Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 13

The extraordinary circumstances of the holy man’s death

1 Kings 13:24-26

Travellers on the road south from Bethel reported a frightening sight. A lion had killed a man there. The situation was very dangerous, because the lion had stayed there to guard the body. They warned people to stay away.

Such an event was, sadly, not unusual in ancient Israel. Many dangerous wild animals lived in the forests there. However, the people who reported this incident, were saying some very strange things about it.

In particular, the man’s donkey – an animal like a small horse – had also remained with the body. People would have expected the donkey to run away, or the lion to kill it. In addition, the lion had not even begun to eat the dead body (13:28). So the behaviour of these animals was very unusual.

In Bethel, these reports reached the old prophet, a man who received messages from God. Other people could not really explain these events, but the old prophet understood them. The man who died was a very holy man. The animals behaved in that unusual manner because they understood that fact. The lion was guarding the body to protect it from other wild animals, until people could bury it. The donkey remained there because it still owed a duty to its master, to carry him to his grave. Animals are sometimes more aware of holy things than people are (Numbers 22:21-31).

The holy man died because he had not obeyed God’s command. However, his body was still holy, and it was necessary to bury it. So, the prophet from Bethel set out to carry out that task.

Next part: The old prophet brings back the body of the holy man (1 Kings 13:27-30)


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