The Story of Elijah

Ahab was the last of the six kings who ruled the ten tribes. And he made them serve Baal, and built a house for this false god.

These acts did not please God, so he sent Elijah, a seer, to tell Ahab that for years and years there should be no rain in the land. And he told Elijah to hide near a brook from which he should drink, and the birds of the air would bring him food to eat.

Elijah did as the Lord told him, and he drank from the brook, and the birds brought him his food from day to day. But as there was no rain, the brook dried up, and there was lack of food in the land.

So the Lord told Elijah to go to the town of Zarephath, where a woman dwelt who would give him food.

And when Elijah came to the gate of the town, a poor woman drew near him to pick up some sticks. And he said to her, Bring me a drink, I pray thee.

And as she went, he said, Bring me, I pray thee, a bit of bread in thine hand.

And she said, As the Lord lives, I have no bread in the house, and but a handful of meal, and a few drops of oil. And I came out to pick up a few sticks that I might light the fire, and bake a small loaf for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.

Elijah said, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said. But first make me a small loaf, and then make one for thee and thy son. For thus saith the Lord, The meal shall not waste, nor the cruse of oil fail till the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.

So the woman went her way and did as Elijah told her, and there was from that time no lack of food in her house. But one day her son was ill, and he grew worse and worse, and then died.

When Elijah heard of it, he said, Give me thy son. And he took the child from her arms and bore him to his own room, and laid him on his bed.

And Elijah cried to the Lord, and said, O Lord, I pray thee let this child’s soul come back to him.

And the Lord sent back the soul of the child, and Elijah took the boy and brought him to his mother.

And she said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

For three years there had been no rain in the land, and at the end of that time the Lord said to Elijah, Go show thyself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.

So Elijah went, and on the way he met with one of Ahab’s head men, who loved the Lord. He knew Elijah, and bade him turn back, for the king would be sure to put him to death. But Elijah said that he would show himself to Ahab that day. So the man told the king that Elijah was near, and the king came out to meet him.

And he found fault with Elijah, for he thought he was to blame for the lack of food, and for the long drouth.

Elijah told the king to have all those he ruled meet in a mass at one place. And when they came there, Elijah cried out to them, How long will ye turn your hearts from God?

And he told them to prove which was the true God, Baal or Elijah’s God. And he told them to bring two young bulls, and to take the flesh of one and lay it on the wood in front of Baal, and he would lay the flesh of the other young bull on the Lord’s altar. And he said, Call ye on your gods and I will call on mine, and let the God that sends down fire be the God whom we all shall serve.

And they said it was a good plan.

So they cried out from sunrise till noon, O Baal hear us! But there was no voice or sign that their god heard them.

Elijah said, Cry with a loud voice for he is a god. He may be asleep, or lost in thought.

And they cried, and made a great noise, and at last fought with their knives till they drew blood.

And Elijah said, Come near me.

And they all came near to him.

And Elijah took twelve stones, and built an altar to the Lord. And he put the flesh and the wood on it, and the wood was wet through and through.

Then he cried out, Hear me, O Lord, hear me, and let it be known that thou art the true God.

Then fire came down from on high and burnt up the flesh, and the wood and the stones, and the dust; and the ground that had been made so wet was as dry as it could be.

And when the crowd saw this they all bowed down to the ground, and said, The Lord he is God! The Lord he is God!

And they broke up the false gods, and gave their hearts for a while to the Lord.

Then Elijah told Ahab that he might eat and drink, for the rain would soon set in. And he went to the top of a high mount to pray for rain. Not a cloud was in the sky. The sea was calm. But Elijah knew that he must watch, and wait, and pray, and the sign would come.

At last there rose up out of the sea—that is, where the sea and sky seem to meet—a small cloud, the size of a man’s hand. And soon the sky was black with clouds, and the wind blew, and there was a great storm of rain.

Now Ahab had a bad wife, and when he told her what Elijah had done, she made a vow to kill him.

And Elijah had to flee for his life. He was so worn out that when he came to a lone place he sat down in the shade of a tree and wished that he might die. While he slept, an angel drew near, at whose touch Elijah woke. And the angel said, Rise and eat.

And Elijah found food and drink set out for him. And he ate and drank, and then lay down and slept. And the angel came once more, and bade Elijah eat, that he might have strength to go on his way. And he sat up, and ate the food the Lord had sent, and it gave him such strength that he went without food for more than a month. And at the end of that time he came to Mount Horeb. And he went to a cave and lay down and slept there.

And the Lord spoke to him, and said, Why art thou here, Elijah? And Elijah said the children of Israel had not kept their word, but had gone back to their false gods, and slain all those who sought to turn them from their sins. And I have fled from them, said Elijah, for they seek my life.

The Lord said, Go forth, and stand on the mount. And there came a great wind that split the high hills, and broke up the rocks. But the Lord was not in the wind.

Then the earth shook, so that there was no firm ground on which to walk; and smoke came up out of the great cracks that were made. But the Lord was not in the earthquake.

Then there came a still, small voice. When Elijah heard it he hid his face in his cloak, and went out and stood at the door of the cave.

And the voice said, Why art thou here, Elijah? And Ellijah said that he fled from those who sought to kill him. And the Lord told him to leave the cave, and go back and pour oil on the head of Elisha, who was to take his place.

And Elijah found Elisha at work with the plough in a large field. And as he went by him he threw his cloak round Elisha.

And Elisha knew that this meant he must leave all and go with Elijah. And he went home to bid farewell to his dear ones there, and then came back to be near Elijah and to wait on him.

Now the time drew near when Elijah was to leave the earth. And he and Elisha stood near the shore of the Jordan. And Elijah took his cloak and struck the waves, and they made a wall on each side, and the two men went through on dry land. And as they stood on the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, ere I leave thee.

And Elisha said, Let me, I pray thee, be twice as good and wise as thou.

Elijah said, Thou dost ask a hard thing. But if thou dost see me when the Lord takes me from thee, then it shall be so. But if thou dost not see, then it shall not be so.

So they went on, and while they yet spoke, there came a great light in the sky, and the clouds took on strange forms. And Elijah was caught up as if by a whirlwind, and Elisha cried out as he saw him pass through the sky, but he was soon out of sight, and Elisha saw him no more.