1 Kings 17

Elijah During the Drought

Tishbe in Gilead

Elijah the Tishbite, who was from Tishbe in Gilead . . . (1 Kings 17:1)

Listib, or el-Istib, may preserve the name Tishbe. No excavations have been done at the site, but surface surveys indicate no inhabitation before the Roman period. Umm al-Hedamus, the site shown here, is located 1.2 miles (2 km) from Listib and has Iron Age remains, including pottery from the time of Elijah (9th century BC). It is possible that Umm al-Hedamus was Tishbe in Elijah’s day, but that the village later moved to Listib, taking the name with it (Listib preserving Tishbe).

Wadi Yabes

“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan” (1 Kings 17:3).

Many scholars identify the Brook of Cherith with Wadi Yabes (Wadi Al-Yabis, Wadi Al-Rayyan), which is located a few miles north of Mar Elias. This western end of this canyon, before it empties onto the Jordan Valley floor, is rocky, steep sided, and nearly impassable. The distance from Samaria to the mouth of Wadi Yabes depicted here is roughly 30 miles (50 km).


“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there” (1 Kings 17:9).

Zarephath is preserved in the name of the modern village, Sarafand. In antiquity, the site was known as Sarepta or Sariptu. The ancient site was located on the coast, but the modern village is located on hills about one mile (1.6 km) inland. The ancient site occupied two promontories, each with a good harbor: Ras el-Qantara and Ras esh-Shiq. Ras esh-Shiq was the site of a Roman quay, and Ras el-Qantara was the site of the Phoenician Iron Age tell.

Ancient Bedrooms

And he took him out of her arms and carried him up into the chamber where he lived, and he laid him out on his own bed (1 Kings 17:19).

It may be that Elijah’s “bed” (Heb. mittah) was little more than the slightly raised platform seen in this reconstruction of an Israelite house. This is thought to have been a common sleeping arrangement, particularly for those who were unable to afford luxury items like furniture. This display was photographed at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.

The Widow's Response

And the woman said, “Now I know that you are a man of God” (1 Kings 17:24).

In ancient Mesopotamia, the stance portrayed by this statue, with hand clasped in front, indicates piety and religious devotion. This seems like a fitting illustration for the confession of the widow of Zarephath that Elijah is a man of God who speaks the true words of Yahweh. This statue was photographed at the British Museum.

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