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1 Kings 17:1 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

IV. The Story of Elijah[a]

Chapter 17

Elijah Proclaims a Drought.[b] Elijah the Tishbite,[c] from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, during these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word.”


  1. 17:1–19:21 The central section of 1–2 Kings tells the story of the dynasty of Omri. That dynasty begins and ends in civil war (1 Kgs 16:21–22; 2 Kgs 9–11). Most of the story is set during the reigns of Ahab of Israel (1 Kgs 16:29–22:40) and his son Joram (2 Kgs 3:1–9:26) and focuses particularly on the interaction of the king with various prophets, especially Ahab with Elijah and Joram with Elisha. The story of Ahab itself contains two large complexes, a series of narratives about Elijah (1 Kgs 17:1–19:21) and a series about hostility between Ahab and the prophets (1 Kgs 20:1–22:38).
  2. 17:1–24 The story of Elijah is in three parts. The first (chap. 17) describes how Elijah proclaimed a drought on God’s authority and how he survived during the drought. The second (chap. 18) describes how he ends the drought by bringing the populace back to exclusive worship of the Lord. The third (chap. 19) describes Elijah’s despair at the failure of his prophetic mission and his consequent attempt to resign from the prophetic office.
  3. 17:1 This verse introduces the enigmatic figure of Elijah the Tishbite. (The name “Elijah” means “the Lord is my God.” The meaning of “Tishbite” is unknown; it may refer to a place or to a social class.) His appearance before Ahab is abrupt and involves several matters that will unify the whole Elijah story. His claim to “serve the Lord” (lit., to “stand before the Lord”) points forward to 19:13, where he refuses to do so; the center of narrative tension on this level is the question of the prophet’s autonomy in God’s service. His proclamation of a drought points forward to 18:41–45 where he announces the drought’s end; the center of narrative tension on this level is the struggle between the Lord and the Canaanite fertility god Baal for the loyalties of Israel. His claim that the drought is due to his own word of power (“except at my word”) points forward to 17:24 where the widow acknowledges the divine source of the word Elijah speaks; the center of narrative tension on this level is the gradual characterization of the prophet as one who receives a divine word (vv. 2, 8), obeys it (v. 5), conveys an effective divine word of threat (v. 1) or promise (vv. 14, 16), and even speaks an effective human word of entreaty to God (vv. 20, 22).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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