18After 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. 2So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. 3Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the Lord greatly; 4when 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.) 5Then 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. 6So 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? 8He answered him, It is I. Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here. 9And he said, How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ahab, to kill me? 10As 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. 11But now you say, Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here. 12As 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. 13Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred of the Lords prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water? 14Yet now you say, Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here; he will surely kill me. 15Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today. 16So 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? 18He answered, I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your fathers house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebels table.
20 So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21Elijah 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. 22Then Elijah said to the people, I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baals prophets number four hundred and fifty. 23Let 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. 24Then 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! 25Then 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. 26So 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. 27At 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. 28Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. 29As 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; 31Elijah 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; 32with 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. 33Next 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. 34Then 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, 35so that the water ran all round 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. 37Answer 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. 38Then 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. 39When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God. 40Elijah 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.
41 Elijah said to Ahab, Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain. 42So 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. 43He said to his servant, Go up now, look towards the sea. He went up and looked, and said, There is nothing. Then he said, Go again seven times. 44At the seventh time he said, Look, a little cloud no bigger than a persons hand is rising out of the sea. Then he said, Go and say to Ahab, Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you. 45In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. 46But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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10 February 2011