BIBLE: 1 Kings Chapter 13 – Headline “An Old Prophet and His Ass” []

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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I Kings 13

What should I learn from this chapter?

  • The prophet in I Kings 13:2 called “A man of God” is most likely Iddo the prophet.
    • “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?” 2 Chronicles 9:29
    • The Story of the Prophet Iddo (also called the Midrash of the Prophet Iddo and Visions of Iddo the Seer) is a lost work mentioned in the Bible, attributed to the biblical prophet Iddo who lived at the time of King Rehoboam when the kingdom split into Israel and Judah.
  • The reference to the book is described at 2 Chronicles 9:29, relating to the acts of Solomon: It is also described in 2 Chronicles 12:15, relating to acts of Rehoboam: “Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.” The book is also described at 2 Chronicles 13:22, relating to the acts of Abijah: “And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.”
  • Nehemiah 12:16 and Zech 1:1 tell us Zechariah the Prophet was a son of Iddo.

The Message of the Man of God

I Kings 13:And behold, a man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) (at the Lord’s command), and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
I Kings 13:Then he (a man – Iddo?)of God (‘ĕlōhîm) cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) (at the Lord’s command), and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ): ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ”
  • The prophecy took place close to the beginning of Jeroboam’s reign 929 BC.
    His prophecy was fulfilled in 622 BC, 302 years AFTER the prophecy was given in II Kings 23.
I Kings 13:And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.”
  • The altar was split apart just like the kingdom was split apart.
I Kings 13:So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm), who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Arrest him!” Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself.
  • The Antichrist will have a blind right eye and a withered arm. Like the Antichrist, Jeroboam had no respect for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
    • Zechariah 11:17 “Woe to the worthless shepherd, Who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm And against his right eye; His arm shall completely wither, And his right eye shall be totally blinded.”
I Kings 13:The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man (Iddo?) of God (ĕlōhîm) had given by the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ).
  • Ashes are symbolic of mourning and destruction. They take the place of anointing on the head. God is giving Jeroboam a message.
I Kings 13:Then the king answered and said to the man (Iddo?) of God (ĕlōhîm), “Please entreat the favor of the Lord your God (Yᵊhōvâ ‘ĕlōhîm), and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.”
So the man (Iddo?) of God (ĕlōhîm) entreated the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ), and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before.
I Kings 13:Then the king (Jeroboam) said to the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm), “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.”
  • A highly suspicious offer by Jeroboam. He is angry about the altar being destroyed, this prophet confronting him, and his arm being withered. He wants the prophet arrested but that didn’t work. If the prophet were to go with Jeroboam he would most likely find himself in danger.
I Kings 13:But the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place.
I Kings 13:For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ), saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ ”
  • God so told the prophet in order to save his life. The commands are all directed at avoiding danger by Jeroboam.
I Kings 13:10 So he (the man – Iddo? of God ‘ĕlōhîm) went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.

Death of the Man of God

I Kings 13:11 Now an old prophet (Ahijah?) dwelt in Bethel, and his sons (Lit. son) came and told him all the works that the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king.
  • He is described as an “old” prophet.
    • An interesting Rabbinic tradition credits Ahijah with having lived a very long life, linking his life-span with that of antediluvian patriarchs. Ahijah is described as extremely aged in Jeroboam’s time (I Kings 14:4)
    • If this prophet is Ahijah, he is the one who helped to install Jeroboam as a separate nation and by Jewish explanation then felt betrayed by him.
    • He is or would have been an inhabitant of Shiloh: Judges 21:19 They said, “Behold, there is a feast of God (Yahweh) from year to year in Shiloh, which is (40 miles) on the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.”
I Kings 13:12 And their father (Ahijah?) said to them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons had seen (showed him) which way the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) went who came from Judah.
I Kings 13:13 Then he (Ahijah?) said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it,
  • Scripture is written by God through the pen of His prophets. It is written in myriad layers of understandings; the literal, between the lines, symbolism, parabolic, metaphors, numbers, patterns, a pictographic alphabet, and shadows, among others. God chooses to reveal the meanings to those who hunger to understand His Word.

    There is much to be found, much to learn, and an infinite number of personal applications to be made.

    The amazing part is that the personal application will be revealed to the person who needs that application. The revelations are “custom made” for the reader. Furthermore; scripture has these revelations ready to be revealed for every man, woman, and child that will ever come into this world and has come into this world. His Word is designed to heal the emptiness inside the human heart since sin entered in.

    EVERY word used in scripture occupies the most valuable real estate on earth: God’s Word.

    In this verse, a seemingly short and unnecessary interjection of data seems to be thrown haphazardly into the equation. Those seemingly meaningless words or paragraphs can be the best verses because they are an indicator of something more.
  • Here, an old prophet is having his sons saddle his donkey to have him ride on it. What can be compelling about that?

    The Hebrew root meaning for the word “donkey” (other than it is an animal) (H2560) is “to boil”. It has to do with trouble, foaming, turmoil. The Hebrew word is chămôr; from H2560; a male ass (from its dun red):—(he) ass.



    The situation is about to erupt in turmoil. (Note: the color red is associated with trouble – like Esau’s red stew in Genesis chapter 25)
I Kings 13:14 and went after the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm), and found him sitting under an oak. Then he (Ahijah?) said to him, “Are you the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) who came from Judah?”
And he said, “I am.
  • The prophet from Judah is sitting under an oak. The oak is literally a “terebinth” tree. The prophet from Judah will be “cut down”.
    • Isa 6:13 But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
    • Terebinth tree is symbolic for a tithe, a remnant, and a returning/regrowth.
I Kings 13:15 Then he (Ahijah?) said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”
I Kings 13:16 And he (Iddo?) said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place.
I Kings 13:17 For I have been told by (Lit. a command came to me by) the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ), ‘You (Iddo?) shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ”
  • The prophet from Judah is still in Israel, 40 miles from Bethel – close to the boundary of Judah.
I Kings 13:18 He (Ahijah?) said to him (Iddo?), “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord (‘ĕlōhîm), saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (He was lying to him.)
I Kings 13:19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his (Ahijah’s?) house, and drank water.
I Kings 13:20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) came to the prophet (Ahijah?) who had brought him (Iddo?) back;
I Kings 13:21 and he (Iddo?) cried out to the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ): ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ), and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God (Yᵊhōvâ ‘ĕlōhîm) commanded you,
I Kings 13:22 but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ”
  • The old prophet who caused the prophet from Judah to stumble because the old prophet lied, is now condemning the prophet from Judah which he lied to.
  • Personal Application: Don’t listen to others when God has said otherwise. The consequences are severe.
I Kings 13:23 So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he (Ahijah?) saddled the donkey for him, the prophet (Iddo?)whom he had brought back.
  • The old prophet saddled the donkey for him.
  • The root meaning of the word “donkey” is turmoil, boil, trouble. The prophet from Judah is riding into trouble.
I Kings 13:24 When he (Iddo?) was gone, a lion met him (Iddo?) on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the (same) donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse.
  • A donkey of trouble,
  • A regal lion of absolute authority.
  • The lion didn’t eat the corpse or tear the donkey so that everyone would know this message was from God.
I Kings 13:25 And there, men passed by and saw the corpse (Iddo?) thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet (Ahiyah?) dwelt.
I Kings 13:26 Now when the prophet (Ahiyah?) who had brought him (Iddo?) back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) who was disobedient to the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ). Therefore the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) which He spoke to him.”
I Kings 13:27 And he (Ahiyah?) spoke to his sons, saying, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled it.
I Kings 13:28 Then he (Ahiyah?) went and found his (Iddo?) corpse thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing by the corpse. The lion had not eaten the corpse nor torn the donkey.
I Kings 13:29 And the prophet (Ahiyah?) took up the corpse of the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm), laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. So the old prophet (Ahiyah?) came to the city to mourn, and to bury him.
  • The old prophet, I hope, repented of his lying. The words he said from the mouth of God was that the prophet of Judah would not be buried with his fathers. So he buried him.
I Kings 13:30 Then he (Ahiyah?) laid the corpse in his own tomb; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!”
  • Alas, my brother: they were both prophets of God.
  • The old prophet mourns the prophet from Judah whose destruction he caused with his lie.
I Kings 13:31 So it was, after he (Ahiyah?) had buried him, (Iddo?) that he spoke to his sons, saying, “When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where the man (Iddo?) of God (‘ĕlōhîm) is buried; lay my bones beside his bones.
  • The proof of his sons carrying out his wishes is found in II Kings 23:17:
    • II Kings 23:17 Then he (Josiah) said, “What gravestone is this that I see?” So the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against (in opposition to) the altar of Bethel.”
I Kings 13:32 For the saying (Lit. word) which he (Ahiyah?) cried out by the word of the Lord (Yᵊhōvâ) against the altar in Bethel, and against all the shrines (Lit. houses) on the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely come to pass.”
  • The moral of this story points to the Great White Judgment day. No one is going to be able to tell God that another person caused them to disobey His Word (not even if it is a man of God).
I Kings 13:33 After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he (that person) became one of the priests of the high places.
  • Jeroboam took ANYONE without discretion.
  • When there is no training, no accountability, no discretion, no laws; it is a sign of a deteriorating society.
I Kings 13:34 And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.
  • Remember, a thousand years is as one day to the Lord. His kingdom, Israel, will be gone in ~1/4 of a day.
    • To date, America has been a nation for 246 years and she has fallen lower than ancient Israel. Unless she repents, her destruction is also at her doorstep.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel lasted from 931 BC to 722 BC = 209 years

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