It is said God had commanded the widow of Zarephath to feed Elijah during the drought

KJV 1 Kings 17 : 9

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

But when the widow finally meets Elijah she doesn't acknowledge any commandment by God

KJV 1 Kings 17 : 10 - 12

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

The widow only speaks of herself and her son

Why doesn't the widow acknowledge God's commandment?

  • 1
    To answer this question, you would need to show that she was even aware of the command from God.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 10:00

3 Answers 3


The word "command" has a broader sense of meaning which includes the concept of "ordained" (i.e. "chosen"). It could also mean "appoint."

For example, the following verse uses the same Hebrew word "tsavah" (צָוָה) often translated as "command."

And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed H6680 thee ruler over Israel; (1 Samuel 25:30, KJV)

The widow may have known nothing of God's plan. But God knew she would feed Elijah--and that God would provide her the means to do so.


The answer to this is less complicated than it appears. Not everything is necessarily even aware of the commands of God. For example, we see this verb, צָוָה (tsavah) used of other things as well:

  • Ps 33:9 - For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it [the creation] stood firm.
  • Ps 148:5 - Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created.
  • Ps 78:23 - Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven,
  • Isa 5:6 - I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
  • Isa 45:12 - I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their [starry] host.

Thus, when God "commanded" (1 Kings 17:9) the widow of Zarephath to provide for Elijah, we are not told the mechanism, but the following options are consistent with other such commands:

  • The widow received a dream with instructions
  • The widow received a vision with instructions
  • The widow received some kind of divinely provided premonition about Elijah's approach
  • The widow received an impression by the Holy Spirit to be extra kind to the Jewish stranger without her knowing the origin of such an impulse

Again, we are not told how God commanded the widow, but the last of these options best fits the circumstances of the story. If this is true, the widow acted upon the kindness impression with wonderful consequences - it saved her life and the life of her son, twice! [A salutary lesson even today?]

  • Thank you for that "twice" remark. I had forgotten this particular resurrection in the OT when I was asked impromptu to teach a class on resurrections in the Bible a few weeks back. That means that there were at least FOUR resurrections known to occur before the time of Christ: Moses, Elijah resurrecting a child, Elisha resurrecting a child, and a man resurrected on Elisha's bones.
    – Biblasia
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 11:16

The widow of Zarephath was a mole, a sleeper agent recruited before she had access to her purpose in the man of God's life. There are people that are already in place waiting for the time and season to attached themselves to our lives for God's purpose. The donkey that was tied, Matthew 21:2, the butler that was sent to prison where Joseph was, Genesis 40:1-23. All of these had an assignment unknown to them.


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