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1 Kings 18 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Elijah Meets the King’s Servant

18 Some time later, in the third year of the famine,[a] the Lord’s message came to Elijah, “Go, make an appearance before Ahab, so I may send rain on the surface of the ground.” So Elijah went to make an appearance before Ahab.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria. So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who supervised the palace. (Now Obadiah was a very loyal follower of the Lord.[b] When Jezebel was killing[c] the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah took 100 prophets and hid them in two caves in two groups of fifty. He also brought them food and water.) Ahab told Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grazing areas[d] so we can keep the horses and mules alive and not have to kill[e] some of the animals.” They divided up the land between them to search it; Ahab went one way by himself and Obadiah went the other way by himself.

As Obadiah was traveling along, Elijah met him.[f] When he recognized him, he fell facedown to the ground and said, “Is it really you, my master, Elijah?” He replied, “Yes,[g] go and say to your master, ‘Elijah is back.’”[h] Obadiah[i] said, “What sin have I committed that you are ready to hand your servant over to Ahab for execution?[j] 10 As certainly as the Lord your God lives, my master has sent to every nation and kingdom in an effort to find you. When they say, ‘He’s not here,’ he makes them[k] swear an oath that they could not find you. 11 Now you say, ‘Go and say to your master, “Elijah is back.”’[l] 12 But when I leave you, the Lord’s Spirit will carry you away so I can’t find you.[m] If I go tell Ahab I’ve seen you, he won’t be able to find you and he will kill me.[n] That would not be fair,[o] because your servant has been a loyal follower of[p] the Lord from my youth. 13 Certainly my master is aware of what I did[q] when Jezebel was killing the Lord’s prophets. I hid 100 of the Lord’s prophets in two caves in two groups of fifty and I brought them food and water. 14 Now you say, ‘Go and say to your master, “Elijah is back,”’[r] but he will kill me.” 15 But Elijah said, “As certainly as the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[s] lives (whom I serve),[t] I will make an appearance before him today.”

Elijah Confronts Baal’s Prophets

16 When Obadiah went and informed Ahab, the king went to meet Elijah.[u] 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, he[v] said to him, “Is it really you, the one who brings disaster on[w] Israel?” 18 Elijah[x] replied, “I have not brought disaster on[y] Israel. But you and your father’s dynasty have, by abandoning the Lord’s commandments and following the Baals. 19 Now send out messengers[z] and assemble all Israel before me at Mount Carmel, as well as the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah whom Jezebel supports.”[aa]

20 Ahab sent messengers to all the Israelites and had the prophets assemble at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision?[ab] If the Lord is the true God,[ac] then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!” But the people did not say a word. 22 Elijah said to them:[ad] “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. 23 Let them bring us two bulls. Let them choose one of the bulls for themselves, cut it up into pieces, and place it on the wood. But they must not set it on fire. I will do the same to the other bull and place it on the wood. But I will not set it on fire. 24 Then you[ae] will invoke the name of your god, and I will invoke the name of the Lord. The god who responds with fire will demonstrate that he is the true God.”[af] All the people responded, “This will be a fair test.”[ag]

25 Elijah told the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls for yourselves and go first, for you are the majority. Invoke the name of your god, but do not light a fire.”[ah] 26 So they took a bull, as he had suggested,[ai] and prepared it. They invoked the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us.” But there was no sound and no answer. They jumped[aj] around on the altar they had made.[ak] 27 At noon Elijah mocked them, “Yell louder! After all, he is a god; he may be deep in thought, or perhaps he stepped out for a moment or has taken a trip. Perhaps he is sleeping and needs to be awakened.”[al] 28 So they yelled louder and, in accordance with their prescribed ritual,[am] mutilated themselves with swords and spears until their bodies were covered with blood.[an] 29 Throughout the afternoon they were in an ecstatic frenzy,[ao] but there was no sound, no answer, and no response.[ap]

30 Elijah then told all the people, “Approach me.” So all the people approached him. He repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down.[aq] 31 Then Elijah took twelve stones, corresponding to the number of tribes that descended from Jacob, to whom the Lord’s message had come, “Israel will be your name.”[ar] 32 With the stones he constructed an altar for the Lord.[as] Around the altar he made a trench large enough to contain two seahs[at] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and placed it on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four water jars and pour the water on the offering and the wood.” 34 When they had done so,[au] he said, “Do it again.” So they did it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time.” So they did it a third time. 35 The water flowed down all sides of the altar and filled the trench. 36 When it was time for the evening offering,[av] Elijah the prophet approached the altar[aw] and prayed: “O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, prove[ax] 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, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are the true God[ay] and that you are winning back their allegiance.”[az] 38 Then fire from the Lord fell from the sky.[ba] It consumed the offering, the wood, the stones, and the dirt, and licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground and said, “The Lord is the true God![bb] The Lord is the true God!” 40 Elijah told them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Don’t let even one of them escape!” So they seized them, and Elijah led them down to the Kishon Valley and executed[bc] them there.

41 Then Elijah told Ahab, “Go on up and eat and drink, for the sound of a heavy rainstorm can be heard.”[bd] 42 So Ahab went on up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel. He bent down toward the ground and put his face between his knees. 43 He told his servant, “Go on up and look in the direction of the sea.” So he went on up, looked, and reported, “There is nothing.”[be] Seven times Elijah sent him to look.[bf] 44 The seventh time the servant[bg] said, “Look, a small cloud, the size of the palm of a man’s hand, is rising up from the sea.” Elijah[bh] then said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up the chariots and go down, so that the rain won’t overtake you.’”[bi] 45 Meanwhile the sky was covered with dark clouds, the wind blew, and there was a heavy rainstorm. Ahab rode toward[bj] Jezreel. 46 Now the Lord energized Elijah with power;[bk] he tucked his robe into his belt[bl] and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Kings 18:1 tn The words “of the famine” do not appear in the original text but are supplied for clarification.
  2. 1 Kings 18:3 tn Heb “now Obadiah greatly feared the Lord.” “Fear” refers here to obedience and allegiance, the products of healthy respect for the Lord’s authority.
  3. 1 Kings 18:4 tn Heb “cutting off.”
  4. 1 Kings 18:5 tn Heb “grass.”
  5. 1 Kings 18:5 tn Heb “to cut off.”
  6. 1 Kings 18:7 tn Heb “look, Elijah [came] to meet him.”
  7. 1 Kings 18:8 tn Heb “[It is] I.”
  8. 1 Kings 18:8 tn Heb “Look, Elijah”; or “Elijah is here.”
  9. 1 Kings 18:9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Obadiah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  10. 1 Kings 18:9 tn Heb “to kill me.”
  11. 1 Kings 18:10 tn Heb “he makes the kingdom or the nation swear an oath.”
  12. 1 Kings 18:11 tn Heb “Look, Elijah”; or “Elijah is here.”
  13. 1 Kings 18:12 tn Heb “to [a place] which I do not know.”
  14. 1 Kings 18:12 tn Heb “and I will go to inform Ahab and he will not find you and he will kill me.”
  15. 1 Kings 18:12 tn The words “that would not be fair” are added to clarify the logic of Obadiah’s argument.
  16. 1 Kings 18:12 tn Heb “has feared the Lord” (also see the note at 1 Kgs 18:3).
  17. 1 Kings 18:13 tn Heb “Has it not been told to my master what I did…?” The rhetorical question expects an answer, “Of course it has!”
  18. 1 Kings 18:14 tn Heb “Look, Elijah”; or “Elijah is here.”
  19. 1 Kings 18:15 tn Traditionally, “the Lord of Hosts.”
  20. 1 Kings 18:15 tn Heb “(before whom I stand).”
  21. 1 Kings 18:16 tn Heb “Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah.”
  22. 1 Kings 18:17 tn Heb “Ahab.”
  23. 1 Kings 18:17 tn Or “brings trouble on.”
  24. 1 Kings 18:18 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  25. 1 Kings 18:18 tn Or “brought trouble on.”
  26. 1 Kings 18:19 tn The word “messengers” is supplied in the translation both here and in v. 20 for clarification.
  27. 1 Kings 18:19 tn Heb “who eat at the table of Jezebel.”
  28. 1 Kings 18:21 tn Heb “How long are you going to limp around on two crutches?” (see HALOT 762 s.v. סְעִפִּים). In context this idiomatic expression refers to indecision rather than physical disability.
  29. 1 Kings 18:21 tn Heb “the God.”
  30. 1 Kings 18:22 tn Heb “to the people.”
  31. 1 Kings 18:24 tn Elijah now directly addresses the prophets.
  32. 1 Kings 18:24 tn Heb “the God.”
  33. 1 Kings 18:24 tn Heb “The matter [i.e., proposal] is good [i.e., acceptable].”
  34. 1 Kings 18:25 tc The last sentence of v. 25 is absent in the Syriac Peshitta.
  35. 1 Kings 18:26 tn Heb “and they took the bull which he allowed them.”
  36. 1 Kings 18:26 tn Heb “limped” (the same verb is used in v. 21).
  37. 1 Kings 18:26 tc The MT has “which he made,” but some medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions have the plural form of the verb.
  38. 1 Kings 18:27 sn Elijah’s sarcastic proposals would have been especially offensive and irritating to Baal’s prophets, for they believed Baal was imprisoned in the underworld as death’s captive during this time of drought. Elijah’s apparent ignorance of their theology is probably designed for dramatic effect; indeed the suggestion that Baal is away on a trip or deep in sleep comes precariously close to the truth as viewed by the prophets.
  39. 1 Kings 18:28 tn Or “as was their custom.”
  40. 1 Kings 18:28 tn Heb “until blood poured out on them.”sn mutilated…covered with blood. This self-mutilation was a mourning rite designed to facilitate Baal’s return from the underworld.
  41. 1 Kings 18:29 tn Heb “when noon passed they prophesied until the offering up of the offering.”
  42. 1 Kings 18:29 tc The Old Greek translation and Syriac Peshitta include the following words here: “When it was time to offer the sacrifice, Elijah the Tishbite spoke to the prophets of the abominations: ‘Stand aside for the time being, and I will offer my burnt offering.’ So they stood aside and departed.”sn In 2 Kgs 4:31 the words “there was no sound and there was no response” are used to describe a dead boy. Similar words are used here to describe the god Baal as dead and therefore unresponsive.
  43. 1 Kings 18:30 sn Torn down. The condition of the altar symbolizes the spiritual state of the people.
  44. 1 Kings 18:31 sn Israel will be your name. See Gen 32:28; 35:10.
  45. 1 Kings 18:32 tn Heb “and he built the stones into an altar in the name of the Lord.”
  46. 1 Kings 18:32 tn A seah was a dry measure equivalent to about seven quarts.
  47. 1 Kings 18:34 tn The words “when they had done so” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  48. 1 Kings 18:36 tn Heb “at the offering up of the offering.”
  49. 1 Kings 18:36 tn The words “the altar” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  50. 1 Kings 18:36 tn Heb “let it be known.”
  51. 1 Kings 18:37 tn Heb “the God.”
  52. 1 Kings 18:37 tn Heb “that you are turning their heart[s] back.”
  53. 1 Kings 18:38 tn The words “from the sky” are added for stylistic reasons.
  54. 1 Kings 18:39 tn Heb “the God” (the phrase occurs twice in this verse).
  55. 1 Kings 18:40 tn Or “slaughtered.”
  56. 1 Kings 18:41 tn Heb “for [there is] the sound of the roar of the rain.”
  57. 1 Kings 18:43 sn So he went on up, looked, and reported, “There is nothing.” Several times in this chapter those addressed by Elijah obey his orders. In vv. 20 and 42 Ahab does as instructed, in vv. 26 and 28 the prophets follow Elijah’s advice, and in vv. 30, 34, 40 and 43 the people and servants do as they are told. By juxtaposing Elijah’s commands with accounts of those commands being obeyed, the narrator emphasizes the authority of the Lord’s prophet.
  58. 1 Kings 18:43 tn Heb “He said, ‘Return,’ seven times.”
  59. 1 Kings 18:44 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the servant) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  60. 1 Kings 18:44 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  61. 1 Kings 18:44 tn Heb “so that the rain won’t restrain you.”
  62. 1 Kings 18:45 tn Heb “rode and went to.”
  63. 1 Kings 18:46 tn Heb “and the hand of the Lord was on Elijah.”
  64. 1 Kings 18:46 tn Heb “and girded up his loins.” The idea is that of gathering up the robes and tucking them into the sash or belt so that they do not get in the way of the legs when running (or working or fighting).
New English Translation (NET)

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1 Kings 18 New International Version (NIV)

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.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. 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.) 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.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

“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 worshiped 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 given 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 traveling. 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 around 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 rain started falling 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.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Kings 18:32 That is, probably about 24 pounds or about 11 kilograms
New International Version (NIV)

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