Biblical People
Elijah, KJV twice Eliah, KJV of NT Elias. [Heb. "Yahweh is my God"].

1. God's special messenger to the northern kingdom of Israel during the great apostasy under Ahab (c. 874-853 b.c.) and Jezebel, when Baal worship practically supplanted the worship of the true God. He is identified only as "the Tishbite" (1 Ki 17:1). A man of great faith in God and bold zeal for God, Elijah easily qualifies among the greatest of the prophets. The high esteem in which the Jews of later centuries held Elijah is evident from the popular expectation, based on the prediction of Mal 4:5, 6 that the prophet would return to earth to herald the imminent appearance of the Messiah (see Mt 17:10-12). Jesus identified the ministry of John the Baptist with that predicted by Malachi (ch 11:14), having already declared that there was none greater than John (v 11). So far as is known, Elijah was the only person, except Enoch, ever honoured by translation to heaven without seeing death (2 Ki 2:11, 12). He was also chosen to accompany Moses, the great lawgiver, at the transfiguration of Christ (Mt 17:3).

When Ahab began his reign, a little more than half a century had passed since the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom, since which time Israel, the northern kingdom, had rapidly lapsed into apostasy. But Ahab "did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him," in that he married Jezebel, daughter of a Phoenician king, and adopted her religion, thus becoming a worshiper of Baal (1 Ki 16:30, 31). Not only so, but he erected a temple to Baal in Samaria (vs. 32, 33) and thus "Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (v 33). Such were conditions when the Lord commissioned Elijah to visit Ahab at court and announce a severe drought of unspecified duration (ch 17:1) as remedial punishment. The prophet was then instructed to flee for safety to the brook Cherith, a seasonal tributary of the Jordan River (vs. 2, 3), where he was sustained for a time by food miraculously provided (vs. 4-6). When the brook dried up, Elijah was instructed to leave Israel altogether and find refuge in Zarephath , a Sidonian town (NT Sarepta; see Lk 4:26, KJV). There God again made miraculous provision to sustain him (1 Ki 17:7-16) and by him raised to life the son of the widow whose hospitality had given him a temporary home (vs. 17-24). After some 3 1/2 years (see Lk 4:25, 26), during which Ahab had spared no effort to find the prophet and bring him to account for the famine (1 Ki 18:10), which had become increasingly severe (vs. 2-6), God instructed Elijah to appear once more at Ahab's court (vs. 1, 2). The intensity of the famine and the gravity with which Ahab viewed the situation are reflected in the apprehensive reaction of Obadiah, the officer over Ahab's house, to whom Elijah presented himself (vs. 7-14). Ahab's initial challenge upon meeting Elijah, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" was promptly silenced by the divine indictment that Ahab himself was to blame for the plight of the nation, and by the order for the king to appear forthwith on Mount Carmel, together with all the prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Ki 18:17-19). On Carmel the issue of Baal versus the Lord as the true God was put to a dramatic test designed to bring king and people to a decision in the matter (vs. 20-40). The prophets of Baal were first given an opportunity to demonstrate their god's power by having him bring fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice offered to him (vs. 22-29), but Baal proved impotent to do so. Elijah then repaired the Lord's altar that had fallen into disrepair, laid a sacrifice upon the altar, drenched it all with water, and then called upon God to vindicate His name. The Lord responded by sending a bolt of fire that consumed the sacrifice, the altar, and the water (vs. 30-38). The people acknowledged the Lord as the true God, and at the command of Elijah slew all the prophets of Baal (vs. 39, 40). Then, to prove that the drought had been a divine judgement upon the land, and as a sequel to the people's admission that the Lord is the true God, an abundance of rain fell (vs. 41-46).

Enraged at the turn of events, Jezebel threatened the prophet's life, with the result that he took refuge in hasty flight southward to the Wilderness of Sinai, where he lodged in a cave; once more he was miraculously sustained (1 Ki 19:1-9). When summoned by the Lord to account for his inglorious flight from the threat to his life by Jezebel, Elijah protested that he alone of all Israel had remained loyal to God, and that now even his life was in jeopardy (vs. 10-14). Thereupon God tactfully rebuked His erring prophet and appointed him further tasks €”the anointing of Jehu as king of Israel in the place of Ahab, of Hazael as the scourge of Israel because of its apostasy, and of Elisha as Elijah's successor (vs. 15-21). After an unspecified length of time, during which Ahab and Jezebel murdered Naboth to secure Naboth's hereditary allotment of land, Elijah went to meet the king, who was on his way to take possession of the land, and announced the fate that awaited Ahab and Jezebel and the entire royal family because of their apostasy and impenitence (ch 21). Upon Ahab's death his son Ahaziah succeeded him briefly upon the throne (ch 22:40). Falling ill, Ahaziah appealed to the Baal of Ekron, but his messengers encountered Elijah on the way, who bade them return to their master with the announcement that he would die (2 Ki 1:1-4). Ahaziah sent for the prophet by 3 companies of soldiers. The first 2 were miraculously consumed by fire, but the last was preserved because of the submission of its leader (vs. 5-16). Soon after this event Elijah's ministry came to a close and he was translated to heaven (ch 2:1-11). Elisha, present to witness the event, was endowed with the power and authority that had been Elijah's and was established in the prophetic office (vs. 12-15).

2. A son of Jeroham of the tribe of Benjamin, who lived at Jerusalem (1 Chr 8:27, KJV "Eliah").

3. A priest, a son of Harim. He was married to a foreign wife in the time of Ezra (Ezr 10:21).

4. An Israelite, son of Elam. He was among those who had foreign wives in the time of Ezra (Ezr 10:26, KJV "Eliah") -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

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