But unto none of them was Elias sent
That is, to none of the poor widows in the land of Israel was the prophet sent, to supply them with food, and relieve them in their famishing circumstances, as might most reasonably have been expected:
save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon;
which in ( 1 Kings 17:10 ) is called "Zarephath"; and by the Septuagint there, "Sarepta of Sidon", as here. Pliny F18 speaks of it by the same name, and reckons it to Sidon:
unto a woman that was a widow:
she is said by the Jews F19, to be the mother of Jonah the prophet. Our Lord meant to observe, by this instance, as by the following, that God bestows his favours on persons in a sovereign way, and sometimes upon the most unlikely; as in a time of famine, he overlooked the poor widows in Israel, his peculiar people, and sent his prophet to a Gentile woman in one of the cities of Sidon; and therefore they should cease to wonder if he wrought his miracles in other places, and not in his own country; since this was agreeable to the divine procedure in other cases, especially since they were a cavilling and unbelieving people. The Jews say F20, that in all that generation there was not found any one that was worthy, as this woman.
F18 L. 5. c. 19.
F19 Pirke Eliezer, c. 33.
F20 Zohar in Exod. fol. 89. 2.