The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
It was long before the Lord’s word came to Elias; but at last, when two years had gone by, he said, Go and confront Achab; it is time I should send rain on this parched earth.
So Elias went out to confront Achab. Sore famine there was in Samaria;
and Achab had called his steward Abdias to his aid. This Abdias was one that held the Lord in great reverence;
and when Jezabel killed the Lord’s prophets, he rescued a hundred of them, by hiding them in two caves, fifty in each, and supplying them with food and water.
To him Achab said, Go through the whole land in search of grass wherever it may be found, by spring or mountain torrent, to keep the horses and the mules alive, or we shall lose all the beasts.
So they divided up the country into circuits and separated, Achab taking one way and Abdias the other;
and it was Abdias that fell in with Elias in the course of his journey. Why, said he, bowing to the earth as he recognized him, it is my lord Elias!
None other, said he; go and tell thy master that Elias is here.
Ah, my lord, answered Abdias, what wrong have I done thee, that thou wouldst hand me over to Achab to be slain?
As the Lord thy God is a living God, there is never race or realm to which my master has not sent in search of thee; and as each answered, Not here, he would take an oath of them, race by race and realm by realm, that thou wert not to be found.
Go and tell thy master, sayest thou, that Elias is here;
and what will be the issue of it? Why, when I have left thee, the spirit of the Lord will carry thee off I know not where; my errand done, and thou nowhere to be found, Achab will put me to death; and am not I, thy servant, one that has feared the Lord since he was a child?
Hast thou never had tidings, good master, of what I did when Jezabel was slaying the Lord’s prophets; how I rescued a hundred of them, by hiding them in two caves, fifty in each, and supplying them with food and water?
Why wouldst thou bid me court death by telling my master, Elias is here?
Nay, answered Elias, as the Lord I serve is a living God, I mean to confront Achab this day.
So Abdias went to find Achab, and gave him the message. Whereupon Achab came to meet Elias;
and his greeting was, So it is thou, the man that gives Israel no rest?
Nay, answered he, if Israel finds no rest, the fault lies not with me, but with thee and with thy father’s race, that have neglected the Lord’s command, and betaken yourselves to the gods of the country-side.
But there is work to do; send out couriers, and gather me all Israel on mount Carmel, with Baal’s four hundred and fifty prophets, and those four hundred, prophets of the forest-shrines, that feed on Jezabel’s bounty.
So Achab sent word to all the men of Israel, and gathered the prophets together, there on mount Carmel.
And now Elias appeared before the whole of Israel, and thus reproached them, Will you never cease to waver between two loyalties? If the Lord is God, then take his part; if Baal is God, then take his. No word did the people give him in answer,
and Elias began speaking to them again; Here am I, he said, the only prophet of the Lord left, while Baal has four hundred and fifty.
Bring us two bulls; let them choose which they will, cut it up into pieces, and set these upon fire-wood, without kindling it. I will prepare the other bull, and I too will set it on fire-wood still unkindled.
Then call upon the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord I serve; and the God who sends fire in answer shall be acknowledged as God. Well said, cried all the people, well said!
Thereupon Elias bade them choose their bull, and offer sacrifice first, since theirs was the greater number; let them call upon the names of their gods as they would, but kindle no fire.
And they, accepting one of the bulls he offered them, prepared it for sacrifice; all day long they cried out on the name of Baal, Lord Baal, hear us; but never a sound came, and there was none to answer, dance as they would on the altar they had built there.
When mid-day came, Elias fell to mocking them; Cry louder, he said, a God Baal is, past doubt, but it may be he is detained in talk, or lodging abroad, or on a journey; or he has fallen asleep, and needs awakening.
Cry louder they did, cutting themselves with knives and lancets, till they were all bathed in blood;
but mid-day passed, and they were still prophesying; and now it was time for the evening sacrifice to be offered, but still no sound came; there was none to answer them or listen to their supplications.
Then Elias bade the people come near; and when they were standing close to him, he began repairing the altar of the Lord, that was broken down.
Twelve stones he took, one for each tribe that sprang from the sons of Jacob, to whom the divine voice gave the surname of Israel;
and with these stones he built up the altar again, calling on the Lord’s name as he did it. Then he made a trench round the altar, of some two furrows’ breadth;
piled the wood high, cut the bull into joints, and laid these on the wood.
Now, he said, fill four buckets with water, and pour it over victim and wood alike. And again he bade them do it, and when they had finished, a third time. When they had poured it out a third time,
the water was running all round the altar, and the trench he had dug for it was full.
The time was now come for offering the evening burnt-sacrifice; and as the prophet Elias went to the altar, thus he prayed, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, give proof this day that thou art the Lord God, and I am thy servant, and all I have done was done at thy command.
Audience, Lord, give audience! Prove to all the people that thou art the Lord God, and art calling their hearts back to thee!
With that, the divine fire fell, consuming victim and wood and stones and dust, and swallowing up the very water in the trench.
At the sight, the whole people fell face to earth, and raised a cry, It is the Lord is God, it is the Lord is God!
Seize the prophets of Baal, Elias told them, and do not let one of them slip through your hands. Seize them they did, and Elias took them down to the valley of Cison, where he put them to death.
Then Elias said to Achab, Go back now, eat and drink; I hear a noise like a storm of rain.
So Achab went back to eat and drink, while Elias climbed the heights of mount Carmel, and there sat, his face bowed to the ground between his knees.
And he bade his servant go to the hill-top and look out seawards; so he went and looked, but came back with word that he had seen nothing. Seven times he must go back on the same errand;
and at the seventh time, a little cloud shewed, no bigger than a man’s foot-print, rising up out of the sea. Go back, Elias said, and bid Achab mount his chariot and return home, before the rain overtakes him.
This way and that he turned; and now the whole sky was dark, and clouds came, and a wind with the clouds, and a great storm of rain began. So Achab mounted his chariot and betook himself to Jezrahel;
as for Elias, the power of the Lord came upon him, so that he girded his cloak about him and ran all the way to Jezrahel at Achab’s bridle.
The Holy Bible