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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 18

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1Time went by, and in the third year the word of the LORD came to Elijah: ‘Go, appear before Ahab, and I shall send rain on the land.’ 2So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab.

At this time the famine in Samaria was at its height, 3and Ahab summoned Obadiah, the comptroller of his household, a devout worshipper of the LORD. 4When Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, he had taken a hundred of them, hidden them in caves, fifty by fifty, and sustained them with food and drink. 5Ahab said to Obadiah, ‘Let us go throughout a 18:5 Let…throughout: so Gk; Heb. Go into. the land to every spring and wadi; if we can find enough grass we may keep the horses and mules alive and not lose any of our animals.’ 6They divided the land between them for their survey, Ahab himself going one way and Obadiah another.

7As Obadiah was on his journey, Elijah suddenly confronted him. Obadiah recognized Elijah and prostrated himself before him. ‘Can it really be you, my lord Elijah?’ he said. 8‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘it is I. Go and tell your master that Elijah is here.’ 9‘What wrong have I done?’ protested Obadiah. ‘Why should you give me into Ahab's hands? He will put me to death. 10As the LORD your God lives, there is no region or kingdom to which my master has not sent in search of you. If they said, “He is not here,” he made that kingdom or region swear on oath that you could not be found. 11Yet now you say, “Go and tell your master that Elijah is here.” 12What will happen? As soon as I leave you, the spirit of the LORD will carry you away, who knows where? I shall go and tell Ahab, and when he fails to find you, he will kill me. Yet I, your servant, have been a worshipper of the LORD from boyhood. 13Have you not been told, my lord, what I did when Jezebel put the LORD's prophets to death, how I hid a hundred of them in caves, fifty by fifty, and kept them alive with food and drink? 14And now you say, “Go and tell your master that Elijah is here”! He will kill me.’ 15Elijah answered, ‘As the LORD of Hosts lives, whose servant I am, I swear that I shall show myself to him this day.’ 16So Obadiah went to find Ahab and gave him the message, and Ahab went to confront Elijah.

17As soon as Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’ 18‘It is not I who have brought trouble on Israel,’ Elijah replied, ‘but you and your father's family, by forsaking the commandments of the LORD and following Baal. 19Now summon all Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel, including the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of the goddess Asherah, who are attached to Jezebel's household.’ 20So Ahab sent throughout the length and breadth of Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.

21Elijah stepped forward towards all the people there and said, ‘How long will you sit on the fence b 18:21 sit on the fence: lit. bestride two branches. ? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ Not a word did they answer. 22Then Elijah said, ‘I am the only prophet of the LORD still left, but there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. 23Bring two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, cut it up, and lay it on the wood without setting fire to it, and I shall prepare the other and lay it on the wood without setting fire to it. 24Then invoke your god by name and I shall invoke the LORD by name; the god who answers by fire, he is God.’ The people all shouted their approval.

25Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and offer it first, for there are more of you; invoke your god by name, but do not set fire to the wood.’ 26They took the bull provided for them and offered it, and they invoked Baal by name from morning until noon, crying, ‘Baal, answer us’; but there was no sound, no answer. They danced wildly by the altar they had set up. 27At midday Elijah mocked them: ‘Call louder, for he is a god. It may be he is deep in thought, or engaged, or on a journey; or he may have gone to sleep and must be woken up.’ 28They cried still louder and, as was their custom, gashed themselves with swords and spears until the blood flowed. 29All afternoon they raved and ranted till the hour of the regular offering, but still there was no sound, no answer, no sign of attention.

30Elijah said to the people, ‘Come here to me,’ and they all came to him. He repaired the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. 31He took twelve stones, one for each tribe of the sons of Jacob, him who was named Israel by the word of the LORD. 32With these stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and dug a trench round it big enough to hold two measures c 18:32 measures: the Heb. measure called seah. of seed; 33he arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and laid it on the wood. 34Then he said, ‘Fill four jars with water and pour it on the whole-offering and on the wood.’ They did so d 18:34 They did so: so Gk; Heb. omits. ; he said, ‘Do it again.’ They did it again; he said, ‘Do it a third time.’ They did it a third time, 35and the water ran all round the altar and even filled the trench.

36At the hour of the regular offering the prophet Elijah came forward and prayed, ‘LORD 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 have done all these things at your command. 37Answer me, LORD, answer me and let this people know that you, LORD, are God and that it is you who have brought them back to their allegiance.’ 38The fire of the LORD fell, consuming the whole-offering, the wood, the stones, and the earth, and licking up the water in the trench. 39At the sight the people all bowed with their faces to the ground and cried, ‘The LORD is God, the LORD is God.’ 40Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.’ They were seized, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon and slaughtered them there in the valley.

41Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go back now, eat and drink, for I hear the sound of heavy rain.’ 42He did so, while Elijah himself climbed to the crest of Carmel, where he bowed down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 43He said to his servant, ‘Go and look toward the west.’ He went and looked; ‘There is nothing to see,’ he said. Seven times Elijah ordered him back, and seven times he went e 18:43 and seven…went: so Gk; Heb. omits. . 44The seventh time he said, ‘I see a cloud no bigger than a man's hand, coming up from the west.’ ‘Now go’, said Elijah, ‘and tell Ahab to harness his chariot and be off, or the rain will stop him.’ 45Meanwhile the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, and heavy rain began to fall. Ahab mounted his chariot and set off for Jezreel; 46and the power of the LORD was on Elijah: he tucked up his robe and ran before Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Notes:

a 18:5 Let…throughout: so Gk; Heb. Go into.

b 18:21 sit on the fence: lit. bestride two branches.

c 18:32 measures: the Heb. measure called seah.

d 18:34 They did so: so Gk; Heb. omits.

e 18:43 and seven…went: so Gk; Heb. omits.

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