Elijah the Tishbite

I Kings 17

Elijah the Tishbite, inhabitant of Gilead, prophesies to Ahab of impending drought before the word of the Lord directs him east to the brook of Cherith (before the Jordan) from where he shall drink and be fed by the ravens.

5So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 6And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

And the word of the Lord again comes to him, telling him to arise and go and dwell in Zarephath (in Sidon) where a widow woman would sustain him. He finds the widow gathering sticks by the city gate, and requests of her some water to drink, and a morsel of bread to eat.

12And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 13And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

And the widow did as Elijah said, and just as he had said, she and he, and her house, did eat many days. The barrel of meal was not wasted, neither the cruse of oil did fail, according to the word of the Lord (as spoken by Elijah).

17And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

Dismayed and distraught, the widow turns her frustration toward Elijah:

18And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

Elijah takes the son out of the widow’s bosom carrying him into the loft and laying him straight upon his own bed before crying unto the Lord, beseeching Him:

21And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. 22And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

Then Elijah takes the child down to its mother, the widow, who instantly recognises this for what it is—a miracle of God, and His true prophet.

1 Kings 18

1And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

By this time there is severe famine in Samaria. Ahab calls Obadiah, governor of his house and fearful of the Lord (he had hid and fed a hundred prophets from Jezebel), to search the brooks and fountains for any grass to save the remaining horses and mules. Ahab and Obadiah split the search between their respective parties:

7And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? 8And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. 9And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? 10As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.

Obadiah is reluctant to declare Elijah’s presence for fear of recrimination from Ahab, particularly if he were to return with Ahab and find that Elijah has, once again, vanished.

15And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. 16So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

On seeing Elijah, Ahab immediately accuses him of causing trouble in Israel, to which Elijah rebukes and challenges him:

18And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.

Ahab gathers the children of Israel and the prophets together on Mount Carmel, whereon Elijah throws down the gauntlet:

21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: 24And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

The prophets of Baal respond to the challenge:

26And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

But despite incantation after incantation, masochistic ritual after masochistic ritual:

28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

To no avail:

29And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Elijah takes the bull by the horns:

30And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.

Taking 12 stones (the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob), Elijah builds an altar in the name of the Lord and digs a large trench around it, then proceeds to lay wood down and the cut pieces of bullock on top of the wood, before finally pouring four barrels of water over the entire structure, not twice, but three times over.

35And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 36And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

And then a great fire of the Lord consumes the burnt sacrifice and the wood, the stones and the dust, licking up the water in the trench. All of Israel fall on their faces: “The Lord, he is the God.”

40And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

And Elijah tells to Ahab to get up and eat and drink (rejoice) for he could hear the sound of rain. Elijah goes to the top of Mount Carmel and casts himself down upon the earth, face between his knees:

43And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.

The heavens quickly darken with clouds and wind and a great rain. Ahab rides to Jezreel. The hand of the Lord on Elijah, he girds his loins running before Ahab to the city entrance.

1 Kings chapter 19

Ahab tells Jezebel all that Elijah has done:

2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

But while asleep under the juniper, an angel touches him awake and urges to him to eat of a cake baked of coals and a cruze of water. He eats and drinks and falls asleep again. Because the journey is too great, the angel of the Lord beckons him to sup a second time:

8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

On reaching (and lodging) in a cave, the word of the Lord comes again to Elijah:

What doest thou here, Elijah? 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

At this commotion Elijah wraps his face in his mantle and moves to the entrance of the cave, where a voice comes to him again saying:

What doest thou here, Elijah? 14And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 15And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

And it is revealed to Elijah that whoever escapes Hazael would not escape Jehu, and whoever escaped the sword of Jehu would not escape Elisha, so that only the remaining 7,000 Israelites which have not bowed unto or kissed Baal will remain.

19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

Leaving the oxen Elisha runs after Elijah requesting for a moment to say goodbye to his parents and kinsfolk.

21And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

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