In 1 Melachim 13:30 it says:

And the prophet took up the carcass of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. And he laid his carcass in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas my brother!

Why did the people of the city cry out ה֥וֹי אָחִֽי? Why the use of the word brother?

The Ralbag on this posuk offers an explanation that the city was paying tribute to this man. However, that does not explain the use of the word brother in this posuk.

Any commentaries that explain the deeper meaning behind the use of the word אָחִֽי when speaking of a man?

  • 3
    The הוי אחי lament appears again in Yirmiyahu, along with הוי אחותי, for women and הוי אדון, for royalty. This shows, in my opinion, that the הוי laments were customary for many centuries. As such, I would not think too much as too why the people called him אחי. They were merely espousing the traditional form of lamentation over the deceased.
    – Harel13
    Aug 31, 2022 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


According to the Metzudas Dovid it was a term of endearment bemoaning the situation.

הוי אחי. רצה לומר: צר לי עליך רעי

Alas my brother - this means to say: I feel sorry for you my friend.

Indeed, the Metzudas Zion adds about the use of the word "הוי" that precedes the term "אחי":

הוי. הוא ענין לשון יללה

It is an expression of lamentation / howling

  • Thank you. "My friend" could either be used in a friendly manner. If I see someone familiair, I can say "Hi, my friend". But, as Shalom writes, "my fellow prophet who was in the same position as I was". Can this also be applied to the Metzudas Dovid? I saw a sefer called "שערי דוד" where it writes אחי ונראה שהאדם המספיד צריך שיהיה קרוב במעלה לנפטר ועי"ז.
    – Shmuel
    Aug 31, 2022 at 16:09
  • Yes I guess that is one way to interpret it.
    – Dov
    Aug 31, 2022 at 21:47
  • 1
    I just came across a interesting Or HaChaim on parashas Ki Teitzei. The Or HaChaim writes "The term used by the Torah to describe these morally upright righteous people is אחים, brothers."
    – Shmuel
    Sep 6, 2022 at 18:07

It was a call-and-response initiated by the prophet in Beit El.

Abarbanel and others take the track that the fellow was a retired, one-time legitimate prophet, who wasn't being malicious here.

In that vein, you could explain that he felt that it wasn't worth speaking up when the North Kingdom veered the wrong way. "Hey, let's just take it easy." He is symbolic of a whole society of people who choose to do nothing when evil occurs. He thought if he could take it easy, so could the young visiting prophet -- and then saw vividly how wrong he was, by how severely God punished the younger prophet for a minor diversion. So he led the chant "woe, my brother" -- i.e. my fellow prophet who was in the same position I was, but made the right choice instead. And got the city to respond with him. "We all should identify with that young man who spoke out."

  • +1 Shalom. However, if you could provide the last with a source, that would be great. Unless it is your own interpretation.
    – Shmuel
    Aug 31, 2022 at 16:04
  • I'd imagine someone else says it ... but that's how it occurred to me.
    – Shalom
    Aug 31, 2022 at 17:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .