1 Kings 18:22
Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings 18:22. I only remain a prophet of the Lord — Namely, here present, publicly to own and plead the cause of God. As for the other prophets of the Lord, mentioned 1 Kings 18:13, we can hardly imagine that they, in general, were men actually inspired and invested with the prophetic character; but such only as were disciples of the prophets, and candidates for the office of prophecy. But if they were even prophets, in the proper sense of the word, many of them doubtless had been slain by Ahab or Jezebel, and others banished, or hid in caves. Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men — He opposes himself only to these, because, it seems, these only were present; the prophets of the groves not being permitted by Jezebel, (through her pride and obstinacy, or care and kindness to them,) to go as far from the royal city as Carmel.

18:21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.I, even I, only remain - He means, "I only remain in the exercise of the office of a prophet." The others (Compare 1 Kings 18:4) had been forced to fly and hide themselves in dens and caves of the earth; their voices were silenced; they had not ventured to come to Carmel. Elijah contrasts his solitary appearance on the side of Yahweh at the great gathering with the crowd of those opposed to him. 21-40. Elijah said unto all the people, How long halt ye?—They had long been attempting to conjoin the service of God with that of Baal. It was an impracticable union and the people were so struck with a sense of their own folly, or dread of the king's displeasure, that they "answered not a word." Elijah proposed to decide for them the controversy between God and Baal by an appeal, not to the authority of the law, for that would have no weight, but by a visible token from Heaven. As fire was the element over which Baal was supposed to preside, Elijah proposed that two bullocks should be slain and placed on separate altars of wood, the one for Baal, and the other for God. On whichever the fire should descend to consume it, the event should determine the true God, whom it was their duty to serve. The proposal, appearing every way reasonable, was received by the people with unanimous approval. The priests of Baal commenced the ceremony by calling on their god. In vain did they continue invoking their senseless deity from morning till noon, and from noon till evening, uttering the most piercing cries, using the most frantic gesticulations, and mingling their blood with the sacrifice. No response was heard. No fire descended. Elijah exposed their folly and imposture with the severest irony and, as the day was far advanced, commenced his operations. Inviting the people to approach and see the entire proceeding, he first repaired an old altar of God, which Jezebel had demolished. Then, having arranged the cut pieces of the bullock, he caused four barrels or jars of water to be dashed all over the altar and round in the trench. Once, twice, a third time this precaution was taken, and then, when he had offered an earnest prayer, the miraculous fire descended (Le 9:24; Jud 6:21; 13:20; 1Ch 21:26; 2Ch 7:1), and consumed not only the sacrifice, but the very stones of the altar. The impression on the minds of the people was that of admiration mingled with awe; and with one voice they acknowledged the supremacy of Jehovah as the true God. Taking advantage of their excited feelings, Elijah called on them to seize the priestly impostors, and by their blood fill the channel of the river (Kishon), which, in consequence of their idolatries, the drought had dried up—a direction, which, severe and relentless as it seems, it was his duty as God's minister to give (De 15:5; 18:20). The natural features of the mount exactly correspond with the details of this narrative. The conspicuous summit, 1635 feet above the sea, on which the altars were placed, presents an esplanade spacious enough for the king and the priests of Baal to stand on the one side, and Elijah on the other. It is a rocky soil, on which there is abundance of loose stones, to furnish the twelve stones of which the altar was built—a bed of thick earth, in which a trench could be dug; and yet the earth not so loose that the water poured into it would be absorbed; two hundred fifty feet beneath the altar plateau, there is a perennial fountain, which, being close to the altar of the Lord, might not have been accessible to the people; and whence, therefore, even in that season of severe drought, Elijah could procure those copious supplies of water which he poured over the altar. The distance between this spring and the site of the altar is so short, as to make it perfectly possible to go thrice thither and back again, whereas it would have been impossible once in an afternoon to fetch water from the sea [Van De Velde]. The summit is one thousand feet above the Kishon, which nowhere runs from the sea so close to the base of the mount as just beneath El-Mohhraka; so that the priests of Baal could, in a few minutes, be taken down to the brook (torrent), and slain there. I only remain, to wit, here present, publicly to own and plead the cause of God; for he opposeth himself only to Baal’s four’ hundred and fifty prophets, because they only were present; the prophets of the groves being, it seems, not permitted by Jezebel (through her pride, or obstinacy, or care and kindness to them) to go thither. See 1 Kings 22:6. As for the other prophets of the Lord, many of them were slain by Ahab or Jezebel, others banished, or hid in caves.

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only remain a prophet of the Lord,.... At least as he thought, all the rest being slain, as he supposed; however there were none present but himself:

but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men; which were very great odds he had to contend with.

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. I, even I only, remain] R.V. am left. As in 1 Kings 19:10 for the same word. Elijah means that he is the only one who now stands forward in Jehovah’s name. No doubt there were others of those saved by Obadiah and in other ways, but in such dangerous days they kept out of sight. The scene on Carmel is full of sublimity. Elijah alone against the host of Baal-priests, and with the calm dignity befitting so solemn a time, in the midst of them all, proceeding to repair the broken altar of the Lord.

The LXX. adds at the close of this verse ‘and the prophets of the grove four hundred.’

Verse 22. - Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain [Heb. I, I am left alone. Cf. Genesis 32:24; μονώτατος] a prophet of the Lord [Thenius hence concludes that the "hundred prophets" of whom we read in vers. 4, 13 had been discovered in their hiding place and had been put to death. But this by no means follows from Elijah's statement here or in ch. 19:10 (where see note); and we know that the schools of the prophets had not ceased to exist (2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7; cf. 1 Kings 22:8). All that Elijah says is that he stood that day alone as a prophet of Jehovah. "I only remain in the exercise of the office of a prophet" (Rawlinson). The rest might well hesitate, after me fierce persecution which they had undergone, to face the king and their bitter enemies, the Baal prophets. It must be remembered that Elijah had had no opportunity of communicating with them, and he may have been quite ignorant as to what number had remained steadfast and true. One thing he knew, that he alone was left to prophesy, and to confront the whole hierarchy of the false God]; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. [It is clear, not only from the silence of this verse and of ver. 25, respecting them, but still more from the fact that they escaped in the general slaughter (ver. 40), that the prophets of Astarte were not present, and the natural inference is that either Jezebel had forbidden their presence or that they shrank from the ordeal. The LXX. inserts "and the prophets of the grove, four hundred," but the words are evidently added from ver. 19. The Baal prophets would doubtless have been only too glad to do the same, but they were under the immediate command of the king. It is not certain that they had any forebodings of evil, or dreaded reprisals on Elijah's part, but they had had proof conclusive of his power and of their impo-fence. We must remember that all through the triennium prayers and sacrifices had, no doubt, been constantly offered with a view to procure rain. We learn from Menander (Jos., 8:13. 2) that even in Phoenicia supplication had been made for rain by Ethabaal. 1 Kings 18:22As the people adhered to their undecided double-mindedness, Elijah proposed to let the Deity Himself decide who was the true God, Jehovah or Baal. The prophets of Baal were to offer a sacrifice to Baal, and he (Elijah) would offer one to Jehovah. And the true God should make Himself known by kindling the burnt-offering presented to Him with fire from heaven, and in this way answering the invocation of His name. This proposal was based upon the account in Leviticus 9. As Jehovah had there manifested Himself as the God of Israel by causing fire to fall from heaven upon the first sacrifice presented in front of the tabernacle and to consume it, Elijah hoped that in like manner Jehovah would even now reveal Himself as the living God. And the form of decision thus proposed would necessarily appear all the fairer, because Elijah, the prophet of Jehovah, stood alone in opposition to a whole crowd of Baal's prophets, numbering no less than 450 men. And for that very reason the latter could not draw back, without publicly renouncing their pretensions, whether they believed that Baal would really do what was desired, or hoped that they might be able to escape, through some accident or stratagem, from the difficult situation that had been prepared for them, or fancied that the God of Elijah would no more furnish the proof of His deity that was desired of Him than Baal would. In order, however, to cut off every subterfuge in the event of their attempt proving a failure, Elijah not only yielded the precedence to them on the occasion of this sacrifice, but gave them the choice of the two oxen brought to be offered; which made the fairness of his proposal so much the more conspicuous to every one, that the people willingly gave their consent.
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