Elijah is undoubtedly one of the most familiar biblical characters, but also one of the most enigmatic ones. We know him as a folklore figure that shows up at the moment of need, but how well does that match his biblical persona? Over the next classes we will explore the biblical narrator’s version of Elijah.


Where in the world [history] are we?!

The narratives of Elijah are placed against the backdrop of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel, the northern kingdom. Following the split of the Davidic kingdom, the northern tribes experienced about a century of lackluster kings and a bit of turn over of kings. (Zimri ruled for all of 7 days…) That is, until King Omri took control.

Omri, a military chief, took a page from David’s government book. He created a capital that was devoid of tribal affiliation, and set about building up the country. His son, Ahab, followed in his footsteps. Even the narrator of the book of Kings has to begrudgingly agree that he was successful as far as economic and military power goes. The problem was his relationship with God.

Where in the world [map] are we?!

Ahab was king of Israel in the capital of Samaria. (A reference to the region as Samaria came later by the Assyrians.) His kingdom touched on the kingdom of Judah in the south, with Jerusalem close to its northern border. Ahab made peace with Judah, so much so that there were marriage ties between the two royal houses. In the north he touched Phoenicia, and was married to Jezebel, daughter of the king of Tyre. To the north-east were the Aramians, and the relationship was rarely good.

This is the period and place in which Elijah operated.

Go to Next Class