How old was Elijah?

He entered the stage out of nowhere, as if dropped in front of King Ahab from heaven.11 Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” No one announced his age, so some artists paint him as young and some as old.

If these assumptions are good…

  1. If Elijah was “a human being, even as we are,”2 James 5:17  “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are…” he started young.
  2. If Ninth Century BC people tended to died younger than today. 3Changing life expectancy throughout history,” the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
  3. If Elijah first confronted Ahab near the beginning of Ahab’s reign.4He commented on several events during Ahab’s reign.

Then here’s one possible timeline:

  • Age 13 – Elijah encounters slave girls on the King’s Highway – my fiction.
  • Age 17 – He confronts King Ahab as Ahab begins his reign of 22 years.
  • Age 39 – He confronts King Ahaziah during his reign of 2 years.
  • Age 41 – He confronts King Joram during his reign of 12 years.
  • Age 53 or later – He catches a ride on a chariot of fire.

Mix in the uncertainty some scholars feel about the timelines in the books of Kings and Chronicles, take it all with a dash of salt, and enjoy Elijah’s story.

 

 

 

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