After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: "Go and present yourself to Ahab. I will send rain on the surface of the land."
So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria.
Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord
and took 100 prophets and hid them, 50 men to a cave, and provided them with food and water when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord's prophets.
Ahab said to Obadiah, "Go throughout the land to every spring of water and to every wadi. Perhaps we'll find grass so we can keep the horses and mules alive and not have to destroy any cattle."
They divided the land between them in order to cover it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went the other way by himself.
While Obadiah was [walking] along the road, Elijah suddenly met him. When Obadiah recognized him, he fell with his face [to the ground] and said, "Is it you, my lord Elijah?"
"It is I," he replied. "Go tell your lord, 'Elijah is here!' "
But Obadiah said, "What sin have I committed, that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to put me to death?
As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent someone to search for you. When they said, 'He is not here,' he made that kingdom or nation swear they had not found you.
"Now you say, 'Go tell your lord, "Elijah is here!" '
But when I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord may carry you off to some place I don't know. Then when I go report to Ahab and he doesn't find you, he will kill me. But [I], your servant, have feared the Lord from my youth.
Wasn't it reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord's prophets? I hid 100 of the prophets of the Lord, 50 men to a cave, and I provided them with food and water.
Now you say, 'Go tell your lord, "Elijah is here!" ' He will kill me!"
Then Elijah said, "As the Lord of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, today I will present myself to Ahab."
Obadiah went to meet Ahab and report to him. Then Ahab went to meet Elijah.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is that you, you destroyer of Israel?"
He replied, "I have not destroyed Israel, but you and your father's house have, because you have abandoned the Lord's commandments and followed the Baals.
Now summon all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel's table."
So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel.
Then Elijah approached all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him." But the people didn't answer him a word.
Then Elijah said to the people, "I am the only remaining prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men.
Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire.
Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire, He is God." All the people answered, "That [sounds] good."
Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don't light the fire."
So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "Baal, answer us!" But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they did their lame dance around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, "Shout loudly, for he's a god! Maybe he's thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he's on the road. Perhaps he's sleeping and will wake up!"
They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed out on them.
All afternoon, they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near me." So all the people approached him. Then he repaired the Lord's altar that had been torn down:
Elijah took 12 stones-according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, "Israel will be your name"-
and he built an altar with the stones in the name of Yahweh. Then he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold about four gallons.
Next, he arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and placed it on the wood. He said, "Fill four water pots with water and pour it on the offering to be burned and on the wood."
Then he said, "A second time!" and they did it a second time. And then he said, "A third time!" and they did it a third time.
So the water ran all around the altar; he even filled the trench with water.
At the time for offering the [evening] sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached [the altar] and said, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things.
Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back."
Then Yahweh's fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, "Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!"
Then Elijah ordered them, "Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let even one of them escape." So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon and slaughtered them there.
Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a rainstorm."
So Ahab went to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the summit of Carmel. He bowed down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
Then he said to his servant, "Go up and look toward the sea." So he went up, looked, and said, "There's nothing." Seven times Elijah said, "Go back."
On the seventh time, he reported, "There's a cloud as small as a man's hand coming from the sea." Then Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Get [your chariot] ready and go down so the rain doesn't stop you.' "
In a little while, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and there was a downpour. So Ahab got in [his chariot] and went to Jezreel.
The power of the Lord was on Elijah, and he tucked his mantle under his belt and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.
So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don't make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!"
Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there,
but he went on a day's journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, "[I have had] enough! Lord, take my life, for I'm no better than my fathers."
Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, "Get up and eat."
Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones and a jug of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again.
Then the angel of the Lord returned a second time and touched him. He said, "Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you."
So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
He entered a cave there and spent the night. Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life."
Then He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord's presence." At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs 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.
After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.
When Elijah heard [it], he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
"I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts," he replied, "but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they're looking for me to take my life."
Then the Lord said to him, "Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram.
You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.
Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu.
But I will leave 7,000 in Israel-every knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."
Elijah left there and found Elisha son of Shaphat as he was plowing. Twelve teams of oxen were in front of him, and he was with the twelfth team. Elijah walked by him and threw his mantle over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran to follow Elijah, and said, "Please let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you." "Go on back," he replied, "for what have I done to you?"
So he turned back from following him, took the team of oxen, and slaughtered them. With the oxen's wooden yoke and plow, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him.
Now Ben-hadad king of Aram assembled his entire army. Thirty-two kings, along with horses and chariotry, were with him. He marched up, besieged Samaria, and fought against it.
He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, "This is what Ben-hadad says:
'Your silver and your gold are mine! And your best wives and children are mine as well!' "
Then the king of Israel answered, "Just as you say, my lord king: I am yours, along with all that I have."
The messengers then returned and said, "This is what Ben-hadad says: 'I have sent [messengers] to you, saying: Your silver, your gold, your wives, and your children you are to give to me.
But at this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your palace and your servants' houses. Whatever is precious to you, they will lay their hands on and take away.' "
Then the king of Israel called for all the elders of the land and said, "Think it over and you will see that this one is only looking for trouble, for he demanded my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I didn't turn him down."
All the elders and all the people said to him, "Don't listen or agree."
So he said to Ben-hadad's messengers, "Say to my lord the king, 'Everything you demanded of your servant the first time, I will do, but this thing I cannot do.' " So the messengers left and took word back to him.
Then Ben-hadad sent [messengers] to him and said, "May the gods punish me and do so severely if Samaria's dust amounts to a handful for each of the people who follow me."
The king of Israel answered, "Say this: 'Let not him who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.' "
When Ben-hadad heard this response, while he and the kings were drinking in the tents, he said to his servants, "Take [your] positions." So they took [their] positions against the city.
A prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and said, "This is what the Lord says: 'Do you see this entire immense horde? Watch, I am handing it over to you today so that you may know that I am the Lord.' "
Ahab asked, "By whom?" And the prophet said, "This is what the Lord says: 'By the young men of the provincial leaders.' " Then he asked, "Who is to start the battle?" He said, "You."
So Ahab counted the young men of the provincial leaders, and there were 232. After them he counted all the Israelite troops: 7,000.
They marched out at noon while Ben-hadad and the 32 kings who were helping him were getting drunk in the tents.
The young men of the provincial leaders marched out first. Then Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, saying, "Men are marching out of Samaria."
So he said, "If they have marched out in peace, take them alive, and if they have marched out for battle, take them alive."
The young men of the provincial leaders and the army behind them marched out from the city,
and each one struck down his opponent. So the Arameans fled and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Aram escaped on a horse with the cavalry.
Then the king of Israel marched out and attacked the cavalry and the chariotry. He inflicted a great slaughter on Aram.
The prophet approached the king of Israel and said to him, "Go and strengthen yourself, then consider what you should do, for in the spring the king of Aram will march up against you."
Now the king of Aram's servants said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hill country. That's why they were stronger than we. Instead, we should fight with them on the plain; then we will certainly be stronger than they.
Also do this: remove each king from his position and appoint captains in their place.
Raise another army for yourself like the army you lost-horse for horse, chariot for chariot-and let's fight with them on the plain; and we will certainly be stronger than they." The king listened to them and did so.
In the spring, Ben-hadad mobilized the Arameans and went up to Aphek to battle Israel.
The Israelites mobilized, gathered supplies, and went to fight them. The Israelites camped in front of them like two little flocks of goats, while the Arameans filled the landscape.
Then the man of God approached and said to the king of Israel, "This is what the Lord says: 'Because the Arameans have said: The Lord is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys, I will hand over this entire immense horde to you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' "
They camped opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day, the battle took place, and the Israelites struck down the Arameans-100,000 foot soldiers in one day.
The ones who remained fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell on those 27,000 remaining men. Ben-hadad also fled and went into an inner room in the city.
His servants said to him, "Consider this: we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are kings [who show] special kindness. So let's put sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads, and let's go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life."
So they dressed with sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, went to the king of Israel, and said, "Your servant Ben-hadad says, 'Please spare my life.' " So he said, "Is he still alive? He is my brother."
Now the men were looking for a sign of hope, so they quickly latched onto the hint and said, "Yes, your brother Ben-hadad." Then he said, "Go and bring him." So Ben-hadad came out to him, and Ahab had him come up into the chariot.
Then Ben-hadad said to him, "The cities that my father took from your father I restore to you, and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, like my father set up in Samaria." [Ahab responded],"On the basis of this treaty, I release you." So he made a treaty with him and released him.
One of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow prophet by the word of the Lord, "Strike me!" But the man refused to strike him.
He told him, "Because you did not listen to the voice of the Lord, mark my words: When you leave me, a lion will kill you." When he left him, a lion found him and killed him.
The prophet found another man and said to him, "Strike me!" So the man struck him, inflicting a wound.
Then the prophet went and waited for the king on the road. He disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes.
As the king was passing by, he cried out to the king and said, "Your servant marched out into the midst of the battle. Suddenly, a man turned aside and brought someone to me and said, 'Guard this man! If he is ever missing, it will be your life in place of his life, or you will weigh out 75 pounds of silver.'
But while your servant was busy here and there, he disappeared." The king of Israel said to him, "That will be your sentence; you yourself have decided it."
He quickly removed the bandage from his eyes. The king of Israel recognized that he was one of the prophets.
The prophet said to him, "This is what the Lord says: 'Because you released from your hand the man I had devoted to destruction, it will be your life in place of his life and your people in place of his people.' "
The king of Israel left for home resentful and angry, and he entered Samaria.