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We read:

“But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”” ‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭17:12‬

Is this an Oath?

Q: Why did she invoke the name of God over confessing that she has no bread?

NOTE: I read the context too.

1 Answer 1

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This formula "As the LORD lives", or a variant, was common oath of truth, effectively meaning that "What I am saying is as true as the LORD lives". For example:

  • 2 Sam 15:21 - But Ittai answered the king, “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be!”
  • 1 Sam 25:26 - But Ittai answered the king, “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be!”
  • Jer 23:8 - Instead they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought and led the descendants of the house of Israel up out of the land of the north and all the other lands to which He had banished them.’ Then they will dwell once more in their own land.”
  • 1 Sam 29:6 - Instead they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought and led the descendants of the house of Israel up out of the land of the north and all the other lands to which He had banished them.’ Then they will dwell once more in their own land.”
  • Jer 16:14 - Yet behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of Egypt.’
  • 1 Sam 26:16 - This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is and the jar of water that was at his head.”
  • 2 Kings 4:30 - And the mother of the boy said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her.
  • 1 Kings 18:10 - As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent someone to search for you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made that kingdom or nation swear that they had not found you.

Thus, when the (foreign) woman said in 1 Kings 17:12, “As surely as the LORD your God lives, I have no bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. Look, I am gathering a couple of sticks to take home and prepare a meal for myself and my son, so that we may eat it and die” she was invoking a common affirmation of absolute truth that was quite common among the Hebrews.

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  • Makes sense. +1
    – Cork88
    Jun 13, 2022 at 0:29

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