1 Kings 18:20
So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Kings 18:20. So Ahab sent, &c. — He complied with Elijah’s motion, because the urgency of the present distress made him willing to try all means to remove it; from a curiosity of seeing some extraordinary events; and, principally, because God inclined his heart.

18:17-20 One may guess how people stand affected to God, by observing how they stand affected to his people and ministers. It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, like Elijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. But those who cause God's judgments do the mischief, not he that foretells them, and warns the nation to repent.Local tradition places the site of Elijah's sacrifice, not on the highest point of the mountain (1,728 ft.), but at the southeastern extremity (1,600 ft.) of the ridge, where a shapeless ruin, composed of great hewn stones, and standing amid thick bushes of dwarf-oak, in the near vicinity of a perennial spring, is known to the Arabs as "El-Maharrakah," "the burning," or "the sacrifice." All the circumstances of the locality adapt it for the scene of the contest. 20. mount Carmel—is a bold, bluff promontory, which extends from the western coast of Palestine, at the bay of Acre, for many miles eastward, to the central hills of Samaria. It is a long range, presenting many summits, and intersected by a number of small ravines. The spot where the contest took place is situated at the eastern extremity, which is also the highest point of the whole ridge. It is called El-Mohhraka, "the Burning," or "the Burnt Place." No spot could have been better adapted for the thousands of Israel to have stood drawn up on those gentle slopes. The rock shoots up in an almost perpendicular wall of more than two hundred feet in height, on the side of the vale of Esdraelon. This wall made it visible over the whole plain, and from all the surrounding heights, where gazing multitudes would be stationed. He complied with Elijah’s motion; partly, because it was so fair and reasonable, that he could not refuse it with honour, nor without the discontent of all his people, this being proposed in order to their deliverance from this terrible famine; partly, because the urgency of the present distress made him willing to try all means to remove it; partly, from a curiosity of seeing some extraordinary events; and principally, because God inclined his heart to close with it.

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel,.... By messengers, requiring their attendance at Mount Carmel at such a time, at least their chief and principal men:

and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel; the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, but not the four hundred prophets of the groves; for of them we have no account afterwards, only of the former; it may be they were not at the command of Ahab, only of Jezebel, at whose table they ate, who would not suffer them to go.

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 20. - So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel, ["The persecuting king became a passive instrument in the hand of the persecuted prophet" (Stanley). His ready compliance with Elijah's request, notwithstanding the bitter hatred of the man which he had just betrayed, is easily explained. It was not so much that "he bowed before the spiritual supremacy of the prophet, which impressed him" (Bahr), as that he hoped, from his reappearance, that he was now about to speak the word (1 Kings 17:1) and give rain upon the earth, and Ahab was willing to take any measures which would conduce with that result. It would take some days to collect the representatives of the tribes.] 1 Kings 18:20Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal. - Ahab sent through all Israel and gathered the prophets (of Baal) together upon Mount Carmel. According to 1 Kings 18:21, 1 Kings 18:22, and 1 Kings 18:39, a number of the people ("all the people") had also come with them. On the other hand, not only is there no further reference in what follows to the 400 prophets of Asherah (cf. 1 Kings 18:25 and 1 Kings 18:40), but in 1 Kings 18:22 it is very obvious that the presence of the 450 prophets of Baal alone is supposed. We must therefore assume that the Asherah prophets, foreboding nothing good, had found a way of evading the command of Ahab and securing the protection of Jezebel.

(Note: It is true that in 1 Kings 18:22 the lxx have this clause, καὶ οἱ προφῆται τοῦ ἄλσους (i.e., האשׁרה) τετρακόσιοι, which Thenius regards as an original portion of the text, though without observing the character of the lxx. If the Asherah prophets had also been present, Elijah would not only have commanded the prophets of Baal to be seized and slain (1 Kings 18:40), but the Asherah prophets also. From the principle a potiori fit, etc., it may be possible to explain the omission of the Asherah prophets in 1 Kings 18:25, but not in 1 Kings 18:40.)

King Ahab also appeared upon Carmel (cf. 1 Kings 18:41), as he had no idea of Elijah's intention, which was by no means "to prove to the king that he (Ahab) and not Elijah had brought Israel into trouble" (Vat., Seb. Schm.), but to put before the eyes of the whole nation a convincing practical proof of the sole deity of Jehovah and of the nothingness of the Baals, that were regarded as gods, and by slaying the priests of Baal to give a death-blow to idolatry in Israel.

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