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The prophet Elijah the Tishbite lived at the time of Ahab from 874-853 B.C.E., the king who “did what is evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Ahab married the Phoenician princess Jezebel and permitted her to build an altar and sanctuary to Baal in Samaria.

The biblical story of Elijah, from his first startling appearance before the king, prophesying drought in the land, to his end when he is whirled to heaven in a chariot of fire, established the image of the prophet for ages to come. A gaunt figure clothed in goatskin, Elijah prophesied drought and disappeared into the desert to be fed by ravens. When the punishing drought came, the people cried out for rain. Yet the king did not forbid the idol worship, and Elijah challenged the Baal priests to prove that theirs was the true god. The dramatic public duel on Mt. Carmel between Elijah and 450 priests of Baal ended in the humiliation of the latter. The Lord answered Elijah’s prayers. The king and people saw a fire descend from heaven to consume the offering on Elijah’s altar. Then a heavy rain fell and the drought ended (I Kings 18).

Still, the struggle went on. Elijah had to flee from the anger of Queen Jezebel who threatened his life. Ahab desired the fine vineyard of Naboth who refused to sell it. Jezebel had Naboth executed on false charges. When Ahab came to take possession of the dead man’s vineyard, Elijah appeared before him and cried out: “Hast thou murdered and also taken possession?

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