Asherah Didn’t Show Up

  • God’ Punishment for Disobedience – Leviticus 26:1-5 & (Deuteronomy 11:10-17 use these where? (Deuteronomy 28:15-26
  • (1 Kings 16:25-26) Omri did evil…
  • Jezebel and her 400 prophets of Asherah did not go to Mt. Carmel. — Elijah also instructed Ahab to assemble the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. I am not convinced that the 400 prophets of Asherah showed up. When the people and the prophets arrive at Mount Carmel, Elijah refers only to the 450 prophets of Baal. In verse 22, Elijah indicates that the odds are 450 to 1—450 prophets of Baal to 1 prophet of God, himself. In verse 25, Elijah speaks to the prophets of Baal, but no mention is made of the prophets of Asherah. In verse 40, Elijah orders the Israelites to seize the prophets of Baal. Again, there is no mention of the 400 prophets of Asherah. I am therefore inclined to think that Jezebel and the 400 prophets of Asherah stayed behind, and did not accept the challenge. As someone remarked, for the Prime Minister of Israel to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat is to give him a certain legitimacy. It is to officially recognize him and the organization which he represents. I do not think that Jezebel was willing to recognize Elijah as a prophet. If Ahab was willing to take orders from this fellow, let him, but not Jezebel.
  • the people did not say a word; they did not commit themselves, one way or the other (verse 21)
  • You shall have no other gods (Exodus 20:2-6). – (Exodus 23:13; see also verses 23-24, 32-33). – (Exodus 34:11-17). –
  • both Yahweh and Baal were believed to have the power to control the weather. We are told that Baal was sometimes pictured with a bolt of lightning in his hand:
  • Sequence! The account of Elijah offering his sacrifice follows that of the futile floggings of the false prophets. In reflecting on the text, I believe it is clear that these two sacrifices are not completely sequential. By this I mean that the false prophets did not start and finish their attempts to call down fire on their sacrifice before Elijah began making preparations for offering his sacrifice. For some period of time in the afternoon, at least, the two sacrifices are, to some degree, being conducted synonymously. You will notice that the sacrifice of the false prophets comes to a silent halt “at the time of the evening sacrifice,”when their ravings ceased (verse 29). Our text likewise informs us that Elijah offers up his prayer “at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice”(verse 36). In other words, Elijah’s sacrificial process concludes with fire at the same time the 450 prophets’ sacrifice ends in failure and silence. This means that in order to have constructed the altar and prepared the sacrifice (not to mention hauling the water to pour on the sacrifice) in time for the evening sacrifice, Elijah would have had to start earlier in the afternoon.

It would seem, therefore, that the sequence of events that day went something like this:

Early in the morning:

  The prophets of Baal prepared their sacrifice Elijah waited quietly
  These prophets then began to call on Baal to answer with fire Elijah waited quietly


  The 459 prophets keep on trying to arouse their god Elijah begins to taunt them
  The prophets now cry louder, and become more animated  


  The prophets slash themselves, go into a frenzy Elijah rebuilds the altar
  The prophets begin to wear down, to become silent Elijah begins to prepare for the sacrifice
  The people lose interest in the prophets of Baal Elijah has water poured on the sacrifice
  No one pays any attention to the prophets The people take interest in Elijah
  The prophets of Baal give up in fatigue and despair Elijah prays to God,
    God answers with fire!
  • Setting — All of this should help us better grasp the drama being played out before the eyes of Ahab and the people of Israel.71In my mind’s eye, I envision two altars, not that distant from each other—at least within sight of each other. On the one side, there is the altar of Baal, functional because of its on-going use in the worship of Baal. On the other side is the broken down relic of what used to be an altar of Yahweh. The stones have been torn down and lay in a heap.
  • As the drama begins in the morning, the prophets of Baal arrive at the altar in a regal procession, something like the faculty of a prestigious school filing in for the commencement ceremony. With all dignity and solemnity, they lay the wood for the fire, and then slaughter the sacrificial bull. They place the bull on the firewood, and then begin to call upon Baal to send down fire to consummate the sacrifice.
  • Nothing happens at first, and no one seems bothered by it. After all, these things take time. But as time passes and there is no response, the ceremony begins to lose some of it pomp and circumstance, and begins to be more intense, louder, and even a bit frantic. At first Elijah says nothing to the 450 prophets. He does not want to be accused of interfering with their efforts, something like sneezing just when your golfing partner is trying to sink a difficult putt. But as noon approaches, I can imagine Elijah making his way over to where the prophets of Baal are laboring unsuccessfully. He may have pushed his way through the crowd, and then after watching for some time, begun to call out to them, offering some suggestions.
  • The goading comments of Elijah recorded in verse 27 might not have been spoken all at once. Suppose that Elijah had begun to rebuild the altar of Yahweh, and ever so often he would stroll over to see how the 450 prophets were doing. And at each visit, he may have offered one of his helpful suggestions. Back and forth he may have gone in the afternoon, making progress on rebuilding his altar, and taking a jab at the useless efforts of the prophets of Baal. And as the day wore on, the people understandably lost interest in the prophets of Baal. It was obvious that nothing was going to happen there, even though these men were working themselves into a bloody frenzy. No bystander was impressed, and eventually all of the onlookers made their way over to Elijah’s altar, so that when the time of the evening sacrifice arrived, only the 450 prophets of Baal were left at Baal’s altar, and all the rest were intently watching Elijah. In my mind, this is something like what happened.
  • He found the old, torn-down altar, and salvaged the 12 stones
  • He rebuilt the altar, not with 10 stones, representing the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom, but with the 12.
  • “the word of the LORD” that was spoken to Israel (Jacob). (And thus to all 12 of his sons)
  • Breaks precedent by pouring water on the sacrifice, the altar, and the ditch — No son of Aaron ever did this before
  • at the time of the evening sacrifice
  • Instead of calling for Ahab’s death, Elijah instructs Ahab to get up and to eat and drink before the rains come. Was Ahab instructed to partake of the sacrifice? Well, if the sacrificial bull was completely consumed (as it appears), perhaps there was still a feast of some kind.
  • While Ahab married a foreign wife, he was not the first king of Israel to do so. Ahab was not the first king to marry a Sidonian woman, for Solomon did as well. Ahab was not the first to set up altars for the worship of foreign gods, for Solomon did likewise.
  • Solomon – 1 Kings 11:1-13.
  • While Ahab married a foreign wife, he was not the first king of Israel to do so. Ahab was not the first king to marry a Sidonian woman, for Solomon did as well. Ahab was not the first to set up altars for the worship of foreign gods, for Solomon did likewise….  there were saints in Nero’s household, and in Ahab’s.
  • In the Hebrew text, the verbs “send” and “gather” are imperatives. Elijah is not asking, he is instructing. No matter, it would seem that Ahab was used to taking orders from someone, usually Jezebel. Provan comments, “… from the moment Elijah meets the king he dominates him. Ahab speaks but once in the entire story (18:17), and having been silenced by Elijah’s aggressive and fearless response (18:18), he spends the rest of the time either doing what the prophet tells him (18:19-20, 41-42, 44-45) or watching from the sidelines so quietly as to be invisible (18:21-40). He is as impotent as the god he worships. Elijah’s ‘win’ over him is as comprehensive as his ‘win’ over the prophets of Baal.” Iain W. Provan, 1 and 2 Kings(Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), p. 139.

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