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1 Kings 17-19
The entry of the prophet Elijah into Bible History was sudden - and dramatic. He was from Gilead, a mountainous area east of The Jordan River, however the meaning of his name in Hebrew was as pure as The Lord who sent him. "Elijah" is based upon a combination of two of the stated Names Of God, El and the YHVH which is sometimes translated as "Jehovah" (see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD). Elijah means God is The Lord.
Despite being a great prophet of God (see also Prophets), Elijah was still as human as anyone else (see the Fact Finder question below), and therefore subject to the same dangers as anyone else. The only difference is that The Lord sometimes miraculously protected him, such as having ravens bring him food during the famine and drought that The Lord had Elijah himself proclaim.
"Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead [see also Bible Places], said to Ahab, "As The Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."
When the drought caused the brook to run dry, The Lord sent Elijah to live with a poor widow in Zarephath, a town in Lebanon between Tyre and Sidon, who benefited from Elijah's presence; their food supply was miraculously replenished.
"And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of The Lord came to him, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you." (1 Kings 17:7-9 RSV)
When the widow's young son died, another miracle - a resurrection back to physical life (see Resurrections).
"After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; and his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" (1 Kings 17:17-18 RSV)
1 Kings Chapter 18
Obadiah was a supervisor in the household of King Ahab who had faith in The Lord. During the time that Ahab and Jezebel (see The Fall of Ahab and Jezebel) were doing everything they could to oppose the truth, Obadiah helped The Lord's prophets. Obadiah also at times found himself delivering messages between Elijah and Ahab.
"After many days the word of The Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth." So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.
Ahab accused Elijah of being a troublemaker, but it was Ahab who was bringing trouble on Israel. The message to Ahab was plain; he was a corrupt king who was inviting The Lord's wrath. Elijah then arranged for a demonstration for the people that The Lord was everything, while idols were nothing. It took place at Mount Carmel, in Galilee on the coast of The Mediterranean Sea.
"So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
When the pagan prophets of Baal were shown to be frauds, the people rose up and executed them.
"And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and 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. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O Lord, art God, and that Thou hast turned their hearts back."
1 Kings Chapter 19
Ahab and Jezebel then ordered an all-out hunt for Elijah. The prophet fled south out of The Northern Kingdom of "Israel" into The Southern Kingdom of "Judah." Elijah apparently thought that his time of service to The Lord (and therefore the time when Elijah's life was being protected) was complete and that he was about to be martyred (see Martyrs). He was however still in his "bulletproof" time - an angel helped him, and would have defended him if needed.
"Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow."
Throughout all of Bible History, there are only three people who are recorded to have done a forty-day fast - Jesus Christ, Moses and Elijah. The events, and those three men, despite their living centuries apart, have strong connections in that both Moses and Elijah did or completed their forty-day fasts at Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Horeb), both Moses and Elijah were sheltered in the "rock" of Mount Sinai ("the Rock was Christ" 1 Corinthians 10:4 RSV; see also Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death?) during their stay on the mountain, and then only Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus Christ in The Transfiguration, after His forty-day fast and His overcoming of Satan "on a very high mountain" (Matthew 4:8 RSV).
"And the angel of The Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you."
"And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
"So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him [see The Passing of The Mantle]. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you."
Fact Finder: What was the great "spirit and power of Elijah"?