As for you, go back home. As soon as you enter the city, the boy will die. v13 All the people in *Israel will show *sorrow for him. Then they will bury him. He is the only member of Jeroboam’s family who pleased the *Lord, the God of *Israel. So he is the only member of Jeroboam’s family that people will bury.

v14 The *Lord will choose a king over *Israel who will kill all Jeroboam’s family. And this is what will happen next: v15 The *Lord will punish *Israel. It will be like a grass in the water that the wind blows. He will take *Israel away from this good country which he gave to their *ancestors. He will scatter them beyond the River Euphrates because they have made him angry. They made *idols of the female god Asherah. v16 He will give *Israel up because Jeroboam did wicked things. He also made *Israel do wicked things.’

v17 Then Jeroboam’s wife went back to Tirzah. Just as she entered the house, the boy died. v18 They buried him and all *Israel showed *sorrow for him. This was as the *Lord had said by his servant, the *prophet Ahijah.

v19 The book of the History of the Kings of *Israel contains the other events when Jeroboam was ruling. It tells us about his wars and the way that he ruled. v20 Jeroboam ruled for 22 years and then he died. His son Nadab became king after him.

Jeroboam sent his wife to find out from Ahijah if his sick son would recover. Ahijah had given him a good *prophecy earlier (1 Kings 11:29-31), so he hoped for the same again. Perhaps Jeroboam thought that Ahijah would be angry with him because of his *sins. So he told his wife not to dress like a queen. They thought that the *prophet would not recognise her. Perhaps she thought that this would make the *prophecy a good one. Jeroboam and his wife seemed to think that the *prophet could bless them by his own power. Perhaps they thought that the *prophet could cure their son by some kind of magic. But they were stupid. They did not realise that a real *prophet’s power can only come from God. A *prophet has no special power of his own. So the *prophet depends completely on God’s word.

Ahijah was blind. But God told him who was coming. We might pretend to be someone else. And we might convince other people. But God always knows the truth about us.

Ahijah told Jeroboam’s wife that God had sent him to her. Of course, she travelled to visit Ahijah. But really God sent Ahijah; in other words, God had sent Ahijah with a message. Ahijah had to take that message to Jeroboam’s family. But Ahijah did not need to travel in order to declare that message. Jeroboam’s wife was present with him. So Ahijah spoke his message. That message was about God’s judgement against her husband and his family.

Ahijah told Jeroboam’s wife that her child would die. But he would die for an unusual reason. That son had pleased God. In other words, the son was obeying God. So God would cause the son to die in order to save him from an awful punishment. Everyone else in Jeroboam’s family would die because of *sin. People would not even bury their dead bodies because God was so angry with them. But that son was different. People would bury him in honour because he had pleased God.

Ahijah added that another family would rule over *Israel. But the *kingdom would never have a firm ruler. In the end, soldiers from Assyria would take the people into *exile.

So Jeroboam’s son died. His death showed that Ahijah’s *prophecy was correct. But Jeroboam did not turn back to God. Instead Jeroboam fought wars and he continued to rule by his own strength. And he continued to *worship false gods. After he had ruled for 22 years, Jeroboam died. Two years afterwards, Baasha killed Jeroboam’s other son, called Nadab and all the rest of his family. The Bible says that we cannot lie to God. ‘You cannot cheat God. A farmer harvests the same crops as he sows. So a man who lives by his own desires will die, because of his desires. But a man who lives by the Spirit will always live, because of the Spirit.’ (See Galatians 6:7-8.)

Rehoboam’s rule as king of *Judah

v21 Rehoboam the son of Solomon was king in *Judah. His mother’s name was Naamah. She came from Ammon. He was 41 years old when he became king. He ruled for 17 years in Jerusalem. This was the city which the *Lord chose. He wanted people to give honour to him there.

v22 The people in *Judah *sinned against God. Because of their *sins they made him more angry with them than their *ancestors had done. v23 They made places of *worship for false gods. They put up large stones and images of female gods on hills and under large trees. v24 There were even men who offered their bodies for sex. The people practised all the disgusting things that the nations before them had done. God had forced the people from those nations to leave as the *Israelites went in.

v25 When Rehoboam had ruled for 5 years, King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. v26 He took away all the valuable things that were in the *temple of the *Lord and the palace. He even took the gold *shields that Solomon had made. v27 So Rehoboam made *shields out of bronze (a brown metal) to replace them. The officers who guarded the palace gates looked after them. Rehoboam handed out the *shields to them. v28 Every time the king went to the *Lord’s *temple, the guards carried the *shields. Afterwards they took them back to the room where the guards stayed.

v29 The book of the ‘History of the Kings of *Judah’ records all the events of Rehoboam’s rule. It also tells us what he did. v30 Rehoboam and Jeroboam were always at war with each other. v31 Rehoboam died and they buried him in the royal graves in David’s city. Rehoboam’s mother’s name was Naamah. She came from Ammon. Rehoboam’s son Abijam followed him as king.

The Bible does not say anything good about Rehoboam. During his rule, the people turned away from God. They were worse than in the time of the Book of Judges.

The stones were like images of male gods. Both men and women offered their bodies for sex. They did this as part of their religion. People believed that this would give them good crops. The gods would send rain and sun.

The original inhabitants of the country called Canaan followed a wicked religion. These practises were part of that religion. Because that religion was so evil, God forced those people to leave the land. He gave the land to his own people, that is, the *Israelites. He warned his people about those religions. They should not imitate the behaviour of the people who used to live in their country. They should not *worship the false gods. And they should not marry anyone from the nations that used to own the land. Solomon had married Rehoboam’s mother, who was from the nation called Ammon. And Solomon *worshipped false gods when he was old. During Rehoboam’s rule, the people were following those evil religions and their wicked practices. These *sins were terrible. They caused God to be angry.

The army from Egypt defeated Rehoboam’s army. So the king of Egypt took away all the valuable things in the *temple. Rehoboam replaced gold *shields with cheaper ones that he made out of bronze (a brown metal).

Rehoboam and Jeroboam were always at war with each other. They did not always fight but they always had to be ready for war.

Our *sins make God angry. ‘God is angry with wicked people every day’ (Psalm 7:11). *Sin makes things worse, not better. ‘They said that they themselves were clever. They said that they understood many things. But really, they became fools. They refused to *worship the great and good God who can never die. Instead, they made and *worshipped false gods. Their false gods were like human people, who must die…They refused to believe the true things about God. Instead, they chose to believe something that is not true’ (Romans 1:22, 23, 25)

Chapter 15

Abijam’s rule as king of *Judah

v1 It was the 18th year of the rule of Jeroboam son of Nebat. At this time, Abijam became king of *Judah. v2 He ruled for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Absalom.

v3 He *sinned in the same way as his father had done before him. He was not completely loyal to the *Lord his God as David his *ancestor had been. v4 But because of David, the *Lord his God gave David a *descendant to rule Jerusalem. The *Lord appointed David’s *descendant to rule after him, and he made Jerusalem safe. v5 David had done what pleased God. He obeyed all the *Lord’s commands except in the matter of Uriah the *Hittite.

v6 The state of war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continued during Abijam’s entire life. v7 The book of the History of the Kings of *Judah contains a record of all the events when Abijam ruled. That book records all that Abijam did. There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. v8 When Abijam died, they buried him in the city of David. His son Asa became king after him.

Abijam ruled between 913-910 *B.C. He was not like David. He did not serve God. But because of David’s love for God, God allowed David’s *descendants to continue to rule in Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles chapter 13 tells us about the war between Abijam and Jeroboam. Abijam described how the people in Jerusalem still obeyed the *Lord. Abijam warned the *Israelites about their false gods. He told them that God would support the army from *Judah. And he asked the *Israelites not to fight against them. Jeroboam did not listen. Jeroboam lost the battle and he did not get his power back.

On that occasion, Abijam did well. He trusted God, and he won the battle. But that was not Abijam’s usual behaviour. He did not continue to be loyal to God.

We cannot be sure about the reason for Abijam’s *sin. Perhaps he was like his grandfather Solomon. Solomon began well, but he did not continue to be loyal to God. Like Solomon, Abijam had many wives (2 Chronicles 13:21).

Or perhaps Abijam expected God’s help because he performed all the *religious ceremonies. God wants us to trust him completely. Ceremonies are not enough.

Asa’s rule as king of *Judah

v9 It was the 20th year of King Jeroboam’s rule over *Israel when Asa became king of *Judah. v10 He ruled in Jerusalem for 41 years. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Absalom. v11 Asa did what pleased the *Lord. His *ancestor David had done this.

v12 All the male priests who offered their bodies for sex had to leave the country. He removed all the *idols that his *ancestors had made. v13 His grandmother Maacah had made a disgusting *idol of Asherah. So he removed her as queen mother. He cut the *idol down and he burned it in the valley called Kidron. v14 He did not remove all the places of *worship on the high hills. But he remained loyal to the *Lord all his life. v15 He placed in the *temple the silver and gold. He also placed there the other objects that he and his father had given to God.

v16 King Asa and King Baasha of *Israel were always at war while they were in power. v17 Baasha attacked *Judah. He made the city called Ramah strong. He did this in order to stop anyone who wished to enter or leave Asa’s territory.

v18 Asa then took all the silver and gold that was still in the *Lord’s *temple and in Asa’s own palace. He sent it by some of his officials to Damascus. He sent it to Benhadad the king of Syria, who ruled there. He was the son of Tabrimmon and grandson of Hezion. And with the silver and the gold, Asa sent this message: v19 ‘Let us have an agreement’, he said. ‘There was one between our fathers. Here is a gift of gold and silver for you. Now end your agreement with Baasha king of *Israel. Then he will stop his attacks on me.’

v20 Benhadad agreed to this. He sent his officers and their armies to attack the towns of *Israel. He *conquered the towns called Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maacah and the area near Lake Galilee. He also *conquered the whole of Naphtali. v21 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah. Instead, he went to Tirzah. v22 Then King Asa ordered everyone in *Judah to carry away the stones and wood from Ramah. Baasha had used these to make Ramah strong. Asa used the stones and wood to make Mizpah and Geba in Benjamin strong.

v23 You can read about Asa’s other acts and the cities that he built. The information is in the History of the Kings of *Judah. When he was old, he had a disease in his feet. v24 He died and people buried him in the city of David his *ancestor. Jehoshaphat his son became king after him.

Asa ruled for 41 years from 910-869 *B.C. He did what his *ancestor, David had done. He removed the priests who used their bodies for sex. (They did this as part of an evil religion.) He removed *idols. He removed his grandmother as queen mother because she had made an *idol. He burnt her *idol. He put gold and silver back into the *temple. He did not remove all the places of *worship on the high hills. But he was sincere because he tried to please God.

But Asa did not trust God completely. The author of 1 Kings records two particular matters where Asa did not trust God:

·    Asa gave silver and gold to persuade Benhadad to stop his agreement with Baasha of *Israel. He used gold and silver from the *temple to get help from a king. Asa did not ask help from God. In 2 Chronicles chapter 16 a *prophet told Asa that he was wrong. He said that in future Asa would have wars. Asa put the *prophet in prison.

·    When Asa had a disease in his feet, he did not pray to God. He just asked doctors for help. (See 2 Chronicles 16:12.)

So Asa was a good king who pleased God. But Asa’s *faith was weak. Many people today are like him. When they are comfortable, they serve God. But when they have problems, they are not ready to trust God. Instead, they try to deal with their problems by their own efforts. Or they prefer to depend on human help. But we should always trust God completely, in every situation.

Nadab’s rule as king of *Israel

v25 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of *Israel. He did so in the second year of the rule of Asa king of *Judah. He ruled over *Israel for two years. v26 He *sinned against the *Lord, as his father had done. He led *Israel into *sin.

v27 Baasha son of Ahijah of the *tribe of Issachar plotted against him. He killed him at Gibbethon, a town in the country called Philistia. Nadab and his army were attacking it. v28 Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of Asa’s rule over *Judah. Baasha followed Nadab as king.

v29 As soon as he became king, Baasha killed all Jeroboam’s family. None of them remained alive. This happened even as the *Lord had told his servant Ahijah from Shiloh, the *prophet. v30 This was because of all the *sins that Jeroboam had done. He had also made *Israel *sin. In addition he had made the *Lord, the God of *Israel very angry.

v31 You can read about everything else that Nadab did. It is in the book of the History of the Kings of *Israel. v32 Asa king of *Judah and Baasha king of *Israel were always at war as long as they ruled.

Nadab continued to *sin and to give honour to *idols as Jeroboam had done. Baasha attacked and killed him, and all of Jeroboam’s family. So Ahijah’s *prophecy came true. When God warns us about something, we should listen!

Baasha’s rule as king of *Israel

v33 Baasha the son of Ahijah became king of all *Israel. This happened in the third year of the rule of Asa, king of *Judah. Baasha ruled for 24 years. v34 He *sinned against the *Lord and he led *Israel into *sin. He was like King Jeroboam before him.

Chapter 16

v1 Then the *Lord spoke to Jehu the son of Hanani. He gave him this message for Baasha. v2 ‘You were not an important person, but I made you leader of my people *Israel. You have *sinned as Jeroboam did. And you have led my people into *sin. Their *sins made me very angry. v3 I will kill you and your family as I did to Jeroboam and his family. v4 Dogs will eat the members of your family who die in the city. The birds of the air will eat those who die in the country.’

v5 You can read about everything else that Baasha achieved. It is in the book of the History of the Kings of *Israel. v6 Baasha died and they buried him in Tirzah. Elah his son became king after him.

v7 God spoke these words by the *prophet Jehu to Baasha and his family. This was because of all the wicked things that he had done against the *Lord. He made God very angry because of all the wicked things that he did. They were like the things that Jeroboam did. God was also angry because Baasha killed all Jeroboam’s family.

God warned Baasha about what would happen because of his *sin. Jehu was a *prophet for a long time. 40 years later, he spoke to King Jehoshaphat. He wrote a history of his rule (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:34). Jehu reminded Baasha about the good things that God had done for him. But Baasha had made God angry. He made the people *worship *idols as Jeroboam had done. Jehu told Baasha what would happen to his family. They would die as Jeroboam’s family had died. In other words, they would suffer the same punishment as Jeroboam’s family suffered.

There are different ideas about the meaning of the last sentence in this passage. One ancient translation says, ‘God was also angry because Baasha killed Jehu.’ But probably, this sentence is about the murder of Jeroboam’s family. God said that this would happen. But it seems that Baasha was a cruel man. He did not care what God wanted. Baasha killed Jeroboam’s family because of his own ambitions.

God often gives power to bad men. They still carry out his purposes, although not in a good way. For example, Nebuchadnezzar took the *Israelites away from their country. God allowed this to happen in order to punish his people. However, Nebuchadnezzar did this in a very cruel way. (See 2 Kings chapters 24 and 25.)

Elah’s rule as king of *Israel

v8 Elah son of Baasha became king of *Israel. This happened in the 26th year of Asa king of *Judah. He ruled in Tirzah for two years.

v9 Zimri, one of his officials, was in command of half of his *chariots. He plotted against Elah. At that time, Elah was in Tirzah. He had too much to drink. He was in the home of Arza who was in command of the palace. v10 Zimri came in and killed him. Then he became king after him. This happened in the 27th year of the rule of King Asa of *Judah.

v11 As soon as Zimri became king, he killed all the members of Baasha’s family. He killed every male relative and friend. v12 So Zimri killed all the family of Baasha. The *Lord had said by the *prophet Jehu that this would happen. v13 Baasha and Elah had made the *Lord the God of *Israel very angry. This was because of their *sins, their *idols and the way that they made *Israel to *sin.

v14 You can read about Elah’s other acts in the History of the Kings of *Israel.

Elah ruled for two years. Then one of his soldiers, Zimri, killed him. Elah’s father, Baasha, had killed Nadab during a battle. Zimri killed Elah after Elah had been drinking alcohol. He also killed all of Baasha’s family.

That was the end of the second family that ruled the northern *tribes of *Israel. Everyone in those families died. They died because of their *sin. They made the people in *Israel *worship *idols. They refused to obey the real God. And they became very wicked. Those were the reasons for their defeat.

Zimri’s brief rule as king of *Israel

v15 Zimri ruled in Tirzah for 7 days. This was in the 27th year of the rule of King Asa of *Judah. The *Israelite army was attacking Gibbethon, a town in the country called Philistia. v16 The *Israelites heard that Zimri had murdered the king. So they immediately appointed Omri, who was in command of their army, as king of *Israel. v17 Omri and his army left Gibbethon and they attacked Tirzah. v18 Zimri saw that they had *captured the city. So he went into the royal palace. Then he made it on fire and he died in the flames. v19 This happened because of his *sins. He did not obey the *Lord. He behaved like Jeroboam. He *sinned against the *Lord and he made *Israel to *sin as well.

v20 You can read about everything else that Zimri did and his *rebellion. It is in the ‘History of the Kings of *Israel’.

Zimri’s rule was very short. When the *Israelite army heard about his actions they chose Omri as their king. He was in command of their army. Tirzah was an easy city to *capture. Zimri could not defend the palace so he made it on fire. He died in the flames. God punished Zimri for his *sins.

Omri’s rule as king of *Israel

v21 The *Israelites divided into two groups. Half of them wanted Tibni son of Ginath to be king. The other half of them supported Omri. v22 The supporters of Omri were stronger than the supporters of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.

v23 Omri became king of *Israel in Asa’s 31st year. Omri ruled for 12 years. He ruled in Tirzah for 6 years. v24 He bought the hill in Samaria from Shemer for 150 pounds (70 kilos) of silver. He built a city on the hill and called it Samaria. He named it after Shemer, who used to own the hill.

v25 However, Omri *sinned against the *Lord more than all the previous kings. v26 He *sinned like Jeroboam the son of Nebat. He made God very angry. This was because he led the people into *sin. And he caused the people in *Israel to *worship *idols.

v27 The History of the Kings of *Israel tells us about all the other acts of Omri. It records what he achieved. And it records all the other events during his rule. v28 Omri died and they buried him in Samaria. Then his son Ahab became king.

Although the report of Omri’s life is brief, Omri was the most important king of *Israel. He was a great political leader. He established a strong capital for *Israel. And he was a powerful leader of the army. But the Bible does not praise Omri for his many skills. It was Omri’s behaviour that mattered to God. And Omri’s behaviour was even worse than the kings who ruled *Israel before him. All these kings had refused to obey God’s law. They did not love God, as David had done. Instead, they loved ambition and power. And now, the family that ruled *Israel was even more wicked.

Omri bought the hill called Samaria and he made it into a great city. It became the capital of the country. He made some very fine buildings there. The city would be very difficult for enemies to *capture. During the first 4 years of Omri’s rule, he fought against Tibni. We do not know how Tibni died. Perhaps he died in a battle.

Omri was worse than Jeroboam in his attitude to religion. He made an agreement with Ethbaal king of Tyre and Sidon. His son, Ahab married Ethbaal’s daughter Jezebel. The result of this was the *worship of *Baal in the northern *kingdom.

Ahab begins his rule as king of *Israel

v29 Ahab son of Omri became king of *Israel. This was in the 38th year of the rule of Asa king of *Judah. Ahab ruled over *Israel in Samaria for 22 years. v30 Ahab son of Omri *sinned against the *Lord more than all the previous kings. v31 It was not enough for him to *sin like King Jeroboam, who was the son of Nebat. Ahab also married Jezebel, who was the daughter of King Ethbaal of Sidon. Also, Ahab *worshipped the god *Baal. v32 He built an *altar for *Baal in the *temple that he built in Samaria. v33 He also put up an image of the female god Asherah. He did more to make the *Lord angry than all the previous kings of *Israel.

v34 During Ahab’s rule, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. When he laid the foundations (strong base), his oldest son Abiram died. When he put up the gates, his youngest son Segub died. So the *prophecy of Joshua, the son of Nun came true.

There is more about Ahab in the Bible than any other king of *Israel. During his rule, the *worship of God and the *worship of *Baal opposed each other. Ahab built a *temple in Samaria and he put an *altar to *Baal in it. He married Jezebel who was a very wicked queen. She was also a very loyal *worshipper of *Baal. She persuaded Ahab to *worship *Baal more and more.

Hiel is another example of someone who did not obey God. He built Jericho city again. The reconstruction of Jericho was an act to oppose God. God told the *Israelites to destroy Jericho completely when they first entered the country called Canaan. That action was the start of God’s punishment against the people in Canaan. God was punishing them for their wicked behaviour and because they *worshipped false gods.

During Ahab’s rule, the *Israelites were *worshipping the same false gods as the people from Canaan had *worshipped. And they were guilty of the same wicked behaviour too. That is why Hiel wanted to rebuild Jericho. The result of his actions was awful. You can read Joshua’s *prophecy in Joshua 6:26. Hiel’s oldest son died as he began to build. His youngest son died as he finished.

But Ahab learned nothing from these events. His wicked behaviour became even worse. And he continued to *worship *Baal.

At about this time, God sent an extraordinary *prophet to *Israel. His name was Elijah.

Chapter 17

Elijah the *prophet

v1 Now Elijah from Tishbe in Gilead spoke to Ahab. ‘I promise this in the name of the *Lord because he is definitely alive. He is the God of *Israel and I am his servant. There will be no *dew or rain in the next few years until I say so.’

v2 Then the *Lord said to Elijah, v3 ‘Leave this place and go east. Hide near the stream called Cherith, east of the river Jordan. v4 You will drink water from the stream. I have told the birds to bring you food.’

v5 So Elijah obeyed the *Lord. He went to the stream called Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. And he stayed there. v6 The birds brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening. He drank water from the stream. v7 After a while, the stream became dry because there had been no rain.

Elijah appears suddenly in the story. Later he disappears suddenly. He is a very important person in the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible). People often refer to him in the New Testament (the second part of the Bible). Peter, John and James saw him with Jesus and Moses on the mountain (Luke 9:30-33). The letter by James refers to him as a man who prayed. ‘Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed that the rain would not come. No rain fell upon the land for three and a half years.’ (See James 5:17.)

The people in *Israel were already *worshipping false gods long before Ahab became king, But Ahab encouraged the people to follow these false religions. Especially, he wanted people to *worship the false god called *Baal. Ahab was acting as if the *Lord, the real God of *Israel, were dead. Or, as if the *Lord did not still care about *Israel.

So the *Lord appointed Elijah to be a *prophet to *Israel. Elijah was bold when he spoke to King Ahab. Elijah declared that the *Lord was definitely alive. And he was still *Israel’s God, although Ahab did not respect him. And now the *Lord would *challenge *Baal. The *worshippers of the god *Baal believed that he provided them with rain. God was showing that he is more powerful than *Baal.

Then God told Elijah to hide. He did this probably because Ahab wanted to kill him. While Elijah was at Cherith, God used extraordinary means to provide for him. God provided Elijah with water from the stream. But wild birds called ravens brought Elijah’s food. These birds are large black birds, which usually eat meat. God uses unusual means sometimes to carry out his plans. God did this wonderful thing to show Elijah that he could trust God completely. Elijah would have to carry out some very difficult tasks for the *Lord. So Elijah needed to learn how to depend on God.

v8 Then God spoke to Elijah. v9 ‘Go at once to Zarephath in Sidon and stay there. I have ordered a widow who lives there to feed you.’

v10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there. She was collecting sticks for a fire. ‘Please bring me a drink of water’, he said to her. v11 As she was going to get it, he said, ‘Please bring me a piece of bread.’

v12 She answered, ‘I do not have any bread. That is as true as the *Lord your God lives. All I have is a little flour in a bowl and a little *olive oil in a jar. I came here to get some sticks to take home. Then I will make a meal for my son and myself. After we have eaten that meal, we will die.’

v13 ‘Do not be afraid’, Elijah said. ‘Go home. Do what you have said. But first, make me a small loaf of bread from what you have. Bring it to me. Then make something for yourself and your son. v14 This is what the *Lord, the God of *Israel says. “That bowl of flour will not become empty. And that jar of oil will not become dry. These things will only happen on the day when the *Lord gives rain on the earth.” ’

v15 She did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah, the woman and her family. v16 The bowl of flour did not become empty. The jar of oil did not become dry. This was what the *Lord had promised.

God again provided for Elijah in an unusual way. God sent Elijah to Sidon, which was a Gentile town. (The *Israelites called people who were not *Jews, ‘Gentiles’.) In addition, Jezebel the wife of Ahab came from this town.

God chose a very poor person, a widow, to give food to Elijah. Perhaps Elijah is the first *prophet to the Gentiles (Luke 4:25-26). God often chooses people who seem weak and foolish to carry out his plans (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Perhaps the widow *worshipped God, as she referred to him in verse 12. We do not know how she heard about God. But long before, when Solomon was king, people from Tyre helped to build the *temple (1 Kings 5:1; 7:13). Zarephath was near Tyre. Perhaps many families from that area began to believe in the *Lord during Solomon’s rule.

The widow’s words to Elijah are interesting. She knew that God is alive. But she spoke to Elijah about ‘your God’. So she recognised that Elijah was a servant of God. However, she had a severe problem. There had been no rain for a long time. She had been unable to buy any food. So she only had enough flour and oil to make one meal. After that meal, she expected that both she and her son would die.

Elijah’s request for a loaf of bread is a test of her *faith. He asked her to give him the first loaf, before she made anything for herself or her son. Because Elijah was God’s *prophet, she would be giving that loaf to God. We should always give God the first place in our lives.

Then Elijah gave a *prophecy to the woman. God himself would provide her food until the rains came. And because she had heard God’s word, the woman believed. She obeyed the *prophet. The result was that God provided food for all of them.

God’s word never disappoints us, even in the most difficult situations. We should always obey God. He deserves the first place in our lives. Jesus said, ‘God’s *kingdom should have the first place in your life. Always try to live in the manner that pleases him. Then God will provide everything else that you need’ (Matthew 6:33).

v17 Some time later, the son of the widow [who owned that house] became ill. He became worse and worse and at last, he died. v18 She said to Elijah, ‘Oh man of God, why did you do this to me? Have you come here to remind me about my *sins and to kill my son?’

v19 ‘Give me your son’, Elijah replied. He took him from her arms. He carried him upstairs to the room where he was staying. Then he laid him on his bed. v20 He prayed aloud to the *Lord. ‘*Lord my God I do not understand why you have done such a terrible thing to this widow. I am staying with her and now you kill her son!’ v21 Then he spread his body over the boy three times. He prayed to the *Lord, ‘*Lord my God, give life back to this boy.’

v22 The *Lord heard Elijah’s prayer and the boy’s life returned to him. He was alive again. v23 Elijah picked up the boy and he carried him downstairs. He gave him to his mother and he said, ‘Look, your son is alive.’

v24 She answered, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God. The word of God that you speak is true.’

The widow’s son died. Neither she nor Elijah expected this. She knew that Elijah had prayed against Ahab and Jezebel because of their *worship of *Baal. Perhaps she had *worshipped *Baal in the past. Perhaps she thought that God was punishing her for this. Or perhaps she felt guilty because of some other *sin. But in fact, God was not punishing her. Illness and death are often not the results of particular *sins (John 9:2-3). Sometimes God permits such things to happen in order to show his greatness to people. And we think that this happened here.

Elijah prayed. He asked God why this had happened. God did not give him a reason. Instead, he used Elijah to bring the boy back to life. Elijah’s actions in verse 21 may seem strange to us. We know that Elisha did this when another boy died (2 Kings 4:34). Paul did the same when Eutychus fell out of the window (Acts 20:10). It is God’s Spirit that gives life to people. In the Bible, a touch is often the means for God’s Spirit to pass from one person to another person (Mark 6:5; Mark 5:27-30; 2 Timothy 1:16). But Elijah did not just touch the body. He spread his complete body over the boy’s body. This shows the nature of his prayer. He did not just pray a simple prayer and then give up. Elijah’s prayer felt like a struggle against the power of death. (Compare Daniel 10:1-3; Daniel 10:12-13, and see Ephesians 6:12.)

Nothing seemed to happen initially. But Elijah repeated his actions until God answered his prayer. This *miracle convinced the widow that Elijah was a man of God. She was also sure that his words were true.

God was showing his power, by means of Elijah. Such *miracles were very important, because they showed the greatness of God’s power. During Elijah’s life, the *Israelites were *worshipping *Baal. The *worship of *Baal was against the *worship of God. It was very important that people should see God’s power.

Sometimes God does things in our lives that we do not understand. Like Elijah, we may ask questions as to why he does them. In the end, we have to trust God. He knows what he is doing. We may say to him what Peter replied to Jesus. Jesus had asked Peter if he would leave him. This was Peter’s reply: ‘*Lord, we cannot go to anybody else! Only you speak the words that give *everlasting life.’ (See John 6:68.)

Chapter 18

God sends Elijah to King Ahab

v1 After there had been no rain for three years, the *Lord spoke to Elijah. ‘Go and meet King Ahab. Then I will send rain.’ v2 So Elijah went to meet Ahab.

Now there was a very great lack of food in Samaria. v3 Ahab called in Obadiah who was in control of the palace. [Obadiah was a loyal *worshipper of the *Lord. v4 While Jezebel was killing the *Lord’s *prophets, Obadiah took 100 of them. He hid them in two caves, 50 in each. And he gave them food and water.] v5 Ahab said to Obadiah, ‘Go and look at every fountain and river in the country. Perhaps we will find enough grass to keep the horses and *mules alive. Then we will not have to kill any of our animals.’ v6 So they divided the country between them. Ahab went one way and Obadiah went the other way.

There had been no rain for three years. Elijah had spent one year by the stream. Then he had spent two years with the widow. Now it was the right time to meet Ahab.

Obadiah was a good man who gave honour to the *Lord. The king trusted him and gave him a good place with the king. Obadiah was still loyal to God.

We can see that Queen Jezebel was already very wicked. She was trying to force everyone to *worship only the false gods called *Baal and Ashtoreth. So she had decided to kill all the *prophets of the *Lord.

It is interesting that there were still so many *prophets of the *Lord. For many years since the rule of Jeroboam, people had *worshipped *idols in *Israel. This was the official religion, and most people followed it. But it is clear that a large number of people were still *worshipping the *Lord.

Among those people was Obadiah, who seems to be Ahab’s chief official. At great personal risk Obadiah hid the *prophets. They were in two caves. Obadiah gave them food and water.

The king told Obadiah to help him in order to find water for the horses. Some people think that Ahab had over 2000 of these.

Sometimes it is right for a good man to serve a bad ruler. He may then stop him doing bad deeds. Daniel served the kings in Babylon. We must always give honour to God. But often we can still work for people who do not respect him. We can show our belief by the things that we do. Jesus said, ‘Give the Emperor (the ruler of the country) what belongs to him. But give God what belongs to God’ (Luke 20:25).

v7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah knew who he was. He *bowed to the ground and spoke to him. ‘Are you really Elijah?’

v8 ‘Yes’, replied Elijah. ‘Go. And tell your master that I am here.’

v9 ‘What have I done wrong?’ asked Obadiah. ‘If I do that, Ahab will kill me. v10 I declare this by the God who lives. The king has searched for you in every country. Usually a country or *kingdom said you were not there. Then he made them declare by a serious promise that they could not find you. v11 Now you want me to go and say to my master, “Elijah is here.” v12 I do not know where the *Spirit of God will take you. This may happen after I leave. I may go to tell Ahab that you are here. But if he does not find you, he will kill me. But I have *worshipped the *Lord since I was a boy. v13 Have you heard what I did? Jezebel was killing the *prophets of the *Lord. I hid 100 of the *Lord’s *prophets in two caves, 50 in each. I also gave them food and water. v14 And now, you tell me to inform my master that Elijah is here. Ahab will kill me!’

v15 Elijah said, ‘I promise this in the name of the *Lord who is completely powerful. I will meet Ahab today.’

Obadiah greeted Elijah in a manner that showed great honour for Elijah. Elijah then told Obadiah to tell the king that he was there. Obadiah was very afraid to do this. Obadiah was aware that Elijah was a great *prophet. Perhaps he had heard about the *miracles that Elijah had carried out by God’s power. So Obadiah was already expecting more *miracles. He was afraid that, perhaps, the *Spirit of God might take Elijah away. Then the king would be angry and he would kill Obadiah.

Obadiah then told Elijah what he had done to look after the *prophets. He worked for the king, but he served the *Lord. Elijah promised that he would meet the king. So Obadiah could be confident. He did not need to worry.

v16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him. Ahab went to meet Elijah. v17 When he saw Elijah, he said, ‘So it is you, the man who makes trouble for *Israel.’

v18 ‘I have not made trouble for *Israel’, Elijah replied. ‘You and your father’s family have. You have not obeyed the *Lord’s commands but you have *worshipped the *Baals. v19 Now call the people from all over *Israel to meet me on *Mount Carmel. Bring the 450 *prophets of *Baal and the 400 *prophets of Asherah for whom Jezebel provides.’

v20 So Ahab ordered all the *Israelites and the *prophets of *Baal to meet at *Mount Carmel.

Ahab greeted Elijah in an unpleasant manner. People who serve God often have suffered such insults. In Acts 17:6 the crowd called Paul a maker of trouble. Paul did not deserve that insult, and Elijah did not deserve Ahab’s insult. Elijah said that Ahab had made trouble. Rain had stopped because he *worshipped *Baal gods. People thought that these gods would send rain for their crops. But really, the *Lord is the only God. Only he can send rain. And soon Elijah would prove that this is true.

Elijah *challenged Ahab to a meeting on *Mount Carmel. This mountain was one of the places where people gave honour to the *Baal gods. People from all the *tribes of *Israel came. So did the *prophets who led the *worship of the *Baal gods. Perhaps Ahab was afraid not to obey Elijah. Perhaps Ahab thought that he would do anything to get rain. So, on this occasion, Ahab obeyed Elijah. But Ahab still did not want to obey God.

Elijah and the *prophets of *Baal

v21 Elijah spoke to the people. ‘How much longer will you take to decide? If the *Lord is God then follow him. If *Baal is God then follow him.’ However, the people said nothing. v22 Then Elijah said, ‘I am the only *prophet of the *Lord who is still here. *Baal has 450 *prophets. v23 Bring two *bulls. The *prophets of *Baal should choose one and kill it. Then they must cut it in pieces and put it on the wood. But they must not light a fire. I will prepare the other *bull and put it on the wood. And I will not light a fire. v24 Then you pray to your god and I will pray to the *Lord. Only one God is able to send fire. He is the real God.’

The people said, ‘What you say is good.’

v25 Then Elijah said to the *prophets of *Baal, ‘There are so many of you. So choose one of the *bulls and prepare it first. Pray to your god but do not light the fire.’

v26 So they took the *bull and they prepared it. Then they prayed to *Baal from morning until midday. They shouted, ‘*Baal answer us.’ But there was no reply. There was no answer. They danced round the *altar which they had made.

v27 At noon, Elijah began to laugh at them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘You say that *Baal is a god! Perhaps he is concentrating on something else. Perhaps he is busy. Perhaps he has gone on a journey. Or maybe he is asleep and you must wake him up.’

v28 So they shouted louder. They cut themselves with swords and long *weapons with a metal point until their blood flowed. That was their custom. v29 After midday they continued their desperate prayers. They did this until it was time for the evening *sacrifice. But there was no answer. Nobody replied. Nobody paid attention.

This is a very powerful story. The purpose of the event was to show which God was the real God. The other was not really a god. The people wanted to mix the *worship of God with the *worship of *Baal. Elijah told the people that they could not do this. Like Joshua (Joshua 24:15), he told the people to chose the god whom they would serve.

Today, people still try to *worship different gods. They *worship the *Lord when they want his help. But they are not loyal to God. Usually, they prefer their own false gods. Sometimes those false gods are the *idols of false religions. But many people do not even realise when they are *worshipping false gods. Popular false gods today include money, ambition and power. Other false gods include sex, pleasure and luxury. People begin to love these things until such things become the most important things in their lives. They believe that such things provide a successful or worthwhile life. So these people think about such things in the same manner as other people think about *idols.

But the real God does not allow people to *worship any false god (Deuteronomy 5:8-9). In fact, people have long *worshipped things like money and sex as gods. Jesus warned people that they must not *worship money (Matthew 6:24). And Paul mentioned people who *worship the human body as a god (Romans 1:24-25). So still today, people must choose the god whom they will serve. And any god who is not the *Lord, is a false god. Everyone who *worships a false god is wasting their time. Only the real God can provide a person with a worthwhile life. Only the real God can answer prayer. Only the real God can save a person from *sin and hell. And as Elijah would prove, only the real God could send fire on *Mount Carmel.

Elijah allowed the *prophets of *Baal to pray to their god first. There were more of them. They prayed in the manner that their religion ordered. When *Baal did not answer their many prayers, they became more and more desperate. They shouted and they cut themselves. They hoped that their blood would make their god listen. (In Deuteronomy 14:1, the *Lord forbade his people to cut themselves.) Elijah laughed at them. If *Baal were a god, surely he would hear them. But perhaps he was thinking about something else. Perhaps he was too busy to answer their prayers. The *Lord is present everywhere (Psalm 139). But Elijah suggested that *Baal might be too weak to be a real god. Perhaps he had travelled elsewhere. The *Lord never sleeps. He is always looking after his people (Psalm 121:4). Elijah again suggested that *Baal was too weak. Perhaps he had gone to sleep and they should wake him up. The *prophets of *Baal shouted for another three hours until 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but nobody answered.

Like all false gods, their god was without any real power whatever. Sometimes a false god may seem to have some power. There are reports of magic and *miracles that come from false gods. These reports are often false. But if they are true, they are the work of the devil. The Bible does not deny that the devil still has some power (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8). But he always uses his power for wicked purposes. And he is much weaker than God is. Jesus, by his death, has already defeated the devil completely (1 Corinthians 15:55; Hebrews 2:14).

v30 Then Elijah told all the people to come closer to him. They came to him and he repaired the *Lord’s *altar. The people had neglected it. v31 He took 12 stones, one for each of the *tribes who were Jacob’s *descendants. The *Lord had given Jacob the name *Israel. v32 With the stones he built an *altar for the *worship of the *Lord. He dug a ditch round it. This was large enough to hold about 4 gallons (15 litres) of water. v33 Then he put the wood on the *altar. He cut the *bull in pieces and he put it on the wood. Then he told the people to fill 4 large jars with water. He told them to pour the water on the *offering and the wood.

v34 ‘Do it again’, he said. So they did it again.

‘Do it a third time’, he ordered. They did it a third time. v35 The water ran down round the *altar and it filled the ditch.

v36 At the time of *sacrifice, the *prophet Elijah went close to the *altar and he prayed. ‘*Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and *Israel. Show now that you are God in *Israel. Show that I am your servant. And show the people why I have done all these things. I have done all these things because you told me to do them. v37 Answer me, *Lord, answer me. Then these people will know that you, *Lord, are God. They will know that you are turning them back to you again.’

v38 Then the *Lord sent fire down. It burnt up the *sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil. It also dried up the water in the ditch.

v39 When the people saw this, they fell on the ground. They shouted, ‘The *Lord is God. The *Lord is God!’

v40 Elijah ordered them to seize the *prophets of *Baal. ‘Do not let any of them escape.’ The people seized them all. Elijah took them to the Kishon valley and he killed them there.

Elijah repaired an *altar that people had used to *worship God. He did this to show that he was not introducing a new religion. Instead he wanted to bring back the belief and *worship of the real God. He used 12 stones to show that all the people still belonged to God. Because of the events when Jeroboam became king, the 12 *tribes were in two separate countries. And the northern country, which Ahab ruled, was following different religions. But Elijah showed that God still cared about them all.

Elijah poured water (perhaps from the sea) to show that he was not cheating. Everyone could see that Elijah had not lit a fire. And the *altar was too wet for anyone to start a fire there.

Then Elijah prayed to God in a humble manner. He prayed that people would know two things. The first was that God was the real God. The second was that he was a God of *mercy. He still wanted the people to turn back to him. He still wanted to show them his kindness.

Suddenly, something happened that astonished all the people. Fire came down from the sky. The fire destroyed the *sacrifice and the *altar. It also burnt the soil and dried up the water. It seems that this event caused great terror. The *prophets of *Baal had failed. Elijah had proved that God was the real God. The people agreed but not all of them would continue to follow God. But Elijah acted quickly. With the help of the people, he killed the *prophets of *Baal. This was probably because of the command in Deuteronomy 13:13-15.

God told the *Israelites to kill those who led them to *worship other gods. We would not do that today, but, in Colossians 3:5 and 3:8, Paul uses a similar description. He is explaining how, with God’s help, Christians must end their own wrong desires. He writes this: ‘Kill the bad desires in you. These include wrong use of sex, wrong desires for sex and a strong desire for wealth and power. This is like when people give honour to *idols. You must remove anger, hate, insults and lies.’ If we really follow God, we will obey him.

God sends rain

v41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go. Eat and drink. I can hear the sound of heavy rain.’ v42 Ahab went to eat but Elijah climbed to the top of *Mount Carmel. He bent down to the ground. And he put his face between his knees.

v43 Then Elijah told his servant to go and to look towards the sea.

The servant went and returned. ‘I did not see anything’, he said.

Seven times Elijah told him to go back. v44 The seventh time the servant came back and said, ‘A cloud is coming up from the sea. But it is tiny. It seems as small as a man’s hand.’

So Elijah gave an order to his servant. ‘Go and say to Ahab, “Get into your *chariot. Go home before the rain stops you.” ’

v45 Soon dark clouds covered the sky. The wind increased and heavy rain began to fall. Ahab rode back to Jezreel. v46 The power of the *Lord came upon Elijah. He fastened up his clothes and he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Now it was clear that the *Lord was the real God. Elijah could then pray for rain. People would know that *Baal did not send it. This was clear because the *prophets of *Baal were dead. Elijah sent Ahab to eat and to drink. He had probably not done so all day.

Elijah went to pray. He probably thanked God for his answer by fire. Now he asked him to answer with water. He prayed on the top of Carmel on his own. He bent down because he was humble. He told his servant to look for a cloud. It would come up out of the sea. The servant came back 6 times. He said that he could not see anything. Elijah did not give up. He continued to pray until God answered his prayer (James 5:16-18).

Then at the 7th time, Elijah’s servant saw a small cloud. Elijah told Ahab to hurry home. God gave Elijah great strength to run with Ahab’s *chariot. Elijah ran 17 miles to Jezreel. On this occasion, Elijah went with Ahab. He did not want to oppose the king. He wanted to persuade him to *worship the *Lord.

Chapter 19

God speaks to Elijah at *Mount Sinai

v1 Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done. He also told her that Elijah had killed all the *prophets of *Baal. v2 She sent a message to Elijah and it said this. ‘I promise to kill you as you killed those *prophets. I will kill you by this time tomorrow. If not, I pray that the gods will kill me.’

v3 Elijah saw what was happening. So he ran away in order to save his life. He came to Beersheba in *Judah and he left his servant there. v4 Then Elijah walked for a day into the desert. He came to a tree and he sat under it. He prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough *Lord’, he prayed. ‘Take away my life. I am no better than my *ancestors.’ v5 He lay down under the tree and he slept there.

Suddenly an *angel touched him and spoke to him. ‘Get up and eat.’ v6 He looked round. He saw that the *angel had baked bread on the coals. And a jug of water was near his head. He had some food and drink and he lay down again.

v7 The *angel of the *Lord came back the second time and woke him up. ‘Get up and eat. Otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’ v8 So he got up. He ate and he drank. The food gave him enough strength to walk for 40 days and 40 nights to Sinai. This was the mountain of God. v9 Then he went into a cave to spend the night.

Ahab told Jezebel what Elijah had done. He also told her that Elijah had killed the *prophets of *Baal. Jezebel sent a message to Elijah. She said that she intended to kill him. In fact, she had made a serious promise to do this. She was very angry and she wanted Elijah to be afraid.

Elijah saw that he could not remain in *Israel. He was not afraid to die, as verse 4 mentions. But he did not want Jezebel to kill him. If she did, all his efforts would be in vain. She would say that she had overcome Elijah by the power of her gods. Therefore, she would say that her gods had defeated the *Lord.

It is a *sin to test the *Lord (Deuteronomy 6:16). So Elijah could not remain in a dangerous place where he would be forcing God to protect him. Elijah would not be trusting God, because God had not told him to remain there. So Elijah ran away. He came to a place of safety in Beersheba which the king of *Judah ruled. But even there, Elijah still felt great strain. Of course, he had a great experience on *Mount Carmel. But that experience was also a great struggle. Then he had run in front of Ahab’s *chariot. As a result, his body was very tired. The message from Jezebel was too much.

Elijah expected that the events on *Mount Carmel would turn the *Israelites back to God. He even hoped that he could persuade Ahab to *worship the *Lord. But Jezebel’s message proved that wicked people still controlled *Israel. Elijah saw that he was no better than the *prophets before him. They had been unable to turn the *Israelites back to God. And Elijah felt that he was unsuccessful too.

Elijah could not go on any longer. He ran away so that Jezebel would not kill him. Now he asked God to allow him to die. Then he slept.

God sent an *angel who twice gave food and water to Elijah. This gave him sufficient strength to walk about 300 miles to *Mount Sinai. This was where God had given the Ten *Commandments. It took Elijah 40 days to reach the mountain. This was like when the *Israelites walked in the desert for 40 years. Some people think that the ‘*angel of the *Lord’ was the *Lord Jesus Christ himself.

In Philippians 4:13 Paul says this. ‘I can do everything by him (God) who gives me strength.’ Sometimes Christians today feel great strain, as Elijah did. We should encourage them to trust God completely. When we work for God, sometimes we feel great strain. Our task seems too difficult for anyone to achieve. But, if we are really working for God, we do not achieve his purposes by human effort. It is God who uses us in order to achieve his purposes. Elijah felt that his task was too hard. But his duty was simply to do what God ordered. The *Lord would achieve the results that he intended.

Then God spoke to Elijah. ‘What are you doing here?’

v10 Elijah replied, ‘*Lord God, you are the commander of heaven’s armies. I have tried very hard to serve you. The *Israelites have not obeyed your *covenant. They have broken down your *altars. They have killed your *prophets. I am the only one who is still alive. Now they are trying to kill me.’

v11 The *Lord said, ‘Go and stand in front of me on top of the mountain. The *Lord will go past you.’

Then a strong wind blew. It was so powerful that it split the hills. And it broke the rocks into pieces. But the *Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, the earth suddenly moved with great force. But the *Lord was not in that. v12 Then there was a fire, but the *Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper. v13 When Elijah heard that whisper, he pulled his coat over his face. Then he went and stood in the entrance to the cave.

Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’

v14 He replied, ‘*Lord God, you are the commander of heaven’s armies. I have tried very hard to serve you. The *Israelites have not obeyed your *covenant. They have broken down your *altars. They have killed your *prophets. I am the only one who is still alive. And they are trying to kill me.’

v15 The *Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way that you came. Go to the desert of Damascus. When you get there, pour *olive oil over Hazael’s head. Appoint him king of Syria. v16 Also pour *olive oil over the head of Jehu son of Nimshi. Appoint him king of *Israel. Pour *olive oil over the head of Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah. Appoint him to become a *prophet after you. v17 Jehu will kill anyone whom Hazael is unable to kill. Elisha will kill anyone whom Jehu is unable to kill. v18 But there are still 7000 people in *Israel who are loyal to me. They have not *bowed to *Baal. They have not kissed his *idol.’

Centuries before, Moses saw the *glory of God. Moses had this wonderful experience when he was in a cave on *Mount Sinai (Exodus 33:12-23). Elijah travelled to that same mountain. And perhaps he was in the same cave. And in that special place, God spoke to Elijah. God asked Elijah what he was doing there.

Elijah replied that he had tried very hard to serve God. He wanted to bring the *Israelites back to *worship God. The events on Carmel had shown God’s power, but the people had not really changed. Elijah thought that he was alone. He considered himself to be the only person who still followed God. That was how Elijah felt. But we know that it was not accurate. Obadiah, the palace official, was still loyal to God. And the 100 *prophets whom Obadiah protected were loyal to God. Soon God would tell Elijah about many more *Israelites who were serving God.

Moses had gone into the cave when God’s *glory passed by. Elijah came out of the cave and he stood on the mountain. He heard a strong wind and he saw the movement of the earth. Then there was a fire. But God did not speak by any of these events. Of course, God can use powerful events. For example, he sent fire earlier, on *Mount Carmel. And he sent a storm when Elijah prayed for rain. But often, he speaks in a very gentle manner. In other words, his message comes quietly into our hearts, our minds or our spirits. If we allow strong emotions to control our thoughts, we shall not hear his message. Perhaps that is why Elijah did not hear God’s word immediately. Perhaps Elijah needed to wait until his heart was calm enough to receive God’s message.

At last, Elijah heard ‘a gentle whisper’. Then he covered his face. He knew that God was present. God repeated his question and Elijah gave the same answer. God heard Elijah’s list of problems. But God did not reply to them all. Instead, God gave Elijah a list of instructions. Sometimes, in our prayers, we try to tell God what we want to happen. But we must always remember that we are God’s servants. And he is our master and our King. He will decide what he wants to happen. And it is then our duty to obey him.

The instructions that God gave to Elijah were very important. God was making great changes that would affect the entire region. God was appointing two new kings. Each new king would organise a revolution to overcome the government in his own country. But God also gave personal instructions to Elijah. Elijah should appoint a man called Elisha to be *prophet in *Israel. Elijah did not have to do everything himself. Elisha would continue Elijah’s work. God would appoint the people whom he chose to carry out his work.

So God told Elijah to go and to appoint Hazael. Hazael would become king of Syria. Elijah must also appoint Jehu to be king of *Israel and Elisha to be a *prophet. Elijah did not appoint Hazael and Jehu himself. Elisha did. But Elijah did appoint Elisha.

God also explained that he would punish the *Israelites for their *sins. This would happen by means of a foreign enemy (Hazael), war (Jehu) and Elisha’s word.

Finally, God mentioned something else that would encourage Elijah. Elijah thought that he was the only follower of God. In fact, 7000 other *Israelites were still loyal to God. ‘The *Lord knows those people who are his.’ There are more Christians in the world than we sometimes think. God’s love is larger than people’s love. Matthew Henry was a British man who wrote a Commentary (a book to explain the Bible) about 300 years ago. He wrote, ‘We will meet many people in heaven. We did not think that some of them would be there.’

Elijah appoints Elisha

v19 Elijah left and he found Elisha son of Shaphat. Elisha was ploughing with a group of *oxen. There were 11 groups ahead of him and he was ploughing with the 12th group. Elijah took off his coat and he put it round Elisha. v20 Elisha left his *oxen and he ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye’, he said. ‘Then I will go with you.’

‘Go back’, replied Elijah. ‘I have not done anything to stop you.’

v21 So Elisha left him and he went back. He took his *oxen and he killed them. He burnt his plough to cook the meat. Then he gave it to the people and they ate. Then he went to follow Elijah and to be his helper.

Elijah appointed Elisha first. Elisha was the last man that God told Elijah to appoint. In fact, Elisha would appoint the other men.

Elisha was working when Elijah appointed him. Elisha did not expect Elijah’s visit. Elisha was a wealthy farmer but he still ploughed the land. Elijah threw his coat over him. By this action, Elijah showed that Elisha would become a *prophet like him. Elisha realised this immediately. The life of a *prophet would be much more difficult than Elisha’s work as a wealthy farmer. Some people would hate him and they would oppose his message. But Elisha wanted to serve God. So Elisha considered this to be a wonderful opportunity. He did not hesitate. He left his *oxen and he ran after Elijah. And it seems that Elisha’s sudden reaction even surprised Elijah.

In the New Testament (the second part of the Bible), some men were fishing. They too did not hesitate when Jesus called them. They left their nets and they followed Jesus. See Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20.

Elisha asked if he could first say goodbye to his parents. Elijah did not stop him. He wanted Elisha to come with him because he genuinely wanted to come. Elisha had a meal in order to say goodbye to his family. But even at that meal, he showed that he would never return to his former occupation. He used his plough as fuel for the fire. He cooked his *oxen as food for the meal. Then he went and he became Elijah’s servant.

Chapter 20

God allows Ahab’s army to defeat the army from Syria

v1 Benhadad, king of Syria gathered his whole army. Then 32 other kings with their horses and *chariots joined him. They attacked Samaria and they surrounded it. Nobody could enter or leave. v2 He sent people with messages into the city to Ahab king of *Israel. This is what they said. ‘Benhadad says this. v3 “I want to have all your silver and gold. I want to have the best of your wives and children.” ’

v4 This is how the king of *Israel replied. ‘Tell this to the king. He can have me and everything that I own.’

v5 Benhadad’s agents came again with another message. They said, ‘This is what King Benhadad says. “I told you that you must give to me your silver and gold. You must also give to me your women and your children. v6 Now, however I will send my officials. They will search your palace and the homes of your officials. They will take everything of value. They will be there about this time tomorrow.” ’

v7 The king of *Israel called all the leaders of the country. He said to them, ‘This man wants trouble. He sent for my wives, children, gold and silver. And I did not refuse him.’

v8 All the leaders and the people replied, ‘Do not listen to him or agree to his demands.’

v9 So Ahab replied to Benhadad’s agents, ‘Tell this to the king. “I am your servant. I will do all that you asked for the first time. But I cannot agree to your second demand.” ’ The people who brought the message took the answer back to Benhadad.

v10 Then Benhadad sent another message to Ahab. ‘I promise that I will destroy Samaria completely. I do not intend to leave even a handful of dust for each of my men. If I fail, I pray that the gods will kill me.’

v11 The king of *Israel said, ‘Tell King Benhadad that he should not be proud before the battle. A person should not be proud until he has defeated his enemies.’

v12 Benhadad heard this message while he and his kings were drinking in their tents. He ordered his men to attack. So they prepared to attack the city.

Benhadad the king of Syria attacked Samaria. He led a vast army. And 32 other kings were supporting him. His army surrounded the city so that nobody could bring in food or drink.

But they could not enter the city easily. Ahab’s father, Omri, took care to build strong defences for the city. So Benhadad’s army stayed outside the city while Benhadad sent his agents to speak to Ahab.

Benhadad demanded that Ahab should give him all his silver and gold. He also wanted the best of Ahab’s wives and children. Ahab agreed to this. Probably, Ahab hoped that his offer would satisfy Benhadad. Then Benhadad would take his army elsewhere.

Instead, Benhadad demanded more. He would send his officials to take everything that had any value. Ahab talked to the people who advised him. They told him not to agree to these demands. They thought that it would be better to fight than to lose everything.

Benhadad replied that he intended to ruin Samaria completely. Ahab told him not to be too confident of success. But really, Ahab was in a desperate situation. He knew that his army was much weaker than Benhadad’s army. But the *Lord was using this situation to show Ahab that he (the *Lord) really is God.

v13 A *prophet went to Ahab, the king of *Israel and he said, ‘This is what the *Lord says. “You see this very big army. I will give you success over it today. Then you will know that I am the *Lord.” ’

v14 ‘But who will do this?’ asked Ahab. The *prophet replied, ‘This is what the *Lord says. “The young soldiers under the command of the district rulers will do this.” ’

Ahab asked. ‘And who will start the battle?’

The *prophet answered, ‘You will.’

v15 So Ahab called the young soldiers whom the district rulers commanded. There were 232 of them. Then he called the *Israelite army. There were 7000 men in it. v16 The attack began at midday. Benhadad and the 32 kings with him were drinking much wine in their tents. v17 The young soldiers went first.

Benhadad sent out men to watch the *Israelite army. These men told him, ‘Men are coming out of Samaria.’

v18 He ordered ‘Take them alive. Do this whether they are coming to fight or to ask for peace.’

v19 The young soldiers led the attack. The *Israelite army followed them. v20 Each man killed the man that he fought. At that, the soldiers from Syria ran away and the *Israelites chased them. However, Benhadad king of Syria escaped on horseback together with some of his men. v21 The king of *Israel advanced and he *captured the horses and *chariots. He killed many soldiers from Syria.

v22 Afterwards, the *prophet went to King Ahab and said, ‘Go back and make your army strong. Make careful plans. Next spring, the king of Syria will attack you again.’

v23 Then King Benhadad’s officials spoke to him. ‘The gods of the *Israelites are gods of the hills. That is why they defeated us. But if we fight them on the plains, we will defeat them. v24 Do this. Remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers. v25 You must also get an army like the one that has just lost the battle. It will have the same number of horses and *chariots. We will fight the *Israelites on the plains. Then we will defeat them.’ The king agreed with them and he followed their advice.

The *prophet of God told Ahab that he would win the battle against Benhadad. Ahab was a very evil king, and he certainly did not deserve God’s help. But God showed his kindness to Ahab. God did this for two reasons:

(1) The *Israelites were still God’s people, although most *Israelites were not loyal to him. He wanted them to turn back to him.

(2) This would give Ahab an opportunity to change his ways. *Israel would defeat the proud soldiers from Syria. God was kind to his people. He gave them every opportunity to put their trust in him.

He sent the youngest of his soldiers to begin the attack. Behind them came the large army of 7000 men. Benhadad had drunk too much alcohol. He was very confident. As a result, he told his soldiers not to kill the young men who were attacking. But he was very foolish. The young *Israelites killed the soldiers who were trying to *capture them. When Benhadad’s army saw this, they were very afraid. They tried to run away. But a soldier cannot fight when his back is towards his enemies. So the *Israelites killed many more of Benhadad’s soldiers. The result was that the *Israelites won the battle.

The *prophet warned Ahab that the king of Syria would attack again in the spring. The king of Syria’s men supposed that they could explain *Israel’s success. They said that *Israel’s God was only a god of the hills. If the armies fought on the plains, the soldiers from Syria would defeat them. Therefore, the king of Syria used the winter time to prepare to attack. Instead of the kings, they appointed soldiers to lead the armies.

v26 During the next spring, Benhadad ordered the soldiers from Syria to fight. He went up to Aphek in order to fight *Israel. v27 The *Israelites came together and they prepared their equipment. Then they marched out to meet the soldiers from Syria. The *Israelites camped opposite the soldiers from Syria. They seemed like two small groups of goats. But the soldiers from Syria spread out over the whole country.

v28 A *prophet came to the king of *Israel and he said, ‘This is what the *Lord says. “The soldiers from Syria think that the *Lord is the god of hills and not the god of valleys. Because of that, I will give you success over this vast army. Then you will know that I am the *Lord.” ’

v29 For 7 days, the armies camped opposite each other. On the 7th day, they started to fight. The *Israelites killed 100 000 soldiers from Syria in one day. v30 The rest of the soldiers from Syria ran away into the city called Aphek. The city’s walls fell on 27 000 of them. Benhadad escaped into the city. He hid in the back room of a house.

v31 His officials said to him, ‘We have heard that the *Israelite kings are very kind. Let us go to the king of *Israel. We should wear rough cloth and put ropes (very thick strings) round our necks. Perhaps he will not kill you.’

v32 So they wore rough cloth and they put ropes round their necks. They went to the king of *Israel and they spoke to him. ‘Your servant Benhadad says, “Please let me live.” ’

The king replied, ‘Is he still alive? He is my brother (companion).’

v33 The men took this as a good *sign. They said, ‘As you say, Benhadad is your brother.’

‘Go. Get him’, said Ahab. When Benhadad came out, Ahab invited him into his *chariot.

v34 Benhadad said, ‘I will return the cities that my father took from your father. You may set up a market in Damascus as my father did in Samaria.’

Then Ahab said, ‘Because you have agreed to do this, I will free you.’ So he made an agreement with him and he let him go.

In those days, armies usually went to war during the spring. Then the weather was better for a fight. The *Israelite army seemed very small because the army from Syria was so large. But God sent a message to Ahab. He would show the soldiers from Syria that he was not just a god of the hills. He would give the *Israelites success over them.

The large numbers of people in the story are a problem. Perhaps ‘100 000 soldiers from Syria’ includes the soldiers that the *Israelites forced to leave the battle. Aphek was a small city east of the Sea of Galilee. Just to destroy the walls would not have killed 27 000 people. Perhaps this means that the soldiers in the city now had no protection. The *Israelites may have killed them.

Benhadad asked Ahab in a humble manner not to kill him. Ahab agreed for a political reason. He would need Benhadad’s help against Assyria. Benhadad promised to give back the cities that his *ancestors had taken from *Israel. He also allowed Ahab to trade in Damascus.

Ahab was very foolish to make this agreement. He had not learned the lesson that the *Lord was teaching him during these two battles. God had proved that he is able to protect his people. Twice he had given Ahab’s army success against a much larger army. But Ahab was not trusting the *Lord to protect him against Assyria. Instead, Ahab preferred to trust a large army and a powerful king. And that king happened to be Ahab’s enemy, Benhadad. In fact, Ahab’s peace agreement with Benhadad would not last. Ahab would die in a battle against Syria just three years afterwards.

The *Lord’s message to Ahab

v35 The *Lord told one of the *prophets to tell another *prophet to cause him an injury. But the man refused.

v36 The first *prophet said to him, ‘Because you have not obeyed the *Lord, a lion will kill you. This will happen as soon as you leave me.’ As soon as he left, a lion killed him.

v37 The *prophet found another man and said, ‘Please hit me!’ The man hit him and caused him an injury. v38 The *prophet stood by the road. He was waiting for the king. He covered his face with a cloth so that the king would not recognise him. v39 As the king went by, the *prophet called out to him. ‘I am your servant. I went into battle when a soldier brought a *captured enemy to me. He said, “Guard this man. If he escapes, you will pay with your life or with 75 pounds (34 kilos) of silver.” v40 But I was very busy and the man escaped.’

The king said, ‘You have announced your own punishment. You will have to pay.’

v41 Then the *prophet quickly removed the cloth from his face. The king recognised that he was one of the *prophets. v42 The *prophet said to the king, ‘This is what the *Lord says. “You have freed a man whom I wanted to die. Therefore you will die and so will the people in your army.” ’ v43 The king went home to Samaria. This message upset him much, and he felt angry.

The first *prophet asked another *prophet to hit him with his sword. But he did not. As a result, a lion killed him. That was what happened to the *prophet in chapter 13.

Perhaps this *prophet did not think that it was right to hit the first *prophet. The first *prophet’s request was very unusual. But it is clear that the second *prophet was refusing to obey God. And that is a very serious matter. Maybe the first *prophet had warned the other *prophet that God had ordered this. Or maybe the other *prophet knew for some other reason. Perhaps this event happened to warn Ahab. If a good man suffered in this manner, then a worse thing would happen to Ahab.

So the first *prophet found another man. We do not know whether that man was also a *prophet. But he obeyed and he hit the *prophet. The *prophet then stood by the road. He told the king a story. This was very much like the story that Nathan told David (2 Samuel 12:1-15). The purpose of the story was to make Ahab announce his own punishment. God had wanted Ahab to punish Benhadad. Instead, Ahab made an agreement with him. This showed that he did not trust God. As a result, Ahab died in a battle against the soldiers from Syria. Later the soldiers from Syria attacked the nation and it suffered greatly. God is fair when he punishes people for their *sins. Nobody will be able to say that he is not.

Chapter 21

Queen Jezebel steals Naboth’s field

v1 King Ahab of Samaria had a palace in Jezreel. Near the palace, there was a field. Naboth who lived at Jezreel owned it. He used it to produce *grapes. v2 One day Ahab spoke to Naboth. ‘Give me your field. It is close to my palace. I want to use the land for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better one instead of it. Or, if you prefer, I will pay you its value.’

v3 But Naboth replied, ‘The *Lord does not allow me to do such a thing! I received this field from my *ancestors, so I cannot give it to you.’

v4 Ahab went home in a bad temper. He was angry about Naboth’s statement, ‘I received this field from my *ancestors, so I cannot give it to you.’ Ahab lay on his bed in a bad temper. He would not eat.

v5 His wife Jezebel came in. She asked him. ‘Why are you so sad? Why will you not eat?’

v6 He replied to her, ‘It is because Naboth refused to let me have his field. I offered to buy it from him or to give him another one. But he replied, “I cannot give my field to you.” ’

v7 Jezebel said ‘But you are the king! Get up and eat. Be cheerful! I will get you Naboth’s field.’

The law said that nobody must make a permanent sale of his land. People must not pass land from *tribe to *tribe. (See Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:7.)

Naboth was right to refuse the king. If Naboth sold the field to the king, he (Naboth) would not be obeying God’s law. So this was not merely a business matter or an ordinary argument. Naboth could not obey the king, because such an action would be against God’s law. So Naboth firmly refused Ahab’s request. Naboth chose to stand for God.

Ahab was angry. He had everything that he needed. But he was not happy without Naboth’s *vineyard. Jezebel promised to get the land for him. She thought that the king should be like a god. If Ahab did not behave like one, she would!

v8 So Jezebel wrote letters and she signed them with Ahab’s name. She put his mark on them. She sent them to the leaders and officials of Naboth’s city. v9 This is what she wrote. ‘Announce that there will be a day for people to go without food. Call the people together. Give Naboth the place of honour. v10 Make two wicked people sit opposite him. Tell them to say that he spoke badly about God and the king. Then take him out of the city. Throw stones at him until he dies.’

v11 So the leaders and officials of Naboth’s city did what Jezebel had ordered. v12 They told people to go without food. They gave Naboth the place of honour among the people. v13 Then two wicked people came and sat opposite him. They accused Naboth in front of the people. They said that Naboth had spoken badly about God and the king. So the people took Naboth outside the city. They threw stones at him until he died. v14 Then they told Jezebel, ‘We threw stones at Naboth. Now he is dead.’

v15 As soon as Jezebel heard this she spoke to Ahab. ‘Go. Take possession of the field that Naboth refused to give you. He is no longer alive, but dead.’ v16 Ahab heard that Naboth was dead. Then he got up. And he went to take possession of Naboth’s field.

Jezebel plotted Naboth’s death. She used the king’s name and his mark. He did not know that she had done this. She organised a *religious meeting. She suggested that God was angry with the people because of some *sin. Two wicked people said that Naboth was responsible. They pretended that he had spoken badly about God and the king. When anyone spoke badly about God or the king, the punishment was death. The people killed Naboth and his sons. (See 2 Kings 9:26.)

When Ahab heard about this, he went down to take possession of Naboth’s field. By this action, Ahab showed that he approved of Jezebel’s deeds.

Naboth’s *trial was like the *trial of Jesus. In both cases, false witnesses said that they had spoken against God and the king. (See Luke 22:70-71; 23:1-3.) So, although Naboth was innocent, people killed him.

We can see that Ahab and Jezebel were becoming even more wicked. They were ready to use false (lying) witnesses to accuse people who upset them. And they were not afraid to kill an innocent man. But God knew about their *sin.

Elijah *prophesies the end of Ahab’s rule over *Israel

v17 Then the *Lord spoke to Elijah from Tishbe. v18 The *Lord said, ‘Go down to meet Ahab king of *Israel who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s field. He is taking possession of it. v19 Say to him, “This is the message from the *Lord. You have murdered a man and taken his property.” Tell him that the *Lord says to him, “In the place where the dogs *licked Naboth’s blood, they will *lick your blood.” ’

v20 Ahab said to Elijah, ‘You have found me, my enemy.’

‘Yes, I have’, replied Elijah. ‘You have given yourself completely to do what the *Lord considers to be evil. v21 (So the *Lord says,) “I will bring *disaster upon you. I will kill you and every male in your family, both young and old. v22 Your family will become like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah. This is because you have made me angry. You have led *Israel into *sin.” ’

v23 Elijah added, ‘And the *Lord also says this about Jezebel. “The dogs will eat her body by the wall of Jezreel. v24 Dogs will eat the bodies of the relations of Ahab who die in the city. Vultures (birds that eat dead animals) will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.” ’

v25 Nobody else was as bad as Ahab. He did what the *Lord considered to be evil. His wife Jezebel urged him to do this. v26 He *worshipped *idols in the same disgusting way as the *Amorites did. The *Lord had forced them to leave as the *Israelites advanced.

v27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes. He put on rough cloths and he refused to eat. He lay in rough cloths and he was very sad in front of everyone.

v28 Then the *Lord spoke to Elijah from Tishbe. v29 ‘You see how humble Ahab has become! Because he has done this, I will not bring *disaster upon him during his life. I will bring it on his family during the rule of his son.’

Elijah went to meet Ahab again. This time he came to tell Ahab that God would punish him. Ahab considered Elijah as his enemy.

Elijah told Ahab that all his family would die. They would not continue as kings. Their deaths would be awful and they would not even have proper graves.

Ahab then showed *sorrow for what he had done. He was not sorry enough to stop his *worship of *idols or to give back Naboth’s field. Still, God was willing to make his punishment less. *Disaster would not happen until after Ahab’s death. God will answer if people change their ways. He will do this even if their change is not perfect. God does not want anybody to suffer *everlasting death (2 Peter 3:9). He wants everyone to have life. But later, Ahab died as Elijah *prophesied. The wages of *sin is death (Romans 6:23). The punishment on his family happened later.

Ahab was a very wicked king. But in fact his wife, Jezebel, was responsible for many of his worst *sins. In these matters, Ahab was evil not because of his own cruelty, but because he was weak. We must never allow wicked people to control our actions. John wrote to a church where an evil woman was controlling some people. He warned the members of that church about her. They would suffer greatly if they continued to obey her. He called that woman by the name ‘Jezebel’ (Revelation 2:20-25).

Chapter 22

The *prophet Micaiah

v1 There was peace between Syria and *Israel for almost three years. v2 In the third year Jehoshaphat, king of *Judah went down to see the king of *Israel. v3 The king of *Israel said to his officials, ‘I do not know why we have not done anything to get back Ramoth-Gilead from the king of Syria. It belongs to us!’ v4 So he asked Jehoshaphat if he would go to attack Ramoth-Gilead with him.

Jehoshaphat said that he, his army and his horses were ready and willing to join in. v5 But he also said to the king of *Israel, ‘Let us first ask the *Lord for advice.’

v6 So the king of *Israel called in 400 *prophets and he asked them, ‘Shall I go to attack Ramoth-Gilead or not?’

‘Go’, they replied. ‘The *Lord will give you success.’

v7 But Jehoshaphat replied, ‘Is there not another *prophet, a *prophet of the *Lord whom we can ask?’

v8 ‘There is one’, replied the king of *Israel. ‘He is Micaiah son of Imlah. We can ask the *Lord’s advice by means of him. But I hate him because he never *prophesies anything good about me. He always *prophesies what is bad.’

‘You should not say that’, replied Jehoshaphat.

v9 So the king of *Israel asked one of his officials to fetch Micaiah son of Imlah at once. v10 King Jehoshaphat of *Judah and the king of *Israel were both wearing their royal clothes. They were sitting on their royal seats at the yard by the gate of Samaria. All the *prophets were *prophesying in front of them.

v11 Zedekiah son of Chenaanah had made *horns of iron. And he declared, ‘This is what the *Lord says. “With these you will fight the soldiers from Syria and you will completely *destroy them.” ’

v12 All the other *prophets said the same. ‘Attack Ramoth-Gilead! You will be successful. The *Lord will give you success.’

v13 The man who had gone to get Micaiah said to him, ‘All the other *prophets have *prophesied success for the king. Let your words be like theirs. Say something favourable.’

v14 But Micaiah said, ‘I promise this, as surely as the *Lord lives. I will only speak what the *Lord tells me to say.’

In chapter 20, Ahab (the king of *Israel) made an agreement with the king of Syria. That agreement was the reason why there was peace for almost three years. When the kings made that agreement, the king of Syria promised to return certain cities to *Israel.

However, Syria still controlled Ramoth-Gilead. This was a large city that belonged to the *tribe of Levi. It was a special city of safety (Joshua 20:8).

Ahab discussed this matter with Jehoshaphat, who was the king of *Judah. Jehoshaphat was a good king, who was loyal to the *Lord. We do not know why Jehoshaphat chose to have a friendly relationship with Ahab’s family. Ahab was a very wicked king.

Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to help him to fight for Ramoth-Gilead. Jehoshaphat agreed. His army would fight with Ahab’s army. It seems that both Jehoshaphat and Ahab considered Syria to be their enemy. But Jehoshaphat wanted the *prophets to give advice first. He wanted to know whether God approved of this plan.

Ahab asked 400 *prophets. We cannot be sure about the religion of these *prophets. They probably belonged to the religion that Jeroboam set up. So although they spoke about the *Lord, they were not really *prophets of the *Lord. In fact, they *worshipped *idols.

This was an impressive event. The kings wore their royal clothes. They sat on their royal seats by the city gates. This was the place where all public meetings happened. All 400 *prophets agreed that the battle would be successful. They spoke with great power. One *prophet called Zedekiah made *horns of iron. They represented the two kings in the fight against Syria.

Jehoshaphat listened to all these *prophets. But they could not convince him. He knew that they *worshipped *idols. And Jehoshaphat only *worshipped the *Lord. Jehoshaphat would not agree to go to war until he had heard the advice from a real *prophet of the *Lord.

Ahab had such a *prophet available, but he did not want to call him. That *prophet was Micaiah. Verse 26 shows that Micaiah was probably already in prison. Ahab would have put Micaiah there because he was angry about his *prophecies. Ahab complained that Micaiah’s *prophecies were always bad. But the truth was that Ahab did not like Micaiah’s *prophecies. Micaiah would only tell the king what God told him to say. But Ahab did not want to obey God. So Ahab was angry with this loyal *prophet. The man who called Micaiah warned him about the situation. His words mean, ‘Tell the king what he wants to hear.’ But Micaiah refused. He would only say what the *Lord had told him. A genuine *prophet never changes the *Lord’s message. Such a *prophet speaks the truth, even if everyone opposes him.

v15 When Micaiah arrived, the king asked him a question. ‘Micaiah, shall we go and attack Ramoth-Gilead or not?’

‘Attack. You will win’, said Micaiah. ‘The *Lord will give you success.’

v16 The king replied, ‘When you speak in the name of the *Lord tell the truth! I have told you that so many times!’

v17 So Micaiah answered, ‘I saw all *Israel’s armies. The soldiers had scattered across the hills. They seemed like sheep that had nobody to look after them. And the *Lord said, “These men have no leader. Let them go home in peace.” ’

v18 Then the king of *Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I told you that he never *prophesies anything good about me. It is always something bad.’

v19 Micaiah continued. ‘Hear the word of the *Lord. I saw the *Lord. He was sitting on his royal seat. All the *angels were standing behind him. They were on both his right side and his left side. v20 The *Lord said, “Who will persuade Ahab to attack Ramoth-Gilead, so that he will die there?” One *angel said one thing and other *angels said something else. v21 Finally a *spirit came forward. That *spirit stood in front of the *Lord. “I will persuade him”, the *spirit said. v22 “How?” asked the *Lord. The *spirit replied, “I will go to Ahab’s *prophets. I will make them all tell lies.” The *Lord said, “You will succeed. Your plan will persuade him. So go, and do it!” v23 So now the *Lord has sent that lying *spirit. And that is why all these *prophets speak lies. The *Lord has said that you will suffer *disaster.’

v24 Then Zedekiah son of Chenaanah slapped Micaiah’s face. Zedekiah asked Micaiah, ‘How do you suppose that the *spirit from the *Lord left me to speak to you?’

v25 Micaiah replied, ‘You will find out when you go into a back room to hide.’

v26 The king ordered his official to arrest Micaiah. He told the official to send him back to Amon, the ruler of the city, and to Joash, the king’s son. v27 ‘Tell them that the king says, “Put this man in prison and give him only bread and water. Do this until I return safely.” ’

v28 Micaiah said, ‘If you ever return safely then the *Lord has not spoken by me.’ Then he added, ‘Listen everybody, to what I have said.’

At the beginning, Micaiah repeated all that the other *prophets had said. Perhaps he was imitating them in order to show that their words disgusted him. Micaiah was saying the opposite of what he meant. Ahab realised this. He warned Micaiah not to laugh at him. Micaiah should only speak the message that the *Lord had given to him. The kings would not listen to anything else.

So Micaiah explained what the *Lord had shown to him. Unless someone looks after sheep, they wander. Unless someone leads an army, the soldiers scatter. God was not punishing the people. But he was punishing King Ahab, who was their leader. So Micaiah explained that the king would die. The army would return home without its leader. When Ahab was dead, there would be no reason to fight.

Then Micaiah described how God allowed the devil to make the people believe a lie. God allowed Micaiah to see a picture of what was happening in heaven. The event that Micaiah described was similar to the events in Job chapters 1 and 2.

Micaiah saw a very impressive scene. God was sitting on his royal seat. All the *angels were present. They stood behind him like a great army. God had arranged a meeting of his court because he had made an important decision about Ahab.

Ahab’s wicked rule over *Israel had continued for 22 years. During that period, God had sent several *prophets to warn Ahab about his behaviour. And God had been kind to Ahab. God even allowed Ahab to win battles against his enemies. But Ahab still continued his evil religion. And he still preferred the lies that his false *prophets told. Ahab had not turned to God. In fact, Ahab had become even more wicked.

So God had decided that Ahab’s opportunities to trust him had ended. The time was right for Ahab to die because of his *sins.

God had made his judgement. But God never does anything evil. He is perfect; he never carries out any evil deed. And he does not want anyone to suffer. The evil deeds that we see in the world are the work of the devil and his evil *spirits.

In the Book of Job, the devil was present at God’s court. But in this passage, an evil *spirit was present. Because this *spirit was evil, the *spirit wanted to make people tell lies. But God puts a limit on the power of evil things. So the *spirit could not act against Ahab until God allowed this.

That *spirit was the reason why so many *prophets told lies. And Ahab preferred to believe the false *prophets instead of the real message that came from God.

Zedekiah insulted Micaiah. He slapped him on the face. Zedekiah asked where Micaiah got the authority for his *prophecy. Micaiah did not give a proper reply. Instead, he gave a *prophecy about Zedekiah. Many people would have to hide after the army from Syria won the battle. They would be very afraid that they too might die. And Zedekiah would be among them. He would have to hide. And then he would know that Micaiah’s message really did come from God.

The king arrested Micaiah. He ordered people to feed him on just bread and water. Probably he intended to kill him as a punishment for a false *prophecy when he returned. But the king wanted Micaiah to see that he was wrong first.

The king’s words did not impress Micaiah. Micaiah knew that his message came from God. The king would not return alive from the battle. His death was certain. Only a false *prophet gave a message that was not true. The events during the battle would prove that Micaiah spoke by God’s power.

The death of King Ahab

v29 So the king of *Israel and Jehoshaphat king of *Judah went to attack Ramoth-Gilead. v30 The king of *Israel spoke to Jehoshaphat. ‘I will wear ordinary clothes as we go into battle. I do not want people to recognise me. But you should wear your royal clothes.’ So the king of *Israel wore the clothes of an ordinary soldier as he went into battle.

v31 Now the king of Syria gave an order to his 32 *chariot captains. They must not attack anyone except the king of *Israel. v32 When they saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, ‘Surely this is the king of *Israel.’ So they turned to attack him. Then he cried out. v33 They realised that he was not the king of *Israel. So they stopped their attack on him.

v34 But, by chance, someone shot an arrow. This hit the king of *Israel between the sections of his *armour. The king told his *chariot driver, ‘Somebody has hurt me. Turn round and leave the battle.’

v35 All day long the battle continued. They sat the king up in his *chariot. He was looking towards the soldiers from Syria. The blood from his injury ran onto the floor of the *chariot. That evening he died. v36 As the sun was setting, the order went out to all the *Israelites. ‘Every man should go back to his own country and city.’

v37 So the king died. They brought him to Samaria and they buried him there. v38 They washed the *chariot at a pool in Samaria. The people who sold their bodies for sex used to wash at that pool. And there, the dogs *licked Ahab’s blood as the *Lord had *prophesied.

v39 The History of the Kings of *Israel contains details of all that Ahab did. And it records the other events during his rule. It describes his palace that he made beautiful with ivory (a substance like bone). It also describes all the cities that he built. v40 Ahab died. And Ahaziah his son became king next.

It is surprising that Jehoshaphat continued to go with Ahab to battle. Micaiah had clearly warned Jehoshaphat that the battle would not be successful. But Micaiah only said that Ahab would die. So perhaps Jehoshaphat thought that he would be safe. Or perhaps Ahab was such an impressive person that Jehoshaphat did not want to disappoint him. Perhaps Jehoshaphat even felt that it would not be honourable to refuse to join in the battle. But, for whatever reason, Jehoshaphat went with Ahab to the battle. And Jehoshaphat seemed not to realise that he was taking a great risk. Ahab would even persuade Jehoshaphat to dress in a manner that would put him (Jehoshaphat) in great danger.

Ahab encouraged Jehoshaphat to put on the clothes of an army leader. Perhaps Ahab hoped that Jehoshaphat would think this to be an honour. Ahab did not wear his royal clothes. He realised that the king of Syria would be very angry with him. Ahab was not obeying the peace agreement that he made in 1 Kings 20:34. So Ahab thought that he could confuse the enemy soldiers. And, at the start of the battle, Ahab’s scheme did confuse them. But God knows the truth about everyone. The things that Micaiah *prophesied would happen. Nobody can ever confuse God.

We can see how angry the king of Syria was, by his instructions to his captains. The king of Syria ordered his men to aim at King Ahab. At first, they thought that Jehoshaphat was Ahab. They were confused because only Jehoshaphat was wearing royal clothes. But then Jehoshaphat shouted his battle cry. From this they knew that he was not Ahab. One man shot an arrow. Tradition says that this man was Naaman from Syria (2 Kings chapter 5). We do not know. He did not have a particular purpose but the arrow hit Ahab.

At first, King Ahab left the battle. Then however, he stayed in his *chariot and he encouraged his men to attack. That evening he died and the *Israelite soldiers were without their leader. They had to escape to their homes.

Ahab’s officials buried the king in Samaria. So Ahab’s body had a proper grave, unlike the bodies of his *descendants (1 Kings 21:24; 21:29). Ahab’s officials washed the *chariot in a pool. But there was much blood on this *chariot. The blood attracted dogs. The dogs *licked the king’s blood. So Elijah’s *prophecy came true (1 Kings 21:19). Ahab’s death was in 853 *B.C.

Jehoshaphat’s rule as king of *Judah

v41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of *Judah. He began to rule in the 4th year of Ahab king of *Israel. v42 Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 25 years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. v43 Like his father Asa, he did what the *Lord considered to be right. He did not turn away from it. But he did not remove the places of *worship on the high hills. People continued to offer *sacrifices there. And they burnt *incense there. v44 Jehoshaphat made an agreement of peace with the king of *Israel.

v45 The History of the Kings of *Judah describes all the other events during his rule. It describes what he did. And it describes all the battles that he fought. v46 He removed the rest of the males who sold their bodies for sex. His father Asa had not removed them.

v47 There was no king in Edom. The king of *Judah appointed the person who ruled it. v48 Jehoshaphat built a group of ships to go to Ophir for gold. But they never sailed. Storms destroyed them at Eziongeber. v49 King Ahaziah son of Ahab offered to let his men sail with Jehoshaphat’s men. But Jehoshaphat refused the offer.

v50 When Jehoshaphat died, his officials buried him in the city of David, his *ancestor. Afterwards, Jehoram his son became king.

Next, there is a short account of the rule of Jehoshaphat king of *Judah. He followed the good ways of his father Asa. He did not remove the places of *worship on the hills. But he removed the males who sold their bodies for sex in the *worship of *Baal.

There was no king in Edom because *Judah still controlled it. Eziongeber was in Edom. Jehoshaphat intended to use this port in a trading scheme that could make him very wealthy. Solomon had succeeded with a similar scheme (1 Kings 9:26-28). Jehoshaphat tried to work with Ahaziah, Ahab’s son. But Jehoshaphat’s scheme failed. A storm destroyed the ships.

2 Chronicles 20:35-37 contains more information about this event. God would not allow the plan to succeed. He did not want Jehoshaphat to have such a close relationship with Ahab’s family. When Ahaziah again invited Jehoshaphat to trade, Jehoshaphat refused. Jehoshaphat realised because of the storm that the *Lord did not want him to continue this agreement.

Ahaziah’s rule as king of *Israel

v51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king of *Israel. This was in the 17th year of Jehoshaphat’s rule over *Judah. Ahaziah ruled over *Israel in Samaria for two years. v52 He did what the *Lord considered to be evil. He was like his father and mother. He was also like Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who made *Israel *sin. v53 He *worshipped and served *Baal. He made the *Lord, the God of *Israel, very angry. His father had done this as well.

Ahaziah only ruled for two years. Like Ahab, Jezebel and Jeroboam, he was a very evil ruler. He made God very angry.

Word List

altar ~ a table on which people offer or burn gifts or *sacrifices to a god.

Amorite ~ one of a group of people who had lived in Canaan before the *Jews lived there.

ancestor ~ any person from the past from whom the families of your father or mother have come.

angel ~ a servant of God who is in heaven or who comes from heaven.

armour ~ a soldier’s clothing which he wears for protection.

B.C. ~ years before Christ was born.

Baal ~ a false god.

bless/blessing ~ God does good things and protects people; or, the good things that he does.

borrow ~ to take something that belongs to someone else. They permit you to use it and you intend to return it.

bow ~ to lower the head or the body; this action shows that you respect someone.

break a promise ~ not to do what you promised.

bull ~ the male animal that mates with a cow.

burden ~ a heavy thing to carry; or, a difficult duty.

burnt offering ~ a gift to God where people burnt a whole animal on the *altar.

Canaanites ~ the people who were the original inhabitants of the country that became *Israel.

capture ~ to take someone or something and keep it. Not to allow freedom.

captured ~ a description of someone who becomes a prisoner during a battle.

carve/carving ~ people cut away material from wood or stone.

cattle ~ cows and *bulls.

cedar ~ a tall tree whose leaves are always green. Or, the wood from this tree. This wood has a sweet smell.

celebrate/celebration ~ to praise a person and to give honour to that person. Or, to show great happiness at a special event.

challenge ~ to invite someone to fight; or to invite someone to prove something.

chariot ~ a cart with two wheels that soldiers used. Horses pulled it.

commandment ~ any of the laws that God gave to *Israel, especially the Ten Commandments.

conquer ~ to take control of a country or group of people by force.

courtyard ~ an open space with walls or fences round it.

covenant ~ an agreement between two people or groups. Or, especially, the agreement between God and his people. The ‘Covenant Box’ was the most sacred object in the *temple.

curse ~ words that somebody uses in order to hurt someone else.

decorate ~ to make something beautiful by means of a delicate or attractive design.

deer ~ an animal that is smaller than a cow.

descendants ~ people in your family who live after you.

destroy ~ to damage something so badly that it no longer works; or, to kill almost all the people in a group.

dew ~ small round balls of water which form on cool surfaces outdoors at night.

disaster ~ an event that makes people suffer. It can cause great damage and death.

everlasting ~ without beginning or end.

exile ~ to be away from one’s country as a punishment.

faith ~ trust; strong belief.

fellowship offering ~ an offering was a gift to God. People shared fellowship offerings and they ate food together.

festival ~ a *celebration that remembers a person or an event.

Festival of bread that would not rise ~ this reminded people about the time when the *Jews left Egypt. They had to leave quickly. So they had to bake their bread before it had time to rise.

Festival of Shelters ~ people built shelters to live in for a week. This reminded them of their *ancestors’ journey through the desert.

Festival of Weeks ~ when the *Israelites thanked God for the wheat harvest; it happened 7 weeks after the Passover (an annual ceremony to remember God’s rescue of the *Jews from Egypt).

forgiveness ~ when somebody decides to forgive a person who has done something wrong. The person who forgives is not still angry with that other person.

frame ~ a border of wood in which people fix a door or part of a piece of furniture.

gazelle ~ a small animal with *horns that runs fast.

glory ~ fame and honour.

grace ~ God’s *mercy and kindness which are free gifts to us.

grapes ~ green or purple soft fruits that people use to make wine.

hinge ~ a small piece of metal on which a door or gate turns as it opens.

Hittite ~ one of a group of people who had lived in Canaan before the *Jews lived there.

holy ~ morally good; something people consider very important in their religion.

horn ~ a growth on heads of *cattle or *deer.

idol ~ the image of a god to whom people give honour.

incense ~ a substance that people use in *religious *celebrations. It has a pleasant smell.

Israel ~ the country or nation of people who are *descendants of Jacob; the northern part of that country after it divided.

Israelite ~ someone who lives in *Israel; or, a *descendant of Jacob.

Jew ~ a person who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children; an *Israelite.

Judah ~ one of the *tribes of *Israel. The southern part of the *Jewish *kingdom after it divided.

keep a promise ~ do what you promised to do.

kingdom ~ a country or nation that a king or a queen rules.

Levite ~ a member of the *tribe of Levi; a servant in the *temple.

lick ~ to taste with the tongue.

Lord ~ the name of God. It can translate either of two words in Hebrew, which is the original language of this book. The word ‘Yahweh’ is God’s most holy name, and means ‘God always’. The word ‘Adonai’ means ‘master’.

majesty ~ a word that people use in order to give great honour to a king.

mercy ~ kindness or *forgiveness instead of punishment.

miracle ~ a wonderful work that God does by his power and which human knowledge cannot explain.

Mount ~ a short word for mountain; small mountain.

mule ~ an animal that is born after a horse mates with a similar animal called a donkey. A mule can carry heavy *burdens.

offerings ~ *religious gifts.

olive/olive oil ~ a bitter green or black fruit; oil from this fruit.

ox (oxen ) ~ a strong farm animal that can pull the plough.

panel ~ wood that covers a door, wall or other structure. It is usually higher or lower than the area round it.

peace ~ the absence of war; friendship between people and groups.

pine ~ tree that grows on mountains; or the wood from it.

pomegranate ~ a large fruit with many seeds.

presence ~ the place where somebody is.

prophecy ~ what people say when they *prophesy.

prophesy ~ to speak God’s word; or, to say what will happen in the future.

prophet ~ a person who *prophesies.

rebellion/rebel ~ fight against authority; someone who does this.

rectangular ~ a shape with four sides, two of which are longer than the other two.

reject ~ to refuse to accept someone or something.

religious ~ about religion.

rod ~ a thin straight piece of wood or metal.

sacrifice ~ something valuable that people offered to a god.

scorpion ~ a dangerous small animal that stings people.

shield ~ something that soldiers carry to protect their body from attack.

sign ~ a thing or event that has a special meaning. It shows that somebody or something is present; or it shows that something will happen.

sin/sinful ~ an action that is wrong or wicked. It is against a *religious or moral law.

sorrow ~ sad feelings.

soul ~ the *spiritual part of a person that exists after death.

spices ~ substances with a strong taste or smell; people take them from plants and they use them to cook with.

spiral ~ something that moves in a continuous curve round a central point.

spirit ~ the part of a person that is alive, which we cannot see. Also, there are spirits that we cannot see; such spirits can be good or bad. The word may also refer to God’s *Holy Spirit.

spiritual ~ about man’s *spirit or *soul, not physical things.

temple ~ the central place of *worship that Solomon built in Jerusalem; or, a place where people *worship a false god.

talent ~ measurement of weight equal to 75 pounds or 34 *kilograms. But some students say that a talent was sometimes twice as heavy as that.

trial ~ something that will show whether a person has done something wrong or not.

tribe ~ a group of people; a family or people that have the same *ancestors; family from one man. *Israel came from the 12 sons of Jacob. These 12 families formed the 12 tribes of *Israel.

trumpet ~ an instrument that people blow in order to play.

vineyard ~ an area where people grow *grapes.

weapons ~ tools of war, for example swords, which people use to cause pain, injury and death.

worship ~ to praise God and to give thanks to him; to show honour to God; to say that we love him very much. But some people worship false gods instead of the real God.

Book List

E M Blaiklock ~ Bible Characters and Doctrines

Alister McGrath ~ NIV Bible Commentary ~ Hodder and Stoughton

Lion Handbook to the Bible ~ Lion Publishing Plc

New Bible Commentary (First and revised editions) ~ Inter-Varsity Press

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Bibles ~ N.I.V, N.E.B & R.S.V

 

© 2006-2007 Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

September 2007

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.info