1 Kings 16:34 MEANING

1 Kings 16:34
(34) Did Hiel . . . build Jericho.--This marks both the growth of prosperity and power, and the neglect of the old curse of Joshua (Joshua 6:26). The place had not, it would appear, been entirely deserted. (See Judges 3:13; 2 Samuel 10:5.) But it was now made--what it continued to be even down to the time of Herod--an important place. Its natural advantages were great. It stood in a position well watered, and accordingly of great beauty and fruitfulness ("the city of palm trees"), and was, moreover, a city of military consequence, as commanding the pass from the valley of the Jordan to the high ground of Ai and Bethel. Having been assigned to Benjamin (Joshua 18:21), it should have properly belonged to the kingdom of Judah. Its being rebuilt by a Bethelite, evidently under the patronage of Ahab, is one of the indications of a half-dependent condition of the Southern kingdom at this time.

Verse 34. - In his days did Hiel the Bethelite [Observe the form בֵּית הָךאלִי, and see note on 1 Kings 2:8. It is noticeable that it was reserved for a man of Bethel to commit this act of impiety. It was to such results the worship of the calves contributed] build [i.e., rebuild, fortify, as in 1 Kings 12:25; cf. 1 Kings 9:17. It is clear from Judges 3:13 and 2 Samuel 10:5 that it had not been entirely uninhabited. But the Arab village was now converted into a town with gates and bars] Jericho [We learn from Joshua 18:21 that Jericho then belonged to Benjamin. It had evidently passed, however, at this date into the possession of Israel. It has been suggested that the transference took place in the reign of Baasha (Rawlinson). But it would seem that from the very first, parts of Benjamin (notably Bethel, Joshua 18:13) belonged to the northern kingdom. See Ewald, "Hist. Israel," 4:2, 3. It is not quite clear whether the rebuilding of Jericho is mentioned as a proof of the daring impiety of that age and of the utter contempt with which the warnings of the law were treated, or as showing the ignorance and consequent disregard of law which prevailed. But, on the whole, it seems to be implied that Hiel knew of the threatening of Joshua, and treated it with defiance. It has been suggested that the rebuilding had really been instigated by Ahab, and for his own purposes, hoping thereby to "secure to himself the passage across the Jordan" (Keil), but the text affords but slight warrant for this conjecture]: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn [i.e., at the cost of, in the life of, Abiram], and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord [Joshua 6:26], which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. [The exact fulfilment of the prophecy is mentioned, as showing that even in those dark and troublous times God did not leave Himself without witness, and that law could never be violated with impunity.]

16:29-34 Ahab did evil above all that reigned before him, and did it with a particular enmity both against Jehovah and Israel. He was not satisfied with breaking the second commandment by image-worship, he broke the first by worshipping other gods: making light of lesser sins makes way for greater. Marriages with daring offenders also imbolden in wickedness, and hurry men on to the greatest excesses. One of Ahab's subjects, following the example of his presumption, ventured to build Jericho. Like Achan, he meddled with the accursed thing; turned that to his own use, which was devoted to God's honour: he began to build, in defiance of the curse well devoted to God's honour: he began to build, in defiance of the curse well known in Israel; but none ever hardened his heart against God, and prospered. Let the reading of this chapter cause us to mark the dreadful end of all the workers of iniquity. And what does the history of all ungodly men furnish, what ever rank or situation they move in, but sad examples of the same?And in his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho,.... Which was forbidden by Joshua under an anathema; but this man, either ignorant of that adjuration of Joshua, or in contempt and defiance of it, and knowing it might please the king and queen, set about the rebuilding of it; and it being done by the leave and under the authority of Ahab, is mentioned together with his wicked actions:

he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn: that is, his firstborn died as soon as he laid the foundation of the city, but this did not deter him from going on with it:

and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub; all the rest of his children died as he was rebuilding the city, until only his youngest son was left, and he was taken off by death just as he had finished it, signified by setting up the gates of it: all which was

according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun: between four hundred and five hundred years ago. It was after this a place of great note, and so continued many hundreds of years; See Gill on Joshua 6:26 but is now, as Mr. Maundrell says (k), a poor nasty village of the Arabs.

(k) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 81.

Courtesy of Open Bible