Evil king Ahab hunts for Elijah. Elijah meets evil king Ahab. Elijah kills 850 prophets of Baal and Ashera.
VERSE 1. After many days, the LORD’s word came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain on the earth.”
in the third year. This is the third year of the famine. It will be the last year of the famine.
The famine was severe in Samaria. This calamity was especially directed at king Ahab.
Ahab called Obadiah. This Obadiah was a trusted servant of Ahab.
Obadiah feared the LORD. However, he is not the writer of the Book of Obadiah.
VERSE 4. for when Jezebel cut off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah took one hundred prophets, and hid them fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
Jezebel cut off the LORD’s prophets. She intended to kill the prophets of the LORD God.
Her goal is to eradicate the worship of the LORD God, and establish the worship of Baal-Melqart.
fed them with bread and water. Doubtless this was quite difficult, given the extreme famine and drought.
VERSE 5. Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land, to all the springs of water, and to all the brooks. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, that we not lose all the animals.”
VERSE 6. So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
VERSE 7. As Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. He recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?”
He recognized him. Obadiah recognizes Elijah.
fell on his face. Out of respect for the prophet, Obadiah bows down to the ground.
Is it you, my lord Elijah? Obadiah can hardly believe he has found the prophet.
Behold, Elijah is here! The prophet asks for an Audience with the king.
VERSE 9. He said, “How have I sinned, that you would deliver your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me?
to kill me. Obadiah does NOT want to deliver this news to evil king Ahab.
That is because evil king Ahab considers Elijah an Enemy of the State.
VERSE 10. As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath of the kingdom and nation that they didn’t find you.
VERSE 11. Now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.” ’
VERSE 12. It will happen, as soon as I leave you, that the LORD’s Spirit will carry you I don’t know where; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he can’t find you, he will kill me. But I, your servant, have feared the LORD from my youth.
feared the LORD from my youth. Obadiah testifies that he is a devout believer in the LORD God.
VERSE 13. Wasn’t it told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the LORD’s prophets, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD’s prophets with fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
Obadiah further testifies that he is a devout believer in the LORD God.
VERSE 14. Now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”.’ He will kill me.”
VERSE 15. Elijah said, “As the LORD of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.”
the LORD of Hosts. Elijah testifies the LORD God as almighty.
lives. The LORD God is not dead. Rather, he is alive.
before whom I stand. Elijah is a servant of the LORD God.
I will surely show myself to him today. Elijah affirms that he will indeed meet evil king Ahab.
Ahab went to meet Elijah. This is a reversal.
Normally when a citizen has an Audience with the king, the citizen travels to the throne room of the king.
But in this case, it is king Ahab who is granted an Audience with Elijah. Ahab travels to meet Elijah.
you troubler of Israel. Evil king Ahab accuses Elijah of being a troublemaker.
In the Book of Kings, the leaders exhibit narcissistic behaviors. They demand subservience. They commit idolatry and murder. They disobey sexual laws. Read more »
VERSE 18. He answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house, in that you have forsaken the LORD’s commandments and you have followed the Baals.
you have forsaken the LORD. Elijah sets the record straight.
Ahab and his family were the real reason for Israel’s troubles. They had abandoned the LORD God and instead followed Baal.
Elijah said that to king Ahab. He did not mince words.
This is true back in the Old Testament days, and it is true today as well.
you have followed the Baals. Elijah uses the plural word “Baals.”
That is because local idols of Baal had different names. For example, Baal-Berith and Baal-Zebub.
NOTE. This narrative is extremely significant in the history of Israel.
VERSE 19. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel to Mount Carmel, and four hundred fifty of the prophets of Baal, and four hundred of the prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
gather to me all Israel. Elijah asks the entire nation to assemble. Everybody will witness what Elijah is going to do.
Mount Carmel. This is a range of mountains. At the highest point, it is 1,742 feet in elevation. And it is about 30 miles long.
four hundred fifty of the prophets of Baal. This is a lot of prophets!
four hundred of the prophets of the Asherah. This too is a lot of prophets!
The total is 850.
eat at Jezebel’s table. Jezebel fed 850 prophets.
VERSE 20. So Ahab sent to all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together to Mount Carmel.
Mount Carmel. This is a strategic location. It lay between Israel and Phoenicia.
Israel is the land of the LORD God. And Phoenicia is the land of Baal and Ashera.
VERSE 21. Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you waver between the two sides? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people didn’t say a word.
How long will you waver between the two sides. Elijah presents the nation with an either-or decision. They cannot serve two masters.
In our day many Christians serve two masters. They profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But their real master is money.
Matthew 6:24. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.
The people didn’t say a word. The people couldn’t argue against this statement. So they said nothing.
VERSE 22. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left as a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred fifty men.
I, even I only, am left as a prophet of the LORD. For the purposes of this showdown, Elijah was the only prophet of the LORD God alive.
VERSE 23. Let them therefore give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bull, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under it.
VERSE 24. You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the LORD’s name. The God who answers by fire, let him be God.” All the people answered, “What you say is good.”
The God who answers by fire. Baal supposedly sent fire (lightning) from heaven.
VERSE 25. Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves, and dress it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”
VERSE 26. They took the bull which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, “Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice, and nobody answered. They leaped about the altar which was made.
there was no voice, and nobody answered. This is an epic failure for the prophets of Baal and Ashera.
VERSE 27. At noon, Elijah mocked them, and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is deep in thought, or he has gone somewhere, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he sleeps and must be awakened.”
Elijah is taunting the 400 prophets of Baal.
Similarly, Isaiah taunted the religious practices of Babylon:
Isaiah 47:12. Stand now with your enchantments and with the multitude of your sorceries, in which you have labored from your youth, as if you might profit, as if you might prevail.
VERSE 28. They cried aloud, and cut themselves in their way with knives and lances until the blood gushed out on them.
cut themselves. To appease their god, they cut their own bodies with knives and lances.
VERSE 29. When midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the evening offering; but there was no voice, no answer, and nobody paid attention.
nobody paid attention. Their god was nothing. And so nobody was listening. And nobody heard.
VERSE 30. Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me!”; and all the people came near to him. He repaired the LORD’s altar that had been thrown down.
the LORD’s altar. An altar to the LORD God had been built on the site long before. But it was in disrepair.
VERSE 31. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD’s word came, saying, “Israel shall be your name.”
VERSE 32. With the stones he built an altar in the LORD’s name. He made a trench around the altar large enough to contain two seahs of seed.
two seahs. One seah is about 7 liters, or 1.9 gallons, or 0.8 pecks
VERSE 33. He put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”
This is a strange directive.
It will make it obvious that what will soon happen is a miracle, and not merely a trick.
VERSE 34. He said, “Do it a second time;” and they did it the second time. He said, “Do it a third time;” and they did it the third time.
VERSE 35. The water ran around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.
VERSE 36. At the time of the evening offering, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.
At the time of the evening offering. That is, 3 PM.
and said. Unlike the prophets of Baal and Ashera, Elijah uses no theatrics.
VERSE 37. Hear me, LORD, hear me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again.”
VERSE 38. Then the LORD’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust; and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
The prophet Elijah performed seven known miracles. And his disciple Elisha performed 15. Read more »
Then. The response from the LORD God is instantaneous.
VERSE 39. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces. They said, “The LORD, he is God! the LORD, he is God!”
VERSE 40. Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Don’t let one of them escape!” They seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there.
Elijah … killed them. Elijah killed 850 people. He killed them by hand.
VERSE 41. Elijah said to Ahab, “Get up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
New King James Version. Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
there is the sound of abundance of rain. That is, “I hear the sound of the abundance of rain.”
VERSE 42. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down on the earth, and put his face between his knees.
put his face between his knees. This is a posture of earnest prayer.
VERSE 43. He said to his servant, “Go up now and look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, then said, “There is nothing.” He said, “Go again” seven times.
VERSE 44. On the seventh time, he said, “Behold, a small cloud, like a man’s hand, is rising out of the sea.” He said, “Go up, tell Ahab, ‘Get ready and go down, so that the rain doesn’t stop you.’ ”
VERSE 45. In a little while, the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
VERSE 46. The LORD’s hand was on Elijah; and he tucked his cloak into his belt and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.