|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:17-20 One may guess how people stand affected to God, by observing how they stand affected to his people and ministers. It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, like Elijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. But those who cause God's judgments do the mischief, not he that foretells them, and warns the nation to repent.
Verse 20. - So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel, ["The persecuting king became a passive instrument in the hand of the persecuted prophet" (Stanley). His ready compliance with Elijah's request, notwithstanding the bitter hatred of the man which he had just betrayed, is easily explained. It was not so much that "he bowed before the spiritual supremacy of the prophet, which impressed him" (Bahr), as that he hoped, from his reappearance, that he was now about to speak the word (1 Kings 17:1) and give rain upon the earth, and Ahab was willing to take any measures which would conduce with that result. It would take some days to collect the representatives of the tribes.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel,.... By messengers, requiring their attendance at Mount Carmel at such a time, at least their chief and principal men:
and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel; the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, but not the four hundred prophets of the groves; for of them we have no account afterwards, only of the former; it may be they were not at the command of Ahab, only of Jezebel, at whose table they ate, who would not suffer them to go.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. mount Carmel—is a bold, bluff promontory, which extends from the western coast of Palestine, at the bay of Acre, for many miles eastward, to the central hills of Samaria. It is a long range, presenting many summits, and intersected by a number of small ravines. The spot where the contest took place is situated at the eastern extremity, which is also the highest point of the whole ridge. It is called El-Mohhraka, "the Burning," or "the Burnt Place." No spot could have been better adapted for the thousands of Israel to have stood drawn up on those gentle slopes. The rock shoots up in an almost perpendicular wall of more than two hundred feet in height, on the side of the vale of Esdraelon. This wall made it visible over the whole plain, and from all the surrounding heights, where gazing multitudes would be stationed.
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