The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life
I Kings xv: 33, to
Jeroboam and Nadab, his son Baasha reigned as king
of Israel. But he did as Jeroboam had done before
him, disobeying the word of the Lord and worshipping
idols. Therefore the Lord sent a prophet to Baasha,
saying, "Thus saith the Lord to Baasha, king of
Israel, I lifted you up from the dust and made you
the prince over my people Israel. But you have
walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made Israel
sin. Therefore your family shall be destroyed, like
the family of Jeroboam."
When Baasha died, his son Elah became king; but
while he was drinking wine and making himself drunk,
his servant, Zimri, came in and killed him, and
killed also all his family, and all the house of
Baasha, so that not one was left.
Zimri tried to make himself king, but his reign was
short, only seven days. Omri, the general of the
Israelite army, made war upon him, and shut him up
in his palace. When Zimri found that he could not
escape, he set his palace on fire and was burned up
with it. After this there was war in Israel between
Omri and another man, named Tibni, each trying to
win the kingdom. But at last Tibni was slain, and
Omri became king.
Omri was not a good man, for he worshipped idols,
like the kings before him. But he was a strong king,
and made his kingdom great. He made peace with the
kingdom of Judah, for there had been war between
Judah and Israel ever since Jeroboam had founded the
kingdom. Omri bought a hill in the middle of the
land, from a man named Shemer; and on the hill he
built a city which he named Samaria, after the name
of the man from whom he had bought the hill. The
city of Samaria became in Israel what Jerusalem was
in Judah, the chief city and capital. Before the
time of Omri the kings of Israel had lived in
different cities, sometimes in Shechem, and
sometimes in Tirzah; but after Omri all the kings
lived in Samaria; so that the kingdom itself was
often called "the kingdom of Samaria."
After Omri came his son, Ahab, as king of Israel,
reigning in Samaria. He was worse than any of the
kings before him. Ahab took for his wife Jezebel,
the daughter of the king of Zidon, on the coast of
the Great Sea; and Jezebel brought into Israel the
worship of Baal and of the Asherah, which was far
more wicked than even the worship of the golden
calves at Bethel and Dan. And Jezebel was so bitter
against the worship of the Lord God of Israel that
she sought out the prophets of the Lord everywhere,
and slew them; so that to save their lives the
prophets hid in caves among the mountains.
You remember that when Joshua destroyed and burned
the city of Jericho, he spoke a curse, in the name
of the Lord, upon any man who should ever build
again the walls of Jericho. In the days of Ahab,
king of Israel, five hundred years after Joshua, the
walls of Jericho were built by a man named Hiel, who
came from Bethel, the place of the idol-temple. When
he laid the foundation of the wall his oldest son,
Abiram, died; and when he set up the gates of the
city his youngest son, Segub, died. Thus came to
pass the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua.
In the reign of King Ahab a great prophet suddenly
rose up, named Elijah. He came from the land of
Gilead, beyond the river Jordan, and he lived alone
out in the wilderness. His clothing was a mantle of
skin, and his hair and beard were long and rough.
Without any warning, Elijah came into the presence
of King Ahab, and said, "As the Lord God of Israel
lives, before whom I stand, there shall not fall
upon the ground any dew or rain until I call for
And then he went away as suddenly as he had come. At
the Lord's command he hid himself in a wild place by
the brook Cherith, which flows down from the
mountains into the river Jordan. There he drank of
the water in the brook, and every day the wild
birds, the ravens, brought him food.
It came to pass as Elijah had said, that no rain
fell upon the land, and there was not even any dew
upon the grass. Every day the brook from which
Elijah drank grew smaller, until at last it was dry,
and there was no water. Then the Lord spoke to
Elijah again, and said, "Rise up, and go to
Zarephath, which is near to Zidon, by the Great Sea,
on the north of the land of Israel. I have commanded
a widow woman there to care for you."
So Elijah left the brook Cherith and walked
northward through the land until he came near to the
city of Zarephath. There, beside the gate of the
city, he saw a woman dressed as a widow picking up
sticks. Elijah said to her, "Will you bring to me
some water, that I may drink?"
She went to bring him the water, and Elijah said
again, "Bring me also, I pray you, a little piece of
bread to eat."
And the woman said to Elijah, "As sure as the Lord
your God lives, I have not in the house even a loaf
of bread; but only one handful of meal in the
barrel, and a little oil in a bottle; and now I am
gathering a few sticks to make a fire, that I may
bake it for me and my son; and when we have eaten
it, there is nothing left for us but to die."
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, and he
said to the woman, "Fear not; go and do as you have
said; but first make me a little cake, and bring it
to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son.
For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, 'The
barrel of meal shall not waste nor the bottle of oil
fail, until the day when the Lord sends rain upon
the earth.' "
And the widow woman believed Elijah's word. She took
from her barrel the meal and from her bottle the
oil, and made a little cake for the prophet, and
then found enough left for herself and for her son.
And the barrel always had meal in it, and the bottle
held oil every day. And the prophet, and the woman,
and her son had food as long as they needed it.
After this, one day the son of the widow was taken
very ill, and his illness was so great that there
was no breath left in him. The boy's mother said to
Elijah, "O man of God! Have you come here to cause
my son to die?"
And Elijah said to her, "Give me your son."
And Elijah carried the boy up to his own room, and
laid him on the bed. Then he cried to the Lord, and
said, "O Lord God, hast thou brought trouble upon
this woman, by taking away the life of her son?"
Then he stretched himself upon the child's body
three times, and cried to the Lord again, "O Lord
God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into
And the Lord heard Elijah's prayer, and the child
became living once more. Then Elijah carried the
living boy back to his mother; and she said, "Now I
am sure that you are a man of God, and that the word
of the Lord which you speak is the truth."