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1 Kings 19

Elijah becomes very sad

1 Then Ahab told Jezebel about everything that Elijah had done. He told her how Elijah had killed all the prophets of Baal with a sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a message to Elijah. ‘By this time tomorrow, I will make your life like one of the prophets of Baal. If I do not, the gods can kill me.’ 3 Then Elijah was afraid. He ran away to save his life. He came to Beersheba in the country called Judah. He left his servant there. 4 Elijah himself went into the desert. He travelled for about a day. He found a kind of tree called a broom tree there. And he sat down under the tree. There, he prayed that he might die. He said, ‘LORD, I have had enough of this life! Kill me. I am no better than the prophets who were before me.’ 5 Then he lay down under the tree and he went to sleep. Soon, an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ 6 And Elijah looked and he saw by his head a cake. Someone had baked it on a fire. Also, there was a jar of water. So he ate the cake and he drank the water. Then he lay down again to sleep. 7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time. He touched Elijah and he said, ‘Get up and eat this food. You must go on a long journey.’ 8 So Elijah got up. He ate the food and he drank the water. The food made him strong enough to travel for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

The LORD appears to Elijah

9 Elijah went into a cave in Horeb and he stayed there all night. The word of the LORD came to Elijah. ‘Elijah, what are you doing here?’ 10 Elijah replied, ‘I have always been a very good servant of the LORD God Almighty. But the Israelites have thrown away your covenant. They have destroyed your altars. And they have killed your prophets with swords. I am the only prophet that is still alive. Now, they are trying to kill me also.’ 11 Then the LORD said, ‘Go out from the cave and stand in front of the LORD, on the mountain. The LORD will pass in front of you.’ Then a very strong and powerful wind tore the mountains into pieces. It broke the rocks in front of the LORD. But the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire, he heard someone who was speaking very, very quietly. 13 When Elijah heard that, he put his coat over his face. He went out and he stood at the way into the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘Elijah, what are you doing here?’ 14 Elijah said, ‘I have always been a very good servant of the LORD God Almighty. But the Israelites have thrown away your covenant. They have destroyed your altars. They have killed your prophets with swords. I am the only prophet that is still alive. Now, they are trying to kill me also.’

15 The LORD said to Elijah, ‘Go back again on the way by which you came. Go to the desert which is near Damascus. When you arrive, anoint Hazael, to make him king of Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi, to make him king of Israel. Then, anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat to be a prophet after you. Elisha comes from Abel Meholah. 17 Jehu will kill anybody that the sword of Hazael does not kill. Then, Elisha will kill anybody that the sword of Jehu does not kill. 18 But there are still 7000 people in Israel that have not worshipped Baal. Their mouths have not kissed him.’

Elisha becomes Elijah's servant

19 Then Elijah went away from Horeb. He found Elisha the son of Shaphat. Elisha was ploughing with 12 pairs of oxen. Elisha himself was driving the 12th pair of oxen. Elijah went to Elisha and he threw his coat over him. 20 So Elisha left his oxen and he ran after Elijah. Elisha said, ‘Let me kiss my father and my mother goodbye. Then I will come with you.’ ‘Go back’, Elijah replied. ‘Think about what I have done to you.’ 21 So Elisha left Elijah. He went back home. Then, he took a pair of oxen and he killed them. He burned the plough to cook the meat from the oxen. He gave it to the people that were there. They all ate what he gave to them. Then he went to follow Elijah and to become his servant.

Notes about chapter 19

19:21Verses 1-8. Elijah was very sad for this reason. Ahab let Jezebel send her message (verse 2). There would be no change in Israel!
19:21Verse 2. ‘Like one of the prophets of Baal’ here means ‘dead’!
19:21Verse 3. Beersheba was in the south of the country called Judah.
19:21Verse 4. There was much sand there in the desert. Broom trees gave wood to burn. And they gave roots that people ate. People only ate them when there was not much other food. (See Job 30:3.)
19:21Verse 7. The Hebrew Bible has ‘the journey is too much for you’. This was the angel's reason for Elijah to eat again.
19:21Verse 8. Horeb was the mountain where God met Moses (Exodus 3:1). Moses, Elijah and Jesus all lived without food for 40 days and 40 nights. ‘It is not only bread that keeps people alive’, Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4.
19:21Verse 9. The cave may have been where Moses stood in Exodus 33:22. That was a very special place. The Hebrew Bible says, ‘The word of the LORD came to him.’ It does not say, ‘The LORD spoke to Elijah.’ Some Christians think that this is the reason. ‘Word of the LORD’ is a name for Christ. The question is only 4 Hebrew words. They translate as ‘What to-you here, Elijah?’ They may mean, ‘Why have you come here, Elijah?’ Or they may mean, ‘Why are you still very sad, Elijah?’ Elijah's answer (verse 10) tells us that the second question may be the right one.
19:21Verse 10. Some translations have ‘God of angel armies’ for ‘God Almighty’. The covenant that they threw away is in Exodus 20:3. It says, ‘You must not have any other gods, only me.’ One of the altars that they destroyed was in Carmel, 1 Kings 18:30.
19:21Verse 11. The mountain of the LORD is Horeb. In the Hebrew Bible, LORD in the words ‘in front of the LORD’ is plural. This helps us to remember that the Christian God is really three persons in one God!
19:21Verse 13. The question in verse 13 is the same as the question in verse 9.
19:21Verse 15. Aram is another name for Syria, which was a country north of Israel.
19:21Verse 16. Jehu was really the grandson of Nimshi, 2 Kings 9:2.
19:21Verse 18. ‘worshipped’ is ‘bent their knees to’ in the Hebrew Bible.
19:21Verses 19-20. Elijah's coat was a special one. It showed that he was a prophet. He put it on Elisha to show people that Elisha was a prophet also. That is why Elijah said, ‘Think about what I have done to you.’ Elisha is now God's servant. That is what Elijah has done to Elisha.