The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
At that very moment, as Jeroboam stood at the altar and cast the incense down, a prophet came to Bethel, sent by the Lord from Juda;
and in the Lord’s name he cried aloud against the altar, Listen, thou altar, listen to a message from the Lord. I see a prince that is to come, born of David’s race, Josias by name, that shall sacrifice on thee the very priests who now feed thee with incense; the bones of dead men shall be thy sacrifice.
And he offered them proof, there and then; Here is a sign, he told them, to prove that this message comes from the Lord; see if this altar does not fall apart, and spill the ashes it holds!
So cried the prophet against the altar at Bethel; and the king, hearing it, lifted his hand from the altar, pointed to the prophet and cried, Seize him! With that, his outstretched hand withered up; no more could he bring it back to his side;
and meanwhile, the altar fell apart, spilling its ashes; the very sign which the Lord had inspired his prophet to foretell.
Plead with the Lord thy God, the king said to him, and pray for me, that I may have the use of my hand again. So the prophet entreated God’s mercy for him, and his hand was restored to him, as sound as before.
And now the king would have the prophet come home with him to take food, and to be rewarded with gifts,
but he answered, Thou mightest offer me half thy kingdom before I would come with thee, before a crust of bread or a drop of water should pass my lips.
Such is the charge the Lord’s word laid upon me; I must neither eat nor drink, nor go home by the way I came hither.
So he set out home by another road, not retracing the journey by which he had come to Bethel.
There was an old seer dwelling at Bethel, whose sons came and told him what deeds the prophet of God had done in the town that day; told what words had passed, too, between him and the king.
Whereupon their father asked what road he had taken, this prophet from Juda; and when he had found out this from his sons,
he bade them saddle the ass for him. Saddle it they did, and he mounted,
and went out in search of the prophet, whom he found sitting under an oak-tree. Asking whether he were the prophet from Juda, and learning that he was,
he bade him come home and share his meal.
But the other said, I must not turn back and go with thee, must not take food or drink here;
when the Lord spoke to me, it was part of his message that I must neither eat nor drink at Bethel, nor leave it by the way I entered it.
But he would take no denial; I too, said he, am a prophet like thyself, and an angel has brought me a message from the Lord that I am to take thee home and give thee food and drink. With such words the prophet was beguiled,
and went back to eat and drink with him.
Even as they sat at table, the Lord’s word came to the seer that had detained him.
A message from the Lord, cried he to the prophet from Juda. Thou hast disobeyed him; he, the Lord thy God, gave thee a strict injunction, and thou hast not kept it.
Thou hast turned back, there to eat and drink where he bade thee leave food and drink untasted. For thy punishment, thy body shall not be laid to rest in the burying-place of thy fathers.
When their meal was done, he saddled his own ass for the prophet, his guest.
And he, setting out on his journey, met with a lion, that slew him. There lay his body on the open road, with the ass close by; the lion, too, remained standing there beside its prey.
Passers-by told how they had seen it, a lion standing beside a dead man’s body that lay in the road, when they reached the township where the old seer lived,
and when it come to his ears, he bethought him of his guest; It must be the prophet, said he, that was disobedient to the Lord’s command; the Lord has suffered this lion to maul and kill him, in fulfilment of the divine threat that was made to him.
Then he bade his sons saddle him an ass; and when it was saddled,
he set out on his journey, and found the body lying there by the road with ass and lion standing over it; never a morsel of its prey had the lion eaten, and to the ass it did no harm.
So the old seer took up the prophet’s body and put it on the ass, and returned with it to his own city, to mourn over the dead.
In his own tomb he laid the corpse down, and they mourned for him, crying out, Alas, brother, alas the day!
And after they had finished mourning, he said to his sons, When I die, bury me in this tomb where God’s prophet rests, laying my bones beside his.
It will come true past all doubt, the threat which he uttered in the Lord’s name against the altar at Bethel, and the hill-shrines in the cities of Samaria.
All this notwithstanding, Jeroboam would not amend his sinful ways; still he appointed priests here and there and everywhere among the people, consecrating the first comer to minister at his hill-shrines.
So it was that the race of Jeroboam became tainted with guilt, doomed to perish and to leave no trace behind it.
The Holy Bible