Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
1 During the third year that no rain fell, the LORD said to Elijah, “Go meet with King Ahab, and I will make it rain.” 2 So Elijah went to meet with Ahab.
The famine was very bad in Samaria. 3 So King Ahab told Obadiah to come to him. Obadiah was the man in charge of the king’s palace. (Obadiah was a true follower of the LORD. 4 One time when Jezebel was killing all the LORD’S prophets, Obadiah hid 100 prophets in two caves. He put 50 prophets in one cave and 50 prophets in another cave. Then he brought them food and water.) 5 King Ahab said to Obadiah, “Come with me. We will look at every spring and every stream in the land. We will see if we can find enough grass to keep our horses and mules alive. Then we will not have to kill our animals.” 6 They decided where each of them would go to look for water. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself. 7 As Obadiah was walking along the road by himself, he looked up, and there was Elijah. Obadiah recognized him and bowed down to show his respect. He said, “Elijah? Is it really you, master?”
8 Elijah answered, “Yes, it is me. Now, go and tell your master, the king, that I am here.”
9 Obadiah said, “If I tell Ahab that I know where you are, he will kill me! I have done nothing wrong to you. Why do you want me to die? 10 As surely as the LORD your God lives, the king has been looking for you everywhere. He has sent people to every country to find you. He even made the rulers of those countries swear that you were not there. 11 Now you want me to go and tell him that you are here! 12 If I go tell King Ahab that you are here, the Spirit of the LORD might carry you away. Then when King Ahab comes here and cannot find you, he will kill me! I have followed the LORD since I was a boy. 13 Surely you have heard what I did when Jezebel was killing the LORD’S prophets. I hid 100 of the LORD’S prophets in caves. I put 50 prophets in one cave and 50 in another. I brought them food and water. 14 Now you want me to go and tell the king that you are here. The king will kill me!”
15 Elijah answered, “I serve the LORD All-Powerful. As surely as he lives, I promise that I will stand before the king today.”
16 So Obadiah went to King Ahab and told him where Elijah was. King Ahab went to meet Elijah.
17 When Ahab saw Elijah he said, “Is that really you, the troublemaker of Israel?”
18 Elijah answered, “I have not made trouble for Israel. You and your father’s family caused all the problems when you stopped obeying the LORD’S commands and began following the false gods. 19 Now tell all the people of Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel. Also bring the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah that Queen Jezebel supports.”* Queen Jezebel … supports Literally, “Those prophets eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab called all the Israelites and those prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah came to all the people and said, “You must decide what you are going to do. How long will you keep jumping from one side to the other? If the LORD is the true God, follow him. But if Baal is the true God, then follow him!”
The people said nothing. 22 So Elijah said, “I am the only prophet of the LORD here, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. 23 So bring us two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal have one bull. Let them kill it, cut it into pieces, and then put the meat on the wood. But don’t start the fire. I will do the same with the other bull, and I will not start the fire either. 24 Prophets of Baal, pray to your god, and I will pray to the LORD. Whichever god answers the prayer and starts the fire is the true God.”
All the people agreed that this was a good idea.
25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “There are many of you, so you go first. Choose a bull and prepare it, but don’t start your fire.”
26 So the prophets took the bull that was given to them and prepared it. They started praying to Baal and prayed until noon. They said, “Baal, please answer us!” But there was no sound. No one answered. Then they began jumping around on the altar they had built.
27 At noon Elijah began to make fun of them. He said, “If Baal really is a god, maybe you should pray louder! Maybe he is busy. Maybe he is thinking about something, or maybe he stepped out for a moment! He could be sleeping! Maybe you should pray louder and wake him up!” 28 So the prophets prayed louder. They cut themselves with swords and spears. (This was the way they worshiped.) They cut themselves until they were bleeding all over. 29 The afternoon passed but the fire still had not started. The prophets were out of control and continued to act this way until the time came for the evening sacrifice. But nothing happened—there was no answer from Baal. There was no sound. There was no one listening.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Now come here.” So they gathered around Elijah. The LORD’S altar had been torn down, so Elijah repaired it. 31 Elijah found twelve stones. There was one stone for each of the twelve tribes. These twelve tribes were named for the twelve sons of Jacob, the man who the LORD had named Israel. 32 Elijah used these stones to repair the altar to honor the LORD. He dug a small ditch around the altar. It was wide enough and deep enough to hold about 4 gallons† about 4 gallons Literally, “2 seahs of seed” (14.6 l). of water. 33 Then Elijah put the wood on the altar. He cut the bull into pieces and laid the pieces on the wood. 34 Then he said, “Fill four jars with water. Pour the water on the pieces of meat and on the wood.” Then Elijah said, “Do it again.” Then he said, “Do it a third time.” 35 The water ran down off the altar and filled the ditch.
36 At about the time for the afternoon sacrifice, the prophet Elijah approached the altar and prayed, “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I ask you now to prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show these people that it was you who commanded me to do all these things. 37 LORD, answer my prayer. Show these people that you, LORD, are God and that you are the one who is bringing them back to you.”
38 Then fire came down from the LORD and burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the ground around the altar. Then it dried up all the water in the ditch. 39 All the people saw this happen and bowed down to the ground and began saying, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”
40 Then Elijah said, “Get the prophets of Baal! Don’t let any of them escape!” So the people captured all the prophets. Then Elijah led them down to Kishon Creek and killed them all.
The Rain Comes Again
41 Then Elijah said to King Ahab, “Now go eat and drink. A heavy rain is coming.” 42 So King Ahab went to eat. At the same time Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel. At the top of the mountain, Elijah bent down. He put his head between his knees. 43 Then Elijah said to his servant, “Go up higher and look toward the sea.”
The servant went and looked. He came back and said, “I saw nothing.” Elijah told him to go look again. This happened seven times. 44 The seventh time, the servant came back and said, “I saw a small cloud the size of a man’s fist that was coming in from the sea.”
Elijah told the servant, “Go tell King Ahab to get his chariot ready and go home now. If he does not leave now, the rain will stop him.”
45 After a short time the sky was covered with dark clouds. The wind began to blow, and a heavy rain began to fall. Ahab got in his chariot and started back to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came to Elijah. He used his belt to hold up the bottom of his robe away from his feet. Then he ran ahead of King Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
*18:19 Queen Jezebel … supports Literally, “Those prophets eat at Jezebel’s table.”
†18:32 about 4 gallons Literally, “2 seahs of seed” (14.6 l).