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1 Kings 17-19

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

1 Kings Chapter 17

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.

Elijah 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."

And the word of The Lord came to him, "Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the Ravens to feed you there."

So he went and did according to the word of The Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook." (1 Kings 17:1-6 RSV)

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)

"And she went and did as Elijah said; and she, and he, and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of The Lord which he spoke by Elijah." (1 Kings 17:15-16 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)

"And The Lord hearkened to the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again [see Giving Up The Ghost and Where Is Your Soul?], and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Elijah said, "See, your son lives." And the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of The Lord in your mouth is truth." (1 Kings 17:22-24 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.

Galilee

"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.

And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. Now Obadiah revered The Lord greatly; and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of The Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water." (1 Kings 18:1-4 RSV)

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 Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?"

And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father's house, because you have forsaken the commandments of The Lord and followed the Baals [see Baal and Baal-zebub and Beelzebub]. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel, and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people, and said, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If The Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word." (1 Kings 18:16-21 RSV)

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."

Then the fire of The Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, he is God; The Lord, he is God."

And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape." And they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there." (1 Kings 18:36-40 RSV)

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.

Mount Horeb / Mount Sinai

"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."

Then he was afraid, and he arose and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat."

And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again." (1 Kings 19:1-6 RSV)

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 he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God." (1 Kings 19:7-8 RSV)

Elijah's retirement (see Where Did Elijah Go?) was not quite yet however. The Lord sent Elijah back far north, to Damascus in Syria, to, among other things, anoint two kings and a prophet.

"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?"

He said, "I have been very jealous for The Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."

And The Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." (1 Kings 19:13-18 RSV)

Elijah's time for retirement was nearing (again, see Where Did Elijah Go?), so a new prophet, Elisha, was chosen to prepare for the succession.

"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."

And he said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?"

And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him." (1 Kings 19:19-21 RSV)

Fact Finder: What was the great "spirit and power of Elijah"?
See The Spirit and Power of Elijah


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