Ahia:– The Role of the Prophet

Text: I Kings 14:1-18

Ahiah and Jeroboam – Part I

The initial meeting of Ahiah and Jeroboam took place when Ahiah the Shilonite informed Jeroboam (who was one of Solomon’s officials) that he will be king over 10 tribes (I Kings 11:29-39) in effect, preparing the ground for a split in the kingdom.

The next recorded communication between them takes place in 14:1-16.

Setting the stage 14:1-4

What is the background to the story and why does Jeroboam wish to consult Ahiah in particular?

Why does he send his wife?  Why should she disguise herself?

In what capacity does she go? (v.4)  What “title” might we have expected under the circumstances?

What do we find out about the livelihood of a prophet?  Is there any difference in the role of the prophet as presented here and as presented in Ahiah’s prophecy to Jeroboam that he will be king?

Irony and absurdity:

Read carefully vv.2-6.  Look for the irony in the situation.  Was Jeroboam aware of the absurdity in the situation?

The message

(I know, some of this has raised your ire before, but comparisons to the righteous David is a major motif in the qualifications of a king.)

What was the major offense(s) of Jeroboam?  (Try to get past the “David” part.)

What will be the consequence?

What is the role of vv.12-13 for the prophecy?

The Prophet in the Kingdom – Part II

We will start with Ahiah the Shilonite.

Did the history of his town Shiloh play a role in his behavior as a prophet who facilitated the splitting of the kingdom?

Shiloh ID card:

Location:  In the hills of the territory of Ephraim, north of Benjamin and Judah.

History:  It was the resting place of the Tabernacle from the days of Joshua (Joshua 18:1) through the period of the Judges.  It was destroyed in war by the Philistines (I Sam 4, Ps. 78:60) during Samuel’s early period, some years before Saul becomes king.

How might a prophet from Shiloh view the new religious center in Jerusalem?

What tribe might he belong to?  Could this have affected his loyalties to Solomon or to Jeroboam?

Jeroboam establishes the royal religious center in the old shrine of Beth El.  How might this have been taken by Ahiah?

From what we hear (and do not hear) in the communications between Ahiah the Shilonite and Jeroboam of Ephraim, king of the northern kingdom, was Ahiah pleased with the result of the appointment of Jeroboam as king?

Jeroboam is not the only king to have had a prophet around.  Here is a partial look at the relationships that existed between other kings and the prophets of their period.

In each case ask yourself the following:

  1. Did the king allow the prophet the freedom to speak without fear?
  2. Did the king respect the prophet?
  3. Did the prophet take an active interest in the king and the kingdom (from what we know and sense in the text?)
  4. Was the prophet rewarded by the king?

Here are a few pairs to consider: (The sources cited are only a sample.  Add any extra knowledge you have.)

  1. 10th century bce:  David and Nathan (II Sam 12:1-14, I Kings 1:11-35)
  2. 9th century bce:  Ahab and Elijah (I Kings 18:1, 17-18, 46)
  3. 8th century bce: Hezekiah and Isaiah (Isa. 37:1-7, 21-36)
  4. 7th- 6th century bce: Jehoakim and Jeremiah (Jer. 26:1-24)

Of course, there were also state appointed prophets, see I Kings 22 and read Jeremiah carefully.  Such prophets were less likely to cause the king any grief, but their existence made matters more difficult for the independent prophet of Hashem.

Ahia:– The Role of the Prophet – Part III

For Inquiring Minds….

This section is intended to give you some background material.  Enjoy it or ignore it.

A moment of grammar –- good for the reading of any biblical story!

(This will require the Hebrew text for 1 word.)

In v.5 we are told that Hashem had told Ahiah to expect the wife of Jeroboam. 

When did this take place in relation the story before it?  (In other words, is there any chronology in the story?)

Look at the rather unusual past form used for the verb in

“And Hashem said to Ahiahu”.  וה’ אמר אל-אחיהו

as well as the location of the subject before the verb.

This simple past form is common in modern Hebrew, but in Tanakh we usually find ויאמר ה’…  Notice also that the subject usually comes after the verb.

What does it mean?  Prof. Ed Greenstein calls it “meanwhile back on the ranch.”

Here is how Rashi explains the phenomenon:

רש”י בראשית פרק ד

(א) והאדם ידע – כבר קודם הענין של מעלה, קודם שחטא ונטרד מגן עדן, וכן ההריון והלידה. שאם כתב וידע אדם נשמע שלאחר שנטרד היו לו בנים:

Rashi Genesis 4:1

And the human knew – already before the events related above, before he transgressed and was driven out of the Garden of Eden, and so also the conception and the birth.  For if it had been written וידע אדם it would imply that after he was driven out he had children.

This form (subject followed by simple past) means the event is concurrent with what preceded it in the text.  I hope that this will shed some interesting light on some biblical stories.  Try it on our story here.

Go to Next Class – Down South After the Split