1 Kings 18-20 New Revised Standard Version

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Elijah Returns to Ahab

18 1  After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth." 2  So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. 3  Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the Lord greatly; 4  when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets, hid them fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water.) 5  Then Ahab said to Obadiah, "Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the wadis; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals." 6  So they divided the land between them to pass through it; Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself. 7  As Obadiah was on the way, Elijah met him; Obadiah recognized him, fell on his face, and said, "Is it you, my lord Elijah?" 8  He answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here." 9  And he said, "How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ahab, to kill me? 10  As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom to which my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, "He is not here,' he would require an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 11  But now you say, "Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.' 12  As soon as I have gone from you, the spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where; so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the Lord from my youth. 13  Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred of the Lord's prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water? 14  Yet now you say, "Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here'; he will surely kill me." 15  Elijah said, "As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today." 16  So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

17  When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?" 18  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. 19  Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."

The Contest on Mount Carmel

20  So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.

21  Elijah then 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." The people did not answer him a word. 22  Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets number four hundred fifty. 23  Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. 24  Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God." All the people answered, "Well spoken!" 25  Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it." 26  So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. 27  At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." 28  Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. 29  As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response. 30  Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come closer to me"; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; 31  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, "Israel shall be your name"; 32  with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. 33  Next he put the wood in order, 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." 34  Then he said, "Do it a second time"; and they did it a second time. Again he said, "Do it a third time"; and they did it a third time, 35  so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water. 36  At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. 37  Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." 38  Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. 39  When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God." 40  Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape." Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

Elijah Prays for Rain

41  Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain." 42  So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. 43  He said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." He went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." Then he said, "Go again seven times." 44  At the seventh time he said, "Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person's hand is rising out of the sea." Then he said, "Go say to Ahab, "Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.' " 45  In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. 46  But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah Flees to Horeb

19 1  Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2  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 like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." 3  Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. 4  But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors." 5  Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, "Get up and eat." 6  He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7  The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, "Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you." 8  He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

9  At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10  He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away." 11  He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces 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 sound of sheer silence. 13  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14  He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away." 15  Then the Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16  Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17  Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18  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."

The Call of Elisha

19  So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. 20  He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." Then Elijah said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" 21  He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Ahab Defeats the Syrians

20 1  King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, along with horses and chariots. He marched against Samaria, laid siege to it, and attacked it. 2  Then he sent messengers into the city to King Ahab of Israel, and said to him: "Thus says Ben-hadad: 3  Your silver and gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine." 4  The king of Israel answered, "As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have." 5  The messengers came again and said: "Thus says Ben-hadad: I sent to you, saying, "Deliver to me your silver and gold, your wives and children'; 6  nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants, and lay hands on whatever pleases them, and take it away." 7  Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Look now! See how this man is seeking trouble; for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not refuse him." 8  Then all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not listen or consent." 9  So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, "Tell my lord the king: All that you first demanded of your servant I will do; but this thing I cannot do." The messengers left and brought him word again. 10  Ben-hadad sent to him and said, "The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria will provide a handful for each of the people who follow me." 11  The king of Israel answered, "Tell him: One who puts on armor should not brag like one who takes it off."

12  When Ben-hadad heard this message-now he had been drinking with the kings in the booths-he said to his men, "Take your positions!" And they took their positions against the city. 13  Then a certain prophet came up to King Ahab of Israel and said, "Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Look, I will give it into your hand today; and you shall know that I am the Lord." 14  Ahab said, "By whom?" He said, "Thus says the Lord, By the young men who serve the district governors." Then he said, "Who shall begin the battle?" He answered, "You." 15  Then he mustered the young men who served the district governors, two hundred thirty-two; after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand. 16  They went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings allied with him. 17  The young men who served the district governors went out first. Ben-hadad had sent out scouts, and they reported to him, "Men have come out from Samaria." 18  He said, "If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive." 19  But these had already come out of the city: the young men who served the district governors, and the army that followed them. 20  Each killed his man; the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, but King Ben-hadad of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry. 21  The king of Israel went out, attacked the horses and chariots, and defeated the Arameans with a great slaughter.

22  Then the prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, "Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the king of Aram will come up against you." 23  The servants of the king of Aram said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24  Also do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in place of them; 25  and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." He heeded their voice, and did so. 26  In the spring Ben-hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27  After the Israelites had been mustered and provisioned, they went out to engage them; the people of Israel encamped opposite them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the country. 28  A man of God approached and said to the king of Israel, "Thus says the Lord: Because the Arameans have said, "The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,' therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord." 29  They encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle began; the Israelites killed one hundred thousand Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30  The rest fled into the city of Aphek; and the wall fell on twenty-seven thousand men that were left. Ben-hadad also fled, and entered the city to hide.

31  His servants said to him, "Look, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life." 32  So they tied sackcloth around their waists, put ropes on their heads, went to the king of Israel, and said, "Your servant Ben-hadad says, "Please let me live.' " And he said, "Is he still alive? He is my brother." 33  Now the men were watching for an omen; they quickly took it up from him and said, "Yes, Ben-hadad is your brother." Then he said, "Go and bring him." So Ben-hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. 34  Ben-hadad said to him, "I will restore the towns that my father took from your father; and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria." The king of Israel responded, "I will let you go on those terms." So he made a treaty with him and let him go. 35  At the command of the Lord a certain member of a company of prophets said to another, "Strike me!" But the man refused to strike him. 36  Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, as soon as you have left me, a lion will kill you." And when he had left him, a lion met him and killed him. 37  Then he found another man and said, "Strike me!" So the man hit him, striking and wounding him. 38  Then the prophet departed, and waited for the king along the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39  As the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the thick of the battle; then a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, "Guard this man; if he is missing, your life shall be given for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.' 40  While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." The king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it." 41  Then he quickly took the bandage away from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42  Then he said to him, "Thus says the Lord, "Because you have let the man go whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.' " 43  The king of Israel set out toward home, resentful and sullen, and came to Samaria.

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