1 Kings 18-20 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Elijah and Obadiah
18 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’ 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, ‘Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.’ 6 So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognised him, bowed down to the ground, and said, ‘Is it really you, my lord Elijah?’
8 ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Go tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’
9 ‘What have I done wrong,’ asked Obadiah, ‘that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, “Elijah is here.” 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshipped the Lord since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, “Elijah is here.” He will kill me!’
15 Elijah said, ‘As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.’
Elijah on Mount Carmel
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’
18 ‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’
But the people said nothing.
22 Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set 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 – he is God.’
Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.’ 26 So they took the bull that was given to them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or travelling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’ 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench round it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, ‘Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’
34 ‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again.
‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and 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. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – he is God! The Lord – he is God!’
40 Then Elijah commanded them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!’ They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 ‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
‘There is nothing there,’ he said.
Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’
44 The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’
So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”’
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rainstorm came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Elijah flees to Horeb
19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’
3 Elijah was afraid[b] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
10 He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’
11 The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
14 He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’
15 The Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.’
The call of Elisha
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,’ he said, ‘and then I will come with you.’
‘Go back,’ Elijah replied. ‘What have I done to you?’
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the ploughing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Ben-Hadad attacks Samaria
20 Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, ‘This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3 “Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.”’
4 The king of Israel answered, ‘Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.’
5 The messengers came again and said, ‘This is what Ben-Hadad says: “I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. 6 But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.”’
7 The king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, ‘See how this man is looking for trouble! When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.’
8 The elders and the people all answered, ‘Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.’
9 So he replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, ‘Tell my lord the king, “Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.”’ They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.
10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.’
11 The king of Israel answered, ‘Tell him: “One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.”’
12 Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents,[c] and he ordered his men: ‘Prepare to attack.’ So they prepared to attack the city.
Ahab defeats Ben-Hadad
13 Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord.”’
14 ‘But who will do this?’ asked Ahab.
The prophet replied, ‘This is what the Lord says: “The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.”’
‘And who will start the battle?’ he asked.
The prophet answered, ‘You will.’
15 So Ahab summoned the 232 junior officers under the provincial commanders. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all. 16 They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk. 17 The junior officers under the provincial commanders went out first.
Now Ben-Hadad had dispatched scouts, who reported, ‘Men are advancing 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 The junior officers under the provincial commanders marched out of the city with the army behind them 20 and each one struck down his opponent. At that, the Arameans fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of his horsemen. 21 The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans.
22 Afterwards, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, ‘Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.’
23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, ‘Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they. 24 Do this: remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers. 25 You must also raise an army like the one you lost – horse for horse and chariot for chariot – so we can fight Israel on the plains. Then surely we will be stronger than they.’ He agreed with them and acted accordingly.
26 The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside.
28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.”’
29 For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room.
31 His officials said to him, ‘Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth round our waists and ropes round our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.’
32 Wearing sackcloth round their waists and ropes round their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, ‘Your servant Ben-Hadad says: “Please let me live.”’
The king answered, ‘Is he still alive? He is my brother.’
33 The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. ‘Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!’ they said.
‘Go and get him,’ the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab brought him up into his chariot.
34 ‘I will return the cities my father took from your father,’ Ben-Hadad offered. ‘You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.’
Ahab said, ‘On the basis of a treaty I will set you free.’ So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.
A prophet condemns Ahab
35 By the word of the Lord one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, ‘Strike me with your weapon,’ but he refused.
36 So the prophet said, ‘Because you have not obeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.’ And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.
37 The prophet found another man and said, ‘Strike me, please.’ So the man struck him and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, ‘Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, “Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent[d] of silver.” 40 While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.’
‘That is your sentence,’ the king of Israel said. ‘You have pronounced it yourself.’
41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognised him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: “You have set free a man I had determined should die.[e] Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.”’ 43 Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.