1 Kings 18:22
Then said Elijah to 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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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.
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. But when Elijah assured him with an oath (צבאות יהוה, see at 1 Samuel 1:3) that he would show himself to Ahab that day, Obadiah went to announce it to the king; whereupon Ahab went to meet the prophet, and sought to overawe him with the imperious words, "Art thou here, thou troubler of Israel." (עכר, see at Genesis 34:30). But Elijah threw back this charge: "It is not I who have brought Israel into trouble, but thou and thy family, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of Jehovah, and thou goest after Baalim." He then called upon the king to gather together all Israel to him upon Carmel, together with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who ate of Jezebel's table, i.e., who were maintained by the queen.

Carmel, a mountain ridge "with many peaks, intersected by hundreds of larger and smaller ravines," which stands out as a promontory running in a north-westerly direction into the Mediterranean (see at Joshua 19:26), and some of the loftiest peaks of which rise to the height of 1800 feet above the level of the sea, when seen from the northern or outer side shows only "bald, monotonous rocky ridges, scantily covered with short and thorny bushes;" but in the interior it still preserves its ancient glory, which has procured for it the name of "fruit-field," the valleys being covered with the most beautiful flowers of every description, and the heights adorned with myrtles, laurels, oaks, and firs (cf. V. de Velde, R. i. p. 292ff.). At the north-western extremity of the mountain there is a celebrated Carmelite monastery, dedicated to Elijah, whom tradition represents as having lived in a grotto under the monastery; but we are certainly not to look there for the scene of the contest with the priests of Baal described in the verses which follow. The scene of Elijah's sacrifice is rather to be sought for on one of the south-eastern heights of Carmel; and Van de Velde (i. p. 320ff.) has pointed it out with great probability in the ruins of el Mohraka, i.e., "the burned place," "a rocky level space of no great circumference, and covered with old gnarled trees with a dense entangled undergrowth of bushes." For "one can scarcely imagine a spot better adapted for the thousands of Israel to have stood drawn up on than the gentle slopes. The rock shoots up in an almost perpendicular wall of more than 200 feet in height on the side of the vale of Esdraelon. On this side, therefore, there was no room for the gazing multitude; but, on the other hand, this wall made it visible over the whole plain, and from all the surrounding heights, so that even those left behind, who had not ascended Carmel, would still have been able to witness at no great distance the fire from heaven that descended upon the altar." - "There is not a more conspicuous spot on all Carmel than the abrupt rocky height of el Mohraka, shooting up so suddenly on the east." Moreover, the soil was thoroughly adapted for the erection of the altar described in 1 Kings 18:31, 1 Kings 18:32 : "it shows a rocky surface, with a sufficiency of large fragments of rock lying all around, and, besides, well fitted for the rapid digging of a trench." There is also water in the neighbourhood, as is assumed in 1 Kings 18:34. "Nowhere does the Kishon run so close to Mount Carmel as just beneath el Mohraka," which is "1635 feet above the sea, and perhaps 1000 feet above the Kishon. This height can be gone up and down in the short time allowed by the Scripture (1 Kings 18:40-44)." But it was possible to find water even nearer than this, to pour upon the burnt-offering in the manner described in 1 Kings 18:34, 1 Kings 18:35. Close by the steep rocky wall of the height, just where you can descend to the Kishon through a steep ravine, you find, "250 feet it might be beneath the altar plateau, a vaulted and very abundant fountain built in the form of a tank, with a few steps leading down into it, just as one finds elsewhere in the old wells or springs of the Jewish times." - "From such a fountain alone could Elijah have procured so much water at that time. And as for the distance between this spring and the supposed site of the altar, it was every way possible for men to go thrice thither and back again to obtain the necessary supply." Lastly, el Mohraka is so situated, that the circumstances mentioned in 1 Kings 18:42-44 also perfectly coincide (Van de Velde, pp. 322-325).

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