Elijah and Ahab
First Kings 11:28 to 25:51
11:28 Solomon promoted Jeraboam to number one head boss of all the tribes.
One day Jeraboam met a prophet who grabbed at Jerry's new clothes and tore them into pieces. He used the pieces of clothing to illustrate his predictions of the future political situation. It was nothing profound. It simply amounted to the same age-old split between the northern tribal confederacy of city-states and the semi-nomadic tribesmen of Judah down south. Solomon suddenly had second thoughts about promoting Jeraboam and tried to have him killed but he escaped to Egypt.
11:42 Solomon, like his father, ruled for forty years. He died and his son Rehoboam took over as king. The Judeans liked Rehoboam ok but the northern tribes first asked him to lighten up some of the tax burdens Solomon had put on them. He just threatened them with even higher taxes and they revolted. Jeraboam himself returned from Egypt and led the revolt. So Jeraboam wound up being king of northern Israel and Rehoboam king of Judah in south.
12:28 Jeraboam built temples and established an official state religion of Israel. A prophetic Yahvist down south in Judah hated that and came north to harass Jerry. The prophet was tricked into eating some bread even though the Lord had told him to starve himself on a sort of hunger strike. As a punishment for eating bread, a lion came and killed the prophet and then stood by guarding his dead carcass while people passed by and remarked about it.
Jerry's wife had a sick child so she disguised herself and took the child to a priest for help. The priest recognized her and gave her a dismal speech about her family's grim future and when she left the boy died. Jeraboam's dynasty lasted only 22 years.
14:22 Down south Rehoboam and the Judeans made the Lord angry again also. It was that damned cultural diversity thing again. They had all sorts of churches. Religious freedom flourished. So the Lord let the king of Egypt come and sack the big temple and palace that Solomon had built in Jerusalem. He took away the massive treasure Solomon had gathered. Poor Rehoboam had to make do with brass decorations. When he died his family did establish a rather long-lived dynasty. But Israel and Judah remained at war for generations.
16:21 In one of many power struggles, a man named Ahab became king of Israel. He had a Phoenician wife, Jezebel who practiced her family's traditional religion and sponsored her favorite church. Ahab built a shrine for Jezebel's ocean god, Melkart.
17:1 A prophet named Elijah went into hiding by a brook and he might have starved down there but some friendly ravens flew down and brought him food. There was a terrible dry spell in those days and Elijah swore that the drought would continue as long as Ahab was king. The brook dried up. A woman brought Elijah some water and later he repaid her by reviving her sick child. The Lord told Elijah to go to King Ahab and tell him to prepare for some serious rain.
When King Ahab and Elijah eventually got together the prophet scolded the king and dared him to get some of Jezebel's church friends to meet him on a high place for a little God-to-God competition. Ahab and Jez said "Bring it!" and they all met for a big throw-down show-down on a mountain. While Jezebel's people tried to get Melkart to make it rain the Elijah people poked fun at them. Elijah said "Yell louder, maybe he's asleep or on vacation or something. Ha ha ha." Eventually the Melkartians grew tired of dancing and praying so it was Elijah's turn. He rebuilt an old Yahvist altar and even though he totally drenched it with water, a big ass fireball came down and burned up the dead animals.
Elijah’s people suddenly attacked and murdered Jezebel’s people. Then Elijah went up to the very top of the mountain and waited and waited and waited until a little tiny cloud appeared way out on the horizon. He proudly declared it would soon rain.
19:1 Ahab went to Jezebel and told her about the murders. Jez sent word to Elijah that he was dead meat if ever she caught up with him. He fled into hiding and sat around secretly talking to the Lord a lot. He saw visions of heavy winds and earthquakes and great fires but the Lord said he was not coming in the form of a big catastrophe this time and he just whispered to Elijah quietly instead so no one else could hear.
Elijah took on a farm boy named Elisha to be his apprentice holy guy.
20:1 The king of Syria made war against king Ahab of Israel and had won a few battles, giving Ahab thoughts of surrender under bad terms. The Syrian king was bragging about his troops just before the next big battle. Ahab said "Bragging is not for those who are putting on their armor but for those who are still alive to take it off."
In desperation Ahab made a fierce last trench stand and forced the Syrians to retreat. The Yahvists had joined with Ahab's loyalists against the foreign invaders in spite of their internal disagreements. A year later the Syrians came back but this time Ahab met them at the border. His victory was decisive and he forced the Syrians to make peace and return all conquered real estate and form a military alliance with Israel. Ahab didn't kill the Syrian king or do anything too harsh or cruel to the Syrians and for this the Yahvists were extremely angry and wanted to kill King Ahab. Ahab went home disappointed with the Yahvists.
21:1 Naboth had a nice vineyard. Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard because it was close to his house and he offered a good deal for it but Naboth wouldn't sell. Ahab went to bed mad, refusing his dinner. Jezebel had two men testify that Naboth had blasphemed so he wound up dead from people throwing rocks at him. The Lord told Elijah to scold Ahab and Jezebel over the incident. Elijah said "The dogs will eat their dead carcasses!" When Ahab heard about the horrible curse that Elijah was putting on them he was very sorry and dressed in an old sack and sat in some ashes. The Lord is generally forgiving of people who sit in an old sack covered in ashes. Because Ahab did that the Lord was forgiving and decided to direct his anger against Ahab's innocent son for the incident of Naboth's vineyard instead of Ahab.
22:29 A man named Jehoshaphat became king of Judah down south and offered the hand of peace to King Ahab of Israel. Ahab accepted and the two armies joined together to go retake a city that remained in Syrian control. Ahab knew he would be specifically targeted so he disguised himself in battle but a lucky arrow from an anonymous Syrian wounded him and he died. Some dogs came and licked up his blood. The warriors of Israel were bummed out when they saw dogs licking Ahab's blood as it was rather gross, so they stopped fighting and went home.
King Jehoshaphat tried to build a navy for Judah but failed when all his boats broke.
22:51 Young leaders took over Israel and worshiped better behaved less primitive gods than Yahweh, and the Lord got mad again.
Next: With a Grain of Salt
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