"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Elijah at Mount Carmel
1 Kings 18:[17-19] 20-39 Commentary
by Elna K. Solvang
This passage is frequently titled “The Contest on Mount Carmel.”
The contest is to prove who is superior: the God of the Israelites, or the Canaanite storm god Baal. The criteria for determining the winner is “the god who answers by fire is indeed God.”
What does it mean to be declared “indeed God” (in Hebrew, “the God”)? The contest focuses on the one who can demonstrate power over the natural world by sending fire. “By fire,” however, is not the only way “the God” answers.
The contest on Mount Carmel calls for fire. What the land and the people most need is water. For three years there had been no rain. While King Ahab and his palace overseer collect grass for the animals of the royal household (1 Kings 18:5), others, such as the widow of Zarephath and the people living in Samaria, face starvation.
King Ahab and his wife Queen Jezebel “served” and “worshipped” Baal. Ahab promoted devotion to Baal by building an altar and a temple for Baal in the Israelite capital ...
| Bible Text
2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 379: Elijah at Mount Carmel
November 03, 2019
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Nov. 3, 2019, (Elijah at Mount Carmel) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.