1 Kings 18

Showdown at Mount Carmel


So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab; now the famine was severe in Samaria (1 Kings 18:2).

It is not entirely clear whether the reference here to “Samaria” is to the region or to the capital city. The region of Samaria is first mentioned in 1 Kings 13:32 during the reign of Jeroboam I (d. 910 BC), when the old prophet mentions “the cities of Samaria.” This is prior to the founding of the capital city of Samaria by Omri in about 880 BC. Of course, the city of Samaria is within the region of Samaria, and the entire region was suffering from the drought. This aerial photo shows the site of ancient Samaria where Ahab reigned.


“You have forsaken the commandments of Yahweh, and you have followed after the Baals” (1 Kings 18:18).

Baal was perhaps the most commonly worshipped of the Canaanite gods. He appeared in a number of different regions with slight variations; often he was considered a weather god, since weather (particularly rain or drought) was critical to survival in that region. Baal was often pictured in a striding pose, with one arm upraised, probably holding either a spear or a lightning bolt. This statue of Baal from Syria was photographed at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Mount Carmel

“Now then, send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel” (1 Kings 18:19).

Mount Carmel is a mountainous range located in west-central Israel. It forms the southern boundary of the Jezreel Valley. The mountain was a sacred site from ancient times for the Canaanite god Baal, as well as for other gods. Mount Carmel was assigned to Asher (Josh 19:26), and it is the geographical dividing line between the Plain of Asher and the Plain of Sharon. It was also the convergence point of four tribal allotments (Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, and Manasseh).

Sacrificial Altar

Then he repaired the altar of Yahweh that had been torn down (1 Kings 18:30).

Apparently there had previously been an altar to Yahweh on this mountain, although its origin is completely unknown. The altar in this photo is located on the northern slope of Mount Ebal and is associated by many scholars with the altar built there by Joshua. The altar as seen in this photo has been partially reconstructed by the excavators, based on the foundations that were discovered.

The Brook Kishon

Then Elijah brought them down to the Kishon Brook and killed them there (1 Kings 18:40).

The Kishon is located in the Jezreel Valley on the north side of the Carmel range. It is here referred to as a “brook” (Heb. nahal) rather than a “river” (Heb. nahar), which may be an indication that it was dry at this time (particularly at the end of a 3-year drought; cf. the use of the same word for the Cherith, which had dried up earlier, 1 Kgs 17:7). However, much of the Jezreel Valley was swampy in antiquity, and it is possible that this brook still had water. This American Colony photo was taken between 1900 and 1920.

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