This set of chapters covers the appearance of Elijah and goes all the way to the deaths of Jehoshaphat and Ahab.
The chapter opens with the first appearance of Elijah. He tells Ahab, the king of Israel, God’s words about an impending drought. The rest has him hiding near a brook and then with a widow. We never learn the name of the woman. Elijah stays with her and she feeds him, while her food never runs out on account of God having told them they wouldn’t run out.
Her son gets sick and Elijah prays for his healing, eventually getting it.
Elijah comes back and challenges the prophets of Baal to prove that their god is real by both of them sacrificing a bull with no fire and requesting their diety provide the fire. Elijah even douses his with water to help make his point. His goes up in flames and the prophets of Baal are pretty much left looking stupid. The people bow down and acknowledge God again for the first time in what seems like a few generations and then he has the prophets of Baal slaughtered.
Yeah, slaughtered. I thought it was a bit much, but I guess it makes the point.
By the end of the chapter, the rains have returned.
Ahab tells his wife, Jezebel, about what happened with Elijah and she gets super mad. She’d already killed a bunch of prophets, so her threats in this were to be taken fairly seriously. (Obadiah was mentioned in the last chapter as having saved 100 of these prophets, which really calls into question how many there were prior to that)
Elijah flees when he hears of her threat. He does feel ashamed later but continues to run and God even asks him what he’s doing in hiding, and he answers, twice, that he was afraid because he was the last one. To this, God responds by informing him that he will have another prophet with him soon and that he will anoint some kings. He appears to be replacing Ahab. The passage goes like this:
And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
He gets on his way back and picks up Elisha.
But I guess God’s not replacing Ahab right away since He helps him win against the Syrians in the very next chapter, twice. Ahab decides to spare the other king’s life, at the request of that king. This was not what God had wanted, remember that the point was to get rid of everyone who had worshipped Baal, so this act of mercy is actually condemned and one of the other prophets tells Ahab so.
In the first sentences of this chapter, Ahab is called the king of Samaria instead of the king of Israel. I’m not sure if there’s some sort of hidden meaning there but I found it interesting. Then it starts in on a situation where Jezebel conspires to have a man killed so that the king can get some land he wants and stop being sullen.
God has Elijah go back to Ahab and call him out on killing Naboth for the land he wanted, which was Jezebel’s plan alone but had been carried out already. There’s a whole thing about everyone being eaten by dogs and Jezebel is also specifically mentioned as being a part of his household that will reap this end. But then Ahab repents and humbles himself and so God decides to wait to bring that upon his sons.
It sounds a little awful at first that He’s just going to wait and let the son’s reap what the father had brought on everyone but then it occurred to me that he had “caused all of Israel to sin” and then he was the only one mentioned to have repented, so maybe that’s why. He is also the only one it says that got that prophesy, though, so maybe that’s a little unfair. I guess we’ll see how it goes later.
The kings of Israel and Judah get together here to declare war on another country, but they want to make sure that God wants them to do it. So they ask the prophets and like 400 say to go, that they will win. 400 prophets of God when there was only one a few chapters ago. But there is one who always tells Ahab bad news, so Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from that guy, Micaiah. He wants to know what the bad stuff is that he has to say.
Micaiah comes in and tells the kings that everyone else is telling them to go ahead because God has decreed he will die in battle against Syria and put “a lying spirit” in the prophets. Of course, the kings decide to jail this guy and go anyway, like holding him ransom is going to make God change his mind or something.
So the king of Israel dies in battle after all and everything from the thing about dogs licking up his blood happens too, but it’s just him, not his entire family as it had said would happen in the previous chapter. I guess what that meant was that he would die first and not have to watch everyone else die these gruesome deaths on account of his repentence. Interesting. He is succeeded by his son, Ahaziah.
Ahaziah “walked in the way of his father” and therefore “provoked the Lord” and so was not an innocent victim to the gruesomeness that was promised in the previous chapter.
Jehoshaphat’s death is also covered in this chapter and that he followed God as much as his father, Asa, had. They weren’t perfect and a few shortcomings are mentioned, but that’s about it. His mother’s name is also given as some of the others had been. She was Azubah. He is succeeded by his son, Jehoram.