And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook
The water of that was to be his drink:
and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there;
whereby he should be provided with food to eat; by whom are meant not angels in the form of ravens, as some; nor, as others, Arabians, for there were none of that people near him; nor, as others, merchants, the word being sometimes used of them, for this was not a likely method for privacy; nor, as others, the inhabitants of a place called Oreb, or Orbo; so the Arabic version calls them Orabimi; but we read of no such place near Jordan; the Jews F19 speak of a city of this name near Bethshean, from whence these Orebim came; and some of them F20 think they had their name from Oreb, in ( Judges 7:25 ) it seems better to interpret them of ravens, as we do, these creatures delighting to be in solitary places, in valleys, and by brooks; nor need it be any objection that they were unclean creatures by the law, since Elijah did not feed upon them, but was fed by them; and supposing any uncleanness by touch, the ceremonial law might be dispensed with in an extraordinary case, as it sometimes was; though it is very remarkable that such creatures should be employed in this way, which are birds of prey, seize on anything they can, live on carrion, and neglect their own young, and yet feed a prophet of the Lord; which shows the power and providence of God in it. Something like this Jerom F21 relates, of a raven bringing a whole loaf of bread, and laying it before the saints, Paulus and Antonius.
F19 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 33. fol. 29. 1.
F20 T. Bab. Cholin. fol. 5. 1. Menasseh Ben Israel Conciliat. in Lev. quaest. 3.
F21 In Vita Paul Erem. fol. 82. C.