Jesse Tree Day 15: Elijah and the Priests of Baal

Welcome back to our Advent devotional, the Illustrated Jesse Tree!

There have been numerous times that the people of Israel were about to go astray, only to be reined in by a prophet, who reminded them that only God was worth being served. And today, we are going to look at such a prophet… and by that, I mean the Prophet Elijah.

Also, because this is the Jesse Tree… the ancestor of Christ’s that we are looking at is King Achab (sometimes written as Ahab), who was… well… not really the greatest, to put it mildly. In fact, when we meet him, he is actively going against God and he sees Elijah as a nuisance. Yet, take heart! Even though he was a terrible person, God still was able to transform his legacy so that Jesus was able to come from him anyway! There is hope for all of us!

Anyway, just a quick note! We are using the Douay Rheims version of the bible, but I have anglicized some of the names for clarity! All of the text remains unchanged.

And so with no further ado… the scripture reading of today!


Elijah and the Priests of Baal

A Reading from the First Book of Kings (1 Kings 18:16-39)

Abdias therefore went to meet Achab, and told him: and Achab came to meet Elijah.

Prophet Elijah, c. 19th century. Private collection.
Prophet Elijah, c. 19th century. Private collection.

And when he had seen him, he said: Art thou he that troublest Israel?

And he said: I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father’s house, who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim.

Nevertheless send now, and gather unto me all Israel, unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, who eat at Jezabel’s table.

Achab sent to all the children of Israel, and gathered together the prophets unto mount Carmel.

And Elijah coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word.

And Elijah said again to the people: I only remain a prophet of the Lord: but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men.

Let two bullocks be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it.

Call ye on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord: and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the people answering said: A very good proposal.

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, by Jacob Willemsz., c. 1640-50. Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, by Jacob Willemsz., c. 1640-50. Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia

Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal: Choose you one bullock and dress it first, because you are many: and call on the names of your gods, but put no fire under.

And they took the bullock which he gave them, and dressed it: and they called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying: O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered: and they leaped over the altar that they had made.

And when it was now noon, Elijah jested at them, saying: Cry with a louder voice: for he is a God, and perhaps he is talking, or is in an inn, or on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep, and must be awaked.

So they cried with a loud voice, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till they were all covered with blood.

And after midday was past, and while they were prophesying, the time was come of offering sacrifice, and there was no voice heard, nor did any one answer, nor regard them as they prayed:

Elijah said to all the people: Come ye unto me. And the people coming near unto him, he repaired the altar of the Lord, that was broken down:

And he took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying: Israel shall be thy name.

And he built with the stones an altar to the name of the Lord: and he made a trench for water, of the breadth of two furrows round about the altar.

And he laid the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid it upon the wood.

Elijah and the Priests of Baal, by Lucas Cranach the Younger, c. 1545. Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.
Elijah and the Priests of Baal, by Lucas Cranach the Younger, c. 1545. Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.

And he said: Fill four buckets with water, and pour it upon the burnt offering, and upon the wood. And again he said: Do the same the second time. And when they had done it the second time, he said: Do the same also the third time. And they did so the third time.

And the water run round about the altar, and the trench was filled with water.

Elijah and the Priests of Baal, by French School, c. 19th century. Private collection.
Elijah and the Priests of Baal, by French School, c. 19th century. Private collection.

And when it was now time to offer the holocaust, Elijah the prophet came near and said: O Lord God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Israel, shew this day that thou art the God of Israel, and I thy servant, and that according to thy commandment I have done all these things.

Hear me, O Lord, hear me: that this people may learn, that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart again.

The Sacrifice of Elijah Before the Priests of Baal, by Domenico Fetti, c. 1621-22. Royal Collection Trust, London, United Kingdom.
The Sacrifice of Elijah Before the Priests of Baal, by Domenico Fetti, c. 1621-22. Royal Collection Trust, London, United Kingdom.

Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

And when all the people saw this, they fell on their faces, and they said: The Lord he is God, the Lord he is God.

The Sacrifice of Elijah on Mount Carmel, by Circle of Bertholet Fléma, c. 17th century. Private collection.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *