Old Prophet

OLD PROPHET. An unnamed prophet mentioned in 1 Kings 13:11-32.

The setting is in the time of Jeroboam I, the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel. He had instituted the worship of golden calves at Dan and Bethel. The royal chapel was at the latter place.

When the king was burning incense at the altar one day, a man of God appeared from Judah and predicted the overthrow of idolatry at Bethel. As a sign that this prophecy would take place, the altar fell to pieces.

All this was reported to an old prophet of Bethel by his sons. He immediately followed the man of God and invited him to his home. When the prophet from Judah replied that he had strict orders not to eat or drink in Bethel, the old man lied to him. He said an angel of the Lord had told him to feed the Judean prophet.

The deception proved fatal. As the two prophets sat at the table, a word from the Lord announced the impending death of the man of God for disobedience. Soon after he left Bethel, a lion slew him. Since Bethel was only twelve m. from Jerusalem, the divine command to return was entirely reasonable. No light is thrown on why the old prophet acted as he did.