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commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.
So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions ? if the LORD be God, follow him : but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD ; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Let them therefore give us two-bullocks, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under :
And call ye on the name of your gods, And I will call on the name of the LORD : and the god that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you, one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first ; for ye are many: and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. LI
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud : for he is a god, either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradyenture he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
And they cried aloud, and cut themselves ’ after their manner with knives, and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
And it came to pass when mid-day was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the eveningsacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, aor any that regarded.
And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him: and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name.
And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench abou: the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt-sacrifice, and on the wood.
And he said, Do it the second time : and they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time : and they did it the third time.
And the water ran down about the altar, and he filled the trench also with water.
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day, that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
Hear me, O LORD., hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LOR), God, and that thou hast turned their hcart back again.
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifices and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The LORD, He is the God; the LORD, He is the God.
And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal, let not one of thein escape : and they took them, and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The famine must have been very grievous in the land of Israel, to make it necessary for the king to go himself in search of forage for the cattle.
Obadiah seems to have been å very religious man, and he had performed an action which testified his zeal for the LORD, as well as the humanity of his disposition.
The prophets whom Jezebel destroyed are supposed to have been persons who privately instructed those that were not worshippers of Baal in their duty to God, and encouraged them to the performance of it. They had not the spirit of prophecy like Elijah, nor did they offer sacrifices, or burn incense, but were most likely disciples (usually styled sons) of the prophets belonging to the schools, which Samuel is thought to have first instituted, and which, it is imagined, Jezebel intended to destroy.
It may seem strange, that so pious a man as Obadiah was, should be preferred to an high office by Ahab; but it is probable, that he was distinguished for his int grity and abilities, which made it the king's interest to employ him. We may conclude that Ahab had not compelled him to bow the knee to Baal: Obadiah therefore was under no necessity of declining the appointment ; besides
he might hope, by continuing in his office, to be an iaStrument of good, in the hand of Providence, to the faithful servants of God, of whom there were still many remaining in the land of Israel. Indeed, we may venture to conclude, that the Divine DIS POSĖ R of all events overruled Ahab, in raising the good Obadiah to this exalted station, for the very purpose of counteracting Jezebel's wicked scheme of extirpating all the prophets. It is true she put numbers to death ; but there is no doubt of God's having recompensed them for the loss of life in a better world : those who were left behind in such unsettled times were the most to be pitied; but their preservation was necessary for the propagation of religion ; and they had reason to hope that, after a few more transient years, they should join their brethren in a happier státe: for Solomon, and other inspired writers, had taught them this belief*,
It was in vain for Ahab to pursue Elijah ; the same Divine power, which was 80 miraculously exerted in sustaining him, prevented Ahab from discovering the place of his retreat. He was, without doubt, greatly surprised when he was told that Elijah, whom he had so lately sought, was coming to meet him. Though Ahab must have been an eye-witness of many unhappy consequences of the famine, they had made no proper impressions on his mind.
The priests of Baal amounted to a very considerable 'number : Ahab assembled them at Elijah's desire, in hopes, perhaps, that he should prevail on the prophet to bring rain on the earth. Elijah reproved the people for mixing the worship of God and the worship of Baal together. More than one GOD there could not possibly be, for this name is sacred or set apart for the SUPREME Being, and when applied to any other is profaned; the question there. fore was, which was the CREATOR and UNIVERSAL LORD? IF JEHOVAH, why did they put any one in competition with Him, since He alone could be worthy of their adoration ? If that senseless idol Baal was the God, why did they derogate from his honour by dividing their services ?
* Wisdom of Solomon, iii.
The Israelites, one would suppose, could not be ignorant of the majesty and omnipotence of the LORD JEHOVAH, which had been so frequently displayed to their - forefathers, and even in their own days wonderful things had been wrought by his ALMIGHTY Power : by forsaking his worship they provoked the LORD to destroy them ; but, in remembrance of his covenaut with Abra. ham, Isaac, and Jacob, God yet had compassion on their descendants, and on this occasion condescended to prove, in the manner related, that a vain idol was not worthy to be compared with Him.
The priests of Baal could not decline such a proposal • as Elijah made to them, without disgracing themselves
in the eyes of the king and people; and as they were numerous, and feared not the LORD, they thought to have had the advantage of Elijah, who had.no one to join with him.
As the prophet could not bring the Israelites to the Temple at Jerusalem, he repaired the Altar of the Lord at Carmel : this Altar is supposed to have been one of those built in the time of the judges, when there were no houses for public worship. It is needless to give any farther explanation of this miracle, as so much has been said of former ones.
We may suppose, thạt Ahab and all the worshippers of Baal were struck with consternation ; therefore it was easy for the rest of the people to seize the idolatrous priests, and Elijah was fully justified in causing them to be put to death, especially as so many of