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Heavy and displeased - Heavy or afflicted, because of these dreadful tidings; and displeased with the prophet for having announced them. Had he been displeased with himself, and humbled his soul before God, even those judgments, so circumstantially foretold, might have been averted.
1. We have already seen, in 1 Kings 20:30, that according to our text, twenty-seven thousand men were slain by the falling of a wall. Serious doubts are entertained concerning the legitimacy of this rendering. I have, in the note, given the conjecture concerning sapping the foundation of the wall, and thus overthrowing them that were upon it. If instead of חומה chomah, a wall, we read חומה confusion or disorder, then the destruction of the twenty-seven thousand men may appear to have been occasioned by the disorganized state into which they fell; of which their enemies taking advantage, they might destroy the whole with ease.
But חומה chomah, a wall, becomes, as Dr. Kennicott has observed, a very different word when written without the ו vau, חמה which signifies heat; sometimes the sun, vehement heat, or the heat of the noon-day sun; and also the name of a wind, from its suffocating, parching quality.
The same noun, from יחם yacham, Dr. Castel explains by excandescentia, furor, venenum; burning, rage, poison. These renderings, says Dr. Kennicott, all concur to establish the sense of a burning wind, eminently blasting and destructive. I shall give a few instances from the Scripture: - We read in Job 27:21 : The east wind carrieth him away; where the word קדים kadim is καυσων, burning, in the Septuagint; and in the Vulgate, ventus urens, a burning wind. In Ezekiel 19:12 : She was plucked up בחמה she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit; her strong rods were withered, and the fire consumed them. Hosea (Hosea 13:15) mentions the desolation brought by an east wind, the wind of the Lord. What in Amos 4:9 is, I have smitten you with blasting, in the Vulgate is, in vento vehemente, "with a vehement wind;" and in the Syriac, with a hot wind.
Let us apply these to the history: when Ben-hadad, king of Syria, was besieging Samaria the second time, the Israelites slew of the Syrians one hundred thousand footmen in one day; and it follows, that when the rest of the army fled to Aphek, twenty-seven thousand of the men that were left were suddenly destroyed by החומה hachomah, or החמה hachamah, a burning wind. That such is the true interpretation, will appear more clearly if we compare the destruction of Ben-hadad's army with that of Sennacherib, whose sentence is that God would send upon him a Blast, רוח ruach, a wind; doubtless such a wind as would be suddenly destructive. The event is said to be that in the night one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians were smitten by the angel of the Lord, 2 Kings 19:7, 2 Kings 19:35. The connection of this sentence with the execution of it is given by the psalmist, who says, Psalm 104:4 : God maketh his angels רחות ruchoth, winds; or, maketh the winds his angels, i.e., messengers for the performance of his will. In a note on Psalm 11:6, Professor Michaelis has these words: Ventus Zilgaphoth, pestilens eurus est, orientalibus notissimus, qui obvia quaevis necat; "The wind Zilgaphoth is a pestilent east wind, well known to the Asiastics, which suddenly kills those who are exposed to it." Thevenot mentions such a wind in 1658, that in one night suffocated twenty thousand men. And the Samiel he mentions as having, in 1665, suffocated four thousand persons. "Upon the whole, I conclude," says the doctor, 'that as Thevenot has mentioned two great multitudes destroyed by this burning wind, so has holy Scripture recorded the destruction of two much greater multitudes by a similar cause; and therefore we should translate the words thus: But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and The Burning Wind fell upon the twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left."
2. On the case of Ben-hadad and his servants coming out to Ahab with sackcloth on their loins and ropes about their necks, 1 Kings 20:31, I have referred to that of the six citizens of Calais, in the time of Edward III. I shall give this affecting account from Sir John Froissart, who lived in that time, and relates the story circumstantially, and with that simplicity and detail that give it every appearance of truth. He is the only writer, of all his contemporaries, who gives the relation; and as it is not only illustrative of the text in question, but also very curious and affecting, I will give it in his own words; only observing that, King Edward having closely invested the city in 1346, and the king of France having made many useless attempts to raise the siege, at last withdrew his army, and left it to its fate. "Then," says Froissart, chap. cxliv., "after the departure of the king of France with his army, the Calesians saw clearly that all hopes of succor were at an end; which occasioned them so much sorrow and distress that the hardiest could scarcely support it. They entreated therefore, most earnestly, the lord Johns de Vienne, their governor, to mount upon the battlements, and make a sign that he wished to hold a parley.
"The king of England, upon hearing this, sent to him Sir Walter Manny and Lord Basset. When they were come near, the lord de Vienne said to them: 'Dear gentlemen, you, who are very valiant knights, know that the king of France, whose subjects we are, has sent us hither to defend this town and castle from all harm and damage. This we have done to the best of our abilities; all hopes of help have now left us, so that we are most exceedingly straitened; and if the gallant king, your lord, have not pity upon us, we must perish with hunger. I therefore entreat that you would beg of him to have compassion upon us, and to have the goodness to allow us to depart in the state we are in; and that he will be satisfied with having possession of the town and castle, with all that is within them, as he will find therein riches enough to content him.' To this Sir Walter Manny replied: 'John, we are not ignorant of what the king our lord's intentions are, for he has told them to us; know then, that it is not his pleasure that you should get off so, for he is resolved that you surrender yourselves wholly to his will, to allow those whom he pleases their ransom, or to be put to death; for the Calesians have done him so much mischief, and have, by their obstinate defense, cost him so many lives, and so much money, that he is mightily enraged.'
"The lord de Vienne answered: 'These conditions are too hard for us; we are but a small number of knights and squires, who have loyally served our lord and master, as you would have done, and have suffered much ill and disquiet: but we will endure more than any men ever did in a similar situation, before we consent that the smallest boy in the town should fare worse than the best. I therefore once more entreat you, out of compassion, to return to the king of England, and beg of him to have pity on us; he will, I trust, grant you this favor; for I have such an opinion of his gallantry as to hope that, through God's mercy, he will alter his mind.'
"The two lords returned to the king and related what had passed. The king said: 'He had no intention of complying with the request, but should insist that they surrendered themselves unconditionally to his will.' Sir Walter replied: 'My lord, ye may be to blame in this, as you will set us a very bad example; for if you order us to go to any of your castles, we shall not obey you so cheerfully if you put these people to death, for they will retaliate upon us in a similar case.'
"Many barons who were present supported this opinion; upon which the king replied: 'Gentlemen, I am not so obstinate as to hold my opinion alone against you all. Sir Walter, you will inform the governor of Calais, that the only grace he is to expect from me is, that six of the principal citizens of Calais march out of the town with bare heads and feet, with ropes round their necks, and the keys of the town and castle in their hands. These six persons shall be at my absolute disposal, and the remainder of the inhabitants pardoned.'
"Sir Walter returned to the lord de Vienne, who was waiting for him on the battlements, and told him all that he had been able to gain from the king. 'I beg of you,' replied the governor, 'that you would be so good as to remain here a little, whilst I go and relate all that has passed to the townsmen; for, as they have desired me to undertake this it is but proper that they should know the result of it.'
"He went to the market place, and caused the bell to be rung; upon which all the inhabitants, men and women, assembled in the town-hall. He then related to them what he had said, and the answers he had received, and that he could not obtain any conditions more favorable; to which they must give a short and immediate answer.
"This information caused the greatest lamentations and despair, so that the hardest heart would have had compassion on them; even the lord de Vienne wept bitterly.
"After a short time the most wealthy citizen of the town, by name Eustace de St. Pierre, rose up and said: 'Gentlemen, both high and low, it would be a very great pity to suffer so many people to die through famine, if any means could be found to prevent it; and it would be highly meritorious in the eyes of our Savior, if such misery could be averted. I have such faith and trust in finding grace before God, if I die to save my townsmen, that I name myself as first of the six.'
on 1-kings 20 :43
Heavy and displeased - Rather, "sullen and angry" (and so marginal reference), not repentant, as after Elijah's warning 1 Kings 21:27 - not acknowledging the justice of his sentence - but full of sullenness and suppressed anger.
on 1-kings 20 :43