The First Book of Kings

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The First Book of Kings
Chapter Eighteen

1-Kings. Chapter 18. Elijah on Mount Carmel


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1 Kings 18 (New King James Version)
Elijah on Mount Carmel

To Hear a Talk based on the Text below:
1-Kings ch. 18
Elijah on Mount Carmel
(ca.31 minutes)
Talk includes points not mentioned in the text.

18:1 And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth."
2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly.
"Obadiah" in Modern Hebrew is pronounced as "Ovad-Yah" The name means Servant or slave (Aved) of the Almighty.
According to some of the Sages Obadiah was an
Edomite Convert and author of the Biblical Book of Obadiah whose main theme is a prophecy against Edom.
The Book of Obadiah prophecies that in the End Times Joseph will fight against Edom and defeat him.
Obadiah according to the Classical
Rabbinicial Commentators refers to the Lost Israelites from the Ten Tribes being in the region OF THE CANAANITES EVEN UNTO ZAREPHATH (Obadiah 1:20).  This meant the area of Western Europe especially France and the British Isles.
See the Brit-Am Commentary on Obadiah 1:20 for details and explanation.

4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab had said to Obadiah, "Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock."
6 So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
7 Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, "Is that you, my lord Elijah".
8 And he answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here.".
9 So he said, "How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me".
10 As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, "He is not here," he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you.
Ahab was a powerful monarch and had influence in the international arena.
There follow two brief extracts (one from
Wikipedia, the othjer from the Jewish Virutal Library) concerning Ahab that give some idea of who he was.


##  (1) Ahab


Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ahab (or
Ach'av or Achab in Douay-Rheims or Hebrew: , Modern A av Tiberian  A , A  ; "Brother of the father") was king of Israel and the son and successor of Omri (1 Kings 16:29-34). William F. Albright dated his reign to 869 " 850 BC, while E. R. Thiele offered the dates 874 " 853 BC.[1]

Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of King
Ithobaal I of Tyre, and the alliance was doubtless the means of procuring political support.

Shalmaneser III's (859-824 BC) Kurkh Monolith names King Ahab.

During Ahab's reign, Moab, which had been conquered by his father, remained tributary; Judah, with whose king,
Jehoshaphat, he was allied by marriage, was probably his vassal; only with Aram Damascus is he believed to have had strained relations.

 Battle of Qarqar

The Battle of
Qarqar is one event mentioned by external sources and was perhaps at Apamea where Shalmaneser III of Assyria fought a great confederation of princes from Cilicia, Northern Syria, Israel, Ammon and the tribes of the Syrian desert (853 BC).

Ahab's contribution was reckoned at 2,000 chariots and 10,000 men. The numbers are comparatively large and possibly include forces from
Tyre, Judah, Edom, and Moab. The Assyrian king claimed a victory, but his immediate return and subsequent expeditions in 849 BC and 846 BC against a similar but unspecified coalition seem to show that he met with no lasting success. According to the Tanakh, however, Ahab with 7,000 troops had previously overthrown Ben-hadad and his thirty-two kings, who had come to lay siege to Samaria, and in the following year obtained a decisive victory over him at Aphek, probably in the plain of Sharon at Antipatris (1 Kings 20). A treaty was made whereby Ben-hadad restored the cities which his father had taken from Ahab's father (that is, Omri, but see 15:20, 2 Kings 13:25), and trading facilities between Damascus and Samaria were granted.

Three years later, war broke out on the east of the Jordan River, and Ahab with
Jehoshaphat of Judah went to recover Ramoth-Gilead. During this battle Ahab disguised himself but was shot by an arrow and mortally wounded (ch. 22).
## He was succeeded by his sons,
Ahaziah and Jehoram

  (2) Ahab
Jewish Virtual Library
(born c. 853 - BCE Reigned c. 874"c. 853 BCE)

Ahab whose name means "The Father is My Brother", i.e. "God is my close relative" (Pfeiffer, 1988: 40), owed much of his success to his father
Ormi"s efforts to set the Northern Kingdom on a firm political foundation. Omri founded Samaria, the third capital of the Northern Kingdom in his 7th year (c. 880 BC). Jeroboam had chosen Shechem, a place of with ancient associations with the patriarchs Abraham (Gen. 12:6) and Jacob (Gen. 33:18). Later the capital had moved to Tirzah, about 7 miles to the north-east of Shechem." (Bruce, 1983: 43). Omri bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for 2 shekels of silver (1 Kings 16:24), and increased its natural advantages by fortification. Samaria was built on an isolated hill, 90m [300 ft] in height, connected with the surrounding hill country only by a saddle to the east and surrounded by a fertile valley (Isa. 28:1, 4) (Van Selms, 1988: 296). The strength of Samaria can be gauged by the number of sieges it withstood against well-equipped armies during its 150 year history. It took the Assyrians three years to capture it (725-722 BC). The city could control the trade routes to the North, East and West to the Valley of Esdraelon. Omri made Samaria the property of the Kings of Israel; technically not subject to the tribes and their popular gatherings, but only to the King and local authorities (Van Selms, 1988: 296) as David had done for Jerusalem.

The Moabite Stone records that Moab was subjugated by Israel during the reign of
Omri (something that Scripture does not mention) (Prichard, 1955, 320-321). Some measure of his success can be gained when reading Shalmanesser III's account of the tribute he received from Jehu (841-814 BC) (1 Kings 19:16-17). Shalmanesser refers to Jehu as "the son of Omri". Although not physically descended from him by this time the Royal house of Israel was known internationally by the name of its most famous member. Omri was as far thinking politically as he was strategically. By the time his son Ahab acceded to the throne in 874 BC he had already cemented his father"s alliance with Phoenicia by marrying Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal, the priest-king of Tyre. ...He [i.e. Ahab] later arranged the marriage of his daughter Athaliah to Joram, crowned prince of Judah, sealing an alliance with their father Jehoshaphat. This marriage was to have serious religious consequences; for Athaliah had imbibed her mother's Baalism, which later led to a crisis in Judah (see 2 Kings 11). Joint operations between Ahab and Jehoshaphat were equally ill-fated. Their trading venture, again reminiscent of Solomon's (1 Kings 9:26-28), was brought to an abrupt halt when the entire fleet was wrecked before it had even set sail (2 Chron. 20:35-37; 1 Kings 22:48). Joint military operations also ended in disaster (1 Kings 22:29-38).

Jezebel's patronage of the cults of Ba'al and Asherah led Ahab into direct confrontation with one of the greatest of the prophets, Elijah. He appeared suddenly before the king and defied Ba'al by declaring that by his word alone would there be either rain or dew in the land (1 Kings 17:1). Before Ahab could detain him Elijah was gone and despite an international search Elijah remained hidden (18:9). After three years Elijah sought out the king, who was now searching for grass for his horses (18:5-6). Obadiah, who was in charge of Ahab's palace, brought him word of where Elijah was to be found and when they met Ahab accused him of being a "troubler of Israel."

Hadad, King of Aram aided by 32 of his vassals attempted to capture Samaria. Initially it appears that Ahab was prepared to surrender to him and accept the lose of his wives and possessions (20:1-7). Ben Hadad, however, appears to have wanted a fight and so made his demands so unreasonable that Ahab had no choice but to refuse them and prepare for a siege (20:9-12)...Ben-Hadad was finally captured by Ahab's inferior forces after being defeated at Aphek in the plain of Jezreel the following year.

...the states of Israel,
Aram, Hamath and nine other smaller powers were forced to unite against the growing power of Assyria, which had been impotent for almost two centuries due to the attacks of Aramean nomads. From 900 BC onwards the power of Assyria swept westwards and in 853 Shalmaneser III faced the coalition of Syrian and Cilician states at Qarqar on the Orontes river. According to Shalmaneser's own records Ben-Hadad fielded 20 000 soldiers, and Ahab 10 000 soldiers and 2 000 chariots.

Shalmaneser claims a sweeping victory; the corpses of his foes, he says, covered the plain of the Orontes and dammed the stream itself [Pritchard, 1955: 277-281]. But the fact that he did not pursue his alleged advantage and returned home and did not return for 12 years suggests that the confederates gave a good account of themselves." (Bruce, 1983: 47, brackets mine).

The size of the force that Ahab fielded is ample proof that he was the most powerful king in the history of the Northern kingdom (
Hoerth, 1998: 313). After the Assyrian threat had been vanquished, for a time at least, the alliance soon broke up and war resumed between Israel and Aram.

Following the Battle of
Qarqar Ahab called upon his ally Jehoshaphat [of Judah] to aid him in his struggle with Ben Hadad. ...Despite entering battle in disguise Ahab was finally slain by a stray arrow (22:1-34). At the last he appears to have shown real courage in remaining propped up in his chariot until he died from lose of blood, to delay the dispersal of his troops when they saw that he was dead (22:34-36). Ahab was succeeded by his son Ahaziah
(1 Kings 22:40). He had ruled Israel for 22 years.##


11 And now you say, "Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here""!
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth.
13 Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD"s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water"
14 And now you say, "Go, tell your master, 'Elijah is here.' "He will kill me!"

15 Then Elijah said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today."
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel".
Ahab acknowledged that it was due to Elijah that a drought had come upon the land.
18 And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.
19 Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."
The term translated as Asherah in Hebrew here is "Ha-Asherah".
Asherah was a Canaanite goddess parallel to the Babylonian Ishtareth, the Egyptian Isis, and the Anglo-Saxon Eostre.
Asherah is also the term given to a form of pagan worship associated with a group of trees on top of hill.
A remnant of this practice is noticed today amongst the Palestinians who denude the fields of all trees and vegetation by over-grazing them with goats etc but sometimes leave a group of trees on top of a hill around a shrine dedicated to one of their dead holy men.

Asherah pole
Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El.


Maypole in Sweden

Dancing around the maypole, in "
meberg, Sweden
The maypole is a tall wooden pole ...erected to celebrate May Day or Midsummer...With roots in Germanic paganism, the maypole traditionally appears in most Germanic countries.

Maypole dance

Maypole dancing is a form of folk dance from western Europe, especially England, Sweden, Galicia, Portugal and Germany,

According to the polemic anti-Catholic pamphlet, The Two
in 1853], the origin of the maypole dance began in ancient Babylon during sex worship and fertility rites. A carved upright representation of the human penis was danced around by young females and woven with ribbons to ensure offspring. There is a lack of evidence to support this view, however.
Beltane, also called May Eve, begins on April 30th, according to some Pagan traditions, while others celebrate only on May 1st. It is a day of celebration, dancing around the Maypole and feasting.

Beltane in Celtic means "Fire of Bel". Bel is another form of the name Baal.

Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the druids of the community would create a need-fire on top of a hill on this day and drive the village's cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck (
Eadar d"theine Bhealltainn
in Scottish Gaelic, 'Between two fires of Beltane').

Elijah's Mount Carmel Victory
20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel.

Scene from Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel was in the territory of Manasseh (Joshua 19:26). There had been there an altar to the Almighty that the priests of Baal had broken down.
The word Carmel (says
Daat Mikra) connotes "Pasture of Shepherds".
Another explanation of the name is "Vineyard (
Cerem) of God (el)".
The present Israeli city of Haifa is built on Mount Carmel.

21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions" If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word.
## falter between two opinions#. This may preferably be translated as #"straddle two hearthway entrances"#
The word translated as falter is "
Poschim" from the same root as Pesach the Hebrew word for Passover.
Pesach received its name because the Angel of God skipped over the houses of the Israelites when he struck the Egyptian firstborn.
Here the word "
Poschim" seems to connote an attitude by which they tried to keep one foot in each camp.

We see here that the Israelites had not entirely abandoned worship of the Almighty.
Ahab named his children
Jehoram ("The ALMIGHTY is high"), Ahaziah (" The ALMIGHTY has taken hold"), and Athaliah ("The ALMIGHTY is exalted").
Other sources indicate that in the popular eye a kind of synthesis had developed in which the separate identity of The ALMIGHTY and of the Baal merged
and interchanged one with the other.
God was not pleased with this.

[1-Kings 18:22 Then Elijah said to the people, I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baals prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
We saw above (1-Kings 18:13) that Obadiah the Minister of Ahab was hiding one hundred prophets in two different caves and supplying them with food and water.
One explanation (
Meshek Chochmah) is that even though other prophets remained these were individuals who could receive Divine Inspiration but would not necessarily always do so whereas Elijah was at a higher and more permanent level.
Another explanation is by claiming to be the only prophet left Elijah was covering up for the others of whom Ahab was unaware.
The Sages pointed out that Obadiah could not be maintaining so many prophets in hiding without the involvement of others and the knowledge of many more.
They said that this was one of the positive points about the generation of Ahab. They were not informers. By virtue of their abstaining from evil speech and tattle-bearing they were victorious in warfare, said the Sages.

"Ephraim is joined to idols" in Hebrew, "
Havur Etzavim Ephraim " which has a double meaning also implying "Ephraim is a union of idols." The Rabbis (Midrash Tanchuma) said that the verse hinted at Ephraim being unified even though they were idolaters and by virtue of this unity (says the Sages) he is still formidable, "LET HIM ALONE."

There is a social-psychological explanation for this in so far as not informing on each other leads to unity of purpose and mutual forgiveness.
[1-Kings 18:23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it.

[1-Kings 18:24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.
So all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

The Zohar says that the god baal was a sun god whereas Asherah was associated with the moon.
Archaeology seems to confirm this.
The Celtic god "
Bel" (derived from baal) was also a solar god.

Wikipedia. Belenus
## In Celtic mythology,
Belenus (also Belinus, Belenos, Belinos, Belinu, Belanu, Bellinus, Belus, Bel) was a deity worshipped in Gaul, Britain and Celtic areas of Austria and Spain. He had shrines from Aquileia on the Adriatic to Kirkby Lonsdale in England.[1][2] His name means "shining one" [3] or "henbane god"[4] and he is associated with heat and healing.

##  The solar or healing implications of
(the brilliant one [5] or henbane god?[4]) would have encouraged syncretism with the god Apollo.

Bel was an alternative pronunciation of Baal.

Wikipedia. Bel (mythology)
Bel ...signifying "lord" or "master", is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in Babylonian religion...Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Ba'al
with the same meaning.

Baal (Bel) was therefore associated with heat and fire. Elijah was challenging the priests of Baal to prove his ability in the field he was supposed to be most paramount in.

Elijah was acting as an agent of the Almighty and by Divine Direction.
Normally it would be forbidden to make such tests of God.
It is also normally forbidden to say that if a pagan deity can do such and such we will believe in it.
No matter what sign of wonder a pagan faith may produce we are forbidden to believe in anything but the Almighty.

Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 13:2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods', which you have not known, 'and let us serve them", 13: 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 13:4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

[1-Kings 18:25 Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.

[1-Kings 18:26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, O Baal, hear us! But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.

[1-Kings 18:27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.

[1-Kings 18:28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.

Even now the Shiite Muslims in Lebanon cut themselves with knives and swords when celebrating the death of their prophet Ali whom they believe succeeded Mohamed. The video clips of this available for free viewing on the web.

[1-Kings 18:29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.

[1-Kings 18:30 Then Elijah said to all the people, Come near to me. So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.

Previously an altar to the God of Israel had existed in that place but it had been wrecked or fallen into ruin.

[1-Kings 18:31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, Israel shall be your name.

The name Israel means overcome with or wrestling against God; being upright with God.

Elijah took twelve stones representing the twelve sons of Israel, i.e. the Twelve Tribes.
Two important principles are involved here:

If you have a problem or a need turn to God and not to other powers.
completely correct worship of the Almighty is only possible when it is recognized that Israel consists of ALL Twelve Tribes (Commentary "Ha-Akedah" by Rabbi Isaac Arama  1402-1494 quoted in "Mishbetsot Zahav").

The national pride of all Israelites requires Biblical
Consciousness alongside awareness of Israelite Ancestry.
This is what our organization, Brit-Am, the Ten Tribes Movement, believes in.

[1-Kings 18:32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed.
How Elijah did this is not clear. This is quite a large area. It would have needed the help of others.
Perhaps  the building of Elijah entailed the Prophet directing others what to do?

[1-Kings 18:33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.

[1-Kings 18:34 Then he said, Do it a second time, and they did it a second time; and he said, Do it a third time, and they did it a third time.

[1-Kings 18:35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.

[1-Kings 18:36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.
#the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice# In Hebrew the word translated as "evening sacrifice" is "minchah" and the time was later afternoon close to evening tide.
#LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel#. Elsewhere the expression used is  #Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob# (2-Kings 13:23). The names Israel and Jacob interchange but they have different connotations. The term "Israel" is often used as referring to the Israelites in the national sense. In the present scene with Elijah "Israel" is the term being emphasized.

[1-Kings 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.
#turned their hearts back to You again#. In the Hebrew original it says simply "You turned their hearts back".
We are quoting from
Daat Mikra as to what the different sources say about this passage:
The Commentators are divided in  their explanation of this verse. Some (amongst the Sages) say that Elijah meant that God Himself had caused them to sin and depart from HIM.
Rambam (Maimonides) explains this as an outcome of sin. If a person sins then often more occasions to sin are opened up before him and he is liable to fall in a spiralling descent. The same happened with the Israelites as a whole.

Others (
Saadia Gaon, Targum Yehonatan) explain it in the same ways as the King James translates it. God in HIS mercy was leading the people back onto the right track.

 Still another explanation (DM quotes from Fiorka) that the verse should be divided thusly:
The first part,
##Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God##
is addressed to the Almighty, while the second part [as translated from the Hebrew and NOT according to the
##and you turned their hearts back.##
is addressed to King Ahab who was present at the scene, i.e.
##and you [Ahab] turned their hearts away.##

Personally we tend to agree with the Sages (Beracoth) that Elijah was imputing some of the blame to God Himself. This however brings up complicated theological questions and it could be that the other explanations are preferable.

[1-Kings 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.

 [1-Kings 18:39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!

[1-Kings 18:40 And Elijah said to them, Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape! So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.
 "The Brook Kishon" (not to be confused with the Kidron in Jerusalem) receives confluents from the Gilboa Mountains and the Nazareth area, flows through the Jezreal Valley, passes by Mount Carmel and then enters the Mediterranean Sea where the present day cities of Haifa and Akko meet.
Nowadays this stream is extremely heavily polluted and it is considered dangerous to even wash one's hands in its water!

"The Brook Kishon". The word translated as "Brook" in Hebrew is "Nachal" which is usually understood to mean brook or stream as opposed to "Nahar" meaning river. Technically however it may be that nachal refers to a flowing body of water fed primarily by rainwater and underground springs whereas "nahar" is a secondary flowing body of water derived from nachalim (i.e. nachals) flowing into it.
Since the Jordan has had much of its water supply diverted the
Kishon is now the largest river in Israel.

The Drought Ends
[1-Kings 18:41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.

[1-Kings 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
Aryeh Kaplan ("Jewish Meditation" etc) claimed that Elijah used a recognized physical exercise that enhances meditation techniques to induce Prophecy.
Aryeh Kaplan
The works of Kaplan are well worth reading but before taking them seriously one should perhaps consult other sources.
In Brit-Am we advocate straight learning of the Bible as preliminary to everything else.
[1-Kings 18:43 and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea.
So he went up and looked, and said, There is nothing. And seven times he said, Go again.

[1-Kings 18:44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, There is a cloud, as small as a mans hand, rising out of the sea! So he said, Go up, say to Ahab, Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.

[1-Kings 18:45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.

[1-Kings 18:46 Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
The ability of  Elijah to run before the chariot of Ahab was due to power given him from above. Nevertheless, Elijah like most of the ancient prophets was probably quite an athlete in his own right by our standards.
Ahab had been disgraced in a way by Elijah bringing down fire from heaven and then killing the priests of
baal. In another sense the honor of Israel had been restored. The honor of God is the honor Israel. The Sages point out that Ahab was still king of Israel and by Elijah running before him he was being shown respect.                                    

After the Death of Solomon:
The Divided Kingdom

The Divided Kingdom
Source of Map:

1-Kings ch.17
1-Kings Contents
1-Kings ch.19